Florida's Sarasota Jazz Club keeps expanding its festival and concert schedule. Its 28th annual festival March 2-8 featured eight main concerts, 13 area bands playing in parks and clubs, two lectures and a school workshop. The club offers 80 concerts a year in various venues.
I attended four concerts of interest to classic jazz lovers. Pianist Dick Hyman, vibist Peter Appleyard and violinist Svend Asmussen did two concerts for big crowds at Players Theatre on March 3. This was a new jazzfest venue, and all other concerts were at Van Wezel Hall.
Hyman and Appleyard pair up often, and their dynamics, textures, inventiveness and musical interplay are outstanding. The 92-year-old Danish virtuoso Asmussen blended in well and creatively plucked the strings like a guitar on some tunes. Their repertoire ranged from an opening "Slipped Disc" to closing "June Night" in the afternoon concert I heard. Varied moods evolved in other tunes such as "Cherokee," "Bye Bye Blackbird," "Cool Water," and "C-Jam Blues" with quotes from "Blues in the Closet" and "Pretty Baby."
I've always gotten a big musical "fix" from flugelhorn and keyboard player Chuck Mangione's quintets. Its propulsive rhythm is hypnotic and his tunes melodically fascinating. This time I was especially impressed by the purity and tone of the long notes he held on the horn.
Band members were Gerry Niewood, who shone often on saxophones and flute, Dave Tull on drums and scat vocals, Kevin Axt on bass and Coleman Mellett on guitar. Some tunes were "Main Squeeze," "Bellavia" "Fun and Games," "Children of Sanchez" and an encore with "Feels So Good" blending into "America the Beautiful." Fans stood to sing and applaud the band. This was the festival's top draw, attended by 1,350 fans.