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WRTI's NPR Live Sessions Video of the Week: The Joe Magnarelli Quartet

Abigail Feldman
Trumpeter Joe Magnarelli

January 20, 2020. Trumpeter, educator, and composer Joe “Mags” Magnarelli has been on WRTI’s radar for years. So of course the WRTI Live Sessions team was thrilled to film the Joe Magnarelli Quartet at the Temple Performance Arts Center (TPAC) in April of 2019.

It was the 100th performance at Temple University's Rite of Swing Jazz Café, and now it's featured here on NPR Music’s Live Sessions.

As usual, the Joe Magnarelli Quartet features a top-notch crew, including baritone saxophonist Frank Basile, drummer Byron Landham and organist Akiko Tsuruga—all performing three originals with swing and imagination.

The session starts modestly, then morphs into a solid burner, with Tsuruga taking possession (or being possessed by) the Hammond organ showcasing a tasty groove that recalls another era when that '60s soul jazz sound was heard at the neighborhood bar.

Just as the harmonic percussive organ groove envelopes you, the rest of the group falls in with a sweet blend that further enhances the organ’s bassline with Basile’s horn and Landham’s snappy drums.

As a leader, Mags shines brightly by expertly weaving dazzling horn play with an intensity and volume. While other performers may put their foot on the gas to rev the engine, Mags and the band taps the brakes in a tempered style that slyly belies his experience as an expert horn man.

This edition of Live Sessions offer a performance that draws a syncopated head nod as you witness the magic that permeates the room when Mags leads the band.

WRTI's NPR Live Sessions Executive Producer J. Michael Harrison adds, “Our relationship with the Rite of Swing Jazz Café series at the Temple Performing Arts Center has been a wonderful treat. Our role of recording and airing the audio from a number of the performances, and interviewing the band leaders, has generated additional hype in the promotion of the series. The opportunity to film and debut original video content from the series on NPR Music Live Sessions offers a bit of next-level exposure. I’m truly excited and sincerely hope that you enjoy these exclusive videos from an extraordinary performance featuring the Joe Magnarelli Quartet. ”

Watch more of WRTI's Live Session videos here.

Bobbi I. Booker is an award-winning multimedia journalist and radio personality whose velvety voice has been a mainstay in the Delaware Valley for over two decades. She can be heard on Spirit Soul Music, Sundays from 6 to 9 a.m., and Jazz Through the Night, weeknights from 12 midnight to 6 a.m.