On March 19 we had our latest Student Jazz Competition! It was an awesome event. Congratulations to all of the wonderful students! The new format, using a monthly Jazz Gumbo slot to present our student competition, worked! The venue gave the students the feeling as if they were playing in more of a “jazz club” environment. Well done!
What’s next? Pensacola JazzFest! Get ready friends … get your blankets, lawn chairs, cameras, sun screen, smiles and ears! Check out the lineup …both days are guaranteed to bring the best of jazz from the region. It will be another event that you do not want to miss.
The Guffman Trio was playing around town and the regional area quite often.
We were even threatening to record a long awaited CD … I did say threatening. My wife, and one of my favorite all time musicians, Cynthia, found a very cool version of the Lambert, Hendricks and Ross tune Cloudburst, written by Jimmy Harris and Leroy Kirkland. I remember saying, “Who is this?” She replied, “Annie Sellick.” Wow!
We became fans! It became a much requested tune in our set list. We went to the JEN Conference later and got to hear Annie live! It was awesome…It was amazing!
After I got involved with Jazz Pensacola and was asked to be part of the planning of booking acts, Annie Sellick was first on my list. The Gulf Coast was lucky to have her at the festival a couple of years ago, now we are lucky to have her at our November Foo Foo Festival concert, 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12 at Phineas Phogg’s, Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government St.
Not only are we lucky to have Annie, we also get Chris Walters on piano and their Big Time Band!!!! Chris also is the music director/pianist for JD Souther. He is also a member of Jeff Coffins Mu’tet. Chris is the real deal.
This is definitely a show that should not be missed.
Wake up Pensacola!!!! Jazz is in your house!!!!
“Give Peace A Chance”
GET YOUR TICKETS NOW! All tickets are $25. Cash, credit cards and checks are accepted. Purchase tickets at the door, at Schmidt’s Music, 105 N. Palafox St., or by calling Jazz Pensacola at (850) 433-8382.
Student jazz musicians from around the area are gathering for Jazz Pensacola’s annual Student Jazz Competition, the live finals of which will be 7 p.m. Thursday, March 15, at the Ashmore Fine Arts Auditorium, Pensacola State College, 1000 College Blvd.
The event is free and open to the public. Come and get an early glimpse at the jazz stars of tomorrow.
Previous competition winner Jackson Willis, for example, has gone on to become one of the most called-upon jazz trombonists in the Gulf Coast area, playing in a wide variety of different settings and ensembles.
“I received my bachelor’s in trombone performance from UWF in 2015 and am currently weighing my options for continued education,” Jackson says. “Speaking of education, I have a studio of 10-15 different private trombone students ranging from beginners to experienced players. I’m committed to being the best player that I can be as well as passing down my knowledge to the upcoming generation.”
“We’re really proud that we’ve been able to put a spotlight on some of these talented, young musicians,” says Fred Domulot, Jazz Pensacola president. “Already we’ve seen them perform at professional gigs around town and at our own Jazz Pensacola events.”
Competition winner Isabelle Peterson currently is studying voice at UWF and teaches beginner guitar and ukulele. “I’m on music staff at St. Paul Catholic for guitar and voice,” she says. “I recently was featured at one of Gino Rosaria’s Tuesday Jazz Nights at Seville and did a set of jazz standards, soul, and blues.”
Another winner, Clinton Hall, says he’s currently performing regularly, teaching private music lessons, and recording an original LP. “I’m also researching online degree programs to continue my collegiate education,” he says.
Divisions are: College Instrumental, High School Instrumental and Jazz Vocal, with competitors attending school (including homeschooling) in the greater Pensacola area — Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties and Baldwin County in Alabama.
Ranging from $100 to $500, awards for first, second and third place in each division are earmarked for music education expenses.
The Student Jazz Competition is made possible by Jazz Pensacola’s JETS — Jazz Education Team Supporters — folks who have made a tax-deductible donation of $100 or more to help make Jazz Pensacola’s jazz education programs possible.
Since the launch of Jazz Pensacola’s student musician outreach, more than $16,000 in monetary support awards earned by the winners of the competitions went toward jazz camps, school tuition, purchase and repair of musical instruments, and lessons, helping these young musicians continue their development.
For 2018, Jazz Pensacola has set a goal of at least $5,000 in funding. Members of JETS are recognized with special thanks on jazzpensacola.com and in the program for the 2018 Student Jazz Competition.
JETS and/or general fund donations can be made online at jazzpensacola.com. Payment by check can be made at Jazz Pensacola offices (make the check payable to Jazz Pensacola) at 3 West Garden St., Suite 418. Payment by credit card can be made by phoning the office at (850) 433-8382 during office hours, 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. Donations to Jazz Pensacola are considered tax-deductible contributions. Any amount will be greatly appreciated.
Applauded worldwide for his lyrics, fluid technique and versatility, preeminent jazz guitarist Gene Bertoncini is performing as an artist-in-residence Nov. 8-10 in several Pensacola locations.
On Wednesday, Nov. 8, Bertoncini will hold a guitar master-class for Pensacola State College and University of West Florida guitar students at PSC. At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, as part of PSC’s Lyceum Series, he will present a solo guitar concert, performing both classical and jazz numbers. Jazz Pensacola will present Bertoncini at a “jazz listening event” from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10, at the Opera Center. At that event, he will perform with bassist Steve Gilmore and drummer Fred Domulot.
A New York City native, Bertoncini received a distinguished award in 2017 from his alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, honoring his achievements in the performing arts.
Throughout the years, Bertoncini has performed and recorded with an extraordinary range of jazz greats, including Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich, Wayne Shorter, Hubert Laws and Paul Desmond. He also has accompanied singers Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Nancy Wilson, Vic Damone and Eydie Gorme.
I chatted with Bertoncini, 80, about his life, career and the Pensacola engagements, which are part of the annual Foo Foo Fest.
You have two Pensacola connections — with Jazz Pensacola (Bertoncini has performed at past JazzFests, organized by Jazz Pensacola) and your former Notre Dame roommate, Pensacolian Bob Byrnes. How did you two come together at Notre Dame?
It was completely random. There were three of us assigned to room. It was fortunate that all three of us were musically inclined — I on guitar and Bob on piano. So we’ve kept in touch all these years.
I understand that your degree is in architecture. Riff a bit on that subject.
Yes, architecture and concertizing have more in common than you’d think. For example, an architect takes in consideration a person’s needs for his/her lifestyle and comfort. The thoughtful musician thinks about the wishes and needs of his audience and tries to structure his musical presentation to fit that need. I try to consider the needs/wants/ background of my audience and structure a concert to satisfy and enlighten my audience.
How long were you a practicing architect?
I worked for Frank Lloyd Wright and his organization for eight days. That was long enough for me to decide that I’d rather pursue performing music! But my background helped me. For example, I had opportunity to visit famous recording and sound expert Rudy Van Gelder, who recorded many famous jazz musicians. I could understand how the layout of the studio helped him make those gorgeous recordings.
Tell us about your musical training and influences.
I grew up in downtown Manhattan. My family had a restaurant. I played guitar and my brother played accordion. As high school students, my brother and I played for a kids’ radio program in a downtown studio. As such, I got to roam around and see what was happening in the other studios. There I met famous guitarist Johnny Smith. This was a time that his big hit recording, “Moonlight in Vermont” featuring him and Stan Getz, was at the top of the charts. We made contact and I studied with him for several years. Then later, I met Chuck Wayne. Recall that he was longtime guitarist for the George Shearing Quintet. Chuck was an expert in both single-string performance and intricate chord work. He also influenced me to listen to British Guitarist Julian Bream recordings. I studied with Chuck off and on for about 10 years.
What a coincidence! Chuck was our first and only, out-of-town performer for our first Pensacola JazzFest in 1983! And further coincidence, in 1984, Chuck returned and we had Toots Thielemans (guitar, chromatic harmonica and whistler) who had replaced Chuck in the Shearing Quintet. The other artist that year was Brazilian-American guitarist Laurindo Almeida.
Tell us a couple of highlights of your illustrious career.
Several years ago, I was invited to perform with conductor Skitch Henderson’s New York Tops band. This was a great thrill. Also I worked with TV star Johnny Carson and the Tonight Show band ’65-’66. It was wonderful to sit beside the great Clark Terry and all the wonderful musicians in that band. Also a recent honor was bestowed on me by my alma mater, Notre Dame University.
Editor’s Note: A version of this interview appeared in the Pensacola News Journal.
An Evening with Guitarist Gene Bertoncini
Jazz Pensacola presents An Evening with Guitarist Gene Bertoncini 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10, at the Pensacola Opera Center, 75. S. Tarragona St.
All tickets cost $25, with proceeds going to the F. Norman Vickers Artist in Residence Fund, which is designated to further the long-term mission of Jazz Pensacola.
Bertoncini is one of the preeminent jazz guitarists active today. His fluid technique and lyricism have won him international praise and accolades as the “Segovia of jazz.” An eloquent and versatile improviser, Bertoncini has been heard with an extraordinary range of jazz greats including performances and recordings with Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich, Wayne Shorter, Hubert Laws, Paul Desmond among others, as well as such distinguished singers as Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Nancy Wilson, Vic Damone, and Eydie Gorme. On Jan. 20, 2017, Bertoncini received a distinguished award from the University of Notre Dame honoring his achievements in the performing arts. The Rev. Arthur S. Harvey, C.S.C., Award recognizes Bertoncini’s distinguished work as a jazz musician.
Plans for the 2017 Student Jazz Competition have begun, and applications will be accepted through Feb. 17, 2017. This will be the seventh year for the competition – showcasing the region’s talented student jazz performers and contributing much needed financial support.
To download a flyer with more information on the competition, click here (PDF, 250K).
To download the application form, click here (PDF, 350K).