All Hail the Jazz DJs, and Saluting WUSF and WMNF

It’s National Disc Jockey Day

So let’s give props to all the great, hard-working, well-informed radio DJs out there, and the significant role they play in getting good music to the public.

In particular, I want to say thanks to Bob Seymour, longtime jazz guru at WUSF, 89.7 FM in Tampa.

Bob Seymour

I remember first listening to Bob during my high-school days in nearby Lakeland. Bob and Vic Hall and the others provided a great on-air jazz education. Then, and now, Bob and Co. served as a sort of jazz clearinghouse of the airwaves, alerting everyone in the Tampa Bay area to all of the local worthwhile concerts.

Bob, too, always has made a point of supporting the scene with his presence at concerts by national artists as well as gigs featuring local musicians (including my own bands).

I felt privileged to take a turn at the WUSF mic in the late ’90s, when I did some jazz announcing for a few years. And I’ve had the chance to get to know Bob and his wife Marian via hanging out together at local jazz shows, festivals at home (Clearwater Jazz Holiday) and abroad (Montreal Jazz Fest), and at jazz conferences (the old IAJE gatherings).

So …

KUDOS to Bob and all the other current WUSF jazz DJs, including Mike Cornette, Whitney James, Mark Feinman, and Richard Jimenez.

KUDOS to Randy Wind and all the great on-air talent at WMNF, 88.5 FM, in Tampa, including Scott Hopkins, Thomas Dickens, Ray Villadonga, Cheryl Mogul, Cameron Dilley, Ronny Elliott, Rev Billy C. Wirtz, Jeff Stewart, Speedy Gonzalez, Lee Courtney, Cricket Larson, Ed Greene, and Peter Tush.

Greatly appreciate all the support the folks at WMNF and WUSF give to local music, too, as they’ve played recordings I’ve done with Acme Jazz Garage, Trio Vibe, Ghetto Love Sugar, The Irritable Tribe of Poets, Greenwich Blue, the “Monk in the Sun” CD, and other projects.

(And extra thanks to WMNF for asking my bands, including Acme Jazz Garage, Ghetto Love Sugar, and Trio Vibe, to perform at special station-sponsored events, including the Tropical Heatwave and concerts at Skipper’s Smokehouse and the New World Brewery).

I’ll also give a shout-out to some of the nationally syndicated shows that provide hours of listening pleasure, including Christian McBride‘s new “Jazz Night in America” on NPR and the shows hosted by Mark Ruffin, Eulis Cathey, Dermot Hussey, and Les Davis on Sirius XM’s “Real Jazz” channel.

As the National Day Calendar explains, “National Disc Jockey Day is celebrated in remembrance of the death of Albert James Freed.  Freed, also known as Moondog, was an influential disc jockey in the 1950s.  He is credited with introducing the term ‘ rock ‘n’ roll’ to the world. Within our research we were unable to find the creator of National Disc Jockey Day.” More information

Stay tuned … to your local jazz DJ. Let them know you care.


Tampa Jazz Notes: Ybor Jazz Fest Concludes; Nate Najar CD Release Show at Studio@620; Helios Jazz Orchestra at Nova 535; Corey Christiansen at HCC Ybor; Christian McBride Returns in April; Jazz Calendar

(Photos courtesy of Alex Spassoff)

The third annual Ybor Jazz Festival on Sunday concluded five days and nine concerts’ worth of performances by locally based artists with a standing ovation for Rayzilla’s Dreamboats, reports fest director Keith Arsenault. The group, with Ray Villadonga on bass and guitar (left), saxophonist Jeremy Powell, guitarist Alfredo Rivero and drummer/percussionist Joe Bencomo, played following Jazztek (pianist Ben Winkler, bassist Jon Shea, and drummer Tim Diehl, below).

The festival, held at two stages at the HCC/Ybor Performing Arts Building, again “showcased the very best of the resident jazz community of Central Florida which is a truly gifted and talented group of dedicated musicians with national and international credits who have chosen to live and work here and grace our community,” Arsenault said. “Cooperation and collaboration between artists was inspiring to watch and listen to and audiences were enthusiastic and pleased with the wide variety of jazz styles that were presented.”

Arsenault promises something “bigger” for next year’s fest. Stay tuned.


Nate Najar (right) and ex-Ellington bassist John Lamb play a CD release show Thursday night, featuring music from their new duets disc, “What’s New.” Copies of the CD will be available at the show, 7:30 at The Studio @620, 620 1st Avenue South in St. Petersburg. Admission is $20. For more info, call the venue at 727 895-6620 and/or visit Najar’s site.


The Helios Jazz Orchestra, one of the favorites at the Ybor Jazz Fest, will be joined by singer Amy Morgan (left) on music drawn from the Great American Songbook, Nov. 20 at Nova 535.

The show — another in the orchestra’s monthly third-Thursday events — will feature dancing, catered treats, cabaret seating, and a full bar. The venue is at 535 Dr. M.L. King Jr. Street North (Ninth St. North) in St. Petersburg; valet parking is available. For more information, visit the Helios site or the Nova 535 site.


Corey Christiansen (right), a guitarist who logged time on  Tampa Bay area stages when he was in the graduate jazz program at USF, plays the Mainstage Theatre at HCC/Ybor’s Performing Arts Building on Dec. 2. at 3 p.m. Christiansen is a well-traveled guitarist with good recordings to his credit, and teaching gigs at Utah State University and Indiana University on his resume. Tickets are $20 advance, $25 day of show for the concert, sponsored by the Tampa Jazz Club. More info to come.


Tampa Bay area jazz fans who missed the Christian McBride Trio at the Mahaffey last Friday (my review) get another chance to hear the bassist. The much-recorded jazzer is returning to the area for Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour, April 13 at the Straz Center’s Ferguson Hall. McBride is musical director for the band, which also includes veteran jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, rising-star trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, and three other top-shelf players — tenor and soprano saxophonist Chris Potter, pianist Benny Green and drummer Lewis Nash. The show starts at 7:30, and tickets start at $36.50. For more information, click here. (Photo by Bridge Burke)


Other upcoming jazz shows:

Nov. 26 – Monday Night Jazz: USF Jazz Ensemble 1 with Rex Richardson, trumpet, USF MUS concert hall, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 11 – Flavor of Jazz 11, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, 8 p.m.

Dec. 15 – Nate Najar Holiday show, with bassist John Lamb, drummer Steve Bucholtz, and guests Ken Peplowski, clarinet, Chuck Redd, vibes, Palladium, St. Petersburg, 8 p.m.

Feb. 10 — Ira Sullivan, HCC Ybor, 3 p.m.

Feb. 17 — Preservation Hall Jazz Band & Del McCoury Band, Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg, 7 p.m.

March 24 — Chick Corea and Bela Fleck, Ruth Eckerd Hall, 8 p.m.

April 3 — Diana Krall, Ruth Eckerd Hall, 8 p.m.

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.