Acme Jazz Garage — Ascending?

I seldom write about my own projects here, but thought I’d throw out a quick note about the CD recently released by my band, Acme Jazz Garage, on my Solar Grooves label.

relix review

Acme Jazz Garage is gaining momentum via national jazz-radio airplay, and good reviews in magazines and newspapers.

A few updates:


  • Our CD is in its fifth week of airplay on jazz stations across the US (check its progress on the JazzWeek chart).
  • It has aired on Tampa’s WUSF and WMNF; WFCF in St. Augustine, FL; KEWU in Cheney/Spokane, WA; WCLK in Atlanta, Ga.; WAER in Syracuse, NY; KSDS in San Diego, CA; Jazz From Gallery 41 in Berkeley, CA; WTJU in Charlottesville, Va.; WSHA in Raleigh, NC; WWSP in Stephens Point, WI; KRTU in San Antonio, TX; KCCK in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and KRFC in Fort Collins, CO, among other stations.


  •   Relix magazine critic Wayan Zoey calls the CD “a solid collection of revivalist funk and swing … influences are rooted in ’70s fusion, and the various contemporary pop styles that surrounded it … a much more enjoyable experience than your average ‘trad jazz’ album … a capable excursion through one of the most playful eras of America’s cultural history.”
  • Creative Loafing/Tampa just gave us a four-star review: “The 10-track set is not only fun but a rather excellent demonstration of what four vet musicians can accomplish with some quality time in the studio and a little help from their friends.”
  • Howard Mandel, president of the Jazz Journalists Association and a contributor to NPR, says the CD “mixes the best bits of the Meters, Santana, Robben Ford, Grover Washington, Anita O’Day, Joe Sample, Roy Ayers and Marcus Miller into a refreshingly breezy sound.”
  • “Some funky R&B, and straight-ahead jazz, and it coule be one of the outstanding local releases of 2016,” says Randy Wind, program director at WMNF in Tampa.
  • ” ‘Resonance’ immediately made me think of Steely Dan,” says Louis Maistros, New Orleans singer/songwriter and acclaimed novelist. “And (I hear) hints of the Crusaders. The rest felt like its own thing. This is really a hot little combo. Mission accomplished. It’s a damn fine record. Bravo!”

Acme Jazz Garage, the band’s debut full-length set of original compositions, features an eclectic mix of original jazz compositions played by the core quartet (Matt Swenson, guitar; Bryan Lewis, keys; Tim Diehl, drums; me on bass) plus special guests.

We were joined by conga master Gumbi Ortiz; who tours with Al Di Meola; singer Whitney James; saxophonists Jeremy Powell (Arturo O’Farrell Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra), Rick Runion and Austin Vickrey; vibraphonist Sam Koppelman; and trumpeter Ron Wilder. The music was recorded and engineered by John Stephan at his Springs Theatre studio in Tampa, and mixed in L.A. by Ruairi O’Flaherty.

The tracks:

^  “Mongo Strut” (Booth) — Latin-edged funk spiked with congas

^ “Resonance” (Lewis) — multipart contemporary fusion (some folks hear Steely Dan)

^ “Sandprints” (Booth) — a 5/4 piece inspired by Wayne Shorter, featuring Powell on soprano sax

^  “Last Call” (Booth) — a retro vocal tune (Manhattan-romance theme) with vocals, trumpet and vibes

^  “Acmefied” (Booth) — straight-up jazz funk

^  “Zag” (Booth) — straightahead, swinging jazz with two tenor saxes (Vickrey and Runion) and vibraphone

^  “Mr. G.P.” (Booth) — New Orleans-style R&B named for Meters bassist George Porter, Jr., with a tpt-tenor-bari horn section

^  “Rubberman” (Booth) — jammy-leaning jazz with flute (Vickrey) and tenor (Runion)

^ A bluesy version of “America the Beautiful” (arr. by Lewis) — think Ray Charles; perfect for airplay on the July 4 weekend.

To get your very own copy of the CD, as a physical disc or download, click here

For more information on the band, visit us on Facebook; go to our web site; or stop by Solar Grooves. Twitter: @acmejazzgarage



What the Critics Are Saying About Acme Jazz Garage

Acme Jazz Garage (Solar Grooves SG-001) is available here.

“Without a doubt, Acme Jazz Garage is the Tampa Bay area’s most adventurous jazz band. Its debut recording project finds the 5-year-old quartet in a jam-band groove, dipping its collective toes into straight-ahead jazz, Latin-tinged funk, R&B and a more modern jazz/fusion sound.

Bassist Philip Booth, drummer Tim Diehl, keyboard ace Bryan Lewis and guitarist Matt Swenson comprise the core band on this eponymous session, with a little help on various tracks from a variety of musical friends with whom the players have worked over the years. Lewis’s keyboard work, particularly on Hammond B-3, and Swenson’s melodic, often searing, guitar, dominate the group sound, layered over an infectious groove set by Booth and Diehl.

And who, you ask, stopped by to have a bit of fun on this session? Singer Whitney James is featured on Booth’s Manhattan romance- and-bebop-inspired “Last Call.” Veteran Al Di Meola percussionist Gumbi Ortiz spices up “Mongo Strut” and “Mongo Jam.” Jeremy Powell, now making his mark on the New York jazz scene in a variety of top-flight bands, is featured on soprano sax on “Sandprints,” a clever 5/4 piece inspired by Wayne Shorter’s best-known jazz classic “Footprints.”

Saxophonists Rick Runion and Austin Vickrey, vibes player Sam Koppelman and trumpeter Ron Wilder also bulk up the band on a variety of tracks, most notably “Zag,” “”Rubberman” and “Mr. G.P.,” the latter a N’awlins groove tribute to The Meters’ bassist George Porter Jr.

From start to finish, Acme Jazz Garage and friends make it clear that the Tampa area is blessed with great jazz talent.

–KEN FRANCKLING, author/photographer, “Jazz in the Key of Light”; Ken Franckling’s Jazz Notes; contributor, JazzTimes, Hot House,


“Have you ever had a CD get stuck in your player? Not physically, but because it is so darn good you need to hear it over and over again?

That’s what happened when I popped the new recording from Acme Jazz Garage into the player. I’ve seen these guys in different settings, from purely straight ahead to all-out funk, but I simply wasn’t prepared for a disc this superb, start to finish.

They come out swinging straight out of the starting gate with “Mongo Strut,” a reworking of a tune by bassist Philip Booth. This jazz/funk outing features guest percussionist Gumbo Ortiz, long a Tampa Bay area star and Al Di Meola bandmate. Bryan Lewis gives his clavinet a workout, and Ortiz and drummer Tim Diehl are in perfect sync, powered by Booth’s electric bass.

The next track, “Resonance,” still blows me away, and that’s after more than a dozen times through the disc. Composer Lewis opens with electric piano, and then Matt Swenson gets to work. His playing throughout is nothing short of spectacular. This tune goes through a variety of changes, and he nails every one. Booth and Diehl are a monster rhythm section. Lewis takes a great solo as well.

“Sandprints” is Booth’s homage to Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints,” magnificently rendered with Jeremy Powell on soprano saxophone. Powell is another Tampa Bay area jewel who moved to New York. (Jeremy and NYC trumpeter brother Jonathan played with Booth in Ghetto Love Sugar). Rick Runion, a fine tenor player from Lakeland, plays harmony with Jeremy here. The track begins with Booth’s beautiful double bass tones, then Jeremy and the band join in.

Booth adds a vocal tune to the mix with “Last Call,” his impressions of New York City during his time there and historically as well. Whitney James is the singer here, and her voice perfectly accents Booth’s lyrics. The tune also features vibraphonist Sam Koppelman, a truly impressive player whose contributions here and on “Zag” are first-rate. Ron Wilder plays trumpet… and he was Booth’s jazz instructor back in the day!

“Zag” is a gorgeous tune Booth used to play with Trio Vibe. Koppelman is perfect here, and Austin Vickrey and Runion join in on tenors, with a solo from Vickrey. This song swings so hard, driven by Booth on bass. Beautiful acoustic piano from Lewis adds to the sheer delight of this track.

Booth next honors George Porter, Jr., the king of New Orleans bass players and a member of the legendary Meters, with “Mr. G.P.” (a reference to Coltrane’s tune “Mr. P.C.”). If you’re going to do NOLA, you’re gonna need a horn section: Wilder, Runion, and Vickrey (this time on baritone sax). Swenson takes another blistering guitar turn while Booth and Diehl channel that second-line rhythm.

Badass bass launches “Rubberman,” the oldest tune in Acme Jazz Garage’s repertoire. Vickrey plays gorgeous flute here with Runion on tenor. Lewis stands out on Hammond B3 organ, funk dripping from every note. Diehl nails this one, and Swenson delivers a beautiful solo invoking so many great jazz guitarists. Booth gets an extended feature as well.

“Acmefied” opens with a nifty drum roll into the tune, another fine funky jazz piece. Swenson again channels the masters beautifully, and Diehl’s work on the kit is of special note. Lewis comps underneath with great electric piano.

Lewis arranged a very bluesy version of “America the Beautiful” which was released in time for Independence Day. His gospel-tinged Hammond B3 provides a very different reading of this, reminiscent perhaps of Ray Charles.

The disc closes with a percussion workout with Diehl and Ortiz, “Mongo Jam,” a logical extension of the opening tune.

This wonderful recording was enhanced by the remarkable production job done at the Springs Theatre, where local Tampa musicians have been producing music of the highest quality.

–SCOTT HOPKINS, “Colors of Jazz” announcer, WMNF, 88.5 FM;; editor-in-chief,


“The influences felt scattered (which is good), but the song ‘Resonance’ immediately made me think of Steely Dan. That, too, is a good thing. Oh, and (I hear) hints of the Crusaders now and again. The rest felt like its own thing. This is really a hot little combo. Mission accomplished. It’s a damn fine record. Bravo!”

LOUIS MAISTROS, New Orleans singer/songwriter and writer, author of acclaimed novel “The Sound of Building Coffins,” and former jazz record store owner

Don Capone, in Vertical/Tampa Bay

The new edition of webzine Vertical/Tampa Bay features several shots of late Tampa Bay area jazz drummer Don Capone, co-founder of my Trio Vibe group with vibraphonist Sam Koppelman.

Alongside the pix is a re-publication of the blog post I wrote about Don. Check out the Vertical feature here.

Vertical additionally spoke with Lenny Cruz, owner of Lenny’s Latin Cafe in Temple Terrace, home to a jam session that Don spearheaded for almost a year. Lenny told the magazine that a concert/jam in tribute to Don is in the works. When I get more info, I’ll report it here.  Tampa Tribune reporter Joyce McKenzie wrote about Don and the jam session, in a piece published in January 2009.

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

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.

Philip’s gigs — 2015



Acme Jazz Garage: Every Thursday and Friday at Timpano, 1610 W. Swann Ave., Hyde Park Village (Tampa), starting at 7:30 (until 10:30 on Thursdays, until 11:30 on Fridays).

Monday, March 30 — subbing with TomKats Jazz Orchestra, Blue Parrot Cafe, 85 Corey Circle, St. Petersburg Beach, 7 to 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 30 — PBJQ, Frescos, 132 S. Kentucky Ave., Lakeland

Upcoming—————- (2012)

Sunday, Dec. 2 – Acme Jazz Garage, Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe, Seminole Heights, 4 to 7 p.m.; free admission

Fri-Sat, Dec. 7-8 – Trio Vibe, Della’s After Dark, Brandon, 7 to 10 p.m.; free admission, reservations suggested

Fri-Sat, Dec. 14-15 — Trio Vibe, Della’s After Dark, Brandon, 7 to 10 p.m.; free admission, reservations suggested

Dec. 31 – (private) Tomkats Big Band, NYE gig


(Most Sundays): P&W Band, South Tampa Fellowship, 9 and 10:30 a.m.

Monday, Feb. 14 – Trio Vibe, with vibraphonist Sam Koppelman and drummer Jose Munoz, Della’s Delectables (restaurant), Brandon.

Friday, Feb. 18 – Philip Booth Jazz Quartet, with saxophonist Jeremy Powell, pianist Jody Marsh, and drummer Ryan Marsh, Tampa Museum of Art, 8 to 11 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 20 – Acme Jazz Garage, with guitarist Matt Swenson, drummer Tim Diehl, saxophonist Jeremy Powell, more, Skipper’s Smokehouse (Rockin’ for Raulton 2 benefit), 5 to 9 p.m.

Friday-Saturday, Feb 25-26 – Trio Vibe, with saxophonist Sam Koppelman and drummer Jose Munoz, Della’s Delectables (restaurant), Brandon, 7 to 10 p.m.

Friday-Saturday, March 4-5 – Trio Vibe, with saxophonist Sam Koppelman and drummer Jose Munoz, Della’s Delectables (restaurant), Brandon, 7 to 10 p.m.

Saturday, April 16 – Trio Vibe, Child of the Sun Jazz Festival, Lakeland

Previous (2011)———————-


Monday, Feb. 1 – Tomkats Big Band, The Blue Parrot, St. Petersburg Beach, 7 to 9:30 p.m.

Friday, March 19 and Saturday, March 20 – Trio Vibe (with vibraphonist Sam Koppelman and drummer Jose Munoz), Della’s Delectables (restaurant), Brandon; free admission, reservations suggested.

Sunday, March 21 – Trio Vibe with vibraphonist Sam Koppelman and drummer Jose Munoz, dinner cruise from Tampa Convention Center

Friday, April 2 and Saturday, April 3 – Trio Vibe, Della’s Delectables (restaurant), Brandon; free admission; reservations suggested

Friday, April 9 and Saturday, April 10 – Trio Vibe with vibraphonist Sam Koppelman and drummer Ryan Marsh, Della’s Delectables (restaurant), Brandon; free admission, reservations suggested.

Sunday, April 18 – Philip Booth Trio with vibraphonist Sam Koppelman and saxophonist/flutist Willie Lawson, Jazz/Poetry event,  Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library, 2902 West Bearss Ave., 2 p.m.; free

Wednesday, May 12 – Trio Vibe playing with others at the tribute to late drummer Don Capone, Lenny’s Latin Cafe, Temple Terrace, 7 to 10 p.m.

Sunday, May 16 – Andy Irvine‘s “Enter the Thunder Dome” with Andy and Beanstalk hosting, and many other bassists, Skipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa, 5 p.m.

Tuesday, June 1 – Free Time Trio with pianist Jody Marsh and drummer Ryan Marsh, Red Rose Inn, Plant City, 6 to 9 p.m.

Tuesday, June 15 – Free Time Trio with pianist Jody Marsh and trumpeter Ron Wilder, Red Rose Inn, Plant City, 6 to 9 p.m.

Sunday, June 20 – Praise & Worship Band, South Tampa Fellowship, 9 & 10:30 a.m.

Thursday, July 8 – Duo with vibraphonist Sam Koppelman, Della’s Delectables (restaurant), Brandon, 7 to 10 p.m.; free admission

Fri-Sat, Aug. 13-14 – Trio Vibe with vibraphonist Sam Koppelman and drummer Ryan Marsh, Della’s Delectables (restaurant), Brandon, 7 to 10 p.m.; free admission, reservations suggested

Sunday, Aug. 22 – Praise & Worship Band, South Tampa Fellowship, 9 & 10:30 a.m.

Friday, Aug 27 – Trio Vibe with vibraphonist Sam Koppelman and drummer Ryan Marsh, Play, 1701 E. 8th Ave., Ybor City, 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.; (813) 443-075

Sunday, Aug. 29 – Praise & Worship Band, South Tampa Fellowship, 9 & 10:30 a.m.

Fri-Sat, Sept. 10-11 – Trio Vibe with vibraphonist Sam Koppelman and drummer Ryan Marsh, Della’s Delectables (restaurant), Brandon, 7 to 10 p.m.; free admission, reservations suggested

Thursday, Nov. 4 – Ybor Jazz Festival (more info TBA)

Fri-Sat, Nov. 5-6 – Trio Vibe, Della’s Delectables (restaurant), Brandon, 7 to 10 p.m.; free admission, reservations suggested


Friday, Nov. 6 and Saturday, Nov. 7 – Trio Vibe, Della’s Delectables (restaurant), Brandon; free admission, reservations suggested.

Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, October 3 – Trio Vibe, Della’s Delectables (restaurant), Brandon; free admission, reservations suggested.

Thursday, July 30 – Duo with pianist Ron Delp, Della’s Delectables (restaurant), Brandon; free admission, reservations suggested.

Friday, July 24 and Saturday, July 25 – Trio Vibe, Della’s Delectables (restaurant), Brandon; free admission, reservations suggested.

Friday, June 12 and Saturday, June 13 – Trio Vibe, Della’s Delectable’s (restaurant), Brandon; free admission, reservations suggested.

Sunday, May 31 – Trio Vibe (with Sam Koppelman and drummer Dave Hamar) at First WMNF Jazz Jam, Skipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa, 4 p.m. (Kevin Mahogany heads this mini-festival. For more info, click here)

Thursday, May 28 – Trio Vibe (with Sam Koppelman and drummer Dave Hamar) + singer Edgar Wilcox, Side Door Jazz Series at Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 7:30 to 10 p.m.; $20, general admission; $15 for members of jazz associations, Palladium members, seniors, and students with ID. (727) 822-3590. More info.

Friday, May 8 – Ghetto Love Sugar REUNION SHOW (guitarist Joel Lisi, keyboardist Raulton Reichel and drummer Jonathan Priest), with Infinite Groove Orchestra and Rocksteady@8 and special guests, 9 p.m.; $5 at the door. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, April 29 – Free Time Trio (w/pianist Jody Marsh and trumpeter Ron Wilder), Red Rose Inn, Plant City, 6 to 9 p.m.

Thursday, April 2 – Free Time Trio (w/pianist Jody Marsh and drummer Ryan Marsh), private event, Lake Wales

Wednesday, April 1 – Free Time Trio (w/pianist Jody Marsh and drummer Pat Close), Red Rose Inn, Plant City, 6 to 9 p.m.

Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7 – Trio Vibe (with Sam Koppelman and drummer Don Capone), Della’s, Brandon

Band links:

Trio Vibe

Ghetto Love Sugar