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The Philadelphia jazz scene over the July-August period had something for almost every taste.
THE PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART July 30 was serving up major mainstream jazz with long-time, local favorite, The Tony Williams Quartet. Williams plays alto sax and has been leading jazz groups here for half a century playing jazz standards from blues to bop and beautiful basic ballads. He won last year's Mellon Community Jazz Award among others. He can usually be found weekends at The Ritz Hotel, so this resplendent setting will not be an entirely new ambiance. They even have martinis being served. This is Williams first museum engagement and he considers it an occasion. He told us: What they have established is good for Philadelphia lovers of musicto have another venue to go and watch in a nice, comfortable atmosphere." His quartet includes top jazz sidemen Lee Smith, bass; Jimmy Griffin, drums and Don wilson, piano.
ZANZIBAR BLUE had various shades of jazz over the next two weeks. The Frank & Joe Show (Frank Vignola-guitar) (Joe Ascione-percussionist) mixed up vintage jazz from Django to Ellington with a few added touches from Mozart and the Doobie Brothers. Their Hyena Records debut album 33 1/3 was just released. This is their first Zanzibar appearance. Joe says, "I am excited to be playing Philly" noting he lived once in the Olney section and that "playing a great venue like Zanzibar Blue is a blast." He said their music variety is basic, that "good music is good music" and that "it all starts with a great melody."
The next night Zanzibar had The Bad Plus, a trio, mixing up rock influence jazz among other genres. The following weekend, one of Philadelphia's (and the world's) finest jazz guitarist, Pat Martino, came in with his new quintet. This native Philadelphian has been innovating jazz stylings for some 30 years and has been acclaimed worldwide with his recordings Think Tank and Live at Yoshi's both nominated for Grammy awards. Martino explains his playing simply as "nothing more natural than doing what I love so deeply as part of my life." He notes that Philadelphia "has throughout its history been a major contributor to the fulfillment of" the phenomena of jazz.
CHRIS' JAZZ CAFE August 5 was showcasing the Mack Avenue All Stars featuring Eugene Maslov, piano; Sean Jones, trumpet; and Ron Blake, sax. Joining them will be local bassist star Charles Fambrough and Wilmington drummer, Wilby Fletcher. Tonight local favorites Bootsie Barnes (sax) and John Swanna (trumpet) take over. The next night it was The Brazilian Sounds of Minas and their Quintet.
I love jazz because it is a pure American music and can be expressed in different ways depending upon the artist.
I was first exposed to jazz while as a teenager I listened to Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Louis Armstrong, on a jazz
radio station in New York City.