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Philadelphia jazz pianist Jimmy Amadie to release “Something Special” on August 16

Philadelphia icon Jimmy Amadie returns to the spotlight with a new project called “Something Special” on Aug. 16, 2011, and he will make his first public performance since 1967 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art at 5:45 p.m.  and 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14.
Amadie, 74, has battled many struggles over the years, but he is happy to share his love of music with his fans. 
“This is the best time of my life,” Amadie said in a news release. “I’m 74 years old and I’m getting better every day.”
Amadie’s story has been recounted often since his miraculous return to the piano bench in the mid-1990s, but it bears repeating. The North Philadelphia native was a promising young pianist in the 1950s, accompanying the likes of Mel Torme, Woody Herman and Red Rodney, when his performing career was brought to an abrupt halt by severe tendonitis in both hands. Playing the piano suddenly became sheer agony, and Amadie was reduced to improvising only in his head for the next 35 years. 
He managed to maintain an influential presence on jazz through those decades thanks to his own teaching (students included Kurt Rosenwinkel, John Di Martino and famed TV composer Edd Kalehoff) and the publication of two highly-regarded instructional volumes: Harmonic Foundation for Jazz and Popular Music and Jazz Improv: How To Play It and Teach It. His own belated recording debut finally arrived in 1995, thanks to a series of surgeries and his own indomitable fighting spirit.
Just as his luck seemed to be improving he was faced with a further setback. Following the 2007 recording of The Philadelphia Story, he was diagnosed with lung cancer; having reached the summit of one mountain, he suddenly found himself at the base of another.

Something Special is, in many ways, a direct result of that diagnosis. Most people are forced to reassess their priorities when confronted with a life-threatening illness; for Amadie, the cancer, which he continues to battle successfully, helped him come to the decision of recording his first trio session.
“I didn’t know if I was going to get another chance to play,” Amadie said. “I decided to give it my best shot and play without holding back. I’m glad I did. I can’t tell you what I learned.”

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Final musical tribute to ragtime for Tulsa

Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame inductee pianist Donald Ryan and Barron Ryan, a recent piano graduate of the University of Oklahoma, will perform at 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4 at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street (Upper Level), Tulsa.
The concert is dedicated to the memory of David Sahler, friend and Ragtime board member. Concert tickets are $15 adults; $10 for seniors, Jazz Hall members and college students; and $5 students older than 12 years. Limited seating is available. For more information, call (918) 281-8600. Also, the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame will host Argentinean group Viento Sur Trombone Quartet at 7:30 p.m. Wed. Oct. 7. Ticket prices for this engagement are same as Sunday concerts.

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Pianist Danilo Pérez signs with Mack Avenue Records

Mack Records has announced that Grammy winning pianist Danilo Pérez will be joining the label. An extraordinary Panamanian artist, composer and educator, Pérez’s distinctive blend of Pan-American jazz (covering the music of the Americas, folkloric and world music) has attracted critical acclaim and loyal audiences.
“It has been a long journey full of unexpected twists up to now and I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life,” Pérez said.
“Danilo is an artist of uncompromising artistry,” Mack Avenue Records President Denny Stilwell said. “We are pleased to have him as a member of the Mack Avenue family and look forward to an album that will mark a new beginning in his expansive career.”
Pérez has recorded and performed with Wayne Shorter, Steve Lacy, Roy Haynes, Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, Tito Puente, and Wynton Marsalis, among others.
He plans to release his debut Mack Avenue Records album in 2010.