The Jazz Scene: Barney Frank’s new career, jazz in Ardmore, and more

The former U.S. Representative from Massachusetts will lend his voice for a Philly jazz show. (Image courtesy of the Kimmel.)

Barnett “Barney” Frank was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts from 1981 to 2013, served as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee from 2007 to 2011, was co-sponsor of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform act, and continues to be the best-known gay politician in the country.

What the United States did not know until relatively recently is that Frank is a major jazz aficionado and plans to enter the rarified world of jazz as a narrator of the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS performance of “Journey into Jazz.” This work was composed in 1962 by the late pioneer of “Third Stream” music — a synthesis of jazz and classical music — Gunther Schuller. The narration focuses on a young boy who discovers jazz. For details on the three performances coming up on October 6 through 8 at Swarthmore College, Haverford College, and the Kimmel, check out Tom Purdom’s preview.

“I look forward to helping present this important piece,” the Massachusetts congressman says. “Having just ended one career, I am happy to make my debut in another branch of public performance, although this one probably won’t last 45 years!”

More jazz in Ardmore

The Ardmore Music Hall has been around in some way, shape, or form since 1980: first as the 23 East Cabaret, then as Brownie’s 23 East, and since 2013, the Ardmore Music Hall. For the first several years as AMH, the bookings have leaned heavily in favor of rock cover bands, with the occasional “name” visiting from time to time. But there’s good news for jazz fans. Over the past year or so, the volume of jazz bookings has increased, and these are acts that cannot be heard anywhere else in town. Coming up on Wednesday, October 11 at 8pm is a blockbuster jazz fusion band called Hudson, comprised of master drummer Jack DeJohnette, bassist Larry Grenadier, keyboardist John Medeski, and guitarist John Scofield. By any measure, that is an incredible lineup. (It’s officially sold out, but you can check here for additional tickets.) And on Sunday, October 15 at 7pm, guitar virtuoso Stanley Jordan arrives. Jordan is an astounding soloist, and doesn’t get to these parts often. The Ardmore jazz streak continues into next month with Philadelphia-born jazz/fusion bassist Stanley Clarke, on Saturday, November 25.

South Philly and Somers Point

Rhenda Fearington is a versatile jazz vocal dynamo who should be heard more often. This powerful talent and dedicated chronicler of the area’s jazz scene will appear with pianist Jim Holton and guitarist Jason Klinke in a free performance at 6pm on Wednesday, October 18 at the South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center, 1700 South Broad Street.

Somers Point, NJ has a surprisingly healthy year-round jazz scene, spearheaded by the South Jersey Jazz Society. The Society’s Jazz at the Point fest, being held Thursday, October 12 through Sunday, October15, has an impressive array of national and regional acts. Highlights include an eagerly anticipated show by guitarist Pat Martino’s Trio plus horns — celebrating the release of his new album — on Friday at 7:30pm at the Gateway Theater; and jazz pianist Bill Charlap’s Trio at 6pm on Sunday, also at Gateway.  

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Want previews of our latest stories about arts and culture in Philadelphia? Sign up for our newsletter.