Philly Jazz Guide: Top picks for live music around town in August - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Grex | photo via

It’s August – there’s just no avoiding the sweltering. So why not lean into it, and check out a show that’s as psychedelically scorching as the air outside is humid? At The Mothership on Friday August 2nd, the Oakland psych-jazz-prog duo Grex will headline a bill that should fill the room with the sultry howl of electric noise. The pairing of guitarist Karl Evangelista and keyboardist M. Rei Scampavia takes its name from a biological term for hybrid organisms, and it’s aptly chosen both for their genre-blurring band and for this program as a whole. They’ll share the stage with Azzakzatzen, featuring members of Dire Wolves, Elkhorn and Kohoutek, and two solo guitarists: Mitch Esparza and Crowey. [INFO]

Cedar Park’s Carol Mitchell Faulkner inaugurated the Community Unity Music Festival in 2014 after two of her nephews fell victim to gun violence, hoping to counter the divisions and isolation of the modern age with a day of music and togetherness. It would be worth hanging out in Clark Park for a day if only for that noble mission – but what makes it even better is that her son, powerhouse drummer Justin Faulkner, happens to have made some marquee connections over the course of his career. This year’s lineup is especially mind-boggling, with iconic bassist Bootsy Collins playing host this Saturday and Faulkner’s longtime boss, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, headlining. [INFO]

On Aug. 9, the jazz-inflected experimental prog outfit Cheer-Accident will play The Rotunda. The always unpredictable band’s latest is Chicago XX, filling in the discographical gap left by Cetera and company (there’s not much chance anyone will confuse the two). Each new release could retain the title of number 18, Putting Off Death, as they continue to celebrate the fact that they’ve managed to survive in one form or another for over three decades without ever pausing long enough to concretize a single sound or approach. The show will also feature the anarchic sounds of George Korein and the Spleen. [INFO]

For something a little more identifiably “jazz,” head over to @exuberance on the 2nd for pianist Dave Meder, the 50th event in Matt Yaple’s lovely private listening room. The 28-year old’s debut release, Passage, put him in the prestigious company of sax greats Chris Potter and Miguel Zenón, though Meder’s trio playing may be the album’s highlight. In communication with a gifted rhythm section, he displays a precise and incisive touch while carving deft filigrees of melody. He earned attention at both the Thelonious Monk and American Pianists Association competitions, marking him as a voice worth heeding. He’ll be joined by bassist Dean Torrey and drummer Kenneth Salters. [INFO]

A couple of weeks later the same room will host an outstanding band led by Israeli-born bassist Noam Wiesenberg. The quintet features Philly’s own Immanuel Wilkins, a saxophonist now at Juilliard who is quickly establishing himself as a major player on the scene, and trumpeter Philip Dizack, like Meder a member of the University of North Texas faculty. Fellow Israeli Shai Maestro, long a member of bassist Avishai Cohen’s trio, will be at the piano, while in-demand drummer Kush Abadey mans the kit. [INFO]

Meder’s definitely a rising star, but jazz can boast few artists that attain the rank of superstar. Two who can claim that title will team up for a show at The Met on Aug. 4, as the legendary Herbie Hancock shares the bill with new-generation leading light Kamasi Washington. The pairing makes sense, as both men incorporate a wealth of influences into their wide-ranging sounds, with future-leaning hip-hop being a common touchstone for both. At 79, Hancock seems as restlessly curious as ever, while 38-year old Washington’s fiery tenor seems to transport him both back in time and into parallel universes. [INFO]

Bassist Damon Smith is rooted in fringe punk of the ilk of the Minutemen, an influence that continues to bleed through the ragged edges of his aggressive, rough-hewn improvising. To some degree the belligerence of his playing would seem to put him at odds with the elusive minimalism of saxophonist/electronic musician Bhob Rainey, whose sounds dwell on the elusive fringes of the audible. Both artists thrive on the tension of collaboration, however, making this an ideal pairing – supplemented by the textural percussion of Ben Bennett, who will round out the trio at the Random Tea Room on Aug. 6. The Fire Museum-presented bill will also include a duo set by violinist June Bender and flutist Erica Corbo. [INFO]

The Clef Club has hosted a number of stellar concerts over the past season as part of its year-long “Jazz Cultural Voices” concert series, but it ends on Aug. 17 with a truly grand finale. Many of the artists who have headlined shows in the monthly series will return for this spectacular send-off, which will feature local favorites including Sumi Tonooka, Bobby Zankel, Monnette Sudler, Alfie Pollitt, Papo Vasquez and Joseph Block, along with the Clef Club’s Community Big Band. It should be a vibrant celebration of the diversity of Philly’s native jazz scene. [INFO]

Related Content
View All Related Content

No news added recently