St. Petersburg College hosts a lot of talent among its staff and students, and the SPC family can enjoy some of that talent when the Helios Jazz Orchestra performs on Nov. 21 at the Palladium Side Door Theater.
Professor David Manson, a trombone composer and soloist, founded SPC’s Helios Jazz Orchestra back in 2008 as an evening jazz band course. The 18-member band plays big band jazz and performs all over the Tampa Bay area.
“I was pleasantly surprised when a large number of top jazz artists from the area came to the first rehearsal,” Manson said. “Since then, the group has steadily been active in concerts, festivals and other special events.”
One notable gig for the group is their performance at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, a 40-year event that hosts talented artists who play a wide range of jazz. Helios played alongside Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, John Clearly and Scott Bradlee’s Post Modern Jukebox.
“The band had a great performance,” Manson said. “They tackled a wide range of styles, from Latin jazz to Great American Songbook standards. Our singer, Jamie Perlow, was outstanding. She reminded listeners that style, projection and clearly understood lyrics are so important.”
Manson is director of the St. Petersburg Jazz Festival, an annual event that will be held again in February, 2018. The Festival features Florida jazz artists, and Helios will perform with singers Whitney James and Chuck Wansley. Manson said it is impossible to compensate such a large group at the level that its members deserve, but they aren’t in it for the money.
“They participate because they love the music. It’s a joy to direct, compose and arrange for this ensemble,” Manson said.
The next opportunity for the general public to catch a performance by the group will be at the Palladium Side Door Theater on Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. with singer Kirsten Joyer.