Jazz Bridge launches new season with show by drummer Charlie Rice

Posted: October 03, 2011

THIS TOWN has laid claim to many a jazz legend - from John Coltrane, Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie on down - and it used to be crawling with night spots where the talents could hone their chops.

Today, you can count the clubs on one hand. Yet, there are still "at least 500 jazz musicians in the area, of all ages, trying to find work." So says Suzanne Cloud, executive director and co-founder of the Jazz Bridge Project, now Philadelphia's most prolific nonprofit presenter of jazz and blues.

Opening its new season this month with five neighborhood concert series - including three just this week in Collingswood, N.J., Cheltenham and Kennett Square - Jazz Bridge "generates work for local artists and also helps our locals in crisis," said Cloud, a well-regarded vocalist in her own right. Plus, it brings out good midweek crowds to arts and community centers "that are hungry for shows and happy to rent us the space for a modest price."

Renowned 91-years-young drummer Charlie Rice sends off the monthly "First Thursdays" series at the longest-lived (seventh season) of Jazz Bridge venues, the Collingswood Community Center, 30 W. Collings Ave. Rice has been a force on the scene since the late 1940s, when he played in the house band at the Downbeat Club. He later toured and recorded with Sonny Stitt, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Chet Baker. The drummer's stellar 2011 aggregation includes pianist Don Wilson, bassist Ed Wise, saxophonist Bob Howell and trombonist Clifford Adams. The Jersey venue invites you to BYO and offers free nonalcoholic setups. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. "sharp." Tickets are $10, $5 for students. Cloud plays host and leads a postshow Q&A.

The same early showtime and modest admission fees prevail at First Wednesdays Jazz Bridge events at the Cheltenham Center for the Arts and the newly adopted Kennett Flash coffeehouse, in Kennett Square. The latter is hosted/curated by singer Barbara Montgomery and features her own group as opening attraction. In Cheltenham, jazz notable Dave Posmontier hosts and counts things off Wednesday with the bluesy Dukes of Destiny on the bandstand.

Jazz Bridge offerings are planned for Third Wednesdays starting Oct. 19 at the Unitarian Universalist Church, in Media, booked and emceed by Denise Montana, with saxophonist Larry McKenna and his trio opening.

Also new is a Third Thursdays series commencing Oct. 20 at Society Hill Playhouse, in Center City. Much-buzzed-about pianist Orrin Evans curates there and also serves as opening attraction with his quartet. Future shows at the 8th Street venue will bring in young turks such as saxophonist Wade Dean (Nov. 17) and trumpeter Duane Eubanks with his band (Dec. 22).

For more information on Jazz Bridge, shout out to 856-858-8914 or visit www.jazzbridge.org. There are no advance ticket sales. Check out past events (captured by videographer/musician Jason Fifeld of Slife Productions) at www.youtube.com/user/JazzBridge.

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