Monday, July 21, 2014

Recently on Heliocentric Worlds

Since YouTube relaxed their restrictions on video length, more and more full concerts from the past are being put online, and some of the choicest ones have been featured on StLJN's sibling site Heliocentric Worlds.

Up and running as a single-serve site since long before Tumblr was a gleam in some coder's eye, it features one online music video posted every day, drawing from genres including jazz, blues, soul funk, classic rock, prog rock, experimental and more.

Recent posts have shown live performances - some rarely seen until quite recently - from Kurt Elling, the Horace Silver Quintet, Jerry Lee Lewis, Warren Zevon, Sun Ra Arkestra, Ray Charles, Dave Douglas Quartet, Max Roach Quintet with Abbey Lincoln, Tower of Power, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Sly and the Family Stone, Albert King, Oliver Nelson and the Berlin Dream Band, Jefferson Airplane, Most Allison, Randy Newman, Betty Carter, the Morells, David van Tiegham, and Duke Ellington.

Sure, you could just go to YouTube, start typing names into the search engine, and see what happens. But why not take advantage of the work someone else (i.e. yr. humble StLJN editor) has already done to find the good stuff? You'll find all these clips, plus thousands more from the carefully curated archives, just by going to

Saturday, July 19, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Alan Evans' Playonbrother

Today, let's spend a little video time with drummer Alan Evans and his band Playonbrother, who will be in St. Louis next week to perform on Thursday, July 24 at the Gramophone.

Made up of Evans, a co-founder of the funk-jazz trio Soulive, plus Danny Mayer on guitar and Beau Sasser on keyboards, Playonbrother was formed a couple of years ago as the Alan Evans Trio. They've released three albums, debuting in 2012 with Drop Hop and this year putting out two records, Merkaba and the live Woodstock Sessions Vol. 1.

The group also has played St. Louis a couple of times under their old moniker, most recently in September 2012 at the Old Rock House. Since adopting their new name, they're emphasizing Evans' singing more, and seem to have tilted in a more hard-rocking, bluesy direction, though still including plenty of funky backbeats and extended jams.

You can see some of their most recent music in the first video up above, just posted online this past Monday, which is a full set recorded "live in the studio" at Evergroove Studios in Colorado. Then after the jump, there's another full set, recorded live in June 2014 at the Disc Jam Music Festival in Barre, MA.

If you'd rather check out some individual tracks first, below that you'll find live versions of "Nothing To Say" and "Cosmic Hazel Dust" captured in March of this year at Brooklyn Bowl in NY, followed by "Back to Buffalo" and "I'm The Only One," which were recorded live in New Orleans as part of the series "Jam in the Van."

For more about Alan Evans and Playonbrother, check out this interview from 2012 and this one from February of this year.

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

Friday, July 18, 2014

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Next Monday's episode of KETC's Living St. Louis will include an update from reporter Ruth Ezell and Jazz St. Louis executive director Gene Dobbs Bradford on the renovation and expansion of Jazz at the Bistro.

The program is broadcast at 7:00 p.m. Mondays on Channel 9; for cable or satellite channels, check your TV provider's program guide.

* There's a brief new interview with saxophonist David Sanborn posted on Sanborn is using the crowd-funding service to raise money for his next album, which reunites him with bassist Marcus Miller in the studio for the first time in 15 years.

* Voting is now underway in Down Beat magazine's 79th annual reader's poll. You can cast your vote for your favorite musicians, bands, and recordings here.

* Prestige Records' crop of jazz vinyl reissues hitting the shelves this week includes Miles Davis' The Musings Of Miles, originally released as Davis' very first 12" LP in 1955. The Davis LP (pictured) is one of 16 "classic" Prestige albums that will be reissued in conjunction with the label's 65th anniversary.

* Speaking of vinyl reissues, yet another new deluxe edition of Davis' Kind of Blue was reviewed by London Jazz News.

* And speaking of Davis, drummer and producer Anu Sun teased a tantalizing tidbit on Twitter this week about trumpeter and St. Louis native Keyon Harrold and the soundtrack of Miles Ahead, Don Cheadle's film about Davis that's shooting now in Cincinnati: "Got @robertglasper & @keyonharrold in the studio working on the score for the Miles Davis movie. #FunTimes"

* Singer and pianist Ann Hampton Callaway's performance at the upcoming St. Louis Cabaret Festival is previewed by Hannah Botney of the Vital Voice.

* On a related note, actress and singer Faith Prince, who also will be performing during the Cabaret Festival, was a guest on the latest episode of KDHX's "Break A Leg".

* The blog Music Taster's Choice has a short review and some photos of a recent performance by Miss Jubilee at the Blues City Deli.

* Jazz radio update: This Saturday night on Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis' “Somethin’ Else,” host Calvin Wilson will present "Ladies with Verve," spinning tracks recorded by singers Abbey Lincoln, Shirley Horn and Betty Carter late in their careers for the Verve label.

"Somethin' Else" can be heard at 8:00 p.m. Saturdays on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at

Then on Sunday, KWMU's "Jazz Unlimited" will be re-broadcasting part three of host Dennis Owsley's ten-part documentary on the history of St. Louis jazz. The episode, covering World War II and the aftermath, features recordings from the period plus interviews with Miles Davis, Clark Terry, Eddie Randle, Ernie Wilkins, and Charlie Menees, the first jazz DJ in St. Louis.

"Jazz Unlimited" is broadcast from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Sundays on KWMU (90.7 FM), and also can be heard online at

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Jazz this week: Erik Jekabsen, Shana Tucker, Kimmie Horne, and more

Although it's summer vacation season, and jazz gigs in and around St. Louis are somewhat fewer than usual as a result, there still are plenty of shows worth hearing - if, as we're fond of saying around these parts,  you know where to find them.

Here, then, are a few suggestions for the next several days...

Tonight, trumpeter Erik Jekabson's quintet will play a free concert on the Washington University campus for the Jazz at Holmes series. Because of construction, this summer's "Jazz in July" concerts are being presented in Tisch Commons of the Danforth University Center, 6475 Forsyth Blvd.

Also tonight, Irish blues/jazz guitarist and singer Nigel Mooney, fresh off a performance Wednesday night at Missouri Botanical Garden, will team up with St. Louis guitarist Vince Martin for a gig at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups; and guitarist Dave Black and band are playing at Nathalie’s.

On Friday, the Funky Butt Brass Band will play an outdoor concert at Jefferson Barracks Park amphitheater, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the St. Louis Backstoppers.

Also on Friday, singer Wendy Gordon and pianist Arthur Toney will duet at the Tavern of Fine Arts; the Original Knights of Swing will play at Casa Loma Ballroom; and trumpeter Jim Manley and pianist Kara Baldus are at One 19 North Tapas & Wine Bar.

On Saturday, singer and multi-instrumentalist Shana Tucker (pictured) will make her St. Louis debut at the Kranzberg Arts Center. Tucker, who alternates between personal projects and work-for-hire playing cello and singing for Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas, really is more of a jazz-influenced singer-songwriter than a straight-up jazz musician, but she's a talent to watch. Find our more about her and see some performance videos in this post from last Saturday.

Also on Saturday, saxophonist Jim Stevens and band will play a free outdoor concert at Lafayette Park; Wack-A-Doo will perform at Urban Chestnut Brewing Company downtown; and Miss Jubilee will be swinging for the dancers down at Casa Loma Ballroom.

On Sunday, Community Women Against Hardship (CWAH) will hold their annual jazz brunch fundraiser, with this year's event moved to BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups due to the ongoing construction at Jazz at the Bistro.

The benefit will feature music from singer Kimmie Horne, grand-niece of the legendary Lena Horne, backed by a band led by drummer Jerome "Scrooge" Harris and including Jeff Anderson (tenor sax), Matt Villinger (piano), and Ben Wheeler (bass). (Advance reservations can be made via the CWAH website, and are strongly recommended.)

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday, singer Dean Christopher brings his "Rat Pack and More" show back to One 19 North Tapas & Wine Bar; and on Tuesday, pianist and singer Jesse Gannon is now doing a regular weekly gig with his band Truth at The Engine 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.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Stanley Clarke Band to perform
Tuesday, October 14 at The Pageant

Bassist Stanley Clarke is coming back to St. Louis to perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 14 at The Pageant.

Clarke (pictured) played here most recently in May, 2012 at Jazz at the Bistro with a trio featuring pianist Ruslan Sirota and drummer Ronald Bruner, Jr.

This time around, he'll have his electric band, along with St. Louis' jazz/classical fusion quartet Bach to the Future as an opening act.

The latter's presence on the bill is no coincidence, for this concert is being produced by BTTF members (and brothers) Mike Silverman and Rob Silverman as a benefit for the not-for-profit adoption agency Dillon International, which promotes standards and policies for inter-country adoptions and has helped to establish adoption programs in several countries.

Clarke's last album as a leader, an electric outing with Sirota, Bruner and keyboardist Hiromi titled simply The Stanley Clarke Band, came out in 2010. More recently, he's been working on a new all-star recording paying tribute to his old musical partner, the late George Duke, and he was just invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in recognition of his work as a composer for film and TV.

Tickets for Stanley Clarke at The Pageant are $25 for general admission and will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. this Friday, July 18 via Ticketmaster.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Introducing Shana Tucker

Today, let's get acquainted via video with singer, cellist, and guitarist Shana Tucker, who will be making her St. Louis debut sharing a bill with R&B singer Kenya McGuire Johnson at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday, July 19 at the Kranzberg Arts Center.

Originally from Amityville, NY, Tucker studied music at Howard University and Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music and got her professional start playing around DC and NYC with the string trio Hue. That group opened for acts including Hamiet Bluiett, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Indigo Girls, and helped Tucker win her first composing commissions, from the Washington Ballet for two works that premiered at the Kennedy Center.

She released her first solo album Shine in 2011, and for the past couple of years has split time between her home base in Durham, NC and Las Vegas, where she's had a featured role singing and playing cello in the Cirque du Soleil show at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.

In a bit of marketing-speak, Tucker's press kit touts her music as "ChamberSoul," with quotes comparing her to Esperanza Spalding and Joni Mitchell, but to these ears, the latter comparison seems much more apt.

Like Mitchell, or St. Louis' own Erin Bode, Tucker isn't so much a jazz musician per se as a singer-songwriter who uses jazz musicians to realize her songs. A Tucker original like "November" seems especially Mitchell-esque, with densely packed lyrics and a melody that darts and twists like a vintage Mitchell tune.

As an instrumentalist, Tucker's playing is less overtly jazz-influenced than that of the Berklee-trained Spalding, who did time as a side musician with Patti Austin and Joe Lovano before launching her solo career. While Tucker's clearly a skilled cellist, in a band context she uses it more like a rhythm guitar or a second bass than a lead instrument, and when she does solo, the sound is more classical than bebop or blues.

Still, while her music may hard to pigeonhole, Tucker clearly is a talented performer with some appeal for jazz fans. And fortunately, we've got some video of her so that rather than read further attempts to describe her sound, you can check it out for yourself.

The first clip up above was recorded in 2011, shortly after the release of Shine, at the University of North Carolina in Durham. It features Tucker with bassist Darion Alexander, pianist Mark Wells, and drummer Brevan Hampden performing "No Get-Back"; a brief take on "You Are My Sunshine"; "Fast Lane," also  redolent of Joni Mitchell; and "Shine."

After the jump, you can see Tucker performing the aforementioned "November" in a clip made at the CD release event for Shine in February 2011 in Durham.

Below that, from a 2012 gig at THEARC Theater in DC, Tucker does a slow-burn, gender-flipped version of Bill Withers' "Who Is (S)he And What Is (S)he To You?" that gives her a chance to show off a more R&B vocal style in a convincing way.

Next is the "Take Five Medley," in which Tucker mashes up the Dave Brubeck standard with several other songs, including the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood" and "My Favorite Things," originally written in 6/8 time. While the idea of doing all these tunes in 5/4 is executed well enough, personally I'd rather hear any one of the components individually than hear a verse or two of each just sort of stuck together in an otherwise thematically unrelated medley. Your mileage, however, may vary.

That's followed by "The Precious Ones," also from the same gig in DC, which starts as a ballad, eases into a gentle jazz waltz, and features a bit more of Tucker's solo playing. The final video is a brief promotional clip about Tucker, featuring some musical excerpts and quotes from reviewers.

For more about Shana Tucker, see this interview published in January of this year by the North Carolina alt-weekly Indyweek.

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

Friday, July 11, 2014

Marco Benevento to play Sunday,
November 9 at 2720 Cherokee

Keyboardist Marco Benevento will return to St. Louis to perform at 8:00 p.m. Sunday, November 11 at 2720 Cherokee.

Benevento (pictured) was in St. Louis most recently in April, 2013 at the same venue. His next album Swift, which is set to be released in September, features Benevento singing for the first time on record.

It will include nine tracks of original music, produced by indie-rocker Richard Swift and performed by Benevento with his current touring band, bassist Dave Drewitz and drummer Andy Borger.

One song, the pop-oriented "At The Show," already has been released on SoundCloud as a teaser.

Tickets for the 18+ show are $10 in advance, $12 at the door, with a $3 surcharge for minors, and are on sale now.

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* It's been an eventful week for Miles Ahead, Don Cheadle's movie about Miles Davis, as Cheadle and company began filming on Monday in Cincinnati and last night wrapped up a successful IndieGoGo campaign raising more than $340,000 in additional funding for the movie.

Meanwhile, Cheadle also was interviewed about the movie by Entertainment Weekly (which ran the photo of him as Davis-circa-1969 that accompanies this post), Okay Player, and Uprising Radio.

* In other Davis-related news, the trumpeter also showed up on a list recently published by of the top 10 most-sampled jazz artists of all time. Davis ranks number nine on the list, with 146 samples of his music used in hip-hop records that made the charts. (Incidentally, the musician ranked as "most sampled" is a Missouri native - keyboardist Bob James, who's originally from Marshall, MO and has had his jazz/funk tunes sampled 734 times to date.).

* Drummer Dave Weckl has announced a tour and forthcoming album by his new group, the Dave Weckl Acoustic Band, which features St. Louis native Tom Kennedy on bass along with saxophonist Gary Meek and pianist Makoto Ozone. Though the tour schedule for this summer doesn't include a St. Louis date, you can see a brief preview video of the band, recorded earlier this year at the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood, here.

* In conjunction with other merchants in the Old Webster business district, Euclid Records will hold a sidewalk sale next Saturday, July 19, with thousands of LPs, CDs and DVDs for sale at marked-down prices in front, in back, and inside the store, which is located at 19 North Gore in downtown Webster Groves.

* Tavern of Fine Arts co-owner Aaron Johnson got married over the Fourth of July weekend to Melissa Brooks, cellist with the St. Louis Symphony. Congratulations to the happy couple!

* Historian and former St. Louisan Benjamin Cawthra, who wrote the book Blue Notes in Black and White about the history of jazz photography, has a few thoughts about recent developments here concerning Jazz St. Louis and the Palladium, and how the presentation of live jazz continues to evolve.

* Keyboardist Jim Hegarty has published a new ebook, Guts & Soul: Looking for Street Music and Finding Inspiration, which is available now for free on Smashwords and soon via iTunes and other outlets. "Street music has always inspired me and I went looking for more," explained Hegarty in an email touting the book, which contains photos of and conversations with street musicians in New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New Orleans.

* Jazz radio update: Coming up this week on Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis' “Somethin’ Else,”  host Calvin Wilson explores the compositions of saxophonist Ornette Coleman, as recorded by the composer himself, bassist Christian McBride, drummer John Hollenbeck and others.

Following that, on "The Jazz Collective," host Jason Church will offer up tracks from Morgan James, Omar Hakim, Cookin on 3 Burners, Down To The Bone, Ragan Whiteside, Mindi Abair, Lou Donaldson, Wes Montgomery, Junior Walker, Wilton Felder, and Donald Byrd as well as locals including Dawn Webert, Soul Cafe, and Jim Manley.

"Somethin' Else" can be heard at 8:00 p.m. Saturdays, followed by "The Jazz Collective" at 9:00 p.m., on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at
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