Jazz

Back in 1958, jazz drummer Art Blakey brought together ten percussionists, including Philly Joe Jones, to put his own spin on Afro-Caribbean rhythms. The result was Blakey's 1959 album, Holiday for Skins.

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.

Listening to Joanna Pascale sing is like getting a big hug. Her voice is warm, wise and easy to love. The Philly native has put out fine solo albums previously, but nothing like Wildflower, a deeply felt record that freely mixes pop tunes, blues, and outlier standards.

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.

Our Jazz Appreciation Month celebration continues this week as we present our favorite live jazz recordings. Tune in during the week of April 13th at 7 pm, 9:30 pm, 12:30 am and 5:30 am to hear top live jazz picks from Bob Perkins, Jeff Duperon, Zivit, J. Michael Harrison, Bob Craig, and Maureen Malloy.

Listen to our hosts discuss their favorite live recordings below.

1.  Zivit - Bill Evans - "My Man's Gone Now" - Sunday at the Village Vanguard

Art Blakey was to the small band what Duke Ellington was to the big band, meaning that over the years Blakey’s small groups—like Ellington’s big bands—produced a great number of jazz artists, many of whom became jazz legends.

Very often with famous entertainers, only the first name is sufficient for identification. This happens particularly in the genres of jazz and standard/popular music. When a hip person wants to say something about a well-known artist, they may refer to that artist as Sarah, Billie, Ella, or Carmen. The latter of course is a reference to Carmen McRae, dubbed by jazz critics, writers and fans, "The Singer’s Singer."  

He stood five feet, two inches tall, and his musical colleagues dubbed him “Swee’ Pea,” after the little character in the Popeye cartoons. But Billy Strayhorn ranked with the giants that composed enduring standard popular music. He was also nobody’s cartoon character. The handle was a reverent tease, applied by Strayhorn’s musical associates in the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

One night recently, as I was home struggling to convince my toddler that the floor is not where leftover food lives, John Coltrane and Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood” came on the radio. Suddenly, I found myself paying a bit more attention to the music than the drama at hand. Why? Because I knew what was coming....that specific moment in the song that always gets to me. There's a total mood shift as the timing completely changes and you start to notice the drums more and more. And then you start to wonder if the drums were even there at all during the beginning of the tune.

Duke Ellington was a fascinating figure—so much so that quite a number of books and shorter profiles of the man came to be during his time, and well after his passing. Writers were always peering over his shoulder, trying to get a fix on how he operated his band and made it so successful; they even attempted to poke into his personal life, which the Duke managed to keep fairly secret.