St. Petersburg Jazz Festival brings five days of grooves to four area venues

Among the scheduled performers are James Varnado Jazz/Funk Band and The Claudia Quintet (full schedule plus video included)

Now in its seventh season, the St. Petersburg Jazz Festival returns for another five evening’s worth of concerts, which finds some of the elite musicians who keep our local jazz scene a vital and vibrant part of the community performing alongside a few well-respected national talents brought to town just for this occasion.

The merriment gets off to a rousing start tonight with The James Varnado Jazz/Funk Band, its namesake drummer born and raised in New Orleans, and soaking his grooving sounds in the sonic flavors of his native home. The sounds continue in earnest on Thursday with a program of ‘Killer Hammond B3 jazz’ by Tampa organ extraordinaire Shawn Brown as joined by guitarist Nate Najar, sax player Jeremy Carter and drummer Anthony Breach. Friday finds NYC’s Claudia Quintet (led by drummer/composer John Hollenbeck) delivering a set of intriguing, fusion-twisted post-jazz marked by avant use of vibes, accordion and horns (tenor sax and clarinet). Kevin Mahogany lends his silky pipes to the big band swing of the 18-piece Helios Jazz Orchestra on Saturday night, while Sunday marks the fest’s conclusion with a Post-Festival Jazz Jam featuring several musicians who appeared at the fest along with other surprise guests.

2015 St. Pete Jazz Festival Schedule: The James Varnado Jazz/Funk Band, Wed., Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m., Artpool, 2030 Central Ave., $10; Killer Hammond B3 Jazz, Thurs., Feb. 26, 7:30 p.m., Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N., $15; The Claudia Quintet, Fri., Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m., SPC Music Center at St. Pete College, 6605 Fifth Ave. N., $15 GA/$10 with SPC ID; Helios Jazz Orchestra feat. Kevin Mahogany, Sat., Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m., SPC Music Center, $15 general admission/ $10 with SPC ID; and Sun., March 1, 6 p.m., Manhattan Casino, 642 22nd St. S., St. $3. All events held in St. Petersburg. More info at

Some videos featuring the performers below...

The Meters' "People Say" as re-imagined by James Varnado Funk Band

An outtake featuring Shawn Brown from the Killer B3 documentary

And finally, a performance by The Claudia Quintet from 2009

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