Tampa Jazz Calendar: Gary Smulyan at USF, O Som Do Jazz at HCC Ybor, Helios Jazz Orchestra and Whitney James at Palladium, more

Some impressive additions here, including brilliant baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan, at the next Monday Night Jazz Series concert at USF …

Sunday, Sept. 28 — O Som Do Jazz, HCC Mainstage Theatre, Ybor City (Tampa), 3 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 29 — Monday Night Jazz: Gary Smulyan with USF Jazz Ensemble 1 and USF Jazztet, USF Concert Hall, Tampa, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 30 — Helios Jazz Orchestra with Whitney James, Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 16 – Clearwater Jazz Holiday: Earth, Wind & Fire, “Changing Keys” Tribute, Buster Cooper Quartet, Coachman Park, Clearwater, 4 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 17 — Clearwater Jazz Holiday: Spyro Gyra, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Theo Valentin, Al Downing Jazz All-Stars, 4:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 18 — Clearwater Jazz Holiday: Dr. John, Marcia Ball/Terrance Simien, Belinda Womack, Julie Black, TomKats Jazz Orchestra with Katt Hefner, 1:30 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 19 — Clearwater Jazz Holiday: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Trombone Shorty, Spirit Family Reunion, Crash, REH/CJH Youth Jazz Band, 2 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 24 — Pieces of a Dream, Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 8 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 27 — Monday Night Jazz: The Music of Horace Silver with USF Faculty Jazz Ensemble (Jack Wilkins, Tom Brantley, Matt McCarthy, LaRue Nickelson, Mark Neuenschwander, Chris Rottmayer, Ric Craig), USF Concert Hall, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 14 — Diana Krall, Capitol Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 18 — Gregory Porter, Straz Center, Tampa, 8 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 5 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: James Varnado Funk Band

Thursday, Feb. 12 — Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Straz Center, Tampa, 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 24 — Ramsey Lewis and Philip Bailey, Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 25 — Rene Marie, Straz Center, Tampa, 9:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 26 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: Shawn Brown Trio

Friday, Feb. 27 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: John Hollenbeck and The Claudia Quintet

Saturday, Feb. 28 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: Helios Jazz Orchestra

Have info on jazz shows? Send details on concerts (not club listings) to jphilipbooth@hotmail.com

How To Get Unfriended on Facebook

pulls out hair(A little off topic, but I’m re-posting my thoughts here):

The 12 Facebook activities most likely to lead to unfriending:
1 — Send more than one Facebook game invitation a year. No, I don’t want to play Candy Crush or Mafia Wars. Ever.

2 — Post endless streams of strident political stuff. A few a week? Fine, you want to express your point of view on politics (so do I). A dozen a day? Annoying, and ultimately counter-productive. At some point you’re just singing to yourself or your own choir.

3 — Post close-up pics of open wounds or swollen feet or other bodily injuries. I don’t want to see that stuff. Few people do.

4 — Offer endless descriptions of medical ailments. I do want to know if you are ill, so that I can sympathize and maybe help out. I don’t want to see 40 posts a day on the subject. Sorry. As the teens say, not trying to be mean.

5 — Respond to my posts by personally attacking me or others who participate in my threads. Civil discussion is fine. Saying “you people are idiots” is not.

6 — Constantly slam something I care about. You hate Hemingway? You think jazz is stupid? You believe that organized religion wrecked your life? Your loss, but no need to demonstrate your hatred by responding negatively to my every mention of those subjects.

7 — Routinely belittle my religious faith or those of others. Live and let live. Your non-belief doesn’t make you the intellectual superior of those who do believe in a power that exists beyond our physical existence, no matter what you may think.

8 — Say nasty things about my friends or family.

9 — Bully others who think/live differently than you.

10 — “Share” commercial solicitations on my page.

11 — For journalists and ex-journalists: Endlessly complain about how awful the industry has become, and how unfair it was that (fill in the blank). Move on. Apply your skills in new ways. Moaning won’t fix it.

12 — For musicians: Endlessly discuss how unfair it is that there is no work to be found. I sympathize, totally. It’s tough out there. Musicians deserve better. But be aware that developing a reputation as “that guy who can’t get gigs and always complains about it” isn’t exactly the road to getting gigs.
Play nice.

Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden, “Last Dance” (CD review)

(originally published in JazzTimes)

Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden, “Last Dance” (ECM Records)

(published before Haden’s death)

keith jarrett charlie haden

So maybe this project should officially be known as the Standards Duo. Four years after old friends and onetime musical collaborators Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden released their first batch of vintage material recorded at the pianist’s studio, they return with another set of intimate pieces culled from the same 2007 sessions.

Two of the tunes from 2010’s Jasmine are back in alternate versions: The pair move as one on the stately “Where Can I Go Without You?” and the similarly tinted “Goodbye.” (Yes, Jarrett’s humming again is heard in the background, but it doesn’t spoil the pleasure of his typically searching solos.) As on Jasmine, the feel here is largely relaxed in the extreme, beginning with the elegant “My Old Flame,” which runs more than 10 minutes, opening up for some of Jarrett’s most expansive soloing and a long melodic turn from Haden.

Jarrett delays sounding the familiar melody of Monk’s “’Round Midnight,” handily putting into practice his interpretation-equals-composition ethos, until after Haden’s solo, and makes a foray into midtempo swing on Bud Powell’s “Dance of the Infidels” (more tunes at this tempo would have brought some welcome contrast to the proceedings). And yet the two are experts at crafting ballads, bringing out all the inherently poignant colors and melancholy textures of “Everything Happens to Me” and Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.” Both, like many of the other performances on the disc, are keepers, artfully illuminating well-trod standards.


Django Gold, Unchained: The Wannabe Humorist Strikes Back


So now “Django Gold,” the Onion writer responsible for that unfunny “satire” of the great Sonny Rollins published recently in The New Yorker, is back to defend himself. (Note: Gold is NOT the guy in the above pic).

I’m not going to take a deep dive into his guest column for JazzTimes online, headlined “Notes From the Backlash.” It’s just not that substantial. But the gist of it is this: “Hey, jazz people, it’s your fault if you didn’t get the joke. Lighten up.”

As one observer noted, that’s kind of like a stand-up comedian blaming the audience for not laughing.

And as I wrote in my initial response to Gold’s original (but not so original) piece, the most unfunny part of the whole affair is this: In a period when The New Yorker offers very little serious, in-depth coverage of jazz, why would the once revered magazine give space to Gold’s kind of nonsense?

To borrow Gold’s words: “Pretty square, if you ask me.”

Which brings us to another point: If a “satire” piece requires the author to explain it or defend it via another column, then could it be possible that the original piece wasn’t very effective, and its intent was unclear?

Tampa Jazz Notes — Kenny Drew Jr. Memorial; O Som Do Jazz at HCC Ybor; Diana Krall at the Capitol

Aside from a piece in Jazz Times and some blog posts (including mine, below, and those in Jazz Truth, JazzWax, and via WUSF News), the late great pianist Kenny Drew‘s passing hasn’t attracted much attention in the music press or in mainstream newspapers. I didn’t see any notice of Kenny’s death in his hometown paper, the Tampa Bay Times, or in the New York Times, which often notes the deaths of major musicians. (Correct me if I’m wrong).

Kenny, who died on Aug. 3 at age 56, will be honored by friends, family, colleagues and fans during a memorial service Saturday Aug. 23 at McCabe United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg. The memorial will be held at 11 a.m. at the church, 2800 26th Ave. South.

“His genius will be missed,” as noted in an announcement sent by the Tampa Jazz Club, home to many concerts featuring Kenny, including a terrific trio performance in May.

That trio, with bassist Joe Porter and drummer John Jenkins, recently released a CD, titled “The Music of Tom Becker.” As of now, it’s available via download through CD Baby and Amazon.

A memorial fund for Kenny has been established through his church, Unity of Midtown, 511 Prescott St., South, St. Petersburg, FL 33712. Donations can be made by checks payable to “Unity of Midtown” or via PayPal. More info is here.


O Som Do Jazz, the Brazilian/jazz band led by trombonist/composer David Manson, plays the Tampa Jazz Club’s first show of the fall season — Sunday, Sept. 28 at 3 pm at HCC Ybor’s Performing Arts Building. More details.

SPC prof Manson, singer Andrea Moraeas Manson, saxophonist Austin Vickrey, pianist David Cubillos, bassist Alejandro Arenas and drummer Mark Feinman will play music from the band’s two recordings. Two tunes from the group’s “A Kiss From Rio” recording were heard on the HBO series “Looking.”


The good news: The jazz-rooted singer and underrated pianist Diana Krall is returning to the Tampa Bay area, with a show Dec. 14 at 7:30 pm at the the Capitol Theatre in downtown Clearwater (concert affiliated with Ruth Eckerd Hall). She’ll be joined by a first-rate band — guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist Dennis Crouch, fiddler Stuart Duncan, drummer Karriem Riggins and keyboardist Patrick Warren.

The not-great news: It’ll cost you an arm and a leg to attend this show, as tickets START at $102.25. Seriously? Sure, it’s an “intimate” setting, but that’s about four times what you’d pay to see a show in the world’s greatest jazz club, The Village Vanguard in NYC. ‘Sup with that?



Joe Beck Trio, “Get Me Joe Beck” (CD review)


(originally published in JazzTimes)

Joe Beck Trio, “Get Me Joe Beck” (Whaling City Sound)

get me joe beck

“My aim on the guitar is to try to get each chord to follow the preceding chord like it was meant to be there, and then sort of hint at what the next chord might be,” Joe Beck says, in one of several spoken introductions sprinkled throughout Get Me Joe Beck. The CD, recorded live in Berkeley, Calif., two years before Beck’s untimely death from lung cancer in 2008, is indeed packed with displays of guitar work that is as artfully logical and eminently musical as it is a thing of beauty.

Beck, demonstrating a real sense of intuitive interplay with bassist Peter Barshay and drummer David Rokeach, handpicked for the performance by the owner of the venue, the intimate Anna’s Jazz Island, offers fresh takes on some of his favorite standards. The trio’s impromptu synchronicity is revealed right away, on “Stella by Starlight,” which shifts from an unaccompanied opening to a mellow reading of the melody to a playful back-and-forth between the leader and Barshay, and some trading eights with Rokeach.

Beck’s impeccable feel for Brazilian jazz is demonstrated on Luiz Bonfá’s “Manhã de Carnaval,” spiked with bent guitar lines and quick drum explosions, and a beautifully resonant “Corcovado.” Harmonics clusters and blues-drenched phrases color “Georgia on My Mind,” while a hard-swinging “Alone Together” (also heard on Beck’sTri07) comes off as a definitive version of the standard, and the trio also offers invigorating workouts on “Tenderly,” “I Can’t Get Started” and “You and the Night and the Music.” Beck’s voice, tradition-rooted yet forward-leaning and consistently adventurous, is sorely missed.

Originally published in August 2014

Clickingbaiting With the Washington Post (Sing Along with the Punk Rocker!)

You know that silly “I hate jazz” rant that was published in the Washington Post a few days ago?

Remember my serious response to the writer’s ignorant statements?

Well, now “JazzWax” blogger Marc Myers reports that the piece, filed under the header “opinion,” was actually intended as satire. 

Myers writes: “As comments below (Justin) Moyer‘s column expressed outrage and derision, the deputy editor tried to clear the air by adding comments of his own, including this one: ‘This article was not intended as a serious analysis. To better understand the piece as parody, you should read an article I wrote back in 2012…’ First readers were told the column should be taken seriously. Then readers were told way down below that it’s all a joke—with the odd caveat that they should have realized it was humor since Moyer has done this before “for another D.C. paper.”

To which my response is: Hey, Moyer, you know I was JUST KIDDING, don’t you? You’re not really a know-nothing, jazz-hating ignoramus who’s clueless about the beauty and meaning and history of the music, and all too willing to engage in a gimmicky stunt just to pump up the hits.




– If Moyer’s piece was intended as satire, where’s the funny?

– Isn’t this really a case of wanting to have your cake and eat it, too? You know, write a jokey, halfway serious attack on jazz, and then say “I was kidding” when you get a negative response.

– Wouldn’t Post readers be better served by well-written coverage of jazz, which is all too often ignored in favor of gossipy “profiles” on flash-in-the-pan pop stars, rather than an unfunny tongue-in-cheek attack on jazz penned by a D.C. punk rocker?

Whether intended as satire, the column clearly was positioned very cynically, as a patently “outrageous” item that would generate controversy and drive lots of visits to the paper’s web site. You know, “clickbait.” 

The same strategy was behind the rather lame Sonny Rollins piece recently published in the New Yorker.

And my response to both publications: You can do better. All it takes is a little effort.