Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble

The Story

A longtime Philadelphia favorite, the Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble combines a passion for straight ahead swinging with an uncommon open-mindedness toward funk, fusion, avant garde and world music influences. Led by bassist-educator Warren Oree, who founded the group in 1979, the eclectic outfit features free-spirited improvisers in powerhouse tenor saxophonist Umar Raheem and guitarist Frank Butrey and is grounded by the rhythm tandem of drummer Greg “Juju” Jones and percussionist Doug “Pablow” Edwards. The group has released nine recordings to date, including 2010’s Man Bites Dog, 2009’s Lifeline and 2005’s Slo-Burn. They are also the core of the Philadelphia Freedom Jazz Orchestra created by Oree. The group also delivers jazzy takes on the music of the Beatles, Motown and Patsy Cline in its lively concert performances.

The members of the Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble has shared their creative energy at jazz festivals and concerts in Brazil, Europe, South America and the Caribbean. They are also involved in a number of community educational programs and workshops, which include topics on the history of jazz and some of it’s great innovators. These programs are designed for children and adults, musicians and non-musicians. The group also serves as the core of the Philadelphia Freedom Jazz Orchestra, created and led by Oree. In 2003, Oree co-founded LifeLine Music Coalition, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting jazz and the arts in Philadelphia. He is also music producer for the annual West Oak Lane Jazz & Arts Festival, currently in its seventh year, and has composed soundtracks for several films and documentaries including Touching Base. In 2009, Oree wrote a jazz opera, Never Back Down, which had its world debut in Philadelphia. In addition, he has been commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art to compose music for several of their paintings and exhibits.

The Sound

Their music is flexible, ranging from soft, contemplative melodies to energetic, multi-rhythmic jams to spacious group explorations. It is not unusual for audiences to break out in dance in response to some of the pulsating beats issuing forth from the bandstand. Expect to hear Oree’s “Ridge Avenue Swing,” named for a street in North Philly, Butrey’s “Dimitri, Birks and Dewey” and Edwards’ ode to Bahia, “Arequito.” 

Michael Kline