Big Band Jazz with Bob Craig

Sunday, 7 to 8 pm

Bob Craig will take you on a musical journey through the evolution of Big Band Jazz, which started off with the heavy hitters including Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Stan Kenton. They opened the door for Claude Thornhill, Quincy Jones, Thad Jones, and Mel Lewis, who took Big Band Jazz to exciting new places. Bob will also throw in the soloists who became great bandleaders (Lionel Hampton, Gerry Mulligan, Dizzy Gillespie), and the more contemporary big bands--such as the Resonance Big Band, Mike Barone's Big Band, and the MHCC Jazz Band--who have done so much for jazz in the past few years.

John Pizzarelli is a seasoned guitarist, pop singer, and debonair entertainer whose greatest talent is communicating the jazz idiom to music listeners who otherwise are indifferent to the form. On stage in August at Birdland in New York to celebrate the release of Midnight McCartney, his relentless enthusiasm as a bandleader smoothed the way for a sweetly nostalgic appreciation for lesser-known tunes by Paul McCartney. Along the way, his relaxed stage banter left the audience laughing and feeling great.

Drummer Jamison Ross: An Instant Connection

Aug 27, 2015

Jamison is the debut of a significant talent. Winner of the 2012 Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition, the singularly entertaining Jamison Ross is a drummer of enormous presence and an irrepressible bandleader, judging from his album release show I attended at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in June.

The Philadelphia Jazz Project and WRTI are partnering to present a very special concert featuring the Philadelphia premiere of Letieres Leite & Orkestra Rumpilezz, with guests Arturo O'Farrill & Steve Bernstein, and Another Holiday For Skins w/Pablo Batista, Mike Boone, Luke Carlos O'Reilly, and others. Don't miss this unique experience of hearing Afro-Brazilian percussion in Big Band Jazz style!

Friday, July 31st, at 7:30 pm at TPAC/Temple Performing Arts Center, 1837 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122. Tickets $10 in advance / $15 at the door. Order tickets here.

The Astonishing Maria Schneider

Jul 21, 2015
Jimmy and Dena Katz

The most harmonious and beautiful jazz orchestral music of the year comes from Maria Schneider, an emotionally affecting composer, arranger, and bandleader, whose work is astonishing in its capacity to emotionally connect with this listener.

I’m not sure what year I became a June Christy fan, but it must have been during her later years with the Stan Kenton band. I liked Kenton’s innovative approach to jazz. I first saw the band perform at Philly’s Academy of Music in the early 1950s. Christy was a member of the band at the time, but I don’t remember seeing her that night. At that time, almost everyone went to see Kenton’s trumpet virtuoso Maynard Ferguson—whose high notes on the instrument threatened to bring rain.

Join us from Friday, May 22 to Monday, May 25 during jazz hours as we remember those who fought for our country by presenting jazz performed by United States military bands. Jeff Duperon kicks off the festivities on Friday, May 22nd at 6 pm with music from The West Point Jazz Knights, the U.S. Army Blues, and many other military bands, old and new. This music continues all weekend long, until the Hot 11 Countdown kicks off at 10:30 pm on Monday.  

What Makes DUCHESS Swing?

Apr 6, 2015

The notion that “everything old is new again” blossoms like spring on the charming self-titled debut record by the DUCHESS trio, and it’s altogether refreshing. With a sound inspired by songs sung by the Boswell Sisters and the Andrews Sisters—albeit with classy, updated arrangements—to charts that date back to the 1930s and '40s, Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner, and Melissa Stylianou are three strong jazz and pop vocalists with their own solid careers. Here, they serve up sophisticated humor (Cy Coleman’s “A Doodlin’ Song”) and café society swing (Peggy Lee’s “Love Being Here With You”) with the cleverest wit. 

Up close and personal, I heard them during their March CD release gig at the Jazz Standard in NYC, where the sold-out crowd was seduced by ballads like “Que Sera, Sera” and Johnny Mercer’s “P.S. I Love You.” Their warm, earthy harmonies hit you like Cupid’s arrow. That original blend of sauce and swing deservedly make DUCHESS stand out.

With a fine band in tow anchored by pianist Michael Cabe, bassist Paul Sikvie and ace drummer Matt Wilson, this completely delightful trio hearkens back to the era when performers like Bobby Short sang songs and entertainment was the priority.

Join WRTI's Bob Craig for a special 100th birthday tribute to the great jazz singer Billie Holiday, who was born on April 7, 1915 in Philadelphia, and died on July 17, 1959 in New York City at age 44.

You'll hear two hours of Holiday's rare, live performances from the 1930s through the 1950s, plus an hour of other singers performing songs closely associated with "Lady Day."

That's Sunday, April 5th from 3 to 6 pm on WRTI HD-2 and the all-jazz stream at

Romance, Swing, Blues, and Marcus Roberts

Mar 19, 2015

There are jazz pianists who lead their own bands, and then there is the innovative Marcus Roberts, an Ellington acolyte and original Young Lion (along with his peer, bandleader and collaborator Wynton Marsalis). Though some critics shrugged when Roberts released his early opus, Deep in The Shed (1998), many—including me—found that work exhilarating and an essential jazz recording.