It's been a pleasure...

It has been a pleasure and an honor to be a recipient of an Creative Pinellas Individual Artist Fellowship this year. I composed and recorded 14 jazz works for my Brazilian jazz group O Som Do Jazz, as well as writing, then performing two jazz big band charts with the 17-member Helios Jazz Orchestra. I continue to compose my orchestral work with the hopes that I can complete it in the spring and present it to local orchestras for possible performance next season.

The 2018 St. Petersburg Jazz Festival is February 21-25. I started the jazz festival 10 years ago and it grows larger every year.  The lineup includes the original compositions by the Tal Cohen trio, Jeff Rupert Quintet with Veronica Swift, B3 Fury with the Shawn Brown Quintet, The Helios Jazz Orchestra with singers Whitney James & Chuck Wansley and Latin Jazz with the Gabriel Hernandez Trio.

All of our concerts are at the Palladium Theater and Palladium Theater Side Door venues. Our jazz festival is designed to provide a optimum environment for listeners of jazz. You won't find food trucks, stadium seating or massive columns of speakers at the St. Petersburg Jazz Festival. What you will find is an intimate concert experience with pure sound quality and a great appreciation of the jazz artists performing. Here are the artists that we are featuring:

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Tal Cohen Trio - Wednesday, February 21
7:30 PM at the Side Door at the Palladium Theater

Tal Cohen was born in Gedera, Israel and owes his musical roots to the Jewish folk songs and classical music he played in his formative years there. He moved to Perth, Australia as a teenager and earned a bachelor’s and masters degree in Jazz Performance at the prestigious Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

Cohen has performed at the Melbourne, Australia Jazz Festival, performed a number of shows with world-renowned saxophonist Joe Lovano at the inaugural Perth International Jazz Festival and was chosen to be a semi-finalist in the Wangaratta Jazz Festival’s 2013 piano competition, Australia’s most renowned jazz competition. In 2014, Tal Cohen was named the Grand Prize Winner in the prestigious Barry Harris National Jazz Piano Competition in Detroit, Michigan, receiving first place and gaining an opportunity to perform his music at the Main Stage in the 2014 Detroit Jazz Festival accompanied by bassist Robert Hurst and drummer Nate Winn. Cohen recently graduated from the University of Miami School of Music, where he received a full scholarship and teaching assistant-ship while completing his Master’s degree under the mentorship of Martin Bejerano. The trio is Tal Cohen-piano, Dion Kerr-bass and David Chiverton-drums.

Jeff Rupert Quintet with Veronica Swift - Thursday, February 22
7:30 PM at the Side Door at the Palladium Theater


People are still talking about this all-star jazz group from last year's show at the Palladium! 

At age 23, Veronica Swift is now being recognized around the country as one of the top young jazz singers on the scene. In the fall of 2015, she won second place at the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition.  In 2016 she was asked to perform a concert of her own at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in New York City and she was a guest artist with Michael Feinstein at Jazz at Lincoln Center with the Tedd Firth Big Band and Marilyn Maye and Freda Payne.   Veronica’s first appearance at Jazz at Lincoln Center was at age 11 when she performed at the “Women in Jazz” series at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. In the summer of 2016 she headlined at the Telluride Jazz Festival, her 10th appearance there – but her first as a headliner.  She first appeared there at age 10 with Dave Adams’ Young Razzcals Jazz Project and the great saxophonist Richie Cole and later she sang a duet with the featured artist, Paquito d’Rivera. 

A YAMAHA performing artist, Jeff Rupert has performed at the Blue Note, Birdland, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Tokyo Forum, the National concert hall of Taipei, Taiwan, and jazz festivals in Europe, Israel, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The group includes Jeff Rupert- tenor sax, Veronica Swift- vocals, Marty Morell- drums, Richard Drexler- piano & Ben Kramer- bass.


B3 Fury with the Shawn Brown Quintet - Friday,
February 23

7:30 PM at the Side Door at the Palladium Theater

There is nothing like the sound of a moaning B3... particularly in the hands of Shawn Brown, master of the Hammond B3.

Shawn has shared the stage with Al Green, Clarence Clemons, Christopher Cross, Earth Wind & Fire, Keith Sweat, Ronnie Earl, Lucky Peterson, Little Milton and Percy Sledge. He is joined by local great jazz artists.

Join us in the cabaret setting of the Side Door for this exceptional show with Shawn Brown and band members. General admission is $20. Presented by EMIT.

The Helios Jazz Orchestra with Whitney James & Chuck Wansley - Saturday, February 24
7:30 PM at the Palladium Theater

There is nothing like the sound of two great singers and a roaring, 17-piece jazz big band!

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Chuck Wansley began his professional singing and performing career at age 18 on an extended world tour with Up With People. In the early 80s he signed first with Prism Records and then Motown, as a founding member of the urban techno band WARP-9, performing live and producing two albums. Chuck then moved to Los Angeles and matured into a dynamic performer, easily conveying a range of musical styles from Frank Sinatra and Harry Connick, to Fatboy Slim and Maroon 5. Chuck has performed from Connecticut to Napa, Los Angeles to Paris & Prague, along with numerous solo appearances in Japan.

Whitney James spent about a decade performing on both coasts of the country before she went to New York to record “The Nature of Love.” When her debut album came out in 2010 it was if a new vocalist had appeared on the jazz scene. Jazz critics loved it!  The reviews led to James being featured last year on the popular NPR program “Piano Jazz: Rising Stars” with host Jon Weber accompanying her on piano. Marian McPartland, the 95-year-old Grammy-winning jazz pianist-composer and original host of “Piano Jazz,” had read about James’ debut album, acquired a copy and then suggested the producers spotlight her. 

The Helios Jazz Orchestra is a 17-piece jazz big band directed by David Manson.  The group has been featured twice on the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Ybor Jazz Fest and is ensemble-in-residence at St. Petersburg College.

Gabriel Hernandez Trio

Gabriel Hernandez Trio

Gabriel Hernandez Trio - Sunday, February 25
7:30 PM in the Side Door

Real Latin jazz has a feel and a groove, all its own!

Cuban jazz pianist Gabriel Hernandez has shared the stage with Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Ray Charles. Gene Pearl, Tito Puente, Bob Sheppar, Roy Hargrove, Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D'Rivera, Greg Fishman, among others.  His own band “Fervet Opus” participated in various international jazz festivals including Montreal, Montreux, Jambori in Poland, Yugoslavia jazz festival, fest Danube etc. He was part of the project of the famous jazz singer and blues NY, Tomas Leon, at the same time he played with the famous Dizzy Gillespie. Apart from his career as a jazz soloist, he performs with the “AFROCUBAN All Stars” directed by Juan Gonzales Frames, which has perfomed all over the world in different festivals.  He is also pianist with “Cubanismo”, orchestrated by Master Jesus Alemani.

 Bassist, composer, producer, and educator, Mauricio J Rodriguez is one of the finest musicians of his generation in Cuba.  He was member of Fervet Opus jazz quartet, one of the most important Latin jazz bands in Cuba in the 80’s, touring around the world to many festivals and concert including The Havana Latin Jazz Festival, Jamboree, Bratislava, Spain, and Moscow, among others. 

Dimas Sanchez is a Pearl Percussionist Artist. His musical styles include; Jazz (American and Latin), Bomba and Plena (from Puerto Rico), Salsa, Samba, Bossa Nova, Blues, Rock, Afro-Cuban and World Music. He has accompanied and performed with artists and groups including; David Sanchez , Giovanni Hidalgo, Eddie “GuaGua” Rivera, Milly Puente, John Benitez, Richie Flores, Juancito Torres, Angel "Cachete" Maldonado, Anthony Carrillo, Gabriel Hernandez, Edsel Gomez, "La Familia Cepeda", Lucecita Benitez, Chuchito Valdes and Tito Puente Jr among others.