by Geno Thackara
You can’t live in or around Philadelphia without being at least vaguely aware of its place in music history. Jazz in particular is part of the city’s DNA just as much as cheese steaks, big colorful art murals and parallel parking in maddeningly narrow spaces. Philly was an old haunt of John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie and Sun Ra, and has produced names from Billie Holiday and McCoy Tyner up to Ari Hoenig or Christian McBride. Studies have shown jazz to be even better than Mozart for developing a child’s brain with early exposure. Scientists agree that it can lower your cholesterol, ward off allergies and prevent annoying little leg cramps when you’re trying to sleep. I may or may not be making some of these up.
For a place with such a rich background, what better way to top off April’s national Jazz Appreciation Month than with a live (and lively) festival? Trombonist and Temple grad Ernest Stuart thought so back in 2012, and decided to get on Kickstarter and see how many fellow aficionados were willing to help. The result has remained a much-loved ongoing celebration every year since.
For adventurous listeners who want to chill or swing, Center City is the place to be out and about on Saturday the 30th.
The 2016 lineup features 20 homegrown acts across five downtown venues (the ticket gives admittance to all), all close enough together to let you stroll with your drink from one spot to the next. There are chances to take in the genre-spanning piano of Orrin Evans and the funky guitar fusion of Chrome Els, bop to Anibal Rojas’s worldly sax, enjoy a little solo harp from Brandee Younger or dance to soulful R&B with Killiam Shakespeare – or in the purest spirit of the genre, just pick a place to drop into with no idea what to expect. There’ll be something to enjoy for most tastes at some point somewhere. If anything, the most likely problem would be figuring out how to be in two or three places at once.
Where: Franky Bradley’s (1320 Chancellor St), U-Bahn Philly (1320 Sansom St), Fergie’s Pub (1214 Sansom St), Milkboy (1100 Chestnut St), Time (1315 Sansom St)
When: April 30 (Saturday); 1PM – 7PM
How much: $20 in advance, $25 the day of www.ccjazzfest.com