Bop Goes the Opera - In 2002, the brilliant saxophonistÂ Joe LovanoÂ took the jazz-meets-classical music concept outside of the box when he recorded jazz versions of tunes from the songbook of opera legend Enrico Caruso. While Viva Caruso was critically acclaimed and did well for Lovano and Blue Note Records, it represented, at the time, the beginning and end of jazz versions of operatic compositions and vice-versa. Until now.
ORGAN-IZING: In keeping with Philadelphiaâ€™s contribution to jazz through the years, it must be mentioned that the city and surrounding areas are also known for producing some of the finest jazz organ players in history. The most famous of them all, Jimmy Smith, was born in Norristown. Joey DeFrancesco, a native Philadelphian, helped put the Hammond B-3 organ back on the map. And who can forget area natives like Richard â€śGrooveâ€ť Holmes and Trudy Pitts? Organist Dan Fogel has been at it for a long time, despite trends and ups and downs in jazz organ popularity.
This has been a swinging year, and a healthy one for jazz in these parts. The Kimmel Center is upping its commitment to jazz (see details below), non-profits like Jazz Bridge and The Jazz Sanctuary are presenting almost 100 concerts per season, museums have hosted jazz programs, mini-jazz fests are popping up all over, new and old jazz jam sessions are doing above average business, and restaurants and clubs that never used live music of any kind are now booking jazz. Destinations like The Prime Rib and Sullivanâ€™s maintain a policy of booking jazz pianists seven nights a week.
Check out what's new and what's happening this month in jazz. ICON Magazines's Bruce Klauber has the scoop. QUEST FOR A FEST: Those who hope to lure a major, multi-day, corporately sponsored jazz festival back to Philadelphia may well look at The Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival in Sussex Country, Delaware, as a good model. This fest, soon to celebrate its 25th anniversary, runs from October 17 through October 20 with around 14 shows being presented on five area stages.
On Sunday June 2nd, WRTI, ICON magazine, Jacobs Music, The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and Drum Workshop join forces to sponsor "An Afternoon of Jazz and Classical Music." WRTI's Bob Perkins will play host to jazz vocalist Paula Johns, The All-Star Jazz Quartet featuring Bruce Klauber, Andy Kahn, Bruce Kaminsky and Asher Stein, The Musicopia Student Drum Line, pianist Hanchien Lee from The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and other guests.