Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dave Holland, Dr. Lonnie Smith Named NEA Jazz Masters

dee dee

Big congrats to the newly anointed 2017 NEA Jazz Masters: Singer Dee Bridgewater; Bassist Dave Holland, who cut his teeth with Miles Davis; jazz-funk B3 organist Dr. Lonnie Smith; pianist Dick Hyman, probably best known for his work scoring Woody Allen films, and jazz journalist, historian and advocate Ira Gitler.

These jazz luminaries will be honored by the National Endowment of the Arts in ceremonies during a concert April 3, 2017 at the Kennedy Center. The proceedings will be streamed live.

I’ve had the privilege of getting performances by Bridgewater, Holland, and Smith several times over the decades — most recently, I heard the singer at last year’s Chicago Jazz Festival, which I reviewed for JazzTimes (here). Not long before that, I caught her at the Straz Center in Tampa. Smith’s latest, “Evolution,” marked his return to the Blue Note label after 45 years (my review here).

Bridgewater boasts the distinction of being one of only 19 women named a Jazz Master, among a field of 145, according to the Associated Press. “I’ve fought long and hard to preserve my musical integrity, to garner respect in this male-dominated jazz world,” she said in a statement distributed by the NEA.

A $25,000 award will go to each Jazz Master.

For more information on this year’s winners, and the NEA Jazz Masters program, click here.

 

 

 

Tampa Jazz Notes: The March of Jazz

Dick Hyman and other pianists, alone and with trios, rising-star jazz singer Sophie Milman, a duo featuring guitarist LaRue Nickelson and saxophonist Jeremy Powell, saxophonist Jack Wilkins’ new project, and a show saluting women in jazz are all on the jam-packed jazz calendar in March.

A quick look:

Tonight, March 12 – Pianist Kym Purling (left) is joined by two players whose names have been popping up a lot lately, bassist Alejandro Arenas and drummer Stephen Bucholtz, for a program titled “Music From the Movies,” saluting the Oscars. Side Door Jazz at the Palladium in St. Petersburg, 8 p.m.

Sunday, March 14 – Saxophonist Jeremy Powell and guitarist LaRue Nickelson play a duo show in support of their impressive new CD, Amizade (right, below), a collection of striking original compositions, including some influenced by Brazilian music. Musicology, Clearwater, 4 p.m.

Thursday, March 18 – Sophie Milman, a fast-rising Toronto singer who was born in Russia and largely raised in Israel, brings her touring band to town for standards and pop covers — from Cole Porter to Springsteen — heard on her third CD, last year’s engaging Take Love Easy. That CD debuted at No. 6 on Billboard‘s jazz chart. Palladium, 8 p.m. (See the St. Petersburg Times Weekend section on Thursday for my interview with Milman)


Friday, March 19 – The Valerie Gillespie Ensemble, led by the saxophonist (left) and USF jazz studies adjunct professor, presents a program titled “It’s About the Melody”! at the Bayview Room at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, at 7 p.m.

Friday, March 19 and Saturday, March 20 – Trio Vibe, my group with vibraphonist Sam Koppelman, returns to Della’s. For this show, we’ll be joined by drummer Jose Munoz. We play from 7 to 10 p.m. each night.

Saturday, March 20 – Nationally known artists “Sweet” Sue Terry, alto sax, and Peggy Stern, piano, headline Women of Jazz III, with Rose Bilal and Theo Valentine, vocals; Patty Sanphy, guitar; Sandi Grecco, drums; Anne Van Atta, bass; and Arbra Tawwab, mistress of ceremonies. The show, presented by the Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association and the Jazztorian organization, is a scholarship benefit. Palladium, 7:30 p.m.

(The show’s musicians and other female jazzers will be saluted by Tampa singer Denise Moore on this Saturday’s edition of the Charles Vann Memorial Jazz Party, from 6 to 9 p.m. on WMNF, 88.5 FM)

Sunday, March 21 – Renowned pianist and composer Dick Hyman, a Venice (Florida) resident probably most widely known for his contributions to Woody Allen soundtracks, goes solo for “A Century of Jazz Piano,” a Tampa Jazz Club show. HCC Performing Arts Theater, Ybor City (Tampa), 3 p.m.

Sunday, March 21 – Larry Camp (right, below), by now the dean of the area’s front-rank jazz guitarists, is joined by a first-rate rhythm section — bassist Mark Neuenschwander and drummer Walt Hubbard. Marriott Hotel, Roosevelt and 28th St. N., St. Petersburg, 3 p.m.

Sunday, March 21 – Drummer Ron Gregg‘s trio with saxophonist Jim Holibaugh and keyboardist Kevin Wilder is joined by guitarist Vince Sims. Royal Theater, St. Petersburg, 4 p.m.

Sunday, March 21 – A group led by pianist Stan Hunter (left) is joined by singer Sasha Tuck. La Grande Hall @ Yamaha Piano, Clearwater, 3 p.m.

Monday, March 29 – Saxophonist Jack Wilkins, director of jazz studies at USF, premieres the music from his forthcoming Blue Ridge Mountains-themed CD. For the Monday Night Jazz Series concert on the USF campus in Tampa, he’ll be joined by guitarist (and former USF jazz studies grad student) Corey Christiansen, now a nationally known artist and Utah State University music prof; drummer and UNF prof Danny Gottlieb, formerly a USF artist in residence and part of the old Pat Metheny Group; renowned vibraphonist Jon Metzger; and the USF Jazz Faculty Ensemble. 8 p.m. at Theatre 2. (Wilkins and Christiansen appear together, doing “Tenor Madness,” in the below video).

For more information about the above mentioned concert venues, including addresses, phone numbers, and links to their web sites, please visit my Tampa Bay Area Music Calendar.

Jazz Festivals Facing Tough Times

Given the nation’s economic woes, this news comes as no surprise: Jazz festivals, in Florida and elsewhere, are facing tough times.

The long-running Jacksonville Jazz Festival (which I played, in the early ’80s, with the UF Jazz Band), allegedly was already suffering from money troubles when the City of Jacksonville, the fest’s sponsor since 2003, agreed to bump the event from its scheduled date — first weekend in April — to a later time.

That decision, reportedly, was made solely so as not to conflict with the Springing the Blues festival, held in nearby Jacksonville Beach.

Why wasn’t the younger blues festival asked to make way for the long-established jazz festival, which over the years has been home to first-rate performances by everyone from Dizzy Gillespie to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers to the Dirty Dozen Brass Band to (last year) Cassandra Wilson?

In defense of the blues fest, though, THAT event has been held on the same weekend for 18 years.

So why not just switch the jazz festival, traditionally held in Metropolitan Park on the waterfront in downtown Jax, to another weekend in spring?

“Metropolitan Park, which has long been the central venue for the jazz festival, is heavily booked through the spring, and the city is reluctant to boot out another event to make way for jazz, she said,” Matt Soergel wrote in a story posted Jan. 3 on Jacksonville.com (affiliated with the Florida Times-Union newspaper).

The “she” is Theresa O’Donnell, the city’s director of special events.

Not sure if O’Donnell is the one to blame for this mess, but why would anyone originally have scheduled the jazz fest on the same weekend as a blues music fest likely to draw some of the same audience, sponsors and vendors?

And, secondly, now that city officials’ poor decision making has led to this situation, why WOULDN’T they feel okay forcing another event, one that’s younger and offering less cultural significance, to get out of the way of the jazz festival?

Why is the city treating the jazz festival like a second-class citizen, in terms of regularly bumping it around on the calendar? After all these years, and so many great performances, ought not the festival be treated like a local cultural gem?

A date, other than “spring 2009,” has yet to be posted on the official festival site. Stay tuned.

(Thanks to jazz critic James Hale’s blog for the alert about this situation).

The JVC Jazz Festival Miami is likely NOT returning this year, according to a story published online at Ticketnews.com. That’s due to “huge losses” suffered by promoter Festival Network, which bought George Wein’s Festival Productions in 2007. The Miami festival’s site hasn’t been updated since the 2008 fest (the event’s 9th edition).

According to the story, Festival Network could be shutting down several of its festivals in 09, including Martha’s Vineyard Festival (MA); Jackson Hole Music Festival (WY); Festival Au Desert – Essakane (Mali); JVC Jazz Festival Chicago (IL); San Francisco Music Festival (CA); Whistler Music Festival (BC); JVC Jazz Festival Los Angeles (CA); Slow Food Rocks (CA); and JVC Jazz Festival Paris (FRA).

Closer to (my) home, the first edition of the modestly scaled St. Petersburg College Jazz Festival opens this Thursday, with performances by Brooklyn-based saxophonist Sue Terry and others. Here’s John Fleming’s piece on the fest, published in the St. Petersburg Times.

The swing-oriented Sarasota Jazz Festival takes places March 1-7 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Holley Hall and other locations around Sarasota.

The bill includes pianist Dick Hyman; saxophonist/flutist James Moody; the Bill Allred Band with guest John Allred (father-son trombonists); and trumpeter Barrie Lee Hall’s Ellington Alumni band, featuring bassist John Lamb and trombonist Buster Cooper.

And all’s well, or so it seems with the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, slated for Oct. 15-18 in Coachman Park. Here’s hoping that the Clearwater fest puts together an especially impressive lineup — Sonny Rollins, anyone? — for its 30th anniversary edition.

I don’t have updates on the other jazz festivals around Florida, but here’s a list of links to those events.