Saturday, September 20, 2008

Jazz Tracks #4: Helios Jazz Orchestra Debuts; MJ's Martini Jazz & Tapas Lounge; Kim Bock with Flow in New York

The Helios Jazz Orchestra, the new resident jazz ensemble at St. Petersburg College, makes its debut with a concert Tuesday night (Sept. 23) at the SPC Music Center.

The big band, directed by trombonist, composer, concert promoter and SPC music professor David Manson, is slated to play a set of swing, Latin and bebop tunes, including "Too Close for Comfort," "I Remember You," "Groove Merchant," "Alright, Okay, You Win" and "Chu Cho."

The group includes several well-known Tampa Bay area jazz musicians, including pianists Kevin Wilder and Kym Purling, and bassist Kenny Walker; Wilder and Walker have played extensively with Afro-Cuban percussionist extraordinaire Gumbi Ortiz.

Joanna Rose, the guest singer for this performance, regularly works as a duo with Purling. Rose several years ago relocated to Tampa from Los Angeles; there, according to her MySpace page, she was a featured vocalist in jazz revue "Le Cabaret."

Manson has led and/or played with a long list of local bands, including Brazilian jazz group O Som do Jazz, avant-jazzers SHIM, Frank Zappa repertory band Bogus Pomp, and the Fluid Motion project with legendary saxophonist Sam Rivers and trumpeter Jonathan Powell.

The concert starts at 7:30 p.m., and admission is $5 at the door. The venue is located at 6605 Fifth Ave. N., St. Petersburg. For more information, call (727) 341-4360 or email David -

By the way, Kevin Wilder regularly plays solo-piano gigs at the new MJ's Martini Jazz & Tapas Lounge in St. Petersburg. Wilder plays MJ's on Sept. 24, 25 and 29 at 4 p.m., and the Ron Delp Trio plays Sept. 26 (8 p.m.) and 27 (9 p.m.).

It's ALWAYS great when a local club commits to bringing in jazz on a regular basis; here's hoping it lasts a long while.

MJ's is located at 445 99th Ave. N., St. Petersburg, one block south of Gandy Boulevard. Phone: (727) 329-6600.

For any NYC readers of this blog: Saxophonist Kim Bock, my old Greenwich Blue bandmate, plays with his organ trio Flow on Sept. 30 at 8:30 p.m. at Cornelia Street Cafe in Greenwich Village. Soren Moller is the organist, and Peter Retzlaff is the drummer.

The group, organized in 2006, "brings together three distinct musical personalities in a soundscape that throws an innovative light on the modern organ trio," according to the email I received from Kim. "Straight grooves, lyrical modernism, free explorations and hard core swing are all components of the FLOW experience."

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