The Jazz Scene: Ghost bands, EJ Park’s new album, and leg­endary jazz in March

3 minute read
EJ Park releases a new recording this month. (Photo courtesy of artist.)
EJ Park releases a new recording this month. (Photo courtesy of artist.)

A "ghost band" is loosely defined as a swing-era-type big band that carries the name of a long-departed, big-name leader. The most successful and longest-lived of the ghosters is the Glenn Miller Orchestra, still going strong some 74 years after Miller's death. The band continues to play hundreds of dates all over the world. The ghost band of the late and great vibraphonist Lionel Hampton is another matter. A Hampton Orchestra has surfaced from time to time over the years, with varying degrees of success. A vibraphone-less Hampton band performed only a few times about 10 years ago, and a group carrying the Hampton name did some good dates more recently with Jason Marsalis playing vibes. Though it's almost impossible to duplicate the energy of the supercharged showman known as "Hamp," a group called the New Lionel Hampton Big Band, under the leadership of Berklee grad and sometimes Wynton Marsalis-cohort vibist Joseph Doubleday, has surfaced and will be on view at Annenberg Center on Saturday, March 23, at 8:00pm. Tickets are available online.

South Korea-born, Philly-raised new jazz album

Vocalist, pianist, and composer EJ (EunJung) Park was born in South Korea and has been studying music formally since she was five years old. Bitten by the jazz bug, she came to Philadelphia in 2011 to study at University of the Arts and graduated two years later with a master's in jazz studies. Since then, she's performed frequently in clubs and in concerts, including one at the Democratic National Convention, and also serves on the U of A voice and piano faculty. Park has just released her inaugural recording All Because of You, a collection of beautiful originals written by Park, Suzanne Cloud of Jazz Bridge, and Don Glanden, pianist/composer and head of jazz graduate studies at U of A . Glanden is also co-producing the date. The combination of Park's singing and Glanden's playing is simply gorgeous, and as close as anyone can get to perfection in an imperfect art. Park's tone is crystal clear and cliché free, and her inventions are her own. As for Don Glanden, each note, change, and inversion is a gem. Buy this album. Then buy another one.

Big performances at Ardmore Music Hall and Chris' Jazz Cafe

On Tuesday, March 19, at 8pm, Ardmore Music Hall will present a trio led by the incredible Dave Weckl: drummer's drummer, perennial poll winner, and accompanist to everyone from Chick Corea to Simon and Garfunkel. Weckl will be joined by Israeli jazz guitarist Oz Noy and bassist and Yellowjackets co-founder Jimmy Haslip. This show is sure to be a hit. Best to get your advance tickets ASAP.

Guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli is that rare performer whose fan base includes hardcore jazzers as well as the non-jazz cabaret audience. He’s no snob, either. When he’s not working the Tony cabarets of New York City or casino showrooms, he’s frequently out on the road, working serious jazz rooms like Birdland. One such room is our own Chris’ Jazz Café, where Pizzarelli will perform on Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16, with tickets and times online.

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