Thursday, February 17, 2022

Looking ahead: Southwest Florida jazz preview

Here is a rundown of noteworthy jazz events, principally in the Sarasota to Naples territory, from now through March. Keep in mind the reality of COVID-19 protocols, expect possible cancellations, and mask up to keep yourself and others safe.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Standard fare freshened with enthusiasm

You can't go wrong with the standards, be they items from the Great American Songbook, Braziliana or tried-and-true jazz chestnuts. You just need a talented band to deliver them with a fresh stamp -- and a healthy dose of enthusiasm.

Jeremy Davenport
Such was the case on Friday, February 11, when the Dan Miller-Lew Del Gatto quintet performed in the Jazzy Nights concert series at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center with special guest Jeremy Davenport. Later in the evening, there was a surprise walk on.

Davenport, a St. Louis native who has called New Orleans home since the early 1990s, is a fine trumpeter and singer. He and trumpeter Dan Miller were band mates for six years in the Harry Connick Jr. Big Band. Since 2000, Davenport has been the in-house entertainer at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in the French Quarter. He and his small band perform four nights a week in the hotel’s Davenport Lounge.

The band this evening in downtown Fort Myers included trumpeters Davenport and Miller, tenor saxophonist Lew Del Gatto, pianist Roy Gerson, bassist Brandon Robertson and drummer Tony Vigilante. Everyone got ample solo space and made the most of their moments to put a personal stamp on the music.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Popular trio does it again – with charm and excellence

The all-star International Trio returned to the Charlotte County Jazz Society concert stage on Monday, February 7 for their fifth appearance in 10 seasons, mixing concert staples with a few surprise treats.

Drummer Eddie Metz Jr., bassist & singer Nicki Parrott and piano marvel Rossano Sportiello were happy to be back in front of a live audience. In this case, it was a packed house of more than 220 fans at Gulf Theater at The Military Heritage Museum in Punta Gorda FL.

Rossano Sportiello
Sheer talent, chemistry, audience rapport, and sharing new facets in tried-and-true material are key to keeping their music fresh and lively. As Italy-born, New York City-based Sportiello told the crowd, that's the joy of improvisation.

Sportiello's stunning keyboard techniques were evident from the opening bars as he explored “Chicago, (That Toddlin' Town)” and the Gershwin brothers' “But Not For Me,” the latter as an uptempo burner with a honky-tonk flavor. Later in the program, Benny Goodman's “”If Dreams Come True” was another new treat. Unike past visits, he didn't include anything from his dazzling classical repertoire but it wasn't needed.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Don Heckman - gone but not forgotten

I spent a good chunk of time over the past two weeks digging into the previously unreported passing of respected West Coast jazz critic Don Heckman, who left us in November 2020 after several years of declining health.

Don Heckman
That piece, including a few updates provided by Don’s family, is at the Jazz Journalists Association website. 
You can find it right here
Don was a JJA member and won the organization's Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism Award as part of 2010's JJA Awards. He was a nominee in 2008.
Deepest condolences to Don's widow, Faith; their two children, Alexander and Allegra; and three grandchildren.