Remembering Don Capone: Memories from Bandmates and Friends

Tampa jazz drummer Don Capone passed away on Feb. 12, and several people have responded to my earlier post with thoughts about our old musical compadre. I’ve also received shots of Don from Alex Spassoff and singer Denise Moore (with whom Don played), and I’m including those below, as well as two of Don’s instructional videos (several are available on YouTube).

T. and Ronda Paramoure: “Don was a wonderful person and musician. He was family. We loved him dearly. Each time we met it was like we had never parted. He loved to play while my wife Ronda Paramoure sang and played her flute.  We have great memories of music and believe it or not ministry with Don. He was passionate about his music and his love for the Lord.  He always talked to me about “the Big Guy” and how he new that he would go to heaven one day…. God Bless you Don… you will be well missed here.  Keep that rhythm strong as we know you can in heaven.  RIP”

David & Bill, All Pro Percussion: “We just learned yesterday of Don’s passing. Don was a great supporter of the local music scene. We always enjoyed his visits to the store and hearing about the latest projects he was working on. Through-out his battle with cancer Don never let up. He was very passionate about his music and gave it his all when ever he sat down behind a kit. Don you will be greatly missed by all of us!”

Jason Stander: “Don was a great friend and amazing drummer. His attack was ferocious and precise, and his heavy right leg earned him his nickname “The Foot”. I had a chance to learn the brush techniques of Charlie Perry from him, whom was one of his earliest mentors. Although we only knew each other for a little over a year, words cannot express the ways in which I’ll miss him.”

Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association: “The Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association is especially grateful to Don for the opportunities he gave youngsters to play at his jams and on CDs he recorded.  He donated to us copies of these CDs to sell to help support our scholarship fund.  This was a gesture of his great interest in young musicians and encouraging them to be involved in jazz.  Thank you, Don.”

Bob Seymour, jazz director, WUSF, 89.7 FM: “A fast and loyal friend is right, and Don’s enthusiasm about playing and all the people he made music with — whether talented youngsters or the area’s more seasoned performers — was really something. Marian (Seymour) knew Don for some time before I did; he was the school cop at Gary Adult HS in Ybor City, and along with stories of the Secret Service and other high-profile security jobs, would talk about his background in music and how much  he’d like to get back  to playing.  I heard those stories about Don for a long time before he did in fact emerge onto the scene, always with that pure joy of making music.  We’ll miss him.”

Sam Koppelman, vibraphonist, Trio Vibe: “His enthusiasm for the music lives in all of us.”

Mark Feinman, drummer: “Don was a great drummer and man. I enjoyed getting to see him play and always talking with him at length about music. He generated an energy that always made his musical experience young and fresh. His contributions to our community are unforgettable. He will be greatly missed.”

If you’d like to express any thoughts or remembrances about Don, please send them my way. I’ll post them here, with the newest thoughts at the top of this post. Write to me at jphilipbooth@gmail.com

Denise Moore: “A Jazz History,” tonight at the Palladium

Tampa singer Denise Moore brings her new jazz-history show to the Palladium tonight. I’ve known Denise since her days with Paul Wilborn & the Pop Tarts, and I’ve had the opportunity to sub in her bands on a few occasions. I’ve also connected with Denise and her husband Alex Spassoff in and around Jazz Fest in New Orleans.

I recently spoke with Denise for a feature published today in the St. Petersburg Times. Click here to see the story online in the Times. Or read the expanded version, below.

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Tampa singer Denise Moore grew up listening to jazz – Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Brazil’s Flora Purim and such jazz-influenced vocalists as Joni Mitchell.

But the Georgia native, who grew up in Melbourne, Florida, took her time stepping up to the mic in front of a jazz group. She sang with a band in the swing-folk-country mold of Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks while she was a student at the University of Georgia in Athens. Later, she sang R&B, pop and blues with Tampa Bay area bands Paul Wilborn and the Pop Tarts, and the Women’s Blues Revue.

“I really didn’t get this going until I was 40,” Moore said. “A friend said, ‘You need to have your own group.’ I said, ‘I can’t do that.’ But I did. And I went to what I love — jazz. I love this music. It feels good to me.”

Fifteen years later, she’s made up for lost time. Her band, Denise Moore & Then Some, has become a regular on the Tampa Bay area jazz scene, and she released a debut CD, Nothing Standard.

Fans of the singer can play a part in her new project: Moore’s next CD will feature music recorded live tonight at the Palladium Theater. The concert is part of the St. Petersburg venue’s Side Door Jazz series.

Moore, joined by pianist and arranger Billy Marcus, saxophonist David Pate, bassist Alejandro Arenas and drummer Stephen Bucholtz, will play an ambitious program, “A Jazz History,” covering everything from early New Orleans jazz to smooth jazz.

The group will play about 20 tunes, including Fats Waller‘s “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” Wes Montgomery‘s “West Coast Blues,” Antonio Carlos Jobim‘s “No More Blues” and Anita O’ Day‘s version of “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.”

“We’ll start off with some ragtime and go all the way up to smooth jazz, and also do bebop, free jazz, swing, standards, and Brazilian music,” Moore said. “We’re doing the music in chronological order.”

Moore’s jazz history project, funded with a grant from the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, includes more than the concert and the recording, which are being engineered by WMNF, 88.5 FM station manager Jim Bennett. The singer is creating an educational web page, on her own web site, which will offer information on various jazz songs and styles, accompanied by audio clips taken from the concert. In addition, the concert will be aired on Bennett’s “In the Moment” show on jazz station KCSM-FM in San Mateo, California. She also plans to perform the program for audiences at public schools in Hillsborough County.

“We just want to give an overview of jazz for people that don’t know about all of it,” Moore said. “We’re saying, ‘Here’s a whole menu – you can select what you like, and you can decide if you want to taste that or maybe explore it more.”

When not working on her music, Moore stays busy as co-owner, with her husband Alex Spassoff, of the Suncoast Massage Therapy Center, a business that opened 20 years ago. She also teaches yoga, for the city of Tampa and privately.

“I did a workshop at the Homemade Music Symposium two years ago, on breath work for singers and horn players,” she said. “The idea is to help sustain the breath and calm the musician down. It’s a tool for stress relief and also expanding lung capacity. I feel like I’m a healing artist – with music, massage, and yoga.

Moore’s understanding of yoga and concepts related to relaxation and breath control directly feed into her approach to jazz singing, she said.

“You want to leave everything else behind and just become present. It is really one of the only times when you are present — you re totally in that moment and everything else is gone.”