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Philadelphia jazz clubs are bursting with top talent.
CHRIS' JAZZ CAFE brought back the world famous Junior Mance with his trio on Oct. 8, his first time back in 50 years. He has worked with all starsLester Young, Gene Ammons, Dinah Washington, Cannonball Adderley, Dizzy Gillespie and Eddie "Lockjaw Davis. He was inducted in the International Jazz Hall of fame in 1997. And, on Oct. 22, Latin star David Sanchez and his quartet will be there. This little club just off Broad Street continues to recreate the joys of the great 52nd Street clubs of Swing Street fame.
ZANZIBAR BLUE, the most sophisticated club in town, continues its explosive sets with jazz legend Spyro Gyra on Oct. 21-22. It has been making jazz history (although some find its musical genre impossible to pin down) since they started 30 years ago. Their 28th album, The Deep End, has been garnering rave reviews.
Top local talent got showcasing with the appearance of "Father John D'Amico and his trio on Oct. 9. He has been keeping the jazz pot cooking in Philadlephia for years and presides weekly over the jam sessions at the 23rd Street Cafe.
KIMMEL CENTER not far behind in the jazz star parade brings in legendary Sax star Von Freeman also known as The Vonski to perform with Philly's own reliable Mickey Roker in a Mellon Jazz Up Close series. The next one will be Ellis Marsalis with Orrin Evans on Nov. 19. Freeman has been a Chicago mainstay with a distinctive blues/jazz styling still going strong at the tender age of 83. Chick Corea, one of the most influential modern jazz men on piano was there with his group, Touchstone, Oct. 14. The audience was clearly fans of his and the performance was a demonstration of incrdible technique by one and all,most notably by Jorge Pardo on sax. A surprise last number performance by the un- billed Kenny McFerrin brought the most thunderous applause from the audience. Corea curiously made a point of playing every number without announcing or saying what the title was of any. I wonder how he would react to a review that mentioned everything about the performance, but the names of the performers. Odeon Pope and Chris McBride will be there on Nov. 18 for the Third Annual Philly All Star Night.
THE PAINTED BRIDE ART CENTER continues with its surprisingly original, often daring jazz offerings on Oct. 28 with Balkan legend Yuri Yanakov and Ivo Papasov with their 7-piece Bulgarian Bebop group. They represent a recap of the famed Bulgarian "wedding music. They also have a new album Together Again. Drummer Dafnis Prieto with his small big band provided some of the Cuban jazz tradition at this gem of a jazz club on Oct. 1. They just keep the pot boiling on interesting jazz stylings. All this is just a summary of some of the superior stars shining over Philly jazz skies this season.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.