April 2, 2012
April Is Jazz Appreciation Month In Philadelphia: Our Guide To Jam Sessions, Special Concerts And Events
As the birthplace or temporary home of such noted jazz figures as Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Bessie Smith, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, Philadelphia’s role in the history of jazz cannot be understated.
Throughout April, dozens of venues will host events to engage the public in America’s only native musical genre. But the tribute doesn’t stop at the end of the month; in Philadelphia, jazz is a tune that’s played all year long.
Check out our guide to jazz in Philadelphia, below:
Festivals & Special Events
• Center City Jazz Festival: April 28. After a successful fundraising campaign, the inaugural Center City Jazz Festival is a go. With a mission to introduce a new crop of Philadelphia’s best up-and-coming artists, the festival brings 16 jazz musicians of all stripes to the bars and lounges clustered around the Avenue of the Arts.
• Longwood Gardens’ Wine & Jazz Festival: June 2. Flowing jazz pairs with fine wines, fresh food and fragrant flowers at Longwood Gardens’ annual Wine & Jazz Festival. This year, the legendary Dianne Reeves headlines.
• Ars Nova Jazz Series: April 4, 14, 15, 21. Devoted to promoting jazz and experimental music, Ars Nova Workshop produces 25-50 live music performances each year, and four of them take place during Jazz Appreciation Month. The eclectic shows range from the electronic “heavy-hitting power-trio” Ballister to bebop-influenced Endangered Blood.
• Painted Bride Art Center Jazz on Vine: April 13. The Jazz on Vine series at the Painted Bride expands on the robust artistic offerings at the landmark community arts center. Philadelphia’s longest-running jazz series — 39 years old and counting — recently won the ASCAP National Award for Adventurous Programming for the second time.
• Kimmel Center Jazz: “Wynton Marsalis: The Ballad of the American Arts” kicks it all off on April 3. Then beyond its usual performances showcasing blockbuster jazz artists from around the world, the Kimmel Center presents jazz combos as part of its free Live from the Plaza stage concerts every Saturday. Of special note is the Free at the Kimmel Creative Music Program’s Annual Jazz Appreciation Concert, performed by the Kimmel Center Youth Jazz Ensemble.
• Annenberg Center’s Kurt Elling Swings Sinatra show: April 28. The spring jazz series wraps up at the Annenberg Center with the Kurt Elling Swings Sinatra show, in which acclaimed vocalist Elling accents an evening of song with stories about Old Blue Eyes. Most of the Annenberg’s jazz presentations are accompanied by an INSIGHTS event, which includes either a pre- or post-show chat with the artist or an expert in the field.
• Morris Arboretum Jazz It Up concerts: Morris Arboretum hosts two Jazz It Up concerts as part of its Friday Night Concerts in the Garden this summer: Brazilian Jazz Party with Arpeggio on July 20, and Swing ‘n Bop with The Tony “Stickman” Wyatt Quintet on July 27.
• Smooth Jazz Summer Nights at Penn’s Landing: This annual series celebrates its 15th anniversary this summer by bringing the cool sounds of smooth jazz to Philadelphia’s waterfront with free outdoor concerts on the RiverStage at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing on August 3, 10, 17 and 24. This year’s series will be followed by a fireworks display.
Read on for info about historic jazz clubs, regular performances and more.
• Chris’ Jazz Cafe: Down Beat Magazine got it right when they named Chris’ Jazz Cafe one of the “100 Best Places in the World to Hear Jazz.” In addition to surprisingly affordable tickets and some of the world’s greatest names in jazz, this spot also boasts cuisine that’s both budget-friendly and delicious.
• LaRose Jazz Club: Although it’s only open on Sundays and Mondays, LaRose Jazz Club is considered one of the most authentic of the city’s clubs, thanks to its traditional jazz offerings in a cabaret setting. As its Facebook page invites, “Got your axe? Bring it.”
• Le Cochon Noir: Named one of the “Top 150 Greatest Jazz Rooms in the World” by Down Beat Magazine for two years in a row, Le Cochon Noir is helping to bring a lively nightlife scene to the city’s Parkside neighborhood. Musicians from West Philadelphia to New Orleans come to play five nights a week, and artists display their paintings in the high-ceilinged room the last Friday of each month.
• Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz: More of a performance space and educational center than a club or lounge, the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz aims to promote jazz — past, present and future — with workshops, classes, private lessons and, of course, concerts.
• Warmdaddy’s: Even in its stylish waterfront location, Warmdaddy’s has a down-home vibe, a down-home Southern menu and a get-down line-up of national jazz and blues artists every night. While some nights require a cover charge, many do not.
• Dowling’s Palace Sunday jams: Dowling’s may normally be a popular spot for Temple University students thanks to its cheap beers, but jazz lovers know that its Sunday night jam sessions make it one of the most consistent and true places for the art form in the city.
• Time Thursday-Sunday jazz: Time restaurant is like a multiplex theater for drink and music lovers. With three very different bars-within-the-bar, patrons can seat themselves in the whiskey bar, the absinthe lounge or the main dining room, where they can relax to nightly jazz and soul, an open jazz jam on Sunday and jazz happy hour from Thursday to Saturday.
• MilkBoy Coffee Friday jams: Every Monday from 7:30-10 p.m., pianist Mike Frank runs an increasingly popular jazz jam at the original MilkBoy Coffee.
• Art After 5 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Art After 5 program at the PMA features live jazz concerts and a cash bar in the Great Stair Hall every Friday of the month (except First Fridays when international sounds are the focus) from 5:45-8:15 p.m.
• Woodmere Jazz Nights: One of the city’s newest jazz nights is a family-friendly affair at the Woodmere Art Museum. Every Friday musicians play original music or pay tribute to those who’ve come before them, while kids stay entertained with arts and crafts projects.
• Elena’s Soul Friday jazz performances: Self-described as an “authentic urban chill spot,” Elena’s draws music lovers for Jazzmatazz every Friday night. The live jazz and soul performances are best enjoyed with music-themed martinis and house-cooked soul food.
Check out Philly 360′s even more comprehensive guide to jazz events in Philadelphia right here.