September Swings and Sings in Philly

AAJ Staff By

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Kimmel Center and Zanzibar Blue are leading the way in the Philadelphia jazz scene over the next two weeks (Sept 10-17) with various jazz spots holding their own. KIMMEL CENTER blasts off the Mellon Jazz Friday series in Kimmel's 4th season with jazz legend-composer-saxophonist Ornette Coleman. This set with two drummers and a bassist, launches a year-long salute to the sax. A local sax players jam session is scheduled earlier. Later series performers include Sonny Rollins, Bradford Marsalis, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, among others. Texas-born Coleman led the way in free jazz after a lifetime of playing things his own way on sax. He also plays trumpet and violin, but whatever he plays, it is his way. The Chicago Sun times said Coleman has created "one of the most distinctive and thrilling sounds in jazz...a blues Picasso." Mervon Mehta, Vice President, Programming and Education, for Kimmel, also does it his way. He said his criteria for artists selections are basic—"Do I like them?" He added, "We are presenting the best artists of different genres." Not everyone was carried away by Coleman. Some 20 to 30 people got up and walked out while he was playing. His bird like and I don't mean Charlie Parker sounds were a bit too much for many although most of the crowd seemed to like it. Kimmel Center, Bruce and Spruce Streets, 21.5.893.1999, Friday, Sept. 17, 8 p.m., $29-$70. ZANZIBAR BLUE brings back Lizz Wright, who held the audience spellbound last year with a rich, throaty song styling that mixes overtones of blues and gospel. She will be performing for three nights reflecting her strong audience appeal. Verve Records producer Ron Goldstein said her music, which she composes and sings, is "music that portrays real life and real people." Ms Wright, discovered just two years ago, started singing in a church choir where she played piano at just 14. She even sounds better in person than she does on her highly touted CD. This young, just 24, dynamic vocalist was mesmerizing in her last show Sunday night before a sold out audience that clearly could not get enough of what's Wright in the world of jazz. Her songs, several, originals, had overtones in delivery of Mahalia Jackson and Bessie Smith. Her stage presence was beyond belief for one so young. She owned the audience and they responded with constant applause. Her backup crew was first class, but it was Ms Wright's night. Zanzibar Blue, Broad and Walnut Streets, 215.732.4500, Friday-Saturday, Sept. 17-18, 8&10 p.m.; $40, Sunday, Sept. 19, 7:& 9 p.m.,$35.CHRIS' JAZZ CAFE welcomes the return of Philly native, drummer, "ARI" HOENIG, Sept. 11 with his trio featuring Jean Michel Pilc on piano. Pilc isfrom France. Hoenig's exciting drumming gets even the most blasé club regulars pounding on the tables. He worked with Gerry Mulligan and Shirley Scott, graduated from the University of Texas in 1995 and has been setting the jazz scene on fire ever since. Al McMahon, Chris' talent manager, said, "He is one of the finest and most in-demand drummers working in jazz today." Chris' Jazz Cafe, 1421 Sansom St., 215.568.3131., Saturday, Sept. 11, 9 p.m-1 a.m., $10 T.HE PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART Sept. 10 is showcasing Philly native, Pearl Williams and her quartet. She started with classical piano in high school, but followed her dream to be a jazz singer. She worked with local, now-famed, jazz pianist, McCoy Tyner, a neighbor, and performed with Count Basie and Bernie Fields Orchestras and the Pearl Roberts Singers. Her first CD was recorded with tenor saxophonist Houston Person. This museum has been displaying some of the finest Philadelphia artists. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th and the Parkway, 215.768.8100, 5:45& 7:15 p.m., $10-$7, martinis and munchables extra., ST. MARY'S CHURCH Sept. 19, Sunday, will have a jazz service with young guitarist composer Matt Davis and his group Aerial Photograph. He worked with noted players Byard Lancaster, Terrell Stafford and the late Eddie Green. Davis graduated from Temple in 2001. He proudly proclaims, "I have been supporting myself completely with my music and performances." His group worked at the Kimmel, Tin Angel and Tritone. St. Mary's Church, is at 40th & Locust Streets, Sunday, September 19, 8 p.m., $10.

OLD PINE CHURCH continues its Jazz Vespers (its 219th) Sept. 11 with the ice cream blonde, blues and ballad belter (among other things) Barbara Montgomery. Those other things include her work with Mothers Against Gun violence, inner city youth programs, composing, singing, writing, etc., etc., etc. She will be appearing at the Church with her music director and co-producer-writer, etc., Aaron Graves on piano. He worked with Stanley Turrentine, Cassandra Wilson and the famed Jimmy Scott. Also on board will be Lee Smith, bass man supreme; plus Marlon Simon on drums. Old Pine Church, 4th & Pine Streets, Sept. 19, 5 p.m., free will offering.

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