While he admits that picking highlights is something like naming a favorite child, Center City Jazz Festival founder and artistic director Ernest Stuart is looking forward to a few particular sets in the fourth annual daylong fest. He names his bandmate in the Bhangra brass band Red Baraat, New York-based drummer Tomas Fujiwara and his quintet The Hook Up.
But then there’s saxophonist Ben Schachter, who recently returned to his native Philadelphia to resume a teaching position at Temple University. And local legend Bootsie Barnes, playing the fest for the first time this year, on the new organ-based stage at Franky Bradley’s.
“When I was in college I used to go to Ortlieb’s every Wednesday and hear his band play,” Stuart says of Barnes. “So it was an honor to be able to call him up and invite him to perform, and he graciously accepted.”
This year’s festival builds on the success of its past incarnations, including last year’s sold-out event. More than a dozen bands will play overlapping sets throughout the day at five venues on and around Sansom Street, representing, as Stuart says, “really interesting bands coming from a lot of the subgenres of jazz.”
To aid in navigating the schedule, here are a few can’t-miss artists from the lineup, in addition to Stuart’s recommendations.
West Philadelphia Orchestra
The Balkan brass party band will help set a festive mood with its early set. 1:30 p.m., MilkBoy, 1100 Chestnut St.
Ben Schachter & Re:Trio
The recently returned saxophonist leads his long-running trio. 1:45 p.m., Time restaurant/bar, 1315 Sansom St.
Luis Bonilla & Four Swinging Bones
Afro-Cuban trombonist Bonilla shows off the versatility of his instrument with a battery of Latin Jazz trombone players. 2:45 p.m., Chris’ Jazz Cafe, 1421 Sansom St.
The Philly tenor giant showcases the city’s classic organ-jazz sound. 4 p.m., Franky Bradley’s, 1320 Chancellor St.
Matt Davis’ Aerial Photograph
After spending a year documenting a number of Philly subcultures with his chamber-jazz ensemble, Davis moved to Manhattan and undertook a similar project there. Both efforts yielded rich music from his unique combination of classical strings and jazz horns. 4 p.m., Fergie’s Pub, 1214 Sansom St.
Tomas Fujiwara & The Hookup
The adventurous drummer and his incredible quintet celebrate the release of its fantastic new album, “After All Is Said,” with pianist Kris Davis joining for the occasion. 5:45 p.m., Chris’ Jazz Cafe
To wrap up the day, the fest’s founder puts on his musician’s hat and picks up his trombone. 6:15 p.m., Time restaurant/bar