Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Jazz this week: Jeremy Davenport, Perihelion Quartet, John King, and more

While the biggest-name jazz musician visiting St. Louis this week actually is an expat playing his annual homecoming gig, there nevertheless is a tasty selection of jazz shows from local performers available for your pre- and post-Turkey Day consumption. Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, November 25
The Perihelion Quartet, featuring pianist Greg Mills and friends, will offer free jazz and improvisation at the Tavern of Fine Arts, while over in Grand Center, the regular Wednesday gigs are in effect, with bassist Bob Deboo leading an early evening jam session at the Kranzberg Arts Center, followed later by trumpeter Kasimu Taylor's trio at The Dark Room.

Friday, November 27
The aforementioned expat - trumpeter, singer and U City native Jeremy Davenport (pictured, top left) - will be back from his adopted home in New Orleans for the first of two nights of what's become an annual Thanksgiving weekend gig at Jazz at the Bistro. Given Davenport's popularity, tickets for the early shows may be hard to come by, but even for the late sets, advance reservations would seem to be a must. 

Elsewhere on Friday, saxophonist Jim Stevens and band will play an early show at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups; saxophonist Jay Hutson and Da Wolvez will perform at Evangeline's; and singer Joe Mancuso brings a quartet to Nathalie's.

Saturday November 28
Saxophonist Stan Coleman and bassist Darrell Mixon will co-lead a quartet for an early show at Tavern of Fine Arts; the Midwest Jazz-tette plays West Coast jazz at Evangeline's; and guitarist Eric Slaughter and bassist Glen Smith will play duets at Thurman Grill.

Also on Saturday, bassist John King (pictured, lower left) brings another edition of his guest-star-laden, autobiographical show "My Life In Music" to BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups; and singer Ralph Butler and keyboardist Gigi Darr will play a concert at the Jacoby Arts Center in Alton.

Sunday November 29
If you still have relatives or friends visiting from out of town and want to take them to Sunday brunch, you can get some live jazz along with your meal courtesy of singer/guitarist Tommy Halloran's Guerilla Swing at Jazz at the Bistro, Elsie Parker and the Poor People of Paris at Nathalie's, Miss Jubilee at Evangeline's, or trumpeter Jim Manley with keyboardist Mark Friedricks at Jimmy's Cafe on the Park.

Monday, November 30
The Webster University Jazz Collective, featuring members of Webster's jazz faculty, will play a concert at Winifred Moore Auditorium on the Webster campus; and saxophonist "Blind" Willie Dineen and the Broadway Collective will be back for their monthly gig at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups.

Tuesday December 1 
Harmonica master Sandy Weltman will lead a master class and workshop at City Music, and the First Tuesday Composer's Club will convene their monthly event showcasing new compositions at The Dark Room.

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.)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Music Education Monday: Guitar lessons
from John McLaughlin, and more

As a sideman to Miles Davis and Tony Williams, founder of the bands Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti, and a prolific solo artist and collaborator, John McLaughlin is one of the most admired guitarists of the past 50 years.

Drawing on jazz, rock, classical, Indian music, and more, McLaughlin, now 73 years old, helped pioneer the jazz/fusion sound of the 1970s, influencing several generations of guitarists in the process. He continues to tour with his current band, the 4th Dimension, and release new recordings, the most recent of which, Black Light, came out in September on the Abstract Logix label. .

Today for Music Education Monday, you can see a series of short video lessons from McLaughlin (pictured), in which he discusses various techniques and modal and harmonic concepts for the guitar. The lessons, which add up to a little more than 90 minutes total, can be seen in sequence in the first video embed below.

As a bonus, that's followed by another video in which McLaughlin does a "Rig Rundown" for the editors of Premier Guitar magazine, discussing his touring setup (circa 2011), including guitar, MIDI gear, effects, and even his picks.

For some further analysis of McLaughlin's playing, guitarists may also want to check out this article on his alternate picking techniques, this breakdown of five licks in his characteristic style, and a Q&A he did with the readers of

You can see both videos after the jump...

Miles on Monday: Miles Smiles going into Grammy Hall of Fame, and more

This week in Miles Davis news:

* Davis' 1967 album Miles Smiles is one of 26 recordings that will be enshrined in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016. You can hear the album (pictured) in its entirety via the embedded YouTube window below.

* Guitarist Pete Cosey, the late Chicago native who was in Davis' band from 1973 to 1975 and played on memorable recordings including On The Corner, Agharta, and Dark Magus, is the subject of a "Forgotten Heroes" feature in Premier Guitar magazine.

* New still photos of Don Cheadle and Ewan McGregor on the set of Cheadle's film Miles Ahead have surfaced online. The movie will be released in selected theaters in April 2016.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Session: November 22, 2015

Quincy Jones
From the farthest reaches of the Internet, via RSS, email, social media, and more, here's this week's grab-bag of links to various music-related items of potential interest:

* How Teens Consume Media: Music Still Trumps Social [CHART] (
* Live Nation to increase venue security after Paris attacks (
* House music: The performers who are now staging gigs in living-rooms (The Independent UK)
* The Sounds of Memphis (
* Why is there no room for jazz in Dublin? (Irish Times)
* Report: Monk Institute Jazz Vocals Competition Finals 2015 (Jazz Times)
* Review: Quincy Jones loves jazz and jazz loves Quincy Jones at Monk Institute gala (Los Angeles Times)
* Apple’s iTunes Is Alienating Its Most Music-Obsessed Users (Wired)
* Seeing Through “A Love Supreme” to Find John Coltrane (The New Yorker)
* 'We tell Spotify no, YouTube does it anyway': The music industry's love-hate relationship with YouTube (
* Three Views of Jaco: Weather Report: The Legendary Live Tapes 1978-1981 / JACO: The Film & Original Soundtrack (
* Bix Beiderbecke fans target a 2017 opening for museum (Quad City Times)
* What Sam Phillips Heard (Oxford American)
* Punk Legend Cheetah Chrome Fights Facebook For His Name (LA Weekly)
* Photo Gallery: Johnny O'Neal in Paris (Jazz Times)
* Review: Celebrating Cecil Taylor, a Pianist of Endless Influence (New York Times)
* Bowie hires jazz artists for new album (BBC)
* Ice-T swaps rap for poetry and jazz (BBC)
* This Is the Only Photo of Charlie Parker Playing His Sax in His Hometown (Atlas Obscura)
* From Bastard Assignment to Kammer Klang: the UK’s new music scene (The Guardian UK)
* We Found Some Of The Weirdest Releases On Discogs (

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Don Wolff 1935 - 2015

Don Wolff, longtime local broadcaster, jazz advocate, and attorney, has died. He was 80 years old and had been undergoing treatment for both leukemia and cancer for several years.

Instantly identifiable thanks to his signature on-air introduction, "I'm Don Wolff, and I love jazz," Wolff (pictured) was best known for his radio broadcasts, which began in 1987 on KXOK and continued in various forms on WSIE, KMOX and KFUO until 2010.

After KFUO was sold, he kept his radio program going on the internet, and also served as the host of HEC-TV's I Love Jazz since its inception. In addition, Wolff was known nationally as an expert on jazz in film; hosted jazz cruises; and served as MC for many live jazz events and festivals, both in St. Louis and nationally on the traditional jazz festival circuit.

Though Wolff's interest in jazz dated back to his childhood in University City, his "day job" was as a lawyer. After graduating from the University of Missouri, attending law school at Mizzou and serving in the US Army as a defense lawyer, prosecutor, and assistant judge advocate, Wolff began his civilian career in the 1960s as an assistant prosecutor for St. Louis County and then went into private practice as a criminal defense and civil rights attorney.

He was an adjunct professor for St. Louis University School of Law, and received numerous awards for his legal work, including the St. Louis County Bar Association Distinguished Service Award and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America National Award. Wolff also was recognized by the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri and was listed in Best Lawyers in America. He combined his legal knowledge with the skills honed during his jazz broadcasts to serve as a commentator and analyst for local media, hosting radio shows on legal topics for KXOK and KMOX, and a TV series, Legally Speaking with Don Wolff, for HEC.

Wolff served as a board member for a number of not-for-profit organizations in St. Louis, including Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Laumeier Sculpture Park, United Hebrew Congregation, Cystic Fibrosis, Boys Town of Missouri, Legal Advocates for Abused Women, and Harris-Stowe State University. Harris Stowe also houses the Don and Heide Wolff Jazz Institute, a repository for thousands of recordings from Wolff's personal collection as well as his accumulated films, videos, photos, books, magazines, and ephemera.

He supported Backstoppers and taught at the St. Louis Police Academy, and also was known as an advocate for civil rights, providing legal assistance pro bono to Harris-Stowe, the Urban League, and various other local African-American institutions and activists.

Earlier this year, the Jazz Journalists Association named Wolff as one of 23 local "Jazz Heroes" from throughout the USA for his work promoting jazz, and in October, he was inducted into Harris-Stowe's St. Louis Jazz Hall of Fame. He also was a member of the University City High School Hall of Fame.

Wolff's tastes in music tended toward mainstream, swing, and the Great American Songbook, and his favorite musicians, as cited on the air and in interviews, included Duke Ellington, Clark Terry, Ben Webster, Johnny Hodges, Benny Goodman, and Count Basie. Yet he also was always on the lookout for young musicians playing in his preferred styles - for example, championing the career of stride pianist and St. Louis native Stephanie Trick when she was still just a teenager.

Wolff is survived by his wife Heide; sons Michael (Sarah) and Nelson (Susan), both of St. Louis; daughter Kristina (Patrick) Hourihane of Glenview, IL; and grandchildren Pierce, Jessica, Hugo, Harbor, Julia, Hobie, and Evalina.

The family requests that any donations in his memory be made to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, the Urban League of Metropolitan St Louis, or the DLW Scholarship Fund at the University of Missouri School of Law.

Funeral arrangements are by Berger Memorial, with a visitation to be held at 2:00 p.m. and a "New Orleans jazz style" celebration scheduled for 3:00 p.m. this coming Monday, November 23 at United Hebrew Congregation, 13788 Conway Road, St. Louis, MO 63141.

Update - 11:30 p.m., 11/21/15: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's obituary for Wolff is online here

Edited after posting to fix formatting issues, correct types, and add links.

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Sylvie Courvoisier and Mark Feldman

This week, let's peruse some videos of pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and violinist Mark Feldman, who are coming to St. Louis to perform in a concert presented by New Music Circle on Friday, December 4 at The Stage at KDHX.

The UK newspaper The Guardian in 2013 called them "both fine-tuned virtuosi whose projects sound like edgy classical chamber-music as much as improv or jazz." Courvoisier is a Swiss native, trained as a classical pianist with an early interest in traditional jazz that eventually led her toward improvised music and contemporary compositions. Feldman is an American who began his professional career playing country music in Nashville, then transitioned into jazz and free improv with a move to NYC in the mid-1980s.

Married since 1998, the two played together for the first time in 1995 and have worked regularly as a duo and co-leading a quartet since 1997. Both also lead their own projects, and collaborate frequently with other musicians, including a notable ongoing relationship with saxophonist and composer John Zorn, and in the process have amassed substantial catalogs of recording credits. One forthcoming album, which features Courvoisier and Feldman with electronic musician Ikue Mori and saxophonist Evan Parker, will be released on Intakt Records sometime in 2016.

Today, though, we focus on their work as a duo, beginning up top with a clip of Courvoisier and Feldman playing "Azriel," a piece from Zorn's "Book Of Angels, Volume 3: Malphas," in 2010 in Paris.

After the jump, there's a series of five excerpts from a performance in July 2012 at the Théatre de l'Athénée in Paris, followed by a portion of their set at the 2007 Jazz à Luz festival in Luz-Saint-Sauveur, France

The final clip is a brief video excerpting a 2010 performance at NYC's Whitney Museum in which the duo performed two works by Christian Marclay, "Ephemera" and "Shuffle."

For more about Sylvie Courvoisier, check out the interview she did in 2014 with Australia's Radio National network.

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

Friday, November 20, 2015

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* A post at Marc Myers' JazzWax blog looks at how saxophonist and arranger Oliver Nelson wound up collaborating with Leo Gooden, owner of the Blue Note Club in East St. Louis, on the 1963 album Leo Sings With Strings.

* Jeff Schaefer (aka The Reapercussionist), the drum technician who hand-built the house kit now used at Jazz at the Bistro, was featured on KSDK's Show Me St. Louis.

* Speaking of KSDK, the station's longtime morning anchor and reporter Art Holliday was interviewed by Chris King of the St. Louis American about efforts to raise money for the music licensing needed to complete Holliday's long-awaited documentary film about the late pianist Johnnie Johnson.

* While they're in town to do a concert for New Music Circle on Friday, December 4, pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and violinist Mark Feldman also will take part in a free, public performance and Q&A session at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 3 at Jackson Pianos, 4354 Olive St.

* The Vernacular String Trio's Alex Cunningham has posted to SoundCloud some audio from the group's set for the "3 Nights in September" festival at the Tavern of Fine Arts.

* The KDHX website has photos of saxophonist Eric Marienthal and Bach to the Future from last Saturday's benefit concert for Dillon International adoption agency.

* Turning to news of St. Louis expats, saxophonist Eric Person has posted to YouTube a video of a full set from his recent gig at the Blue Note in NYC.

* Singer Lynne Fiddmont (pictured) was interviewed on the web video series The Black & White Sessions.

* Trombonist and singer Joe Bowie has posted online the official video for "Voodoo Basics," a track from the new Defunkt album Mastervolt, which is currently available in Europe and will be released worldwide early next year.

* The Chicago Jazz Orchestra with guest soloists Wycliffe Gordon and Houston Person will pay tribute to the late trumpeter Clark Terry in a concert on Friday, December 18 at the Feinberg Theater in Chicago.

* Music for Lifelong Achievement (MFLA) and the Sheldon Concert Hall say that MFLA's recently concluded annual drive collected more than 50 used musical instruments, which will be refurbished as needed and then donated to local school and community music programs.

St. Louis area Starbucks stores served as collection points for the instrument drive, but MFLA also continues to accept donations of instruments and money year-round at the Sheldon and online at

* Two other programs working with local music students have launched online fundraising efforts via The North County Big Band, a group of students from several local school districts that rehearses and performs at The Sheldon; and Jazz St. Louis' "Jazz Academy," a new jazz education and training program developed specifically for middle school students in the Normandy, Riverview Gardens, and East St. Louis school districts.

* The Broadway Oyster Bar announced via Instagram that they've been named "Restaurant of the Year" by the Missouri Restaurant Association.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Jazz this week: Omaha Diner, Eliane Elias, Stanley Clarke, Susan Werner, and more

It's shaping up to be another busy week for jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with a handful of visiting headliners in town at various venues, a couple of homecoming shows featuring former St. Louisans, and a full schedule of performances from local players as well. Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, November 18
The quartet Omaha Diner (pictured, top left), featuring guitarist Charlie Hunter, saxophonist Skerik, drummer Bobby Previte, and trumpeter Eric Bloom, makes their St. Louis debut in the first of four nights at Jazz at the Bistro.

As an ensemble, they're both high concept - performing nothing but songs that have reached number one on the Billboard pop charts - and loose-limbed, taking considerable liberties with the material while still maintaining the sort of funky grooves associated with Hunter, who, in his customary fashion, simultaneously provides both bass lines and chords. To get a better idea of what this actually sounds like, you can see and hear Omaha Diner in action in this video post from last Saturday.

Thursday, November 19
Guitarist Vincent Varvel plays a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University.

Friday, November 20
Singer/songwriter Susan Werner closes out the fall series of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival with the first of two performances at the Gaslight Theater; Dreaming in Colour will play jazz-fusion at the Ozark Theatre; and the contemporary chamber ensemble Alarm Will Sound returns to the Sheldon Concert Hall with a program of music from St. Louis composers including pianist Peter Martin, Wash U music professor Christopher Stark, and multimedia artist and activist Damon Davis.

Also on Friday, Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will be swinging at Backstreet Jazz & Blues in Westport; the Sentimental Journey Dance Band plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom; and the Funky Butt Brass Band will be back for their regular monthly gig at Broadway Oyster Bar.

Saturday, November 21
Pianist and singer Eliane Elias returns to St. Louis for the first time since 2010 for a performance at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

The Brazilian-born Elias (pictured, center left) first gained wide recognition outside her home country in the 1980s as a member of the fusion band Steps Ahead. She subsequently teamed up with her ex-husband, trumpet player Randy Brecker, for a number of albums mixing straight-ahead, contemporary and Brazilian jazz before going solo with a varied menu of projects that have ranged from a big-band album arranged by Bob Brookmeyer to a tribute to pianist Bill Evans.

Elias has spend a good portion of this year touring in support of her most recent album Made In Brazil, which came out last spring and marked the first time she had gone back to her home country to record since moving to the United States in 1981. You can read more about that in the interview Elias did in August with Keyboard magazine.

Also on Saturday night, bassist Stanley Clarke will be playing at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. Clarke, who was here last year at The Pageant, just wrapped up a two-week run at the Blue Note in NYC that included guest appearances from drummer Lenny White and pianists McCoy Tyner and George Cables.

He also has a new album out this month, a trio recording with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and guitarist Biréli Lagrène called D-Stringz. For the show at the Touhill, though, Clarke (pictured, lower left) will perform with the current version of his electric band, which includes pianist Beka Gochiashvili, keyboardist Cameron Graves, and drummer Michael Mitchell.

Elsewhere on Saturday night, guitarist Tom Byrne and singer Erika Johnson take the stage at Thurman Grill; singer, actor and St. Louis native Craig Pomranz is back home from NYC to perform his cabaret show "Love Takes Time" at Cyrano's; and singer Danita Mumphard will be interpreting the music of Whitney Houston at the Ozark Theatre.

Sunday November 22
Trumpeter Ally Hany returns home from NYC to celebrate the release of her first album Journeys Ahead with a performance at Ferring Jazz Bistro, and Jay Hutson and Da Wolvez will play at Nathalie's.

Monday November 23
Dizzy Atmosphere plays Gypsy jazz and swing at The Shaved Duck, and trumpeter Keith Moyer and band will perform at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups.

Tuesday November 24
Genesis Jazz Project will play a benefit concert for the Circle of Concern Food Pantry at the Midwest Music Conservatory in Ballwin; and student jazz ensembles from Webster Groves High School will perform in a fundraiser for the school's music programs at Highway 61 Roadhouse.

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.)

Updated after posting to correct info on this week's Jazz at Holmes show. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Miles on Monday: Miles Davis voted "greatest jazz artist of all time," and more

This week in Miles Davis news:

* Listeners of BBC Radio One and have selected Miles Davis as "the greatest jazz artist of all time" from among a field of 50 jazz greats.

* Sony Classics announced on Twitter that Miles Ahead, actor/director Don Cheadle's film about Davis, will open in New York and Los Angeles on April 1, 2016.

* Meanwhile, based on his work on Miles Ahead, Variety magazine is touting Cheadle (pictured, on set and in costume as Davis) as one of "10 Directors to Watch in 2016." The ten directors will be profiled in a special issue of Variety in December and honored in person at the Palm Springs Film Festival.

* The proprietors of the Tumblr blog Milestones: A Miles Davis Archive have been uploading more live audio (and some video) of Davis to YouTube, mostly late 1960s and early '70s broadcasts from Europe. Given the rapidly growing selection, rather than link to any individual video, StLJN suggests that you just go check out their YouTube channel.