Thursday, December 29, 2022

2022: The Year in Jazz

All About Jazz has published my comprehensive look back at happenings in the jazz world during 2022. At more than 14,000 words, it's not for the faint of heart.

Here's the summary lead:

Current events impacted the jazz world in significant ways throughout 2022. In its third year, the coronavirus pandemic continued to lurk in some settings, while others recovered in robust fashion. Russia's war on Ukraine was felt by musicians and triggered an outpouring of support for its victims. Initiatives to ensure greater equity in jazz advanced. 

The 11th annual International Jazz Day blended in-person and livestreamed events around the globe. The National Endowment for the Arts welcomed four new NEA Jazz Masters and bid farewell to three others who were among the hundreds of industry-associated musicians and figures passing away during the year.

You can read it here at the AAJ website.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

A jazzed winter wonderland

Saxophonist and singer Valerie Gillespie added a full holiday twist to the Charlotte County Jazz Society's concert season on Monday, December 12 in Punta Gorda FL. She and her talented sextet from the Tampa Bay area coursed through 15 winter- or Christmas-themed musical chestnuts before closing with a brief salute to another holiday. 

Valerie Gillespie
There was a wide variety to the music, performed with both cohesiveness and strong solos. Her band included trumpeter James Suggs and three new faces on the CCJS stage: pianist Jody Marsh, bassist Steve Boisen and drummer Dave Rudolph. 

The leader shifted between alto and soprano saxes and flute, plus vocals on two-thirds of the material. Suggs added beautiful horn solos and fills behind Gillespie's vocals all night long. 

Gillespie has been a familiar face on the CCJS stage in other musicians' bands, but this was her first appearance as a bandleader and singer.

Gillespie said the evening would include "traditional tunes performed in a non-traditional way," an apt description for the rhythmic choices and extended instrumental solos that enhanced them.

Valerie Gillespie
"Angels Heard on High" and "Winter Wonderland" preceded two classic Vince Guaraldi tunes from television's A Charlie Brown Christmas. "Skating" was presented in a friskier arrangement than the evocative original, while "Christmas Time is Here" was more traditional, with Gillespie's vocals beautifully locked into its nostalgic message. She has a charming, no-frills and trills vocal delivery - and a natural sense of timing and off-the-beat phrasing.

Three standout vocal gems this night included material not often heard in jazz settings: "Mary Did You Know?," the Carpenters' hit "Merry Christmas Darling," which featured a poignant solo from Suggs, and "It Can't Be Christmas Without You." The latter romantic ballad has all of the qualities needed to become a true holiday standard. Gillespie's big brother, Chuck Brand, wrote this title track on her Christmas CD. Her cover of "Mary Did You Know?" was particularly powerful, with Gillespie noting that the lyrics speak directly to "the reason for the season." Mark Lowry and Buddy Green wrote this gem in 1984. It was a huge hit for the young a capella group Pentatonix 30 years later.

James Suggs
Other selections included "The Christmas Waltz," first popularized by Frank Sinatra, featuring the leader on vocals and alto sax, a Latin-tinged take on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," and "Little Drummer Boy" (a natural feature for Rudolph's percussion mastery). Also, "Let It Snow," a frisky cover of the 1954 Eartha Kitt hit "Santa Baby" (with Suggs' growling trumpet complementing the vocals), and Mel Torme's classic "The Christmas Song."

Jody Marsh
If food and beverage had been allowed, chestnuts roasting on an open fire would have been a popular item. The audience started out at nearly 200, but dropped off in size by intermission. Credit that to a very chilly - and unadjustable - room temperature at the Charlotte Performing Arts Center. Hot chocolate, anyone?

The evening wound down with "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," spotlighting Marsh's piano artistry on CPAC's Steinway; a salsa-fied take on "Feliz Navidad," with Gillespie shifting to flute; and a brief romp through "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"

While past December bands usually played a few holiday tunes, this was the first CCJS concert that featured them for the entire program. That made this night even more special for hardy listeners.

The Charlotte High School jazz ensemble performed a fine and varied pre-concert set.

Marsh, Gillespie, Boisen, Suggs, Rudolph

Charlotte High School Jazz Ensemble

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Favorite jazz recordings of 2022

‘Tis the season for the outpouring of Top 10 lists, and their many variations, for jazz, world events, etc. The jazz lists have a lot of variation depending on the individual reviewer's personal tastes, as well as what they listened to during the year. Bottom line, all are extremely subjective.

My favorite choices below (aside from the favorite new songs of the year) are being submitted to the Jazz Journalists Association and the Francis Davis Jazz Critics Poll 2022 compilations. The latter is the 17th annual Francis Davis-founded and Tom Hull-produced poll, which has been published by the Boston-based online arts journal The Arts Fuse since 2021. It previously was published by The Village Voice, and NPR Music.

As I begin preparing my review of significant events and trends in jazz in 2022 for All About Jazz, I thought I'd share my 2022 favorites lists.

Favorite new jazz releases of 2022

  1. Dave Wilson Quartet, Stretching Supreme (self-released)
  2. Lynne Arriale, The Lights Are Always On (Challenge) 
  3. Wayne Shorter, Terri Lyne Carrington, Leo Genovese, esparanza spalding, Live at the Detroit Jazz Festival (Candid) 
  4. Jo Harrop, The Heart Wants (Lateralize) 
  5. Javon Jackson, The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni (Solid Jackson) 
  6. Samara Joy, Linger Awhile (Verve) 
  7. Steven Feifke and Bijon Watson, … present Generation Gap Jazz Orchestra (Cellar) 
  8. Sam Kirmayer, In This Moment (Cellar Music) 
  9. Ricky Ford, Paul's Scene (Whaling City) 
  10. Chris Cortez, Live at Blue Bamboo (Blue Bamboo)

Favorite 2022 vocal recordings  

  1. Jo Harrop, The Heart Wants (Lateralize)
  2. Samara Joy, Linger Awhile (Verve) 
  3. Tierney Sutton, Paris Sessions 2 (BFM Jazz) 
  4. Mark Winkler, Late Bloomin' Jazzman (Café Pacific) 
  5. Carol Sloane, Live at Birdland (Club 44) 
  6. San Gabriel 7 featuring Sinne Eeg, Under the Stars (JRL-SGS) 
  7. Catherine Russell, Send For Me (Dot Time) 
  8. Kim Nalley Band, I Want a Little Boy (self-released) 
  9. Gonzalo Rubalcaba & Aymée Nuviola, Live in Marciac (5Passion) 
  10. Xiomara Torres, La Voz Del Mar (Patois)

Favorite historical/reissues of 2022 (includes any recordings made over 10 years ago, whether newly released or reissued):

  1. Bill Evans, Morning Glory (Resonance)
  2. Ahmad Jamal, Emerald City Nights: Live at the Penthouse1965-1966 (Jazz Detective) 
  3. Dave Brubeck Trio, Live From Vienna 1967 (Derry Music) 
  4. Charles Mingus, Mingus: The Los Album From Ronnie Scott's (Resonance) 
  5. Ella Fitzgerald, Ella at the Hollywood Bowl: The Irving Berlin Songbook (Verve) 
  6. Elvin Jones, Revival: Live at Pookie's Pub (Blue Note) 
  7. Chet Baker Trio, Live in Paris (Elemental) 
  8. Clark Terry, Big Bad Band, Live in Holland 1979 (Storyville) 
  9. Frank Kimbrough, 2003-2006 (Palmetto)
  10. Peck Allmond Quartet, Live at Yoshi's 1994 (Eastlawn)

Favorite 2022 debut recording
     Timothy Norton, Visions of Phaedrus (Truth Revolution Recording Collective)

Favorite 2022 Latin/Brazilian jazz recordings:

  1. Oscar Hernández & Alma Libre, Visión (Ovation)
  2. Miguel Zenón, Música de las Américas (Miel)
  3. Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Aymée Nuviola, Live in Marciac (5Passion)
  4. Xiomara Torres, La Voz Del Mar (Patois)
  5. Juan Carlos Quintero, Table for Five (Moondo)

Favorite new compositions from CDs released in 2022, listed alphabetically by composers:

  • Lynne Arriale, ”Sounds Like America” from The Lights Are Always On (Challenge)
  • Bob Bowman, “Yae San”” from Josh Nelson/Bob Bowman Collective, Tomorrow is Not Promised (Steel Bird)
  • Yelena Eckemoff, “Like Rain Upon the Mown Grass” from I Am a Stranger in This World (L&H)
  • Yosef Gutman and Gilad Ronen, “Joshua” from Yosef Gutman, Upside Down Mountain (independent)
  • Jo Harrop, Natalie Williams, James McCredie, Hannah Vasanth, “Weather the Storm” from Jo Harrop, The Heart Wants (Lateralize)
  • Timothy Norton, “King's Inn” from Visions of Phaedrus (Truth Revolution Recording Collective)
  • Rick Roe, “Agent 88” from Roe Bickley Kramer, Lucid Dream (RNR Unknown)
  • Jamieson Trotter and Mark Winkler, “Old Enough” from Mark Winkler, Late Bloomin' Jazzman (Café Pacific)
  • Walt Weiskopf, “Other Jewels” from Walt Weiskopf European Quartet, Diamonds and Other Jewels (AMM)
  • Miguel Zenón, “Imperios” from Música de las Américas (Miel) 

Saturday, November 19, 2022

The joy of piano personified

Pianist Bobby van Deusen returned to southwest Florida on Friday, November 22 with a long-overdue performance that celebrated his mastery of virtually every keyboard style - delivered with joy and enthusiasm.

The Pensacola-based keyboard marvel hadn't performed locally in nearly four years, thanks to pandemic and hurricane postponements.That made his performance in Morrie Trumble's South County Jazz With Morrie series even more special.

Over nearly two hours, van Deusen covered a lot of territory, both stylistically and in the sourcing of his material.

"I'm gonna play a lot of tunes everybody knows," he told the audience at the at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Venice. "That seems cliched, but they're not cliched if you play them your own way." And he did.

Van Deusen won his second senior division title at the World Championship Old-Time Piano-Playing Contest over Memorial Day Weekend in Oxford, Mississippi. He said he is gunning for a third.

The tunes of the day ranged Scott Joplin's ragtime classic "The Entertainer" to Bobby Troup's classic "Route 66" to Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll" to a stunning, shortened version of his amazing "Phantom of the Opera" medley.

"Route 66" was an appropriate inclusion, as van Deusen took various turns all afternoon down Ragtime Road, Stride Street, Boogie-Woogie Boulevard and Classical Circle to add delicacy or thundering passages as the moment prompted him. At times he sounded like the piano duo Ferrante & Teicher rolled into one.

"I Left My Heart in San Francisco" was embellished with lush ornamentation and stride segments. He also dug with zest into "Chattanooga Choo Choo," "Tenderly," "Mandy, Make Up Your Mind" (one of his Old-Time Piano-Playing Competition" selections this year), "Edd Tide," the Four Freshmen hit "Shangri La," "Stardust," Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness," and a eye-popping take on Willie "The Lion" Smith's aptly named composition, "The Fingerbreaker." There were many others, as well.

Late in the program, he dropped in a teasing, sometimes off-kilter version of "Sweet Georgia Brown" that resolved with a lot of boogie-woogie. 

In the spirit of the season, he added a few classics from Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas repertoire, including the joyous "Linus and Lucy" and "Skating." He closed the afternoon with a holiday medley that opened and closed with popular singer Andy Williams' 1963 hit "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

For van Deusen, the afternoon revealed that he is consumed with sharing his love of piano - right down to his socks.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Letting the good times roll

Singer Ronnie Leigh celebrated the kinship between jazz, the blues and R&B in his Monday, November 14 appearance in Punta Gorda, FL for the Charlotte County Jazz Society.

Ronnie Leigh
The suave, engaging entertainer from upstate New York made his CCJS debut with a performance that dug into the Great American Songbook and more-modern jazz and R&B sources, including material from Gregory Porter, the late Al Jarreau and even Steely Dan.

Leigh and his tight seven-piece jazz band put extended interpretations on all of the material. The band included saxophonist David MacKenzie, trumpeter Charlie Bertini, trombonist Herb Bruce, pianist John O'Leary, bassist Charlie Silva, drummer Paul Parker and guitarist Steve Luciano. While the other players were no strangers to CCJS audiences, this was also Orlando-based Luciano's first visit.

MacKenzie, Bertini, Bruce
Leigh opened with Porter's “On My Way to Harlem,” a wistful but upbeat acknowledgment of jazz and the Harlem Renaissance as one's musical roots. Right away, it was clear that generous solo space for the horn players would be a strength all night.

Leigh, Parker, MacKenzie
The three-man horn section added unison riffing behind Leigh's sometimes-teasing, laid back, mellow vocals. He also dropped in wordless scatting segments on various songs without overdoing the techniques. A few times, he sounded like a fourth horn, emulating the sounds of a trombone or trumpet while trading melodic phrases with MacKenzie.

A Latin-tinged take on “Stompin' at the Savoy” had Leigh scatting a bit and dancing in place to its cha cha rhythm. It was followed by another gem from Porter, who emerged a decade ago as a fine singer-songwriter equally at home in the jazz and R&B genres. This one was “When Love Was King,” an extended ballad that Leigh sang with just the rhythm section.

After a laid-back, teasing introduction, Leigh transformed the standard “Bye, Bye Blackbird” into a playful yet soulful treat, riding Silva's beautiful bass line. MacKenzie on flute and trumpeter Bertini were featured soloists.

Over the course of the two sets, Leigh dug into four Jarreau tunes. “We're in This Love Together” during the first set was just the teaser. The second set included three more hits from the Jarreau songbook: “I Need Somebody” (featuring a robust horn interlude), the uptempo “Easy” and “Mornin',” with Leigh's soaring vocals riding the groove. On all of these, scatting and horn emulation supplemented the vocals, much like Jarreau did.

John O'Leary
Riffing horns and a frisky tenor sax solo from MacKenzie enhanced Leigh's take on “Bring It Back.” The singer first heard the gritty tune performed by singer Catherine Russell, who recorded it in 2014. It was written in the late 1940s or early 1950s by R&B and jump blues singer-guitarist Harrison Nelson, who performed under the name Peppermint Harris.

Leigh also shared Steely Dan's “Deacon Blues” and jazz singer Ron Boustead's humorous, quasi-romantic “(Let's Go Out For) Coffee.” Leigh's melodic accents and pauses added a joyous effect to the latter, setting up an extended keyboard solo from O'Leary.

The night's three other tunes spoke volumes about headliner's zest for the stage and rapport with an audience: “Let the Good Times Roll,” a bluesy take on “Ain't Misbehavin'” and, of course, “I Love Being Here With You.”

This event at the Gulf Theater and the Military Heritage Museum became the CCJS 2022-2023 season opener. An October concert was canceled due to facility damage from Hurricane Ian.

The Ronnie Leigh Octet

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Charles McPherson's both sides now

It took two and a half-years, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic lull, but alto saxophonist Charles McPherson finally got back to Artis-Naples. He appeared with the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra on Wednesday, November 9 in the quintet's All That Jazz series. His last visit to Naples was about 10 years ago.

Charles McPherson
On this night, he treated the audience to two sides of his musical psyche: a fine composer with wide-ranging material, and a true-blue bebopper who can add high-energy artistry and rapidly shifting ideas to most any tune.

The top-notch band supporting him this night at Daniels Pavilion included tenor saxophonist and musical director Lew Del Gatto, trumpeter Vince DiMartino, pianist Jerry Stawski, bassist Chuck Bergeron and drummer Mike Harvey. 

Jerry Stawski, McPherson
McPherson, now 83, opened the program with four diverse originals: his burner "Bud Like," two very different pieces from his Jazz Dance Suites, and the playful "Jumpin' Jacks," which was inspired by the game jacks that kids used to play on floor, driveways or sidewalks many moons ago.

The dance pieces were quite interesting. McPherson is the resident composer of the San Diego Ballet, where his daughter Camille is a principal dancer. "Song of the Sphinx" was gorgeous and intricate with both Spanish and Middle Eastern tinges. He followed it with the frisky, upbeat tune "Wedding Song." McPherson said it was inspired by an Old Testament tale of a hopeful young woman jilted by King Solomon.

McPherson, Lew Del Gatto
After those four originals, he played an inspired, occasionally delicate take on the standard "Old Folks" with just the rhythm section. The evening's lone ballad was a splendid showcase for Stawski's fine keyboard skills.

Then, with Hurricane Nicole bearing down on Florida, McPherson and the band shifted into gale-force bebop.

Vince DiMartino
They roared through Dizzy Gillespie's classic "A Night in Tunisia" and Jerome Kern's "All The Things You Are," and closed with a blistering take on Charlie Parker and Gillespie's "Anthropology" with all of the band members turning in fine solos.

Early in his career, McPherson spent 14 years in bassist Charles Mingus' band. He noted that Mingus tweaked the beloved Kern standard a bit, and called his version "All The Things You Could Be By Now if Sigmund Freud's Wife was Your Mother." DiMartino rolled out the melody on this one, showcasing his bright and beautiful trumpet artistry.

It was good to hear McPherson in Southwest Florida again, playing in Naples after a four-night run at Smoke in New York City. 

He had been scheduled to play at the opening night main stage concert of the Sarasota Jazz Festival in March 2020. It was cancelled because of COVID-19 just an hour or so before showtime. His scheduled Naples return a month later was cancelled, and he was unable to make planned concerts in November 2020 and January 2022.

New Orleans trumpeter Wendell Brunious is the next featured guest in the All That Jazz series on December 14.

Charles McPherson with the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra

Sunday, October 30, 2022

A holiday gift, delivered 50 years after its creation

A couple of months before his death on July 6, 1971, beloved jazz trumpeter and popular entertainer Louis Armstrong made what turned out to be his final recording. It's never been heard by the public until now

Armstrong turned on the reel-to-reel tape recorded in his home in the Corona section of Queens NY recorded a nostalgic spoken-word version of the classic Samuel Clement Moore poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas.” Nobody is certain of his motivation. As a busy, traveling artist, he never had much time for Christmas merriment.

But this long-neglected recording is now the fitting finale on Armstrong's only Christmas album, which was released this week. Louis Wishes You A Cool Yule was released in digital formats via the Verve label. CD and red vinyl editions will follow on November 11.

The 11-track album includes the Armstrong recitation of Moore's poem, plus most of the holiday-related singles and duets that he recorded over the years into one cohesive holiday project.

They include six Decca singles from the ‘50s, including “Cool Yule,” “Christmas Night in Harlem,” and one of my longtime favorites, “‘Zat You Santa Claus?” The duets team Armstrong with two of his favorite vocal partners. Velma Middleton joins him on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and Ella Fitzgerald joins him on “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.” Some of these tracks popped up on annual Christmas jazz compilations that many labels produced through the years featuring a variety of artists.

Other tracks include "Christmas in New Orleans,"White Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland,” "Moments to Remember” and Armstrong's signature hit, “What A Wonderful World,"
the orchestral gem arranged and conducted by pianist Tommy Goodman 65 years ago.

The album ends with “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” Armstrong's poignant reading is underscored beautifully by New Orleans native Sullivan Fortner's sometimes-whimsical piano accompaniment.

If you're in the mood for some holiday spirit, you can check it out right here.


Friday, September 23, 2022

Underscoring what jazz is...

Every once in a while, it is good to get a healthy reminder of what jazz is. Some people think it is a repertoire of classic material, be it beloved jazz standards or pages from the Great American Songbook. 

Dave Potter
But jazz is not specific material, though we all have favorites we like to hear now and then. It is the way a band plays a song. Any song. Originating in any genre.

The reminder that jazz is a process - and an intense form of communication between the musicians on stage shared with the listeners privileged to be there - was on full display Thursday, September 22 at The Grill at 1951 in Port Charlotte FL. 

Drummer Dave Potter's Retro Groove quartet put their hard-swinging stamp on a wide range of material, two-thirds of it from sources far from the standard repertoire. Potter's band mates included pianist Austin Johnson, bassist Terrell Montgomery and tenor saxophonist Miguel Alvarado. 

In addition to his own projects and teaching, Atlanta-based Potter is the drummer in vibes player Jason Marsalis's touring band.

To get into the audience's comfort zone, Retro Groove opened with a few jazz classics: "Have You Met Miss Jones?," Thelonious Monk's infrequently heard "Shuffle Boil" and Antonio Carlos Jobim's bossa nova "Wave" before shifting to the 1979 Deniece Williams R&B hit "Why Can't We Fall in Love?" They closed out the first set with Ornette Coleman's "When Will the Blues Leave?"

The Deniece Williams hit was just a hint of what was to come. Potter's choices in the second and third sets were all extended instrumental versions of beloved songs from more popular repertoires - including pop, hard rock, R&B and in one instance, movie music. Most came from his newest recording, Retro Groove, which was released in March on Square Biz Records.

Johnson, Alvarado
Their take on the Chaka Khan hit "Through the Fire" preceded Steve Winwood's "Higher Love," on which Nashville-based Alvarado unleashed an extended solo reminiscent of Sonny Rollins' stream-of-consciousness journeys into a song's possibilities. His approach was consistent throughout the night.

Then came the Whitney Houston hit "Saving All My Love For You," composer Jon Williams' "The Flying Sequence" from the 1978 Superman movie starring Christopher Reeve. Living Colour's "Cult of Personality was a spotlight for Johnson's keyboard chops.

Retro Groove closed the night with Potter's arrangements of three more gems: the Michael Jackson hit "I Can't Help It," The Isley Brothers' "For the Love of You" (later covered by Houston and many others), and Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes." 

In each case, extended solos delved into the music's possibilities. Potter's swinging groove and imagination were at the heart of it all.

Austin Johnson, Miguel Alvarado, Terrell Montgomery, Dave Potter

Tuesday, September 20, 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 November. Keep in mind the reality of COVID-19 protocols, expect possible cancellations, and mask up to keep yourself and others safe.


Bobby van Deusen
  • Thursday, September 29 – Pianist Bobby van Deusen opens the Charlotte County Jazz Societys 2022-23 matinee music series. The Grill at 1951, Port Charlotte. 1:30 p.m. WEATHER CANCELLATION
  • Friday, September 30 – Pianist Bobby van Deusen opens South County Jazz With Morries 2022-23 series. Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Venice, 2 p.m.  WEATHER CANCELLATION


  • Monday, October 10 – The Jeff Rupert Quartet opens the Charlotte County Jazz Society’s 2022-23 Artist Series evening concert season. Gulf Theater, Punta Gorda. 7 p.m. CANCELED
  • Jimmy Greene
  • Wednesday, October 12 – Tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene is special guest with the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra as the sextet opens its 2022-23 season. Artis Naples’ Daniels Pavilion, Naples. 6 and 8:30 p.m.
  • Friday, October 14 to Sunday, October 16 -- The hardly-any-jazz Clearwater Jazz Holiday's 43rd annual festival. Trombone Shorty is the only jazz-tinged headliner on the three-day lineup, which includes Charlie Wilson and Waren Haynes' Gov't Mule band. BayCare Ballpark.
  • Monday, October 17 – Paul Gavin and The Writers Corner perform in the Jazz Club of Sarasota's Monday Night Jazz Cabaret series at the John C Court Cabaret at Florida Studio Theatre. Sarasota. 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, October 21 – The Manhattan Transfer 50th anniversary concert opens the Jazz Club of Sarasota's 43rd season as part of their farewell tour. Pianist Liston Gregory III opens the show. Sailor Circus Arena, Sarasota. 7 p.m.


  • Wednesday, November 9 – Alto saxophonist Charles McPherson is special guest with the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra. Artis Naples’ Daniels Pavilion, Naples. 6 and 8:30 p.m.
  • Jason Marsalis
    Monday, November 14 – Ronnie Leigh performs in the Charlotte County Jazz Society’s 2022-23 Artist Series evening concert season. Gulf Theater, Punta Gorda. 7 p.m.
  • Friday to Sunday, November 18-20 – Suncoast Jazz Festival. This year's headliners include Adrian Cunningham, Kermit Ruffins, Judy Carmichael and Jason Marsalis. Sand Key, Clearwater.
  • Saturday, November 26 – Saxophone smoothie Dav Koz and Friends, 25th anniversary tour, with Rick Braun, Rebecca Jade, Keiko Matsui and Peter White. Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota. 8 p.m.

Several venues offer jazz steadily. They include The Grill at 1951 (formerly J.D.’s Bistro) in Port Charlotte; Amore, and Cafe L'Europe in Sarasota; Scarpino’s in Bradenton; and The Roadhouse and The Barrel Room at Twisted Vine Bistro in Fort Myers. Jazz at Two Friday matinee concerts sponsored by the Jazz Club of Sarasota , the Charlotte County Jazz Society’s matinee series, and Morrie Trumble's South County Jazz With Morrie series in Venice also keep things swinging for jazz lovers.

Friday, September 2, 2022

A Misty Night

 Musician friends, family and friends, and students from near and far packed The Barrel Room at Twisted Vine Bistro in downtown Fort Myers on Thursday night, September 1, for a jazz night unlike any other the venue has seen.

Del Gatto, Vigilante, Dowling, Robertson
They were all there, standing room only through the first set, to celebrate the musical legacy of trumpeter and educator Dan Miller, who died unexpectedly on August 19 at age 53.

The Barrel Room has been the Thursday night home for the past six and one-half years of the Dan Miller-Lew Del Gatto quartet, that also included bassist Brandon Robertson and drummer Tony Vigilante. The venue's Thursday night jazz will carry on, led by Robertson.

Bill Dowling

David Miller
On this night, longtime friend Bill Dowling was on trumpet. The quartet brought up a succession of guest musicians, beginning with Dan's younger brother, David Miller, on trombone.

Del Gatto, who'd worked frequently with Dan for 15 years, said the tribute would feature tunes that his dear friend loved to play. And so it did, with spirited and poignant versions of Duke Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone," Thelonious Monk's "Bright Mississippi," "Green Dolphin Street," "Perdido," Miles Davis' "Blues By Five" (the band's traditional first-set closer), Tadd Dameron's "On a Misty Night," the Gershwin Brothers' burner "Soon" and Eddie Durham's Basie band staple "Topsy.”

Tony Vigilante

Two ballads were requested by or dedicated to Dan's longtime sweetheart, Judi Woods: "These Foolish Things Remind Me of You" and later, "Tenderly." Both were beautiful features for Dowling's trumpet artistry.

Herb Bruce, Gerald Augustin
The musicians sitting in at various points included drummer Paul Gavin, tenor saxophonist Gerald Augustin, trombonist Herb Bruce, bassist Kevin Mauldin (a band mate of Dan and Lew's in the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra sextet), and drummer John Gonzalez, who is one of Robertson's students in the Gulf Coast University jazz studies program.

Robertson noted at one point that while he graduated from Florida State University with a master's degree in music, "Dan gave me a doctorate in life."

Tenors anyone?
Kevin Mauldin
Judi Woods announced that this informal tribute was just a warmup for a bigger celebration that will be held in a larger venue when details and logistics can be worked out. 

She is setting up a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called the Dan Miller Jazz Master Memorial Scholarship Fund to carry on Dan's legacy of paying it forward. It will be used to provide funds for instruments, jazz camp tuition, lessons and perhaps scholarships for young jazz students who need financial help.

Del Gatto told the crowd that the tip jar that evening wouldn't go to the musicians, but would be set aside for the fund. By night's end, the large glass bowl was nearly full.