Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Music for Lifelong Achievement annual instrument drive starts September 29

If you've got an old, unused, or extra musical instrument taking up space in the basement, garage or spare room, Music for Lifelong Achievement will get it out of your way and put it to good use as part of their annual instrument drive, which this year begins Monday, September 29 and continues through Sunday, October 26.

MFLA is a not-for-profit organization based at the Sheldon Concert Hall that collects used and new musical instruments and donates them to school and community music programs serving disadvantaged young people. Since its inception, the organization has provided more than 500 instruments to music students all over the St. Louis area.

There are two ways to help: by giving a musical instrument, or giving cash. For the ninth year, St. Louis-area Starbucks stores once again will serve as drop-off locations for used and new musical instruments during the drive. The donated instruments then will be repaired and distributed to students who otherwise would not be able to afford an instrument. Donors get a letter documenting the value of the instrument for tax deduction purposes.

If you don’t have an instrument to donate, MFLA gladly accepts cash contributions, which are used to help pay for necessary repairs of donated instruments and provide accessories such as strings, reeds, and sheet music. These donations also are tax deductible. For more information or to make a donation, call The Sheldon at 314-533-9900 or visit www.supportmfla.org.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Fall 2014 jazz preview, part 3

It's the third chapter of our Fall 2014 video preview of jazz and creative music performers coming to St. Louis, and today we'll cover the touring acts that will be in town during the first part of November. (You can find part one of the fall jazz preview here, and part two here.) 

Today's first video features the SpokFrevo Orquestra, a 17-piece Brazilian big band who will make their St. Louis debut on Sunday, November 2 at the Sheldon Concert Hall. Seen here performing a full set in 2011, the group blends jazz with frevo, a high-energy Brazilian musical genre associated with Carnival time.

After the jump, you can see saxophonist Joshua Redman, who will return to lead a trio with bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Greg Hutchinson starting Wednesday, November 5 through Saturday, November 7 at Jazz at the Bistro. Redman is seen here playing two songs - his own composition "I'll Go Mine" and Gil Evans' "Barracudas" - in March of this year at the Visioninmusica festival in Terni Italy, accompanied by pianist Aaron Goldberg, Rogers, and Hutchinson.

That same weekend, the Gaslight Cabaret Festival will be spotlighting three performers from Chicago. Beckie Menzie and Tom Michael, who will perform "That '60s Show" on Friday, November 7, are seen in the next clip dueting on "You and the Night and the Music" at the Chicago Cabaret Professionals 2011 annual gala. After that, it's Joan Curto, who will perform the music of Cole Porter on Saturday, November 8, singing "Change Partners" in a clip recorded at the 2013 Chicago Humanities Festival.

That same weekend, New Music Circle will present a double-bill concert on Saturday, November 8, at the new location of The Luminary, 2701 Cherokee St. The concert will feature separate sets from improvising percussionist Eli Keszler and electronic musician Rashad Becker. Both men are seen here in videos recorded earlier this year (in May and March, respectively) at Cave 12 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Closing out our preview of the first half of November is singer Sheri Sanders with a rendition of the song "Pieces" from the musical Salvage, recorded last year in NYC. Sanders is coming to St. Louis on Thursday, November 13 to do her show "Rock It" as part of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival.

Look for part four of StLJN's Fall 2014 jazz preview next week, and you can see the rest of today's videos after the jump.

Friday, September 12, 2014

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Guitarist Mary Halvorson was interviewed for an article on the New Music Circle website. NMC is presenting Thumbscrew, featuring Halvorson, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, in concert tonight at Joe's Cafe.

* Saxophonist David Sanborn has sold his NYC townhouse for $11 million. The property has been on the market since 2009 as part of a reported effort by Sanborn to downsize to slightly more modest quarters.

* Pianist and St. Louis expat Linda Presgrave (pictured) and her husband, saxophonist Stan Chovnick, have posted online a video of their duo concert recorded last week at Michiko Studios in NYC. The complete show can be seen for free until October 5.

* The reissue of composer/flute player Fred Tompkins' Fanfare 8: The Early Works was reviewed by blogger Grego Applegate Edwards of the blog Gapplegate Music Review, who called Tompkins "one of the greatest, if lesser known, of the so-called "third-stream" composers."

* Last weekend's LouFest set by Trombone Shorty was discussed in reviews of the event from the Riverfront Times and KDHX's Kevin Korinek.

* The Cherokee Street music and art venue Blank Space is expanding, as detailed in this story by the RFT's Joseph Hess.

* St. Louis Volunteer Attorneys and Accountants for the Arts and Missouri Arts Council have put online a video of their "Copyright Basics" workshop.

* The St. Louis swing dance community this week is mourning the death of veteran dancer Tommy Russo, who passed away last week at age 98.

* As part of their 65th anniversary promotion, Prestige Records has released online a short video interview with producer Ira Gitler, who describes what really happened during one of the Miles Davis sessions included among the label's recent reissues.

* Writing for the St. Louis American, James Ingram (not the singer, but rather a columnist for the paper) wonders why Don Cheadle couldn't have filmed his Miles Davis movie in East St. Louis rather than Cincinnati.

(Actually, I think I know the answer to this one. Presumably, one big reason is because ESL lacks sufficient locations that could double for NYC in the 1970s, which was cited as a key reason Cheadle chose Cincinnati. Ingram's essay mentions having room in ESL to construct sets and facades, but the modest budget of Miles Ahead would have precluded that option no matter where it was shot. The film also reportedly received tax incentives from the city and from the state of Ohio, which Illinois and/or ESL may have been unwilling or unable to match.)

* Jazz radio update: This Saturday on Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis' “Somethin’ Else,” host Calvin Wilson will feature tracks from saxophonist Sonny Rollins' recent series of “Road Shows” recordings. The program can be heard 8:00 p.m. on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at http://www.rafstl.org/listen.

A bit farther down the dial, this week's edition of "St. Louis Jazz Talk" at 11:00 a.m. Sunday on WSIE (88.7 FM) will feature an interview with drummer Steve Davis.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Jazz this week: Thumbscrew, U City Jazz Festival, Funeral Bonsai Wedding, and more

There's lots going on this week with jazz and creative music in St. Louis, as two concert series offer their first shows of the season; a free fall festival returns; and other stages around town will be filled with even more improvised music influenced by everything from funk to flamenco. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University begins the fall semester with a free concert reuniting the jazz-fusion trio Tracer, with pianist Ptah Williams, bassist Darrell Mixon and drummer Gary Sykes.

Also tonight, Good 4 The Soul will play their monthly show at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups; and trumpeter Jim Manley will be doing his weekly gig at Joyia Tapas.

On Friday, it's the start of another season for New Music Circle, as guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, aka Thumbscrew (pictured), will perform at the house-concert venue Joe’s Cafe, 6014 Kingsbury Ave.

Also on Friday, the St. Louis Big Band plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom; saxophonist Tim Cunningham returns to Troy's Jazz Gallery; singer Joe Mancuso enlists the support of not just one, but two guitarists, as he joins forces with Dave Black and Steve Schenkel for an evening of Beatles covers at the Tavern of Fine Arts; saxophonist Jim Stevens plays a free outdoor show at Ferguson Citywalk; and singer Tony Viviano returns to Talayna's in Chesterfield.

On Saturday, the U City Jazz Festival will take place in Heman Park, located at Olive & Midland in University City. This year's free outdoor concert is headlined by funk/fusion band Pieces of A Dream, with supporting acts including Bach to the Future, pianist Carolbeth True and Two Times True, the Tony Viviano Big Band, trumpeter Anthony Wiggins, and the Jazz St. Louis All-Stars student ensemble.  

Also on Saturday, Funeral Bonsai Wedding will be in town from Chicago to promote their debut release with a performance at The Stage at KDHX. The newly formed group features singer-guitarist Steve Dawson, best known as the front man for the roots-rock band Dolly Varden, backed by vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, drummer Frank Rosaly and bassist Jason Roebke, who all work regularly in Chicago's jazz and improvised music scene.  

Elsewhere around town that evening, percussionist Herman Semidey and his Orquesta Son Montuno will continue the new jazz series at the Ozark Theatre; and singers Mary Dyson and Diane Vaughn will perform at Troy's Jazz Gallery.

On Sunday, there are a couple more free outdoor shows in the offing, as Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will play swing, hot jazz and vintage blues at Benton Park, while the St. Charles Municipal Big Band will hold forth by the river in Frontier Park.

That evening, jazz meets flamenco in a performance by EviscerArt, featuring pianist Cristian de Moret, guitarist Eduardo Pachecho, and dancer Vanesa Aibar, at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday the Webster University jazz faculty will present their tribute to  "Great Jazz Records of 1964" at Winifred Moore Auditorium on the Webster campus; and on Tuesday, guitarist and singer Tommy Halloran will play the music of Randy Newman in a "Notes From Home" concert at The Sheldon.

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.)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Floyd LeFlore, trumpeter and co-founder
of Black Artists Group, dead at age 74

StLJN has learned from reliable sources that trumpeter Floyd LeFlore, who co-founded St. Louis' Black Artists Group, performed and recorded with most of the city's important "free jazz" musicians, and later served as a board member for New Music Circle, has died. Available public records list his year of birth as 1940 and his age at death as 74.

LeFlore was born in Mississippi, but as a young child moved with his family to St. Louis, where his uncle Clarence "Bucky" Jarman was a guitarist. He attended Sumner High School at the same time as a number of other notable local jazz musicians, including fellow trumpeters Lester Bowie and David Hines, saxophonist Oliver Lake, pianist John Hicks, and drummers Jerome "Scrooge" Harris and Philip Wilson.

After serving in the military from 1962 to 1965, LeFlore returned home and got involved in the city's rapidly changing music scene, becoming a member of what's generally acknowledged as St. Louis' first organized, recurring "free jazz" ensemble, the Oliver Lake Art Quartet, with Lake, Harris, and bassist Carl "Arvinia" Richardson.

With many of the musicians mentioned above, LeFlore then helped to start the Black Artists Group in 1968. When a number of the BAG co-founders moved to Europe in 1972, LeFlore initially remained in St. Louis, but he later went to Paris and stayed for a couple of years, touring and recording with BAG on their "official" debut album Black Artists Group - In Paris, Aries 1973.

Around this same time, LeFlore also recorded with Oliver Lake; the BAG-related Human Arts Ensemble; saxophonist Luther Thomas; and Solidarity Unit, Inc, which featured Lake, Richardson, drummer Charles "Bobo" Shaw, trombonist Joseph Bowie, trumpeter Baikida Carroll, guitarist Richard Martin, and bassist Kada Kayan. He also picked up occasional sideman work, ranging from early gigs with blues guitarist Albert King to a one-off local show with the Arkestra of legendary pianist and bandleader Sun Ra.

In the 1980s, LeFlore recorded and gigged with pianist David Parker, and in the early 1990s he became a board member of New Music Circle. He served on the organization's music committee and was a featured performer in several concerts produced by NMC, including his music/theater piece “Ritualistic Revival,” with LeFlore performing his own poetry and dialogue in the role of the Rev. Alonzo Alphonso Jones.

At this point, this story gets personal for me. As an NMC board member and later administrator during those years, I was fortunate to get to know and work closely with Floyd LeFlore, playing keyboards on some shows he was involved in, and also line-producing "Ritualistic Revival" and several other events he conceived.

Although he was having some trouble with his chops around that time, due to the lingering effects of an auto accident in which he had injured his mouth and lip, LeFlore was still an inventive player and, perhaps more important, an inspiring presence - just a great person to work with and be around. In the near future, I hope to do another post paying tribute to Floyd LeFlore that will draw more on some of those memories as well as archival materials from those years.

Floyd LeFlore's first and only recording as a leader, the 1998 CD-EP City Sidewalk Street Song Suite, was praised by Terry Perkins in a Riverfront Times review for combining “elements of straight-ahead jazz, R&B, funk and traditional children’s street rhymes into a seamless and highly entertaining recording.”

In the early 2000s, LeFlore performed a few gigs around the St. Louis area with saxophonist Freddie Washington as the Divinity Jazz Quintet. He also took part in the BAG retrospective convened in 2006 at Washington University, but otherwise had been mostly inactive in recent years. At present, there's no information available as to the cause of his death.

(Updated 9/12/14 with information from the obit published by the St. Louis American.)

LeFlore is survived by his ex-wife Shirley Bradley LeFlore, daughters Lyah Beth LeFlore, Jacie Price, and Hope Price Lindsay; four grandchildren, Noelle Lindsay, Jordan Lindsay, Jullian Price Baez, and Bella Grace LeFlore Ituen; and one sister, Cynthia A. LeFlore.

A memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, September 13, 2014 at McClendon Mortuary, 12140 New Halls Ferry Road, St. Louis MO, 63033.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Jazz at Holmes series
announces Fall 2014 schedule

The Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University has announced their schedule of free concerts for the Fall 2014 semester.

The series begins this Thursday, September 11, with a reunion performance by Tracer, the jazz-fusion trio featuring keyboardist Ptah Williams (pictured), bassist Darrell Mixon, and drummer Gary Sykes.

As has been the custom in recent years, the series also includes a couple of themed programs. The first, a look back at the Gaslight Square entertainment district of the late 1950s and early '60s, will take place on Thursday, September 25 and will be preceded by a short panel discussion featuring pianist Dave Venn, trumpeter Bob Ceccarini, and saxophonist Freddie Washington, who all gigged at various establishments in Gaslight Square, and Wash U professors Pat Burke and William Lenihan.

The second, "Freedom Summer '64: A Love Supreme" will take place on Thursday, October 9, and will feature the music of John Coltrane as performed by Washington, Lenihan, Paul DeMarinis, Maurice Carnes, Steve Davis, Kara Baldus, and others.

The complete schedule for the semester is:

Thursday, September 11: Tracer
Thursday, September 18: Vince Varvel
Thursday, September 25: "Gaslight Square" with Bob Ceccarini, Scott Alberici, Wayne Coniglio, William Lenihan, Eric Stiller and Steve Davis.

Thursday, October 2: Brian Vaccaro Trio
Thursday, October 9: "Freedom Summer '64: A Love Supreme"
Thursday, October 23: Bob DeBoo plays the music of Charles Mingus
Thursday, October 30: Adam Schefkind

Thursday, November 6: Mike Buerck Orchestra
Thursday, November 20: Jeff Anderson Quartet

Thursday, December 6: Wash U Student Jazz Combo

Presented most Thursday evenings when school is in session, the Jazz at Holmes concerts are free and open to the public. Concerts begin at 8:00 p.m. in Holmes Lounge, Ridgley Hall, located on Washington University’s campus at the west end of the Brookings Quadrangle, near the intersection of Brookings and Hoyt drives.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Fall 2014 jazz preview, part 2

Today, it's part two of StLJN's video preview of the touring jazz and creative music performers who will be playing in St. Louis this fall. You can find part 1, which covered the month of September, here.

The first videos up above feature trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, who will be returning here on Thursday, October 2 and Friday, October 3 to re-open the newly renovated and expanded Jazz at the Bistro. These two clips represent a complete show from the 2013 Jazz San Javier festival.

(For more footage of Marsalis and JaLCO, see this post about their touring production "Abyssynian," which played here last October; this one, about Marsalis' "Swing Symphony," which they performed here in 2012 with the St. Louis Symphony; and the video showcase posts previewing their appearances here in 2008 and 2010.)

(Update, 9/7/14: The Thursday performance by Marsalis and JaLCO is for Jazz St. Louis donors only, and Friday's is now sold out. Contrary to the info in the original version of this post, there is no performance scheduled on Saturday. StLJN regrets the error.)

After the jump, you can see fluegelhornist Hugh Masekela, who will team with singer Vusi Mahlasela to perform their show "20 Years of Freedom" on Saturday, October 4 at the Sheldon Concert Hall. This video shows Masekela and his band performing a show titled "Celebrate Mama Africa" for the 2011 Estival Jazz Lugano in Switzerland.

Next, it's alto saxophonist (and Kirkwood's own) David Sanborn, peforming "Comin' Home Baby" in 2012 at the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia. Sanborn will be back home again to play with an all-St. Louis rhythm section of Peter Martin (piano), Chris Thomas (bass), and Montez Coleman (drums) starting Wednesday, October 8 through Saturday, October 11 at Jazz at the Bistro.

(For more Sanborn on video, you can check out the showcase posts that preceded his appearances here in 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2008, as well as this post about Quartette Humaine, his 2013 album with Bob James.)

That same week, the Rebirth Brass Band will return to St. Louis to perform on Thursday, October 9 at The Gramophone. They're seen here in a video of a full set recorded in 2012 at the club Howlin' Wolf in their hometown of New Orleans.

On Friday, October 11, pianist Chick Corea will be in town for a solo performance at The Sheldon. Corea, who has performed here in recent years with banjo player Bela Fleck and with Return to Forever, is seen in a clip from 2009 playing his composition "Alegria" at the Klavier-Festival Ruhr in Dortmund, Germany.

A few days later, bassist Stanley Clarke will be here with the latest version of his electric band to play on Tuesday, October 14 at The Pageant. The video here shows Clarke's touring band from last year, with keyboardists John Beasley and Nick Smith, drummer Ronald Bruner Jr., and violinist Zach Brock, performing in August 2013 at the Telluride Jazz Festival in Colorado.

Next up, it's the new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound, who will begin their third St. Louis season by taking part in the "250 Years of St. Louis Music" concert on Friday, October 17 at The Sheldon.

Along with performances from Denise Thimes, Kim Massie, Billy Peek, the St. Louis Ragtimers, and other St. Louis jazz and blues favorites, AWS* will play a set including a new work composed by Peter Martin specifically for the occasion. In this clip, you can see them in 2013 giving the world premiere performance of a very different sort of piece, composer Jason Thorpe Buchanan's "Asymptotic Flux Second Study in Entropy," at the Mizzou International Composers Festival in Columbia.

Also on Friday, October 17, singer Karen Mason will be in town for the first of two performances for the Gaslight Cabaret Festival at the Gaslight Theater. Mason, who will do her show "Secrets of the Ancient Divas" again on Saturday, October 18, is seen here singing a medley of "My Favorite Things" and "Count Your Blessings" from a performance last December in Norwalk, CT.

Below that, you can see guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli playing a solo version of "The Way You Look Tonight" recorded in August of this year in the offices of Fretboard Journal magazine. Pizzarelli will be back in St. Louis to perform Wednesday, October 22 through Saturday, October 25 at Jazz at the Bistro. You can see more of him on video in previous posts from 2012 and 2013.

Closing out our jazz preview of October in St. Louis is singer and pianist Steve Ross, who will return to perform as part of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival on Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25. Although Ross has been a fixture on the cabaret scene for decades, oddly there's almost no video online of him performing, so a very brief clip of him singing "You Were Never Lovelier" by Johnny Mercer and Jerome Kern will have to suffice for now.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump. Look for part three of the fall 2014 jazz preview here next week.

Friday, September 05, 2014

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* The impending release of Keep On Keepin' On, the new documentary about Clark Terry - covered in this space most recently a couple of weeks ago - was noted by Jazz Times' Jeff Tamarkin.

* Saxophonist David Sanborn will be among the musicians back on board the Smooth Jazz Cruise in January and February of 2016. The just-announced lineup also will include singer Randy Crawford joining Joe Sample and the Crusaders for the first time at sea, plus bassist Marcus Miller, saxophonists Boney James and Candy Dulfer, keyboardist Brian Culbertson, and more.

* In this week's Miles Davis-related news, a set by the Miles Electric Band at the SFJAZZ Trumpet Festival was reviewed by Down Beat, AllAboutJazz.com, and BAM magazine.

* Also this week, Life magazine published online some previously unreleased photos from 1958 of Davis with John Coltrane, Jimmy Cobb, Paul Chambers, Cannonball Adderley, and Bill Evans, aka the sextet that would record Kind of Blue the next year.

* Meanwhile, drummer Dave Weckl is following in the footsteps of Davis and numerous other musicians by releasing some of his visual art to the public. You can check out what he calls "his new collection of rhythm-on-canvas" at http://www.davewecklart.com/.

* Weckl and keyboardist Jay Oliver also have put online a video of their version of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground," which is one of the tracks on Weckl's new album Convergence.

* Speaking of putting new music online, saxophonist Oliver Lake has posted on SoundCloud a track, "Wiring," from the new collaborative release by Trio 3 (Lake, drummer Andrew Cyrille and bassist Reggie Workman) and pianist Vijay Iyer.

* Soprano Christine Brewer and members of the St. Louis Symphony will perform a new commissioned composition by pianist Peter Martin as part of the fourth annual "Arts & Faith" concert this Sunday at The Sheldon. The Post-Dispatch's Sarah Bryan Miller has a preview here.

*  The winners of this year's "Webster's Got Talent" contest, and thus the opening act for the upcoming Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival, are The Spys.

* Upcoming concerts by Thumbscrew and Survival Unit III were previewed by the Riverfront Times' Joseph Hess.

* Saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett will be honored next week with a "Friend of the Family" award and tribute concert from Y’All of New York, Inc, the arts organization founded and run by another former St. Louisan, saxophonist and composer James "Jabbo" Ware.

The concert on Saturday, September 13 at the Church for All Nations in NYC will feature Ware (pictured, at left, with Bluiett) and the Me, We and Them Orchestra performing "The St. Louis Experience," a new work described as "a tone parallel telling the story of the formative relationship and exchange between musicians in St. Louis and East St. Louis that did much to create a signature sonic sensibility along the banks of the Mississippi River."

* Jazz radio update: And speaking of New York, this Saturday on Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis, “Somethin’ Else” host Calvin Wilson will be spinning NYC-themed tunes as performed by Diana Krall, Eric Alexander, Mark Whitfield, and more.

Right after that, "The Jazz Collective" and host Jason Church return from summer repeats with a new program featuring tracks from Cindy Bradley, Paul Taylor, Citrus Sun, Morgan James, Bob Baldwin, Maynard Ferguson, Isaac Hayes, Albert King, Chris Standring, Funky Butt Brass Band, Jesse Gannon, Anthony Hines, Tim Cunningham, and more.

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

On Sunday, WSIE (88.7 FM) will debut their new program "St. Louis Jazz Talk" at 11:00 a.m. Hosted by WSIE's Dick Ulett and musicians Mike Silverman, Robert Silverman, and Erika Johnson, the program's first episode will feature pianists Ptah Williams and Jesse Gannon.
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