By Philip Booth
David Manson had a straightforward goal in mind when he put together the bill for the second annual St. Petersburg College Jazz Festival.
"We wanted to do a true jazz festival in St. Petersburg," said Manson, a trombonist, composer and head of jazz studies at the college. "And we wanted variety — an evening of big band, an evening of Latin jazz, and a third night that's kind of on the edge."
The three-day event opens tonight at the 320-seat SPC Music Center on the school's St. Petersburg/Gibbs campus.
Tonight's "Big Band Big Bang!" program has SPC's resident ensemble, the Manson-directed Helios Jazz Orchestra, joined by two singers: Sasha Tuck, who teaches in the college's Music Industry Recording Arts program, and Dale Williams, who made his name singing in Detroit groups.
Friday night's "Hot Latin Jazz!" show features Guisando Caliente, an all-star group of Florida players with acclaimed pianist Kenny Drew Jr., percussionist Frankie Pineiro, saxophonist Jeff Rupert, drummer John Jenkins and bassist Mauricio Rodriguez.
Edgy fare will close out the festival Saturday, with a double-bill concert featuring the Powell Brothers Quintet, with saxophonist Jeremy and trumpeter Jonathan joined by guitarist LaRue Nickelson, bassist Alejandro Arenas and drummer Ian Goodman. The opening set is by renowned bassist John Lindberg.
Lindberg, in town for a two-week residency at SPC, co-founded the String Trio of New York, and has played with such free-jazz luminaries as saxophonist Anthony Braxton and trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff. He has been heard on more than 90 recordings, and in 2009 released his Year 50 Album and, with his Blob group, a CD titled You Can't Get There From Here.
The Powells both have roots in the Tampa Bay area, and both have experience playing and recording in New York. Jeremy still lives here, and plays with Infinite Groove Orchestra, Swamp Logic and other groups. Last month he released two CDs, Amizade, with guitarist Nickelson, and his own Fluorinescence. Jonathan has worked with saxophonist Sam Rivers, bassist Reggie Workman and hip-hoppers Q-Tip and Snoop Dogg. Recently the recipient of the "Latin Jazz Corner" Web site's award for the best Latin jazz trumpeter of 2009, Jonathan will soon release an album titled Transcend.
The group will play all original compositions, plus an arrangement of Here's to Life with guest singer Whitney James.
"I've been wanting to put Jonathan and Jeremy together on a show," Manson said. "Unlike a lot of young players, they're not really emulating or copying someone. They have their own style."