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Articles by Victor L. Schermer

INTERVIEWS

Dave Liebman: Archives and Improvisations - The Past and the Now of a Life in Jazz

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Prolific saxophonist, composer, band leader, and educator Dave Liebman is a living legend, an NEA Jazz Master who has been making waves since the 1970s and never stops growing, learning, and discovering. His autobiography, What It Is (Scarecrow Press, 2012, with Lewis Porter) is an honest probing of his more than half century experience as a musician in the context of his personal life and those with whom he has performed. During all those years, Liebman has collected ...

LIVE REVIEWS

The Philly Pops Big Band with Terell Stafford and Guests at the Kimmel Center

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The Philly Pops Big Band featuring Terell Stafford The Kimmel Center for Performing Arts Philadelphia, PA January 19, 2019 The Philly Pops wide-berthed orchestra includes some of the finest working jazz musicians in the city. The Pops' lead trumpet chair, Matt Gallagher, periodically assembles them as the “Philly Pops Big Band" for events such as the “Welcome America" July 4th celebration. This was the second of three performances of their first formal ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Benjamin Boone & Philip Levine: The Poetry of Jazz Volume Two

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Poetry and music are overlapping forms of expression. Poetry emphasizes the musicality of words. Music has many features of poetry including sound, syntax, and meaning. Still, only a few poets have spoken their poems in a musical context. It is hard to do effectively because speech and music have different functions: speech is about things, intentions, and ideas, about which music can only be suggestive. The spoken word is not the same as a song, words set to a melody. ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Odean Pope Quartet at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

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Odean Pope Quartet “Friday Nights" Music Series Philadelphia Museum of Art Philadelphia, PA January 11, 2019 The great tenor saxophonist Odean Pope came up in Philadelphia and still calls it home. He obtained his sea legs together with pianist Ray Bryant, John Coltrane and other young woodshedding musicians in Germantown and around the city way back in the 1950s when they were developing the new hard bop approach. And he ...

FILM REVIEWS

Green Book: A Serious Comedy and Jazz Allegory

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Green Book DreamWorks Universal 2018 Starting perhaps in the 1930s, African American jazz musicians and bands from the north, midwest, and west toured the segregationist South. There they found to their dismay that as much as they were sought after for performances, they were compelled to live in separate hotels and use non-white bathrooms and restaurants, a humiliating experience for men and women who were just beginning to acquire self-respect through their music. After World War ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy at St. Luke's Church

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Mary Ellen Desmond Comfort and Joy Church of St.Luke and the Epiphany Philadelphia, PA December 16, 2018 Mary Ellen Desmond is one of the most treasured Philadelphia-based vocalists, and for the last fifteen years she has provided the inspiration for and fronted the same top of the line quartet (Larry McKenna on tenor saxophone; Tom Lawton, piano; Lee Smith, bass; and Dan Monaghan, drums) for the annual Comfort and Joy ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Frank Kimbrough: Monk's Dreams

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Thelonious Monk, though controversial in his time, was a brilliant, innovative pianist and composer with a unique way of conceiving the music that was yet remarkably simpatico with standard forms. Many of his compositions (they are much more than “tunes," though I'll use that word here as shorthand) have become a regular part of the jazz repertoire, and it is only natural that around the 2017 centennial celebration of Monk's birth, there would be heightened interest in his music.

LIVE REVIEWS

Joanna Pascale at Chris' Jazz Cafe

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Joanna Pascale Chris' Jazz Cafe Philadelphia, PA November 10, 2018 The content of this show came as a complete surprise to this reviewer. I expected vocalist Joanna Pascale, who is by now a Philadelphia legend, to sing a typical set of standards from the Great American Songbook. Instead, she blew everyone away with a set of Italian tunes that I usually hear in the background at a little coffee shop called Anthony's in South Philadelphia! ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Alex Delcourt: The French Quarter

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This is the debut album of bassist Alex Delcourt, a young man who grew up in Paris and came to the U.S. to become involved in the jazz scene, where he has been composing, working as a sideman, and leading his own groups in and around Philadelphia and New York. A recipient of the Catherine R. and Anthony A. Clifton Foundation award for Music Performance, he has been studying intensively with bassist Steve Beskrone and has been a member of ...

BOOK REVIEWS

More Than A Jazz Legend: Dexter Gordon and His Search For Personal Integrity

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Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon Maxine Gordon 261 Pages ISBN: #9780520280649 University of California Press 2018 Dexter Gordon became a jazz legend in his own time. He played a key role in the bebop and hard bop movements, created an instantly recognizable style that came from Louis Armstrong and Lester Young but moved quickly into the modern jazz era, and established a new standard for tenor saxophone playing. ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Bobby Zankel's Warriors Play Muhal Richard Abrams at October Revolution

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Bobby Zankel's Warriors Of The Wonderful Sound Marty Ehrlich, Conductor The Music Of Muhal Richard Abrams: Soundpath October Revolution Festival Christ Church Neighborhood House (Great Hall) Philadelphia, PA October 7, 2018 The late great pianist Muhal Richard Abrams was for many years a major force in modern jazz, accompanying a host of legendary and emerging new musicians, making ground-breaking recordings, and developing new musical forms ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Tessa Souter: Picture in Black and White

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New York-based vocalist Tessa Souter is becoming treasured among jazz fans and musicians alike. Equally effective in clubs, in concert and on her several fine recordings, she combines the sonority, vocal range and discipline of a classical contralto with subtle and sultry jazz inflections. Everything she sings is well thought out and in good taste. She works with the best instrumentalists and has a consummate grasp of both swing and the modern jazz idiom, as well as folk and world ...