Thursday, February 28, 2013

Piano jazz x 2

Mac Chrupcala and Mike Renzi have been crossing paths longer than each cares to count.
Mike Renzi

They began working jazz clubs in the 1960s in Providence, RI - occasionally swapping favorite venue gigs. Chrupcala also spent most of his adult career teaching music in the Newport School System, while Renzi went on to great acclaim in New York City as musical director for "All My Children" and "Sesame Street" - and accompanist to a trove of great singers, including Mel Torme, Maureen McGovern and Jack Jones.

Mac Chrupcala
Both men now winter in Florida. They crossed paths again this afternoon at the Venice FL Art Center in a two-keyboard concert, with strong support from bassist Mark Neuenschwander and drummer Dave Pruyn.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The new jazz standard from Whitney James

Singer Whitney James came south from the St. Petersburg area Saturday for the South County Jazz Club's first concert at Lemon Bay Playhouse in Englewood FL - and it was a delight for a variety of reasons.

Whitney James
James doesn't really front the band. She's an integral part of the action - unlike the "chick singer" style of performance that we see far more frequently. And she avoids the tiredest tunes in the Great American Songbook. This is a good thing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

In walked Mike...

One of the cool things about a jam session is that you never know who may show up and enhance the proceedings - above and beyond the regulars. Such was the case last night at the South County Jazz Club's weekly jam at Allegro Bistro in Venice FL.

Goodman, Mainieri, Mancini, Hassan, Ellison
Mike Mainieri, a longtime fixture in jazz fusion and the New York and studio music scene, popped in - and ended up playing five tunes over the course of the three-hour jam. Between the two men, club fixture Jack Fanning’s vibes never had such an extensive workout at Allegro.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Big Band jazz at its finest

Bob Stone and Mark Pettey
Drummer Bob Stone brought The Naples Jazz Orchestra to Port Charlotte last night for the Charlotte County Jazz Society's best-attended concert of the 2012-13 season.

Stone led a big band in Chicago from 1976 to 1989. He's been living in Naples FL for 23 years - and his enthusiasm for big band excellence hasn't diminished.

Monday, February 18, 2013

8th annual Punta Gorda Wine & Jazz Festival

Hot music overcomes chilly weather

Sergio Mendes
This year's Punta Gorda Wine & Jazz Festival was noteworthy for its musical additions, its loyal, enthusiastic and expanding audience, and the degree to which the music made everyone grin and bear unusually chilly and windy weather, and a passing shower. [You can read my full review at]

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Jazz saxophonist comes full circle

Scott Hamilton (Blue Duchess photo)
Scott Hamilton, now a renowned jazz tenor saxophonist, was 15, playing harmonica and leading a blues band in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island when he first met Duke Robillard.

It was in the late 1960s, a couple of years after guitarist Duke Robillard and pianist Al Copley founded the no-holds-barred, Chicago-style blues band Roomful of Blues - and nearly a decade before Roomful's first album release.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a closer look at new CDs from three contemporary jazz bands: Myriad3, Marbin and the Hristo Vitchev Quartet.

Friday, February 1, 2013

From Brazil to Ellington with a few stops in between

Nate Najar
Guitarist Nate Najar performed today at the South County Jazz Club's Englewood Arts Center series to the biggest crowd the venue has seen for jazz to date. There were 120 jazz fans in the center's main gallery. Additional folks were turned away due to space limitations.