Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Have a holly, jolly, jazzy Christmas

Best wishes to you, your families and friends for a very Merry Christmas 2019, joyous New Year - and hopeful 2020 - from the Jazz Notes staff.  

A toast to you all as we share some vintage musical cheer from among our holiday favorites. Raise your glass, whatever your favorite libation!

The holiday season is never complete without the delightful animated video of The Drifters’ doo-wopping their way through “White Christmas” with feeling. It features Bill Pinckney on lead bass and Clyde McPhatter on tenor.. 

This animated cartoon by Joshua Held is excellent - and quite special

Thursday, December 19, 2019

An all-star evening in every respect

Guitarist Peter Bernstein teamed with the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra on Wednesday, December 18 for a program that illuminated his all-star strengths as a player, improviser and composer.

Peter Bernstein
The concert, part of the sextet's All That Jazz series at Artis-Naples' Daniels Pavilion, took a different tack than usual. In this case, it focused on some of Bernstein's many fine originals. Two chestnuts from the bebop canon were added for good measure.

The sextet includes tenor saxophonist, arranger and musical director Lew Del Gatto (who spent 25 years in NBC's Saturday Night Live Band), trumpeter Dan Miller, violinist Glenn Basham, pianist Jerry Stawski, bassist Kevin Mauldin and drummer Mike Harvey. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

A great way to help area musicians in crisis

After an eight-year run of presenting mainstream jazz concerts in the Venice-Sarasota-Englewood area, the non-profit South County Jazz Club is dissolving this month because of organizational challenges. But its legacy will live on in a tangible way.

The club’s Board of Directors voted to donate its remaining treasury, more than $16,000, to the Jazz Foundation of America to establish and manage a dedicated fund to assist area musicians in need. The board stipulated that this Florida initiative be limited to an area from Tampa to the north, Naples to the south, and Orlando to the east. 

The JFA has a solid track record doing this sort of work. Its Musicians’ Emergency Fund provides housing assistance, pro bono medical care, disaster relief and direct financial support in times of crisis. It has been helping needy musicians for 30 years.  

Sunday, December 15, 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 February, as the 2019-20 concert season continues….


Thursday, December 12, 2019

A bassist who gets style points

John Lamb has duende. Lots of it.

John Lamb
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines the Spanish word "duende" as meaning someone or something having the power to attract through personal magnetism and charm.

The late writer George Frazier, who penned jazz essays for Esquire and several Boston newspapers, used it when describing people whose presence made them irresistibly attractive. “So difficult to define, but it is there it is unmistakable, inspiring our awe, quickening our memory,” Frazier wrote.

Now, about St. Petersburg-based Lamb. He’s a magnetic presence on every stage because of his brawny musical style – and his singular way of interacting with his band mates.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The big-band legacy is alive and well in hands like these

Saxophonist Craig Christman brought his Stardust Memories Big Band to Port Charlotte on Monday, December 9, for a concert that scored well on every measuring chart. His mission with this five-year-old band from Collier County is to keep alive the legacy of America's classic large bands. 
Craig Christman

Performing for the Charlotte County Jazz Society, he did so in clever ways that also honored some of the second-generation outfits that emerged from the Swing Era's heyday. As a result. the CCJS audience was transported to big-band heaven for a few hours.

In this two-set, 23-song performance, the 18-piece Stardust Memories band performed  vintage material from the likes of Benny Goodman, Harry James, Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw , as well as some Duke Ellington and Count Basie material. There was also a dollop of Stan Kenton, Quincy Jones and Doc Severinsen's NBC Tonight Show Band. The band also played two Buddy Rich band charts of classic material (Duke Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone" and Cole Porter's "Love For Sale"). 

Friday, December 6, 2019

Bud Leeds' musical friends come from all over

Clarinetist Bud Leeds pulled together a fine quintet for his Friday, December 6 concert in Venice  FL, blending varied geographic roots and a bit of holiday humor.

Jonathan Russell
Lamb, Russell, Leeds
Violinist Jonathan Russell flew in from his native New York City. Leeds, until recently splitting the year between Vermont and Venice, is now living in Vermont year-round but also flew back expressly for this show. Drummer Tom Jestadt is a snowbird who splits his year between Toronto and Southwest Florida. Pianist Keith Carman does the same north-south shuffle between Michigan and Bradenton. The only native Floridian on the bandstand for this matinee concert was bassist John Lamb, who was born in Vero Beach but has called St. Petersburg home for many years.

Russell, now 24, has been capturing attention for his jazz violin mastery since age 9. He was a marvel again on this whirlwind visit.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

My take on the best jazz recordings of 2019

‘Tis the season for the outpouring of Top 10 lists, and their many variations, for jazz, world events, etc. The jazz lists tend to have a lot of variation depending on each reviewer's personal tastes, as well as what he or she listened to during the year.* Bottom line, all are extremely subjective.

These choices below (aside from top 10 new songs of the year) were submitted to the Jazz Times, Jazz Journalists’ Association and NPR Music 2019 compilations (The latter is the 14th annual Francis Davis-produced poll previously published by The Village Voice and Rhapsody.com). The Davis poll is the largest, most-trusted year-end survey of its kind.
As I begin preparing my review of significant events and trends in jazz in 2019 for All About Jazz, I thought I'd share my "best of 2019" lists. *Always keep in mind the above caveats.

The 10 best new jazz releases of 2019

1.       Tierney Sutton Band, ScreenPlay (BFM)
2.       Something Blue, Maximum Enjoyment (Posi-Tone)
3.       Tom Harrell, Infinity (HighNote)
4.       Charlie Dennard, Deep Blue (Deneaux)
5.       Akiko Tsuroga, Jeff Hamilton and Graham Dechter, Equal Time (Capri)
6.       Lisa Hilton, Oasis (Ruby Slippers)
7.       Brandon Goldberg, Let’s Play! (independent)
8.       Dave Zinno Unisphere, Stories Told (Whaling City Sound)
9.       Five Play, Live From the Firehouse Stage (5Play)
10.    James Suggs, You’re Gonna Hear From Me (Arbors)

2019’s best vocal recordings:
1.     Tierney Sutton Band, ScreenPlay (BFM) 
2.     Laurie Antonioli, The Constant Passage of Time (Origin) 
3.     Nancy Kelly, Remembering Mark Murphy (SubCat)
4.     Nora York with Jamie Lawrence, Swoon (Good Mood) 
5.     Polly Gibbons, All I Can Do (Resonance)

The best historical/reissues of 2019 (includes any recordings made over 10 years ago, whether newly released or reissued):
1.     Cannonball Adderley, Swingin’ in Seattle, Live at the Penthouse 1966-67 (Reel to Real)
2.     Michel Petrucciani Trio, One Night in Karlsruhe (SWR Jazzhaus)
3.     Betty Carter, The Music Never Stops (Blue Engine)
4.     John Coltrane, Blue World (Impulse!)
5.     Miles Davis, The Complete Birth of the Cool (Blue Note/Ume)

2019’s top debut recording: 
   - Brandon Goldberg, Let’s Play! (independent)

2019’s best Latin/Brazilian jazz recordings: 
1.     SeƱor Groove, Little Havana (Zoho)
2.  Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, On Firm Ground/Tierra Firme (Linus) 
3.     Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet, The Rhythm of Invention (Patois)
4.     David Sanchez, Carib (Ropeadope/Malaza)
5.     Antonio Adolfo, Samba Jazz Alley (AAM), Steve Khan Patchwork (Tone Center)

The 10 best new compositions from CDs released in 2019, listed alphabetically:
   - Dave Bass, “Agenbite of Inwit” from No Boundaries (Whaling City Sound) 
   - Polly Gibbons and James Pearson, “If You Had the Chance” from All I Can Do (Resonance) 
   - Miho Hazama, “Somnambulent” from Dancer in Nowhere (Sunnyside) 
   - Clifford Lamb, “Blues & Hues” from Blues & Hues (Weberworks) 
   - Bevan Manson, Cecily Gardner and Tierney Sutton, “Caramel” from Bevan Manson, The Jazz Cave (Meistero)
   -  Bennett Paster, “Belgrade Booty Call” from Indivisible (self-produced) 
   - Michael Thomas, “Without Doubt” from Terraza Big Band, One Day Wonder (Outside In) 
   - Akiko Tsuruga, “Osaka Samba” from Akiko, Hamilton and Dechter, Equal Time (Capri) 
   - Mike Tucker, “Requiem” from Dave Zinno Unisphere, Stories Told (Whaling City Sound) 
   - Noriko Ueda, “Uneven Pieces” from Five Play, Live From the Firehouse Stage (5Play)