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Phlly Jazz In Every Genre

AAJ Staff By

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Philadelphia has jazz in every genre including some towering tenor sax stylings from James Carter.

KIMMEL CENTER was showcasing torrid tenor sax, all-around reed man James Carter Jan. 21 plus the noted Jon Faddis Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra. Carter, just 27, from Detroit, switches not only reed instruments, but genres covering jazz from swing to bop. He has been widely praised for his work including stints with The Charlie Mingus Big Band, Lester Bowie and Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis.

Carter's Kimmel program featured selections from his CD Gardenias for Lady Day (Billie Holiday). Her singing, he noted in a recent phone interview, "is not relegated to any genre. Most people put her in a blues style, but she is more, much more more." Some songs played were: "Strange Fruit," "More Than You Know" and "You're a Lucky Guy." He said, "I'll also be doing an original of mine, 'Little Hat's Odyssey,' a reference to my son, a nick name given because he's always wearing different hats."

Acknowledging sax stars, Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins, he said, "I always related to Hawk and Prez, that's a given...they are beacons you always look forward to hearing." He explained his style versatility saying, "Part of everyone's problem is they get caught up on parameters and it becomes a burden. I just do it, that's all it's gonna take, not going to say now I'll play a little swing or avant-garde, just go ahead and do what feels right. It's just about doing what feels natural, whatever it calls for, not looking at things as tricks or gimmicks."

There were times his performance was bordering on a demonstration of incredible phrasing and technique on just about every reed instrument known. Working with a string orchestra accompaniment, led by Diane Monroe, there was a sense of hearing Charlie Parker with Strings when the Bird demonstrated that boppers know melodic lines. Apart from techique and virtuosity, Mr. Carter's horn has a lovely tone. He was working with trumpet man Dwight Adams, a horn player with his own musical story. I don't think I ever saw so much focus on just one instrument since the records of Coltrane, but the net effect was compelling. Another trumpet virtuoso, Jon Faddis led his orchestra through a fine array of standards including an updated version of" Sing, Sing, Sing."

Louis Prima would not recognize it but I think Goodman might with some help from Stan Kenton perhaps. Mr. Faddis, who had a first class aggregation and some fine numbers with support from people such as tenor man Frank Wess, and trumpet man Terrell Stafford, plays a very compelling horn himself. I think Faddis would do well to abandon his attempt at humorous narrative as they play. The jokes and delivery were something best left in the vaudeville that did not survive.

Kimmel Center, Verizon Hall, Broad & Spruce Streets, 215-952-893 x1999, 8 p.m., Jan. 21, $29-$70, Evans & Faddis.

WORLD LIVE CAFE serves up some New Orleans style jazz in time for Mardi Gras (Feb. 1) with Kermit Ruffins, trumpet, and special guest blues-gospel vocalist Topsy Chapman on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Ruffins will be featuring the two-beat, toe-tapping tempos of his new Putumayo Records CD ( Kermit Ruffins ) with such traditional favorites as "Ain't Misbehavin" and "Bye and Bye." The band is a fine group, but Mr. Ruffins singing would be something that you should be sipping quite a few New Oreleans mint julips to really enjoy.

World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut Street, 215-222-1400, 7:30-10 p.m., Jan. 25, $23, Ruffins.

CHRIS' JAZZ CAFE style servings include alto sax star Jim Snidero with trumpet man John Swana and the Sid Simmons Trio Saturday, Jan. 22 and powerhouse tenor man Bootsie Barnes with Swana and Joe Magnarelli Jan. 28 and with Philly song favorite, Mary Ellen Desmond and the Tom Lawton Trio on Jan. 29. Snidero has worked with Mingus, McDuff, Sinatra, Bennett and Sting. His latest CD is Close Up.

Chris' Jazz Cafe, 1421 Sansom Street, 215-568-3131, 9 p.m.-1a.m.,$12 all dates, Jan. 21-Snidero, Jan. 28-Barnes/Swana, Jan. 29-Barnes-Desmond.

ORTLIEB'S JAZZ HAUS has tenor titans Ralph Bowen and Greg Tandy with Orrin Evans and Company blowing up a storm this weekendwith a tribute to Charles Mingus in the oldest continuously running jazz club in town.

Ortlieb's Jazz Haus, 847 N. Third Street, 215-952-1035, 8:45 p.m.-1:30 a.m., Jan. 21-22, $10, Bowen/Tandy.

Photo Credit
C. Andrew Hovan

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