Amost July....

The Helios Jazz Orchestra concert with Chuck Wansley was a success and on the program, we premiered a composition that I composed in memory of Ray Villadonga. As I mentioned in the previous posting, Ray was musical force in the Tampa Bay area and a very nice cat (as the jazzsters say).  Here is "Samba for Rayzilla" premiered on June 20, 2017:

Next... we record the rhythm section of my Brazilian group O Som Do Jazz with 15 original compositions that I've written. The styles range from Baiao to samba to MPB to Bossa Nova. The musicians include Mark Feinman (drums), Alejandro Arenas (bass) and Jeremy Douglass (piano). These are top-notch musicians who truly understand and feel the unique Brazilian sound. Mark and Alejandro are colleagues of mine in the MIRA (Music Industry/Recording Arts) program at St. Petersburg College. Jeremy is a former student of mine at SPC. Having taught at a state university (6 years) and then St. Petersburg College, I can honestly say that the SPC music programs are very special.

The pendulum seems to have swung toward more conservative writing for me. 20 years ago, I was working with SuperCollider, Spongefork, AudioMulch & MetaSynth, playing free jazz in SHIM and performing in computer-assisted trombone pieces.

No Earthly Idea - SHIM

All Clear Now - Davey Williams & David Manson

Catorze - David Manson

Mambo Vinko - Javier Alvarez, David Manson (trombone)

That was interesting, but now I prefer to explore the mysteries of Brazilian music styles, interval symmetry, jazz modes and colorful chords. Perhaps, I just tired of computers and hauling around all of the gear required for electro-acoustic music. That, and very few people in the Tampa Bay area seemed interested in our music then. We move forward...

If you are out and about on July 15, come over to the Iberian Rooster in downtown St. Pete between 9 - 12 PM. The Iberian Rooster is a very hip Portuguese fusion restaurant. O Som Do Jazz will be performing downstairs in Subcentral. It's free!

What is EMIT?

Every year, people ask me "What is EMIT?  I am the founder and director of that music presenter organization, that seems to defy categories in many ways. The "composer-in-a-vacuum" model has never worked for me, so EMIT was created to connect with other composers, performers and the community at large. We've seen good times and hard times, but our wonderful board and supporters have remained determined to keep EMIT active.

This is the 21st season (nearly 400 concerts and activities) of EMIT presenting adventurous music - that is - diverse, often noncommercial programming including new classical, modern jazz, international, improvisation, and interdisciplinary art forms that incorporate sound. We prefer acoustic and near-acoustic volume levels believing that music should be listened to by a participating audience, not forced on people through loudness.

Emerging arts, innovation and virtuosity are important defining elements of the EMIT series. The name EMIT, is not an acronym.  It is Latin for "sending forth" and it is also a term for high energy dispersion.  Initially, we came together to make interesting music available in the Tampa area by tapping into the touring circuit of composer/performers making their way south.  That included the NYC downtown scene artists, as well as international artists. Over the years, we have directed more of our energies toward local artists and creating opportunities for them here in St. Petersburg.

Current major activities of EMIT include management of the annual St. Petersburg Jazz Festival, Recording Arts Program (RAP) with Boys & Girls Club students at the Royal Theater and ongoing EMIT series concerts throughout the year. EMIT also supports the 18-member Helios Jazz Orchestra and MIFU (Mobile Itinerant Funk Unit) as ensembles-in-residence. Educational instruction and workshops with local and visiting artists are also important components of EMIT programming.  Here is a video with highlights of the 2016 St. Petersburg Jazz Festival:

EMIT has partnered with dozens of local arts organizations over the years including Gasp!, Salvador Dali Museum, Royal Theater, St. Pete Second Saturday ArtWalk, Studio@620, SPIFFS, Florida Orchestra, NOVA 535, ARTpool, Lights On Tampa, Boys & Girls Club, Gulf Coast Museum of Fine Art, BONK, Gulfport’s City of Imagination, WMNF-FM, Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association, Palladium Theater, Eckerd College, SPIFFS, St. Petersburg College, City of Tampa and several local galleries - to produce concerts and workshops.  We are open to collaborations with other organizations.

EMIT has received four Best of the Bay awards from Creative Loafing for its innovative concert activities.  EMIT is a member of Chamber Music America and was the first recipient of an ASCAP/Chamber Music American “Award for Adventurous Programming” in jazz.  EMIT has received CMA/Doris Duke Charitable Foundation grants to present concerts with the Seattle-based Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto, the New York-based Rudresh Mahanthappa Quartet and The Claudia Quintet.

Some memorable events have included:

Seven concerts with jazz legend Sam Rivers, SWARM! Installation at the Salvador Dali Museum, MacArthur “Genius Award” recipient Ken Vandermark and his trio, Pamela Z with her interactive electronic mesh garment designed by M.I.T. faculty, the first Helios Jazz Orchestra concert, Rob Bernstein Sex Mob, Brazilian jazz pianist Jovino Santos Neto, dynamic bassist/composer John Lindberg, 6 visits with iconoclastic performer Eugene Chadbourne, violist LaDonna Smith, the “Ringing for Healing” performance protest created by Pauline Oliveros and Ione, Moving Current Dance Collective’s first St. Petersburg performance, avant-pianist Matthew Shipp, jazz legend Kevin Mahogany, German bassist Peter Kowald, The Claudia Quintet and dozens of workshops with both local and guest artists for students and the public. Some of our guest artists have left this earth, but their music remains.

EMIT always offers payment to musicians for their services, believing that musicians are rarely in financial positions to donate their services.  It is unlikely that EMIT will ever operate a storefront or performance space, as we prefer to designate most of its budget to artists directly for concerts and workshops.  66% of our total income for the past season, was paid to local musicians.  We pay musicians a decent professional rate and never ask them to perform for free or for unprofessional rates.  That's over $200,000 in the pockets of local musicians and composers, over the past 21 years.

All of the EMIT artists have helped me grow immeasurably as a composer and performer. I would like to think that other artists in the Tampa Bay area might the same. EMIT’s web site is located at .

EMIT logo hi-res.jpg


The summer is finally here and I welcome a slower tempo!  Most of the faculty at St. Petersburg College teach during the summer. I'm not sure how that came to be. Luckily, the teaching load is less and I have time to compose.

At this point, I have two 17-piece jazz big band compositions in progress for the Helios Jazz Orchestra, along with final editing of 12 sextet compositions for the Brazilian music group - O Som Do Jazz. I plan to have the rhythm section for the OSDJ project tracked in a recording session by mid-July.  After that, horns and vocal tracks will be added. This will be the third recording for O Som Do Jazz and all of the selections will be originals.

For one of the big band works, I'm experimenting with some constant structure and intervallic axis ideas. Back in 2000, I was fortunate to work with the great avant-garde pianist/composer Cecil Taylor. This was a three-week artist colony at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. It was an awesome experience to work 6 days a week with Cecil for 4-6 hours per day. At that point, Cecil was working with intervallic axis concepts, although he called them dyads. Cecil coached our ensemble as we worked through his music. He preferred that we learn his music by ear, but on one lunch break we "borrowed" his cryptic dyad notes and made a photocopy. I recall that the notes looked like sketches of cauliflower with positive and negative numbers added. For the ensemble, it took a couple evenings at a keyboard (with plenty of beer) to figure out his system of intervallic dyads.

The other compositions in progress will be a bit more melodic and conservative. No matter what approach is used to compose, the ear has the final word.



Fall 2017

It’s an honor to be recognized and supported in music composition with an Impact Returns Artist Fellowship from Creative Pinellas and the citizens of Pinellas County. I grew up in Dunedin and like many others, I returned to this area (after working in Cincinnati, Memphis and Indianapolis). The evolution of the arts here has been remarkable!

The last two months have been very busy. Through EMIT (an adventurous music presenter that I direct), we hosted the ninth St. Petersburg Jazz Festival with five evenings of jazz concerts and four educational workshops. The jazz festival lineup included original modern jazz from Robotman, original works by The Martin Bejerano Trio, the Joshua Breakstone Trio, The Helios Jazz Orchestra with guest singers Whitney James & Fred Johnson and L.A. drummer Jason Lee Bruns with the SPC Jazz Profs. Four workshops with our guest artists were given at St. Petersburg College and were free and open to the public. The jazz festival gets larger and better every year!

Recently, EMIT presented amazing Brazilian guitarist Diego Figueiredo with O Som Do Jazz and then co-sponsored musicians for Jazz in the Stacks (a library jazz concert) and Gasp!, the fringe fest at the Tampa Museum of Art.  Four of my compositions were featured, plus several arrangements. The 18-member Helios Jazz Orchestra performed on April 18 at the Palladium Theater Side Door with outstanding area vocalist Sonja Spence. On April 21, our Brazilian trio (Rio Bossa) provides music for a gala event at the St. Petersburg Museum of Art. I get to dust off my alto trombone for a performance of the Mozart Requiem on April 24, at the Palladium Theater. This concert is in memory of Jason Miller, a talented graduate of the music program at St. Petersburg College. He will be missed by many. On April 28, the SPC Jazz Profs will give a workshop at Dixie Hollins High School.

While it wonderful to teach and engage with the community through music performances, I also look forward to having a bit more time during the summer to compose and record. I am working on new compositions for our larger Brazilian group, O Som Do Jazz. The unique rhythms, harmonies, modes and the spirit of the music of Brasil inspire me to work in different directions. When that is completed, I will have a dozen original vocal and instrumental works that can be recorded. I am also composing a new work for the Helios Jazz Orchestra, a collection of the top jazz artists in the Tampa Bay. It’s a busy schedule, but I would not have it any other way!

David Manson

David Manson is a composer, trombonist, improviser, presenter, producer and educator with a diverse range of experience in music. His degrees include a doctorate from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He began his performance career with positions in the Florida West Coast Symphony Orchestra and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and taught low brass and jazz studies at Indiana State University before returning to Florida. He is Professor of Music at St. Petersburg College and a founding developer in the MIRA (Music Industry/Recording Arts program). He was awarded the title of Distinguished Faculty at St. Petersburg College in 2015.

He has been soloist and composer with the BONK New Music Festival, Subtropics New Music Festival, Society of Composers and SEAMUS. He has performed and recorded with Cecil Taylor, Sam Rivers, Eugene Chadbourne, John Lindberg, Davey Williams and other music innovators. He has also backed popular artists including Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, Burt Bacharach and toured with the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

His solo recordings include "Modern Music for Trombone" (lps 3209) and "Beast" (isospin). Releases as leader, composer/arranger and soloist include "Particle Zoo" with ensemble SHIM, "Fluid Motion" with jazz legend Sam Rivers, "Infinita Bossa" and "A Kiss for Rio" with Brazilian band O Som Do Jazz, as well as "Radiant Forces" with the Helios Jazz Orchestra. He was also trombonist and arranger for Bogus Pomp, a Frank Zappa repertoire band from 1993- 2007.

He is a recipient of two Artist Fellowships in music composition from the Florida Arts Council, a Fulbright-Hays project in Turkey, an artist feature in the Southern Arts Federation’s JazzSouth radio program, and grants from Meet The Composer. His orchestral works have been performed by the Florida Orchestra and others. Recent television credits include "Looking" (HBO), "Grandfathered" (Fox), The Replacement (BBC One) and Riverdale (CW).

He is founder and director the EMIT series (in its 21st season), recipient of awards for programming by Chamber Music America, ASCAP and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. He is former director of the Tampa Bay Composers' Forum (1995-2003). Through EMIT and the Composers Forum, he has presented over 400 concerts and educational workshops of adventurous music in the Tampa Bay area. 

He writes for and leads the Helios Jazz Orchestra, MIFU (Mobile Itinerant Funk Unit), O Som Do Jazz and teaches jazz studies and Pro Tools courses in the MIRA (Music Industry/Recording Arts) program at St. Petersburg College. He is the founder and director of the annual St. Petersburg Jazz Festival, in its 9th season. David served eight years on the board of the Pinellas County Arts Council (1995-2003) and was a composer-in-residence with the Moving Current Dance Collective and federal education project Studiopeace. He directs the Recording Arts Program for Boys & Girls Club students at the Royal Theater in Midtown.

This year, with the Support of Creative Pinellas and the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners, David will be composing and recording new compositions written for Brazilian jazz group O Som Do Jazz, the 18-piece Helios Jazz Orchestra and an orchestral fanfare.