Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Jazz this week: The return of Rene Marie, Gaslight Cabaret Festival, and more

This week's lineup of jazz and creative music performances in St. Louis puts the spotlight on vocalists, starting with an internationally known singer once signed to a local label, and continuing with the latest set of shows featuring performers from the thriving local cabaret scene.

Mix in some improvised music with a side order of poetry, and various instrumental performances in a variety of styles, and there should be something to entice just about any jazz listener. Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday March 4
Tonight, singer Rene Marie (pictured, above left) returns to St. Louis for the first time since the mid-2000s to begin a four-night engagement at Jazz at the Bistro.

Marie was one of the first artists signed to the St. Louis based MAXJAZZ label back in 1999, and cut six albums for them over the next five years while also performing here a number of times. More recently, she put out a couple of albums on her own, and then signed with Motema, which last year issued her most recent recording project, a tribute to Eartha Kitt. For more about that, see this Saturday video post from a couple of weeks ago.  

Also tonight, singer Eve Seltzer returns to Evangeline's; and trumpeter Kasimu Taylor and his trio continue their weekly gig at the The Dark Room in Grand Center.

Thursday March 5
Pianist Greg Mills' project The Perihelion Ensemble, with saxophonist Dave Stone, percussionist Henry Claude, cellist Tracy Andreotti, Ajay Khanna on electronics, and recently named St. Louis poet laureate Michael Castro, will perform at the Tavern of Fine Arts.

Also on Thursday, clarinetist Scott Alberici, guitarist Steve Schenkel and bassist Ric Vice will team up to play a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes at Washington University; and singer Feyza Eren (pictured, center left) and a band featuring drummer Steve Davis and pianist Scott Sheperd will perform Sheperd's original material in "Colored Sky - An Evening of St. Louis Jazz," a benefit for the Diversity Awareness Partnership at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Friday, March 6
The Gaslight Cabaret Festival's first weekend of the spring begins with singer and pianist Neal Richardson performing his show "Pennies From Heaven," with a guest appearance from singer Ben Nordstrom, at the Gaslight Theater.

Elsewhere that evening, Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will return to Highway 61 Roadhouse and Kitchen; the Original Knights of Swing will play for dancers at Casa Loma Ballroom.; and keyboardists Ptah Williams and Matt Villinger will join forces at Thurman Grill.

Saturday, March 7
Pianist Carolbeth True (pictured, below left) and Two Times True will be doing a free early evening performance in the St. Louis Art Museum's Sculpture Hall as part of SLAM's annual "Art In Bloom" event.

Also on Saturday, the husband-and-wife team of pianist Joe Dreyer and singer Rosemary Watts will present their show "Transitions" at the Gaslight Theater; trumpeter Jim Manley, singer Charlie B. and friends will perform at Nathalie's; and singer Joe Mancuso and guitarist Dave Black will be doing their duo thing for the diners and drinkers at  Element STL.


Sunday, March 8
The late winter/early spring edition of the St. Louis Record Collector and CD Show takes place at the American Czech Hall, 4690 Lansdowne (at Kingshighway) on the south side.

Monday, March 9
Trumpeter Keith Moyer and his group will be back at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups

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, March 03, 2015

Jazz at the Bistro adds performances by Robert Glasper with Keyon Harrold, Pedrito Martinez Group, Avishai Cohen's Triveni

Photo by Janette Beckmann, provided by Jazz St. Louis
Jazz St. Louis today announced three additions to the spring 2015 schedule at Jazz at the Bistro.

Most notably, the Robert Glasper Experiment with special guest, St Louis' own Keyon Harrold, on trumpet, will perform on Wednesday, April 22 and Thursday, April 23 at the Bistro.

Along with the leader on keyboards, the regular lineup of the Experiment (pictured) also includes another St. Louisan, drummer Marc Colenburg, as well as bassist Derrick Hodge and saxophonist and vocalist Casey Benjamin.

They recently won a 2015 Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance for "Jesus Children," a song from Glasper's 2013 album Black Radio 2 that featured guest vocal performances from Lalah Hathaway (daughter of another former St. Louisan, the late keyboardist, singer and songwriter Donny Hathaway) and Malcolm Jamal Warner.

Glasper's only visit to the old version of the Bistro was back in 2012, and given how much his star has risen since then, plus the additional local interest stemming from the presence of Harrold and Colenburg, tickets for these shows in the newly expanded venue seem likely to be a hot commodity.

Also added to the spring schedule were single evenings featuring the Bistro debuts of percussionist Pedrito Martinez and his group on Thursday, May 7, and trumpeter Avishai Cohen's Triveni on Thursday, May 21.

Martinez, who was born in Cuba but has lived since 1998 in NYC, has played with notable musicians and singers including Paquito D’Rivera, Wynton Marsalis, Paul Simon, Eddie Palmieri, Cassandra Wilson, Arturo O’Farrill, Joe Lovano, and more, and also co-founded the group Yerba Buena. The first album by his eponymous band, The Pedrito Martinez Group, was released in 2013; it made the year-end "best of" lists of a number of jazz critics and also earned a Grammy nomination.

Cohen is the brother of clarinetist/saxophonist Anat Cohen and saxophonist Yuval Cohen, and like his siblings was born and raised in Tel Aviv, Israel before coming to the US. He has released seven albums as a leader including three with Triveni, which is a trio also featuring bassist Omer Avital and drummer Nasheet Waits. Their St. Louis performances are part of a week of shows that also will include dates in NYC, Boston and Chicago.

As per usual at the Bistro, all three acts will play will two separate sets each night, at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tickets for the Robert Glasper Experiment with Keyon Harrold are priced at $35 for adults, $15 for students; for Avishai Cohen's Triveni, $30 for adults, $10 for students; and for Pedrito Martinez, $25 for adults and $10 for students.

Tickets for all three shows are available now for purchase by Jazz at the Bistro subscribers, and will go on sale to the general public at 10:30 a.m. next Wednesday, March 11 via phone at 314-571-6000 and online.

New Music Circle reschedules On Fillmore, adds concerts from Shipp & Bisio, Black Host

New Music Circle has rescheduled one of their previously announced concerts this spring and also added two more concerts, both co-presented with KDHX at The Stage at KDHX.

The performance by bassist Darin Gray and percussionist Glenn Kotche, aka On Fillmore, which had been scheduled for Saturday, March 14 at The Stage at KDHX, has been moved to Friday, April 3 at the same venue. (Presumably, tickets purchased for the original date will be transferable to the new one, but we're waiting for someone from NMC to confirm that and will update this post when they do.)

The first of the additional concerts will feature pianist Matthew Shipp and bassist Michael Bisio at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 28 at The Stage at KDHX. Shipp played here most recently in October 2011 at 560 Music Center with his trio, which includes Bisio and drummer Whit Dickey. Shipp and Bisio released a duo album, Floating Ice, back in 2012.

The second added concert will present the St. Louis debut of Black Host, a quintet led by drummer Gerald Cleaver, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 25, also at The Stage at KDHX. Cleaver, who in addition to leading his own groups, is known for his work with Roscoe Mitchell, William Parker, Joe Morris, and other significant improvising musicians. He played here a couple of years ago in another NMC concert with saxophonist Lotte Anker and keyboardist Craig Taborn.

Black Host (pictured) also includes pianist Cooper-Moore, alto saxophonist Darius Jones, bassist Pascal Niggenkemper and guitarist Brandon Seabrook. Their first recording, Life in the Sugar Candle Mines, was released last year on the Northern Spy label. It features original music described as combining "modern jazz, free music, psych, post-punk and electrified noise with painstaking detail and heady abandon."

Tickets for both Shipp & Bisio and Black Host are priced at $20 for general admission, $10 for students and "struggling music lovers," and are on sale now via Brown Paper Tickets.

(Edited after posting.)

Monday, March 02, 2015

Music Education Monday:
Inside the musical mind of Bill Evans

Since today marks 56 years to the day since Miles Davis began recording his landmark album Kind of Blue, for this week's "Music Education Monday" let's take a closer look at one of the musicians who played a key role in those sessions.

Bill Evans (pictured) was the pianist in what's often called Davis "first great quintet," and his lyrical piano style, and the way it meshes with Davis' concept of modal jazz, is a distinctive feature of Kind of Blue.

(As an indication of his importance to the sessions, Evans was tapped to write the liner notes for Kind of Blue, and it's interesting to compare the finished version with images of the hand-written draft that recently appeared online.)

Evans' work with Davis and his playing with his own trio have influenced several subsequent generations of pianists, and fortunately for musicians who'd like to learn more about him, there's a wealth of material online that not only examines Evans' life and career but offers detailed looks at his music as well.

For starters, the Bill Evans Web Pages, though now no longer updating, and a tribute site from the Netherlands offer useful overviews of Evans with plenty of supplemental material.

After that, Keyboard magazine's article "Five ways to play like Bill Evans" offers a quick gloss on Evans' piano style, and Australian pianist Dan Papirany has written an essay on Evans' improvisational concepts that's worth a look.

For sheet music and transcriptions, start with the Bill Evans fake book, which contains basic versions of many of the tunes Evans played frequently, and there's also a PDF book available online transcribing and analyzing Evans' "signature licks." You can find more Evans tunes and solos transcribed here, here and here.

For the definitive word on Evans' approach to music, you can listen to the man himself, via The Universal Mind Of Bill Evans, a 1966 film in which Evans and his brother Harry discuss jazz, improvisation and the creative process:

Miles on Monday: 56 years of Kind of Blue

It was 56 years ago today that Miles Davis went into Columbia Records' 30th Street Studio in New York City to begin recording Kind of Blue, his best-known work that has been cited variously over the ensuing years as the best-selling, most influential, and greatest jazz album of all time.

During that first session on Monday, March 2, 1959, the tracks "So What," "Freddie Freeloader" and "Blue in Green" were recorded for side one of the original LP.

A few weeks later, on Wednesday, April 22, Davis and his band - saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian "Cannonball" Adderly, pianist Bill Evans, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb - went back in the studio to record "All Blues" and "Flamenco Sketches" for side two.

Kind of Blue was released by Columbia Records on August 17, 1959 and, as the saying goes, the rest is history. You can hear the album in its entirety by clicking on the embedded video window below.

Recently on Heliocentric Worlds

It's the start of a new month, and so it's time to check in on StLJN's sibling site Heliocentric Worlds, where each day we post an online music video, drawn from genres including jazz, blues, soul, funk, classic rock, prog rock, experimental, and more.

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

The Band - Live in New Orleans
Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet - "Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 381 Days"
Joe Williams - "Come Back Baby"
Buddy Guy - Live at Red Rocks
Nina Simone - "Mississippi Goddam"

Other posts over the last month included videos featuring Joni Mitchell, Carl Perkins, the Crusaders, Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross with Leon Thomas and Eddie Jefferson, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, McCoy Tyner, Muddy Waters with Johnny Winter, Frank Morgan & Red Rodney, Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Can, Jimmie Vaughan, Steve Miller Band, Gil Evans Orchestra, Freddie Hubbard, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Robert Glasper and the Metropole Orkest, Johnny Griffin, Tommy Flanagan, Chuck Berry, Otis Redding, Roscoe Mitchell & Mike Reed, and Dizzy Gillespie.

If you've somehow missed out up until now, fear not - you still can see all these clips, plus thousands more from the carefully curated archives, just by visiting http://heliocentricworlds.blogspot.com/.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Sunday Session: March 1, 2015

William Hooker
For your Sunday reading, some interesting music-related items that have hit StLJN's inbox over the past week:

* In Oscar Nominations For Best Score, Some Hear Sour Notes (NPR)
* “Birdman” Score Snubbed: Why Oscar Hates Drummers (Medium)
* Apple Hiring More Music Journalists and A Sea of Freelancers (HypeBot.com)
* Tears and fears as two stars are forced to give up their violins (Slipped Disc)
* From dirt to the divine: 50 years of 'A Love Supreme' (Creative Loafing Atlanta)
* Reminder: Fair Use Is A Right -- And Not 'An Exception' Or 'A Defense' (TechDirt)
* Friday is the New Official Release Day for Albums (Paste)
* International Jazz Day Names Paris as This Year’s Host City (Jazz Times)
* The dangers of digital: Brian Eno on technology and modern music (The Vinyl Factory)
* Ramsey Lewis: Perpetually Reaching Out Through Music (DownBeat)
* The Musical Brain: Novel Study of Jazz Players Shows Common Brain Circuitry Processes Both Music and Language (Johns Hopkins Medicine)
* William Hooker and Oscar Micheaux, visionaries across eras and art forms (Washington Post)
* Copyright Mixtape: How The "Blurred Lines" Lawsuit Could Change Music Forever (Ratter.com)
* Composing for Hollywood (The New Yorker)
* Ravi Coltrane takes his own giant steps in the jazz world (Sunday Herald)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
A Clark Terry retrospective



Today, as funeral services for Clark Terry take place in New York City, StLJN pays tribute to the late, great trumpeter and St. Louis native with a video retrospective of his career. (You can see previous coverage of Terry's passing here and here.)

Over the past decade, StLJN has featured Terry in several previous video showcases, and this post includes some favorites from those posts, as well as some clips previously unseen here. Fortunately, there's a wealth of video of Terry available online, and while it wasn't easy to narrow the field, even to a dozen clips, these examples should provide a good overview.

The first clip up above shows Terry with a small group drawn from the Count Basie Orchestra, performing "Royalty in Rhythm." Although the clip is undated, Terry played with the Count between 1948 and 1951, so it most likely was recorded sometime during that three-year stretch.

After the jump, you'll see a 1958 video of the Duke Ellington Orchestra playing "El Gato," which featured the band's trumpet section, then comprised of Terry, fellow St. Louis native Harold "Shorty" Baker, Ray Nance, and Cat Anderson, for whom the piece was named.

Clip number three was recorded in 1960 in Belgium, and shows Terry as the featured soloist with the Quincy Jones Big Band in an arrangement of pianist Bobby Timmons' hard-bop standard "Moanin."

The fourth video demonstrates Terry's skills as a ballad player, as he performs "Stardust" in a 1964 concert in London, backed by a group including pianist Teddy Wilson, bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Louie Bellson.

Next, you can see Terry performing with pianist Oscar Peterson's trio, with Ray Brown on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums, at a concert recorded March 23, 1965 in Finland. These four musicians had recorded the album Oscar Peterson Trio + One the previous year, which proved to be a fairly big hit by jazz standards and helped introduce Terry's signature tune "Mumbles" to a worldwide audience.

After that, you can see Terry and another of his closest musical associates from the 1960s, valve trombonist and composer Bob Brookmeyer, as they co-lead a quintet in a 1965 broadcast recorded in London for the BBC program Jazz 625.

Terry's steady gig for much of the 1960s was the band for NBC's Tonight Show, which he integrated when he became the orchestra's first African-American member in 1962. In the seventh clip, you can see Terry on the Tonight Show in October 1965 as the featured soloist on a version on Ellington's "In A Mellow Tone." (The show was then based in NYC, but was broadcasting from Los Angeles that week, which is why the set looks unfamiliar and the band except for Terry is comprised of West Coast musicians.)

After leaving the Tonight Show, Terry led his own orchestra, the Big Bad Band, intermittently through the 1970s and early 1980s, and today's eighth clip shows just over 19 minutes of that group in action. The location and date weren't indicated in the YouTube annotations, but judging from the way the musicians are dressed, the late 1970s seems like a good guess for the latter.

Below that, you can see another side of Terry, as he plays "Stormy Monday" with another American musical icon, blues singer and guitarist Muddy Waters. This clip was recorded in July, 1977 in Nice, France, with Muddy's band, which included Bob Margolin (guitar), Guitar Junior (guitar), Pinetop Perkins (piano), Calvin Jones (bass), and Willy "Big Eyes" Smith (drums).

Video number ten features another cameo appearance by Terry, as he serves up some flugelhorn and vocals for Quincy Jones' "Soul Bossa Nova" on Late Night with David Letterman with Jones' orchestra and saxophonist Phil Woods, who takes the solo before Terry's. Again, this clip is undated, but logic suggests it was recorded not too long after the tune was featured in the title sequence of the movie Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery, which came out in 1997.

In the eleventh clip, recorded in 2001, Terry converses with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, in an extended version of "Mumbles," backed by Herbie Hancock on piano, Russell Malone on guitar, Ron Carter on bass, Roy Haynes on drums, and James Carter on saxophone.

We close out our video tribute to Clark Terry with a complete set recorded in 2002 at a jazz festival on the island of St. Lucia, featuring Terry's own quintet with Donald Harrison on alto sax, Anthony Wonsey on piano, Curtis Lundy on bass, and Victor Lewis on drums. It's quite a testament to Terry's skills that even in his 80s, at an age when many brass musicians find their physical abilities greatly diminished, he still was able to lead a band of musicians half his age and play this well.

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