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Concert Review: Guitarist Steve Uscher in Florida

Celebrating the rhythmic essence and varieties of tropical jazz

Guitarist Steve Uscher in Port Charlotte, Florida, February 8, 2016
Percussionist Papo Valentin with Steve Uscher's Tropical Jazz Group in Port Charlotte, Florida, February 8, 2016
Steve Uscher and singer-percussionist Winnie Purple in Port Charlotte, Florida, February 8, 2016
Steve Uscher's Tropical Jazz Group in Port Charlotte, Florida, February 8, 2016
Daniel Navarro, Steve Uscher and Winnie Purple in Port Charlotte, Florida, February 8, 2016

Since departing the New York jazz scene more than 25 years ago, guitarist Steve Uscher has immersed himself in what he calls tropical jazz, the varied but often sultry music originating in Argentina, Brazil and a few Caribbean locales, including Cuba. After his Big Apple days working on Broadway shows, in jazz clubs and backing vocal headliners, he moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands and spent five years playing jazz, calypso and reggae on the resort hotel circuit.

For the past 20 years or so, he’s been based in Naples, Fla., where he and singer-percussionist Winnie Purple perform as a duo three to five nights a week at the Ritz Carlton’s Lobby Bar. A few times a year, when schedule and opportunities permit, Uscher assembles his full-blown Tropical Jazz Group. He brought its latest version to the Charlotte County Jazz Society’s concert series on February 8 in his first CCJS appearance since 2008.

Besides Uscher and Purple, the band included trumpeter Dan Miller, the inventive percussionist Edwin “Papo” Valentin, bassist Daniel Navarro and drummer Darrell Nutt. While Uscher and Purple have a fine rapport from working together so frequently, the added instrumental firepower revealed a sextet bubbling with energy and invention.

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