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Acme Jazz Garage

by Acme Jazz Garage

An eclectic set of combustible jazz, blues, funk and fusion originals w/ guitarist Matt Swenson, keyboardist Bryan Lewis, bassist Philip Booth and drummer Tim Diehl joined by singer Whitney James, conga master Gumbi Ortiz and NYC saxophonist Jeremy Powell
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Fusion
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Mongo Strut
4:53 $0.99
2. Resonance
5:38 $0.99
3. Sandprints
5:54 $0.99
4. Last Call
4:21 $0.99
5. Acmefied
5:06 $0.99
6. Zag
5:26 $0.99
7. Mr. G.P.
3:41 $0.99
8. Rubberman
5:12 $0.99
9. America the Beautiful
3:32 $0.99
10. Mongo Jam
2:35 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
RELIX magazine calls Acme Jazz Garage's debut CD "A solid collection of revivalist swing and funk ... a much more enjoyable experience than your traditional 'trad jazz' album. The entire record is a capable excursion through one of the more playful eras of America's cultural history."

LOS ANGELES JAZZ SCENE writes, Acme Jazz Garage "performs funky jazz, soul jazz and Latin-flavored r&b grooves. While its music is danceable, it also features excellent musicianship and strong solos. ... quite accessible, consistently fun, and well worth picking up."

TAMPA BAY TIMES: "Bold move, putting "jazz" in both your name and album title, then opening the party with a five-minute slab of sweating, sizzling Latin-tinged funk. But it does speak to Acme Jazz Garage's fusionist tendencies.On their debut LP, the Tampa quartet (you'll often see them at Timpano in Hyde Park) is most comfortable in the sort of loping, jammy grooves one might associate with Phish; Medeski, Martin and Wood; or the Meters. ... Acme Jazz Garage is more for those who like their jazz a little fluid, a little groovy — music made not for a lounge, but a garage."

CREATIVE LOAFING/TAMPA says "the 10-track set is not only fun but a rather excellent demonstration of what four vet musicians can accomplish with some quality time in the studio and a little help from their friends."

Acme Jazz Garage delivers an eclectic set of combustible jazz-rooted tunes on the band’s debut full-length recording of original music, released on the Solar Grooves label.

Guitarist Matt Swenson, pianist/keyboardist Bryan Lewis, bassist Philip Booth and drummer Tim Diehl are joined by a diverse group of special guests. All 10 tracks were recorded and mixed by John Stephan at the historic Springs Theatre Studio, a converted movie theater in Tampa’s Seminole Heights area, and mastered by Ruairi O’Flaherty in L.A.

The music of Florida-based Acme Jazz Garage draws from the band’s jazz, blues, funk, fusion, R&B, rock and jamband influences, including Miles Davis, the Meters, MMW, Lonnie Smith, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and Snarky Puppy.

Conga master Gumbi Ortiz, a longtime Al Di Meola sideman who has also worked with New Orleans' Los Hombres Calientes, spikes the Latin-edged punch of opener “Mongo Strut” and closing sister track “Mongo Jam,” their titles nodding to Mongo Santamaria.

Whitney James, the acclaimed vocalist praised by DownBeat magazine and audiences in NYC (Kitano, Bar Next Door) the Tampa Bay area and Seattle, sings lead and multipart harmonies on the swinging, retro-tinted “Last Call,” also featuring trumpeter Ron Wilder and vibraphonist Sam Koppelman.

“Sandprints,” a 5/4 tune alluding to Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints,” showcases the soprano sax of Jeremy Powell, a former Acme Jazz Garage sideman now rising fast on the New York scene. There, he plays with the likes of the Arturo O’Farrill Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, and (his brother) Jonathan Powell & Nu Sangha.

Also here:
* fusion-tinted, multicolored “Resonance”
* funky “Acmefied”
* swinger “Zag,” w tenors Austin Vickrey and Rick Runion, and vibes
* jammy “Rubberman,” led by Vickrey’s flute and Runion’s tenor
* “Mr. G.P.,” named for Meters bassist George Porter, Jr., a slab of New Orleans-style bluesy funk bolstered by tenor and bari sax, and trumpet
* Acme’s “America the Beautiful,” done a la old-school R&B (received airplay on WMNF, 88.5 FM and WUSF, 89.7 FM)

ABOUT ACME JAZZ GARAGE--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jazz, blues, funk, fusion and New Orleans R&B meet in the combustible sound of Acme Jazz Garage, featuring guitarist Matt Swenson, pianist/keyboardist Bryan Lewis, bassist Philip Booth and drummer Tim Diehl.

The Florida-based band has played its eclectic, groove-driven music for receptive audiences at the Gasparilla Music Festival, Clearwater Jazz Holiday, WMNF Tropical Heatwave, Child of the Sun Jazz Festival, Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, Skipper’s Smokehouse, the Tampa Heights Music Festival, and many other festivals and venues.

For bookings or additional information, contact Acme Jazz Garage on Facebook, on Twitter, through the Acme Jazz Garage and Solar Grooves sites, and via

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING (Early Reviews) *************************************************

“Without a doubt, Acme Jazz Garage is the Tampa Bay area’s most adventurous jazz band. Its debut recording project finds the 5-year-old quartet in a jam-band groove, dipping its collective toes into straight-ahead jazz, Latin-tinged funk, R&B and a more modern jazz/fusion sound.

Bassist Philip Booth, drummer Tim Diehl, keyboard ace Bryan Lewis and guitarist Matt Swenson comprise the core band on this eponymous session, with a little help on various tracks from a variety of musical friends with whom the players have worked over the years. Lewis’s keyboard work, particularly on Hammond B-3, and Swenson’s melodic, often searing, guitar, dominate the group sound, layered over an infectious groove set by Booth and Diehl.

And who, you ask, stopped by to have a bit of fun on this session?

Singer Whitney James is featured on Booth’s Manhattan romance- and-bebop-inspired “Last Call.” Veteran Al Di Meola percussionist Gumbi Ortiz spices up “Mongo Strut” and “Mongo Jam.” Jeremy Powell, now making his mark on the New York jazz scene in a variety of top-flight bands, is featured on soprano sax on “Sandprints,” a clever 5/4 piece inspired by Wayne Shorter’s best-known jazz classic “Footprints.”

Saxophonists Rick Runion and Austin Vickrey, vibes player Sam Koppelman and trumpeter Ron Wilder also bulk up the band on a variety of tracks, most notably “Zag,” “”Rubberman” and “Mr. G.P.,” the latter a N’awlins groove tribute to The Meters’ bassist George Porter Jr.

From start to finish, Acme Jazz Garage and friends make it clear that the Tampa area is blessed with great jazz talent.
--KEN FRANCKLING, author/photographer, “Jazz in the Key of Light”; Ken Franckling’s Jazz Notes; contributor, JazzTimes, Hot House,

“Have you ever had a CD get stuck in your player? Not physically, but because it is so darn good you need to hear it over and over again?

That’s what happened when I popped the new recording from Acme Jazz Garage into the player. I’ve seen these guys in different settings, from purely straight ahead to all-out funk, but I simply wasn’t prepared for a disc this superb, start to finish.

They come out swinging straight out of the starting gate with “Mongo Strut,” a reworking of a tune by bassist Philip Booth. This jazz/funk outing features guest percussionist Gumbo Ortiz, long a Tampa Bay area star and Al Di Meola bandmate. Bryan Lewis gives his clavinet a workout, and Ortiz and drummer Tim Diehl are in perfect sync, powered by Booth’s electric bass.

The next track, “Resonance,” still blows me away, and that’s after more than a dozen times through the disc. Composer Lewis opens with electric piano, and then Matt Swenson gets to work. His playing throughout is nothing short of spectacular. This tune goes through a variety of changes, and he nails every one. Booth and Diehl are a monster rhythm section. Lewis takes a great solo as well.

“Sandprints” is Booth’s homage to Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints,” magnificently rendered with Jeremy Powell on soprano saxophone. Powell is another Tampa Bay area jewel who moved to New York. (Jeremy and NYC trumpeter brother Jonathan played with Booth in Ghetto Love Sugar). Rick Runion, a fine tenor player from Lakeland, plays harmony with Jeremy here.
The track begins with Booth’s beautiful double bass tones, then Jeremy and the band join in.

Booth adds a vocal tune to the mix with “Last Call,” his impressions of New York City during his time there and historically as well. Whitney James is the singer here, and her voice perfectly accents Booth’s lyrics. The tune also features vibraphonist Sam Koppelman, a truly impressive player whose contributions here and on “Zag” are first-rate. Ron Wilder plays trumpet, and he was Booth’s jazz instructor back in the day!

“Zag” is a gorgeous tune Booth used to play with Trio Vibe. Koppelman is perfect here, and Austin Vickrey and Runion join in on tenors, with a solo from Vickrey. This song swings so hard, driven by Booth on bass. Beautiful acoustic piano from Lewis adds to the sheer delight of this track.

Booth next honors George Porter, Jr., the king of New Orleans bass players and a member of the legendary Meters, with “Mr. G.P.” (a reference to Coltrane’s tune “Mr. P.C.”). If you’re going to do NOLA, you’re gonna need a horn section: Wilder, Runion, and Vickrey (this time on baritone sax). Swenson takes another blistering guitar turn while Booth and Diehl channel that second-line rhythm.

Badass bass launches “Rubberman,” the oldest tune in Acme Jazz Garage’s repertoire. Vickrey plays gorgeous flute here with Runion on tenor. Lewis stands out on Hammond B3 organ, funk dripping from every note. Diehl nails this one, and Swenson delivers a beautiful solo invoking so many great jazz guitarists. Booth gets an extended feature as well.

“Acmefied” opens with a nifty drum roll into the tune, another fine funky jazz piece. Swenson again channels the masters beautifully, and Diehl’s work on the kit is of special note. Lewis comps underneath with great electric piano.

Lewis arranged a very bluesy version of “America the Beautiful” which was released in time for Independence Day. His gospel-tinged Hammond B3 provides a very different reading of this, reminiscent perhaps of Ray Charles.

The disc closes with a percussion workout with Diehl and Ortiz, “Mongo Jam,” a logical extension of the opening tune.
This wonderful recording was enhanced by the remarkable production job done at the Springs Theatre, where local Tampa musicians have been producing music of the highest quality.
--SCOTT HOPKINS, “Colors of Jazz” announcer, WMNF, 88.5 FM;; editor-in-chief,


“The influences felt scattered (which is good), but the song "Resonance" immediately made me think of Steely Dan. That, too, is a good thing. Oh, and (I hear) hints of the Crusaders now and again. The rest felt like its own thing. This is really a hot little combo. Mission accomplished. It’s a damn fine record. Bravo!”
--LOUIS MAISTROS, New Orleans singer/songwriter and acclaimed novelist, author of “The Sound of Building Coffins,” and former jazz record store owner



to write a review

Los Angeles Scene

Acme Jazz Garage
Acme Jazz Garage which is based in Tampa, Florida, performs funky jazz, soul jazz and Latin-flavored r&b grooves. While its music is danceable, it also features excellent musicianship and strong solos.
The band’s self-titled CD has the quartet (guitarist Matt Swenson, keyboardist Bryan Lewis, bassist Philip Booth and drummer Tim Diehl) joined on some selections by guest musicians. The congas of Gumbi Ortiz are prominent on “Mongo Strut” and ”Mongo Jam,” Whitney James sings on the boppish “Last Call, vibraphonist Sam Koppelman’s vibes add to the group’s sound on two numbers, and four horn players also make appearances.
The music, which is comprised of nine originals plus a heartfelt “America The Beautiful,” is spirited and well-played. The Acme’s Jazz Garage’s recorded debut is quite accessible, consistently fun, and well worth picking up. It is available from