"Art After Five" Warms up the Winter Nights with a Red-Hot Lineup of Jazz and World Music Performers


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There may be no better way to beat the winter blues than to catch a live performance at the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Art After 5, where the blues is jazz and the scope is international. The winter 2008 program schedule includes acclaimed favorite performers as well as innovative emerging artists. Each Friday evening the Great Stair Hall becomes a lively cabaret, with table service, cocktails, elegant caf-style appetizers, and desserts. This season Art After 5 is proud to present the Philadelphia dbut of the Grammy Award winning Maria Schneider Orchestra (January 11). The Washington Post has called Schneider “the foremost big-band composer of her generation." Her latest release, “Sky Blue," recently received two Grammy nominations: one for Best Large Jazz Ensemble and one for Best Instrumental Composition ("Cerulean Skies"). Other notable nights in the Winter 2008 season include the sophisticated spinning of New York City DJ Bekhra (Feb 4), who merges traditional South Asian Bhangra music with the Hip-Hop beats of today; and a multimedia celebration of Japanese music, design and architecture (March 7).

Schneider's appearance with her acclaimed 17-piece ensemble promises to be a highlight of the season. The Minnesota native moved to New York City in 1985 after attending the University of Minnesota, the University of Miami and the Eastman School of Music. She studied composition under Bob Brookmeyer, and assisted Gil Evans, who would become a mentor. She founded the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra in 1993, and the band had a standing weekly appearance at the Greenwich Village club Visiones for five years. Since then they've performed at festivals and concert halls across Europe as well as in Brazil and Macau, and Schneider has received commissions and invites with American and Europeans orchestras. The Village Voice, describing Schneider's compositional talents, declared, “she touches shoulders with the giants... beckoning us into a private, self-sufficient musical world."

Schneider's recording career has been equally distinguished, with two Grammy Awards for her 1995 debut, “Evanescence," and nominations for the subsequent releases, “Coming About," and “Allgresse" (2000). Schneider's fourth album, “Concert in the Garden" (2004) became the first Grammy winning recording with Internet-only sales. The album was hailed by All About Jazz magazine as “A hugely ambitious, completely successful and stunningly beautiful effort." Schenider's appearance is made possible by a grant from the Philadelphia Music Project, an Artistic Initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts, administered by The University of the Arts.

Art After 5 showcases an eclectic mix of international music and dance performers on the first Friday of each month. Recognized and emerging jazz artists perform on all other Fridays. The winter 2008 Art After 5 lineup is as follows:

January 11, Maria Schneider Orchestra

Schneider's Grammy award winning big band make its Philadelphia premiere at Art After 5. Their 2004 release, “Concert in the Garden," was named Jazz Album of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Awards and the DOWNBEAT Critics Poll. Both also awarded Maria Schneider Composer of the Year and Arranger of the Year, and the Jazz Journalists also named her group, Large Jazz Ensemble of the Year. Schneider's latest release, “Sky Blue," is also earning accolades.

January 18, Steve Slagle

Alto saxophonist Steve Slagle has played with Stevie Wonder and the Charles Mingus Big Band. Nominated for a 2006 Grammy Award (and a previous winner for his work with Joe Lovano), Slagle is focusing on his own band and original compositions. Special guest star and local favorite Tony Miceli joins him on vibraphone.

January 25, Denise King

A Philadelphia legend, King seems to have velvet-lined vocal chords and a warm, sultry persona to match. She sings pop and jazz standards with touches of the blues, soul and even gospel in a voice steeped in a sophisticated, swinging, sometimes soulful, satin style much like one of her idols, Sarah Vaughan.

February 1, Banghra Party with DJ Rekha!

“New York's Best DJ" (New York Magazine) presents a bhangra blowout! Bhangra music has been around for hundreds of years and originated in the Punjab, Northern India. Bands in Britain have capitalized on this 4/4 beat dance music since the '70s, but Americans have only gotten hip to the sound since the '90s-largely due to DJ Rekha, a second generation Indian-American and “queen of bhangra and hip-hop fusion music" (Time Out New York). Her monthly “Basement Bhangra" at S.O.B.'s in New York-the “best known desi party in America" (India Abroad)-attracts a growing crowd of every color and background. Spinning classic bhangra with Bollywood, hip-hop, reggae and electronica, DJ Rekha is an activist in the evolution of urban music for complex cosmopolitan identities. This program also includes dancers, drummers, and a henna tattoo artist.

February 8, Mike Holober & The Gotham Jazz Orchestra

The Gotham Jazz Orchestra boasts a collection of first call jazz musicians and leaders from New York.. Critics have described the big band as ”vibrant, fun, upbeat and swinging!” Composer Mike Holober will debut an original piece commissioned for this concert.

February 15, Valentine's Cabaret with Jack Donahue

Torch songs will reign on this special Valentine's Day Cabaret, as celebrated vocalist Jack Donahue makes his Art After 5 dbut. A New York City-based singer and songwriter, Donahue has performed with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and headlined at such legendary clubs as Birdland and the Rainbow Room.

February 22, Sean Jones

Nominated for Trumpeter of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association, trumpeter Sean Jones is among the most expressive, versatile and gifted players of his generation. Jones “embodies the 21st century jazz musician, an experimental, supremely talented type whose vision and sensibility encourages inclusion rather than separation" (All About Jazz magazine).

February 29, Neal Smith

Drummer Neal Smith has shared the stage with internationally recognized artists Tom Harrel, Benny Green, and Geri Allen. The first African-American to earn a degree in Jazz Studies from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Smith's own trio will put their mark on jazz standards as well as original compositions.

March 7, Japanese Modern

Celebrate Japan with a program that focuses on Japanese music, architecture, and design sensibility. “Andolangen," a music and video composition by Gene Coleman, is based on the architecture of world-renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando. This work was commissioned by the Culture Foundation of Nordrhien Westphalia, Germany. The music is played live by Ensemble N_JP. Video footage of Ando's Church of the Light will be projected in Great Stair Hall while live music is performed. The ensemble will perform traditional and avante-garde pieces inspired by Ando's work. The evening also includes a special screening of “Making the Modern," a documentary film that follows Ando's design and construction of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and features commentary by Frank Gehry and Richard Serra.

March 14, Our Father who Art Blakey

The 3-horn front line from Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers reunites for a special performance! Bobby Watson on alto sax, Dave Schnitter on tenor, and Valery Ponomorev on trumpet were together with Blakey for more than 3 years, the longest continuous stint of any horn section he ever had. Another ex-Messenger, Ronnie Matthews, along with Dennis Irwin will join them, as will young drum sensation Jerome Jennings, a stylistic heir to the great Art Blakey.

March 21, Rachael Price

Currently under the tutelage of Dominique Eade, Rachael Price has received acclaim at the Montreux Jazz Festival and the Thelonius Monk International Jazz competition (where she was the youngest competitor in 2004). Inspired by “girl singers" like Doris Day and Anita O'Day, her vocal repertoire ranges from great American jazz standards to recent compositions.

March 28, Ari Hoenig

Philadelphia native Ari Hoenig has accompanied Kenny Werner, Chris Potter, and Pat Martino. In 2005, in affiliation with the National Endowment for the Arts, Ari was awarded a “Meet the Composer" grant to perform compositions with his own group. His self-produced solo drum CDs, “Time Travels" (2000) and “The Life Of A Day" (2002), document his exploratory nature, an ambitious tribute to the melodic possibilities of the drum set. Ari continues to build on these two records playing improvised solo concerts using a regular four piece drum kit and no percussion.

About Art After 5

Art After 5 offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy evening hours to explore the Philadelphia Museum of Art's 200 galleries, housing a vast collection of art from around the world. The experience is enhanced each Friday by a program of music, dance, food, and drinks in the Great Stair Hall. Performances are presented in two sets: 5:45 - 6:45 p.m. and 7:15 - 8:15 p.m., with guided tours of the galleries offered throughout the evening. A full cash bar and la carte menu of appetizers, light entres and desserts is available with table service in the Great Stair Hall. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for senior citizens (62 and over); $10 for students with I.D. and children 13-18; children 12 years old and younger are admitted free at all times.

This story appears courtesy of All About Jazz Publicity.
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