Friday, March 1, 2013

Englewood jazz series concludes first season in fine form

Valerie Gillespie
The South County Jazz Club wound up the first season of its Englewood Art Center concert series with Friday afternoon's performance by Valerie Gillespie's trio. Gillespie is a Tampa Bay-area saxophonist who has also developed into a fine singer. When she's not singing or soloing, she also can't resist dancing to the groove set by her bandmates, in this case pianist Jeff Phillips and drummer Dave Rudolph.
Gillespie avoided the tired tunes syndrome entirely, digging into excellent material that stretched from Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Fats Waller, Billy Strayhorn and Antonio Carlos Jobim (the bossa nova "Corcovado" (known in English as "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars"). She also tackled the Ella Fitzgerald classic "Lady Be Good," adding a verse of her own scatting behind Ella's classic scat segment, and later scatted the concert to a close when she dug into "I Got Rhythm."

She also shared us with a charming and poignant version of the Joe Raposo tune "(It's Not Easy) Bein' Green," first recorded by Kermit the Frog of The Muppets in 1970 and soon covered by a wide range of artists, including Ray Charles, Lena Horne and Frank Sinatra. Gillespie's rendition was an opportunity to savor the lyrics of this uplifting tune that is a journey from depression to optimism and power.

Valerie Gillespie, Dave Rudolph, Jeff Phillips
The South County Jazz Club added six Englewood Art Center concerts tand one more at the nearby Lemon Bay Playhouse) to its busy schedule in Venice and Sarasota this season.

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