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Your weekend arts forecast: Let’s talk about jazz

Bill DeYoung



Brazilian pianist Adolfo Mendonça and his group play Sunday night at thestudio@620. Photo provided.

The Tampa Bay area is blessed with a pretty terrific population of jazz musicians. Some of them came out of the music programs at the University of South Florida, St. Pete College or Eckerd College, and stayed on to teach, helping bring forth the next generation. Some are just freakishly talented, no formal training necessary.

Some are longtime residents, some have just arrived, and still others just gig here all the time because they’re a friend of a friend of a friend. Jazz is incestuous, in the best definition of the word.

St. Pete may be known for museums and murals, but jazz – well, it’s fertile creative ground.

There are several jazz concerts this weekend. Tenor saxophonist Trace Zacur, a resident of Seminole who graduated from Boston’s Berklee College of Music in 2020, brings a smoking quintet to the studio@620 Saturday evening. Vocalist Rochelle Siddiq joins Zacur and John O’Leary (piano), Jean Bolduc (drums), Omar Pedermo (percussion) and Kenny Walker (bass). Tickets are here.

Brazilian pianist Adolfo Mendonça, who holds a Master’s in Jazz from the University of South Florida, is in concert at thestudio@620 Sunday night. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Music Teaching and Learning at the University of Iowa, but his many friends and fellow musicians don’t have to try too hard to convince him to come back to Florida for a show or two. Two of those bay area pals – bassist Alejandro Arenas and bassist Mark Feinman – will play with Mendonça Sunday. Tickets are here.

(As if anyone needed reminding, Arenas, Feinman and O’Leary, from the Zacur Saturday-night band, make up the longtime and well-loved local trio La Lucha.)

Musician, composer and educator Chuck Owen recently retired from USF, where he taught for 40 years (he’s now “Distinguished Professor Emeritus”). The Grammy-nominated pianist brings his sextet ReSurgence to the Palladium Theater for an afternoon show (4 p.m.) Sunday. It’s a scaled-down edition of his groundbreaking big band, Jazz Surge.

ReSurgence includes Sara Caswell, violin; Jack Wilkins, saxophone; Corey Christiansen, guitars; Chuck Owen, keyboard/accordion; Mark Neuenschwander, bass; Danny Gottlieb, drums. Kate McGarry will be on vocals.

Opening the show: Pianists John O’Leary, Simon Lasky, and Zach Bartholomew, each playing two tunes on the Palladium’s Steinway Grand. Tickets are here.

The Florida Orchestra isn’t a jazz band, of course, but imagine the bold, swinging nature of the orchestra’s weekend program: Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown and Beige, George Gershwin’s An American in Paris,  Joshua Cerdenia’s Feuertrunken (Fire-Drunk) and the Tuba Concerto by none other than jazz (and classical, and other styles) master Wynton Marsalis.

The schedule: 8 p.m. Friday, Straz Center Ferguson Hall; 8 p.m. Saturday, Mahaffey Theater; 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Ruth Eckerd Hall. We interviewed TFO principal tuba player TJ Graf this week about the Marsalis piece; ticket info is included in the story.

The St. Pete Comic Con, in the Coliseum, in 2022. Photo provided.

And still more

The State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine is at the Mahaffey Theater Friday with Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. There’s quite a backstory to this presentation – read all about it here.

The national touring company of the record-breaking musical Hamilton is still is residence at Morsani Hall, at the Straz Center in Tampa. Info and tickets here.

The second annual St. Pete Comic Con takes over the Coliseum Saturday and Sunday. Anime voice actors, comic artists and Florida’s top cosplayers are among the guests. Website.

Your weekend arts forecast appears every Thursday in the Catalyst

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