Tampa Jazz Notes: Ira Sullivan Returns, St. Petersburg Jazz Festival, more

ira sullivanIra Sullivan returns to Tampa this Sunday afternoon for a show in Ybor City that marks a rather amazing tradition — it will be his 17th consecutive annual concert for the Tampa Jazz Club, a longtime organization of area jazz aficionados.

Sullivan, a celebrated jazzer with still-impressive abilities on trumpet, flugelhorn, saxophones, and flute, will be joined by pianist Michael Royal, bassist Richard Drexler, drummer Tracy Alexander, and Marc Berner, a regular musical cohort who plays exotic flutes. Sullivan, 80, is a five-time Grammy nominee; his storied history as a jazz man includes ’50s gigs in Chicago with Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Roy Eldridge, and a stint with Art Blakey. He moved to South Florida in the early ’60s.

In 2010, when I interviewed Sullivan for a story published in the St. Petersburg Times, he recounted his week playing with Parker:  “He was drunk the first night and it took six of us to lift him into the cab. After the second day, he said, ‘Ira, I can’t get drunk.’ That was because the doctors had shot him with B-12. I had a beautiful, alert wonderful Charlie Parker the rest of the week. He was healthy and bright eyed and bushy tailed. We had a wonderful week together. He treated me like the greatest trumpet player he had ever played with. A month later, he died.”

I wrote about Sullivan’s 2009 Tampa Jazz Club appearance here. And here’s a video clip I shot of Sullivan on flute and Berner on bass flute, with Royal, bassist Mark Neuenschwander and drummer Tom Carabasi, in 2011 at the Bob Seymour tribute at the Palladium.ira sullivan 2

The show starts at 3 p.m. at the HCC Performing Arts Building’s intimate and well-appointed Mainstage Theatre, home to the recent Ybor Jazz Festival (and many other arts events). The venue is at the corner of Palm Avenue and 14th Street in Ybor City. Admission is $25, $20 for club members, $10 for students with ID, and free for HCC students and staff. For more information, visit http://www.tampajazzclub.com or call (813) 253-7695.


Great to see the St. Petersburg Jazz Festival keep on keeping on, with the fifth annual edition slated for Feb. 19-23 at various venues. This year, the festival is expanding from its origins at St. Petersburg College, with shows scheduled for several venues across the city.

“We wanted to do a true jazz festival in St. Petersburg,” fest director David Manson, a trombonist, composer and head of jazz studies at St. Petersburg College, told me in 2010, for a story published in the St. Petersburg Times. “And we wanted variety.”

Top-shelf jazz singer Whitney James (below) will be joined by the Helios Jazz Orchestra for a concert kicking off the fest, Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. at Nova 535; admission: $15. whitney

Also on the bill (all shows below start at 7:30 p.m.):

Wednesday, 2/20 — Coltrane/Cannonball Tribute, with saxophonist Austin Vickrey, bassist Alejandro Arenas, saxophonist Jeremy Powell, guitarist LaRue Nickelson and drummer Ian Goodman — ARTpool courtyard; admission: $10

Thursday, 2/21 — Brazilian jazz group O Som Do Jazz (singer Andrea Manson, trombonist David Manson, bassist Alejandro Arenas, saxophonist Austin Vickrey, drummer Mark Feinman, and pianist David Cubillos) — Side Door at the Palladium; admission: $15

Friday, 2/22 — Paul Krueger Quartet featuring John Lake, with Alejandro Arenas and Ian Goodman — Music Center at St. Petersburg College; admission: $10

Saturday, 2/23 — Marty Morell Group, led by the former drummer for the Bill Evans Trio, with Michiko Ohta, Benjamin Kramer, Richard Drexler, Jeff Rupert & Nathan Colbert — Music Center at St. Petersburg College; admission: $10

For more information about the fest, contact David Manson at (727) 341-4363 or mansond@spcollege.edu


Ahead on the Tampa Bay area jazz calendar:

Feb. 27 — Helios Swingtet, Maestro’s at the Straz, Tampa, 7 p.m

March 2 — Herb Alpert, Lani Hall and Michael Franks — The Palladium, St. Petersburg, 7:30 p.m.

fred herschMarch 7 — Fred Hersch Trio, The Palladium, 7 p.m. (Hersch, left)

March 24 — Chick Corea and Bela Fleck, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, 8 p.m.

April 3 — Diana Krall, Ruth Eckerd Hall, 8 p.m.

April 6 — Child of the Sun Jazz Festival: Bogus Pomp, Valerie Gillespie, Belinda Womack, Jeff Phillips Collective, Free Time, Florida Southern College Jazz Ensemble, Brian Sutherland Trio, Lake Mirror Promenade, Lakeland, 3 p.m. (free admission)

April 13 — Straz Student Jazz Festival, Straz Riverwalk (daylong; free)

April 13 — Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour: Dee Dee Bridgewater, Christian McBride, Ambrose Akinmusire, Chris Potter, Benny Green, Lewis Nash — Ferguson Hall at the Straz, 7:30 p.m.

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