Philadelphia’s gold mine of native jazz talent was out shining for all to see in the last two weeks of May.
CHRIS’ JAZZ CAFE is showcasing incredibly assured, talented young singer, Joanna Pascale, Thursday, June 3. Ms Pascale, just 24, attended Philadelphia’s Performing Arts High School and Temple University. She has a new CD, “When Lights Are Low,” easily one of the finest pop/jazz vocal offerings this year by anyone, anywhere, backed by a first-class local group. The group included: Terrell Stafford, trumpet; Farid Baron, bass; Gary Moran, piano; Madison Rast, bass; Byron Landham, drums and Craig Ebner, guitar. Their playing was a superb accompaniment to this lady’s perfect vocal renditions. She will also be at the Prime Rib June 3. Meg Clifton, another fine, young, local singer who seems to literally breathe jazz overtones in pop vocals was at Chris’ backed by the recently formed The Philly 5, May 22. The group, close friends who have worked together for years, includes such talented musicians as: John Swana, trumpet; Chris Farr, sax; Tony Miceli, vibes, Madison Rast, bass and Dan Monaghan on drums. Their just released first CD, “Looking East,” demonstrates their astonishing, ample artistry. In some respects, the group reminds me of the film Blues In The Night where several disparate jazz musicians got together to play their kind of music. They are th happy future of jazz.
ZANZIBAR BLUE next weekend is bringing in Jamie Cullum, the pianoplaying, English vocalist, some call “the Sinatra in sneakers.” His exciting piano work and vivid vocalizing have made him a top-sellng star in England. Like Jane Monheit and Stacey Kent, he’s bringing new life to old standards. He got interested in jazz and pop song classics, now often neglected, through his youthful explorations of rock and roll. His work on the piano and song standards has had audiences all over rocking.
ARS NOVA WORKSHOP brought in Kevin Norton’s Living Language group at the Slought Foundation May 21. Composer/pianist Norton worked with Milt Hinton and Anthony Braxton groups and tenor saxophonist Louis Belogenis has worked extensively with Rashied Ali. Others in this avant-garde gathering have comparable depth experience.
ORTLIEB’S JAZZ HAUS is showcasing sax stars over the next two weeks with Jim Snider on alto working with the Sid Simmons Quartet this weekend and Michael Marcus on tenor backed by the Mickey Roker Quartet next Saturday. Both can set the place on fire, musically speaking.