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Rollins, Fortune and Schuur: A Sure Thing

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I think jazz is a great expression of spiritual things like creativity on the spot, never the same, just like nature... as long as society exists there will be a place for this type of music. —Sonny Rollins
Jazz icons: tenor sax stars Sonny Rollins and Sonny Fortune along with songstress-pianist Diane Schuur were brightening up the Philadelphia scene over the past two weeks.

KIMMEL CENTER, Verizon Hall, brought back legendary tenor sax man, Sonny Rollins, Oct. 22 continuing its year-long sax celebration. The instrument has few better representatives. Inspired by such diverse talents as Coleman Hawkins and Louis Jordan, Rollins went on to create jazz history working with Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown and Max Roach. Rollins and Coltrane defined hard bop tenor.

Commenting on his distinctively diverse styles in an interview, Rollins said, "I guess I'm a pretty eclectic guy. I appreciate all those people. Asked about jazz's future, Rollins replied, "It is pretty hard now to envision the future of the planet, much less the fustier of music. I think jazz is a great expression of spiritual things like creativity on the spot, never the same, just like nature... as long as society exists there will be a place for this type of music."

He expressed pleasure in playing at Kimmel: "For someone like me who comes from New York and played in Philadelphia previously, to now have this big place, the Kimmel Center close to where Peps and the Showboat used to be, it's amazing."

Asked what fans might expect at his Kimmel show, he replied, "That's a good question because I don't really know what kind of mood I will be in that night, where the band will be technically and musically, so its hard to say, really it's an improvisation whatever we happen to be into that night." What he demonstrated that night was what was never in doubt, awesome skill, exciting and extended solos that left the audience if not the player breathless. His trombonist accompanying him was almost a duplicate power. But what some old timers might have thought was that it was more exciting with JATP when the rhythmn section fed the stars and kept the pot boiling rather than having a series of searing solos that seemed all by themelves.

Kimmel Center, Broad & Spruce Streets, 215.893.1999, 8 p.m., Oct. 22, $35-$78, Sonny Rollins.

ZANZIBAR BLUE had Diane Schuur, the blind, piano-playing jazz vocalist star. She won two Grammy's as Best Jazz Vocalist, has appeared in jazz clubs worldwide, the White House, Carnegie Hall and on the Tonight Show. Her piano playing-vocalizing has won rave from legends: Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, B.B. King and Stan Getz. Jazz critic Leonard Feather called her, "a singer with all the right qualities—technique, range, adaptability to various pop, gospel, jazz and blues concepts."

Her session featured various standards such as "The Very Thought of You", "Body & Soul" and "Lover, Come Back to Me" that she brought back to life with both touching and searing song and piano styling abetted by a fine young tenor sax man. Her closing number, an up-tempo exciting treatment of Joe Williams famed "Every Day" was the perfect closing. The lady knows how to swing and sing.

Zanzibar Blue, Broad and Walnut Streets, 215. 732.4500, Sept. 22, 8& 10 p.m., $35, Diane Schuur.

CHRIS' JAZZ CAFE next weekend has Philly native and jazz sax legend Sonny fortune with his quartet. He played with Dizzy Gillespie, Mongo Santamaria, Buddy Rich, Miles Davis, George Benson and Nat Adderly. He was part of the Coltrane Legacy Band that featured McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Reggie Workman. His recordings have garnered rave reviews and he was featured on various TV shows. His quartet here will include Bob Butta, piano; Lee Smith, bass and Steven Johns, drums. His newest CD is Continuum.

Chris' Jazz Cafe, 1421 Sansom St., 215.568.3131., 9 p.m.-1 a.m., Oct. 29-30, $15, Sonny Fortune.

THE ANNENBERG CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS Oct. 29. is featuring the spirited sounds of Dave Samuels and The Caribbean Jazz Project. The sextet, will be blending jazz, Afro-Cuban and South American music. It has six recordings including the Grammy-nominated Birds of a Feather in 2003. Samuels, worked with Gerry Mulligan, Oscar Peterson, and Chet Baker. He will be playing vibes and marimba.

The Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut Street, 215.898.6701, 8 p.m., Oct. 29, $21-$43., The Caribbean Jazz Project.

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