Thursday, July 17, 2014

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a closer look at CDs by the Larry Goldings-Peter Bernstein-Bill Stewart trio, and singers Sherie Julianne and Lisa Thorson ….

Larry Goldings - Peter Bernstein - Bill Stewart, Ramshackle Serenade (Pirouet)

Twenty-plus years of collaborations in their own bands, and others, have bonded Hammond B-3 organist Larry Goldings, guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Bill Stewart with a mighty special creative glue. The treats here, layering spunk and subtlety, include Jobim’s “Luiza,” Bernstein’s “Simple As That,” Goldings’ “Mr. Meagles” and Horace Silver’s classic ballad “Peace.” This one will stick with you. 

Sherie Julianne, 10 Degrees South (Azul do Mar)
There is something mighty special about Brazil’s breezy rhythms. The bossa nova and the samba, among many others, can be musically intoxicating – in a good way.
San Francisco Bay-area singer Sherie Julianne has absorbed much from the Brazilian Songbook, and found a way to make it her own. 

Her supporters on this project include one of her musical mentors, pianist-arranger Marcos Silva, who hails from Rio, as well as flutist/saxophonist Mary Fettig, guitarist Jeff Buenz, drummer Phil Thompson and bassist Scott Thompson. Her honeyed voice and her uncanny use of time are great assets here. Favorites: “Bananeira,” “”O Pasto,” “So Many Stars” and Silva’s ballad “Painting.” (This is a July 29 release.)

Lisa Thorson, Lisa Thorson Quartet Live (Birdfeeder Music)

Boston-based singer and educator Lisa Thorson is out with her first recording in over 10 years, and it is a most-welcome display of the no-frills singer’s art. This session was recorded live at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston in 2009. This, her sixth CD as a leader, teams Thorson with her longtime bandmates Tim Ray (piano), David Clark (bass) and George Schuller (drums). They’ve been a team for more than 20 years – and it shows. 

Thorson’s clear and crisp diction, uncanny sense of swing and skillful role as a musical interpreter, with understated scatting at times, come into play here. This is no “chick singer” fronting a band. She’s deeply enmeshed in the collective band sound, and what a sound it is. Favorites: their takes on Charlie Parker’s “Blues for Alice,” the wistful standard “There’s a Lull in My Life” (kudos here for shining new light on a gem), their moody take on Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo," and a medley consisting of guitarist Garrison Fewell’s “Hearing Things Too” (with lyrics by Thorson) and Aldir Blanc’s “Chorado.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Farewell, Charlie...

It's been a rainy day here in Florida, and such weather gave me a grand opportunity to revisit some of my favorite music by bassist, bandleader and NEA Jazz Master Charlie Haden, who left us last week at age 76 after a prolonged illness.

Charlie Haden and Hank Jones, Montreal 2008
My clear favorites among the extensive Haden discography include two of his duet projects (Steal Away with pianist Hank Jones and Beyond the Missouri Sky (Short Stories) with guitarist Pat Metheny), any of his eight recordings by the film noir-inspired Quartet West (but particularly Haunted Heart, released in 1992), and 2005's Not in Our Name by the Liberation Music Orchestra that he co-led with pianist Carla Bley.

In a May 1995 interview, the morning after a Quartet West performance in Rhode Island, I asked Haden why musicians sound so very different from each other, even though they're all playing the same instrument. His answer was simple and logical: Nobody plays the same because nobody hears the same.

There is a lot of very fine Charlie Haden material to savor in the aforementioned groupings on YouTube if your own collection is sparse.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Newport beckons

The 60th anniversary edition* of the Newport Jazz Festival is fast approaching. My bags and gear aren’t packed yet, but I’m preparing for my 33rd Newport festival in 34 years. (Since the festival returned to the City By The Sea in 1981, I only missed 1983 due to a fellowship commitment in Michigan.)

The 2014 edition includes three consecutive afternoons of music on three simultaneous stages at Fort Adams State on August 1, 2 and 3, as well as the festival’s Friday evening concert at the Internal Tennis Hall of Fame on Bellevue Avenue. The latter features the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and singer Dee Dee Bridgewater’s Billie Holiday tribute.
Gregory Porter, 2013

Among the many, many fine acts that give jazz fans young and not-so-young many listening options each day, I’m particularly looking forward to hearing:

  • singers Bridgewater, Bobby McFerrin, Gregory Porter and Cécile McLorin Salvant.
  • a quartet co-led by saxophonist David Sanborn and B3 organ master Joey DeFrancesco.
  • pianists Dr. John and Danilo Pérez.
  • the Mingus Big Band.
  • saxophonist Miguel Zenón.
  • pianist Dick Hyman with guitarist Howard Alden and bassist Jay Leonhart.
  • the hard bop collective The Cookers, featuring saxophonists Donald Harrison and Billy Harper, trumpeters Eddie Henderson and David Weiss, pianist George Cables, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Billy Hart.
  • the Newport Now 60 band.
  • the adventurous, young, original music ensemble Snarky Puppy.
The festival, produced by founding producer George Wein and his superb team, is presented by Natixis Global Asset Management.

*As I’ve noted in the past, while this is the 60th anniversary of the festival’s 1954 founding, it actually will be the 50th Newport Jazz Festival to be held in Newport. There was a 10-year hiatus after a 1971 riot by gate-crashing, beer-swilling rowdies at Festival Field. No doubt, more than a few media reports will call this the 60th festival.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a closer look at CDs by Jeff Colella and Putter Smith, Miles Davis, John Intrator and Sébastien Felix, and the Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra….

Jeff Colella and Putter Smith, Lotus Blossom (The American Jazz Institute/Capri)
The duet format in jazz is the most intimate form of musical conversation. It is also the most challenging, in terms of keeping that conversation lively, interesting and profound. This project by L.A.-based jazz players Jeff Colella on piano and Putter Smith on bass is one of the few that reaches a level deserving of any superlative you can think of. Yes, it’s that wonderful. 

In addition to exploring one original apiece (Smith’s “Desert Passes” and Colella’s “Gone Too Soon”) and guitarist Larry Koonse’s “Candle,” the pair explore three exquisite tunes associated with Bill Evans (“Time Remembered,” “You Must Believe in Spring” and Miles Davis’s “All Blues”), Billy Strayhorn’s “Lotus Blossom” and  Ray Noble’s “The Very Thought of You.” The latter is a clear favorite amid these splendid eight tracks. “Gone Too Soon” is a poignant yet upbeat salute to the many musicians who left the planet prematurely, but live on through the music they left us. Do yourself a favor, listen in on the conversation.

Miles Davis, Miles at the Fillmore (Columbia / Legacy)

Here’s another one for the compleatists. This four-CD set is the third volume of the label’s Bootleg Series of previously unreleased (or only bootlegged) live performances by Miles Davis. This one features the trumpeter’s four-night stand at promoter Bill Graham’s legendary Fillmore East music emporium in New York City, released for the first time in its entire full-length unedited form. The boxed set includes one disc for each of the concerts, June 17-20, 1970, that Miles and his group performed at the Fillmore East, when his band opened for singer-songwriter Laura Nyro.

These performances featured the double keyboard powerhouse with which Davis toured for a few months, with Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea played electronic organ and Fender Rhodes, respectively. The other band members were Steve Grossman on saxophones, Dave Holland on bass, Jack DeJohnette on drums and Airto Moreira on percussion. The box also includes three different tracks from an April 11, 1970 concert at Graham’s Fillmore West venue in San Francisco by the same band minus Jarrett.

John Intrator and Sébastien Felix, Open House (Savarez)
If you’re a lover of the classic gypsy jazz sound that Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt hatched in the 30s, this one’s for you. Violinist John Intrator and guitarist Sébastien Felix have collaborated with a wide-ranging group of friends and family to create what amounts to a delightful gypsy jazz house party. Felix hails from a highly regarded French gypsy jazz family. American-born Intrator, who has lived in Switzerland since 1968, is a devotee both Grappelli and Claude “Fiddler” Williams, who was a colleague and mentor. Guitarist Howard Alden joins the party for two tunes, “”Along Came Betty” and “Tenderly,” while saxophonist Jacques Ducrot is aboard for four tunes. The 15 tracks on Open House swing mightily.

Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra, Habitat (Justin Time) 

Saxophonist Christine Jensen is a formidable talent, particularly the way she composes and arranges for her Montreal-based big band, the Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra. There are inescapable comparisons to New York’s Maria Schneider in terms of the grand scope of Jensen’s writing, the sourcing of her varied inspirations, and the lush sound of her ensemble. This is not a bad thing. They even share a band member, Jensen’s sister, the very fine New York-based trumpeter Ingrid Jensen.

Favorite tracks: “Nishiyuu,” which was inspired by a 44-day, 1,500-kilometer trek six young Cree Indians made from northern Quebec to Ottawa to raise awareness about problems facing Canada’s indigenous populations; “Intersections” (a musical stroll up Montreal’s bustling Rue St-Laurent, featuring CJJO six soloists); and “Sweet Adelphi.” Tenor saxophonist Chet Doxas turns in some spectacular work as the featured soloist on “Nishiyuu.” “Sweet Adelphi” showcases the Jensens, Christine on soprano sax and Ingrid on trumpet. The tune has been has been played and recorded in a variety of contests over the years. This CD marks its recording debut in an orchestral context. Bravo.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Looking Ahead: Southwest Florida jazz in the summer

The snowbird concert season for jazz may be over in the Sarasota to Naples territory, but there’s still jazz to be found. Most of it is in the form of regular gigs at restaurants that offer jazz multiple times a week.

 They include J.D.’s in Port Charlotte (after its vacation week hiatus ends July 8), The Orange House in Punta Gorda, The Roadhouse in Ft. Myers, The Haye Loft upstairs at Euphemia Hay on Longboat Key, and a most-welcome new kid on the block. 

The jazz newcomer (since February), is Chef Charles Mereday’s Alto - Live Jazz, Kitchen in Naples, which offers jazz nightly as a complement to its fine dining (though there is no music on Mondays or Tuesdays for tyhe rest of the summer). It’s located at 492 Bayfront Place in the heart of Naples’ vibrant, upscale Bayfront complex near the corner of Tamiami Trail and Goodlette Frank Road. The lineup changes nightly. It includes a fabulous quintet on Saturdays co-led by trumpeter Dan Miller and tenor saxophonist Lew Del Gatto, with Joe Delaney on piano, Don Mopsick on bass and Patricia Dean on drums. It’s a tight bop unit. If you find yourself in Naples, be sure to check out Alto. It was inspired by Philadelphia’s wonderful Zanzibar Blue, an upscale jazz-and-dining venue in Center City where Mereday was executive chef from 1996-1998. Much to the dismay of Philly jazz fans, Zanzibar Blue closed in 2007 after the landlord proposed doubling the rent. 

Jam sessions or sit-in opportunities remain a staple of the local scene as well. You can find them at Ocean Blues in Sarasota on Mondays, Allegro Bistro in Venice on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Cactus Jack’s in North Fort Myers on Wednesdays. Drummer Al Hixon’s Monday night jams at 15 South on St. Armand’s Circle will resume in October, as will the Charlotte County Jazz Society’s jams on the fourth Sunday of the month at Port Charlotte Golf Club.

There is at least one notable jazz concert scheduled this summer, arriving on Saturday, August 23. Pianist Shelly Berg and an all-star student jazz group from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music perform at Riverview High School Performing Arts Center in Sarasota. This is a Jazz Club of Sarasota event, sponsored by The Jazz Cruise. It’s a 7:30 p.m. start.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Jazz Profile: "The Nurturer"

Marcus Belgrave 

Hot House has just published my profile of Marcus Belgrave, the trumpet great who has called Detroit home for more than 50 years, and mentored an amazing array of jazz talents who have come out of the Motor City. 

In the July issue of the magazine, he also talks about the nurturing he received from Clifford Brown, when they were adolescents in a community band in Delaware, and his first road boss – Ray Charles, as well as his take on the fine art of jazz soloing. You can read it here. Belgrave and his band appear July 22-24 at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.

Belgrave was in the news in Detroit three months ago when a young thief stole his distinctive copper-belled trumpet out of his car. It was found a few days later in a local pawn shop. “Once the thief realized what he had, from all of the publicity, I guess he decided to get it out of his hands and take it to the pawn shop,” the trumpeter said. On June 18, Belgrave and his band performed a midday concert on the lawn of Detroit’s new police headquarters “to thank them for their efforts in helping us get it back.”

        (Marcus Belgrave
photo by Wayne Norman)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

We lost a jazz giant

The jazz world is mourning yesterday’s passing of composer, pianist and bandleader and NEA Jazz Master Horace Silver. He was truly one of the greats, helping create the hard bop genre in the 1960s and leaving as his legacy a wonderful trove of soulful, funky and catchy tunes. He was a Stan Getz sideman early in his career, co-founded  the Jazz Messengers with Art Blakey, and his own band was a wonderful talent springboard over the years.

His best-known composition, of course, was “Song For My Father,” which he penned in 1964 as a tribute to his dad. So it is rather ironic that Silver left us just a couple days after Father’s Day. But there were other great tunes as well – “The Preacher,” Tokyo Blues, “Filthy McNasty, “Doodlin’,” “Blowin’ The Blues Away” and “The Jody Grind.” The list goes on and on.

Monday, June 16, 2014

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a closer look at CDs by five pianists: Francy Boland, George Cables, Ellen Rowe, Jamie Saft and Omar Sosa.…

Friday, June 13, 2014

And the winners are….

The Jazz Journalists’ Association presented the media portion of its 18th annual Jazz Awards this week at the Blue Note in New York. The full list of winners is detailed at (scroll down).
  • Three musicians won crossover honors. Pianist Ethan Iverson was honored for the year’s best blog for Do The Math. Vibes player Gary Burton won Best Book of the Year category for his autobiography, Learning To Listen: The Jazz Journey of Gary Burton (Berklee Press). Singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, the host of the NPR series Jazz Set, received the JJA's Willis Conover-Marian McPartland Award for Broadcasting. (Burton also won musical honors, announced in April, as Mallet Player of the Year).
  • Veteran author, editor, educator and radio show host W. Royal Stokes received JJA’s Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism Award.
  • Freelance writer Nate Chinen won the Helen Oakley Dance-Robert Palmer Award for Writing in 2013.
    Benny Golson, by Antonio Porcar Cano
  • Spanish photographer Antonio Porcar Cano was honored for the competition’s Photo of the Year for his wonderful image of saxophonist Benny Golson, taken last July  26 at the  Festival Internacional de Jazz de Peñíscola.
  • Videographer John Moultrie won the Best Short Form Jazz News Video category for "Gary Bartz Talks About Drug Use Among Jazz Greats."
Two perennial winners, JazzTimes magazine and, won again in their respective categories, Best Print Periodical and Best Jazz Website.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A lively jazz afternoon captured for posterity

Mike Markaverich
What do you get when you record before a live audience? In the very best instances - spirited music with no false starts, no retakes and no clams (bad notes). 

Such was the case Tuesday afternoon, June 10 when pianist and singer Mike Markaverich recorded his trio with bassist Ernie Williford and drummer Johnny Moore in the presence of about 50 of their fans at the Venice Art Center.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Jazzy numbers

Much focus will be given this summer to this August’s arrival of the 60th anniversary edition of the Newport Jazz Festival (not the 60th festival mind you, just the fact that it’s been 60 years since the very first festival was held in Newport back in 1954). As mentioned in prior postings, this will be the 50th edition of the George Wein-produced festival to be held in Newport.

But there is another very admirable anniversary taking place 12 days earlier on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Jazz in July opens its 30th anniversary run (July 21-31) at the 92nd Street Y. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mingus, Mingus and more Mingus

Kevin Mauldin
The Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra  dug deeply into the music of bassist and composer Charles Mingus in a concert Wednesday night at Artis Naples' Daniels Pavilion. It underscored his imprint on jazz as a bassist, composer and social commentator.

The concert included a wide range of ambitious Mingus works, even touching on his early days as an emerging jazz figure in Los Angeles in the late 1940s. The NPJO, actually a sextet, featured bassist Kevin Mauldin for this evening. The band also includes tenor saxophonist Lew Del Gatto, trumpeter Dan Miller, pianist Jerry Stawski, drummer Mike Harvey and violinist Glenn Basham.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a closer look at new CDs by Eric Alexander, Lori Carsillo, Mike Longo, and Gene Ludwig and Pat Martino.…

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A solid night of jazz, enhanced by two Bostonians

Dean, Bowlby, Evans, Delaney
Pianist Joe Delaney's Wednesday night trio gig at Brew Babies in Cape Coral FL had some added firepower on May 7 when two very fine Boston-area musicians sat in. Delaney invited saxophonist Bob Bowlby to join the merriment, since he was in the Tampa area to visit his daughter. And trumpeter Trent Austin was in town visiting family. Fortunately, he brought his horn when dining at the restaurant with his parents.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Once again, the jazz is at the Sunday brunch

The Punta Gorda (FL) Chamber of Commerce has announced the dates and the lineup for the10th annual Punta Gorda Wine & Jazz Festival at Laishley Park, on the shore of the picturesque Peace River where it flows into Charlotte Harbor.

Sad to say, there is no jazz on the main stage for the main event on Saturday, February 21, 2015. The three acts are all from the smooth jazz (instrumental pop) genre.) They are saxophonists Mindi Abair (back for the seventh consecutive year) and Dave Koz, and guitarist-singer Nick Colionne, who sounds to me like a young, smooth George Benson without the latter's strong jazz chops.

For true jazz at the festival, we must once again turn to the Jazz Brunch at the nearby Isles Yacht Club on Sunday, February 22. Brunch producer Brian Presley has not yet announced the lineup of local mainstream jazz talent, but it is always a fine mix of Southwest Florida musicians. Presley's firm, Presley Beane Financial Services, sponsors the brunch. Presley has had minimal success through the years in getting jazz onto the main stage. I have no doubt he'll keep trying.

Aside from 2013, which included Sergio Mendes' band and a local mainstream jazz quintet, this festival keeps missing opportunities to share with its devoted main stage audience a richer, deeper, broader musical palette encompassing a variety of jazz genres. And that is a pity. It could be so much more.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Local jazz gets a mighty fine bonus

Jazz fans at JD's Bistro & Grill in Port Charlotte expecting to hear drummer Patricia Dean's fine trio got an added bonus Thursday night. Jacksonville-based singer Lisa Kelly and trumpeter J.B. Scott sat in during the second and third sets.

Dean, Kelly, Trefethen, Scott, Phillips
The husband-and-wife educators at the University of North Florida  were in the area for two days of guest teaching at the Harrison School of the Arts in Lakeland. Jeff Phillips, a versatile and highly talented pianist who teaches jazz at the magnet high school, is Dean's regular pianist for her weekly JD's gig. He brought Kelly and Scott with him since they had a free evening.

Monday, April 28, 2014

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a closer look at new CDs by Alan Broadbent, Lisa Hilton, Pat Metheny and Dick Titterington….

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jazz's creme de la creme, 2014-style

Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, Newport 2013
The Jazz Journalists Association's 18th annual Jazz Awards winners list is headlined by pianist Herbie Hancock and saxophonist Wayne Shorter.

Hancock is being honored for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz. In addition to being a busy composer and performer, he's the driving force behind UNESCO's International Jazz Day, chairs the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and gave this year's six-part prestigious Norton Lectures series at Harvard.
Shorter was named Musician of the Year and his 2013 recording, Without A Net (Blue Note) was voted Record of the Year. 

Cecile McLorin Salvant was named Up and Coming Artist of the Year and Female Singer of the Year. Here is a link to the winners in all 32 categories of musical excellence.

Award winners in the JJA's Journalism and Media categories will be announced June 11 at the annual JJA Jazz Awards party in the Big Apple.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A swinging evening for jazz clarinet and more

Allan Vaché
Clarinetist Allan Vaché's mainstream jazz quintet closed out the Charlotte County Jazz Society's 2013-14 concert series Monday night at the Charlotte County Cultural Center with a swinging evening of Tin Pan Alley and jazz standards.

The repertoire ranged from Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and Bob Haggart to the Benny Goodman songbook, with one brief foray to Brazil for Antonio Carlos Jobim's lovely bossa nova "Look to the Sky."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hip jazz for hip listeners

Giacomo Gates
Singer Giacomo Gates' wide-ranging musicality, humor and swing were on full display Saturday night at JD’s Bistro & Grille as he opened the Port Charlotte FL venue’s Jazz Masters series of special jazz events.

Gates fit the bill perfectly with his approach to jazz, including his instrument-like scatting and use of vocalese. The latter technique, popularized by Eddie Jefferson, Jon Hendricks and Oscar Brown Jr., puts lyrics to classic instrumental jazz solos that enable a singer like Gates to present a jazz standard with new dimensions.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The art of the jazz duo - playing alone together

Howard Alden
Guitarist Howard Alden and pianist Lenore Raphael blended their considerable talents Friday night in a South County Jazz Club concert that concluded its 2013-14 season segment at the Glenridge Performing Arts Center in Sarasota.

The New York-based players dug deeply into Great American Songbook standards, and a gritty take on Hoagy Carmichael's "Georgia On My Mind," before concluding their 90-minute performance with a Raphael original. The latter was her Oscar Peterson tribute, "Blues for O.P."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

CDs of Note - Short Takes

This vocals edition takes a closer look at new CDs by Barb Jungr, Stacey Kent and Susanna Smith….

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A night of Valiant jazz

Valery Ponomarev
Russian-born, New York-based trumpeter Valery Ponomarev and Florida saxophonist Valerie Gillespie teamed their talents Friday for the first time, and loved every minute of it. The occasion was a Jazz Club of Sarasota evening concert at Holley Hall, which drew a small but enthusiastic audience.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Young jazz trumpet phenom steals the show

Pianist and singer Danny Sinoff is the resident jazz cat in the hat two nights a week at JD's Bistro & Grille in Port Charlotte, but Friday night he had to share the distinction and step back a bit from the spotlight. Thirteen-year-old trumpet phenom Geoff Gallante sat in with Sinoff's trio for two sets and showed the enthusiastic crowd - and his fellow musicians - that he is  the real deal.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Looking Ahead: Southwest Florida jazz preview

Giacomo Gates
Here’s a preview of some of the more interesting jazz events in the Sarasota to Naples territory from now through mid-June, as the concert season winds down. 
  • Monday, March 24 – Singer Carmen Bradford guests with The Naples Jazz Orchestra, Cambier Park, Naples. 7 p.m.
  • Friday, March 28 – From Russia With Love: Trumpeter Valery Ponomarev and saxophonist Valerie Gillespie. Jazz Club of Sarasota evening concert, Holley Hall, 709 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 5 – Guitarist Howard Alden and pianist Lenore Raphael, The South County Jazz Club’s concert series at the Glenridge Performing Arts Center, Sarasota. 8 p.m.
  • Friday, April 11 – Singer Giacomo Gates quartet, Jazz Club of Sarasota evening concert, Holley Hall, 709 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 7:30 p.m. Gates is also at JD’s Bistro and Grille, on Saturday, April 12, shows at 6 and 8:30 p.m. 1951 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte, Call (941) 255-0994 for reservations.
  • Saturday, April 12 – NYC Saxophone Summit featuring tenorists Lew Del Gatto, Jeff Rupert and Jerry Weldon, as well as trumpeter Dan Miller. Footsteps to the Future benefit at Hodges University, Naples. 6 p.m.
  • Monday, April 14 – Clarinetist Allen Vaché’s quintet, Charlotte County Jazz Society’s Artists Series concert, Charlotte Cultural Center in Port Charlotte. 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, April 16 – Trombonist Conrad Herwig is special guest with the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra. Daniels Pavilion, Naples, 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. 
  • Wednesday, May 21 – The Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra’s tribute to Charles Mingus features bassist Kevin Mauldin. Daniels Pavilion, Naples, 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. 
  • Wednesday, June 11 – The Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra presents The Complete History of Jazz in 75 minutes. Daniels Pavilion, Naples, 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. 
Allen Vaché
A few local restaurants (including J.D.’s in Port Charlotte, The Orange House in Punta Gorda and The Roadhouse in Ft. Myers) offer jazz steadily, and there will be a variety of varied afternoon concerts sponsored all season by the Jazz Club of Sarasota and South County Jazz Club.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Happy jazz still going strong

Jim Cullum
The Jim Cullum Jazz Band drew nearly a full house at the Glenridge Performing Arts Center in Sarasota on Saturday night at a South County Jazz Club concert showing traditional jazz and the hunger for it are alive and well.

Cullum's father, a clarinetist, formed what originally was called the Happy Jazz Band in the early 1960s. The cornetist took it over in the 1970s after his father's death. The Cullum band is now in its 50th year and has been broadcasting its Riverwalk Jazz series on public radio for 25 years.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The art of the jazz trio

Morgan, Lamb, Chrupcala
The fine art of the jazz trio at its best was on full display this afternoon at the Venice (FL) Art Center. Except when it was the fine art of the jazz quartet.

Pianist Mac Chrupcala, who is based in Newport RI most of the year but snowbirds in Southwest Florida, performed with a powerhouse trio, featuring John Lamb on bass and Dave Morgan on drums. He also brought a special guest who sat in at the end of the first set and most of the second set.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Jazz that swings mightily

Lisa Kelly and JB Scott
Singer Lisa Kelly and trumpeter JB Scott's first appearance at the Charlotte County Jazz Society's concert series tonight was a dandy, ensuring that the Jacksonville-based couple will be back sooner rather than later in the CCJS rotation.

Building the future for jazz, one student ticket at a time

George Wein
George Wein remembers an evening back in the early 1940s when, as a high school student, he got a chance to hear Duke Ellington live for the first time. It was at Roseland State Ballroom in Boston, and he was in high school. Wein says memories of that night likely planted the seed for his career as a jazz pianist, club owner and festival producer.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Guitar trio digs into jazz and blues

Andre Roy
Toronto-based guitarist Andre Roy, who winters in southwest Florida. closed out the Englewood Art Center portion of the South County Jazz Club's 2013-14 season this afternoon with a terrific trio concert.

The matinee performance marked first-time concert appearances by three contemporary players: Roy, bassist Billy Pillucere and drummer James Varnado. What a tight performance in their first gig together. It also was Roy's first U.S. concert appearance.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

International Jazz Day preview

The United Nations is truly putting the stamp on jazz, several dozen of them in fact, when the third annual International Jazz Day rolls around on Wednesday, April 30. UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz are sponsoring International Jazz Day, which will have Osaka, Japan as its host city for major, all-star events.

Coinciding with International Jazz Day, the United Nations Postal Administration will issue three mini-sheets of a dozen jazz-related postage stamps, a first-day-of-issue envelope and a souvenir card. The items were designed in a cohesive collage format by UNPA Art Director Sergio Baradat. Here’s a preview of those materials. The stamps will be issued in U.S. dollars, Swiss francs and Euros. For more information, visit

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Alexis Cole at Sarasota Jazz Festival (updated)

Alexis Cole and Eric Alexander
New York-based singer Alexis Cole's quintet, featuring tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, performed Friday night at the 34th annual Sarasota Jazz Festival.

Cole's band also included pianist John di Martino, bassist David Finck and drummer Kenny Washington. Here's a link to my concert review for

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The joy of sax - and trumpet - in a solid jazz setting

Mark Gould, Bob Switzer
Mark Gould's intense tenor sax artistry and Bon Switzer's lyrical trumpet and flugelhorn work blended beautifully at today's South County Jazz Club matinee concert at the Venice Art Center in Venice FL. The pair were featured in drummer Al Hixon's Underheard Herd, a revolving band who this time out also included pianist Dick Reynolds and bassist John Lamb.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Profiling jazz bassist Buster Williams

Buster Williams, Newport 1988
The March issue of Hot House magazine is out. Its features include my profile of bassist Buster Williams, who brings his quartet Something More into Manhattan’s Smoke jazz club at the end of the month. This extraordinary musician has worked with a very long list of jazz giants over the past 55 years. (Her went on the road with saxophonist Sonny Stitt at age 17). 

He talked extensively about the fine art of making jazz, which he described as “living in the realm of danger.” Not all of his perspective fit into the profile’s word limit. So here is a bit more to savor: 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Finding the jazz at a “jazz festival”

The cachet of jazz sometimes is stronger than the music itself. Madison Avenue continues to use bits and pieces for some of its commercials, and more than a few events across the country bill themselves as jazz festivals when nothing could be farther from the truth. A couple come to mind in the Mountain and Pacific time zones whose lineups are mostly R&B or pop stars with perhaps a bit of “smooth jazz” – a radio programming consultant’s term for contemporary instrumental music that raged across the country in the mid-1980s and well into the 1990s.

Friday, February 21, 2014

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a closer look at new CDs by Craig Handy, Herb Silverstein, Dave Stryker, Helen Sung and Volcán...

Friday, February 14, 2014

Klaus Bader's jazz digs deeply into the swing tenor tradition

Klaus Bader
The South County Jazz Club's matinee series took on an international flavor at the Venice Art Center in Venice FL with an appearance by tenor saxophonist Klaus Bader. He flew in for Friday's gig from his native Germany, along with guitarist Peter Starkmann. The quintet also included three Southwest Florida musicians - pianist Johnny Varro, bassist Don Mopsick and drummer Tony Martin.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Small group jazz in the spotlight

Two very different approaches to small group jazz got strong workouts in Monday night's Charlotte County Jazz Society artist series concert at the Charlotte County Cultural Center in Port Charlotte FL.

Zoot and Jug go to church through jazzman Terry Myers

Terry Myers
Saxophonist Terry Myers was the featured guest soloist at Sunday's Jazz at First Church concert series in downtown Sarasota with two excellent sets.

Iowa native Myers, a longtime Central Florida resident best known for leading his Tribute to Benny Goodman Big Band, as well as leading the current edition of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, excels in the small group format in which he was featured at First United Methodist Church.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A jazz samba kind of day

Kenny Drew Jr.
Drummer Tom Carabasi brought his Samba Jazz Quartet to the Englewood (FL) Art Center Friday for a matinee concert sponsored by the South County Jazz Club. The band included pianist Kenny Drew Jr., saxophonist Rodney Rojas and electric bassist Patrick Bettison.