Philadelphia jazz was as hot as the temperature over the last two weeks of July with a stellar performance by Harry Allen and Joe Cohn.
The Swann Lounge, at Philadelphia's Four Seasons Hotel, was showcasing top local jazz vocalist, Mary Ellen Desmond, Saturday, July 30. This classically trained singer with a 3-and-1/2 octave range has been entertaining jazz audiences for some 20 years. She covers the proverbial waterfront singing Mozart, jazz and even such old time pop standards as "Cow, Cow Boogie. Among her favorites, she confided are, "such icons as Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer. She had a booking at the Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival, July 26, in Westfield, N.J. She saId, "This is my hometown and I am very happy to return for my third booking at the Festival. You can generally find her all over town about which she says, "Hope to see you somewhere.
Just a few of her regular gigs are the L2 Restaurant and Bar at 2201 South Street every Thursday night along with the Swann Lounge.
The Swann Lounge, Four Seasons Hotel, 130 N. 18th Street
July 30, 9PM-1AM (Mary Ellen Desmond)
Chris' Jazz Cafe was swinging with sax appeal over the last two weeks. Sax stars Gerry and Adam Niewood appeared on July 23. Gerry has worked with Chuck Mangione from 1968 through 1977, with later dates with Gil Evans, Gerry Sullivan and Simon and Garfunkel. He rejoined Mangione in the mid '90s. His son Adam has been praised by no less than sax great Phil Woods.
On July 30, sax master Harry Allen was joined with the Joe Cohn Quartet. Allen has worked with such stars as Rosemary Clooney, Harry Sweets Edison, John Pizzarelli and Tony Bennett. Cohn is the son of famed sax man/composer Al Cohn and vocalist Marilyn Moore.
Rounding out the quartet were bassist Chuck Riggs and drummer Joel Forbes. Their work that night was music magic with Allen demonstrating the potency of classic jazz. He went through the Great American Songbook and a few originals, taking the time to also tell the audience what was being played, something more musicians ought to do instead of virtually ignoring the patrons as if they were intruders.
Allen made it like something special which it was. He was even dressed classically in a blue sports coat and tie, like some ghost from 52nd Street when Jimmy Ryans was going strong. His tenor was liltingly lovely and Cohn's guitar were as exciting as Eddie Lang and Les Paul at their best.
They have a new CD, The Harry Allen and Joe Cohn Quartet, on GAC records, which is a good example of what they can do with some old war horses such as "Do I Love You" and "Luck Be A Lady." Get this CD, but better yet, see them in person when they play your area.
Chris' Jazz Cafe,
1431 Sansom Street
July 23, 9PM-1AM (Harry Allen) $12
July 30, same time and price (Gerry and Adam Niewood)
On July 22-23 Zanzibar Blue featured pianist Michael Wolff and his band, Impure Thoughts. He has worked with Cannonball Adderly, later with Sonny Rollins and as musical director for Nancy Wilson going on to being bandleader/musical director for the Arsenio Hall Show for 5-and-1/2 years. He has gone from straight ahead jazz to world music jazz, and his latest CD Impure Thoughts, reflects that trend.
Broad and Walnut Streets
215.732.4500 July 22-23, 8PM & 10PM, $25 (Michael Wolff)