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).
Guitarist Russell Malone opened the Friday concert with the festival's house rhythm section, La Lucha. The Tampa-area trio – pianist John O'Leary III, bassist Alejandro Arenas and drummer Mark Feinman – adapt themselves well to every musical situation.
“I was here two years ago to play for you, but everything got canceled,” Malone told the crowd. After the COVID 19-related festival lull, he was happy to be back playing again.
Shelly Berg's trio with Arenas and Feinman joined Tierney Sutton for
the Friday night finale. The Los Angeles-based singer's exquisite
creativity was on full display as she tackled material from her Sting
Variations project, including
“Driven to Tears” and “Fragile.”
Then she dedicated her take on “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most” to March 2020 – the month when the pandemic shut down the music industry – and pretty much everything else. Peplowski returned for Sutton's set closers: ethereal takes on a pair of Antonio Carlos Jobim compositions - “Retrato em Branco e Preto” (also known as Zingaro or Portrait in Black and White), and “Triste” (Wave).
Before they were done, Cuban-born trumpeter Arturo Sandoval and his band transformed the closing set into a joyous Latin jazz dance party. Shifting between his horns, vocals, piano and a bit of percussion, Sandoval brought heat, exotic rhythms, intensity and sheer joy to the stage.
Highlights included his takes on Cuban composer Moisés Simons' 1933 hit son-pregón “El Manisero” (The Peanut Vendor) and Clifford Brown's jazz chestnut “Joy Spring,” the latter with an added Latin flair.
|Arturo Sandoval, Mike Tucker|
He also walked into the audience to share a gentle take on Charlie Chaplin's ballad “Smile.” The band closed things out with an original that was rooted in Cuban jazz but also had the propulsion and feel of Afro-pop, underscoring how close the world is when it comes to its music.
He's been a passionate
jazz educator since the late 1970s. In addition to leading the
University of Miami's Frost School of Music for the past 15 years,
Berg is music director of The
He's a past president of the defunct International
Association of Jazz Education.
|La Lucha |
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