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Kurt Rosenwinkel's Chopin Project, säje, and more in Moment's Notice

Welcome to Moment’s Notice, WRTI’s regular guide to the Philadelphia jazz scene. We’re here to tip you off to the best shows during the week ahead. Sign up now to receive this service in your inbox every week. And if you want to let us know about a show on the horizon, or share any other feedback, drop us a line!

Spotlight: The Chopin Project — Wednesday and Thursday, Chris’ Jazz Cafe

Jazz musicians have always been drawn to the music of Frédéric Chopin, whose harmonic designs and clarity of line set a standard for the early Romantic period. For the guitarist, composer and Philadelphia native Kurt Rosenwinkel and the Swiss-born pianist Jean-Paul Brodbeck, Chopin’s music doesn’t pose a set of parameters so much as a sea of possibilities: their album The Chopin Project, released last year on Rosenwinkel’s Heartcore Records, luxuriates in the wistful air of various nocturnes and preludes while speaking in a modern musical language.

On that count, they have excellent partners in the Swiss bassist Lukas Traxel and the Spanish drummer Jorge Rossy — players whose poise and subtlety make them equal to the task. It’s a particular treat to revisit the easy-drift rapport between Rossy and Rosenwinkel, which goes back as far as the latter’s mid-’90s album East Coast Love Affair, recorded at Smalls. This week they’ll roll into another club with Chopin on the set list, and transcendence on the agenda.

Nov. 15 and 16 at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., Chris’ Jazz Cafe, 1421 Sansom Street, $35, $90 and $110, with dinner packages; purchase tickets.

Sumi Tonooka’s Alchemy Sound Project — Sunday, Painted Bride Art Center

Philadelphia’s own Sumi Tonooka — a distinguished pianist, composer, and 2023 Pew Fellow — is the first among equals in the Alchemy Sound Project, a collective of composer-improvisers with a broad musical and cultural foundation. For the premiere of her suite “Under the Surface,” that personnel will include tenor saxophonist Erica Lindsay, trumpeter Samantha Boshnack, multi-reedist and flutist Salim Washington, trombonist Michael Ventoso, bassist Greg August, and drummer Johnathan Blake.

Nov. 12 at 4 p.m., Painted Bride, 5212 Market Street, $20 suggested; purchase tickets.

The members of säje: Amanda Taylor, Johnaye Kendrick, and Erin Bentlage.
Lauren Desberg
The members of säje: Amanda Taylor, Sara Gazarek, Johnaye Kendrick, and Erin Bentlage.

säje — Tuesday, World Cafe Live

The vocal foursome known as säje — Sara Gazarek, Amanda Taylor, Johnaye Kendrick and Erin Bentlage — has received no small amount of acclaim over the last few years, as much for their omnivorous taste as for their superfluency of style. Touring now behind their self-titled debut album, the group makes a stop at World Cafe Live, with expert backing.

Nov. 14 at 8 p.m., World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut Street, $20 to $60; purchase tickets.

Sara Michaels — Thursday, Uptown Knauer Performing Arts Center

“I’m a supper club singer wannabe,” Sara Michaels smolders in the early stretch of her new album, Chapter One: Full Circle, assuming a character on much shakier footing than her own. For her album-release show, she’ll sing in stellar company, including John Swana on trumpet and EVI, Victor North on saxophone, Aaron Graves on piano and Diane Monroe on violin.

Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m., Uptown Knauer Performing Arts Center,  226 North High Street, West Chester, $20 and $35 in advance, $25 and $40 at the door; purchase tickets.

Benny Benack III Quintet — Friday and Saturday, Chris’ Jazz Cafe

A bubbling fountain of breezy charisma on trumpet and vocals alike, Benny Benack III originally hails from Pittsburgh, where he grew up the scion of a notable musical family. His most recent album, Third Time’s The Charm, features an array of starry guests like guitarist Peter Bernstein, who rejoins him for this weekend stand. Also featured on successive nights are two prepossessing singers, Anaïs Reno (Friday) and Kate Kortum (Saturday).

Nov. 17 and 18 at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., Chris’ Jazz Cafe, 1421 Sansom Street, $30, $85 and $105, with dinner packages; purchase tickets.

Erena Terakubo — Nov. 19, Penn Live Arts

An alto saxophonist, clarinetist and flutist from Sapporo, Japan, Erena Terakubo has emerged as a sparkling torchbearer for the bebop tradition defined by Charlie Parker. (Her most recent album, Absolutely Live!, features a Parker tune as well as Jackie McLean’s “Bird Lives” and Chick Corea’s “Bud Powell.”) For this Penn Live Arts appearance, she enlists a New York rhythm team of Akiko Tsuruga on organ, Paul Bollenback on guitar and Fukushi Tainaka on drums.

Nov. 19 at 7 p.m., Harold Prince Theater, Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut Street, $50; purchase tickets.

Nate Chinen has been writing about music for more than 25 years. He spent a dozen of them working as a critic for The New York Times, and helmed a long-running column for JazzTimes. As Editorial Director at WRTI, he oversees a range of classical and jazz coverage, and contributes regularly to NPR.