The Met Philadelphia, the newly refurbished venue on North Broad Street, has a added a big time jazz double bill to the mix.
It’s a good one: On August 4, pianist Herbie Hancock will share the bill with Kamasi Washington, the saxophonist and band leader whose courted a wide audience in recent years with his bold, brash ambitious albums The Epic (2015) and Heaven and Earth (2018).
Hancock, of course, is a modern jazz giant whose career has stretched almost six decades, dating back to his days playing with Donald Byrd and the Miles Davis’ quintet in the 1960s, and he’s also always been an innovator skilled at expanding jazz’s reach. The 78-year-old keyboardist broke through to pop with his 1983 hit “Rockit” and won Grammy album of the year honors for The Joni Letters, his 2007 tribute to Joni Mitchell.
Washington is the rare young jazz artist who can play rock halls on his own, with a sound that includes elements of R&B and funk and no shortage of psychedelic swagger. He’s filled Union Transfer and the Electric Factory in recent years, and is succeeding in a mission to open the ears of the Coachella audience to jazz history.
The Met, which originally opened in 1908, has its own long history of presenting everything from opera to church services to boxing matches to basketball games. Jazz is part of that story: Billie Holiday played there in 1954 along with the Woody Herman Orchestra and the Orioles.