Thursday, May 21, 2015

Jazz St. Louis announces
2015-16 season schedule

Melissa Aldana
Jazz St. Louis has announced their 2015-16 season schedule, and with it, a new, explicitly stated policy of offering live music every Wednesday through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro.

That will mean more acts playing two-night stands at the Bistro, with touring groups occasionally showing up midweek as well as on the weekends. Given the developments this year since Jazz St. Louis purchased its building and renovated and expanded the Bistro, that change may be more evolutionary than revolutionary, but it does move the venue toward being essentially a full-time operation rather than a seasonal presenter.

Some of the most noteworthy bookings for 2015-16 include a trio version of bassist Dave Holland's Prism, with guitarist Kevin Eubanks and drummer Eric Harland, but minus keyboardist Craig Taborn (October 21-24); a pairing of singer DeeDee Bridgewater with a band led by New Orleans trumpeter Irvin Mayfield (March 16-19); and the current edition of the all-star SFJAZZ Collective, returning to St. Louis for the first time since 2007 (March 30-April 2).

Cyrille Aimée
Notable St. Louis debuts will include singer Cyrille Aimée (February 3-6); saxophonist Melissa Aldana (April 27-30); the Dave King Trucking Company, led by the drummer who's played the Bistro many times with The Bad Plus (September 4 & 5); and the previously mentioned Omaha Diner, with guitarist and Bistro veteran Charlie Hunter along with drummer Bobby Previte, saxophonist Skerik, and trumpeter Eric Bloom in place of Steven Bernstein (November 18-21).

Gregory Porter
As for returning acts, singer Gregory Porter has been booked for a much-anticipated encore appearance, but since his shows at the Bistro back in January 2013, his star has risen sufficiently that this time he'll be doing a one-nighter at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on Saturday, February 6 instead of a week at the Bistro.

Bassist Stanley Clarke's electric band also will play on Saturday, November 21 at the Touhill under the auspices of Jazz St. Louis, apparently renewing the collaboration between the two presenters that seems to have been dormant for a couple of years.

Nostalgically speaking, Jazz St. Louis will celebrate its 20th anniversary officially in September with a custom assemblage of musicians who have played the Bistro numerous times over the years, including bassist Christian McBride, pianist Cyrus Chestnut, drummer Gregory Hutchinson, guitarist Russell Malone, trumpeter Terell Stafford, and saxophonist Tim Warfield.

DeeDee Bridgewater & Irvin Mayfield
Return appearances by pianist Monty Alexander and singer Karrin Allyson also will harken back to the Bistro's early days. Both (along with a return visit from pianist Kenny Barron, who was here just this past season) are part of a new series named after the late Barbara Rose, the presenter and impresario whose "Just Jazz" series evolved into Jazz at the Bistro and the founding of Jazz St. Louis.

Saxophonist and hometown hero David Sanborn also will be back, along with such now-familiar figures as The Bad Plus, saxophonist James Carter, trumpeter Sean Jones, pianist Freddy Cole with saxophonist Harry Allen, the fusion band Yellowjackets, and more.

After the jump, you can see the complete 2015-16 schedule, ticket ordering information, and some additional commentary and analysis...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Jazz this week: Moon Hooch, Avishai Cohen's Triveni, Mardra & Reggie Thomas, and more

Memorial Day weekend may be arriving a bit earlier than usual this year, but along with it, St. Louis fans of jazz and creative music can enjoy a couple of touring headliners, the return of some longtime local favorites, a day of performances paying tribute to an influential figure on the local scene, and more. Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, May 20
Moon Hooch (pictured, top left) returns to St. Louis for another gig at 2720 Cherokee. The difficult-to-categorize trio got their start busking in the subways and streets of NYC, and over the past couple of years have brought their funky, stripped-down sound to clubs, concerts and festivals.

Also tonight, Sarah Jane & The Blue Notes perform at the Feasting Fox, and guitarist Dave Black plays at Thurman Grill.

Thursday, May 21
Trumpeter Avishai Cohen (pictured, center left) brings his trio Triveni to Jazz at the Bistro for one night only.

Also featuring drummer Nasheet Waits, who's appeared on all three of the group's recordings, and bassist Linda Oh, subbing for Omer Avital, Triveni is featured on three of Cohen's recordings as a leader, the most recent of which is Dark Nights, released last October. 

You can read more about Cohen and Triveni and see some samples of them in performance in this video post from last Saturday, and you can read a review of their show this week in Kansas City here.

Elsewhere around town, pianist Ptah Williams and guitarist Eric Slaughter are continuing with themed shows in their weekly residency at The Dark Room, this week performing music from the songbook of Earth, Wind and Fire.

Friday, May 22
Former St. Louisans Mardra and Reggie Thomas, whose vocals and keyboards were staples of the local music scene for more than a decade, will be back in town to headline two nights of performances at Jazz at the Bistro.

After moving to Michigan several years ago, the Thomasas (pictured, bottom left) now are based in Macomb, IL, where last fall Reggie Thomas succeeded Ronald Carter as head of the jazz studies program at Northern Illinois University.

This weekend, they'll be showcasing some of the music from their most recent album, Matters of the Heart, accompanied by a band including three St. Louis musicians - saxophonist Jason Swagler, bassist Zeb Briskovich, and drummer Montez Coleman - plus backing vocalists Nicole Jonas, Olivia Neal, and Zelina Star, and Detroit native Perry Hughes on guitar.

Elsewhere on Friday, the annual Glendale Jazz Festival will feature free, outdoor performances from the St. Louis Big Band, blues guitarist Pennsylvania Slim, and Miss Jubilee at Glendale City Hall, 424 N Sappington Rd.; singers and brothers Tony Viviano and Frank Viviano will join forces at Talayna's Italian Restaurant in Chesterfiled; and singer Joe Mancuso brings a quartet to Nathalie's.

Saturday, May 23
Saxophonist Tim Cunningham will be back at Troy's Jazz Gallery, while guitarist Eric Slaughter and bassist Glen Smith will team up for some duets at Thurman Grill.

Sunday, May 24
Jazz St. Louis will present the second Richard McDonnell Memorial Concert at Jazz at the Bistro. The concert honoring the memory of the late founder of MAXJAZZ records and former Jazz St. Louis board member will begin mid-afternoon and continue through the evening will music from Peter Martin, the Funky Butt Brass Band, Adam Maness, Bob DeBoo, Eric Slaughter, Montez Coleman, Jesse Gannon, and more. 

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, May 18, 2015

Music Education Monday: Six-month index

It's been six months since StLJN's "Music Education Monday" feature began, and since the idea here is to make this information easily accessible to as many people as possible, now seems like a good time to index all the related posts so far.

The series will continue with a new entry next week In the meantime, here's your chance to catch up with any of the previous posts you may have missed:

* A master class in understanding audio formats
* A master class with percussionist Milford Graves
* Still all about that bass (with Ray Brown and Milt Hinton)
* Jazz piano lessons from Mike Wolff and Barry Harris
* John Abercrombie on jazz guitar improvisation
* Sound system basics
* Aebersold's "Jazz Handbook," plus Latin percussion classes with Dafnis Prieto
* Electronic music production tips, plus a keyboard workshop with Richard Tee
* Arranging 101
* Saxophone master classes with Greg Osby
* Inside the musical mind of Bill Evans
* A jazz improvisation primer and video workshop
* Fusion fundamentals with Lorber, Haslip & Marienthal
* Books, both fake and Real
* What's the score?
* Video workshops with Urbie Green & Delfeayo Marsalis
* Behind the score of Birdman with drummer Antonio Sanchez
* A jazz guitar master class with Jim Hall
* Free play-along recordings, and a free class from Gary Burton
* All about that bass
* Microphone basics, and some studio tips from Al Schmitt
* A Benny Golson master class, and the Saxophone Museum
* A music theory reference, and a Matt Wilson master class
* Monk's advice and Bishop's fourths
* Saxophonists speak out, and a musician's guide to copyright
* "Visual Reference for Musicians" & "Cymbals 101"
* Electronic music history, and a Clark Terry master class
* "Music Theory for Musicians and Normal People" & The Red Hot Jazz Archive

Miles on Monday: Wayne Shorter speaks out, Amandla turns 26, and more

This week for "Miles on Monday," some recent news items related to the legendary trumpeter:

* In a new interview with Billboard magazine, saxophonist Wayne Shorter (pictured) discusses topics including his relationship with Davis as a member of the trumpeter's "second great quintet."

* With the 89th anniversary of Davis' birth coming up next Tuesday, saxophonist Gary Bartz and drummer Al Foster - both ex-sidemen of Davis' - will join trumpeter Eddie Henderson for a series of tribute gigs this weekend at the NYC club Smoke.

* Visual artists opening a new exhibit in London, citing the influence of Davis' album of the same name, have titled their show "In a Silent Way."

* Today is the 26th anniversary of the release of Davis' album Amandla, his third and final recording with bassist/composer Marcus Miller serving as producer. (The others were Tutu in 1986 and the soundtrack to the film Siesta, issued in 1987.) Amandla also features some keyboard work from the late George Duke and a very young Joey DeFrancesco, who had just turned 18 years old when the record came out.

You can listen to all the tracks from the album by clicking on the embedded YouTube playlist below.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Session: May 17, 2015

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

* When does a violin copy become a forgery? (The Strad)
* Review: Pharoah Sanders at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn (New York Times)
* Austin Signal Cuts to the Chase (Pro Sound News)
* Tiny Music Royalties Add Up, Unexpectedly (NPR)
* For orchestra musicians, thrill of Cuba trip tempered by fear over instruments (Minnesota Public Radio)
* Review: The New Orleans Jazz Scene, 1970-2000: A Personal Retrospective (
* More Evidence Of Big Changes Coming To Guitar Center (Forbes)
* A holding corporation called old America: Charles Mingus’ religious multitudes (Oxford University Press)
* Spillage and Flow: Notes from the 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (
* Further Spillage (The Good Kind): More Notes on the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (
* An Animated John Coltrane Explains His True Reason for Being: “I Want to Be a Force for Real Good” (Open Culture)
* VNYL Sliding: Why The “Netflix For Vinyl” Service Is Such A Mess (Stereogum)
* LOVE WILL FIND A WAY: The VNYL Subscription Service Blows It? (Pt. 1) (Blurt)
* Jerome Cooper, a Multitextured Jazz Percussionist, Dies at 68 (New York Times)
* The Death of the One-Hit Wonder (
* 'The In Crowd': An Audience-Fueled Jazz-Pop Crossover Hit (NPR)
* Spalding Showcases Range, Diversity in San Francisco (DownBeat)
* The Technology That Saved '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' (The Atlantic)
* BB King was that rare thing – a game-changer who was also beloved (The Guardian UK)
* King’s Essential Recordings (DownBeat)
* Composer Philip Glass’s Childhood Gig (Wall Street Journal)
* Even when looking back, Jack DeJohnette forges ahead (Boston Globe)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Avishai Cohen's Triveni reimagines standards

This week, our video spotlight shines on trumpeter Avishai Cohen, who will be in St. Louis to perform for one night only this Thursday, May 21 at Jazz at the Bistro. Cohen will be playing with his group Triveni, a trio with bassist Omer Avital and drummer Nasheet Waits that plays stripped-down versions of well-known songs from the modern jazz repertoire, along with original material in a similar style.

Not to be confused with the jazz bassist of the same name, the trumpet-playing Avishai Cohen is a native of Tel Aviv, Israel and the younger brother of clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen and saxophonist Yuval Cohen, with whom he tours and records as The 3 Cohens.

He also has played since 2010 in the SF JAZZ Collective, succeeding Nicholas Payton and Dave Douglas in the group's trumpet chair. Although this will be Cohen's first gig at the Bistro as a bandleader, he did play the club once previously in November 2007 with Waverly Seven, a one-shot project that also included his sister.

Like his siblings, Avishai Cohen first came to the United States to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, and like his sister Anat, he stayed here after graduation and moved to NYC to launch his career. Since then, he's recorded seven albums as a leader, including three with Triveni, the most recent of which, Dark Nights, was released last October.

You can see Triveni perform "Dark Nights, Darker Days," the composition from which the album's title was derived, in the first video up above. After the jump, there's a video of them playing "You In All Directions," which, like the first clip, was recorded "live in studio" at The Bunker in Brooklyn.

The third clip goes back to October 2010, when the trio promoted their first album by performing in the studios of radio station WBGO for the program "The Checkout."

After that, there are three live tracks recorded more recently by variants of the band's principal lineup. "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," which is on the Dark Nights... album, was recorded in February of this year in Rotterdam by Cohen, bassist Yoni Zelnik, and drummer Justin Brown.

Then, it's "One Man's Idea" from the 2014 North Sea Jazz Festival, with Cohen, Zelnik and Waits; and "Safety Land," recorded in February 2014 at Jazzhouse in Copenhagen by Cohen, Waits and bassist Reiner Elizarde.

Last but not least, there's a brief video interview from last fall, with Cohen talking about the concept for the band as Waits and Zelnik look on.

For more about Avishai Cohen and Triveni, see the interview with Cohen published in August 2014 by and his October 2014 interview with Music and Literature magazine.

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

Friday, May 15, 2015

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Saxophonist Oliver Lake (pictured) was interviewed by the website Revive Music in advance of his big band gig this Sunday at Aljira Gallery in Newark, NJ.

* Lake's recent duo album with bassist William Parker, To Roy, was reviewed by the website Music and More.

* A new article on the Blue Note Records website looks back at saxophonist Greg Osby's 2000 album The Invisible Hand.

* Pianist and former St. Louisan Tom McDermott, now a mainstay on the New Orleans music scene, has a new duo album, City of Timbres, with clarinetist, saxophonist and singer Aurora Nealand.

* The St. Louis Stompers are on the road this weekend playing the Bunny Berigan Jazz Jubilee in Fox Lake, WI.

* The Funky Butt Brass Band has posted to Facebook an album of photos from their performance in March at the World Chess Hall of Fame

* Jazz radio update: This Saturday on Radio Arts Foundation-St. Louis, Calvin Wilson's program “Somethin’ Else” will feature music from young vocalists including Becca Stevens, Rebecca Martin and Gretchen Parlato. The program can be heard at 8:00 p.m. on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at

Then, on Sunday's episode of "Jazz Unlimited" on St. Louis Public Radio, host Dennis Owsley will highlight the music of saxophonist Joe Lovano. The program can be heard from 9:00 p.m. to midnight over the air at 90.7 FM and online at

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Pollstar: Omaha Diner to perform
November 18 - 21 at Jazz at the Bistro

The online touring information service Pollstar has just added a listing showing the group Omaha Diner performing Wednesday, November 18 through Saturday, November 21 at Jazz at the Bistro.

Formed in 2013, Omaha Diner (pictured) includes guitarist Charlie Hunter, who's played the Bistro before with several different configurations of musicians, along with drummer Bobby Previte, trumpeter Steven Bernstein, and the single-named saxophonist Skerik (who's played in St. Louis at a couple of different venues as part of the trio Garage A Trois, of which Hunter was a founding member).

As you'd expect from the backgrounds of the various members, Omaha Diner's music incorporates a variety of influences, from funk and fusion to punk rock and experimental jazz. However, their stated musical purpose (or gimmick, or unique selling proposition, depending on how you look at it) is to deconstruct pop music, playing only songs that have reached #1 on the Billboard charts.

You can get a idea of what that sounds like in the promotional video embedded below, or check out the versions of Macklemore's "Thrift Shop," Guns N' Roses "Sweet Child O' Mine" and Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" that they performed during a visit last November to radio station KPLU in Seattle.

As always with listings posted on Pollstar, dates should not be considered confirmed until officially announced by the venue or presenter. That said, the service has proved to be very accurate over the years, and given that Jazz St. Louis has said they plan to announce their 2015-16 season schedule next week, local listeners won't have to wait long for confirmation on this one, anyway.

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