A trio of major jazz stars (Richie Cole, Terence Blanchard and Tony Bennett) are brightening up the Philly jazz scene over the next two weeks. CHRIS' JAZZ CAFE September 2 had Richie Cole and his Alto Madness Orchestra with a party gig for his new CD Back On Top.
Cole told us, "I always like playing Chris', it's one of my favorite jazz clubs; it's the real deal and that "Philadelphia is a real jazz town where a lot of jazz started. He has toured the world including serving as host of a jazz festival in in Finland for six years. He noted, "I just came back from Siberia and am going into Berlin and back to Russia For some reason, they love me in Russia. Cole's worked with Phil Woods, Art Pepper, Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton, The Manhattan Transfer, and four years with the late Eddie Jefferson since starting more than 35 years ago. He noted, "I have so many memories of those days, particularly working with Buddy Rich who "I got along with so well he even wanted me to marry his daughter.
The alto sax master summed up his reported "madcap humor reputation: "I love playing jazz and I am having a good time. He added, "I am glad to be back in Philly with a new CD done for a brand new record company called Jazz Excursions
His session at Chris' featured a number of top local musicians such as the always exciting Craig Thomas on bass and Peter Lawford on piano. Cole was entertaining as billed, playing a horn that ranged from bop to swing and had the crowd applauding constantly. He ran through a broad selection of pieces including one he may have done right on the spot called Chris' Blues. Chris' Jazz Cafe, 1421 Sansom Street, 215-732-5688, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., Sept. 2, $12, Richie Cole. ZANZIBAR BLUE the following weekend had trumpet master Terence Blanchard showcasing his new CD Flow
co-produced with Herbie Hancock. Blanchard worked with Lionel Hampton, Art Blakey and Sonny Rollins, provided the music for "Mo' Better Blues and has won multiple jazz awards. He is Artistic Director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at USC. He last appeared here at the Kimmel Center in November and said he loved "working with great musicians and entertaining an audience all at the same time. Zanzibar Blue, Broad and Walnut Streets, 215-732-4500, 8&10 p.m., Sept. 9-10, $30, Terence Blanchard.
KIMMEL CENTER opened its 2005-06 season with the legendary jazz/pop vocalist, Tony Bennett on Thursday, Sept 15. The world-famous vocalist, called "the best singer in the business by Frank Sinatra has won twelve Grammy Awards and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He performs classic jazz and pop vocals with style and talent that has been garnering awards and fans worldwide for half a century. He demonstrated one of his other talents, lyric writing, at the Kimmel show. His November 2004 CD, The Art of Romance
marked his debut as a lyricist.Bennett's performance was a masterpiece demonstration of stage presentation that had the audience applauding every number wildly and standing in tribute several times. He really is not technically a jazz singer by many standards, but he sings standards with jazz style and inflections. He is probably the last major song stylist left in the business. This was easily one of the finest Kimmel shows in years. At one point he demonstrated the fine acoustics in the hall by singing without any loudspeaker pick up. This also demonstrated what fine voice this fabeled singer still has working for him. Kimmel Center, Broad and Spruce Streets, 215-893-1999, 8 p.m., Sept 15, $111-$51, Tony Bennett.