The Warriors Take Over Philadelphia

Ars Nova Workshop (ANW), the Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts, the Painted Bride Art Center and the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound are excited to announce a new, unprecedented city-wide collaboration that brings world class musicians and fiery big band jazz to Philadelphia’s Clef Club and the Painted Bride Art Center every first Tuesday March–June. Philadelphia’s Bobby Zankel leads his now-institutional big band, the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound, alongside some of the most innovative voices in jazz: Dave Burrell, Oliver Lake, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Jaleel Shaw. Philadelphians can expect a swinging blend of intricate compositions composed by Zankel and commissioned pieces composed by the evening’s special guest.

The series kicks off in March, when Dave Burrell joins the Warriors for their return to the Painted Bride. As part of this performance, the ensemble will perform a new arrangement of “Crucificado,” one of Mr. Burrell’s most popular compositions. The series continues in April at the Clef Club as part of Jazz Appreciation Month, with Indian-American altoist and peerless composer Rudresh Mahanthappa revisiting his 2010 collaboration with the Warriors. The last time these two icons were on stage together, All About Jazz said, The musicianship was consummate, and there were gems of improvisation, highlighted by melodic interludes…along with brilliant turns of phrase and moments of deep, meaningful expression.” Celebrating its 20th year, the Clef Club welcomes the revolutionary Oliver Lake to join the Warriors in May. The series will conclude in June with the welcomed return of Philadelphia native, Clef Club alumnus, and rising star altoist Jaleel Shaw. 

Discounted sets of tickets to all 4 shows are available for $40; individual tickets cost $15.

Originally from Brooklyn, Bobby Zankel has called Philadelphia home since 1975. A leading light of Philly’s jazz community, he was initially drawn to the saxophone by the thrilling new sounds of the 1960s jazz scene, particularly John Coltrane. In the ‘70s he studied with Cecil Taylor at the University of Wisconsin, leaving school to continue those studies on the bandstand in New York. There, Zankel performed alongside bassist William Parker and violinist Billy Bang before moving to Philadelphia“I’ve had such tremendous experiences and opportunities in Philadelphia,” Zankel says, citing his work with saxophonist Odean Pope, bassist Jymie Merritt, violinist John Blake, and singer Ruth Naomi Floyd, among others who make the city their home. His most influential work, however, has been his nearly fifteen years of composing for his large ensemble.

The Warriors of the Wonderful Sound were first assembled in 2001, and presented Zankel’s heady, intricate compositions regularly over the next decade at the South St. club Tritone. For most of the big band’s existence, Zankel’s compositions alone made up the Warriors’ repertoire. In 2009, however, the band performed the music of Julius Hemphill, leading Zankel to open up the band’s book to outside composers of a similar mindset. First Indian-American saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and then M-Base founder Steve Coleman penned challenging suites for the ensemble, and in 2012, Zankel and Warriors collaborated with Muhal Richard Abrams. Members of this special, all-star line-up of the Warriors features some of Philly’s finest: virtuoso violinist Diane Monroe, Philadelphia tradition-bearer Lee Smith on bass, and fellow altoist Julian Pressley. Members have played with the likes of Joe Lovano, Uri Caine, Max Roach, and the Mingus Big Band.

About the Special Guests:

Distinguished composer-pianist, Dave Burrell, is a performing artist of singular stature on the international contemporary music scene. His dynamic compositions with blues and gospel rootsrecall the tradition of Jelly Roll Morton, James P. Johnson and Duke Ellington, as well as avant-garde composers Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. A pioneering voice in free jazz piano, he can be heard on landmark recordings alongside Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders, Marion Brown, Sonny Sharrock, and many more. Since 2007 Burrell has been composer-in-residence at the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia, where he has composed commissioned works drawing on the museum’s Civil War documents.

Guggenheim fellow, Doris Duke Performing Artist Awardee, and 2013 Downbeat International Critics Poll Alto Saxophonist of the Year, Rudresh Mahanthappa is one of the most innovative composers and performers in jazz today, fusing the musical culture of his Indian ancestry and jazz with myriad other influences to create a groundbreaking artistic vision. His 2013 release, Gamak(ACT) is teeming with “passion for experimental immersion… totally at ease, not only crossing eastern and western musical genres, but boldy blazing into further unexplored territories” (Huffington Post). He has recorded with musicians like Bunky Green, Jack De Johnette, Jason Moran, Vijay Iyer, and Steve Lehman.

Composer, saxophonist, poet, visual artist, and Guggenheim Fellow, Oliver Lake is one of jazz's most prolific and eclectic artists of the last 40 years. Lake was a founding member of the Black Artists Group (BAG) in St Louis in the 1970's, where he grew up, as well as a founding member of the legendary World Saxophone Quartet. He has received multiple commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, and the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust and his works have been performed by the Arditti String Quartet, violinist Regina Carter, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, New York New Music Ensemble, and more. He has worked with a wide range of artists including Björk, Lou Reed, Abbey Lincoln, and A Tribe Called Quest. Lake performs worldwide with Trio 3, the long-standing cooperative trio with percussionist Andrew Cyrille and bassist Reggie Workman, sometimes augmented by pianist Geri Allen.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, Jaleel Shaw is one of the fiercest saxophonists to come out of this city, someone who “plays commandingly with narrative logic and forward pull” (New York Times). In 2013, he released The Soundtrack of Things to Come on his own label, Changu Records. It has been described as “heartfelt music… Shaw's horn speaks of melancholy and asks probing questions as the band artfully maneuvers” (All About Jazz). He is also a member of the Roy Haynes Quartet, and has performed with Christian McBride, Jason Moran, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Jimmy Cobb, and many more. In recent years he has received numerous accolades, including Rising Star for Alto Saxophone (Downbeat critics poll 2014), Saxophonist of the Year (JazzTimes Reader’s Poll 2011), and an ASCAP Young Composer’s Award (2011).