The last time we talked up the Bynums, Robert and Benjamin, and their dining/dancing empire, it was with sadness: to mourn the closing of their blues-gospel live music eatery, Warmdaddy’s (here’s hoping that unique space returns in another location as the Bynum Hospitality brain-trust stated).
Forget the bad times. Celebrate the good times, the live, jazzy parts of the Bynums’ empire – it’s past with Zanzibar Blue, it’s present with SOUTH – this October as the B-Brothers join forces with Philly’s Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble to celebrate 30 years of Black America’s classical music.
Starting with October 9’s tribute to the stately elegance of vocalist Nancy Wilson, one of this city’s most adroit and adaptable jazz bands tackle the music and vibe of local jazz organ great Charles Earland (October 16), haunted genius falsetto singer Little Jimmy Scott (October 23) and deeply bluesy crooner Lou Rawls (October 30). All of this is in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Zanzibar Blue, the treasured Jazz Club opened by brothers Robert Bynum and Benjamin Bynum in April of 1990 – first off Pine, then on Broad Street – and all of this transpires at the brothers thriving restaurant and live jazz salon, SOUTH.
While organist Will Wright joins Arpeggio this Friday in tribute to “The Mighty Burner” Earland, next weekend’s tribute to Little Jimmy Scott comes with guests Sherry Butler on vocals and trombonist Jeff Bradshaw.
Along with the legendary artists in this tribute series all having performed on the stages of Zanzibar Blue back in the day (I remember, I was there), as did Philadelphia’s own Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble. The shows will stream live on consecutive Fridays. Each show begins at 7:30 PM and will run 60 minutes. A second live in-person show will be performed from 9:30-10:30 PM with limited seating at the restaurant, and by reservation.
“Late last year we began to discuss and prepare for a year-long celebration of the 30th anniversary of Zanzibar Blue, with a series originally scheduled for early April, as the official anniversary falls in that month,” said Wendy E. Wolf of Bynum Hospitality Group in an email interview. “The idea was to bring together Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble, one of the very first groups to perform at Zanzibar Blue, and tribute-style programming that included some of the biggest names to perform on the Zanzibar Blue stage.”
“Obviously, our plans were derailed by the pandemic, but, we were determined to salvage something,” wrote Wolf. “Once the regulations permitted us to fill 50% of seats, we decided to relaunch the series. We’d been receiving phone calls and emails for several months from people who wanted to know when we would resume live jazz performances, so, we knew people were supportive and ready to get out again.”