Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Looking ahead: Southwest Florida jazz preview (updated)

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


  • Thursday, March 24 – Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge celebrate their new CD, Within Us, and the band's 25-year history. USF Concert Hall, Tampa. 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Sarasota Jazz Festival hits 40 - under the stars

It took an extra two years to get there, thanks to the pandemic. The Jazz Club of Sarasota's long-running jazz festival held its 40th evening concert series March 16-19 with a wide range of talent – and a new venue.

The bulk of the festival was moved from indoor venues in and near downtown Sarasota to Nathan Benderson Park, right next to the facility's world-class rowing facility – where collegiate sprint rowing teams sometimes could be seen slicing through the water in training sessions.

With a full moon in view as the evenings progressed, the 2022 festival carried a most-appropriate theme: “Swinging under the stars.” (Wednesday night's opener featuring Houston Person & Friends, and John Pizzarelli & Catherine Russell, was moved indoors to Riverview Performing Arts Center because of a rainy weather forecast).

Russell Malone
The scheduling gods enabled me to attend the final two evenings – and the music was splendid.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Keeping alive that big-band swing and spirit

The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, led by trumpeter and singer David Pruyn, drew the Charlotte County Jazz Society's largest audience of the 2021-22 season for its hard-swinging concert on Monday, March 14. For the audience, and the players, it was a journey back in musical time to the big band era of the 1930s, '40s and early '50s. Back to when the big-band sound dominated America's popular music– and alto saxophonist Dorsey was known as “The Jukebox King.”

Eddie Metz Jr., Pruyn, Greg Diaz
Pruyn, who lives in nearby Nokomis, succeeded the late Bill Tole as leader of the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra in 2017. He pulled from the ranks of South and Central Florida's finest jazz musicians for this 16-piece band. His wife, singer Michele James-Pruyn, was the featured vocalist on six tunes.

Over two hours, they shared some 20 standards from Jimmy Dorsey big-band repertoire, and a few other gems in Pruyn's hip pocket. Opening with Jimmy Dorsey's theme song, “Contrasts,” they worked their way through hit after hit, including “Stealin' Apples,” “When You're Smiling” and “June Night.” The latter was the first of many features for reed player David MacKenzie, who put his fresh stamp on classic Jimmy Dorsey alto sax solos.