Dave Burrell clearly remembers when there was a different energy in the Philly jazz scene.

“We’re not at an all-time high compared to the booming days, and I wish the enthusiasm of younger, newer players would keep on happening for all of us players,” says the legendary pianist and Philadelphian.

Despite the lull, Burrell is himself still bent on keeping the sound alive. Tonight, he will be gracing the Philadelphia Art Alliance’s stage with Dutch drummer Han Bennink in the pair’s first ever duo performance through the Ars Nova Workshop.

Burrell has collaborated extensively with other American jazz powerhouses (Archie Shepp, David Murray) over the course of his influential career. Bennink, buzzing in from across the Atlantic, is, in Burrell’s words, “one of the giants of the European jazz scene.”


Both musicians have long anticipated the collaboration. Burrell “always wanted to do something with [Bennink] that was documented properly, in the proper context.” In fact, since Burrell’s decades-ago European tour, the pair has played a game of transcontinental tag, chasing but never quite scoring a musical partnership — until now, that is.

What to anticipate from the collaboration? “Clarity,” Burrell says. “Any direction Han proposes, I will follow with clarity; the same goes for when I initiate a musical sentence.”

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