Thursday, September 25, 2014

A jazz matinee with Larry Camp, Marty Morell, Bruce Wallace

Larry Camp
Bassist Bruce Wallace opened the South County Jazz Club's 2014-15 concert season Friday afternoon with a top-notch trio whose members had never worked together in this personnel grouping. It featured guitarist Larry Camp and drummer Marty Morell, best known in jazz circles for his seven-year stint in pianist Bill Evans' trio from 1968 to 1975.

Marty Morell
Musically, it was a fine, and poignant, afternoon at the Venice (FL) Art Center. This was Wallace's third consecutive season opener for the jazz club. Powerhouse pianist Kenny Drew Jr. had been pencilled in for the gig - until his unexpected death on August 3.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a closer look at CDs by Roberto Magris, Dan Moretti and Ernie Watts….

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Jazz In The Key of Light

I’m pleased to announce that my new book, “Jazz in the Key of Light” (Eighty of our Finest Jazz Musicians Speak for Themselves), is being self-published in a limited edition on October 15. 

This is not your typical fine art photography book. Images of the featured artists, in performance or moments of personal reflection, are paired with illuminating quotes from interviews I had with those musicians in assignments for a variety of mainstream and music publications over the past 30 years.  
The spotlighted musicians range from legends Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Sarah Vaughan to a variety of today’s rising stars. Newport Jazz Festival producer George Wein wrote the Foreword. 

“Ken has leveraged his backstage pass to bring jazz fans closer to the music’s human source. Jazz In The Key of Light’s connection of words and images is a powerful complement to the music, since listeners often have no other statement from artists besides their art. As a result, we feel closer to the musician as a person.” 
        – Al Basile, poet, songwriter, and jazz & blues cornetist

“Jazz in the Key of Light,” published in hardcover format with dust jacket, retails at $59.95 (plus tax where applicable, and $5.99 shipping and handling). It is also available for purchase through

Orders for signed or inscribed copies can be made directly, payable by check or through PayPal. Contact me for details at

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Moving from the disco ball to the jazz supper club

Singer Evelyn Thomas, best known for 1980s hit songs in Europe's disco and Hi-NRG dance club genre, is revisiting her roots as a singer. While not abandoning her dance music work, she has gone back to jazz. And she’s loving it.

Thomas made her local jazz debut Saturday night, September 13, at JD’s Bistro & Grille in Port Charlotte FL with her backing trio. She drew an enthusiastic audience for her blend of material from the canon of jazz standards, the Great American Songbook, and what we might call new standard fare: pop-associated material richly deserving of jazz treatments. Last night, JD’s had the feel and temperature of a fine New York supper club, a venue where Thomas and her backing trio plan to be Saturday night regulars.
Thomas’s spot-on vocals and her approach to her material reveal her influences from her early years as developing singer: particularly Nancy Wilson. The second set included Murray Grand’s haunting, lovelorn ballad “Guess Who I Saw Today,” which was a jazz vocal hit for Wilson in 1960. Other treats: her takes on the Shirley Horn- and Joe Williams-associated “Here’s to Life,” and one of those newer standards, “When October Goes” a 1984 Barry Manilow hit that combined his music with lyrics by the late Johnny Mercer.

Chicago-native Thomas has lived in southwest Florida for the past 21 years, using Port Charlotte as home base for her occasional disco-related tours to Europe as well as U.S. gigs. But she hadn’t immersed herself in the rather healthy local jazz scene – until now.

 “I still love that world (disco and Hi-NRG),” Thomas told me. “When they call, I’ve got to go (back to the world of dance clubs and disco balls), but I’m loving this too. I never left jazz, but now I’m doing more of it."

Thomas’s trio included her husband, Anthony Simpson (piano), Mark Fitzpatrick (electric bass) and Bob Ryan (drums). Their support was excellent.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Jazz in the Catskills

As a native son of Woodstock NY, best known to many over the past five decades as the namesake of a rock music festival that was held 60 miles away as the crows fly, an announcement this week came as welcome news.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Looking Ahead: Southwest Florida 2014-15 jazz season approaches

Here’s a preview of some of the more interesting jazz events in the Sarasota to Naples territory. The 2014-15 concert season hits full steam in October.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

CDs of Note – Short Takes

Taking a closer look at CDs by The Cookers, Theo Croker, Laura Dubin and Rotem Sivan ….