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The Jazz Scene: Philly embraces Jazz Appreciation Month in April

2 minute read
Chick Corea performs at Exit Zero Jazz Festival and at Keswick Theatre this month. (Photo by Kevin Keating.)
Chick Corea performs at Exit Zero Jazz Festival and at Keswick Theatre this month. (Photo by Kevin Keating.)

April has plenty of jazz offerings in the city of Philadelphia and its greater metro area. From the Center City Jazz Festival, Temple University's Rite of Swing, and Cape May swinging into the month with its jazz pride, there's much to appreciate and embrace in the scene.

Jazz Appreciation Month in Philadelphia

One of the more popular groups in our area is Chelsea Reed and the Fairweather Five, a swing group with a retro attitude that has been around since 2012. Combining visual and musical entertainment with a fine sense of swing and the trappings of traditional jazz, the noted trombonist Wycliffe Gordon guests on the group's newest recording. Reed and the gang are deservedly in constant demand. On Thursday, April 8, 2019, at 4:30pm, the gang will be at the Temple University Performing Arts Center as a part of the Rite of Swing program.

A series of small neighborhood festivals are decorated around the city of Philadelphia, with one of the more unique being the one-day Center City Jazz Festival taking place on Saturday, April 27. The brainchild of trombonist and promoter Ernest Stuart, who first staged this fest eight years ago via a Kickstarter campaign, is to enlist a half-dozen or so Center City venues within walking distance of each other and book around 20 bands to perform from 1pm to 7pm. One ticket gets jazz lovers into all the performances, taking place this year at Chris' Jazz Cafe, Time Restaurant, Fergie's Pub, Maison 208, and Franky Bradley's. Stuart’s lineup of performers includes cutting-edge bassist Nick Krolak, the father/son duo of bassist Mike Boone and drummer Mekhi Boone, and piano veteran Sumi Tonooka.

Jazz pushing the city limits

In Reading, PA, about 63 miles from Philadelphia, the 29th annual Berks County Jazz Festival will present dozens of national and regional jazz artists on a half-dozen stages from April 5 through 14.

Cape May, New Jersey, has been quite the jazz destination for several years by way of the twice-annual Exit Zero Jazz Festival. The spring confab will run from Friday, April 12, through Sunday, April 14. Regional and national names in the lineup include Paul Jost, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Bill Withers, and the star of the show: the jazz keyboard genius known as Chick Corea. At 77, Corea shows no signs of slowing down, constantly challenging himself by performing in every context imaginable. On Saturday, April 13, at 8pm, Corea will visit the Schmidtchen Theater, site of most of the fest’s action. Corea will be surrounded by two other certified stars of jazz: award-winning Philadelphia bassist Christian McBride and perennial poll winner Brian Blade at the drums.

Corea will perform closer to these parts on Saturday, April 27, as he visits Glenside’s Keswick Theatre, where he’ll be joined by the groundbreaking banjo master Bela Fleck.

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