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.

VALERIE-GILLESPIE_02-copy

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.

VENUES———————————————————————–

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 Calendar — Branford Marsalis; Maria Schneider w/ USF Jazz Ensemble; Jazz Songbirds

Upcoming jazz shows:

Sunday, March 23 — Jazz Songbirds: Denise Moore, Karen Benjey, Valerie Gillespie (plus Alejandro Arena and Stephen Bucholtz), Palladium Theater (Side Door), St. Petersburg, 3 p.m.; $18 advance, $20 day of show

Monday, March 31 — Monday Night Jazz Series: Maria Schneider with the USF Jazz Ensemble, USF Concert Hall, Tampa, 7:30 p.m.; $8 and $12 advance; $10 and $15 day of show

Branford Marsalis

Thursday, April 3 — Branford Marsalis Quartet, Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 8 p.m.; $39, $49, and $59

Tuesday, May 7 — Rhapsody on Fifth: Wycliffe Gordon, Mark Markham, Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 7 p.m.; $25 and $50

Have info on jazz shows? Send details on concerts (not club listings) to jphilipbooth@hotmail.com

Clearwater Mayor on Jazz Holiday: “You get what you pay for”

As fellow musicians, other friends, and readers know by now, I have a complicated relationship with the Clearwater Jazz Holiday.

I’ve covered the festival for many years, for both daily newspapers in the Tampa Bay area, and also for national music magazines. During the period when jazz advocate (and humanities prof) Frank Spena programmed the fest, and for several years later, the Jazz Holiday was home to the creme de la creme of jazz talent — established artists as well as a long list of rising stars who now figure prominently in various critics and readers polls conducted by DownBeat, JazzTimes, and the Jazz Journalists Association.

Let’s not forget: The festival, launched in 1980, played host to such greats as Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Dizzy Gillespie (left), Herbie Mann, and Dave Brubeck during its first five years. Then came Count Basie (85), Stan Getz (86), Tito Puente and Phil Woods (87), McCoy Tyner (88), and Sonny Rollins (89). Ask anyone who cares about jazz: All of these musicians fall into the category of “major” jazz artists, who have played a significant role in jazz history.

Since then, there have been some great performances by some very good musicians. But only a handful of major, poll-winning jazz artists have played.

By way of newspaper columns and reviews, and blog posts, I’ve consistently pushed the fest to focus on high-quality jazz, of the straight-ahead variety. I’ve begged the fest to ditch the bland, generic (and sometimes pricey) “smooth” jazz acts who apparently are so beloved by the most influential members of the festival’s music committee.

Truth be told, I’ve also urged organizers  to bring in the kind of jazz that artfully incorporates other elements, including funk, rock, jamband, and experimental edges; that kind of music could serve to bring in a more youthful group of music aficionados. My old jam-oriented band, Ghetto Love Sugar, even played the fest in 2002 (kudos to the Jazz Holiday for continuing to include performances by strong local talent). And I’d like to think that my encouragement to bill artists in that vein played at least some role in the decision to book John Scofield (2001) and Medeski Martin and Wood (2007). Two impressive artists in a somewhat similar vein, New Orleans brass man Trombone Shorty (below) and one-time James Brown saxophonist Maceo Parker, are on this year’s bill — good stuff.

I’m rewinding all this history as a reminder: I have nothing but good wishes for the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, and many fond memories of great shows at the fest. I want to see the festival fulfill its mission, and again become a gem on the Tampa Bay area’s arts calendar.

That’s why I’m surprised by those fest organizers, public officials, and even some in the media who take offense at even mild criticism of the lineup; some observers, who may or may not know the difference between Lady Day and Lady Gaga, have derided as “purists” those jazz fans who hope to see the Jazz Holiday upgrade its programming.

Take, for example, Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard. In a recent post post on the Holiday, I praised the inclusion of such artists as omnipresent bassist Christian McBride (below), veteran singer Dianne Reeves, and rising-star pianist Gerald Clayton, while also noting the utter absence of major, legendary jazz artists in headlining positions.

In response, in a comment on the post, Hibbard had this to say, in part: “We all know the sad state the Clearwater Jazz Holiday is in, and year after year many of us jazz fans are disappointed with their Jazz-less lineups. But again its FREE !”

So, then, because it’s free, jazz fans should lower their expectations regarding the quality of the music presented?

And what, exactly, does he mean regarding the fest’s “sad state”? Is it on shaky financial footing (I presume so)? If so, just what is the state of the fest? Why not reveal the details, so that supporters can have a greater opportunity to perhaps spread the word and help get the fest in better shape, financially?

Another commenter on this blog, Carl Harness, wrote something that, I think, gets at the heart of the Jazz Holiday’s issues:

“One of the problems that the CJH group has is that everyone you talk with gives you a different answer to the question, what is your mission? There is no consistency in their message. The Board members seem to have different ideas of what the mission is or should be. Some speak of the event being a “major national jazz festival” others talk about tuning it down to something that appeals more to a local audience. It is obvious from the lineups that we have had the past couple of years we are not competitive on the national front. All you have to do is compare our lineups with that of Jacksonville and/or Seabreeze in Panama City Beach.”

I’ve heard this kind of commentary from other sources, and it makes sense. If Jazz Holiday organizers and the City of Clearwater do want to again see the Jazz Holiday become a major jazz festival, the kind that draws jazz fans from all over the Southeast (and beyond), then why not go all-out in that direction?

As I’ve pointed out in the past, the money isn’t really the obstacle. Such smooth-jazz acts as The Rippingtons and Boney James, with their considerable production requirements, charge at least as much as anyone who fits in the category of legendary jazz artist. Alternatively, if the fest desires to become merely another nice event in the park, with a few jazzy artists, then why not revise the mission statement and change its name to something like Clearwater Music Festival? Not that there’s anything wrong that: There’s no law stating that Tampa or St. Petersburg can’t take over the task of putting on a major jazz festival.

Again, my hope is that the Jazz Holiday will pledge to take its mission seriously, and renew its efforts to present a program of world-class jazz. Other large metropolitan areas can do it, and have done it — and, yes, without charging admission. Why not us?

For the record, schedule permitting I hope to catch this year’s performances by Trombone Shorty, and former “Tonight Show” guitarist Kevin Eubanks (10/13), the Gerald Clayton Trio, and saxophonist Valerie Gillespie (10/14); and Dianne Reeves, and Christian McBride (10/16). I have my own gig on 10/15, but if I were to get to the park I’d make a point of seeing Maceo Parker, master Latin percussionist Sammy Figueroa, guitarist and USF teacher (and friend) LaRue Nickelson (left), and rising-star singer Whitney James (right).

Hibbard’s comments, and my response, are below. What do you think?

———-

Well there you go again Mr. Booth,

People like you never cease to amaze me, Always Complaining !

I guess you get what you pay for, and when last I checked the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, and your VIP ticket, is still FREE !

We all know the sad state the Clearwater Jazz Holiday is in, and year after year many of us jazz fans are disappointed with their Jazz-less lineups.

But again its FREE !

If you don’t like the artists selected, I suggest instead of constantly complaining about the lack of Sonny Rollins, you find other ways to contribute to improve the artists selection process, or better yet, Just Don’t Attend The Event !

FH

Frank Hibbard

August 31, 2011

———-

(my response:)

“There you go again, Mayor Hibbard (if that’s really you).

So you’re saying that because the festival is free — FREE! — then it should lower its standards when it comes to presenting quality jazz? Or that it shouldn’t adhere to its stated mission? Have you read the mission statement?

There are other cities, larger (Chicago) and smaller than Clearwater, that manage to put on free-admission jazz festivals featuring world-class talent. Again, FREE!

In regards to complaining “about the lack of Sonny Rollins”: Most readers are aware that I was just using Sonny as an example as the kind of artist – undeniably a legendary jazz artist – who ought to have a home on a festival that wants to offer world-class jazz.

As far as supporting the festival, I’m probably one of the most loyal longtime boosters of the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, having written multiple cover stories on the fest (positive stories, promoting the event) for both daily newspapers in our area, and being the first person to provide coverage of the fest – again, positive – in major national music magazines.

Yes, I’ve been critical of the lineup in recent years, but you’ll have to believe me when I tell you that it’s tough love. On the fest’s best nights, when good jazz is on the bill and a cool breeze is blowing, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere except at Coachman Park during the Clearwater Jazz Holiday. If I didn’t care about the festival, and about jazz, why would I spend time writing about it?

Your best suggestion for those who disagree with the festival’s programming is to “Don’t Attend the Event!”? Really? Is that the advice you give to folks who disagree with you on City of Clearwater matters? “Just Move Out of Clearwater”? Pardon me for saying so, but that’s a very skewed approach to civic leadership.

Just so you know (since, apparently you don’t): The fest’s music committee for many years has closed itself off to outside influence – except for one year when they asked several knowledgeable jazz people to come in and have a discussion about the lineup. So the only way for us to contribute now is through public forums, like this blog.

As a self-declared jazz fan, what have YOU done to ensure that the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, the only major, large-scale jazz festival in our area, brings in world-class jazz and not merely a mixed bag of sort-of jazzy artists?”

Jazz Holiday: Gerald Clayton, Sammy Figueroa, Kevin Eubanks, Maceo Parker added to another uneven bill

Acclaimed young pianist Gerald Clayton (left), Latin jazz master percussionist Sammy Figueroa, former “Tonight Show” guitarist Kevin Eubanks, and jazz-funk saxophonist  Maceo Parker have been added to the Clearwater Jazz Holiday lineup, as officially unveiled yesterday.

As already announced here and elsewhere, the fest’s other notables include singer Dianne Reeves, young-ish bass master Christian McBride, and smooth jazz pianist Brian Culbertson.

The national acts, this year: All in all, a mixed bag – – no genuine jazz legends, but several worth seeing.

The strong contingent of top-shelf locally based talent is led by singer Whitney James, guitarist LaRue Nickelson, and saxophonist Valerie Gillespie.

The complete lineup is below. Admission is free. For more info, go to the fest’s home page.

Thursday, October 13th

4:30pm Gates Open
5:00pm – 6:00pm
– Global Affect
6:30pm – 8:00pm – Kevin Eubanks
8:30pm – 10:00pm- Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

 

Friday, October 14th

4:00pm Gates Open
4:30pm – 5:30pm – Valerie Gillespie Ensemble
6:00pm – 7:15pm – Gerald Clayton Trio
7:45pm – 9:00pm – Miss Tess & The Bon Ton Parade
9:30pm – 11:00pm- Brian Culbertson

 

Saturday, October 15th

1:30pm Gates Open
2:00pm – 3:15pm – Jazz Juvenocracy
3:45pm – 5:00pm – Whitney James
5:30pm – 6:45pm – LaRue Nickelson Group
7:15pm – 8:45pm – Sammy Figueroa & The Latin Explosion
9:15pm – 10:45pm – Maceo Parker
10:45pm Fireworks

Sunday, October 16th

2:30pm Gates Open
3:00pm – 4:00pm – Ruth Eckerd Hall / Clearwater Jazz Holiday Youth Jazz Band
4:30pm – 5:45pm – Mike Markaverich Trio
6:15pm – 7:45pm – Christion McBride & Inside Straight
8:15pm – 9:30pm- Dianne Reeves

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.

Tampa Jazz Notes 4.18.09: Valerie Gillespie at Tampa Jazz Club Concert; Tom Mullinix at Gratzzi’s; Al Downing Scholarship Competition

Tampa Jazz Club concerts return in a big way with a special performance Sunday, April 26 by saxophonist Valerie Gillespie’s valeriegroup, with special guest Jose Valentino. The late-afternoon concert benefits the organization’s education/scholarship program.

Below are the details, courtesy of the official press release:

Under the Stars on the shore of Lake Pretty, in Odessa

An evening of great jazz, for a great cause, is in store on Sunday, April 26 when the Tampa Jazz Club presents a Bay Area favorite, the Valerie Gillespie Ensemble, and featured guest flutist, Jose Valentino.  The concert will be held outdoors at the home of Dr. Hugo and Alicia Keim will benefit needy music and arts students in Hillsborough County schools.

A renowned saxophone and flute player as well as a fine vocalist, Valerie Gillespie and her band have been in demand at Florida venues for  many years, and have several recordings to their credit.  She also teaches at USF, and this special evening will feature one of her former students, Tampa’s own Jose Valentino.  Jose, a recipient of Tampa Jazz Club and Molly Brown Foundation Scholarships, is a rising star whose concerts include a mix of straight-ahead, smooth, and Latin Jazz.

Dr. Hugo and Alicia Keim are founders of the Chair Scholar program that has benefitted hundreds of Hillsborough County students with serious physical disabilities, and have generously made their beautiful lakeside property available for this delightful evening.  Proceeds will benefit Alicia’s “Unsinkable Molly Brown Foundation,” which contributes to arts programs in the schools, and the scholarship fund of the Tampa Jazz Club.

Where: 16101 Carencia Lane, Odessa

(just east of Gunn Highway on Copeland Road)

When: Sunday, April 26, 6pm (doors-open 4:45pm)

Cost: $10 jazz club members, $20 non-members, $5 students (cash or check only)

Food: $15 (Provided by Outback Steakhouse, Inc.)

Directions or reservations: (813)334-9750 or e-mail aliciakeim@tampabay.rr.com

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mullinixA jazz brunch sounds like another great way to celebrate a beautiful Sunday in spring.

Gratzzi’s Restaurant at Baywalk is continuing its jazz brunch series with a performance April 19 by the Tom Mulllinix Quartet, with the trumpeter joined by bassist Billy Pillucere, keyboardist Stretch Bruyn and drummer Ron Gregg.

Music runs from 12:30 to 3 p.m. at Gratzzi’s, 199 Second Ave. N. in St. Petersburg. Admission is $20, and $10 for children 12 and under. More information: (727) 822-7769

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Taking place that afternoon, April 19, also in St. Petersburg, is The Al Downing Jazz Education Scholarship Competition.

Pinellas County high school seniors will compete for scholarships at the event, 2 p.m. at the Al Downing Theatre at the Perkins Elementary School, 2205 18th Ave. S.

Admission is free and open to the public. Click here for more information.