The September song in Philadelphia this year was a powerhouse package of jazz presentations going from Wynton Marsalis to Bud Shank to Sonny Fortune to Donald Byrd to a local jazz festival. KIMMEL CENTER, (Verizon Hall) launches its third season with its second year of "Best of Philly" Awards ( this time for its jazz presentations) next Friday with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Marsalis, the world famous trumpet player, band leader, composer, is the only jazz musician to receive the Pulitzer Prize (in 1997 for his work, Blood On The Fields). He was born in New Orleans in 1961 and has been making jazz history seemingly ever since. He was trained in classical music, conducted lectures and programs on jazz for youth and named one of America’s 25 Most Influential People by Time Magazine. He has won nine Grammy Awards for his recordings. The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, led by Mr. Marsalis, features some of the finest American jazz artists working today. The program was announced from the stage. What they demonstrated in person was that whatever one feels about his arrangements, Marsalis still blows beautiful horn and he manages to make bop swing with his all star group.
CHRIS’ JAZZ CAFE Sept. 12 brought in another jazz legend, Bud Shank, sax man, composer and arranger, marking his first return to Philadelphia since the mid 1950s. Shank worked with such major jazz figures as Charlie Barnet and Stan Kenton, later joining with Ray Brown, Jeff Hamilton and Laurindo Almeida to form the famous LA Four. His music covers the proverbial waterfront from swing to bop. He was joined by such top local stars as Mark Kramer, piano; Lee Smith, bass and Dan Monaghan on drums. The session was akin to a great jazz concert with such time-tested standards as I’m Old Fashioned, Funny Valentine and Laura. Shank not only played to perfection, but demonstrated a wit and theacher savvy for the patrons. He noted just before playing Laura that it came from a film with a character named Waldo Lydeckker. He did not say however that the part was played by Clifton Webb. The very next day, Chris’ featured another sax legend, Sonny Fortune, with his quartet in a session paying tribute to another Philly jazz giant, John Coltrane. Fortune musically set the club on fire playing on his last trip here and he can play ballads with searing sensitivity. In this set, he dipped heavily into the post bop period with just one number that went back to the “good old days” Duke Ellington’s Caravan.
ORTLIEB’S JAZZ HAUS joined the jazz fest both nights with the world-famous trumpet man Donald Byrd working with the equally well known Farid Barron Quartet. Byrd has worked with just about everyone in the jazz star category including Max Roach, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins and Lionel Hampton. Pete Souders, the owner, has an apparent disdain for hyping his shows listing just the names in ads and p/r copy as if every man playing was just another musician.
COLLECTIVE VOICES JAZZ FESTIVAL, conducted by saxman/composer Daniel T. Peterson et al to give local composers a chance to present their original music before interested audiences runs over several days starts Sept. 19 weekend. It will feature such stars as George Burton, Bobby Zankel and Mr. Peterson. The events take place at various locations and times. Contact Mr. Peterson (215.627.6716) for details.
Show Dates & Times.
FELICIA’S GARDENS will host The John Coltrane 77th Birday Celebration Concert on Sept. 21. It features “The Trane Octet” under the direction of Alfie Pollitt. They will be doing various jazz gems and all have the credentials to do it. Featured will be Alfie Pllitt, piano; Carl Grubbs, alto sax; Arhtur Harper and Mike Boone, bass; Umar A. Raheem, tenor and soprano sax; Bill “Bones” Roy, drums; Robert Kenyatta on percussions and the very fine voice of Joe Richardson on vocals.
The Kimmel Center (Verizon Hall) Broad & Spruce Streets 215.893.1999, 8 p.m., Sept. 19, $30-$78 tickets, Wynton Marsalis & Lincoln Center Jazz.
Chris’ Jazz Cafe, 1421 Sansom St., 215.568.3131 Sept. 12, Bud Shank, 9 p.m.-1 a.m. $16; Sept. 13, Sonny Fortune, $8, same times.
Ortlieb’s Jazz Haus, 847 N. 3rd St. 215.922.1035, 8:45 p.m.-1:30 a.m., Sept. 12-13, Donald Byrd, $8.