The Jazz Cocktail Hour at Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center opens with the upbeat, contemporary sounds of one of Philly’s finest vocalists, Sherry Wilson Butler, and the Aaron Graves Quartet on Sept. 19 at 6:30 PM.
Known for showcasing the diverse American art form called jazz, this popular monthly program hosted by vocalist Sara Michaels offers a variety of regional, national, and international talent from September through May.
Soulful and passionate, Sherry Wilson Butler interprets upbeat contemporary jazz, R&B, pop, and gospel, haunting audiences with influences of Betty Carter, Diane Reeves, Nina Simone, and Sarah Vaughn. The multi-talented Aaron Graves – an extraordinary pianist, composer, arranger, and conductor – returns to Uptown! with his spiritual, down-home sounds. He has performed with jazz greats like Stanley Turrentine, Oscar Brown Jr., Cassandra Wilson, Grover Washington Jr., Kevin Mahogany, and more.
A fierce snowstorm forced this ensemble to reschedule their last show, so they are especially excited to perform at Uptown! this fall.
Cedric Napoleon returns for a “Funky Friday” Jazz Cocktail Hour on Oct. 25 at 7:30 PM with guest artist Suzanne Burgess. A Grammy-nominated bassist and a founding member of jazz/R&B legends Pieces of a Dream, Napoleon captivated a packed house at his last visit.
Early in his career, he toured and recorded with the Manhattans and Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, then exclusively with Grover Washington Jr. He has shared the stage with artists Patti Labelle, Jeffery Osborne, Stevie Wonder, Cuba Gooding Jr., Teddy Pendergrass, Dizzy Gillespie, and a host of others.
Burgess has been singing all her life. A native of southern Chester County who makes Philadelphia her home now, she has appeared on a host of Philly and New York stages.
Back by popular demand, vocalist V. Shayne Frederick and The Paul Giess Quintet combine forces to present an energetic, toe-tapping experience on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 6:30 PM. Both regularly play in notable jazz venues in Philly and beyond. Trumpeter and band leader Paul Giess’s musical vocabulary includes the spiritual sounds of New Orleans Jazz. He brings the groove while Frederick can be counted on for his engaging tone and personality. Broad Street Review describes him as “one of the region’s busiest and best jazz singers.” His singular voice, with its dulcet texture and substantial range, has a classic appeal with a bright, innovative flair.
A mid-December concert with The Cartoon Christmas Trio is a tradition at Uptown! The premier interpreter of classic of holiday cartoon soundtracks, the Trio specializes in the music of A Charlie Brown Christmas. To complete Vince Guaraldi’s original vision for his music, children’s choirs from Pocopson, Hillendale, and Unionville elementary schools join the Trio, under the direction of Steve and Eileen Jennings. Also, world-class baritone Grant Youngblood sings an amazing rendition of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” This annual holiday event is Thursday, Dec. 19 at 6:30 PM.
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