Jazz Philadelphia

Jason Fifield

Diane Monroe is a rare gem of a musician whose original compositions and arrangements have garnered accolades from both the classical and jazz worlds, and she continues to bridge the divide. Monroe was recognized in 2018 with both a coveted fellowship and a grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, which funded her personal 2019 exploration that joins every part of her musical self: Violin Woman, African Dreams.

Courtesy of the artist

Jazz and community. Jazz and activism. Jazz and family. These aren’t just words for West Philadelphia drummer, composer, and educator Justin Faulkner. They’re life lines, ideas on which to act, interact and intercede, to work toward, play with, and pray for.

Courtesy of the artrist

When she was awarded a New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America in 2019, pianist/composer Sumi Tonooka found herself inspired by the root systems of trees; above ground they may appear self-sufficient, tall and majestic, but hidden underground there is often an intricate network of shared resources, not just within a single species but beyond the greater ecosystem.

Michael Perez

It was quite a place to grow up for a young man. His home at 1927 Federal Street in South Philadelphia was the place for musicians to hang and jam with his much older brothers: saxophonist Jimmy Heath and bassist Percy Heath. Young Albert Heath, named “Tootie” by his grandfather for tutti-frutti ice cream in his youth, was also named a 2021 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master.

Josh Pelta Heller for WXPN

Latin jazz percussionist Pablo Batista has developed a reputation as one of most versatile and hardworking players in Latin jazz and modern jazz, and in R&B and funk circles. Born to immigrant Puerto Rican parents in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Batista honed his skills playing in school bands. But his main love was playing Afro-Cuban and Latin music, which he started at the age of nine with his mentor and master percussionist Miguel Candia, also a teacher of the renowned drummer Giovanni Hidalgo.

Michael Woodall

The story goes like this: Philadelphia pianist Eddie Green led a jam session at the Not Quite Cricket room at the Latham Hotel every Sunday, and it was always packed. One night a 9-year-old kid came in with his parents and wanted to sit in on piano.

Yonnie Simon

Whether singing jazz in a nuanced, mellow tone, tackling soul with sultry zeal, or hosting gospel’s tender spirituality with holy heft—there are no walls for Philly vocalist Lee Mo. Only open doors and easy gradations.

Anthony Dean

(Note: this profile was written prior to the passing of Mr. Barnes in April, 2020) Tenor giant Bootsie Barnes has been the epitome of a “Hometown Hero” for most of his 82 years. He’s never left the city, instead becoming a cornerstone of the Philadelphia jazz scene, remaining constant even as styles and generations changed around him.

Courtesy of the artrist

Trumpeter Terell Stafford has been hailed as “one of the great players of our time, a fabulous trumpet player” by the late piano legend McCoy Tyner. The acclaimed bandleader and recording artist has appeared on dozens of albums, including five of his own, and is a soloist with the Grammy-winning Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.

Rusty Russell

Trumpet great Randy Brecker is a legendarily prolific voice across the worlds of jazz, rock, pop, and R&B. He became a pioneer of jazz-rock fusion with Blood, Sweat & Tears, then with his late brother, saxophonist Michael Brecker, in Dreams and their own Brecker Brothers Band. At the same time he recorded countless sessions with superstars like Steely Dan, James Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Frank Zappa and many others.

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