Philly Jazz Guide: Top picks for live music around town in February - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
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Last fall, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church launched a new series called “The Future of Jazz Piano” with a performance by its curator, Fred Hersch. A mentor to many younger musicians as well as an artist constantly replenished by new ideas and fresh collaborations, Hersch has a keen eye for new and rising talent dedicated to advancing the jazz tradition to which Hersch has been dedicated throughout his career. On Feb. 7, the series will host Sullivan Fortner, a New Orleans native who has imbibed deeply the open-eared spirit of that city. His expansive chops got a work-out during seven years on the road with the late Roy Hargrove, while his sensitivity and nuanced imagination were evident via his accompaniment for Cécile McLorin Salvant on her recent The Window. Expect to hear the landmarks of jazz history as glanced from a decidedly present-day vantage point. [TIX / INFO]

The addition of Philly’s own Orrin Evans into the band after more than two decades with an unchanging line-up returned The Bad Plus to the spotlight, but fortunately some of that glare spilled over to catch Evans’ own work as well, earning him some overdue accolades from a New York Times profile to a Downbeat “Rising Star” award. Most impressive of all, Presence, the combustible new album by his Captain Black Big Band, is up for a Grammy in the “Large Jazz Ensemble” category. The ceremony takes place the night after Evans and The Bad Plus play the Kimmel Center on Feb. 9, so show up to wish the hometown favorite luck and thrill at some of the trio’s most invigorating music in years. It’s a jazz-centric weekend at the Kimmel, with Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra appearing the next night. [TIX / INFO]

Bill Frisell is one of the most influential guitarists in modern jazz, with an Americana-tinged, ethereal tone that has echoed on the strings of countless axemen since. Frisell himself, though, refuses to rest on past accomplishments; his latest album, Music IS, is an intimate and achingly gorgeous solo session that makes use of vivid and haunting electronic soundscapes through which float his elegant, stunning melodies. He’ll bring that mesmerizing mood to the Ardmore Music Hall for a solo performance on Feb. 17. [TIX / INFO]

Fire Museum will also offer a pair of distinctive artists alone on stage with their instruments on Feb. 21 and 22. That Thursday, violist Jessica Pavone will be at Vox Populi, while the prolific guitarist (and sometimes bassist) Joe Morris follows on Friday at House Gallery 1816. Both have strong connections to some of avant-garde jazz’s most iconoclastic composes, with Morris working closely with the likes of Matthew Shipp, Ken Vandermark and countless others, while Pavone studied under Anthony Braxton along with guitar innovator Mary Halvorson, with whom she formed an uncategorizable duo. Pavone’s recent work delves into the awkward relationship between the outsized viola and the performer’s – ie, her own – body. [TIX / INFO]

Nate Wooley is another artist known for pushing his instrument out of its comfort zone, exploring the farthest reaches of sound he can conjure from the extremes of his trumpet. He’s striking out into new territory once again with his new quartet Columbia Icefield, which electrifies his horn into a more serene and idyllic range, inspired by the Columbia River landscape, near his Oregon home, that gave the project his name. He’s joined by a stellar line-up, including guitarist Mary Halvorson, pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn, and drummer Ryan Sawyer. Ars Nova Workshop presents them at the Bok Building on Feb. 24. [TIX / INFO]

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