Thursday, March 29, 2018

Warren Wolf brings great vibes to Naples

Warren Wolf
Vibes player Warren Wolf was the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra's special guest on Wednesday, March 28 in the sextet's 2017-18 concert series at Artis-Naples' Daniels Pavilion. His performance was an artful showcase of his instrument's wide range of shimmering possibilities - given the right hands and musical approach. The mallets were indeed in the right hands this fine night.

Wolf is blessed with a fertile musical mind and a mesmerizing technique. Indeed, he imbued each solo with something fresh and personal. The material included one original - "Soul Sister," which was so funky it sounded like something from Horace Silver, a wide range of classic bebop tunes, a bit of bossa nova and couple of classics from the Great American Songbook.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Steve Allee's compositions - and playing - in the spotlight

Steve Allee
Pianist Steve Allee is a musical quadruple threat - as a player, arranger, composer and educator. All four of those roles were on display on Monday, March 26 when he was the featured artist at the University of South Florida in Tampa. 

The Indianapolis native, now an assistant professor of music at the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music, held a master class for jazz students at USF, then performed Monday night with the excellent USF Jazz Ensemble I, a big band directed by Chuck Owen, and a Faculty Jazz Ensemble.

Monday, March 26, 2018

A magical afternoon of jazz

Alexis Cole
Singer Alexis Cole wound up a three-stop Florida mini-tour on Sunday, March 25, treating the Firehouse Cultural Center audience in Ruskin to a rather unusual source of material for a jazz band. Quite simply, it was all about what she called "The Magic of Disney Love Songs."

She mined the Disney songbooks extensively to find these heart-felt ballads from Disney-produced films, including Aladdin, The Aristocats, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, The Great Mouse Detective, Jungle Book, Lady and the Tramp, Pete's Dragon, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Pocahantas, Robin Hood, Snow White, and even The Parent Trap.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A great day in Venice

Morrie Trumble
Nearly seven years ago, former broadcaster Morrie Trumble was asked to start a jazz club in Venice for music fans who loved mainstream swing and a bit of bebop. It started small with scattered concerts and regular jam sessions. Before long, the South County Jazz Club, set up to serve the southern end of Sarasota County, was serving up helpings of jazz with season-long series of concerts generally running from October through April.

Trumble, who has been president and major domo of the organization all these years, is stepping back a bit to serve strictly as artistic director. Others on the Board of Directors and volunteers, are picking up the day-to-day administrative details.

On Thursday, March 22, people jammed into the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Venice for a matinee jam session to honor - and thank - Trumble for his herculean efforts over the years, including some headaches he never wanted.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Looking ahead: Southwest Florida jazz preview (updated)

Here is a rundown of noteworthy jazz events, principally in the Sarasota to Naples territory, from now through May.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Honoring Buddy, Rosie and many more

David Pruyn
Buddy Rich and Rosemary Clooney were top of mind when trumpeter-singer David Pruyn brought his Jazz Legacy Big Band back to Port Charlotte on Monday, March 12. Both received multi-song tributes in this artful program. The evening also highlighted the music of other big-band leaders, composers and arrangers - some well known, some deserving of far more recognition. 
Pruyn drafted an A-team of Florida jazz musicians for this Charlotte County Jazz Society concert, with drummer Eddie Metz Jr. powering the band. Area newcomer Roy Gerson, a nationally known jazz pianist who moved to Naples seven months ago, and bassist Charlie Silva completed the rhythm section. The leader's wife, the talented singer Michele James-Pruyn, spiced up the evening with a half-dozen tunes, five of them from the Clooney hit parade. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

A tasty and filling jazz smorgasbord

The Sarasota Jazz Festival took on a jazz party flavor at its 38th annual event, March 8-10, which, under this year's "A World of Jazz" theme, featured 15 musicians from seven countries. 

Its four major concerts blended festival first-timers and familiar faces in a format that  changed combinations of on-stage musicians frequently in creative ways. In his first year as the festival's new music director, reedman Ken Peplowski kept things vibrant and at times surprising - and joined in as a player several times per show. He also used his self-deprecating sense of humor to great effect.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Jazz with an unrivaled intimacy

Michael Ross
There is nothing quite like the intimacy and congeniality at a jazz house party. That was clear on Thursday, March 1, when bassist Michael Ross and his wife, Amanda, welcomed about 40 friends and jazz lovers into their Sarasota FL home for an evening of music.

Fred Johnson
The band for the one-hour-plus set of music included Ross, singer-percussionist Fred Johnson and reed player Danny Jordan, who performed on tenor sax and several flutes.

This was like having jazz in your living room - except for the fact that it was held outside on Ross's lush garden patio as the full moon rose in the distance.

St. Petersburg-based Johnson's deft fingers added colors and accents with his cajon, a box-shaped wooden percussion instrument on which he
sat, but his vocal creativity carried the night.