Tampa Jazz Calendar: Dave Stryker, Peter Bernstein, Diana Krall, more

Celebrated singer-pianist Diana Krall, who probably qualifies as a jazz superstar, makes her fourth appearance at Ruth Eckerd Hall with a Jan. 30 performance supporting her recent Turn Up the Quiet album. And, yeah, file premium-seat tickets under “crazy prices” ($175 & $138.75). On the other hand, nice to see a jazz musician get pop-star pay.

No definitive word on which musicians are joining Krall for the Clearwater date, but for a December show in Ottawa, she was joined by guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist Robert Hurst, violinist Stuart Duncan, and drummer Karriem Riggins. Check out Peter Hum’s review.

And here’s a video of her appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in August.

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Two superb, nationally known guitarists, Dave Stryker (pictured, above) and Peter Bernstein, are headed our way, too, for shows sponsored or co-sponsored by the Tampa Jazz Club. Stryker and Bernstein frequently play all the major NYC jazz clubs and big jazz festivals you can name.

Ahead:

  • Sunday, Jan. 28 — Tampa Jazz Guitar Summit/Tampa Jazz Club: Dave Stryker Quintet (w saxophonist Jack Wilkins, pianist Chris Rottmayer, bassist Charlie Silva, and drummer Walt Hubbard). HCC Ybor Mainstage Theatre, Ybor City, 3 pm. Link
  • Monday, Jan. 29 — Tampa Jazz Guitar Summit/Monday Night Jazz: Peter Bernstein, with the USF Faculty Jazz Ensemble (guitarist LaRue Nickelson, pianist/keyboardist Chris Rottmayer, bassist Mark Neuenschwander, and drummer Ric Craig)USF Concert Hall, Tampa, 7:30 pm. Link 
  • Tuesday, Jan. 30 — Diana Krall, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, 7:30 pm. Link
  • Wednesday, Feb. 14 — Whitney James‘ Jazz Valentine. Side Door at the Palladium, St. Petersburg, 8 pm. Link
  • Wednesday, Feb. 21 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: Tal Cohen (piano) Trio, with bassist Dion Kerr and drummer David Chiverton. Side Door at the Palladium, St. Petersburg, 7:30 pm. Link
  • Thursday, Feb. 22 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: (Saxophonist) Jeff Rupert Quintet with Veronica Swift (vocals), pianist Richard Drexler, bassist Ben Kramer, and drummer Marty Morell. Side Door at the Palladium, St. Petersburg, 7:30 pm. Link
  • Friday, Feb. 23 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: B3 Fury with the Shawn Brown Quintet, with guitarist Nate Najar, saxophonist Jeremy Carter, and drummer Anthony Breach. Side Door at the Palladium, St. Petersburg, 7:30 pm. Link
  • Saturday, Feb. 24 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: Helios Jazz Orchestra with (vocalists) Whitney James & Chuck Wansley. Side Door at the Palladium, St. Petersburg, 7:30 pm. Link
  • Sunday, Feb. 25 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: (Pianist) Gabriel Hernandez Trio, with bassist Mauricio Rodriguez and drummer Dimas Sanchez. Side Door at the Palladium, St. Petersburg, 7:30 pm. Link
  • Monday, Feb. 26 — Monday Night Jazz: (Pianist/keyboardist) John Beasley. USF Concert Hall, Tampa, 7:30 pm. Link
  • Friday, March 2 — Tony Bennett. Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg, 7:30 pm. Link
  • Sunday, March 11 — Tampa Jazz Club: (Singer) Fred Johnson & (bassist) Michael Ross. HCC Ybor Mainstage Theatre, Ybor City, 3 pm. Link
  • Monday, March 26 — USF Monday Night Jazz: (Pianist) Steve Allee. USF Concert Hall, 7:30 pm. Link
  • Sunday, April 8 — Tampa Jazz Club: (Saxophonist) Harry Allen. HCC Ybor Mainstage Theatre, 3 pm. Link
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Airto, Last Night at USF

The great Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira came to USF in Tampa this week for a workshop, a talk, and, last night, an exuberant show in the intimate setting of Theatre 2 (portrait courtesy of Joseph Gamble).

Airto, who was an essential ingredient of Miles’ early ’70s  jazz-funk-fusion projects and went on to play with the original versions of both Weather Report and Return to Forever,  alternated between drumset and a table full of percussion toys during the concert. He was accompanied by his son-in-law, Krishna Booker, also a percussionist (and son of late, great bassist Walter Booker, Airto’s connection to many jazz greats in the late ’60s ).

For the first part of the show, the two joined the USF faculty jazz group, for a set of Airto’s compositions — some incorporating bossa grooves, one in 6/4 (or 3/2), one in 7/4. Several pieces had tenor saxophonist Jack Wilkins, head of jazz studies at USF, and trombonist Tom Brantley joining for unison lines, with Airto occasionally contributing wordless vocals. Brantley, with and without a mute, Wilkins, and LaRue Nickelson, whose guitar sometimes sported a fusion-style overdriven burr, turned in several of the evening’s most inspired solos. The group also included Mark Neuenschwander on acoustic and electric bass, pianist Chris Rottmeyer and drummer Ian Goodman.

Airto, for his solo piece, pounded out complex, driving rhythms on a large tambourine, sang along in Portuguese, used his voice (sans electronics) to create some harmonic overtones, and at the end added a whistle to create the feeling of a street parade at a Carnaval celebration in his home country. Booker turned in a brief “beatbox” solo – mouth sounds recreating hip-hop rhythms.

The show closed with a short set nicely contrasting with what came before. Brantley directed USF Jazz Ensemble 1 in performances of Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia” and “La Fiesta,” written by Chick Corea. Airto reminded listeners that he appeared on the original version of the latter tune, on the debut Return to Forever album, recorded in 1972 but not released in the U.S. until 1975.

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.

David Via: Memorial

How will David Via be remembered?

As a superb drummer, whose sensitive touch and sheer musicality elevated the playing of everyone with whom he played, yes.

But also … Dave will be remembered for his passion for playing, listening to and studying jazz, his generosity in sharing his musical knowledge with everyone he knew, his sly sense of humor, his fanatical dedication to the New York Yankees, his kindness, his decency, his ability to tell some great stories.

Those were some of the themes that emerged this afternoon during  a memorial to David Via held at the Players School of Music in Clearwater, where Dave taught for about 10 years beginning in the late ’90s. He also taught at Musicology in Clearwater, and previously held an adjunct jazz faculty position at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Jeff Berlin, the acclaimed bassist and Players School director, shared fond memories about working and playing with Dave, as did Jack Wilkins, saxophonist and USF jazz studies director, whose friendship with Dave extended back to their early days in North Carolina; Matt Bokulic, pianist and Players School teacher; Vicky Berlin, of the Players School; and one of Dave’s cousins.

Berlin and Bokulic turned in a reverential reading of “Blue in Green,” by Miles Davis, one of Dave’s heroes (he also frequently sang the praises of Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, Paul Motian and Adam Nussbaum, among others). Dave’s drum kit was set up nearby.

One story recounted during the memorial: Someone once asked Dave how it was possible that such a great drummer could come from small-town Mayodan, N.C. Dave’s (joking) response: “Between slopping the pigs, we listened to a lot of Charlie Parker records.”

Wilkins recalled Dave’s stories about a State Department-sponsored trip to Yemen. (And I paraphrase): The musicians barely escaped with their lives when war broke out, and Dave joked that he wanted to keep watching news coverage of the conflict to see if his abandoned drum kit wound up in the hands of the Yemen Revolutionary Marching Band.

Many of those who had played with Dave and/or taught alongside him attended the memorial, as did many of his students. Dave touched many lives with his gifts as musician, and his friendship, as was evident by the turnout – thanks to the Players for organizing the very moving ceremony.

I’m sorry that I won’t again get the chance to play with Dave, or to joke around with him, and I regret that I didn’t ever quite let him know how much he taught me about musical communication and jazz rhythm, without uttering a single word.

Note from guitarist Chuck Hill: “Ira Sullivan, at his concert this afternoon at HCC, also paid tribute to David, dedicating ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ in his memory.”

Remembering David Via, Jazz Drummer

One way of thinking about this: The famous jazzers are a dime a dozen. You know their names. I know their names. Everyone knows their names.

Then there are the guys like David Via, the great Tampa Bay area drummer and drum teacher who passed away Monday after a long illness.

Dave, who loved Tony Williams and Elvin Jones almost as much as he loved the New York Yankees, committed heart and soul to the music, fully lived in the music on stage, and shared his love for the music with everyone he met. He never sought fame, and never got it, really.

But he gained a reputation as a musician’s musician, a guy whose touch was so sure, whose feel for the drums was so sensitive, that few who played with him, or came under his tutelage, or merely heard him play, will ever forget it.

That, at least, is how I remember Dave, with whom I played dozens of trio shows over several years beginning in the mid-’90s, with LaRue Nickelson on guitar, under the name Greenwich Blue. We gigged everywhere from the old Dish restaurant in Ybor City to Borders Books & Music on Dale Mabry in Tampa to a couple of places in St. Petersburg. Dave and I and vibraphonist Sam Koppelman played a private party for the Indianapolis Colts, the third time the Superbowl came to Tampa, in 2001. We “opened” for Jay Leno, the evening’s headlining act, and I recall that big-time rock drummer Kenny Aronoff (John Mellencamp) was in the crowd. When we played, Aronoff kept his eyes on Dave.

Dave’s playing, on uptempo swing tunes, bossa novas, ballads, and practically everything else, was always supportive, creative, and highly interactive. And his brushes playing was a work of art — crisp, clean, artful, precise, and sometimes cooking so intensely yet so quietly that my rock-damaged ears had a hard time hearing all the intricacies he routinely and with no fanfare unfurled.

Now, for the facts. Dave had just turned 59 when he died, reportedly following a major heart attack. He had been out of commission for several months, following an earlier heart attack in August.

Dave most recently taught drums at Jeff Berlin‘s Players School of Music, and Musicology, in Clearwater, and prior to that he taught at the University of South Florida in Tampa for eight years.

A native of Mayodan, N.C., with the twang in his voice to prove it, Dave studied  with , and Lynn Glassock. “Many many thanks to Otis Brown for selling me my first set of Gretsch drums,” he wrote on his MySpace page.

Dave performed with a long list of name artists, including Mose Allison, Barney Kessel, Charlie Byrd, Dizzy Gillespie (right), Pat LaBarbera, Slide Hampton, Carol Sloane, David Baker, Al Grey, Buddy Tate, Nick Brignola, Jimmy Heath, Claudio Roditi, David Murray, Joe Lovano, Billy Taylor, Kenny Werner, Ira Sullivan, John Abercrombie, Jeff Berlin, Rufus Reid, Sheila Jordan, Ted Rosenthal, Larry Coryell, Frank Kimbrough and Conrad Herwig.

His discography includes saxophonist (and USF jazz studies head) Jack WilkinsArtwork (Koch, 1995); pianist Paul Tardif’s Points of Departure (Koch, 1995);  pianist Ed Paolantonio‘s Dedications; and Minas, Blue Azul (1999)

More info from Dave’s MySpace page: “David has toured extensively with Jon Metzger as part of the USIA Arts America Program in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. These tours involved a rigorous performing schedule as well as teaching numerous clinics. In the States, David has performed in numerous Jazz festivals in Washington DC, Spoleto in Charleston, S.C., Indiana, Kentucky and Clearwater. He also performs with the Billy Siegenfield Jump Rhythm Jazz Project of New York City.”

Dave, we’ll miss you, your spirit, your humor, and your great playing.