Dueling jazz festivals bring Philadelphia Jazz Appreciation Month to a crescendo

 Pianist Orrin Evans, curator of the Philadelphia Jazz Festival.(Photo by John Abbott)

Pianist Orrin Evans, curator of the Philadelphia Jazz Festival.(Photo by John Abbott)

Just when you thought Philadelphia’s event schedule couldn’t get any busier (as we gear up for the NFL draft and the Penn Relays) today marks the start of the Philadelphia Jazz Festival.

For the next eight days, several Center City and neighborhood venues will overflow with jazz, with a lineup that includes guest artists from rising stars to jazz stalwarts, often sitting in with Philly-based ensembles.

One of those groups is the Captain Black Big Band. Pianist Orrin Evans says he started it almost ten years ago to give students a chance to play with more established musicians, but its reputation grew beyond that. “After the band started going, there were people from New York, all over the country that said, hey, when I’m in town, I’d love to play with the band,” he recalls, “It was a band where people could find a home.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Harry Hayman, co-coordinator of the Philadelphia Jazz Festival, says they wanted to pay homage to Philly’s rich jazz history while also celebrating today’s talent. “Sometimes people have a tendency to say, oh jazz was this, and only look back, when in reality there’s a bunch of interesting stuff that’s going on, that really ties in to that next phase, the next generation of jazz.”

And adding to this mix, the 6th annual Center City Jazz Festival hosts a six-hour blowout on Saturday, April 29, with over 20 bands performing at several venues.

Orrin Evans will open the Philadelphia Jazz Festival this evening in a trio setting, joined by trumpeter Randy Brecker, a Philly native. 

The festival runs through April 30th, wrapping up with a concert by 93-year-old jazz piano legend Bob Dorough of “Schoolhouse Rock” fame, in a Facebook Live event, as part of UNESCO’s International Jazz Day.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal