Philadelphia Jazz at the Kimmel Center in October: Lizz Wright and Danilo Perez Trio Pay Tribute to Billie Holiday; Christian McBride and Friends; and Melody Gardot


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Philadelphia has a long history as a vibrant and pulsating jazz community. This October, the Kimmel Center turns the spotlight on Philadelphia-born jazz luminaries who continue to evolve America’s indigenous art form.
  • Philly’s own bass virtuoso Christian McBride celebrates the 20th anniversary of his musical work in a performance with Grammy® Award-winning pianist Bruce Hornsby, his new quintet Inside Straight and other special guests (Friday, October 16, 2009).

  • Rising star vocalist Melody Gardot performs works from her critically acclaimed sophomore album My One and Only Thrill (2009) (Saturday, October 17, 2009).

  • Jazz Up Close series kicks off a season-long tribute to Philadelphia-born icon Billie Holiday with Strange Fruit, featuring Southern chanteuse Lizz Wright performing with the Danilo Pérez Trio (Saturday, October 10, 2009).

Christian McBride and Friends
Featuring Bruce Hornsby and Inside Straight
Friday, October 16, 2009 at 8pm
Verizon Hall
Price: $41 - $64

“When the bassist Christian McBride feels good about a groove, he savors it, exults in it. Flashing a million-watt smile, he tosses off frolicsome micro-elaborations: a downward-tumbling triplet run, a jaunt of springy quarter notes on the fifth degree of the scale… Why doesn’t every jazz combo seem to be having such a good time?" – New York Times

Grammy Award®-winning virtuoso of the electric and acoustic bass Christian McBride celebrates the 20th anniversary of his musical work with world class jazz, pop and funk artists at the Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall on Friday, October 16, 2009 at 8pm.

Onstage, McBride will recreate a live version of his Sirius/XM satellite radio program, “Conversations with Christian," which premiered in April 2009. Grammy® Award-winning pianist Bruce Hornsby will join him on stage, as well as McBride’s new acoustic jazz quintet Inside Straight of the recently released album Kind of Brown (2009).

The show also includes a special family jam session with McBride’s father Lee Smith and great uncle Howard Cooper, both well-known Philadelphia bassists who served as McBride's early mentors. The Philadelphia All-Star Band, featuring saxophonist and former member of the Max Roach Quartet Odean Pope among others, will open the show.

Throughout his prolific career, Christian McBride has been featured on more than 250 recordings with artists such as Chaka Khan, Joe Henderson and Natalie Cole. He currently leads one of the hottest bands in music, the propulsive Christian McBride Band with saxophonist Ron Blake, keyboardist Geoffrey Keezer and drummer Terreon Gully. He formed Inside Straight in 2007, recently completing a 2009 tour of the West Coast, Europe and Japan. McBride also performed throughout the U.S. this year with the Chick Corea/John McLaughlin Five Peace Band; the super group released Five Peace Band Live in April 2009. McBride’s XM/Sirius satellite radio show “Conversations with Christian," a series of musical conversations with special guests such as Chick Corea, Lou Donaldson and Sting, is available as digital downloads and is intended to culminate in an album.

Passionate about all areas of music, McBride has been at the forefront of jazz advocacy and education, and has served as an artist in residence at festivals (most recently 2008's Detroit International Jazz Festival and the Monterey Jazz Festival). He is the artistic director at Jazz Aspen Snowmass and also serves as co-director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. He recently concluded his four-year run as the creative jazz chair for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In August 2009, McBride was named “Acoustic Bassist of the Year" by DownBeat’s Critics Poll.

Bruce Hornsby’s versatility as a bluegrass, pop, jam band and jazz artist can be heard on top 10 hits such as “Mandolin Rain," “End of the Innocence" and “The Way It Is." His most recent album, Levitate, was released on September 15, 2009. He has collaborated with a “who’s who" in the music business, having played on more than 100 records, including albums by Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, Stevie Nicks and Bonne Raitt, among many others. Hornsby previously teamed up with McBride and Jack DeJohnette on the critically acclaimed 2007 album Camp Meeting. He was a part-time member of the Grateful Dead from 1990 until 1992, having performed over 100 concerts with the group and appearing on four albums.

“Christian McBride exuded undeniable charisma and prowess, enthralling an audience whose silent attention alone spoke volumes...the tone of his bass is as buoyantly effervescent as it is deep and woody." – Jazzreview.com

Philadelphia All-Star Band
Byron Landham
, drums
Odean Pope, tenor saxophone
Jaleel Shaw, alto saxophone
Joe Sudler, baritone saxophone

The Family Basses
Christian McBride
, acoustic and electric bass
Lee Smith, bass
Howard Cooper, bass

“Conversations with Christian"
Christian McBride
, acoustic and electric bass
Bruce Hornsby, piano

Inside Straight
Christian McBride, acoustic and electric bass
Steve Wilson, saxophone
Warren Wolf, vibraphone
Peter Martin, piano
Carl Allen, drums

Friday, October 16, 2009 | 5:30pm
Commonwealth Plaza | Free in the Plaza
Wade Dean Enspiration

The Wade Dean Enspiration is a collective of six creative young instrumentalists and composers. Launched in a small practice room at the University of the Arts in January 2007, the Enspiration is rapidly creating a strong buzz on the Philadelphia jazz scene. The band’s mission is daunting, yet simple: to create sincere and unselfish music. With that uncomplicated formula, Enspiration continues Philadelphia’s tradition of creating innovative and exciting music in all genres. This free performance will take place in Commonwealth Plaza prior to the ticketed performance by Christian McBride and Friends in Verizon Hall.

Melody Gardot
Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 7:30pm
Perelman Theater
Price: $35

Melody Gardot has “a unique, irresistibly expressive voice delivering gently ironic blues with jazz inflections. Her songwriting is filled with soft surprise and savvy lyrics…" –San Francisco Chronicle

Philadelphia native Melody Gardot makes her Perelman Theater debut on Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 7:30pm, with a performance of works from her sophomore album My One and Only Thrill (2009), an evocative blend of mellow blues, eclectic folk and jazz shadings.

Born in New Jersey in 1985, Gardot began taking music lessons at age nine, and was playing piano in local lounges by the time she was 16, performing works ranging from standards from the Mamas and Papas to Duke Ellington and modern groups such as Radiohead. After being hit by a car and severely injured while studying fashion at the Community College of Philadelphia, music became a key therapeutic element in her lengthy recovery process. Hospitalized for months with multiple head injuries and pelvic fractures, Gardot began to write and record songs which eventually became the self-released EP, Some Lessons: The Bedroom Sessions in 2005.

Gardot’s first full-length album Worrisome Heart, released by Verve Records in 2008, displayed her instinctive gift for transforming the traditions of jazz and blues with her own personal touch. On My One and Only Thrill, Gardot mixes Latin rhythms, finger-snapping blues and smoldering torch songs, reminiscent of greats like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone. In March 2009, Gardot released Live from SoHo exclusively on iTunes. The live EP features six tracks that were recorded in New York City at the Apple Store in SoHo.

Her Kimmel Center appearance is part of a 2009-10 international tour which includes performances at New York’s Highline Ballroom, the San Francisco Jazz Festival and in Brussels, Zurich, Paris, London, Amsterdam and Honolulu. In August 2009, Gardot performed a sold-out show at Australia’s Sydney Opera House.

“Smoldering becomes Ms. Gardot, whose voice carries a soft allure even on brighter fare…She gave the impression of a film noir savant with equal sympathies for the femme fatale and the ingnue…She sounded sensuous and unguarded, and oddly content in her yearning." –New York Times

Melody Gardot, vocals, piano, guitar
Ken Pendergast, bass
Patrick Hughes, trumpet
Bryan Rogers, sax
Charles Staab III, drums
Behn Gillece, vibes

Forte’s Open House Cocktail Mixer
Saturday, October 17, 2009 | Post-Show (approx. 9:30pm)
Kimmel Center's K Lounge on Tier 2

Forte, the Kimmel Center's young professionals group, kicks off its second season with an open house networking event for performing arts lovers, ages 21-40, in the Kimmel Center’s K Lounge on Tier 2 immediately following Melody Gardot and Matt Haimovitz’s performances. Visit http://www.kimmelcenter.org/forte for more information and to RSVP.

Jazz Up Close Celebrates Billie Holiday
Strange Fruit

Featuring Lizz Wright and Danilo Perez Trio
Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 7:30pm
Perelman Theater
Price: $32-38

“[Lizz Wright] stirs jazz, gospel and rhythm and blues into a reflective, flowing style that elongates songs into prayerful meditations that never wander into vagueness...pitch-perfect with a smoky, full-bodied texture...impressive in its steadiness, control and rhythmic subtlety." —New York Times

This season's Jazz Up Close series celebrates Philadelphia-born icon Billie Holiday, considered one of the greatest jazz vocalists of all time, who continues to influence a new generation of artists 50 years after her passing. Opening the series, vocalist Lizz Wright and the Danilo Perez Trio bring to life the power and imagery of Holiday's classic ballad Strange Fruit on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 7:30pm in the Perelman Theater. Panamanian pianist Danilo Perez brings his “distinctive Latin-based jazz internationalism" (JazzTimes) to the program, true to Holiday's original recording of “Strange Fruit," which featured Panamanian pianist Sonny White.

Since her 2002 breakthrough performance as part of a touring Billie Holiday tribute, Lizz Wright has been regarded as an important young talent in contemporary jazz. The Georgia-bred, New York-based vocalist has established herself as an accomplished songwriter and a versatile, deeply expressive singer with a penchant for mixing jazz standards with pop, gospel and soul flavors. Her most recent album, The Orchard (2008), transcends genre distinctions in original compositions and interpretations of works by Ike and Tina Turner, Led Zeppelin and Patsy Cline, among others. Wright's 2003 debut Salt reached the number two slot on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart; her sophomore effort, Dreaming Wide Awake (2005), expanded her interpretive range in material from Fats Waller to Neil Young, reaching number one on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart. In early 2009, Wright contributed to Nordstrom's The Royal Blues Compilation, which celebrates the “queens of blues and jazz" in honor of Black History Month.

Danilo Perez’s most recent project, Music We Are, was released in April 2009 with drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist John Patitucci, the trio’s first album together, recorded during a snow storm near DeJohnette's home in the Catskills in New York. Perez is currently a member of the legendary Wayne Shorter Quartet, and has led his own group since the early 1990s. He first entered the international spotlight as a member of Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra, and quickly won over the world's attention. He is founder and president of the Panama Jazz Festival. Since 2003, he has served as artistic advisor for the Kimmel Center's Jazz Up Close series in Perelman Theater, curating five nights of jazz each season.

“[Mr. Perez] conducted a polyrhythmic dialogue between his two hands; at other times he used his left to lay the groundwork while his right took off in flight...he struck the perfect balance between elasticity and groove." —New York Times

Lizz Wright, vocals
Danilo Perez, piano
Adam Cruz, drums
Ben Street, bass

Saturday, October 10, 2009 | Intermission
Perelman Theater | Free at the Kimmel
Artist Chat

An intermission Artist Chat led by Kimmel Center Vice President of Programming Tom Warner along with the evening’s performers will explore the music heard in concert as well as their own thoughts, memories and riffs.

Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999, online at www.kimmelcenter.org, or at the Kimmel Center box office open daily from 10am to 6pm and later on performance evenings. (Additional fees may apply.) For group sales call 215-790-5883.

A limited number of $10 tickets are available for every Kimmel Center Presents performance. Tickets go on sale the day of the event and can be purchased at the Kimmel Center box office at 5:30pm prior to evening curtain time and 11:30am for matinees. Limit one ticket per person.

Kimmel Center Presents' 2009/10 Season is sponsored by Citi. American Airlines is the Official Airline of Kimmel Center Presents.

Free at the Kimmel programming and subsidized tickets offered to the community and social service groups for $10 are made possible through the Wachovia Gateway to the Arts Community Access Program, supported by a generous grant from the Wachovia Foundation.

The Kimmel Center is the recipient of partnership funding through the nationally recognized PNC “Grow Up Great" initiative, a ten-year, $100 million investment in preparing children for success in school and life. Funding gives support to the Kimmel Center's early childhood program “Bop and Swing," an arts program for children 1-5 years old, designed to promote an appreciation for American culture.

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