The Tampa Bay area has a vibrant music scene, but there is always room for more live jazz. There are some regular outlets, such as Tuesday nights at The Amsterdam in St. Petersburg.
And sometimes, when it rains, it pours… jazz. There are three, count ‘em, three outstanding jazz events happening this Sunday, January 31st, all in Tampa. Sadly, though, you and your clone would have to do double duty to get to them all. For heaven’s sake, get to at least ONE of these!
The fun begins at 3 PM, as Ira Sullivan performs at the Mainstage Theatre in the Performing Arts Center at HCC/Ybor City. Ira is one of the true giants of jazz, having performed with some of the greatest names in the business. Make no mistake, however, Sullivan is one of the greatest players ever. And no small part of that is what he plays. In addition to piano, drums and percussion, which he does on the side, he is one of the few players who ably handles both brass instruments and woodwinds; the late Idrees Sulieman (of St. Petersburg and international fame) and the great Benny Carter were the two other major musicians with the same ability.
Sullivan’s career skyrocketed in Chicago when he played with Charlie Parker and Lester Young and many other giants. He also joined forces with trumpeter Red Rodney for several albums in the ‘50s. After moving to Miami and nearly disappearing from view, he again hooked up with Red Rodney in 1979 and recorded a number of albums and also toured.
He has been a strong proponent of jazz education and worked with young musicians such as Jaco Pastorius and Pat Metheny. He put together a wonderful band called Strings Attached with a string quartet and his quintet. He has also recorded more recently with Lin Halliday, Jim Cooper and others.
Sullivan often travels with soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, flute and alto flute, peckhorn, trumpet and flugelhorn, and some of his favorite percussion instruments as well. This show is sponsored by the Tampa Jazz Club in partnership with Hillsborough Community College. It will also be an opportunity to say thanks to Bob Seymour, long-time jazz director at WUSF, who is set to retire soon.
Learn more on Sullivan’s official website.
Number two on your docket is Acme Jazz Garage, the splendid quartet playing regularly at Timpano’s on Thursdays and Fridays. This great band is led by Philip Booth, an excellent bass player and even more prominent jazz scribe, having written for downbeat and Jazz Times, among other publications. They have a 4 PM start at Ella’s American Folk Art Cafe.
Booth, who plays both double bass and electric bass, is joined by bandmates guitarist Matt Swenson, pianist/keyboardist Bryan Lewis, and drummer Tim Diehl. Lewis is also involved with two other excellent jazz/funk projects, Serotonic and The 3rd Kind.
Acme Jazz Garage has just finished mastering an outstanding new album which will be available shortly on iTunes and Spotify. Look for a review of the album here on MusicFestNews shortly. Members of the band will be guests on The Colors of Jazz on WMNF 88.5 (and available on the web at wmnf.org) on Sunday, February 21st, at 6 PM as they debut the new album.
Read more on the Acme Jazz Garage official website.
Number three is an album release party by Friends of Fil, a group with guitarist and mandolin player Fil Pate at its core. This one starts at 5 PM at Skipper’s Smokehouse. Pate has been a mainstay on the Tampa Bay scene for many years. He can play rock, fusion, gypsy swing, funk, folk, bluegrass, jazz and just about everything else. He credits Bobby Lee Rodgers, one of the best guitar slingers anywhere, with bending him toward the jazz side. Rodgers effectively blends Wes Montgomery-stylings with blazing solos; the two of them have paired up often, sometimes as a duo, others as members of Lemonade, a quintet which also covers all the bases.
Friends of Fil has seen many configurations over the years. The current one is an organ trio featuring Pate, Casey Otto on the Hammond B3 organ, and Leo Suarez on drums. They recorded their new album, Soul Stew, at the Springs Theater, once a movie house, later a playhouse, and now a state-of-the-art recording studio. Pate recently debuted two tracks on The Colors of Jazz on WMNF last Sunday, and on Tuesday the trio played live in the studio for In the Groove, the jamband show also on WMNF (that show is available on archive here until next Tuesday evening). And tomorrow (Friday, January 29) they will play live on the Studio 10 morning show on CBS channel 10.
Learn more about Fil Pate on his official website.
The show at Skipper’s starts with Chris Sgammato, the superb alto sax and guitar player (and keyboards as well) with Displace, the tremendous jam group which recently played Hulaween and will perform at AURA Music and Arts Festival. Sgammato will perform solo as a looper, a one-man band approach that he has mastered. Friends of Fil will follow, and Sgammato will certainly be called upon to sit in.
Find more information about Sgammato on his official Facebook page.
So there you have it: three excellent opportunities to hear jazz in the Tampa Bay area. It’s just a shame they’re all on the same day! No matter which one you choose, you can’t possibly go wrong!
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