Saturday, January 28, 2017

Young jazz singer draws on her inner bop

Veronica Swift
Veronica Swift was born with jazz in her blood. It sounds like singing in the genre comes as natural to her as breathing.

Swift, the 22-year-old daughter of singer Stephanie Nakasian and the late bebop pianist Hod O'Brien, was first runner-up in 2015's prestigious Thelonious Monk International Vocal Competition. She graduated last month from the University of Miami's Frost School of Music with a Bachelor in Music, majoring in jazz voice.

On Friday, January 24, she shared her artistry with the Dan Miller-Lew Del Gatto Quintet at Fort Myers' Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center. The event drew a sellout crowd of about 400.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Looking ahead: Southwest Florida jazz preview

Southwest Florida's 2016-17 jazz concert season will continue through May. Here is a rundown of noteworthy jazz events, principally in the Sarasota to Naples territory, from now through March.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A jazzy way to end the day

Eddie Metz Jr.
Drummer Eddie Metz Jr. brought his mighty International Trio plus tenor saxophonist Harry Allen to Sarasota FL to provide a musical balm to Inauguration Day on Thursday, January 20.

"We're glad your here rather than at home cheering or yelling at the TV," Metz said at the outset. "We don't care what side you're on -- because this is the universal language of music."

Friday, January 20, 2017

Jazz guitar mastery and heartfelt moments

Guitarist Larry Coryell, Russell Malone and Nate Najar teamed up Thursday, January 19 for an evening that showcased their individual styles and common ground as players. The concert, billed as the Great Guitars of Jazz, was held at the Venice (FL) Performing Arts Center.

Friday, January 13, 2017

A jazz singer's heartfelt return to familiar territory

Toronto-based singer June Garber delivered a superb - and superbly programmed - performance on Friday, January 13 as part of the South County Club's matinee concert series in Venice FL.
June Garber

It was the first area appearance in nearly two years for Garber, a vocalist whose art crosses the border between jazz and cabaret with ease. The occasional cabaret-style gesture or expression is nearly forgotten, however, when she immerses herself in the jazz feeling and is surrounded by ace instrumentalists.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sarasota Jazz Project returns for a strong big band night

What a difference three years makes. The Sarasota Jazz Project returned to Port Charlotte on Monday, January 9 for Big Band Night in the Charlotte County Jazz Society's concert series. 

With very few personnel changes, the band was stronger and more in the groove compared to its ho-hum December 2013 performance. It showcased both classic and a bit more contemporary material, and this time it also featured a top-notch guest singer. Miami-based Lisanne Lyons sang with a mix of poignancy, bluesy grit and bits of scatting that enhanced her eight-tune performance.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A masterful night of straight-ahead and Gypsy jazz

Martin Taylor
Jazz guitar master Martin Taylor was the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra’s featured guest at the sextet’s January 4 concert at Daniels Pavilion. It was a spectacular night on all counts. 
 The award-winning Englishman, knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002, dazzled the Artis Naples audience with his style and musicality in a 75-minute set that showcased his sheer talent, sense of bandsmanship and touched on his best-known career association. He spent toured the world and recording more than 20 albums with French violinist Stephane Grappelli from 1979 to 1990.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The year in jazz

My comprehensive compilation of significant jazz happenings across the US and around the globe during 2016 is now posted at All About Jazz. You can read the details here

To summarize: It was a year of triumph and a year of tragedy in the jazz world. It bubbled with events and initiatives to strengthen jazz’s place in American and world culture, as well as a variety of venue openings, closings and cancellations. Jazz and stories about jazz men and women hit the silver screen over and over. 

Pop star David Bowie put his farewell musical ride in a jazz context. The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra financing scandal cost the trumpet-playing founder his job. Four young musicians lost their lives in horrible ways. The National Endowment for the Arts welcomed four new NEA Jazz Masters and the jazz world said farewell to five others who were among the many industry-associated musicians and figures who passed away over the past year.