McCoy & Maynard: Explosive Jazz
KIMMEL CENTER started it off with a Philly All-Star Jazz Night, the first segment: Gerald Veasley's Electric Mingus Project. Included are such noted players as John Swana, trumpet and flugelhorn; Carl Cox, tenor sax; Tony Micelli, vibes; Gerald Veasley, bass; Harry "Butch" Reed, drums and Pablo Batista, percussion. Swana, Cox, Micelli, Veasley and Reed are all Philly area natives. The second set has nationally known McCoy Tyner Trio with Tyner, another Philly native, on piano; Charnett Moffett, bass and Eric Harland, drums. Special guest include Philly's tenor sax dynamo, Bootsie Barnes with Gary Bartz, also on sax and Terrell Stafford on trumpet. This has the makings of the famed Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts.
John Swana, born in Norristown, took up trumpet at age 11, and got into jazz at 17. He's been there ever since, performing mostly in Philly and New York City. He told Metro, "I'm looking forward to hearing McCoy because I've been a fan of his for a long time" and "I'm more used to playing at intimate clubs, but I'm curious about playing Kimmel." Called "one of the most exciting trumpeters to arrive for a decade," by Mark Gardner, co-author, Blackwell's Guide to Recorded Jazz , Swana was also referred to as "one of the best damned trumpet players in the world today" by Webmaster. He seems the trumpet choice of everyone, appearing on dozens of recent recordings. Asked how many, he said, "Gosh, I don't know, maybe 40 or 50." Reminded of being described as something of a bop Bix, whose distinctive style was never matched, he said, "I hope I have a style that transcend everything I play." He said he stays in Philly because, "I like the town, it's more laid back than New York."
Bootise Barnes, easily one of the top tenor sax players anywhere and from Philly, has been working major jazz clubs since school days with classmates Bill Cosby, Lex Humphries and Al "Tootie" Heath. He worked with many jazz greats. He told Metro, "Playing at Kimmel is a musician's dream...playing with McCoy, Bartz and Terrell, hey, man, this is another of the highlights of my life in music." He noted, "I prepared myself so I could play with the best of them and I feel blessed because most musicians never get the opportunity. Friday, I'll be riding on a cloud almost next to Heaven, Amen!" He worked the Kimmel last year.
Swana's eloquent horn illustrated why he is Philly's top trumpet. Bootsie's opening solo wrote his name across the night and reminded one and all that he blows beautiful tenor. McCoy was a marvelous man at the keyboard as everyone expected.
Kimmel Center, Verizon Hall, Broad and Spruce Streets, 215.893.1999, Friday, Nov. 12, 8 p.m., $29$70.
ZANZIBAR BLUE tonight is featuring the searing trumpet work of Maynard Ferguson returning with his Big Bop Nouveau Band. He made headlines with his soaring horn working with Jimmy Dorsey and Stan Kenton orchestras back in the 1940s. His own band started such stars as Chick Corea, Cuck Mangione, Wayne Shorter and Slide Hampton.
Asked how he still managed to blow up a storm at age 75, Ferguson told Metro, "I just enjoy what I do....inspired by this great young band." He has fond Philly memories, "going way back to Peps and across the river at Red Hill Inn." He recalled "growing up together with Oscar Peterson in Montreal who got me into Birdland." Ferguson and his young band were astoundingly powerful. Ferguson defies time with his cyclonic horn and nothing could be more delightful than the powerful young guys behind him and the vary charming lady at the keyboard.It was a night to remember.
Zanzibar Blue, Broad and Walnut Streets, 215.732.4500, Friday, Nov. 12, 8 & 10 p.m., $45.
CHRIS' JAZZ CAFE Saturday, Nov. 20, has Jimmy Bruno and his trio with guest guitarists Jack Wilkins and Corey Christiansen. Bruno is one of Philly's long line of great guitarists. Wilkins is from New York, a top performer for 40 years, influenced by such greats as Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian. Christiansen has a cutting edge style. Bruno and Wilkins have a new DVD from a live show at Washington, Virginia. Their DVD will make a lot of guitar lovers happy. It is charmingly handled with no fanfare, just first class guitar from the men who make the instrument live.
Chris' Jazz Cafe, 1421 Sansom Street, 215.568.3100, Saturday, Nov. 20, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., $15,