Sunday, September 30, 2012

Celebrating music and culture in the Big Easy

Amid the tragedy and devastation of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, many of us found an even deeper appreciation for New Orleans musical contributions – past, present and future. Quite simply, there is no other city like it. And it is important that seven years after Katrina, New Orleans survived, continues to rebuild its infrastructure and remains such a music incubator.

There is a lot of focus on that tradition this fall, as the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, founded and led by trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Mayfield, who lost his father to Katrina, is a modernist with a bright, swinging sound. He is also a busy fellow. Besides running the big band, he co-leads Los Hombres Calientes, runs two jazz clubs bearing his name, is an educator and New Orleans’ cultural ambassador. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

And they're off...

Jake Pinto
The 2012-13 jazz concert season in Southwest Florida is under way. The South County Jazz Club inaugerated its new schedule this afternoon with the Jake Pinto quartet at the Venice FL Art Center.

Sarasota-raised, New York-based Pinto, a recent graduate of NYU's jazz program, was the South County Jazz Club's inaugural concert offering two summers ago as an arts center fundraiser, so it was only fitting that the pianist return with his latest band, consisting of one NYU student and two other recent graduates.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mat Domber - R.I.P.

Mat Domber
A true hero of classic jazz has left us. Arbors Records founder Mat Domber died yesterday (September 19) from cancer. He was 84.

In 1989, Domber, who was a lawyer, created Arbors and began recording classic jazz artists - from Dixieland to mainstream swing - who weren’t getting the attention they deserved. Over the next 20+ years, they found a welcome home on his Clearwater, Florida-based label. What began as a labor of love for Mat and his wife/business partner Rachel, and evolved into a significant force on the jazz scene. In many cases, Arbors was a career revivalist for many significant elder statesmen of jazz and a career nurturer for younger players who loved and felt most comfortable in the classic jazz style.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a closer look at new CDs from Michael Pedicin, Ralph Peterson, Iris Ornig and Kurt Elling...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bringing 9/11 reflection to jazz

Saxophonist Tom Ellison didn’t mention the date at tonight’s jam session at Allegro Bistro in Venice FL. He didn’t have to. But he found a way through his music to bring remembrance to this 11th anniversary of 9/11.

He selected a song written by a man with New York connections - comic actor, director and composer Charlie Chaplin. If you measure it by title alone, “Smile” would seem an odd choice. But Ellison made sure to first sing the lyrics at this edition of the South County Jazz Club weekly jam session.

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it's breaking.
When there are clouds in the sky  
you'll get by.

If you smile through your pain and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through
For you.
Light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness.
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying

Smile, what's the use of crying.
You'll find that life is still worthwhile -
If you just smile.

Then, morphing into an instrumental balladeer, Sarasota-based Ellison delivered a poignant  tenor sax solo that in its own way also sang of sadness and gladness.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Another gem brought to the table – and refreshed

Tommy Goodman
The South County Jazz Club’s weekly Tuesday evening jam session at Allegro Bistro is notable for two things: it’s always packed… and one of the rhythm section regulars always brings a tune the audience hasn’t heard – or heard in a long while. Then it gets refreshed in splendid fashion.
Last night, it was pianist Tommy Goodman’s turn.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

SW FLA's jazz busy season is fast approaching

It's time to prepare your listening calendars

Giacomo Gates
Pianist Billy Marcus’s five nights last month at JD’s Bistro & Grille in Port Charlotte as part of a fill-in trio with bassist Dominic Mancini and drummer-singer Patricia Dean had more than terrific listening value. It whetted my appetite for the Southwest Florida concert season, which pretty much runs from late September through the end of April.

I’ve compiled a rundown of interesting concert choices stretching from Sarasota to Naples that was published today at There is a lot going on, not including two rival series of weekly jam sessions.