Friday, February 27, 2015

Florida meets jazz singer Tess Collins

Tess Collins
Tess Collins took a circuitous route for her first concert before a Florida jazz audience. It began in her native Maine, wove through several major cities in China where she appears regularly (including Beijing and Shanghai) and her new home base, London. 

The Southwest Florida stop coincided with a vacation visit with relatives on Florida's east coast. She came to the Gulf Coast on Thursday, February 26, to perform as a special guest of pianist Mac Chrupcala's trio at the Venice Art Center. The concert was part of the South County Jazz Club's matinee series.

The band's music was exceptional all afternoon - and Collins stole the show - earning standing ovations at the end of each set. This young singer has great chops, a very strong ability to engage her audience, and a wide-ranging jazz repertoire. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

RIP Clark Terry

Clark Terry
The jazz world lost Clark Terry yesterday at age 94 after more than a decade of declining health. He was a jazz giant whose legacy extends far beyond being a trumpet player. 

Terry was a true NEA Jazz Master, bandleader and educator. He worked as a sideman in both the Count Basie and Duke Ellington Orchestras at varying times. In the 1960s, he became the first black staff musician at NBC, playing for 12 years in The Tonight Show band. And he was a humorist, best known for his creative and hilarious "Mumbles" versions of scat singing. 

I remember another side of his humor, a moment in which he described what we might call his earliest encounter with "ear training." Educators use the term to refer to the way musicians - solely by hearing - learn to identify the pitches, intervals, melody, chords and rhythms that are part of music. Clark Terry was talking about something quite different as he described  growing up in the St. Louis music scene. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A rare dose of jazz talent on display

Dean, McCants, Gallante, Bruce
Trumpet prodigy Geoff Gallante was back at JD's Bistro in Port Charlotte FL on Friday night, February 20, sitting in for two sets with singer-pianist Danny Sinoff's trio. Gallante, now 14 (but sounding like a wily jazz veteran in his 40s),  is an interesting talent.

The Fairfax County, Virginia resident started playing the horn at age 4 and mastered it very quickly. Before he turned 6, he sat in with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson at Blues Alley in Washington DC. At age 6, he became the youngest musician to perform at the White House and at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He has appeared with a wide range of high-level jazz artists, big bands, concert bands and symphonies across the U.S.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Jazz with an R&B-3 twist

Katt Hefner
The rhythm and blues feel is inescapable when you've got a Hammond B-3 organ in the house, and that was the case at Friday's South County Jazz Club matinee concert at the Englewood FL Art Center.

Siblings Katt Hefner and Stan Heffner (yes, they spell their last names differently) teamed up for the first time with saxophonist and flutist Tom Ellison. But you wouldn't have known by the performance that it was their first time blending their talents with the Venice-based reed player.

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a closer look at CDs by Harry Allen and Jan Lundgren, Jon Davis, George Robert and Joanna Wallfisch….

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Uncommon jazz trio is spellbinding

Peter Anderson
There is a notable, and rather robust, roster of jazz-playing siblings through the years. A much leaner list of identical twins playing jazz shows that most play different instruments. That makes sense. If you are working together a lot as budding musicians, you need a variety of position players in a band.

Peter and Will Anderson are identical-twin rarities because they play the same instruments.* The saxophone- and clarinet-playing brothers brought their finely honed skills to the Charlotte County Jazz Society’s Artists Series on Monday, February 9. They performed in a non-traditional trio format with guitarist Alex Wintz.

Will Anderson
The Andersons, now 27, dig into the standard jazz songbook with virtuosic skill and an uncanny ability to carry each other’s melodies and improvisations forward. The trio format worked well because the Bethesda MD natives alternated instruments most of the night (Peter on tenor sax or clarinet, Will on alto sax, clarinet or flute). Guitarist Wintz combined the rhythm roles of drummer, bassist and pianist rolled into one, with his solid, understated playing. The Andersons’ arrangements also had the brothers taking a complementary rhythmic role behind each other’s solos.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A guitar master's take on jazz - It's about much so more than the music

Pat Martino
Guitarist Pat Martino quickly set the tone with a blistering revisit of the boppish "Lean Years" at his concert Wednesday, February 4 with the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra. "Lean Years," which first appeared on Martino's 1967 Prestige album Strings!, remains one of his signature tunes. 

The program also included two other Martino originals ("Inside Out" and 1974's "On The Stairs"), and a half-dozen covers of jazz standards that the Philadelphia native has recorded over the years. Those included Dave Brubeck's beautiful ballad "In Your Own Sweet Way," John Coltrane's "Impressions" and the Charlie Christian-Benny Goodman burner "Seven Come Eleven."