Students, download your application for 2017 Jazz Competition

Student Jazz Competition
Student Jazz Competition

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).

For more information on the competition, see our 2017 Student Jazz Competition page.

CD Review: "Algorithmic Society," The Girshevich Trio

Algorithmic Society
The Girshevich Trio
Tapestry Records

The Girshevich Trio
The Girshevich Trio

Here’s an intriguing recording for the adventurous jazz listener. It features then-12 year old drummer, Aleks Girsevich, father and pianist Vlad Girshevich and virtuoso, elder-statesman bassist Eddie Gomez.
The title is sort of a double-entendre—Algorithmic Society. The real definition can be stated as a formula for solving a problem. The second portion of this entendre relates to the third and fourth syllable.

All compositions are by father-pianist Vlad, an Uzbekistani by birth and now resident of Colorado. Vlad has a long history of collaboration with jazz greats such as Arturo Sandoval, Jerry Gonzalez and drummer Horacio “el Negro” Hernandez.

This is not drummer Aleks’ first CD release as the first was recorded at age 11 and entitled Tomorrow. It was favorably reviewed by Critical Jazz and All about Jazz. The current CD was made in 2014, so now Aleks is 14. On some numbers the music is augmented by a string group and on the first number, Healing the Chaos, percussionist Rony Barrak joins the trio.

Of the nine pieces, which total one hour, my two favorites were Unborn Tales played at a moderate tempo and shows talents of Alex, Vlad and Eddie Gomez to best advantage. The most complex number is Algorithmic Society an upbeat tune with tricky rhythms, again showcasing the talents of all three.

Reviewing a CD of all-new music is a challenge. I understand that there are some reviewers who will refuse to review such. However, to supplement what I was able to glean from listening, reading the liner notes and the news release which came with the CD, I called record producer Tom Burns. Tom gave me some details and referred me to father-pianist Vlad Girshevich. A summary of supplemental information was that Eddie Gomez was a visiting performer at Dazzle Club in Denver. He graciously agreed to record with Vlad and Aleks. Rehearsal with Eddie was merely a talk-through of the numbers. Roy Barrak, middle-Eastern percussionist, was a friend and agreed to sit in on the first number. A string section was added later. I learned from Vlad that Aleks is now 14 and active with his school musical activities as well.

I look forward to a glowing career from young Aleks.

Tapestry Records, PO Box 892, 60615 U. S. Highway 285, Bailey, Colorado 80421-0982

Applications for 2017 Jazz Fest sponsors, vendors now available

JazzPensacola currently is seeking sponsors for the 2017 Pensacola JazzFest, to be held April 1-2 in downtown Pensacola.

ehsjazzPensacola JazzFest is a FREE all-jazz festival held in historic Seville Square in downtown Pensacola.

Jazz Pensacola produces the event with assistance from a variety of corporate sponsors and community organizations. The weekend festival, held early each spring, celebrates America’s unique musical art form—jazz. Volunteers work yearlong to present this festival as their annual gift to the community. Jazz Pensacola relies upon individual and corporate donors for their essential support.

We have posted complete details on all levels of sponsorship, as well as an application form in downloadable PDF form. Click here for the form.

Jazz Pensacola also has opened the application process for food and arts & crafts vendors at the 2017 Jazz Fest. A limited number of food vendor spots are available for this popular spring event, and selection is competitive. We strive to avoid duplication of menu items and to offer a variety of food choices for festival attendees.

For complete details on the application processes for both food vendors and arts & crafts vendors, and to download vendor applications, click here.

CD Review: 'Dream Suite, Songs in Jazz and Blues On Poems By Langston Hughes'

Dream Suite
Songs in Jazz and Blues on poems by Langston Hughes
Distributed by Di-tone Records

rosenThis is an “outside the box” recording in that it is not the standard jazz CD. It features poetry by Langston Hughes set to music by composer Louis Rosen. Vocalists are Alton Fitzgerald White and Capatha Jenkins. Likely the average jazz fan will be unfamiliar with any of the principals here.

In reading about the artists in the liner notes, accompanying literature for the reviewer and on Louis Rosen’s website, I learn that all have impressive backgrounds in musical theatre. And the music reflects that genre rather than the usual jazz styling.

On first listen, it was difficult to understand all the words. However, as suggested in the liner notes, I went to Mr. Rosen’s website and printed the poetic lyrics. It made all the difference in being able to understand appreciate not only the poetry but the music itself. Isn’t that the way with both opera and musical theatre? It helps to better understand the “story.”

The liner notes indicate that the recording was made is 2002 and the premier performance was at the Great Hall of Cooper Union in New York City in 2006.

The adventurous listener may wish to sample some of the songs by accessing Mr. Rosen’s website.
A sampling of the fourteen songs on this recording include: Harlem Night Song, Song for Billie Holiday, Hurt, Blues at Dawn and Dream Suite.

CD Review: Vanheusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Vanheusen

A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen

2016-8-30 VANHEUSENISM #1This CD features pianist/vocalist Daniela Schachter with a small group performing eleven of composer Jimmy Van Heusen’s famous tunes. She is visiting professor of voice at Berklee College of Music. This is her fourth album.

All twelve songs—there is one original by Ms. Schachter entitled Vanheusenism –are arranged by her. She is supported by Mike Tucker, tenor sax; Michael O’Brien, acoustic bass; and Mark Walker, drums.

The listener is in for pleasant surprises. Songs aren’t rendered in the way in which Tony Bennett or Frank Sinatra might present them. For example, Here’s That Rainy Day has both an original in-chorus as well as out-chorus. Vocals are used tastefully and sparingly and there is wonderful interplay with supporting musicians. Van Heusen’s famous Polkadots & Moonbeams is performed as an instrumental and written almost as a counter melody. There is wonderful interplay of vocal and string bass on It Could Happen to You.

So you don’t miss the other tunes, not mentioned above, they are: Darn That Dream, Come Fly With Me, Like Someone in Love/Imagination; The Second Time Around, All The Way, Call Me Irresponsible, But Beautiful and I Thought About You.

Ms. Schachter is a seasoned performer, having won Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead completion in 2002 and Mary Lou Williams Jazz Piano Competition in 2005. She has appeared on NPR’s Piano Jazz and performed under conductors Quincy Jones, Phil Wilson and John Clayton, Jr. as well as many others.

2016-8-30 VANHEUSINISM #2Reviewing this CD was especially meaningful for me, not only because of the unique musical presentation of the tunes, but because I had the privilege of reviewing Christopher Coppula’s 2014 biography of Jimmy Van Heusen. The significance of Come Fly with Me is that Van Heusen, and expert pilot who led a double life in Hollywood during WWII as Jimmy Van Heusen—songwriter—and Chester Babcock (his real name)—test pilot for Lockheed. Van Heusen served as Sinatra’s friend, pilot, drinking buddy and procurer of women. My review may be found of my blog at

Book Review: How To Listen to Jazz by Ted Gioia

How To Listen to Jazz
By Ted Gioia
Basic Books © 2016, pp.254 with index and end notes

Let me state personal bias at the beginning of this review. Ted Gioia’s The History of Jazz is on my list of all-time favorites. He published The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire in 2012 and an earlier book West Coast Jazz is considered one of the classics in jazz literature. Now that we have established my opinion, we can proceed.

As the title suggests, Mr. Gioia proceeds, in basic and clear language, to explain for the novice the essence of jazz. Written for the layman, he takes the reader through the basic elements. Titles of each chapter will give an idea of the make-up of this book. They are:
The Mystery of Rhythm; Getting Inside the Music; The Structure of Jazz; The Origins of Jazz; The Evolution of Jazz Styles; A Closer Look at Some Jazz Innovators and Listening to Jazz Today.

He gives suggested listening for each chapter. Now that most people have access to streaming services such as Spotify (and numerous others), YouTube and option of purchase of individual tracks on the internet, listening options are easily accessible.

Gioia gives his personal list of 150 jazz artists who is in early or mid-career.

This book can be recommended for the jazz novice and is a survey, not a definitive exposition of the jazz art. Those whose opinions are clearly fixed or those seeking intimate details of a particular jazz artist will not find this book helpful. But for those seeking guidance and are just beginning to explore the world of jazz, this is a good starting point.

Permit this personal reference, Ted’s brother Dana was Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts (2003-2009). Dana Gioia came to Pensacola during that period to make a financial presentation ($10,000 as I recall) from the NEA to the Pensacola Symphony. I was invited to that ceremony and when introduced I told him that I was acquainted with the work of his more-famous brother. (Smile).