The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Friday night Art After 5 series takes a bold step forward this fall with the world premiere of an original jazz composition inspired by the Museum’s permanent collections. The December 2 performance by renowned pianist and composer Stanley Cowell is the first of two commissioned jazz compositions funded by the Philadelphia Music Project. The second original piece of music, by Grammy-nominated saxophonist David Liebman, will have its premiere in April 2006.
Cowell, who has performed and recorded with important jazz artists such as Max Roach, Miles Davis, and the Heath Brothers, has created a 30-minute musical work reflecting his appreciation, impressions, and study of the Museum’s Asian art collections. The composition incorporates historical musical and artistic practices associated with the cultures of the Asian collections. She-e Wu, who plays an ancient Chinese string instrument, and jazz violinist John Blake, will join Cowell in this performance.
The concept, conceived by Sara Moyn, the Museum’s Manager of Evening Programs, explores relationships between music and the visual arts, allowing an interdisciplinary approach within the Museum’s jazz programming. The Museum’s collections have inspired generations of artists, and that tradition continues with Cowell’s musical interpretation of the treasures in the Asian art galleries. The original works of music composed by Cowell and Liebman further spotlight the Museum as a unique and engaging venue where the performing and visual arts work together.
The Museum’s Great Stair Hall will continue to buzz with excitement throughout the fall with musical highlights, including a 215 Festival performance on October 7 by Beau Django, a Philadelphia-based ensemble dedicated to the music of Django Reinhardt and Quintette du Hot Club de France. Another special evening is a December 30 performance inspired by the exhibition Beauford Delaney: From New York to Paris, featuring jazz pianist Orrin Evans and a screening of the documentary A Great Day in Harlem.
This fall’s Art After 5 lineup:
October 7, 215 Festival: The Museum welcomes the 215 Festival, an artistic fusion of poetry, prose and music, held from Oct. 5-9 at venues throughout Philadelphia. The literary festival honors established and emerging writers and musicians while bringing together the best of Philadelphia and national talent. John Hodgman hosts a Little Gray Book Lecture, an irreverent series of readings, songs, demonstrations, and discussions. Like “The Little Blue Book” instructional pamphlets of the 20th century that inspired them, the lectures are amusing, brief, accessible, enlightening, disposable to some, and collectible to others. Beau Django is a Philadelphia-based ensemble dedicated to the music of Django Reinhardt and Quintette du Hot Club de France. Croatian guitar virtuoso Kruno Spisic and Philadelphia-born violinist extraordinaire Arty Artymiw are joined by guitarist Jon Dichter and bassist Scot Churchman, playing an extensive repertoire.
October 14, Jackie Ryan: Jackie Ryan is a San Francisco-based jazz singer who has released three CDs, the most recent being 2004’s This Heart of Mine. Influenced by the Mexican folk songs that her mother taught her and the classically trained baritone voice of her father, she began singing professionally at the age of 15. She sings fluently in five languages, and her wide-ranging styles include gospel, rhythm and blues, Brazilian bossa nova, and a variety of jazz genres.
October 21, Manuel Valera: At just 23 years old, Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger Manuel Valera is in the forefront of contemporary modern jazz. He is constantly developing new compositions and arrangements that bring together Cuban, Puerto Rican, Brazilian, and other jazz styles and forms. His debut CD, Forma Nueva, has received great reviews from magazines including Billboard, Jazziz, and Latin Beat, among others.
October 28, John Patitucci: Bass player John Patitucci has recorded with B. B. King and Bonnie Raitt, and performed live with Joshua Redman and Herbie Hancock. Patitucci’s solo work has been deeply influenced by his genre-defying collaborations with an eclectic list of artists, notably Chick Corea. His albums have brought him two Grammy Awards, and eight Grammy nominations, and a number one slot on the Billboard jazz chart.
November 4, Time for Three: Founded in 1999 by three Curtis Institute of Music students, Time for Three began as a trio of young string musicians who played together for fun in their spare time when they were not performing, individually, with the likes of The Philadelphia Orchestra and The National Symphony Orchestra. The group evolved into a successful musical phenomenon with a reputation for having no musical boundaries and limitless enthusiasm. Violinists Zachary DePue and Nicolas Kendall and bassist Ranaan Meyer play an eclectic blend of bluegrass, jazz, classical and country/western music.
November 11, Eric Lewis: Eric Lewis has worked with some of the jazz industry’s biggest names, including Wynton Marsalis, Cassandra Wilson, Elvin Jones, and Roy Hargrove. He also has several movie credits---those were his hands, not Samuel L. Jackson’s, playing piano in 2001’s The Caveman’s Valentine. He is the 1999 winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, which recognized his elusive combination of knowledge, command, passion, and expression. His most recent release is Hopscotch, a CD/DVD package featuring the tracks Calamari and The Philly Groove.
November 18, Eric Alexander: Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander may look like a youngster, but the 34-year-old Chicago-area native has recorded a remarkable 16 albums in just 12 years. Alexander brings a seasoned veteran's proficiency and poise to his latest recording, Nightlife in Tokyo. The Eric Alexander Quartet, with Harold Mabern on piano, John Webber on bass, and Joe Farnsworth on drums, has been touring around the world for the past several years to critical acclaim.
November 25, Ben Monder: Since his 1991 debut as a member of Marc Johnson's Right Brain Patrol, guitarist Ben Monder has performed with a variety of artists, including Jack McDuff, Theo Bleckmann, and Paul Motian. He has also appeared with the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, and is a regular member of the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra. His three CDs, Flux, Dust, and Excavation, display his creative guitar work.
December 2, Stanley Cowell: Art After 5 presents the world premiere of an original jazz composition inspired by the art collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Renowned pianist and composer Stanley Cowell has created a 30-minute musical work reflecting his appreciation, impressions, and study of the Museum’s Asian art collections. Since the 1960s, Cowell has performed and recorded with important jazz artists such as Max Roach, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, and Sonny Rollins, as well as touring and recording with the Heath Brothers for a decade. This program, including the commissioning and presentation, is made possible by a grant from the Philadelphia Music Project, an Artistic Initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts, administered by The University of the Arts.
December 9, Trixi Greiner: Hailing from Lancaster, PA, Trixi Greiner creates her own style of music combining sounds of jazz, soul, rock and blues. She is a member of the groups Inca Campers, Burning Bus, and Trixi & the Matrix.
December 16, Dena DeRose: Just as Dena DeRose earned a reputation as a top jazz pianist, her career was interrupted by bouts with arthritis and carpel tunnel syndrome. Unable to play piano for two years, she discovered a new and unexpected talent---singing. Today, she is considered one of the most compelling singers and pianists on the jazz scene. Her fifth CD, 2004’s A Walk in the Park, in her strongest effort to date, featuring songs that range from Ellington’s The Lone Ones to John Lennon’s iconic Imagine.
December 23, Holiday jazz with Joanna Pascale: Joanna Pascale has established herself as a compelling and skilled vocalist. Her love for jazz took her to Philadelphia’s High Schoolfor Creative and Performing Arts then on to Temple University, where she studied under Terell Stafford and Bruce Barth. Her latest album, When Lights Are Low, showcases her approach to the timeless standards of American music.
December 30, An Evening Inspired by Beauford Delaney: The New York Times described Orrin Evans as “a poised artist with an impressive template of ideas at his command,” a quality undoubtedly recognized by the legendary saxophonist Bobby Watson, who engaged Evans as piano chair for his band, a position he has held for six years. His most recent CD, 2005’s Easy Now, is a rousing tribute to his late father, Donald Evans, who was a prominent playwright. In 1958, Art Kane, now deceased, coordinated a group photograph of the top jazz musicians in New York City for Esquire magazine. Just about every jazz musician at the time showed up for the photo shoot, which took place in front of a brownstone near the 125th Street station. The Oscar-nominated documentary A Great Day in Harlem (1994), directed by Jean Bach, includes interviews with many of the musicians in the photograph and film footage shot that day.
About Art After 5Art After 5 offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy evening hours to explore the Museum's 200 galleries, housing a vast collection of art from around the world. The experience is enhanced each Friday by a program of music, dance, food, and drinks in the Great Stair Hall. Performances are presented in two sets: 5:45 – 6:45 p.m. and 7:15 – 8:15 p.m., with guided tours of the galleries offered throughout the evening. A full cash bar and à la carte menu of appetizers, light entrées and desserts is available with table service in the Great Stair Hall. Admission is $12 for adults, $9 for senior citizens (62 and over); $8 for students with I.D. and children 13-18; children 12 years old and younger are admitted free at all times.