Saturday, April 19, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
The basics of Basie



With the Count Basie Orchestra set to close out the 2014 Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival with a concert on Saturday, April 26 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, our mission here today is a simple one: To share performances of a half-dozen of the most famous and enduring arrangements from the Basie band's repertoire.

Although the band's appearance here will mark 30 years to the day since Basie himself passed away, a series of musicians steeped in the Count's particular musical ethos has continued to direct them in steady touring and the occasional recording, keeping these songs alive for new generations of jazz fans.

Most recently, trumpeter Scott Barnhart, who's played with the Basie band for more than 20 years, took over the leadership last year, and the current pianist is none other than former St. Louisan Reggie Thomas, who now lives and teaches in Michigan. (While Thomas is back in St. Louis next week, he'll also perform on Thursday night at Jazz at the Bistro, co-leading a small group with bassist Rodney Whitaker to kick off the GSLJF.)

You can read a brief history of the Basie orchestra on their website, linked above, but for a more in-depth look at the man and the band, Rutgers University's digital exhibit "One More Once: A Centennial Celebration of the Life and Music of Count Basie." is a fine place to start.

As for our survey of some of Basie's best, the first video clip up above is from a 1943 feature film called Reveille with Beverly, and depicts Basie and the band performing "One O'Clock Jump," a propulsive exercise in blues riffing that served as their theme song in the early years. Although obviously pre-recorded and staged for purposes of the film, it's still a reasonable approximation of what they must have looked and sounded like back then.

Though the blues was central to the first edition of the Basie band, after World War II a "New Testament" version of the group emerged, powered by a more diverse selection of charts from arrangers such as Neal Hefti and Frank Foster, who also played tenor sax in the group and would serve as director for several years after Basie's death.

Hefti's "Li'l Darlin'," shown in the second video in a version recorded in 1960 in Milan, demonstrated that the Basie band could play a delicate ballad as well as swing the blues, and it remains one of the single most beloved pieces in their songbook. The trumpet solo is by Sonny Cohn.

Below that are two selections from a program that Basie recorded in 1965 for the BBC. "Jumpin' at the Woodside" is perhaps Basie's most famous uptempo flag-waver, and in this version, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis gets off a blistering tenor sax solo that almost brings down the house.

After that, it's "April in Paris," with a signature arrangement devised by organist Wild Bill Davis that features a fake ending - or sometimes, multiple fake endings - followed by the Count cuing the band to hit it "one more time," which you can see at the 2:37 mark in this particular clip.

The last two videos are from a show in 1981 at NYC's Carnegie Hall. Frank Foster's "Shiny Stockings" is another perennial favorite dating back to the 1950s version of the band, and is heard here at a somewhat brisker tempo than on the original studio version.

The final number, "Every Day I Have The Blues," takes the Basie orchestra back to its roots, backing singer Joe Williams in what many jazz fans consider to be the definitive version of this blues standard (which, incidentally, was written and originally recorded by St. Louis pianist Pinetop Sparks).

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

Friday, April 18, 2014

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

Here's the latest wrap-up of assorted links and short local news items of interest:

* There's a new entry on Clark Terry's blog, in which the legendary trumpeter and St. Louis native - who at 93 is physically frail but remains indomitable in spirit - details his recent efforts to "keep on keepin' on."

Said blog post also alerted us to a nice feature story about Terry published earlier this year in Allegro, the magazine of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians.

* Tomorrow is the annual Record Store Day, and St. Louis music purveyors including Euclid Records, Apop Records, and Vintage Vinyl will celebrating variously with live music, in-store guest DJs, food and drink, special limited edition releases, and more. You can get a good overview of the goings-on around town via this article by the Riverfront Times' Mike Appelstein.

Also, as mentioned (or, depending upon your point of view, threatened) in this space last week, once again this year I'll be a guest DJ at Vintage Vinyl, spinning jazz, blues, funk, soul and who-know-what-else inside the store for an hour starting at 4:00 p.m.. Don't say you haven't been warned.

* Modern dance company MADCO's premiere production of "Liquid Roads," which incorporated live jazz and blues from a band led by trumpeter Brian Casserly, was reviewed by Chris Gibson of Broadway World and by UMSL's student paper The Current.

* One of singer Storm Large's sold-out performances last weekend for the Gaslight Cabaret Festival was reviewed by Chuck Lavazzi of KDHX.

* The Route 66 Jazz Orchestra has posted on Facebook an album of photos from their most recent performance at First Unity Church of St. Louis.

* Also on Facebook, the Sidney Street Shakers have posted an album of photos from their performance at Schlafly's Repeal of Prohibition Festival 2014.

* Want to win free tickets to see Harry Connick Jr. on Saturday, May 3 at the Peabody Opera House? The Post-Dispatch's GO! section is doing a giveaway on Facebook; see their page for details.

* Trumpeter Steve Lilley of the St. Louis Stompers is going this weekend to Fox Lake, WI to pay tribute to legendary trumpeter Bunny Berigan as part of the annual Bunny Berigan Jazz Jubilee.

* As predicted, the controversial bill granting a Los Angeles company exclusive rights to produce music festivals in downtown St. Louis on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends was passed this week by the St. Louis board of aldermen. Get the details in stories from from Nick Pistor of the Post and Kris Wernowsky of the RFT.

* The Jazz Journalists Association has announced the winners of its 2014 award in the musician and recording categories, and although several have performed in St. Louis during the past year, the only award tied to a local musician is the Historical Record of the Year, which went to Miles Davis' Miles Davis Quintet Live in Europe 1969 on Columbia Legacy (pictured). You can see the complete list of JJA award winners here.

* The Goldenrod Showboat, which for decades hosted jazz, ragtime and theater performances on the St. Louis riverfront, has gotten one more reprieve from the scrapyard, as the not-for-profit group trying to save the boat has reached an agreement to regain ownership from the Illinois River dock owners who bought it at auction last year. Paul Schankman of Fox 2 News also covered the story here.

* Jazz radio update: This Saturday on Radio Arts Foundation-St. Louis, Calvin Wilson's program "Somethin' Else" will feature the songs of Jerome Kern, as interpreted by musicians including Keith Jarrett, Jackie McLean and Bill Frisell.

After that on "The Jazz Collective," host Jason Church promises spins of Cindy Bradley, Vincent Ingala, Bob Baldwin,Freddie Hubbard, Larry Carlton, Candy Dulfer, B.D. Lenz, as well as St. Louis' own Grant Green, Tommy Halloran, Elliott Ranney, Jim Stevens, and Dawn Weber, plus more.

Wilson's program airs at 8:00 p.m. Saturdays, followed by Church at 9:00 p.m., on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at http://www.rafstl.org/listen

Elsewhere on the HD dial, longtime local radio veteran Rick Sanborn has joined the on-air staff at Hip 96.3 HD-3. Sanborn has been heard on several different St. Louis broadcast outlets including yesteryear smooth jazz station WSSM, and for several years also lent his name to a summer series of smooth jazz concerts at the Pageant. Fans can hear him on the new gig from noon to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

St. Louis DJs selling 10,000 items to benefit local charity on Saturday, April 26

If this Saturday's Record Store Day festivities prove insufficient to slake your thirst for vinyl and other music collectables, here's something else to anticipate:  St. Louis radio DJs past and present have donated an estimated 10,000 records, CDs and items of music-related memorabilia to be sold for the benefit of a local charity in a one-day "pop-up sale" on Saturday, April 26.

"The Gigantic St. Louis DJ Album Sale for Charity" will be open to the public from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on April 26 at 3137 Locust St. (east of Compton, one block west of The Fountain on Locust). Avid collectors who'd like first crack at the goodies on offer can pay a $10 fee for early access at 9:30 a.m.

“Many of my old radio friends talked about selling off their album collections for years, so making it a group effort with current on-air personalities to raise money for the hungry here in St. Louis was enthusiastically received by all,” said the event's organizer Ron Stevens in a news release. Stevens, who was on KSHE during the station's early days as "Real Rock Radio," now is associated with the website OnStl.com, which is presenting the event.

All proceeds will benefit the not-for-profit organization Caritas Connections, which "collects donated items and distributes them to worthy organizations in the St. Louis metropolitan area, who use them to clothe, feed and assist the needy in our community."

To date, DJs known for their time on-air at stations including KSHE, WIL, KDHX and KTRS have donated items, with more being added daily until the date of the sale. You can find out about new donations on the event's Facebook page.

Said to be one the most collectable items at the sale: a test pressing of the Eagles album Hotel California signed by the band (pictured). But the news release also promises "rare albums valued from $100-200" as well as "one-of-a-kind KSHE promotional items from the ‘70s, many never before made available to the public." To help fatten the take a bit - it is for charity, after all - some of the choicer collectables, such as the Eagles album, will be offered by silent auction or raffle.

A number of DJs familiar to longtime local radio listeners also will be on hand to work the event, including Stevens, Joy Grdnic, Mark Klose, Joe "Mama" Mason, John Ulett, Ted Habeck, Drew Johnson, Jim Singer, Rik Anthony, Chuck Lavazzi, and Tim Rakel, along with "several other local personalities and musicians." Sales of pizza by the slice and bottled water, donated by (respectively) Imo's and Dierberg's, also will benefit Caritas Connection.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Peter Martin to perform Saturday, May 17
at benefit for New City School

Pianist Peter Martin has played some big venues while working with the likes of Dianne Reeves, Chris Botti, and the "Newport Jazz Festival: Now 60" tour. And when he's home in St. Louis, Martin can be heard most frequently at the Sheldon Concert Hall, which seats slightly more than 700.

Now those who'd like to hear Martin (pictured) in a slightly more intimate setting will have the chance when he plays a benefit for New City School on Saturday, May 17 in the Founder's Hall of the school, 5209 Waterman Blvd in the Central West End.

"Jazz It Up - An Evening With Peter Martin" begins at 6:30 p.m. with a reception featuring wine, beer, and dessert, followed by a concert at 8:00 p.m.. Gene Dobbs Bradford of Jazz St. Louis also will be on hand to offer "commentary and insights throughout the program."

The event is open to the public, but only 250 tickets will be sold. Tickets are $40 per person, and can be purchased online now at http://tinyurl.com/ncspetermartin.

Having recently completed nearly two months touring with the all-star Newport celebration, Martin this week on Twitter wrote that he hopes to do more with his own group in the near future, and posted the video below, which features him leading a quartet in his original song "Cuba...New Orleans." (The clip was recorded at the Lotos Jazz Festival in Poland, and also features East St. Louis' own Terreon Gully on drums, along with bassist James Genus and guitarist Peter Sprague.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jazz this week: Poncho Sanchez, Catherine Russell, The Cunninghams, and more

As Jazz Appreciation Month 2014 continues past the halfway point, the live performance calendar this week in St. Louis includes several touring performers visiting our town, the return of a veteran of Gaslight Square, and the usual variety of activity from local musicians. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, percussionist Poncho Sanchez and his band (pictured) open a four-night engagement continuing through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro. One of the standard-bearers for mainstream Latin jazz, Sanchez' group over the years has consistently offered satisfying grooves topped with engaging solos, and the current edition is no exception. You can check out some relatively recent Sanchez performances on video in this post from a couple of Saturdays ago.

Also tonight, the Route 66 Jazz Orchestra returns to Kirkwood Station Brewing Company; Cabaret Project St. Louis presents their monthly "open stage" event at the Tavern of Fine Arts; and Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center presents a double-bill featuring free improvisation by Joe Hess, Nick Horn, Alex Cunningham and Dave Stone, plus some more structured jazz sounds from the newish band Boysiac, with Mason Baran, Matt Villinger, Joe Hibbs, and Nathan Pence.

Tomorrow night, Miss Jubilee will being doing double duty, with a happy hour performance at Magpie's in St. Charles and a late night session downtown at Thaxton Speakeasy; and guitarist Dave Black and Friends, including singer Joe Mancuso, will be at Nathalie’s.

On Friday, the Twin Cities jump blues and swing band Davina and the Vagabonds will be back in town for a show at The Gramophone, with singer/guitarist Tommy Halloran's Guerilla Swing as opening act. That same evening, Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will perform at the Highway 61 Roadhouse; singer Feyza Eren will lead a quartet in concert at the Kranzberg Arts Center; and guitarist Tom Byrne's trio plays at Cigar Inn.

On Saturday evening, singer and multi-instrumentalist Don Cunningham and his wife, singer-pianist Alicia Cunningham - better known as The Cunninghams - will be visiting from their home in Las Vegas to perform at 560 Music Center, accompanied by a local rhythm section including pianist Carolbeth True, Jeff Anderson on bass, and Gary Sykes on drums. You can read more about Don Cunningham's days performing in Gaslight Square, his first meeting with Alicia, the couple's subsequent popularity as a touring act in Asia, and more in this short feature about them that I wrote a few years back for the Riverfront Times.

If the Cunninghams' close harmony and occasional forays into exotica aren't your bag, you might want to check out singer Catherine Russell, who will be making her St. Louis debut as a headliner on Saturday at the Sheldon Concert Hall. Russell is sometimes referred to as "the daughter of jazz royalty," and you can find out more about that and see some video samples of her performing in this post from last Saturday. And if that piques your interest, you also should know that The Sheldon and Metrotix now are offering a discount on tickets to the concert.

Elsewhere around town on Saturday, saxophonist Jason Swagler, guitarist Eric Slaughter, bassist Nick Jost, and drummer Marty Morrison will take the stage at Robbie's House of Jazz; singer Tony Viviano returns to Talayna's of Chesterfield; and the Funky Butt Brass Band will play at the Old Rock House.

On Sunday, saxophonist Jim Stevens and band will perform in a matinee by the Mississippi at The Loading Dock in Grafton; and pianist Dave Venn will be holding forth at Pomme Café & Wine Bar.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday the student jazz singers from Webster University will cap their semester with a performance at Winifred Moore Auditorium on campus.

Then on Tuesday, this spring's series of "Twilight Tuesday" concerts at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park gets underway with saxophonist Michael Fitzgerald offering "A Tribute to Miles Davis and David Sanborn"; and the SIUE Concert Jazz Band & Alumni, directed by Brett Stamps, will be back for another evening at Jazz at the Bistro.

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 http://twitter.com/StLJazzNotes 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.)

The Sheldon, Metrotix offering discount
on tickets for Catherine Russell concert

The Sheldon Concert Hall and Metrotix are offering a discount on tickets for singer Catherine Russell's performance this Saturday, April 19 at the Sheldon.

Russell (pictured) will be making her St. Louis debut as a headliner. You can read more about her and check out some videos of her performing in this post from last Saturday.

Tickets for Saturday's concert originally priced at $40 and $35 now are available for just $25 by using the promotional code RUSSELL14. This discount code can be used for orders placed online at metrotix.com, by phone orders at 314-534-1111, or in person at the Fox Theatre box office, 527 N. Grand Blvd.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
In the tradition with Catherine Russell



Today, let's get acquainted with singer Catherine Russell, who will be making her St. Louis debut as a headliner next Saturday, April 19 at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Russell is from New York, born in 1956 to Luis Russell, a pianist, composer and longtime bandleader for Louis Armstrong, and Carline Ray, a bassist and vocalist who performed with Mary Lou Williams and the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.

While she's been active in the music business for many years, Russell's career as a solo artist took a while to blossom. Before releasing her debut album Cat in 2002, she earned a living as an in-demand backup singer on tours and recordings with major artists including Steely Dan, Levon Helm, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein, Carrie Smith, and Rosanne Cash.

Though she's held on to some of those gigs - even getting a feature spot in the show on recent tours of the Dukes of September (Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald, and Boz Scaggs) -  her solo career has grown to occupy more and more of her time. Since her debut, Russell has released four more albums,  the most recent of which, Bring It Back, came out in February on the Jazz Village label, and in 2012 won a Grammy Award for her appearance as a featured artist on the soundtrack album for the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.

Given her family connections to jazz history, it seems appropriate that Russell has found a niche as a solo artist by interpreting songs from the 1930s, 40s and 50s for a contemporary audience, and today we've got a few samples of her vocal stylings for you to enjoy.

In the video up at the top of this post, recorded in 2009 in the Netherlands with pianist Mark Shane, you can hear Russell perform "Back O' Town Blues," written by her father and Louis Armstrong.

The next four clips all were recorded in March 2012 at the The Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and feature Russell performing with a band that includes guitarist and musical director Matt Munisteri, along with Mark Shane (piano), Lee Hudson (bass), Mark McLean (drums), Jon-Erik Kelso (trumpet), John Allred (trombone), Dan Block (sax, clarinet), Andy Farber (saxes), Dave Brown (trumpet), and Scott Robinson (saxes). The first number is "Everybody Loves My Baby," followed by "Romance In The Dark," "Ev'ntide," and "No More."

In the sixth and final clip, Russell talks about her latest album, Bring It Back. For more about Catherine Russell, check out this interview from earlier this year on the Tavis Smiley Show; and these recent features from the Boston Globe and World Music Central.

(See the rest of today's videos after the jump...)

Friday, April 11, 2014

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

Here's the latest wrap-up of assorted links and short local news items of interest:

* Next Saturday, April 19 is the annual National Record Store Day, and as always, St. Louis' local music retailers will be celebrating in style. For the fourth consecutive year, yr. humble StLJN editor will be spinning tunes at Vintage Vinyl for an hour, starting at 4:00 p.m.. See the poster for the event (pictured) for the store's complete schedule of DJs and live bands.

* Want some free tickets to hear guitarist Charlie Hunter and drummer Scott Amendola this Sunday at the Old Rock House? The show's promoters are giving away three pairs in an online promotion; RSVP to the show's Facebook event for a chance to win.

* Modern dance company MADCO's production "Liquid Roads," which debuts this weekend at the Touhill and features trumpeter Brian Casserly leading an onstage band playing jazz and blues, was previewed by Calvin Wilson of the Post-Dispatch and Chris Gibson of Broadway World

* Trumpeter Carl Fischer, in town tonight to back singer/pianist Billy Joel at the Scottrade Center, was profiled by St. Louis magazine's Kim Aubuchon.

* Here's another review of Reeds Ramble, saxophonist and Webster U alum Chris Cheek's new disc with fellow saxophonist Seamus Blake, written for AllAboutJazz.com by Bruce Lindsay.

* Check out two recent interviews with trumpeter Russell Gunn, from the websites Capital Bop and iRockJazz.

* KWMU/St. Louis Public Radio is looking for St. Louisans who have memories of or stories about our town's yesteryear entertainment district Gaslight Square.

* KDHX's new headquarters in Grand Center was the subject of a feature story by Ruth Ezell on KETC's Living St. Louis.

* A brief reminder that Music for Lifelong Achievement is conducting a musical instrument drive this month to collect instruments for deserving but disadvantaged local music students. You can drop off a used or new musical instrument (or cash donation) at any performance this month at the Sheldon Concert Hall, or bring it to the hall during normal business hours from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

* As Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis marks a full year on the air, the Post-Dispatch's Sarah Bryan Miller assesses the station's progress.

* Jazz radio update: And speaking of Radio Arts Foundation-St. Louis, Calvin Wilson will celebrate the 50th installment of his program "Somethin' Else" this Saturday with encore spins of favorite tracks from Robert Glasper, Diana Krall, Joshua Redman, and more.

Right after than on "The Jazz Collective," host Jason Church will have music from Down To The Bone, Pieces of a Dream, Nathan East, John Coltrane, Excursion, Jack Furlong, Jim Manley, The Silverman Brothers, Common Time and Joe Mancuso.

Wilson's program airs at 8:00 p.m. Saturdays, followed by Church at 9:00 p.m., on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at http://www.rafstl.org/listen.
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