Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Satchmo Award legacy continues

The 40th annual Sarasota Jazz Festival scrapped all of its main-stage concerts earlier this month because of pandemic concerns, but managed to continue a tradition that began in 1987. That tradition is the presentation of the annual Satchmo Award, which the Jazz Club of Sarasota gives to a distinguished person in the jazz community in recognition of “unique and enduring contributions to the living history of jazz.” In other words: sort of a lifetime achievement award.

Rachel Dombers*

This year’s honor was given to Rachel Domber and her late husband, Mat, who founder Clearwater-based Arbors Records. Since they began the label in 1989, they have produced more than 400 recordings. They began with a focus on traditional and classic jazz, but broadened the Arbors scope to include more contemporary and swing players, including a variety of today’s rising stars.

The presentation usually is part of the festival’s Saturday night main stage event. This year, the recognition came at a Thursday, March 12 reception that had been planned to precede that night’s just-canceled concert.  

Jazz club president Ed Linehan praised the Dombers for their impact on jazz. “Through their efforts, Arbors has produced hundreds of albums since 1989, representing many classic styles of Jazz. The Arbors catalog reads like a Who’s Who of American jazz of the last half century, including recordings by our own Dick Hyman - an NEA Jazz Master - and (clarinetist and current festival musical director) Ken Peplowski.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The ups and downs in times of uncertainty

Jazz musicians are used to the unexpected and uncertain. In some respects, they've thrived on it - through the art of improvisation that is the essence of jazz. Pianist Cyrus Chestnut calls improvisation "composition at a rapid pace with no erasers."

But the things we're all going through now as we hunker down amid the global spread of COVID-19 is rewriting things - without erasers - to a degree we've never seen. With self-quarantines, school and college closings, nightclub closings, restaurant retrenchings, concert and festival postponements or cancellations for who knows how long, one thing is apparent.

The only certainty we have right now  is uncertainty. Musicians, many of whom live a gig-to-gig existence unless they have teaching income, are feeling the pinch of concert and club and restaurant gig cancellations. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Figueiredo delights in two musical contexts

Diego Figueiredo
Brazilian guitarist Diego Figueiredo brought his acoustic guitar and deep musical savvy to Port Charlotte FL on Monday, March 9 in his first visit to the Charlotte County Jazz Society stage. He delivered mightily in two different contexts: a solo guitar set and a closing set in a swinging trio.

Figueiredo, 39, blended Brazilian, Latin and standard fare with ease throughout the night. There were several sambas, a few of Antonio Carlos Jobim's classic bossa novas and even the most famous Brazilian waltz, Dilermande Reis' "If She was Asks." 

Everything he chose to play was imbued with eye-popping technique delivered with his finger-pick style that combines melody and bass lines, and percussive accents from his left hand sliding down the fret board. His right hand is something else, with his extra-long fingernails being the picks.