Thursday, May 13, 2021

A Year Off? You'd Never Know It.

The Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra capped its socially-distanced 2020-21 season at Artis-Naples on Wednesday, May 12 with a concert that featured singer Denise Donatelli. With strong support from the venue’s resident jazz sextet (with an added special guest), it showcased the Los Angeles-based singer’s superb no-frills vocal artistry.

Denise Donatelli
“Thanks for bringing me to Naples. Thanks for getting me out of the house,” Donatelli told the band and the masked audience scattered throughout Hayes Hall. This was her first live concert gig in more than a year, but there was no rust in evidence. None at all.

Donatelli sings in service to the song and the lyrics. No vocal gymnastics. No needless scatting. None of the artifice or theatrics sometimes found in the cabaret world. This is a good thing. Her timing, her phrasing and her innate sense of swing were on full display and fit hand-in-glove with the band’s instrumental support.

Donatelli, Hart, Del Gatto
The NPJO includes tenor saxophonist and artistic director Lew Del Gatto, trumpeter Dan Miller, violinist Glenn Basham, pianist Jerry Stawski, bassist Kevin Mauldin and drummer Mike Harvey. For this performance, because several of Donatelli’s recent recordings have included a guitarist, they were joined by John Hart. A New York jazz scene mainstay for several decades with extensive experience backing singers, Hart is now a guitar lecturer at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. He fit right in with this high-powered band.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a closer look at CDs by Greg Abate, Gabriel Alegria, Bruce Brown, and The 14 Jazz Orchestra....

Friday, May 7, 2021

La Lucha plus one

Ona Kirei  
The last time La Lucha played Port Charlotte FL, on June 14, 2019, the Tampa Bay-area jazz trio tore up the house, so to speak, at JD's Bistro. Since then, the restaurant has changed ownership and its name, but its commitment to music excellence continues.

On Thursday, May 6, La Lucha returned to the venue, now the Grill at 1951, with a special guest in tow. Pianist John O'Leary. bassist Alejandro Arenas and drummer Mark Feinman were joined by Barcelona-born singer Ona Kirei. She works with La Lucha on a semi-regular basis - either as a group, or in collaboration with individual members as the need arises.

Their simpatico was on full display through a wide range of jazz and Latin jazz material.