By Philip Booth
Tampa singer Denise Moore grew up listening to jazz: Ella Fitz- gerald, Peggy Lee, Brazil's Flora Purim and jazz-influenced vocalists like Joni Mitchell.
But the Georgia native took her time stepping up to the mike in front of a jazz group, first singing with a band in the swing-folk-country mold of Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks while she was a student at the University of Georgia. Later, she sang R&B, pop and blues with Tampa Bay area bands Paul Wilborn and the Pop Tarts, and the Women's Blues Revue.
"I really didn't get this going until I was 40," Moore said. "A friend said, 'You need to have your own group.' I said, 'I can't do that.' But I did. And I went to what I love — jazz. I love this music. It feels good to me."
Fifteen years later, she has made up for lost time. Her band, Denise Moore and Then Some, is a regular on the local jazz scene, and she released a debut CD, Nothing Standard.
Fans can play a part in her new project: Moore's next CD will feature music recorded live tonight at the Palladium Theater. The concert is part of the St. Petersburg venue's Side Door Jazz series.
Moore, joined by pianist and arranger Billy Marcus, saxophonist David Pate, bassist Alejandro Arenas and drummer Stephen Bucholtz, will play an ambitious program, "A Jazz History," covering everything from early New Orleans jazz to smooth jazz.
The group will play about 20 tunes, including Fats Waller's Ain't Misbehavin', Wes Montgomery's West Coast Blues and Anita O'Day's version of Let's Face the Music and Dance.
Moore's jazz history project, funded with an Arts Council of Hillsborough County grant, includes more than the concert and the recording, which are being engineered by WMNF-FM 88.5 station manager Jim Bennett. The singer is creating an educational Web page at denisemoorejazz.com about various jazz songs and styles accompanied by audio clips from the concert. In addition, the concert will be aired on Bennett's In the Moment show on jazz station KCSM-FM in San Mateo, Calif.
"We just want to give an overview of jazz for people that don't know about all of it," she said. "We're saying, 'Here's a whole menu. You can select what you like, and you can decide if you want to taste that or maybe explore it more.' "