The Jazz Scene: Shows for the music’s past and future

Starting this month, catch singer Paula Johns on Sundays at South. (Image courtesy of the artist.)

Singer Paula Johns is one of the busiest and most versatile artists in the region, performing often at nightspots such as Dino’s in Glenside and just about every festival in the area. What makes Johns so special is that she is as comfortable singing a “best of Broadway” repertoire as she is with hardcore jazz. Beginning June 4, Johns and her stellar trio, led by world-class drummer Grant MacAvoy, will perform a regular Sunday brunch at South. Music begins at noon.

Yes, there is a future for jazz, and ample evidence will be on view at the Kimmel Center on Friday, June 9, for the free, daylong All-City Jazz Festival, a partnership between the School District of Philadelphia, the Philly Pops, Temple University, and the Kimmel Center. All told, 10 ensembles large and small will join the festivities, kicking off at 11am with jazz student showcases at the Perelman Theater, then moving to Commonwealth Plaza from 2 to 6pm for student group performances. Leading area jazz artists will conduct master-class sessions between 3pm and 6pm at the Merck Education Center within the Kimmel.

Adults take center stage at the Kimmel the following evening — Saturday, June 10 at 8pm — for the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia’s tribute to Dizzy Gillespie and Latin jazz, A Night in Havana. Special guests are trumpeter Jon Faddis and pianist Elio Villafranca.

Troy Andrews, better known at “Trombone Shorty,” seemingly came out of nowhere to become one of the world's most popular jazz musicians. But Andrews, who performs with his band at the Ocean City Music Pier on Friday, June 9, at 8pm, has an extensive musical background. He was four years old when he sat in with none other than Bo Diddley, and through the years, performed with the Neville Brothers, Lenny Kravitz, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and many others.

A benefit, tributes, and an award

Jazz Bridge, the Philadelphia-based nonprofit dedicated to assisting area jazz and blues performers in times of crisis, spearheads its third annual jazz cruise on Saturday, June 10 from 1 to 4pm. This benefit for Jazz Bridge will include music by saxophone giant Larry McKenna, a buffet lunch, a presentation of the organization’s Jazz Ambassador Award to jazz promoter Ernest Stuart, and a chance to win fabulous door prizes.

Trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, a Chester, Pennsylvania, native who died in 2015, was a world-class artist who played with everyone from Charles Mingus to Tony Bennett and also worked tirelessly as a jazz educator at the Oberlin Conservatory. He also worked often with his wife, Grammy-nominated vocalist Joan, who continues to perform nationally. Joan Belgrave will make a rare visit to this area on June 10, when she performs a tribute to her husband at the Philadelphia Clef Club, beginning at 7:30pm.

The jazz world doesn’t see or hear many tributes to late, legendary pianist Oscar Peterson, likely because his style and technical wizardry are almost impossible to capture. But one who manages is Dutch pianist Peter Beets, who will play with his trio at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Friday Nights at the Museum series at 5pm, Friday, June 23.

Congratulations to Philadelphia piano legend McCoy Tyner, honored by the Jazz Journalist Association for excellence in music with its 21st annual Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Award.