Sunday, September 29, 2019

A night Bass'd on a True Story

The Barrel Room at the Twisted Vine Bistro in downtown Fort Myers was packed on Saturday, September 28 for bassist Brandon Robertson's CD release gig/celebration. By my head count, it was standing-room-only and then some.  In addition to those fortunate to get seats at tables or the bar,people were standing wherever they could find space.
 It was a well-deserved turnout to note the release of Bass'd on a True Story (Slammin' Media). 

The Barrel Room was the natural choice for this, since Brandon performs weekly at the club as an integral part of the Dan Miller-Lew Del Gatto quartet each Thursday night. He's built quite a following since settling in the area. He performs frequently in a variety of contexts and directs the jazz program at nearby Florida Gulf Coast University.

Brandon Robertson
While the CD includes two terrific jazz standards (Brooks Bowman's "East of the Sun (West of the Moon" and Benny Golson's "Stablemates"), the other eight tracks are Robertson originals. Each was inspired by a profound moment in the leader's musical or personal life, hence the clever CD title.

The band for the evening included Miller on trumpet, Del Gatto on tenor sax, Zach Bartholomew on piano and Josh Platt on drums. Bartholomew, a longtime collaborator with Brandon since their Florida State undergrad days, earned his doctorate and teaches at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music. Platt is a Frost student.

Friday, September 27, 2019

A season warm-up for Charlotte County jazz fans

While its formal 2019-20 concert season doesn't start until October 14, the Charlotte County Jazz Society whetted the appetites of about 90 members and prospective members on Wednesday, September 25.
Billy Marcus, Don Mopsick

Pianist Billy Marcus and bassist Don Mopsick performed for CCJS at the matinee event at JD's Bistro and Jazz Club in Port Charlotte, FL.The pair are frequent collaborators, although this was Marcus' first CCJS appearance.

Marcus, a South Florida jazz powerhouse for decades, cut his jazz teeth in Massachusetts. His mother, Marie Marcus, was a renowned stride pianist. She was considered the Queen of Cape Cod Jazz. 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Big band bebop at its finest

A 17-day family wedding road trip brought me back to Rhode Island for the second time in a month, returning in September, not long after my August visit to cover the Newport Jazz Festival. The scheduling gods worked their magic for this September journey.

In other words, I got to hear the splendid John Allmark Jazz Orchestra on Monday, September 9 at The Met Cafe, a premiere RI music emporium that is located in a former mill building in Pawtucket. The band plays there on Mondays once or twice a month. 

You can never be sure which charts the British-born trumpeter will pull from his huge band book on any given Monday. But the music is always swinging -- and delivered impeccably by his crew of southern New England musicians, most of whom are Boston or Providence jazz mainstays.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Looking ahead: Southwest Florida jazz preview

Here is a rundown of noteworthy jazz events, principally in the Sarasota to Naples territory, from now through November, as the 2019-20 concert season heats up….


    Valerie Gillespie
  • Saturday, September 7 – Saxophonist and singer Valerie Gillespie opens the Firehouse Cultural Center’s 2019-20 jazz series with her Blues in the Night band. Ruskin. 7:30 p.m.


  • Monday, October 14 – Clarinetist Allen Vache’s quintet opens the Charlotte County Jazz Society’s 2019-2020 concert series. William H. Wakeman III Theater, Cultural Center of Charlotte County. Port Charlotte. 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 17-Sunday, October 20 40th annual Clearwater Jazz Holiday. With headliners including Boyz II Men, Alison Krauss, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and Chicago, you have to look hard, and arrive early, to hear most of the jazz on the program. But it is there this year. Check out the Young Lions Jazz Masters Sessions, featuring trumpeter James Suggs, at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, followed by the University of Miami’s Frost Jazz Ensemble featuring trumpeter John Daversa, and a 40th anniversary tribute to jazz vocalists, with singers Valerie Gillespie, Karen Benjey, Erica DiCeglie, Fred Johnson, Theo Valentin and Belinda Womack, backed by the jazz trio La Lucha. Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue close out the Friday night show. Coachman Park, Clearwater.
  • Saturday, October 26 The Jazz Club of Sarasota opens its 40th season with a concert by pianist Shelly Berg’s trio with bassist Mark Neuenschwander and drummer Ian Goodman. La Lucha opens the evening with tenor saxophonist Jeremy Carter and singer Synia Carroll. Holley Hall, Sarasota, 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, October 30 – Trombonist Michael Dease guests with the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra in the sextet’s 2019-2020 concert series. Artis-Naples’ Daniels Pavilion, Naples. 6 and 8:30 p.m. 
  • Monday, November 11 – Pianist Johnny Varro's Swing Seven performs in the Charlotte County Jazz Society’s concert series. William H. Wakeman III Theater, Cultural Center of Charlotte County. Port Charlotte. 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, November 20 – Singer Carla Cook guests with the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra in the sextet’s 2019-2020 concert series. Artis-Naples’ Daniels Pavilion, Naples. 6 and 8:30 p.m.
    Jason Marsalis
  • Friday, November 22 to Sunday, November 24 – The 28th annual Suncoast Jazz Festival’s lineup includes drummer Jason Marsalis and his 21st Century Trad Jazz Band, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, tenor saxophonist Harry Allen, reed player Adrian Cunningham, singer Molly Ryan, Tom Rigney & Flamabeau, and Tom Hook & the Terrier Brothers, plus a long list of area guest musicians. Sand Key, Clearwater Beach.
  • Friday, Nov. 29 – Dave Koz & Friends Christmas tour with Jonathan Butler, Melissa Manchester, Michael Lington and Chris Walker. Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota, 8 p.m. The saxophone smoothie and his friends also perform on Sunday, December 1 at Artis-Naples. 
James Suggs
Several local venues offer jazz steadily. They include J.D.’s Bistro in Port Charlotte, 88 Keys Florida and The Blue Turtle in Punta Gorda, Amore, the Art Ovation Hotel and the Burns Court Bistro in Sarasota, The Roadhouse, Society and The Barrel Room at Twisted Vine Bistro in Fort Myers, and Slate’s in Cape Coral. A variety of matinee concerts sponsored all season by the Jazz Club of Sarasota and Morrie Trumble Productions also keep things swinging for jazz lovers.