Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Jazz this week: Cyrus Chestnut, Tortoise, Denise Thimes' Mothers Day show, and more

This week's calendar of jazz and creative music in St. Louis features sounds ranging from straight-ahead jazz to "post-rock," with plenty of other styles in the mix, too. Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, May 4
Drummer Montez Coleman plays the first of two nights at Jazz at the Bistro, with a bit of help from pianist Adam Maness, bassist Bob DeBoo and singer Anita Jackson.

Elsewhere in Grand Center, saxophonist Dave Stone takes over Bob DeBoo's hosting duties for the weekly jam session at the Kranzberg Arts Center; cornetist TJ Muller of the Gaslight Squares will play at The Stage at KDHX, and trumpeter Kasimu Taylor will do his weekly set at The Dark Room.

Thursday, May 5
Latin/jazz band Clave Sol will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo starting in the afternoon and continuing through evening at Rosalita's Cantina downtown; Miss Jubilee plays an early evening show at Blues City Deli; and singer Ralph Williams returns to Troy's Jazz Gallery.

Friday, May 6
Singer Brian Owens performs for the first of two nights at Jazz at the Bistro; the Midwest Jazz-tette brings the sound of West Coast cool jazz to Evangeline's; and Tom Byrne switches to bass for a night, ceding the guitar duties to Eric Slaughter for a show by what Byrne's calling the Bassic Instinct Trio at Cigar Inn.

Also on Friday, singer/actor Ben Nordstrom performs for the first of two nights in the cabaret room at The Monocle; and singer Joe Mancuso and bassist Willem von Hombracht will duet at Tavern of Fine Arts.

Saturday, May 7
Pianist Cyrus Chestnut returns with his trio to offer some "African Reflections" at Sheldon Concert Hall. You can read more about Chestnut (pictured, top left) and see some videos of him performing in this post from last Saturday. Note also that The Sheldon is offering a discount on remaining tickets to online buyers, cutting the price to $25.

Also on Saturday, trumpeter Jim Manley and guitarist Randy Bahr lead their All-Star Band at Nathalie's.

Sunday, May 8
Singer Denise Thimes will present her annual Mothers Day extravaganza this year at a new venue, the Touhill Performing Arts Center, with help from guest stars including pianist Tamir Hendelman, saxophonist Tom Braxton, and comedian Monique Marvez.

Monday, May 9
The "post-rock" band Tortoise, who mix up a half-dozen genres or more in their mostly instrumental music, will play at the The Ready Room. The Chicago-based group (pictured, bottom left) is touring in support of their first new album in seven years, The Catastrophist, that was released in January.

Also on Monday, saxophonist Doug Webb, a veteran of many movie and TV soundtrack sessions in Los Angeles studios who's also enjoyed a long association with trumpeter Doc Severinsen, will present a free performance and workshop at Saxquest.

Tuesday, May 10
Doug Webb will perform again with Saxquest's Little Big Band at the Tavern of Fine Arts, and pianist "Ragtime" Jack Radcliffe, a Massachusetts-based performer specializing in stride, pre-WWII blues, and yes, ragtime, will play at a one-nighter at Evangeline's.

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, May 03, 2016

Discounted tickets for Cyrus Chestnut
at The Sheldon available via Metrotix

The Sheldon Concert Hall and Metrotix are offering discounted tickets to online buyers for the concert by pianist Cyrus Chestnut (pictured) at 8:00 p.m. this Saturday, May 7 at The Sheldon.

With the discount, remaining tickets for the show are just $25, a significant savings from the regular prices of $45 for orchestra level and $40 for the balcony.

To get the ticket discount, go to the Metrotix site, and when prompted, enter the promo code CYRUS25.

You can see some videos of recent performances by Cyrus Chestnut in this post from last Saturday.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Miles on Monday: Navigating Miles Davis' "electric years" in 10 records, and more

This week in Miles Davis news:

* The CD box set Miles Davis at Newport 1955-1975: The Bootleg Series Vol. 4 was nominated in the 2016 Jazz Journalists Awards in the category "Historical Record of the Year."

* Keyboardist Robert Glasper will headline a salute to Miles Davis' 90th birthday held on Thursday, May 19 in Los Angeles.

* Prompted by the wide release last week of Don Cheadle's film Miles Ahead, retailer The Vinyl Factory offered "An introduction to the electric sound of Miles Davis...Navigating the complex landscape of Miles Davis’ electric years in 10 crucial records."

* And speaking of Miles Ahead, there's still coverage of the film coming out in the form of reviews, interviews, and features. Some links from this past week:

Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness (
Film Review: Miles Ahead is The Most Fascinating Music Biopic I’ve Ever Seen (
Stylish and sharp Miles Davis story leaves you wanting more (The Independent UK)
The long and tortured road to Don Cheadle's Miles Davis biopic (Radio Times)
Tuned in: Trumpeting the genius of Miles Davis (Sydney Morning Herald)
A Conversation With The Family Of Miles Davis, On Miles Ahead & More (
Robert Glasper Stays 'Miles Ahead' With Soundtrack, New Music (Houston Press)

(For much, much more about Miles Ahead, see previous posts with the "Miles on Monday" tag.)

Music Education Monday: A master class
with Pulitzer Prize winner Henry Threadgill

Since saxophonist and composer Henry Threadgill recently won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for music for his composition "In for a Penny, In for a Pound," this seems like an opportune Music Education Monday to share with StLJN readers a video master class with him.

Threadgill, 72, is a Chicago native who's been creating innovative music since the 1970s with a variety of ensembles, notably the trio Air with bassist Fred Hopkins and drummer Steve McCall; Very Very Circus; the seven-member Sextett; the Society Situation Dance Band; his current group, Zooid; and several others.

An original member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Threadgill (pictured) also has written music for orchestra, solo instruments, chamber ensembles, and theatre, and has released more than 30 albums as a leader or co-leader.

You can see the master class, recorded in June 2014 at the Creative Music Studio Workshop in Big Indian, NY, in the embedded video window below.

For more about Threadgill and his approach to music, read “A Door to Other Doors,” an extended interview with him originally published in 2011 in the journal Critical Studies in Improvisation; and "The Improvisational Techniques of Henry Threadgill," a analysis with notated examples by saxophonist Richard Savery.

Also, just below the embed of the master class, there's a bonus video featuring an hour-long interview with Threadgill conducted a couple of years ago for the Library Of Congress, in which he discusses his upbringing in Chicago, the AACM, his experience in Vietnam, the music of his groups Air and Zooid, and his approach to composition and improvisation.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Recently on Heliocentric Worlds

It's the start of a new month, and so that means it's time once again to check in on STLJN's sibling site Heliocentric Worlds, where each day, there's posted a new online music video, drawing from genres including jazz, blues, soul, funk, classic rock, prog rock, experimental and more.

The five most-watched videos added to the site last month were:

Buddy Guy Big Band - Live At The Montreal Jazz Festival
Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy - "Strange Fruit"
Donald Byrd & Stan Getz - "Fontessa"
Tommy Flanagan - "Smooth as the Wind"
Herbie Hancock - Live at the Newport Jazz Festival

Other recent posts have featured John Tchicai & Ascension Unending, Anthony Braxton Quartet, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Ian Carr's Nucleus, Art Pepper, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Galactic, Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Winter, Tom Harrell Quintet, Jimi Hendrix, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, Pinetop Perkins, Los Lobos, Fast 'n Bulbous, Fats Domino, Zawinul Syndicate with John McLaughlin, Abdullah Ibrahim, Buddy Rich, Oregon, Eddie Palmieri, Zoot Sims, and Flora Purim & Airto Moreira.

You can see all of these videos, plus thousands more from the archives, by going to

Sunday Session: May 1, 2016

Eddie Palmieri
Some interesting music-related items that have landed in StLJN's inbox over the past week:

* Jazz Fest Day 2: Whatever Happened to Rosie? (Offbeat)
* Before & After with Trevor Dunn - Listening wide, from A to Zappa (Jazz Times)
* New Music From Professor Longhair, Who Taught New Orleans How to Play The Piano (The Daily Beast)
* Artist backlash over YouTube’s royalty payments grows noisier (
* Esperanza Spalding: Character Study (Jazz Times)
* How we made Laurie Anderson's O Superman (The Guardian UK)
* That Time I Opened Tower Records Early So Prince Could Shop (NBC)
* The oral history of Eddie Palmieri’s Harlem River Drive (
* How Jazz Saved Hip-Hop Again (Playboy)
* Photo Album: Highlights of the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest–Part 1 (DownBeat)
* 13 Cartoon Portraits of Legendary Blues Artists (Mother Jones)
* Classical music page-turners turn the page into the modern era (Philadelphia Inquirer)
* 'James Brown: Live At The Apollo Vol. 4' Is A Marvelous And Mysterious Time Capsule (NPR)
* Jazz Foundation of America Loft Party - The Cookers, Kahil El'Zabar and more (Jazz Times)
* After The Album: How Playlists Are Re-Defining Listening (MusicIndustryBlog)
* Beyond 'Mrs. Jones': Billy Paul's Music You Might Not Have Heard (NPR)
* Revisiting Loma Records, the L.A. Soul Label That Launched Ike and Tina Turner (LA Weekly)
* The Inside Story on Designing Prince's Paisley Park: Exclusive (Billboard)
* The Unbelievable True Story of the Wrecking Crew’s Max Bennett (
* Phil Kives, K-Tel International founder, dies at 87 (CBC)
* Sonny Rollins: “John Coltrane Was Like A Preacher” (Mojo)
* Photo Highlights of the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest (DownBeat)
* Anat Cohen Tentet Brings Retro Sound and Ebullient Spirit to Jazz Standard (DownBeat)
* The Blur of Music Discovery (
* Gregory Porter review – jazz chameleon finds countless ways to seduce (The Guardian UK)
* FootPrince - The jazz side of Prince (Jazz Times)
* Dweezil Zappa Changes Name of Zappa Plays Zappa Due to Sibling Disputes (
* Jazz Fest Day 4: What a Difference a Week Makes (Offbeat)
* Jazz Record Mart founder opens new store (Chicago Tribune)
* The great disappearing venues disaster (
* Stuck on repeat: why we love repetition in music (The Guardian UK)
* Radiohead's corporate empire: inside the band's dollars and cents (The Guardian UK)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
A Cyrus Chestnut sampler

This week, let's check out some videos of pianist Cyrus Chestnut, who will be performing at the Sheldon Concert Hall next Saturday, May 7.

Chestnut has been a frequent visitor to St. Louis over the last decade-plus, most recently serving as the pianist for the all-star band assembled for the "Jazz St. Louis at 20" celebration last fall at Jazz at the Bistro. He also has co-headlined at the Bistro with guitarist Russell Malone, and has led his own band there on several occasions. Yet somehow he's never been in StLJN's video spotlight before, an omission that this post now rectifies with a sampling of recent performances by the pianist and his trio.

Now 53 years old, Chestnut grew up in Baltimore and graduated from Berklee College of Music. He served an early career apprenticeship in the bands of Jon Hendricks, Terrence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, Betty Carter, and, briefly, Wynton Marsalis. In the ensuing years, Chestnut also has performed and/or collaborated on record with many other well-known musicians and singers, including Freddy Cole, Bette Midler, Freddie Hubbard, Jimmy Scott, Isaac Hayes, Kevin Mahogany, Christian McBride, Kathleen Battle, Vanessa L. Williams, Brian McKnight, Manhattan Transfer, and the Boys' Choir of Harlem.

As a leader, Chestnut has released 17 albums, the most of recent of which was 2015's A Million Colors in Your Mind on the Highnote label. A versatile player with plenty of keyboard chops, he has a sound rooted in gospel and blues, yet also is known to deploy more than occasionally the sort of melodic and harmonic digressions associated with Oscar Peterson and especially Art Tatum.

So, it's probably not a coincidence that the tune Chestnut is playing in the first video up above - "Brotherhood of Man" from the 1960s musical How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying - entered the jazz repertoire thanks to a very successful recording made by Peterson's trio (with guest trumpeter Clark Terry). This version, recorded last year at Shanghai Jazz in New Jersey, clearly draws some inspiration from Peterson, even as Chestnut does his own thing.

After the jump, you can see Chestnut perform the standard "I've Never Been in Love Before," recorded at the same Shanghai Jazz gig. Below that, there are performances recorded last year in Cuernavaca, México of Chestnut's original "Ami's Dance" and a version of Lionel Richie's 1980s pop hit "Hello."

Those two clips are followed by a full set from a concert by Chestnut's trio last year at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME. The final video features Chestnut in an episode of the Voice of America's program Beyond Category, being interviewed and playing with his trio.

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

Friday, April 29, 2016

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Writing for DownBeat, Terry Perkins reported on last week's reunion of former members of the Black Artists Group for a discussion and performance at Jazz at the Bistro.

* The reunion of former BAG members included saxophonist Oliver Lake, who's now playing with bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Andrew Cyrille as Trio 3 at NYC's Village Vanguard through Saturday.  

Lake also was named this week as co-recipient of a $25,000 grant from the Multi-Arts Production (MAP) Fund to support the development and staging of Interruption!, a live performance piece for 14-piece ensemble with music by Rob Reddy and a libretto written and performed by Lake.

* Two St. Louis musicians, drummer Emanuel Harrold and bassist Jahmal Nichols, can be heard on the new album from singer Gregory Porter, which NPR made available online this week for a "First Listen."

* Guitarist Todd Mosby is featured on the latest episode of the podcast A Concert Pitch. Mosby will play music from his new album On Eagle Mountain on Saturday night at Focal Point.

* The Black Rep's production of Twisted Melodies, a play about singer/songwriter, pianist and former St. Louisan Donny Hathaway's battle with mental illness, was reviewed by Kenya Vaughn of the St. Louis American and by HEC-TV's Two On The Aisle. The one-man show by Kelvin Roston Jr. (pictured) closes this Sunday, May 1.

* A proposal from The 442s was one of three selected for Forest Park's new artist-is-residence program.

* The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's annual "Go List" issue has named Jazz St. Louis' Ferring Jazz Bistro as the "Best Place to Hear Jazz."

* Saxquest has posted to Facebook a photo album from saxophonist David Liebman's appearance there last Saturday.