Philadelphia jazz will be swinging the old year out, and in some cases, singing the New Year in. Even if you don't drink, the music is somewhat intoxicating. Just a few events worth noting include:
Chris' Jazz Cafe gets things started with Joanna Pascale and her quartet and special guest, Bootsie Barnes, on Friday, Dec. 30, starting at 9 PM for a $20 cover. Pascale has one of the most distinctive jazz voices in recent years resulting in her working everywhere from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to Ortlieb's Jazz Haus and Chris' Jazz Cafe, among others. Bootsie is the proverbial king of the hill these days with a tenor sax that can evoke memories of Coleman Hawkins ability to play jump jazz, bop or soulful ballads. He is a Philly native who worked with the best.
New Year's Eve, Dec. 31, Chris' brings the new year in with an all-star show with Charles Frambough on bass and Jimmy Bruno, one of the world's finest jazz guitarists. Tony Miceli on vibes and Dan Monaghan on drums will provide assured support. Dan is one of the most swinging drummers working today and Miceli is building a strong rep as a vibes man who knows how to keep the pot boiling. They will be joined by tenor sax star Paul Kendall. Frambough has worked with McCoy Tyner, Grover Washington, Jr. and Art Blakey, amongst others. This is one of the only mainstream jazz clubs offering a New Year's Eve package at the reasonable price of just $20 with shows at 8 and 10 PM
The club is at 1421 Sansom St., call 215-568-31-31 for reservations.
Ortlieb's Jazz Haus, Philly's longest running jazz club, starts the new year right with Bootsie Barnes joining the John Swana Sextet including the club's star drummer, Mickey Roker. Swana has been called something of a bop Bix, playing trumpet with so many groups in so many places it has become hard to keep track of his various gigs. The reason for these multiple gigs is basiche is one of the very finest trumpet men working anywhere. He can also just about play anywhere, but prefers the hometown warmth of Philadelphia. Pete Souders, the owner, who plays a fair sax himself, has kept this club filled with top talent for two decades. The food and drinks are fabulous with the Dec. 31 package going for $90.
The club is at 847 N. 3rd Street, 215-922-1035.
Zanzibar Blue, clearly the most sophisticated dinner-jazz club in town, brings back another local Philly jazz star, Gerald Veasley, for the New Year's weekend. Veasley, named the best electric bassist by Jazz Magazine and by Philadelphia Magazine, has been the feature star at four out of last five New Year's Eve celebrations at the club. Prices are $35 for the 8 & 10 PM shows on Friday, and $150 for Saturday that includes a four-course dinner with the show. Veasley, a University of Penn grad has worked with McCoy Tyner, Grover Washington, Art Blakey even Weather Report.
The club is at Broad and Walnut Streets, 215-732-4500.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art continues its Friday night jazz sessions with a double package on Dec. 30, featuring Orrin Evens, top piano man along with a film of jazz named A Great Day In Harlem. The 1958 famed photo for Esquire showing many of the major main jazz stars still alive on a Harlem doorstep became the focus for interviews with those still surviving. Just a few weeks ago, they had Ms. Pascale. Shows are 5:45-8:15 PM for just $12-$8.
Located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street, 215-763-8100