Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays

It’s been a terrific first full calendar year here in southwest Florida – making new friends, enjoying the weather, getting acquainted with a boatload of fine jazz musicians and supporters we’d previously not known of – or only knew of by name.

The Jazz Notes staff and family send our very best wishes for this special season and the new year to the jazz community near and far, new friends, old friends - and future friends.

We hope you enjoy these two classic takes on Christmas music that have always been among our favorites.



Sunday, December 23, 2012

A jazzy "green Christmas" gig

Tom Ellison and June Garber
Saxophonist Tom Ellison's quartet Hip Pocket, with special guest June Garber on vocals, performed at the Centennial Park gazebo in Venice, FL this afternoon in a holiday concert sponsored by the South County Jazz Club and Venice MainStreet community nonprofit.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday jazz with a B-3 twist

Stan Heffner and Katt Hefner
Singer Katt Hefner and her brother, Pittsburgh-based Hammond B-3 player Stan Heffner, brought their own brand of holiday cheer to the South County Jazz Club's Venice Art Center series this afternoon in Venice, FL.

The B-3 is a distinctive instrument in jazz, and any opportunity to hear it played well is welcome. Stan Heffner is one who knows how to dig in and make it smile, moan, cry and testify.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Trumpeter Bob Zottola's jazz quartet was sublime

Bob Zottola and his "secret weapon"
Naples-based trumpeter Bob Zottola was a marvel today in his appearance at the South County Jazz Club's Englewood Art Center jazz series, working in splendid fashion with pianist Michael Royal, bassist Don Mopsick and drummer Henry Ettman.

Zottola, a former big band and Broadway shows trumpeter in New York (he spent 16 years in the pit band for "Les Miserables"), has a knack for embellishing a tune's melody without ever sounding like he's overplaying. His soloing is always tasty and creative.

An identity challenge taken in stride

Jazz pianist and composer William Evans splits the bulk of his time between Florida's Tampa Bay area, where he has lived part-time since 1984, and Switzerland, where he teaches and performs frequently.

William Evans with bassist Dominic Mancini,
drummer Dane Hassan and clarinetist Paul Vrakas
Like most musicians, he travels a lot and is tough to difficult to pin down, particularly on the Information Highway. Google jazz pianist William A. Evans and you’ll find 80 or more pages about jazz giant Bill Evans. No matter that Bill Evans was William J. (for John). William Evans says he is often teased about the name similarity but has a different outlook about it. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Abate on fire

Saxophonist Greg Abate is a bebopper pure and simple. He plays with a feverish intensity that on a great night is counterbalanced by his rhythm section. As a busy soloist, the rhythm section and city - and sometimes country - change from gig to gig.
Greg Abate and Kenny Drew Jr.
Last night, he performed in Port Charlotte, FL for the Charlotte County Jazz Society’s Artists Series at the Charlotte Cultural Center, bringing his intense brand of hard bop (think Charlie Parker and Phil Woods if you need comparisons) to an audience of about 350.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

R.I.P. to a jazz icon

Dave Brubeck, 1987
Jazz giant Dave Brubeck died this morning in Connecticut, one day before what would have been his 92nd birthday. Condolences go out to Iola Brubeck, their children and their families, and the jazz world at large.

Brubeck was a pianist, composer, rhythmic innovator and bandleader who worked comfortably both in jazz and classical circles. Many of his liturgical works were nothing short of brilliant.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Brothers in life - and jazz

Tonight's special moment at the South County Jazz Club's weekly jam session at Allegro Bistro in Venice FL belonged to the Mancini brothers.

Dominic Mancini, a longtime fixture on the southwest Florida jazz scene, is the regular bassist for the jam sessions and one of the busiest musicians around. He's one of the very best at what he does. That trait seems to run in the family. His brother Joe, making a pre-holiday visit from southern New Jersey, is a fine pianist.

Tonight, Joe sat in with Dominic for the first time at a South County Jazz Club jam session. Together with drummer Dane Hassan, they explored "I Close My Eyes," "What is This Thing Called Love?" and the beautiful Harry Warren waltz "Summer Night" to wind down the evening's first set.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A tired tune walked into a bar...

There’s a musicians’ joke that goes something like this: “How many jazz singers does it take to sing ‘My Funny Valentine’ [or ‘Summertime’ or ‘(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66’ or ‘All of Me’]?”

Answer: “Apparently all of them.”     


Only it’s no joke. Too many singers, and wannabees, go right to the tiredest of tunes in the Great American Songbook. It’s not that these are bad songs. Far from it. But the new purveyors show NO imagination. And most times they’re doing the great tunes an injustice.

They fail to seek out and freshen other excellent songs that they can identify with, illuminate and present to ears who might like to hear something different. Something that may have bypassed the listeners’ own radar screens, or something they loved but haven’t heard in a while. A singer's failure to do that is lazy - and insulting to his/her audience.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Some holiday cheer for musicians

Things are looking up for musicians - economically - if you take the PNC Christmas Price Index® as more than just a whimsical economic analysis.

The bank’s 29th annual price calculation for the gifts in the holiday classic, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," showed the overall gift cost rose 3.5 percent over the past year. The 12-gifts price tag this year is $25,431.18, which is $1,168 more than 2011’s CPI.

As for the musicians… the prices for hiring 11 Pipers Piping ($2,562.00) and 12 Drummers Drumming ($2,775.50)