Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Keeping the beat in southwest Florida’s extended summer

The formal concert scene pretty much dries up in southwest Florida once most of the snowbirds have begun their return to northern climates. But the music certainly isn’t gone ‘til autumn. Here are just two examples of things to check out.

The South County Jazz Club’s weekly jam session continues year round at Allegro Bistro in Venice FL on Tuesday evenings from 5:30 to 8:30. There aren’t as many horn players or singers sitting in as during the winter months. But that’s OK, because it gives us a chance to hear the house rhythm section dig into lots of material. It is an excellent trio, with Tommy Goodman on piano, Dominic Mancini on bass and Dane Hassan on drums. These three players are always a joy to hear, and they usually inject a new tune or two each week. That eases the sting from hearing a singer trotting out “Summertime” several weeks in a row. (If you’re going to sit in, learn some new songs, people. Preferably not the tired, overdone tunes.)

Twenty-five miles to the south in Port Charlotte, the Charlotte County Big Band is keeping the jazz flame lit once a month with a summer edition of its Swingin’ On Mondays series at the Charlotte Cultural Center

The summer series has an interesting twist, with these big band concerts billed as USO Tour tributes to various cities: London, New Orleans, New York, Berlin and Chicago. The band, directed by bassist John A. Johnson, updates the music each month. Ironically, the fine singer/ emcee Chris Brown is a USO Tour alumna, having visited Asia with Billy Eckstine.

London was in their spotlight two nights ago, and Brown sang “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.” The band will be back at the Cultural Center on June 18 with a New Orleans theme, complete with a Mardi Gras-style mini-parade and Dixieland segment before the big band concert. Break out the parasols and hankies if you’re in a Second Line mood.

The other USO Tour concerts are July 23, August 20 and September 17.

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