St. Petersburg Jazz Festival in DTSP 2017-1

9th Annual St. Petersburg Jazz Festival

Music, like other art forms, acts as a form of expression. Some say that certain genres flirt with distinct moods or emotions, and many will agree that jazz continuously romanticizes the listener with thoughts of an earlier time, whether in their own lifetime, or not. The rhythm of most jazz styles is toe-tappin’ and almost always exudes positive vibes. Experience this nostalgic American music right here in Downtown St. Pete, Florida. 2017 marks the 9th Annual St. Petersburg Jazz Festival!

Evening concerts February 22 – 26, 2017 at The Palladium Theater in Downtown St. Pete. Concert Admission: $15

Free Jazz Master Classes with Jazz Artists during the early afternoons of February 22 – 24, 2017 at St. Petersburg College (open to the community).


David Manson, Director, explained to that the Jazz Festival was originally sponsored by St. Petersburg College and EMIT. Then in 2012, it expanded to a citywide event with a mission to present diverse jazz concerts and educational outreach in Pinellas County. (Find out what else David had to say about this unique festival, below).

What can attendees look forward to this year?

Every season features a variety of jazz styles.  We tend to favor Florida artists since there are so many great jazz musicians living in the state and they deserve greater recognition.  If outside artists are touring through Florida, we often block book as well. 

St. Petersburg Jazz Festival in DTSP 2017-1

The festival starts with Robotman (pictured above) – an interesting fusion of acoustic jazz with light electronics.  If you like Miles Davis during his early Bitches Brew and On the Corner albums, you will enjoy this group. 

St. Petersburg Jazz Festival in DTSP 2017-1

The second group is the Martin Bejerano Trio (pictured above). Martin is an amazing pianist and composer. His music is eloquent and expressive. 

St. Petersburg Jazz Festival in DTSP 2017-8

The Joshua Breakstone Trio features the tasty guitar work of Joshua Breakstone (pictured above) plus veteran bassist Don Mopsick and young drummer Mark Feinman. 

St. Petersburg Jazz Festival in DTSP 2017-1St. Petersburg Jazz Festival in DTSP 2017-1

Saturday’s show features the 17-piece Helios Jazz Orchestra (pictured above) backing singers Whitney James and Fred Johnson (pictured above).  This is big band jazz at its best!  Whitney and Fred are fantastic talents.

St. Petersburg Jazz Festival in DTSP 2017-1

The final show (on Sunday evening) is L.A. drummer Jason Lee Bruns (pictured above) with the SPC Jazz Profs playing a wide variety of grooves including New Orleans 2nd line, Brazilian, Afro-Cuban and more. All of our concerts are at the Palladium Side Door and Palladium Theater. 

Special thanks to Sponsors: Tampa Bay Times, Gobioff Foundation, City of St. Petersburg, Creative Loafing, F.E. Lykes Foundation, WUSF-FM, Husonics and the many jazz patrons in Downtown St. Pete.

“We’ve always appreciated NOVA 535 since they have hosted the Helios Jazz Orchestra for years,” David said. If you have yet to visit the historic venue in Downtown St. Pete, check out NOVA’s public events or book a tour if you are planning a special occasion!

David Manson is not only the Director of St. Petersburg Jazz Festival, he also teaches in the Music and Music Industry Recording Arts program (MIRA) at St. Petersburg College. Plus, you may know him as the director the 17-piece Helios Jazz Orchestra or from performing with the Brazilian group O Som Do Jazz (a few of their original tracks were placed in HBO, Fox & BBC shows).

More about David Manson:

St. Petersburg Jazz Festival in DTSP 2017-8

How did you begin in the music industry and why jazz?

I always liked jazz, but began my profession as principal trombonist in the Florida West Coast Symphony Orchestra (now known as the Sarasota Orchestra). After a few years teaching at a university in Indiana, I returned to Florida and began working in commercial, experimental and jazz music. I began composing around that same time and founded the nonprofit EMIT. EMIT has presented nearly 400 concerts and workshops here in Pinellas County. I also had the good fortune to perform and record with legendary jazz saxophonist Sam Rivers. He was a mentor to me and many others.

What is your guilty pleasure song to play or listen to?

I can listen to the great Brazilian singer Elis Regina any time. She gives me goose bumps.  When she sings the music of Tom Jobim or Edu Lobo, it doesn’t get any better.

Do you believe jazz receives enough recognition?

It’s a great American art form that requires a high level of competency and creativity to perform well.  Some say that it is too complex.  I just think of music like I would think of professional sports.  I don’t want to watch a football or basketball team that is average or amateur.  I want to see athletes who are amazing.  The same applies for music. Artists don’t have to “wow” me with technique necessarily, but I want to hear mastery, creativity and direction in their music.

Why is music one of you passions?

It has such a powerful effect on one’s mind.  Even as a kid I had “music on the brain”, as my father used to say. I look around this area and see fantastic jazz musicians struggling to make a living. I try to provide them with performances and some income.

St. Petersburg Jazz Festival in DTSP 2017-1

Love music? Gather a group of friends to experience the St. Petersburg Jazz Festival at the Palladium Theater in Downtown St. Pete! If you see David Manson, tell him that sent you. Remember, we only feature the 5-star places to go, personalities to meet (just like David!) and events to attend in DTSP. Don’t forget to #DTSP on instagram for your chance to get featured!

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