Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Jazz Season, Tampa Bay area: Larry Coryell, Marcus Roberts, Federico Britos/Jorge Garcia, Statesmen of Jazz are Highlights

Jazz, of the non-smooth variety, sadly gets short shrift at the major performing arts centers in the Tampa Bay area. Yes, again.

Need evidence? Check out those venues' fall schedules:

Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Tampa: No major, nationally known jazz artists, although a cabaret/jazz show titled "Last Call for Jazz: The Vocal Stylings of Emilia Sargent" is set for Oct. 9 at the Shimberg Playhouse, and Patel Conservatory students play a "Fall Jazz Jam" on Dec. 18 in the Teco Theater.

Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater: No major, nationally known jazz artists, although Tampa jazz singer Denise Moore and her Then Some band play the venue's Murray Studio Theater on Oct. 9. From the department of bland, prefab smooth jazz: The Rippingtons (Oct. 6), saxophonist Dave Koz (Dec. 3), pianist Jim Brickman (Dec. 10).

Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg: No major, nationally known jazz artists, although several shows by locals are on tap: Sarasota singer Shelly Torman (Sept. 25); the Latin Roots Ensemble (Oct. 9); and the Manhattan Casino All-Stars/Jordan Richardson Jazz Septet (Nov. 13).


For fans of straight-ahead and mainstream jazz, the Clearwater Jazz Holiday isn't much help this year, either: For the fest's 30th annivesary edition, organizers said yes to loads of smooth jazz (Boney James, Chris Botti, Al Jarreau), yes to a great New Orleans R&B/funk band, the Neville Brothers, yes to quite a few talented local jazz musicians, and no to much in the way of major, nationally known jazz artists.

The Marcus Roberts Trio, with pianist Roberts joined by bassist Roland Guerin and drummer Jason Marsalis, is the sole exception to that rule, although monster upright and electric bassist Brian Bromberg sort of counts as high-quality jazz, too, although he too often leans smooth.


There's great jazz to be found on the Tampa Jazz Club's fall season. A new venue is on tap, too -- the 240-seat theater at HCC Ybor's newly renovated Performing Arts Building, on the northeast corner of Palm Avenue and 14th Street.

First up, on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m., is an encore performance by a blue-chip quartet, with violinist Federico Britos (Charlie Haden, Dizzy Gillespie, Antonio Carlos Jobim) and guitarist Jorge Garcia (Richie Cole, Tony Bennett) joined by bassist Richard Drexler and drummer John Jenkins.

Then, on Nov. 1 at 3 p.m., the Tampa Jazz Club plays host to what promises to be the jazz show of the year, an intimate pairing of legendary jazz/fusion/rock guitarist Larry Coryell (pictured, above) with Kenny Drew, Jr., IMO one of the most brilliant jazz pianists of his generation.

(Should I say here that I once played a trio show with Coryell and drummer Glenn Loomer at the now-defunct Peterson's nightclub on North Franklin Street in Tampa, or would that constitute name dropping?)

Admission to the Tampa Jazz Club shows is $16 for members, $21 for non-members, and free for HCC students and faculty ($5 for other students, with ID).


This year's lineup for the Monday Night Jazz Series again features high-quality performers, although, unlike in years past, there are no major artists on the bill.

The schedule: Organist Bobby Floyd, with USF Jazz Faculty and USF Jazz Ensemble 1, Sept. 28, Theatre 1; guitarist Bruce Saunders, with USF Jazz Faculty, Oct. 26, Music Recital Hall (FAH 101); saxophonist Mike Tomaro with composer Mark Taylor, with USF Jazz Ensemble 1, Nov. 30, Theatre 1. Performances start at 8 p.m.


Several notable jazzers, regulars on the Arbors Records label, are joining forces for the Statesmen of Jazz show, Sept. 26 at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg. Vibraphonist Chuck Redd will be joined by singer-bassist Nicki Parrott, pianist Ted Rosenthal, trombonist Dan Barrett, and drummer Joe Ascione. The Nate Najar Trio, with the guitarist joined by Redd and one-time Ellington bassist John Lamb, will open.

This fall, the Palladium is also bringing performances by other local artists to the Side Door venue: Singer Belinda Womack, Oct. 1; and a "Rat Pack Favorites" show featuring a quartet led by singer-pianist Tony Castellano.


The Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association continues to present concerts by good local jazzers. On the way: Latin jazz with flutist Claude Kennedy, drummer Ron Gregg, conga player Frankie Pineiro, trumpeter Dwayne White, and keyboardist Kevin Wilder, Sept. 30 at the Enoch Davis Center; the aforementioned Belinda Womack concert, Oct. 1 at the Palladium. For more information on ADTBJA events, click here.


Guitarist LaRue Nickelson's new band, Labyrinthitis, plays a special show Oct. 11 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Karma Bar, 206 N. Morgan St. in downtown Tampa. The group also includes drummer Ian Goodman, bassist Joe Porter, and Jeremy Powell on saxophones and keys.


Last but not least, my group, Trio Vibe, with vibraphonist Sam Koppelman, drummer Dave Hamar and your blog author on bass, returns to Brandon restaurant Della's the first weekend of October and the first weekend of November. For more information, check out our site.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Thanks for your coverage, appreciate that you're providing an efficient way to scan all the possibilities.

You're so right, Tampa's definitely not a stop for bigtime jazz these days. What are we, chopped liver?

Tues nights at Karma is enjoyable, a real honest effort, and definitely the least expensive jazz in the bay area.