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Jazz/funk concert is a benefit for a local drumming legend

Bill DeYoung



Funds are being raised to help drummer Pat Close deal with serious medical issues. Photo provided.

A collection of many of the bay area’s top jazz musicians will perform Sunday in a benefit concert for one of their own.

Drummer Pat Close, who’s’ been a fixture in local music circles since his arrival here from Ohio in the 1980s, is battling pancreatic cancer. A GoFundMe page has been created to help offset his medical expenses, and Sunday’s show at Hillsborough Community College Mainstage Theatre is an effort to focus directly on the thread that holds these longtime friends together – the music.

“When Pat told us he was sick and would be out of work for a while, we asked how we could help,” explained Matt Swenson, the Acme Jazz Garage guitarist who organized the benefit concert.

“We’ve had overwhelming support, and it’s a testament to how the musical community in this area can rally to help each other in a time of need.”

Swenson calls the lineup “drummer-centric.”

Along with Swenson’s band, featuring drummers/percussionists Jean Bolduc and Michael Washington, the lineup includes conga legend Gumbi Ortiz and his Cuban music band New Groove City, with drummer Luis Alicea; the Dave Reinhardt Trio with guitarist LaRue Nickelson and bassist Tim George; a solo performance by drummer Mike Aurigemma; and the duo of drummer Dave Rudolph and Zach Bornheimer (sax).

Ortiz – who has toured for nearly 40 years with legendary jazz guitarist Al Di Meola – is based in Gulfport. He was the first musician Swanson contacted. “We all know each other, of course, and we all have respect for each other,” Ortiz said. ‘Pat is a great drummer.”

Ortiz came to Florida in 1979, “So I gave birth to everybody! That’s what I tell everybody,” he laughs. “When I got here, there was just one palm tree and the tallest building was that Floridian Hotel downtown.

“I knew Pat right from the beginning. He was a guy playing around downtown. And all those guys that he ended up playing with, played with me too.”

Close, who holds the ”drum chair’’ for the Clearwater Jazz All Stars After Party rhythm section, teaches drums at the Players School, where Ortiz is an instructor of Latin percussion.

He released a solo album, Rhythms of My Soul (featuring mostly original compositions), in 2016.

Said The Blade in its review:

Several renowned musicians, such as former Yellowjackets bassist/​co-founder Jimmy Haslip, are part of this high-energy instrumental project that’s funky, soothing, and creatively intellectual, one in which Close demonstrates his skills as a bandleader, composer, and driving force but clearly doesn’t overpower as the spotlight is shared by many.

The dozen songs are mostly in the fusion and contemporary jazz genre, with a big helping of rock and rhythm & blues – even a piece with Cuban Songo rhythms and a tribute to the Brecker Brothers. There’s a great blend of saxophone, keyboard, guitar, trumpet, bass, and, of course, drums. This sophisticated, skillfully played disc is, without a doubt, a real winner.

The benefit concert is titled after a famous James Brown line: “Give the drummer some!”

The quote “seemed appropriate to the situation Pat is in,” Swenson said. “Since Pat is a top drummer in the area, we put together a show featuring drummers, and showcasing the instrument in different genres (jazz, Afro Cuban, rock, soul, funk et cetera) and context (solo, duo, and full band). We hope this gathering of musicians and music lovers will help out Pat financially and spiritually.”

The HCC Ybor Performing Arts Building: 1411 E 11th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605.

The concert is from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday (May 22). Donation is $20 at the door.






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