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Philly Jazz Guide: Top picks for live music around town in May

Melissa Aldana | photo by Harrison Weinstein | courtesy of the artist

Coming down from an intensely busy April, culminating in a packed final weekend that included the eighth annual Center City Jazz Festival and the culmination of Jamaaladeen Tacuma’s Outsiders Improvised & Creative Music Festival, May cools things down a bit on the jazz front. The highlights are a bit more spread out this month promising to give almost everyone a bit of a breather – with a definite exception for the always-busy Mike Boone. Continue reading →

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Philly Jazz Guide: Top picks for live music around town in April

Marc Cary | courtesy of the artist

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, and however you feel about that somewhat calcifying designation there’s ample opportunity to do some appreciating this month. The city’s own twist, “Philly Celebrates Jazz” (which at least seems more enthusiastic than mere appreciation), had its official kick-off on Thursday at City Hall with the presentation of awards to guitarist Kevin Eubanks and vocalist Ella Gahnt. Continue reading →

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Philly Jazz Guide: Top picks for live music around town in March

Dave Burrell | courtesy of the artist

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the great pianist Marilyn Crispell, during the course of which we both lamented the fact that the NE Philly native hadn’t played a show in her hometown in far too long. Looking back over her far too few local appearances in recent years, I recalled that her gorgeous 2002 solo piano concert at Penn’s Houston Hall had been my first experience with Ars Nova Workshop, just weeks after moving back to the east coast (and as it happens, a quick Google search reveals, on my 28th birthday). Continue reading →

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Philly Jazz Guide: Top picks for live music around town in February

The Bad Plus | via thebadplus.com

Last fall, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church launched a new series called “The Future of Jazz Piano” with a performance by its curator, Fred Hersch. A mentor to many younger musicians as well as an artist constantly replenished by new ideas and fresh collaborations, Hersch has a keen eye for new and rising talent dedicated to advancing the jazz tradition to which Hersch has been dedicated throughout his career. On Feb. 7, the series will host Sullivan Fortner, a New Orleans native who has imbibed deeply the open-eared spirit of that city. Continue reading →

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Philly Jazz Guide: Top picks for live music around town in August

Mariel Bildsten | via marielbildsten.com

Ok, it’s August. You’re probably reading this either in a state of undress, as close to the most powerful A/C in your house, or in a ghost town of an office, wondering how you ended up being the sole person at work not at the Shore right now. Productivity isn’t exactly the buzzword for the month, and that includes the local jazz scene – August is more a month for enjoying some local favorites in laid-back fashion before the season kicks back into full swing next month. But don’t doze off too hard – there’s more than a few shows worth getting up from your beach chair for. Continue reading →

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Philly Jazz Guide: Top picks for live music around town in July

Reggie Watkins
Reggie Watkins | photo by Sienna Watkins | courtesy of the artist

The summer is traditionally a slow time for jazz in the city, though last month’s packed scheduled held off the malaise for a bit. July’s calendar is far more bare, especially in terms of touring artists – presumably everyone’s sticking close to home and obsessing over that newly unearthed John Coltrane Quartet album. But other than celebrating Independence Day while the name can still be used with a straight face, the month offers a few other chances to enjoy jazz by still-living artists. Continue reading →

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Philly Jazz Guide: Top picks for live music around town in June

PRISM Quartet | photo by Jacqueline Hanna

The word “community” gets thrown around a lot, but for the last 14 years, Jazz Bridge has done much to make it ring true with regards to the Philly jazz scene. In part, and for the general public, that comes through its regular concerts, which regularly bring the best local musicians to venues in neighborhoods throughout the city. Its true mission, though, happens behind the scenes, as the money raised by those events is used to help area jazz and blues musicians in need of medical and legal help. Continue reading →

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Philly Jazz Guide: Top picks for live music around town in April

David Fishkin will lead an Alice Coltrane tribute at Underground Arts this month | photo by Chris Hayner | courtesy of the artist

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, and there’s no shortage of ways in which to show your appreciation in Philly over the next 30 days. The official kick-off came a couple of days early on Thursday, with Mayor Kenney presenting the Benny Golson award to bass great Jamaaladeen Tacuma at City Hall. Continue reading →

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Philly Jazz Guide: Top picks for live music around town in February

Jumaane Smith | photo courtesy of the artist
Jumaane Smith | photo courtesy of the artist

“Roots” is a word that comes up a lot in jazz circles, but it can refer to a pretty wide variety of things: the roots and rich history of the music; personal ties to places, people, or traditions; geographical or familial roots that continue to emerge even as people move from place to place. All of those emerge in this month’s jazz calendar. Continue reading →