Saturday, January 21, 2017

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Remembering Charles "Bobo" Shaw

Today, let's take a break from previewing upcoming performances here in St. Louis to look at some videos of the late drummer Charles "Bobo" Shaw.

Shaw, who died Monday in a St. Louis nursing care facility at age 69, was a founder of the Black Artists Group and played with many well-known jazz and creative musicians of the past 50 years.

He had a varied career in music that was sufficiently important that, in addition to his obituary here on StLJN, his passing has been noted by national publications including the New York Times and DownBeat, which published an obituary written by veteran St. Louis journalist Terry Perkins. (In contrast, Shaw's hometown newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has yet to offer any coverage of his death, nor have any other media outlets here, except for the one you're reading right now.)

In the last years of his life, Shaw may have had a lower profile on the national and international scenes that he did in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, but he did perform here in St. Louis as part of a number of different musical projects, and today's videos offer a glimpse of three of them. (Please note that none of these videos was professionally produced, so the audio and video quality varies widely.)

The first video up above features Shaw and pianist David Parker playing Parker's "Scott Joplin Blues" in 2014 at the Tavern of Fine Arts. After the jump, you can see two more clips from the same gig, featuring Shaw, Parker, and cellist Tracy Andreotti engaged in some free improv.

Next is a series of six clips from two concerts that Shaw and three other St. Louis drummers did for the Nu-Art Series in 2010 and 2011 at the Metropolitan Gallery downtown.

Presented under the name "The Drum Line" by trumpeter and impresario George Sams, a friend of Shaw's since childhood, the concerts were a spotlight for the individual and collective skills of four percussionists - Shaw, Jerome "Scrooge' Harris, Gary Sykes, and Johnny Johnson - as well as a tribute to the local drum and bugle groups American Woodsmen and Tom Powell American Legion Post #77 that offered training and opportunities to many young St. Louis African-American musicians in the mid-20th century.

The next two videos feature Shaw playing with the group Melodies of the Kabbalah in a session recorded in May 2010 at the old studios of radio station KDHX on Magnolia Ave in south St. Louis. In contrast to the sometimes-sprawling free improvisations in today's other clips, the versions of "Hine Ma Tov" and "Latin Moderato 75" feature Shaw in an accompanying role, supporting the ensemble of keyboardist Michael Loveman, bassist Josh Weinstein (of KDHX's "All Soul, No Borders), violinist Brien Seyle, and fellow drummer Brian Sullivan in a couple of concise, melodic performances.

As a lagniappe, at the end of this post you'll find an audio-only YouTube playlist compiling tracks from various projects Shaw did with violinist Billy Bang, the Human Arts Ensemble, and bassist William Parker.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ralph Towner performing Saturday,
February 18 at 560 Music Center

Guitarist Ralph Towner is coming to St. Louis to present a solo performance at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 18 at the 560 Music Center.

Towner (pictured), who's known for his work with the groups Paul Winter Consort and Oregon and for his many recordings on the ECM label, will be touring a handful of cities in the U.S. in support of a new solo album, My Foolish Heart, which will be released February 3 on ECM.

He last played St. Louis in October 2011 in a solo show for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University, which also is sponsoring this performance.

Tickets for Ralph Towner at 560 Music Center are $25 for general admission, $20 for seniors and Wash U faculty and staff, $10 for students, and are on sale now online.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Jazz this week: Regina Carter, Iva Bittová & Hamid Drake, and more

Wondering what's happening this week in live jazz and creative music in St. Louis?

Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, January 18
Arguably the premier jazz violinist working today, Regina Carter (pictured, top left) opens a four-night engagement continuing through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro.

Like many a conservatory trained musician, Carter (pictured) certainly has fluid technique, but what really sets her apart from other equally proficient players are her expressive abilities as an improvisor, her feeling for blues and swing, and a canny sense of curation when conceiving albums and live performances.

On this visit to the Bistro, she'll be "performing music celebrating the 100th birthday of the great Ella Fitzgerald," and no doubt will have some interesting and enjoyable interpretations of material from the singer's vast catalog.

Thursday, January 19
Pianist Ptah Williams and guitarist Eric Slaughter will play at The Dark Room.

Friday, January 20
New Music Circle presents their first show of 2017, featuring a duo performance by Czech violinist and singer Iva Bittová and Chicago-based percussionist Hamid Drake (pictured, bottom left) at Joe's Cafe.

Also on Friday, Miss Jubilee plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom; singers Rick Jensen and Lina Koutrakos present their cabaret show "After All Those Love Songs" at the Kranzberg Arts Center; and SpaceShip will bring their jazz/fusion sound to Evangeline's.

Saturday, January 21
Live jazz starts in the daytime, as trumpeter Jim Manley will play at Evangeline's as part of their new live music policy for Saturday brunch, and saxophonist Jason Swagler will be the first local player featured in a new monthly series of free Saturday matinee concerts at Saxquest.

Then on Saturday evening, saxophonist Tim Cunningham returns to @Nesby's in Sunset Hills.

Monday, January 23
Guitarist Tom Byrne and his quartet will kick off this semester's series of jazz concerts at Webster University's Winifred Moore Auditorium, and Dizzy Atmosphere will play swing and Gypsy jazz at The Shaved Duck.

For more jazz-related events in and around St. Louis, please visit the St. Louis Jazz Notes Calendar, which can be found on the left sidebar of the site or by clicking here. You also can keep up with all the latest news by following St. Louis Jazz Notes on Twitter at or clicking the "Like" icon on the StLJN Facebook page.

(If you have calendar items, band schedule information, news tips, links, or anything else you think may be of interest to StLJN's readers, please email the information to stljazznotes (at) yahoo (dot) com. If you have photos, MP3s or other digital files, please send links, not attachments.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Victor Wooten Trio set to play
Tuesday, March 28 at Old Rock House

Bassist Victor Wooten is returning to St. Louis to perform at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 28 at the Old Rock House.

Wooten, known for his work with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones as well as for his solo career as a bandleader and educator, will be playing in a trio with drummer Dennis Chambers and saxophonist Bob Franceschini. He last visited St. Louis in 2012, playing with the Flecktones at The Sheldon and later with his own band at ORH.

Although Wooten (pictured) made headlines last fall with a hired-gun guest appearance on a track by the prog metal band Octavision, his next album, set to be released this year, will be a trio effort featuring Chambers and Franceschini. The trio toured Europe last fall and will be supporting the album release with U.S. dates this year.

The Victor Wooten Trio at the Old Rock House will be an all-ages show. Tickets are $30, and will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. this Thursday, January 19 via the venue website and all Metrotix outlets.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Charles "Bobo" Shaw 1947-2017

Charles Wesley "Bobo" Shaw, a St. Louis drummer who helped found the Black Artists Group, co-led the Human Arts Ensemble, and played with many prominent jazz and creative musicians of the past half-century, has died at a nursing care facility in St. Louis. He was 69 years old.

St. Louis trumpeter, arts administrator and impresario George Sams, who was friends with Shaw for nearly 60 years, said the drummer had been hospitalized with multiple ailments in early December, first at Barnes Jewish Hospital and then at St. Alexius.

He was transferred to Heritage Care Center in north county about three weeks ago, Sams said, and was placed in hospice care there last Thursday, where he remained until his death at about 6:00 a.m. Monday.

Shaw was born September 5, 1947 in Pope, Mississippi. Moving to St. Louis as a young child, in 1953 he joined the American Woodsman drum and bugle corps, a group whose other alumni include Sams, trumpeter Clark Terry, saxophonist Oliver Lake, and drummer Philip Wilson. Shaw also also played with the drum corps associated with Tom Powell Post American Legion #77, studied drums with jazz musicians Joe Charles and Elijah Shaw and with Bernie Snyder of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, and along the way, learned trombone and bass as well.

In the mid-1960s, he helped found the Black Artists Group, a cooperative organization of musicians, writers, poets, actors, and visual artists whose members included Lake, saxophonists Hamiet Bluiett and Julius Hemphill, trumpeter Lester Bowie, and many others. Although the group, unlike Chicago's similarly conceived and still active Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, was relatively short-lived, its influence continues to be felt through the music of its former members and the ensembles they subsequently established, including the World Saxophone Quartet (with Lake, Bluiett, Hemphill, and David Murray) and the funk band Defunkt, led by trombonist Joseph Bowie, the younger brother of Lester Bowie.

Along with several other BAG members, Shaw moved to Europe later in the 1960s, returning to the USA in 1971 and eventually ending up in New York City. His musical collaborations during this time included work with Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy, Frank Wright, Alan Silva, Michel Portal, Cecil Taylor, and Frank Lowe, as well as with St. Louis musicians such as Lake, Hemphill, the Bowie brothers, saxophonist Luther Thomas, and guitarist Richard Martin. In the 1980s, he played with violinist Billy Bang, and in all, Shaw recorded at least 10 albums as a leader or co-leader, and appeared on more than a dozen other recordings with Bang, Lake, Lester Bowie, Defunkt, Braxton, Lowe, violinist Leroy Jenkins, and others.

Beset by health issues and personal problems, Shaw performed less frequently in later years, though he did take part in several concerts this decade for Sams' Nu-Art Series at the Metropolitan Gallery downtown and in some improvised performances at the now-shuttered Tavern of Fine Arts.

One of his last major concerts in New York was during the 2015 Vision Festival at Judson Memorial Church as part of Bluiett's Telepathic Orchestra, an all-star ensemble also featuring Sams, multi-instrumentalist and St. Louis native J.D. Parran, saxophonists Kidd Jordan and Charles Gayle, flutist Siraz al-Hasan, harpist Riza Priantup, tuba player Joe Daley, pianist D.D. Jackson, bassist William Parker, percussionist Warren Smith, and a string section including violinists Mazz Swift, Jason Kao Hwang, Jean Cook, Judith Insell, and Elektra Kurtis, cellist Tomeka Reid, and bassist Mark Schmied. You can see that performance on video here.

Survivors include a sister, Marian Shaw Matthews of Washington, DC. Arrangements will be handled by Eddie Randle & Sons Funeral Home, with details still pending as of this writing. This post will be updated, or a new one written, when more information becomes available.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Session: January 15, 2017

Alice Coltrane
Here are some interesting music-related items that have landed in StLJN's inbox over the past week:

* Cuba Is the Missing Link in Jazz History (The Daily Beast)
* The Quiet Failure of Sony’s Giant Cassette Tape (Atlas Obscura)
* Tiny Desk Concert: Donny McCaslin (NPR)
* Naxos Launches Jazz-Only E-Commerce Site, ArkivJazz: Exclusive (Billboard)
* Thoughts While Attending the First Symphony in the Series My Wife Wanted to Buy (The New Yorker)
* Stage Oddity: The Story of David Bowie’s Secret Final Project (GQ)
* Kamasi Turns Bay Residency into Party (DownBeat)
* Why Manassas Was Stephen Stills' Best Band (
* WJF Artists Address Social Justice (DownBeat)
* Benny Reeves, a Motown original, is still hustlin’ — in between Uber gigs (Detroit Metro Times)
* Why Unreleased Marvin Gaye, Supremes, Beach Boys Tracks Are Suddenly Appearing: EU Copyright Law (Billboard)
* 130 Bands In Five Days: Highlights From Winter Jazzfest NYC 2017 (NPR)
* Meet Yolanda ‘Yo Yo’ Baker, America’s last disco ball maker (
* Music's Weird Cassette-Tape Revival Is Paying Off (Fast Company)
* Muddy Waters' heirs still seeking answers about blues legend's estate (Chicago Tribune)
* Groovy vintage ads for classic guitars (
* Transfiguration and Transcendence: The Music of Alice Coltrane (Pitchfork)
* John Snyder & the Meaning of Production (Jazz Times)
* What Happens When Algorithms Design a Concert Hall? The Stunning Elbphilharmonie (Wired)
* Closing time: Why some of Canada's music clubs are losing the fight to stay open (
* La La Land Is Clueless About What’s Actually Happening in Jazz (
* A Young Jazz Pianist Remembers His Biggest Champion: Nat Hentoff (Village Voice)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Winter/spring 2017 jazz preview, part five

Today, it's time to wrap up StLJN's winter/spring 2017 jazz preview with the fifth installment in the series, which features videos of jazz and creative music performers who are coming to St. Louis over the next few months. The posts cover those acts in chronological order, and if you've missed earlier installments, you can catch up by clicking through to parts one, two, three and four.

Picking up in April, today's chapter begins with the musicians performing at the 2017 Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival, the public portions of which will be held Friday, April 21 and Saturday, April 22 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

This year's GSLJF will feature trumpeter Terell Stafford and trombonist Wycliffe Gordon playing with the UMSL Jazz Ensemble on Friday, and trumpeter Jon Faddis and friends "Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Dizzy Gillespie" on Saturday.

In the first clip up above, you can see Stafford playing flugelhorn on the ballad "Everything Happens To Me" as recorded last March in the studios of KNKX radio in Tacoma, WA.

After the jump, the second clip features Gordon singing and soloing on Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose" at the 2015 New York Hot Jazz Festival, with help from clarinetist Adrian Cunningham, drummer Alvin Atkinson Jr, bassist Jennifer Vincent, and pianist Ehud Asherie.

Below that, you can see Faddis featured with pianist Mike Longo's big band, playing Longo's arrangement of "A Night in Tunisia" as part of an event commemorating Dizzy Gillespie's birthday in November 2015 at the NYC Baha'i Center.

The week after the GSLJF, the SFJAZZ Collective will return for a series of performances starting Wednesday, April 26 through Saturday, April 29 at Jazz at the Bistro.

The Collective each year features new arrangements of music from a single composer, and this season, they're spotlighting the works of Miles Davis, which should prove to be a strong audience draw pretty much everywhere, but especially so here in St. Louis.

To get an idea of how they're approaching Davis's music, check out the next video featuring trumpeter Sean Jones' arrangement of "So What" as performed last October at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco. In addition to Jones, the current lineup of the Collective includes alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon, tenor saxophonist David Sanchez, trombonist Robin Eubanks, vibraphonist Warren Wolf, pianist Edward Simon, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Obed Calvaire.

A couple of weeks later, organist Joey DeFrancesco, will be performing starting Wednesday, May 10 through Saturday, May 13 at the Bistro. DeFrancesco is seen today's fifth clip with guitarist Dan Wilson and drummer Jason Brown playing a full set recorded in August 2016 at Dizzy's Club in NYC's Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Next up, it's bassist Christian McBride, who's bringing his New Jawn Quartet here to play Wednesday, May 24 through Saturday, May 27 at the Bistro. With trumpeter Josh Evans, saxophonist Marcus Strickland, drummer Nasheet Waits but no pianist, guitarist or vibraphonist to fill out the ensemble, this group represents something of a new sound for McBride, but unfortunately, they're so new that there doesn't seem to any representative video of them online as of yet.

They're playing the Village Vanguard next week, so perhaps some video of that will surface before spring, but in the meantime, in the penultimate clip you can check out McBride's trio, which played the Bistro last year, performing "Sand Dune" in a session last July at KNKX radio.

Today's final video features singer, pianist and occasional guitarist Norah Jones, who will be coming to St. Louis for a concert on Tuesday, June 6 at the Peabody Opera House. Jones' most recent album Day Breaks offered something of a return to the jazz-oriented sound with which she began her career, including a version of Horace Silver's composition "Peace" that she performed in December on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

That finishes StLJN's 2017 winter/spring jazz preview, though if any future performances of interest subsequently are announced, you'll find the news here. You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Jazz this week: Tortoise, Jazz at Lincoln Center Group, Anat Cohen, and more

Unpredictable weather is just one reason that a lot of touring acts like to stay home in early January.

But whether St. Louis this weekend ends up with the spring-like temperatures we're enjoying at midweek, or with the ice storm being promised (threatened?) by Friday, the calendar of upcoming live jazz and creative music performances in St. Louis features several shows that definitely are worth leaving the house to hear.

Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, January 11
Five young local musicians associated with Jazz St. Louis' educational programs will reunite as the Jazz St. Louis All-Stars Alumni Quintet for the first of two nights of performances at Jazz at the Bistro.

The group features saxophonist Carlos Brown, Jr., trumpeter Brady Lewis, drummer Everette Benton, pianist Eliot Courtois, and bassist Nathan Pence, all of whom currently are studying music at various universities around the country.

Also on Wednesday, guitarist Eric Slaughter and bassist Glen Smith will be playing duets at Evangeline's.

Thursday, January 12
The eclectic instrumental quintet Tortoise (pictured, top left), who have been enjoying a period of renewed activity since the 2016 release The Catastrophist, their first album since 2009, returns to perform at the Old Rock House.

Elsewhere around town, the Peoria, IL-based band The Perrilles Project will be playing music associated with iconic drummer Max Roach at Evangeline's; and singer and impressionist Dean Christopher brings his "Rat Pack and More" show to Joe's Cafe & Gallery.

Friday, January 13
Four musicians in town this week to do educational residencies for Jazz St. Louis - trumpeter Terell Stafford, trombonist Andre Hayward, bassist Rodney Whitaker, and drummer Steve Fidyk -  will join forces to perform as the "Jazz at Lincoln Center Group" for the first of two nights at Jazz at the Bistro.

Stafford and Whitaker already are familiar to local jazz fans thanks to multiple previous appearances here - in fact, the trumpeter played the Bistro just last month as part of saxophonist Tim Warfield's holiday show - while Fidyk, though not a marquee name, is a well-regarded drummer and teacher known for his work with big bands.

But the sleeper attraction on this gig may very well be Hayward (pictured, center left) a veteran of the SFJAZZ Ensemble who last played here in 2013 at the Bistro as part of a similar setup with Whitaker, Warfield, and pianist and former St. Louisan Reggie Thomas. He's one of the top trombonists working today, with a quick imagination as an improviser, fine technique, and a well-rounded tone.

Also on Friday, vocal group Java Jived will bring their Manhattan Transfer-esque harmonies to the Emerald Room at The Monocle; and Miss Jubilee will play for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom.

Saturday, January 14
Clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen (pictured, bottom left) returns to play at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

While one of Cohen's major projects of the past year was working with arranger Oded Lev-Ari and a new ten-piece band, for this show she'll be fronting her quartet, a versatile and free-wheeling band that can handle music ranging from classic swing numbers associated with Fats Waller and Benny Goodman to Brazilian choro music.

Also on Saturday, singer Erika Johnson and guitarist Tom Byrne will perform at Montrey's Cigar Lounge.

For more jazz-related events in and around St. Louis, please visit the St. Louis Jazz Notes Calendar, which can be found on the left sidebar of the site or by clicking here. You also can keep up with all the latest news by following St. Louis Jazz Notes on Twitter at or clicking the "Like" icon on the StLJN Facebook page.

(If you have calendar items, band schedule information, news tips, links, or anything else you think may be of interest to StLJN's readers, please email the information to stljazznotes (at) yahoo (dot) com. If you have photos, MP3s or other digital files, please send links, not attachments.)