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Moment's Notice: Our Blazing Jazz Picks for July 23 through 29

Welcome to Moment’s Notice, WRTI’s weekly digest of jazz listings in the Philadelphia area, now in Beta. This feature is coming soon, but first we thought we'd give it a trial run. Drop us a line to let us know what you think!

Spotlight: On & On: José James Sings Badu - Friday, World Cafe Live

On & On: José James Sings Badu, released early this year on Rainbow Blonde Records, suggests something other than a jazz singer’s foray into crossover terrain. For one thing, James has always been a vocalist in tune on a cellular level with soul and R&B; he’s no tourist in the zone. Then, too, there’s his immersive instinct as a channeler, which he explored to fine effect on the Blue Note albums Yesterday I Had the Blues and Lean on Me, respectively honoring Billie Holiday and Bill Withers. His inspiration here is Erykah Badu — probably the slipperiest artist he’s attempted to wrap his arms around, and in some ways the most fitting. James shares her dual attraction to glowing insight and evasive maneuvers, along with the performance instincts of a shaman. His lithe band, which features saxophonists Ebban Dorsey and Diana Dzhabbar, reaches World Cafe Live in top form, coming off a week at the Blue Note in New York. Just wait’ll you hear what they do with “Didn’t Cha Know.”

July 28 at 8 p.m., World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut Street; $35 to $45, purchase tickets.

Billy Harper Quintet - Thursday and Friday, Solar Myth

It has been 50 years since tenor saxophonist Billy Harper recorded his galvanic debut album, Capra Black, for Strata-East Records — and his strong, searching tone hasn’t eased up since. His most recent work on record is with The Cookers, which released Look Out! in 2021, and played an unforgettable concert at the Temple Performing Arts Center in the spring. Harper, still unstoppable at 80, appears under the auspices of Ars Nova Workshop with a quintet featuring Freddie Hendrix on trumpet, Francesca Tanksley on piano, Ben Young on bass and Aaron Scott on drums.

July 27 and 28, 8 p.m., Solar Myth, 1131 S. Broad Street, $30; purchase tickets.

courtesy of the artist

Melanie Charles - Friday through Sunday, South Jazz Kitchen

Melanie Charles doesn’t hold back on her album Y’all Don’t (Really) Care About Black Women — a 2021 Verve release that affirms her bond with the mainstream jazz tradition while repping the spirit of a postmillennial soul underground. Singing material originally associated with the likes of Abbey Lincoln and Dinah Washington, Charles flexes chops not only as a vocalist but also as a producer and beatmaker. She’ll bring that sensibility to the bandstand, along with her hyperfluent skills on flute.

July 28 and 29 at 7 and 9:30 p.m., July 30 at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., South Jazz Kitchen, 600 N. Broad Street, $30; purchase tickets.

Josh Lee and the Extended Family

Perhaps you already know Josh Lee as the host of Jazz Through the Night at WRTI, Saturdays from 2 to 6 a.m. and Sundays from Midnight to 6 a.m. You should also know him as a baritone saxophonist, in the Count Basie Orchestra and elsewhere, and as the leader of the Extended Family, a little big band with pre-modern flair. The band appears this Sunday on the Notsobigband Concert Series — part of the Notsolatin extended universe, with Lee very much on home turf.

July 23 at 7 p.m., Notsolatin Jazz Series, 1440 W. Ritner Street, $10 suggested donation.

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.