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Live Review: Outsiders Fest in Philadelphia

Jamaaladeen Tacuma's funky, bold, and fashionable festival celebrates its fifth anniversary

Gary Bartz, Chuck Treece, Fay Victor, and Jamaaladeen Tacuma
Left to right: Gary Bartz, Chuck Treece, Fay Victor, and Jamaaladeen Tacuma at the Outsiders Fest, Philadelphia, April 26, 2019 (photo: Sound Evidence)

Besides the funky ferocity of his bass playing, Jamaaladeen Tacuma is famous for his eclectic sartorial ensembles. As the curator of the Outsiders Improvised & Creative Music Festival in Philadelphia over the last five years, Tacuma has presented combinations of musicians that are as colorful and unexpected as his flashy wardrobe tends to be.

For its first three years, the Outsiders Fest was a single-day marathon presenting short sets by a variety of performers in rapid succession. The format changed in 2018, sprawling out over the month of April; now Tacuma himself was in the spotlight, featured with different ensembles. This year’s fifth-anniversary edition combined the two approaches, with a series of Tacuma-centric concerts over the course of the month culminating in a reprise of the marathon at the festival’s original home, West Philadelphia’s Community Education Center.

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Shaun Brady

Shaun Brady is a Philadelphia-based journalist who covers jazz along with an eclectic array of arts, culture, and travel. Brady contributes regularly to the Philadelphia Inquirer and JazzTimes and Jazziz magazines, with subjects ranging from legendary artists to underground experimentalists. His byline has appeared in DownBeat, Metro, NPR Music, and The A.V. Club, among other outlets. He studied filmmaking at Columbia College Chicago and continues to spend too much time in the dark.