Vincent Herring, “Hard Times” — my CD review for JazzTimes

Vincent Herring“Is this disc’s title an apropos description of the current era, with its semi-permanent malaise, and anger seemingly just below the surface of all public discourse? Maybe,” I wrote, in my review for JazzTimes.Vincent Herring’s response: Gather like-minded musicians and make a joyful noise with a set of muscular blues-tinted jazz.”

Read the complete review here.

Fun fact: Back in 2000, I played the Nat Adderley memorial concert at Florida Southern College’s Branscomb Auditorium, in Lakeland, my hometown. Nat lived there for many decades after relocating from New Jersey; at FSC, he was artist-in-residence, and, with FSC music prof Larry Burke, he launched the (now-defunct) Child of the Sun Jazz Festival.

How’d I wind up playing that show, alongside former Adderley musical associates and friends, including drummer Jimmy Cobb, pianists Larry Willis and Rob Bargad, saxophonists Vincent Herring and Antonio Hart, and trumpeter Longineau Parsons, among others?

Here’s how it happened: Burke had asked me to lend my upright bass to Walter Booker for the performance, which I was happy to do. I’d previously let another NYC bassist, Santi Debriano, borrow my bass when he played one of the editions of the Child of the Sun fest. About three hours before the show was slated to start, Burke called me, told me that Bookie was ailing (an asthma attack) and unable to play, and asked if I’d fill in.

I couldn’t ever have actually properly filled in for Booker, who died in 2006, but I had a (slightly nervous) blast playing the gig — won’t ever forget that performance.

I’d had a chance to get to know Nat a little bit some years early, when I interviewed him for an extended feature in one of the first issues of Jazziz magazine; I was a part of that mag from the start, beginning with exploratory meetings at the condo of Michael Fagien, who was then a med student (or a resident?) at UF. I recall discussing what the mag should be named — I wasn’t in favor of “Jazziz.” What did  I know? 🙂

And that’s … almost the rest of the story 🙂

BTW — had a chance on Saturday to talk with Debriano after one of his sets at Smalls in NYC. He was leading a great quartet with Craig Handy on tenor, Bill O’Connell on piano, and Living Colour drummer Will Calhoun.

Debriano said he hopes to soon record with that group.

Tampa Jazz Notes: Ybor Jazz Fest Concludes; Nate Najar CD Release Show at Studio@620; Helios Jazz Orchestra at Nova 535; Corey Christiansen at HCC Ybor; Christian McBride Returns in April; Jazz Calendar

(Photos courtesy of Alex Spassoff)

The third annual Ybor Jazz Festival on Sunday concluded five days and nine concerts’ worth of performances by locally based artists with a standing ovation for Rayzilla’s Dreamboats, reports fest director Keith Arsenault. The group, with Ray Villadonga on bass and guitar (left), saxophonist Jeremy Powell, guitarist Alfredo Rivero and drummer/percussionist Joe Bencomo, played following Jazztek (pianist Ben Winkler, bassist Jon Shea, and drummer Tim Diehl, below).

The festival, held at two stages at the HCC/Ybor Performing Arts Building, again “showcased the very best of the resident jazz community of Central Florida which is a truly gifted and talented group of dedicated musicians with national and international credits who have chosen to live and work here and grace our community,” Arsenault said. “Cooperation and collaboration between artists was inspiring to watch and listen to and audiences were enthusiastic and pleased with the wide variety of jazz styles that were presented.”

Arsenault promises something “bigger” for next year’s fest. Stay tuned.


Nate Najar (right) and ex-Ellington bassist John Lamb play a CD release show Thursday night, featuring music from their new duets disc, “What’s New.” Copies of the CD will be available at the show, 7:30 at The Studio @620, 620 1st Avenue South in St. Petersburg. Admission is $20. For more info, call the venue at 727 895-6620 and/or visit Najar’s site.


The Helios Jazz Orchestra, one of the favorites at the Ybor Jazz Fest, will be joined by singer Amy Morgan (left) on music drawn from the Great American Songbook, Nov. 20 at Nova 535.

The show — another in the orchestra’s monthly third-Thursday events — will feature dancing, catered treats, cabaret seating, and a full bar. The venue is at 535 Dr. M.L. King Jr. Street North (Ninth St. North) in St. Petersburg; valet parking is available. For more information, visit the Helios site or the Nova 535 site.


Corey Christiansen (right), a guitarist who logged time on  Tampa Bay area stages when he was in the graduate jazz program at USF, plays the Mainstage Theatre at HCC/Ybor’s Performing Arts Building on Dec. 2. at 3 p.m. Christiansen is a well-traveled guitarist with good recordings to his credit, and teaching gigs at Utah State University and Indiana University on his resume. Tickets are $20 advance, $25 day of show for the concert, sponsored by the Tampa Jazz Club. More info to come.


Tampa Bay area jazz fans who missed the Christian McBride Trio at the Mahaffey last Friday (my review) get another chance to hear the bassist. The much-recorded jazzer is returning to the area for Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour, April 13 at the Straz Center’s Ferguson Hall. McBride is musical director for the band, which also includes veteran jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, rising-star trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, and three other top-shelf players — tenor and soprano saxophonist Chris Potter, pianist Benny Green and drummer Lewis Nash. The show starts at 7:30, and tickets start at $36.50. For more information, click here. (Photo by Bridge Burke)


Other upcoming jazz shows:

Nov. 26 – Monday Night Jazz: USF Jazz Ensemble 1 with Rex Richardson, trumpet, USF MUS concert hall, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 11 – Flavor of Jazz 11, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, 8 p.m.

Dec. 15 – Nate Najar Holiday show, with bassist John Lamb, drummer Steve Bucholtz, and guests Ken Peplowski, clarinet, Chuck Redd, vibes, Palladium, St. Petersburg, 8 p.m.

Feb. 10 — Ira Sullivan, HCC Ybor, 3 p.m.

Feb. 17 — Preservation Hall Jazz Band & Del McCoury Band, Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg, 7 p.m.

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

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