The Jazz Scene: Jamie Leonhart, Cyrus Chestnut, and more

Jamie Leonhart is coming to the Kimmel’s SEI Innovation Studio. Photo by Nathan West.

The lines between jazz, rock, pop, folk, rhythm and blues, and gospel are becoming increasingly blurred these days, and cutting-edge vocalist Jamie Leonhart is a perfect example of this evolution. She’s an iconic, quirky singer who somehow manages to effectively combine jazz with indie pop and other genres. calls her songs “smart, whimsical or atmospheric,” while the All Music Guide likens her sound to influences of Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones, Peggy Lee, and Kurt Weill. Leonhart checks in at the Kimmel’s SEI Innovation Studio with her ESTUARY: an artist/mother story on February 4, 5, and 6 at 8pm.

Swinging but modern

Many jazz fans in this region first discovered the multitalented Paul Jost when he was the house drummer within Elaine’s Lounge at Atlantic City’s original Golden Nugget, where he backed everyone from Buddy Greco to Billy Eckstine. These days, he works mainly as a vocalist, composer, and harmonica player in The Jost Project, comprised of vibraharpist Tony Miceli, bassist Kevin MacConnell, and the leader. The trio’s specialty is swinging jazz versions of pop and rock songs composed by artists like Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith, the Beatles, and more. Jost Project is coming to one of this area’s newer jazz venues, The Ballroom at Westside, West Chester, on February 18 for a 6:30pm performance.

Though drummer Bill Goodwin played with most of the luminaries in the jazz world, he was best known for his 41-year association with the small group of alto saxophonist Phil Woods. Since Woods’s death in September, Goodwin has put together a swinging but decidedly modern quartet called The Bill Goodwin Experience. The ensemble will appear on February 20 at the Williams Center for the Arts of Easton’s Lafayette College. Showtime is 8pm.

‘African Reflections’ and jazz in Ardmore

Pianist Cyrus Chestnut is a rarity among today’s young lions of jazz. His influences are the jazz legends of yore: The New York Times called him “one of jazz’s most convincing anachronisms.” Chestnut will appear at Montgomery County Community College’s Science Center Theater, in a show titled African Reflections at 8pm on February 20.

Jazz at the rock-focused Ardmore Music Hall? You bet. Veteran guitarist Bill Frisell will appear with his group at the hall, best known for booking rock cover bands, on February 16 at 8pm. Actually, the booking of Frisell in a rock palace is not that much of a stretch. This veteran player has long combined the music of rock and pop, to say nothing of classical and folk, with jazz improvisation. Frisell will be performing music from his new recording, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” with a unique ensemble that includes a viola and a vocalist, with the leader on both acoustic and electric guitar.

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