Philadelphia Musicians Take Center Stage

A lively and diverse line-up of Philadelphia-based performers will take center stage this summer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art's popular "Art After 5" program. Each Friday evening, the Museum's Great Stair Hall is transformed into a concert hall, complete with table service, cocktails, elegant cafe-style appetizers, and desserts. Art After 5 features a range of established and emerging jazz performers, with forays on the first Friday of each month into other musical genres.

In August, visitors can enjoy a night of classic country music set to a 1920 silent western film, and in September an intimate, engaging performance by leading vocalists from the Center City Opera Theater. In between sets visitors have a chance to explore the Museum's more than 200 galleries and special exhibitions.

Summertime also marks the return of 'Martinis on the Portico' - which gives Friday evening visitors a chance to enjoy their favorite cocktails on the portico above the Museum's East Terrace, where they can take in unsurpassed views of Center City.

July 18: Ladies in Jazz: Ella Gahnt and Jeannie Brooks

Jazz vocalist and arranger Ella Gahnt has been performing professionally since the age of 18. The Philadelphia native has a radiant stage presence and an impressive, octave-spanning voice that allows Gahnt to shift from wonderfully lush ballads to swinging, uptempo tunes without missing a beat. Gahnt is joined on July 18 with Jeannie Brooks, a sophisticated singer in her own right who has been performing on concert stages and in jazz festivals in New York, Philadelphia, and Europe for several years. Raised on gospel, rhythm and blues, and the legends of Philadelphia jazz, Brooks is bridging the genre's glorious past with its promising present.

July 25: Philly Jazz Leaders

Enjoy an evening of classic jazz sounds by some of Philly's finest musicians, including pianist Orrin Evans, trumpeter Duane Eubanks, drummer Lucky Thompson, saxman Umar Raheem and bassist Warren Oree.

August 1: Urban Cowboy Night

An evening of live country music to the rare silent western comedy "Big Stakes" 1920 directed by Clifford S. Elfelt. High-energy country/western soundtrack provided by the Devil Music Ensemble from Boston, MA. A set of classic country covers of songs by the likes of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson will follow the silent film spectacular that will have you hooting and hollering along.

August 8: Joanna Pascale

This Philadelphia native has blossomed into a sophisticated vocalist and one of the brightest young talents around. Pascale's nuanced phrasing and soulful interpretations breathe new life into the classic standards.

August 15: Tony Williams

Legendary Philadelphia-based alto saxman Tony Williams has traveled and toured throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. His sound and style has been compared to jazz saxophone greats such as Julian "Cannonball" adderly, John Coltrane, and Stanley Turrentine. Blending musical precision with improvisational verve, Williams can move seamlessly from mainstream to swing and bop.

August 22: Jazz Through the Roof: Understanding Avant-garde

An exploration of avant-garde jazz and its impact on the jazz scene, featuring West Philadelphia native Elliott Levin, whose long and accomplished resume in the jazz avant-garde includes stints with pianist Cecil Taylor's large ensembles, Marshall Allen, the late Tyrone Hill and other members of the Sun Ra Arkestra. G. Calvin Weston, among the most musical and intuitive drummers playing today, and others.

August 29: Philly 5 featuring Denise King

The Philly 5 represents five of the city's leading jazz musicians, including trumpeter John Swana, tenor sax Chris Farr, vibist Tony Miceli and the rhythm section of Maddison Rast and Dan Monaghan. Collectively they've played all over the world. For this performance the 5 are joined by vocalist Denise King, whose sophisticated stylings bring to mind one of her idols, Sarah Vaughan.

September 5: Art After 5 Opera

Opera meets cabaret in this night of lively, informal performances by vocalists from one of Philadelphia's most exciting and critically acclaimed performing arts groups, the Center City Opera Theater. Performers will be stationed throughout the Great Stair Hall, interspersed with the crowd, so the audience will find singers appearing from unexpected places.

September 12: Larry McKenna

Philly tenor sax legend Larry McKenna has performed as soloist with jazz stars such as Woody Herman, Clark Terry, Jon Faddis, Buddy DeFranco, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Bootsie Barnes, Frank Sinatra and many more. Also an accomplished composer and arranger, McKenna's recordings have received critical acclaim from reviewers throughout the United States and Canada.

September 19: Meg & The Cliftones

Vocalist Meg Clifton has proven that she's adept at translating the standards now she brings her heart-felt phrasing and improvisational technique to bear on this pet project, reinterpreting 1960s and '70s rock. The atypical twists and turns she adds to a song are the foundations from which the instrumentalists stretch their solos into serendipitous new directions.

September 26: Arpeggio Plays Music You Can See

Bassist Warren Oree formed the Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble in 1979; since then the group has recorded seven albums and performed throughout the world. The band's eclectic and versatile repertoire includes original and standard compositions all of which are combined in their energetic, unpredictable live shows. This program explores this many "colors" of jazz and how these images translate to sound. -

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