Tampa Jazz Calendar — March/April 2015 & Beyond

Jazz, Blues & more—————————————————–

Thursday, March 26 — “Remember the Ladies”: Belinda Womack, Marian Mage, Valerie Gillespie, Patricia Dean, Janna Jones, The Palladium (Side Door), 7:30 p.m.


Saturday, March 28 — G. Love & Special Sauce/Matt Costa, Jannus Live, St. Petersburg, 8 p.m.

Sunday, March 29 — Larry Garner, Skipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa, 5 p.m.

Tuesday, March 31 — John Ginty Band, Skipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa, 7 p.m.

Friday, April 3 — Selwyn Birchwood Band and Savants of Soul, Skipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa, 8 p.m.

Thursday-Friday, April 9-10 — Diana Krall, Capitol Theatre, Clearwater, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, April 10 — Tower of Power, Rod Piazza, John Nemeth, Denise LaSalle, Brandon Santini, Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg, 12:30 to 10 p.m.

Saturday, April 11 — Tampa Bay Blues Fest: Boz Scaggs, Ronnie Earl, Tab Benoit, Carolyn Wonderland, Bernard Allison, Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg, 12:30 to 10 p.m.

Sunday, April 12 — Tampa Bay Blues Fest: Southern Hospitality, The Lee Boys, Bryan Lee, Albert Castiglia, Betty Fox, Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg, 1 to 10 p.m. 

Wednesday, April 15 — Chris Botti, Capitol Theatre, Clearwater, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 19 — Al Downing TBJA: Fred Johnson & Whitney James with Michael Ross, LaRue Nickelson and John Jenkins, American Stage Theatre/Raymond James Theatre, St. Petersburg, 3 p.m.

Sunday., April 19 — Tampa Jazz Club: James Suggs with Sharon Preston-Folta: Tribute to Louis Armstrong, HCC/Ybor Mainstage Theatre, Tampa, 3 p.m.

Monday, April 20 — Monday Night Jazz: Rufus Reid and Whitney James with the USF Jazz Ensemble, USF Concert Hall, Tampa, 7:30

Thursday, April 23 — Rene Marie, The Palladium (Side Door), St Petersburg, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 28 — Robert Cray & Shemekia Copeland, Capitol Theatre, Clearwater, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, May 14 — John Mayall, Capitol Theatre, Clearwater, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 30 — Mark Knopfler, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, 8 p.m.


Jannus Live, 200 First Avenue N., St. Petersburg; (727) 565-0550

The Palladium, 253 Fifth Avenue N., St. Petersburg; (727) 822-3590

Raymond James Theatre, 163 Third St. N., St. Petersburg; (727) 823-7529

Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater; (727) 791-7400

Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa (813) 971-0666

Tampa Jazz Notes 3.27.09: Ray Anderson at USF, WMNF Jazz Jam, Local Jazz Tracks Online

ray-andersonRay Anderson, a critically acclaimed trombone virtuoso known for injecting humor and grit — and creative use of the plunger mute — into his improvisations and compositions, joins the USF Jazz Ensemble I (the big band) for this Monday’s edition of the Monday Night Jazz Series.

The concert starts at 8 p.m. at Theatre 1 on the USF campus in Tampa. For more info, call the box office at (813) 974-2323 or visit the Monday Night Jazz Series site.


Legendary saxophonist and composer Sam Rivers — leading his sam-rivers1trio, most likely — is slated to headline the first WMNF Jazz Jam, Sunday, May 31 at Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa.

Rivers, 85 (believe it or not), based in Orlando, is a monstrously creative improviser who made his name on New York’s downtown loft jazz scene in the ’70s. He’s since led a variety of pianoless trios, big bands and other ensembles. The last time I caught him, several years ago, he was still going strong.

For his trio dates, Rivers typically plays tenor and soprano saxophones, flute and piano, and he’s usually joined by Doug Mathews, on acoustic and six-string electric bass, and bass clarinet; and a drummer (varies).

The mini-festival will feature a variety of Tampa Bay area groups, ranging from the gypsy jazz of Impromptu to the jazz-jam fusion of Infinite Groove Orchestra to the World Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble. The  program, organized by WMNF, 88. 5 FM DJs Ray Villadonga and Jimmy Lyons, also includes PBS and Trio Vibe (yes, my band with vibraphonist Sam Koppelman and drummer Don Capone).

The WMNF Jazz Jam starts at 4 p.m., and admission is $12 in advance and $15 at the door. For more information, contact WMNF or Skipper’s (see above links).


trio-vibe-pix-formalSpeaking of Trio Vibe, we’re one of several jazz groups showcased in a local music round-up penned by Tampa Tribune pop music critic Curtis Ross. The story is published in today’s Friday Extra; read it by clicking here.

Online, readers can also listen to clips of one of our tunes, “Zag,” from the CD (Almost) Live at Springs Theatre, as well as O Som do Jazz’s ” Com Esse Que Eu V” from Infinite Bossa, by the group co-led by trombonist/composer David Manson and his wife, Brazilian-born singer Andrea Moraes Manson. Ross also covers trombone-playing USF music prof Tom Brantley‘s Boneyard.

Once on the main page of the Tribune feature, readers can scroll down to see previous mini-reviews of recordings by Tampa Bay area jazzers, including Nothing Standard from singer Denise Moore and Then Some.


denisemooreweb2Denise, headed to New Orleans next month to pick up some musical inspiration and enjoy R&R at the French Quarter Fest, has a new regular home for her music.

Starting April 1, the singer and her band will play Wednesday nights beginning at 7 p.m. on the rooftop balcony of the Bungalow Bistro in Seminole Heights (Tampa).  For more information, check out the restaurant’s web site. Reservations are suggested – (813) 237-2000.


larueGuitarist LaRue Nickelson, saxophonist Jeremy Powell, bassist Michael Ross and drummer Ian Goodman play this Sunday’s jazz brunch at Gratzzi’s Ristorante at Baywalk, in St. Petersburg.

Music is from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., and admission (including the buffet) is $20. Gratzzi’s is at 199 Second Ave. N. The quartet’s appearance is sponsored by the Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association.

Tampa Jazz Notes 2.11.09

Valentine’s Day goes with jazz like Christmas goes with brass choirs, and I’m not just saying that because “My Funny Valentine” was the song I asked the band to play for the first dance at my wedding.

That was way back in 1993, and my friend and sometime bandmate Joe Teston, on tenor sax, sat in with the trio that I hired for the occasion — guitarist Ted Shumate, bassist Michael Ross and percussionist extraordinaire Gumbi Ortiz.

The wedding must have “worked,” as I’m still married. The guys in the wedding party, or in attendance, were among my bandmates of that period or shortly later — I played with Joe in Greenwich Blue, with Joe and guitarist Domenick Ginex in Bop City, and with Dom and guitarist Bryan Zink in Liz Back on Booze.

But I digress. Several special shows, jazz and jazzy, are slated for Saturday night, Valentine’s Day, in the Tampa Bay area.

Among those are:

  • The Blind Boys of Alabama, the great long-running gospel group, whose Down in New Orleans CD was one of last year’s finest. Skipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa, 8 p.m. The Gary Brown Band opens this show, presented by WMNF, 88.5 FM, and tickets are $25.


“God’s Trombones,” a celebration of the work of major African American writer James Weldon Johnson, a Florida native, is slated for Monday, Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. at The Studio@620 in St. Petersburg.

Admission is free, but donations of canned goods, to support area food banks, are accepted.

Ex-Ellington trombonist Buster Cooper will participate in the program, which honors Black History Month and is a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP (Johnson was exec secretary from 1920 to 1930).

Here’s what’s on tap for the event, according to the venue’s web site:

  • Individual readings of the volume’s poems by local actors, poets, and ministers: Bob Devin Jones, Studio@620; Leroy Mitchell, actor, Johnson performer; Louis Murphy, minister; John Conlon, actor; Aleshea Harris, actor, poet; Sharon Scott, actor; Vikki Gaskin-Butler, professor, minister.
  • Trombone/musical interludes by Buster Cooper.
  • Visual renderings along the walls of the Aaron Douglas images that accompany the first (1927) edition of Johnson’s text .
  • Discussion period/question-and-answer session following the performance with Humanities scholar Dr. Julie Buckner Armstrong, USFSP.


Also just ahead on the Tampa Bay area jazz calendar:

  • Guitarist Nate Najar’s Trio (with ex-Ellington bassist John Lamb) will be   joined by singer and banjo player Cynthia Sayer (of Woody Allen’s band), at the Palladium Theater, Thursday, Feb. 19, in the venue’s Side Door Jazz series. Show is at 7:30 p.m., and admission is $20. 
  • Kenny Walker, the busy area bassist (Helios Jazz Orchestra, Gumbi Ortiz) and monthly jazz host on WMNF, 88.5 FM, on Saturday, Feb. 21 will give a lecture on jazz history at the St. Petersburg Museum of History. His talk will be part of the museum’s fourth annual African American Author lecture series, from 2 to 4 p.m.