Saturday, March 29, 2014

A night of Valiant jazz

Valery Ponomarev
Russian-born, New York-based trumpeter Valery Ponomarev and Florida saxophonist Valerie Gillespie teamed their talents Friday for the first time, and loved every minute of it. The occasion was a Jazz Club of Sarasota evening concert at Holley Hall, which drew a small but enthusiastic audience.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Young jazz trumpet phenom steals the show

Pianist and singer Danny Sinoff is the resident jazz cat in the hat two nights a week at JD's Bistro & Grille in Port Charlotte, but Friday night he had to share the distinction and step back a bit from the spotlight. Thirteen-year-old trumpet phenom Geoff Gallante sat in with Sinoff's trio for two sets and showed the enthusiastic crowd - and his fellow musicians - that he is  the real deal.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Looking Ahead: Southwest Florida jazz preview

Giacomo Gates
Here’s a preview of some of the more interesting jazz events in the Sarasota to Naples territory from now through mid-June, as the concert season winds down. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Happy jazz still going strong

Jim Cullum
The Jim Cullum Jazz Band drew nearly a full house at the Glenridge Performing Arts Center in Sarasota on Saturday night at a South County Jazz Club concert showing traditional jazz and the hunger for it are alive and well.

Cullum's father, a clarinetist, formed what originally was called the Happy Jazz Band in the early 1960s. The cornetist took it over in the 1970s after his father's death. The Cullum band is now in its 50th year and has been broadcasting its Riverwalk Jazz series on public radio for 25 years.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The art of the jazz trio

Morgan, Lamb, Chrupcala
The fine art of the jazz trio at its best was on full display this afternoon at the Venice (FL) Art Center. Except when it was the fine art of the jazz quartet.

Pianist Mac Chrupcala, who is based in Newport RI most of the year but snowbirds in Southwest Florida, performed with a powerhouse trio, featuring John Lamb on bass and Dave Morgan on drums. He also brought a special guest who sat in at the end of the first set and most of the second set.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Jazz that swings mightily

Lisa Kelly and JB Scott
Singer Lisa Kelly and trumpeter JB Scott's first appearance at the Charlotte County Jazz Society's concert series tonight was a dandy, ensuring that the Jacksonville-based couple will be back sooner rather than later in the CCJS rotation.

Building the future for jazz, one student ticket at a time

George Wein
George Wein remembers an evening back in the early 1940s when, as a high school student, he got a chance to hear Duke Ellington live for the first time. It was at Roseland State Ballroom in Boston, and he was in high school. Wein says memories of that night likely planted the seed for his career as a jazz pianist, club owner and festival producer.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Guitar trio digs into jazz and blues

Andre Roy
Toronto-based guitarist Andre Roy, who winters in southwest Florida. closed out the Englewood Art Center portion of the South County Jazz Club's 2013-14 season this afternoon with a terrific trio concert.

The matinee performance marked first-time concert appearances by three contemporary players: Roy, bassist Billy Pillucere and drummer James Varnado. What a tight performance in their first gig together. It also was Roy's first U.S. concert appearance.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

International Jazz Day preview

The United Nations is truly putting the stamp on jazz, several dozen of them in fact, when the third annual International Jazz Day rolls around on Wednesday, April 30. UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz are sponsoring International Jazz Day, which will have Osaka, Japan as its host city for major, all-star events.

Coinciding with International Jazz Day, the United Nations Postal Administration will issue three mini-sheets of a dozen jazz-related postage stamps, a first-day-of-issue envelope and a souvenir card. The items were designed in a cohesive collage format by UNPA Art Director Sergio Baradat. Here’s a preview of those materials. The stamps will be issued in U.S. dollars, Swiss francs and Euros. For more information, visit

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Alexis Cole at Sarasota Jazz Festival (updated)

Alexis Cole and Eric Alexander
New York-based singer Alexis Cole's quintet, featuring tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, performed Friday night at the 34th annual Sarasota Jazz Festival.

Cole's band also included pianist John di Martino, bassist David Finck and drummer Kenny Washington. Here's a link to my concert review for