The Jazz Scene: Young talent and trailblazing voices

Thirteen-year-old jazz wonder Joey Alexander is coming to the Kimmel on March 18 and 19. (Photo via

Many seasons back, Philadelphia radio broadcaster Sid Mark played a recording by a 14-year-old jazz pianist named Craig Hundley. The young artist’s talent and maturity astounded the jazz world. Fast forward to 2017 for a new jazz prodigy: self-taught Indonesian pianist Joey Alexander. Thirteen-year-old Alexander, who recorded his first album at age 11, is already an expert player who is incredibly conversant and comfortable with the language of jazz, including swing, bop, and beyond. Alexander will perform at the Kimmel Center for an 8pm show on Saturday, March 18, and the following afternoon for a 2pm concert.

The Bad Plus and Arturo O’Farrill

The Bad Plus has been successfully combining elements of rock, pop and avant-garde jazz since the group formed 17 years ago. Indeed, a Bad Plus performance might include compositions written by David Bowie and Pink Floyd, as well as an American popular standard like My Funny Valentine. The trio, comprised of pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer David King, will perform at Arden Gild Hall in Arden, Delaware, on Friday, March 31, at 8pm.

Bandleader, composer, and arranger Chico O’Farrill was one of the first artists to effectively combine jazz and Latin-American rhythms, fashioning what has become known as Afro-Cuban jazz. In 1995 Chico’s son, Arturo, took over his father’s big band after he served tenures as a sideman with artists like Carla Bley, Lester Bowie, and even a stint as Harry Belafonte’s musical director. Since taking over the big band, the younger O’Farrill’s large ensemble has won two Grammy Awards and was nominated for four, has appeared frequently at Lincoln Center, and has toured the world several times. O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra will appear at Montgomery County Community College on Saturday, April 1, at 8pm.

Philadelphia jazz legacies

Jazz songstress Val Ray will present the 16th annual Songstresses Saluting Sisterhood show, honoring Jazz Bridge co-founders Suzanne Cloud and Wendy Simon, with an all-star gathering of jazz singers at the Philadelphia Clef Club on Saturday, March 11, at 7pm.  Performers include Brenda Smith, Lisa Chavous, Sherry Butler, Tanqueray Hayward, and co-honoree Wendy Simon.

The nonprofit Jazz Bridge celebrates the publication of the Philadelphia Real Book, a compilation of songs written by Philadelphia jazz performers, with the third in a four-concert series presenting the giants of jazz. On Saturday, March 11, at 7:30pm, two Philadelphia favorites, guitarist Pat Martino and pianist Uri Caine, appear at Caplan Recital Hall within the University of the Arts.  The $25 ticket price includes a free wine-and-cheese reception at 6:30 and a thought-provoking lecture on the neuroscience of music and improvisation. 

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