Disc of the Day: Joris Teepe & Don Braden, “Conversations”

Joris Teepe & Don Braden, “Conversations” (Creative Perspective Music)

braden teepe

Bassist Joris Teepe and tenor saxophonist Don Braden, musical collaborators for nearly a quarter century, demonstrate their synchronicity on this collection of mostly trio pieces, with drummers Gene Jackson and Matt Wilson joining on various tracks.

It takes sustained creativity and ingenuity to keep things interesting and musically provocative in a group absent of a chordal instrument, but these guys handily achieve those goals by way of high-octane playing and deft arrangements. Particularly appealing are a duo reading of Mingus’s “Goodbye Porkpie Hat,” with Teepe’s rich, woody double bass coming to the forefront on an unaccompanied intro and then the two harmonizing on the melody.

Also notable are the opener, Chick Corea’s “Humpty Dumpty,” a tricked-out version of Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints,” the standards “It’s You or No One” and “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” and Teepe’s climbing-and-falling duo piece, the aptly titled “We Take No Prisoners.”

But all of these conversations are dynamic, and worth hearing, and made even more so thanks to the remarkable sonic clarity of these tracks, recorded at Creative Perspective Music and edited, mixed and mastered by Braden.

Don Braden

Joris Teepe

Disc of the Day: Walt Weiskopf, “Fountain of Youth”

Walt Weiskopf, “Fountain of Youth” (Posi-Tone)


The tones and textures on this disc are sometimes beefy, sometimes airy, thanks to a mix of instruments and players that jell well: Tenor saxophonist Walt Weiskopf,  a longtime Steely Dan sideman, is joined by vibraphonist Behn Gillece, pianist Peter Zak, bassist Mike Karn and drummer Steve Fidkyk.

The quintet offers inspired bop-driven originals, frequently showcasing Weiskopf’s muscular but agile playing, starting with his “Backstage Blues” and continuing with his multicolor, meter-shifting “Petal,” floaty ballad “Loose Lips,” the uptempo “Echoes of the Quiet Past” and another bluesy tune, “Hot Dog Days.”

Weiskopf also turns in fresh arrangements of tunes by others, including a lovely “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?,” a nifty “Laura,” and a sprawling, after-midnight take on the standard, “Young and Foolish.”

Walt Weiskopf

Posi-Tone Records 

Disc of the Day: Vadim Neselovskyi Trio, “Get Up and Go”

Vadim Neselovskyi Trio, “Get Up and Go” (Jazz Family/Neuklang Records)

The debut trio recording from the classically trained pianist, who’s worked with vibraphonist Gary Burton and singers Karrin Allyson and Dee Dee Bridgewater, feels alternately playful (“On a Bicycle,” “San Felio,” “Who Is It?”) and somber (“Winter,” “Krai” and the title track).

Portuguese singer Sara Serpa brings an exotic touch with her haunting wordless vocals on “Station Taiga” and the pretty, bells-lit “Almost December.”

Throughout, Neselovskyi, a jazz piano professor at Berklee College of Music and former teen phenom from the Ukraine, demonstrates prodigious technique, harmonic sophistication and a real synchronicity with New York bassist Dan Loomis and Israeli-born drummer Ronen Itzik; the pianist and Itzik were Berklee classmates, and played together with alto sax great Lee Konitz.

Vadim Neselovskyi

Jazz Family/Neuklang Records

Hey, New Yorker: When it comes to jazz, do you do more than sneer?

new yorker jazzAt first glance, the chief crime of The New Yorker‘s latest “humor” column is that it’s not funny, and that it struggles to reach even the low bar of “mildly amusing.” (Read it for yourself, and let me know what you think).

Except that the biggest offense is this: The New Yorker, based in the city that remains the jazz center of the world, once offered loads of smart, literate, entertaining, insightful coverage of the music. Now, the magazine almost never covers jazz, aside from a steadily decreasing footprint in the listings section.

And when it does deign to offer jazz coverage, a column that sneers at the music is the best The New Yorker can do? Seriously?

Remember the last time The New Yorker made a splash with a jazz piece? It was another largely unfunny “humor” bit, a fake interview with Sonny Rollins, the great tenor saxophonist who remains alive and, at that point, may even have still been performing. The obvious question: Why not do a legit piece on Rollins? That column (poorly labeled as humor) did an even more troubling disservice by leading some to believe that Rollins, a great and gentle spirit in addition to being an enormously creative artist, said some of the drivel the “fake” Rollins was quoted as saying.

Maybe I should make a direct plea to Bob Sauerberg, president/CEO of Conde Nast, which owns The New Yorker. Bob happens to be a schoolmate of mine, from the Lakeland (Florida) High School class of ’79.


Hi, Bob.
As a longtime jazz journalist and musician, and your old Lakeland acquaintance, take it from me: New York remains JAZZ HQ, a place where on any given night you can see a huge range of artists in a wide variety of venues practicing America’s great musical art form. As you may (or may not) know, you won’t find that volume of high- caliber jazz in any other city in the world.

The New Yorker, given its long, fabled history and identity as a purveyor of serious arts and entertainment criticism (among other content), and, of course, its location in NYC, has a unique opportunity to be an important and influential voice for jazz.

I’d call it an awesome responsibility, one that’s even more pressing now that the New York Times seems to be in no hurry to fill the gaps in jazz coverage left by the departures of first-rate music writers Nate Chinen and Ben Ratliff.

So … will you consider beefing up the jazz coverage in The New Yorker? I’d happily point you in the direction of jazz writers, New York-based and otherwise, who could support the cause. Heck, I’d be glad to help edit/coordinate such coverage. Or contribute some pieces.
It would be great to hear from you, Bob.




GroundUp Music Festival: Snarky Puppy Extravaganza

Music festivals in Florida come and go, and the last decade or so has seen the demise of two, on opposite ends of the state, with lineups that appealed strongly to fans of jazz, funk, fusion and jamband music: Bear Creek, at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, and Langerado in South Florida.

Wanee, still going strong after the Allmans broke up, continues to offer a lineup featuring bands drawing from the above genres, as well as blues and rock.

New to the fold is this year’s GroundUp Music Festival on Miami Beach, hosted by the acclaimed jazzy, funky large-ensemble outfit Snarky Puppy.


The event’s inaugural edition, running this Friday through Sunday, offers a quite extraordinary lineup. Snarky Puppy plays three consecutive nights, and star bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding is the fest’s “Artist At Large.”

Also on the bill: Veteran folk-rocker David Crosby, who has recently collaborated with Snarky Puppy; John Medeski’s Mad Skillet, led by the MMW pianist/organist/keyboardist; Punch Brothers/Nickel Creek mandolinist-singer and “Prairie Home Companion” host Chris Thile, in a duo with Michael Daves; New Orleans trumpeter and Spike Lee soundtrack composer Terence Blanchard; guitarist-bassist Charlie Hunter, leading a quartet with saxophonist Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews, Bela Fleck, Mu’tet); and a group led by rising-star percussionist Pedrito Martinez.

More: Virtuoso singer/multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier, Banda Magda, The Lee Boys + Roosevelt Collier and others. That’s not counting the performances on the second stage, and the late-night shows, likely to offer lots of sit-ins.

Or the music and music-industry workshops, including “A Snarky Guitar Clinic” with all three of the band’s six-stringers; “Chasing the Muse with (Snarky leader/bassist) Michael League & David Crosby”; and “Songwriting & Performance Workshop” with Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis, and Lucy Woodward.

And, a bonus for those averse to overcrowding: Ticket sales are limited to 1,500 each day.

“I don’t think you’ll get a better shot at hearing real music than at this festival,” Crosby told Miami New Times. “It will knock your socks off. It’s me on the stage with Michael League, Michelle Willis, and Becca Stevens. It’s acoustic, four-part harmonies that are really delicious based on my last album, Lighthouse, but we do some stuff from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. It’s the most fun I’ve had touring in 25 or 30 years.”

The high-caliber artists and relatively intimate performances appear to add up to a lineup and fest experience way more appealing than Bonnaroo and/or any of the major fests you could name. Stay tuned.

Word is that tickets are still available. For all the details, click here.

The schedule:


House of Waters, 1 p.m. Michelle Willis, 2 p.m. Bill Laurence, 3:30 p.m. Frost School of Music American Music Ensemble, 4:20 p.m. Jacob Collier, 4:55 p.m. Zach Larmer Band, 5:45 p.m. Banda Magda, 6:15 p.m. Forq, 7:10 p.m. Snarky Puppy, 8 p.m. The Heavy Pets, 9 p.m. David Crosby, 9:50 p.m.

Deaville Beach Resort: Ryan Scott, 11:20 p.m. Bob Lanzetti, 11:20 p.m. Mark Lettieri Trio, 12:40 a.m. Ghost-Note, 12:45 a.m. Jacob Collier, 2 a.m. Roosevelt Collier & Phunk Phactory, 2:10 a.m.


Lucy Woodward, noon Shelly Berg, 1:15 p.m. Emily Estefan, 2 p.m. Charlie Hunter Trio, 2:50 p.m. Electric Kif, 3:45 p.m. Terence Blanchard, 4:30 p.m. Nikka Costa, 5:25 p.m. Laura Mvula, 6:10 p.m. The Funky Knuckles, 7:05 p.m. Snarky Puppy, 7:55 p.m. Esperanza Spalding, 9 p.m. Pedrito Martinez Group, 9:45 p.m

Deauville Beach Resort: Philip Lassiter, 11:20 p.m. House of Water, 11:20 p.m. Magda Giannikou, 12:40 a.m. Breastfist, 12:45 a.m. Zach Brock and Bob Reynolds, 2 a.m. Shaun Martin’s Go-Go Party, 2:10 a.m.


The Lee Boys, featuring Roosevelt Collier, 11:45 a.m. Carlos Malta, 1:10 p.m. Becca Stevens, 2:30 p.m. Modern School of Music Band, 3:15 p.m. John Medeski’s Mad Skillet, 3:55 p.m. New World School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble, 4:45 p.m. Bokante, 5:30 p.m. Aaron Lebos Reality, 6:20 p.m. Chris Thile and Michael Daves, 7 p.m. Maz, 8 p.m. Snarky Puppy, 8:50 p.m.

Deaville Beach Resort: Charlie Hunter and Jeff Coffin, 10:30 p.m. Pedrito Martinez, 11 p.m. Derek Smalls and the Bottom Feeders, midnight Jamison Ross, 12:30 a.m. Nigel Hall, 1:30 a.m. Carlos Malta and Company, 2 a.m.




Mo’ Better Jazz Content on WBGO.org

Just a quick bit of praise for what’s happening over at WBGO.org, redesigned and relaunched to accommodate expanded editorial content by Nate Chinen, most recently a prolific jazz critic/reporter for the New York Times.

The NYT’s big loss is a major gain for the popular NYC-metro jazz radio station, as its site now offers a wealth of pieces penned by Chinen, including:


  • a feature on revered alto saxophonist Lee Konitz (in the above pic by Nuccio DiNuzzo), 89 and out with a new recording, “Frescalalto,” on which he’s joined by superb pianist Kenny Barron (I finally caught Barron in person, at last summer’s Montreal Jazz Fest), bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Kenny Washington.
  • a report on singer-pianist Diana Krall’s forthcoming album, “Turn Up the Quiet,” and world tour
  • “Take Five,” a regular column offering short-takes commentary (with audio clips) on five jazz tracks — this week, music by Jeremy Pelt, Theo Bleckmann, Dayme Arocena, Art Pepper/Sonny Stitt, and new-to-me free improv trio Ballister.

Lots of other good jazz content to be found there. Check it out.

Tampa Jazz Notes: Nate Najar, Whitney James, Al Di Meola; reflections on Pat Metheny, Dr. John & Sunshine Music Fest

These days, there’s no shortage of worthwhile jazz (and beyond) concerts, by national and local artists alike, at Tampa Bay area venues. Too much music, not enough time, or, in the case of the too often overpriced arena and theater events, not enough expendable dough.

At any rate … happy to report that I’ve been able to catch several good shows in the last few weeks (see below), and there are plenty ahead.

Fusion-guitar heads will explode about this just-announced show: John McLaughlin and Jimmy Herring, with their respective bands, are playing a double bill Nov. 25 at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

And, speaking of notable guitarists, the Tampa Bay area’s own Nate Najar is celebrating the release of his new album, “This is Nate Najar,” on the Candid label, with a show Thursday night in St. Petersburg (details below). Check out Sharon Kennedy’s feature, in the Tampa Bay Times. Najar tours nationally. His new CD is the eighth most added recording on this week’s JazzWeek radio-play chart.

On the way (a selective list):


Nate Najar with trumpeter James Suggs, bassist John Lamb and drummer Mark Feinman — Feb. 9, The Studio@620, St. Petersburg, 7:30 pm

Whitney James’ Jazz Valentine, with guitarist LaRue Nickelson and La Lucha guys John O’ Leary on piano, bassist Alejandro Arenas and drummer Mark Feinman — Feb. 10, Palladium Side Door, St. Petersburg, 8 pm

Al Di Meola “Elegant Gypsy 40th Anniversary (Al’s band includes Tampa Bay area talent — percussionist Gumbi Ortiz, bassist Elias Tona and drummer Luis Alicea) — Feb. 13, Capitol Theatre, Clearwater, 7:30 pm

Richard Thompson & Blind Boys of Alabama — Feb. 14, Capitol Theater, 8 pm

St. Petersburg Jazz FestivalRobotman (Feb. 22), Martin Bejerano Trio (Feb. 23), Joshua Breakstone (Feb. 24), Jason Lee Bruns (Feb. 26) — Palladium Side Door, 7:30 pm

St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: The Helios Jazz Orchestra with Whitney James & Fred Johnson — Feb. 25, Palladium Hough Hall, 7:30 pm

Frank Greene (trumpet) & Danny Gottlieb (drums) with USF Jazz Ensemble, directed by Chuck Owen — Feb. 27, USF Concert Hall, Tampa, 7:30 pm

Tony Bennett — March 2, Mahaffey Theater, 7:30 pm

Boogie Woogie Blues Piano Stomp: Bob Seeley, Dr. Billy C. Wirtz, Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues, Rob Rio — March 4, Palladium Hough Hall, 8 pm

Whitney James with guitarist LaRue Nickelson, organist/pianist Chris Rottmayer and drummer Dave Rudolph — March 5, HCC Ybor Performing Arts Center Mainstage Theatre, 3 pm

Norah Jones — March 7, Ruth Eckerd Hall, 8 pm

Taj Mahal (solo acoustic) — March 8, Capitol Theatre, 8 pm

Rickie Lee Jones & Madeleine Peyroux — March 11, Capitol Theatre, 8 pm

Gasparilla Music Festival: The New Mastersounds, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Shamarr Allen & the Underdawgs, Ryan Adams, Ghostface Killah, Have Gun, Will Travel, Curtis Hixon Park, Tampa, March 11-12

“The Sound: The Music of Stan Getz” (Jeff Rupert, Veronica Smith, others), Palladium Side Door, March 12, 6 pm

Tampa Bay Blues Fest (Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Coco Montoya, Stephen Stills, more), Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg, April 7-9.

John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension & Jimmy Herring and the Invisible Whip — Nov. 25, Ruth Eckerd Hall, 8 pm.




I caught Dr. John, with my friend Roland Guerin on bass, at Clearwater’s beautifully renovated Capitol Theater on Jan. 17. The tickets were a Christmas present from me to my wife Callie — good seats and no reviewing duties. The band,with trumpeter Leon Brown, guitarist Eric Struthers and drummer Doug Belote, was in fine form. As usual, it was a treat hearing Dr. John sing and play some of the most memorable tunes from his repertoire, including “Iko Iko” and, of course, “Right Place, Wrong Time.”

But I’d be lying if I didn’t note that Mac seems to have lost some of his performance power. His vocals, and his piano playing, that unique mix of jazz, blues and New Orleans R&B descended from a long line of NOLA’s piano professors, including Professor Longhair, simply aren’t as robust as even a few years ago, when he played with his previous band at the Sunshine Music Festival. Some of that decline, of course, is understandable — he’s 76, and, as documented in his readable and entertaining autobiography “Under a Hoodoo Moon,” he lived a hard life in his hometown and in Los Angeles before moving to New York and adopting a more mellow lifestyle in later years.

Nevertheless, Dr. John remains a total original, and I was thrilled to hear him again. And I couldn’t help but wonder — who, aside from the likes of Jon Cleary and maybe Marcia Ball, will be exponents of that infectious, rolling rumba-boogie style of piano playing after Dr. John is gone? I’m sure there are others carrying on that tradition, particularly in New Orleans. Somebody hip me to ’em, please.

The day before (Jan. 14), we had a great experience at the fourth annual Sunshine Music Festival, formerly known as the Sunshine Blues Festival; it was my third time attending, having missed last year’s edition. The fest, held on waterside Vinoy Park in downtown St. Petersburg, offered good-to-terrific sets by the blues-rocking Tedeschi Trucks Band (the “host” artists), soul/R&B legend Mavis Staples, jamgrass guys Railroad Earth, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, Dave Mason and the North Mississippi Allstars. My review will appear in the March print edition of Relix magazine.

And just last Wednesday (Feb. 1), for the umpteenth time I had the pleasure of catching a Pat Metheny concert, this one at the Mahaffey Theater, almost exactly three years after his last performance at the same venue. For his latest tour, he’s joined by longtime musical associate Antonio Sanchez on drums, rising-star upright bassist Linda Oh, and a newcomer (to me), young Brit-born pianist Gwilym Simcock. The quartet touched on seemingly every phase of the guitarist’s long career; as usual, he made a joyful sound on his several guitars.

I ran into several area jazz folks at the show, including Bob Seymour and Mike Cornette, the former and current jazz directors at WUSF, and singer Whitney James, who happens to be a part-time announcer at the station (I also did some announcing there, briefly, in the late ’90s). I also connected with Jim Leonard, a Metheny aficionado/expert who deserves a shout-out for his invaluable help with song titles. My review of the show, for JazzTimes mag, is posted here.