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Mysterious Traveler - Chris Oatts

chris oatts 1

Mysterious Traveler 3 Concert Series

September 19, 2016 - 7PM | Chris Oatts

Parkway Central Library | Montgomery Auditorium
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189

 

All events in this series are FREE.

*This concert is part of the Coltrane At 90 Celebration

 

Mysterious Travelers 3: Internal Investigations - a collaboration between The Free Library of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Jazz Project. Back by overwhelming popular demand! FREE concerts every fourth Monday night from October 2015 through May 2016 audiences will hear from veteran, as well as up-and-coming musicians who are shaping the future sounds of Philadelphia with a sharp ear to the legacies of our past. This season will directly celebrate the massive and amazing collections of the Free Library by granting our performers access to explore them as a source of inspiration for the creation of new musical works and arrangements

 

Hailed by saxophone icon, Bobby Watson as “…one of the top young saxophonist of his generation,” Chris Oatts has quickly begun to develop his own forward-thinking sound on the saxophone. Staying true to his deep roots in jazz and bebop, Chris’ original compositions contain a very high level of musical maturity, while employing accessible and memorable melodies that embrace influences of Rock, Funk, Classical, and New Orleans. Chris’ Quartet performs regularly around the Philadelphia area, playing a wide collection of original songs and new arrangements of jazz classics. The quartet’s recent shows have included performances with John Swana, Jim Snidero and legendary alto saxophonist Dick Oatts, who is Chris’ uncle and mentor.

 

Chris is also the founder and musical director of the South Philly Big Band, a newly organized group that is steeped in the tradition of Thad Jones & Mel Lewis, while simultaneously commissioning new works from Philadelphia composers. In it’s first year of existence, the band has performed standing room only shows with Walt Weiskopf and Ignacio Berroa while maintaining a monthly residency in Center City Philadelphia. Chris has played with Terell Stafford’s Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, as well as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, and is an original member of Chelsea Reed and the Fair Weather Five, a Philadelphia swing-era band that consistently records and tours the country.

 

Saxophonist & flutist Chris Oatts, will be our next guest artist in the Mysterious Traveler Concert Series. *This concert is part of the Coltrane At 90 Celebration

 

Mysterious Traveler 3 Concert Series

September 19, 2016 - 7PM | Chris Oatts

Parkway Central Library | Montgomery Auditorium
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189

 

All events in this series are FREE.

*This concert is part of the Coltrane At 90 Celebration

 

PJP spoke with Chris Oatts about his music and his approach.

 

PJP: Can you briefly describe your musical direction

 

Chris Oatts: I enjoy writing and playing music that provides open-ended musical ideas for all the musicians to freely expand upon. My compositions tend to center around a strong groove and a rhythm-centric approach.

 

Chris Oatts 2PJP: What and whom are pivotal musical influences on your creative approach?

 

Chris Oatts: I was lucky enough to be raised in a family of jazz musicians - my father Jim is a trumpet player who played with the likes of Stan Kenton and Machito, my uncle Dick is a world-renowned saxophonist, and my uncle John Mosca is the leader of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and a first call New York trombonist. My earliest influences came from attending concerts that my father’s big band would give every Monday night and listening to records by Dick’s quartet and the VJO (which Dick would send to me, once I had started playing saxophone). As I grew older, the lineage of great saxophonists become really important to my development as I learned the music of Sidney Bechet, Johnny Hodges, Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane. When I left my hometown of Des Moines, Iowa to attend Temple University in Philadelphia, my Uncle Dick became the most invaluable resource I had to progress as a saxophonist and an artist.

 

PJP: How do you manage the task of creating and encouraging fresh, new, forwarding moving musical ideas, while simultaneously exploring, celebrating and documenting the past?

 

Chris Oatts: I’m fortunate enough to play with many groups around Philadelphia that require me to learn and play specific musical concepts, some from the past, others looking forward. These different directions come together in my quartet, where nothing is off limits. In my own practice and performance, I tend not to worry about coming up with the “new thing,” and try to trust the natural process of growth as a musician and artist. This approach allows for constant creativity from everyone on the bandstand and leads to musical moments that have never been heard before.

 

PJP: Since this concert is a part of the Coltrane At 90 Celebration, can you describe the enduring influence of John Coltrane and his music? Why is he still relevant and important?


Chris Oatts: Coltrane was able to combine two things on a level that had never been seen before: technical mastery of the instrument and spiritual growth expressed through it.  Even "early" Coltrane in the 50's displayed bebop facility that hadn't been seen since Charlie Parker.  He was able to continually grow and create new progressions and harmonic cycles that not only challenged himself, but challenged the listener to open their ears to a new way of listening while always playing with a deep soulfulness. That combination of heart and brain is what every jazz musician (or anyone who seriously commits themselves to any discipline) strives for. To this day, his music remains remarkably timeless and modern and I am astonished and inspired every time I listen to it.

 

PJP: When listening to your music, what advice would you give to audiences to assist with greater understanding and enjoyment?

 

Chris Oatts 3Chris Oatts: Allow yourself to participate in the different intensities of groove and rhythm from tune to tune and don’t try to focus on just one instrument. Try to appreciate the melodic dialogues and relationships that flow from one musician to the other, while also appreciating the general aesthetic of the group in any given moment.

 

PJP: Why Jazz? When you could be doing anything else, why Jazz?

 

Chris Oatts: To be honest, I never really thought about doing anything else. As I said, I grew up in a musical family where jazz was a constant, and their constant support in musical endeavors growing up allowed me to be the musician I am now. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

 

Mysterious Traveler 3 Concert Series

September 19, 2016 - 7PM | Chris Oatts
Parkway Central Library | Montgomery Auditorium
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189

 

All events in this series are FREE.

*This concert is part of the Coltrane At 90 Celebration

 

Mysterious Traveler 3 - Internal Investigations Concert Series is produced by Philadelphia Jazz Project in collaboration with The Free Library of Philadelphia.

 

PJP Logo                      FLP

 

Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Wyncote Foundation.

 

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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Wyncote Foundation.