Sunday, July 05, 2015

Sunday Session: July 5, 2015

Charles Mingus
For your Sunday reading, here are some interesting music-related items that have hit StLJN's inbox over the past week:

* Matthew Shipp unveils new trio with upcoming release The Conduct of Jazz (Something Else)
* Ornette Coleman and a Joyful Funeral (The New Yorker)
* Until the Real Thing Comes Along - Sorting out the Billie Holiday centennial onslaught (Jazz Times)
* The Next Generation of 3D-Printed Musical Instruments Are Worthy of a Star Trek Movie (Classical Lite)
* The Great Columbia Jazz Purge: Coleman, Evans, Jarrett, And Mingus (WFIU)
* The Singer and the Song (Ronan Guilfoyle)
* BMG Acquires Catalog of Verse Music, Includes Songs of Nina Simone, J. Lo (Billboard)
* How Jazzman Robert Glasper Won Over the Hip-Hop Heads (Mother Jones)
* The Exit Interview: I Spent 12 Years in the Blue Man Group (Atlas Obscura)
* If SoundCloud Goes Under, Music Will Change for the Worse (
* Apple Music first impressions: something borrowed, something new (The Verge)
* Meet Brian Wilson's Secret Weapon: Darian Sahanaja (Rolling Stone)
* The Care and Feeding of Songwriters: Why “Art for Art’s Sake” Could Have An Unfortunate Future (Pro Sound News)
* How Do You Teach A Robot Feelings? Make It Sing Opera (
* Terry Riley, a Founder of Minimalism, Turns 80 (Studio 360)
* The Con Man Who Invented American Popular Music (Radio Silence)
* Digital Watch: Apple Music Conflict Highlights the Problem of Free Music (Radio Survivor)
* Did Nielsen Kill The Radio Star? (
* Minimalist Composer La Monte Young on His Life and Immeasurable Influence (Vulture)
* Quincy Jones: Honey, we have no music industry (Fortune)
* Does The Death Of Album Revenue Spell The End For Rock Stars As We Know Them? (
* Deep Soul - How Muscle Shoals became music's most unlikely hit factory (The Telegraph UK)
* John Luther Adams: a force of nature (The Guardian UK)
* Cassette Revolution: Why 1980s Tape Tech Is Still Making Noise in Our Digital World (Collector's Weekly)
* Ringo's no joke. He was a genius and the Beatles were lucky to have him (The Spectator UK)
* NPR Music's 25 Favorite Albums Of 2015 (So Far) (NPR)
* Fife and drum: Keeping the Mississippi rhythm alive (BBC)

Saturday, July 04, 2015

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Ken Burns' Jazz

This week, celebrate the nation's birthday with a screening of Jazz, the ten-part history of the music directed by famed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and originally aired on PBS back in 2001.

Although the series was acclaimed by some as the most comprehensive filmed treatment of jazz history to date, many fans and critics also found plenty to criticize. Many of the negative comments focused on the series' heavy emphasis on older styles, the short shrift given to developments after 1960 - essentially all crammed into the final episode - and the overuse of certain interview subjects as experts, particularly Wynton Marsalis, whose disdain for free jazz, fusion, and other nontraditional styles already was well-known by the time the series was made.

The Wikipedia page for Jazz summarizes a few of the opinions, both pro and con, and you can read a more detailed critique of the series in the article "How Ken Burns Murdered Jazz," by Jeffrey St. Clair, excerpted from his book Serpents in the Garden and published in the magazine Counterpunch.

Though it certainly has a considerable number of flaws and omissions, yr. humble editor believes Jazz the series still is worth watching, as there's a lot of interesting material about the first 50 years of jazz and many of the most important musicians who made that history. Just keep in mind that, hyperbole and authoritative trappings notwithstanding, this is just one person's view of the subject. Perhaps another filmmaker eventually will take up the challenge to do a better job of telling the story of jazz in the 1960s and beyond.

In the meantime, the first episode, "Gumbo," is embedded up above, and after the jump, you can see the other nine, which are titled (in order) "The Gift," "Our Language," "The True Welcome," "Swing: Pure Pleasure," "Swing: The Velocity of Pleasure" (in three parts), "Dedicated to Chaos" (in two parts, and unfortunately missing its middle section), "Risk" (in three parts), "The Adventure" (in two parts), and "A Masterpiece By Midnight."

Friday, July 03, 2015

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Jazz St. Louis has planted a Rose outside their box office, as a photo of the late Barbara Rose (pictured) has been hung there for all visitors to JSL's recently renovated headquarters to see.

Rose, who started the "Just Jazz" series at the Majestic Hotel that eventually became Jazz at the Bistro and subsequently led to the incorporation of Jazz St. Louis, was celebrated along with JSL's other founders at a luncheon held Tuesday at the Bistro. You can see more pictures from the "Founder's Day" event on Jazz St. Louis' Facebook page.

* Speaking of Jazz St. Louis, they're looking to hire additional employees, including a new box office manager, events manager, and marketing/public relations intern. To find out more about the available positions, visit the Jazz St. Louis website.

* And speaking of opportunities, the Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival once again this year will sponsor "Old Webster's Got Talent," a battle of the bands leading to a chance to perform at this year's OWJBF on Saturday, September 19.

In a change from past years, just four acts will be selected to take part in a winner-take-all contest, which will take place on Thursday, September 3 at the Ozark Theater in Webster Groves. To be considered, bands and musicians should send MP3 samples of their music to Terry Perkins at The deadline for submissions is Saturday, August 15. 

* Multi-instrumentalist and DJ Lamar Harris was interviewed by Katelyn Mae Petrin of KDHX.

* Saxophonist Eric Person has posted on Facebook a photo album from his performance at last Saturday's Chesterfield Jazz Festival

* Saxophonist Oliver Lake has created another promotional video now posted on YouTube, offering "an up-close and personal look" at his visual artwork.

* St. Louis magazine's annual "A-List Awards" issue came out this week, and among the awards for arts and entertainment, the renovated and renamed Ferring Jazz Bistro won for "New Music Venue," and Alarm Will Sound won in the "Concert" category for their premiere performance of John Luther Adams' Ten Thousand Birds last October at the Public Media Commons.

The award for "Music Accolade" went to the St. Louis Symphony for winning a Grammy for their album City Noir, while the actual "Album" award went to faux-rustic revivalist Pokey Lafarge for Something in the Water.

* St. Louis based sound and lighting contractor Logic Systems has acquired the road-case manufacturers Barry Products, Inc, Barry Cases, and The Barry and Affordable Case lines of instrument and equipment cases will be added to subsidiary company St. Louis Case's existing lines of custom ATA cases and racks.

* Jazz radio update: WSIE (88.1 FM) has launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds for a new transmitter. The station currently is broadcasting from a transmitter that's more than 30 years old and showing signs of wear.

In an email announcing the campaign, station manager Greg Conroy noted that even obtaining replacement parts is getting more difficult and expensive, adding urgency to a fundraising effort which has been ongoing for some time now. (A previous crowd-funding campaign was pulled due to a conflict with Southern Illinois University regulations, but apparently that's been sorted out.)

Listeners who would like to contribute to keep WSIE on the air can find out more about the campaign and donate online here.

Elsewhere on the radio dial, this Saturday on Radio Arts Foundation-St. Louis, Calvin Wilson's program “Somethin’ Else” will be an encore presentation of a 2013 episode paying tribute to Duke Ellington.
The program can be heard at 8:00 p.m. Saturdays on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Jazz this week: Happy birthday, USA!

As one of the USA's indigenous art forms and greatest gifts to the world, jazz ought to be a big part of our nation's birthday celebration.

In reality, Independence Day activities tend to emphasize pop or explicitly patriotic music, and some presenters in and around St. Louis actually go dark for the the holiday weekend. Fortunately, if you're looking for live jazz and creative music over the next few days, StLJN is here to help. Let's go to the highlights...

Thursday, July 2
Saxophonist Jim Stevens and his band return to Hammerstone's; and pianist Ptah Williams, guitarist Eric Slaughter and friends continue their weekly performances at The Dark Room.

Friday, July 3
The Funky Butt Brass Band (pictured, top left) will play their monthly show at Broadway Oyster Bar, and percussionist Herman Semidey and Orquesta Son Montuno will play salsa and more for dancers at Club Viva.

Also on Friday, singer Joe Mancuso and pianist Adam Maness perform at Chaser's Lounge in the Chase Park Plaza Hotel; and saxophonist Tim Cunningham plays at Troy's Jazz Gallery.

Saturday, July 4
Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes (pictured, lower left) will celebrate the nation's birthday with swing, hot jazz and jump blues at Evangeline's, while trumpeter Jim Manley fronts his "All-Stars" group at Nathalie's

Sunday, July 5
Good 4 The Soul will be back for their monthly early-evening gig at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups, and Elsie Parker and the Poor People of Paris will play jazz, French pop and more at Nathalie's.

Monday, July 6
Singer Erika Johnson and guitarist Tom Byrne play at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups.

Tuesday, July 7
The First Tuesday Composers Club, which will present monthly workshop performances of new works by St. Louis composers, will have its inaugural meeting 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.)

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

"Sinatra at 100" to play July 23 through August 9 at Kranzberg Arts Center

The St. Louis Big Band and singer Joe Scalzitti will present "Sinatra at 100," a show paying tribute to the centenary of Frank Sinatra's birth, starting Thursday, July 23 and continuing through Sunday, August 9 at the Kranzberg Arts Center.

Incorporating tunes such as "New York, New York," "Come Fly With Me," "Fly Me To The Moon," "Night & Day," "Blue Skies," and more, the show tracks the singer's career chronologically, starting with his early hits and continuing through the performances at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas that helped make Sinatra (pictured) and his "Rat Pack" pals into showbiz icons.

Opening week performances will take place at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, July 23; 8:00 p.m. Friday, July 24; and at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, July 25 and Sunday, July 26. The run continues with shows at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, July 30; 8:00 p.m. Friday, July 31; and at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Sunday, August 2. The final week's performances will be at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Saturday, August 8 and 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Sunday, August 9.

Tickets for "Sinatra at 100" are priced at $34, and are on sale now via Brown Paper Tickets.

Recently on Heliocentric Worlds

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

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

Ornette Coleman - "Times Square"
Jerry Lee Lewis - Live in Orlando
B.B. King - Live at the JVC Jazz Festival
Curved Air - "It Happened Today"
Anthony Braxton - "Composition No. 19"

Other posts during June featured videos with performances by the Quincy Jones Big Band, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, Graham Parker and The Rumour, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Atomic Rooster, Renaissance, Don Cherry, George Coleman, Sun Ra Arkestra, Otis Rush, Roy Campbell's Akhenaten Ensemble, Alphonse Mouzon, Eddie Vinson, Hank Crawford, David Newman & Friends, Cecil Taylor Quartet, Canned Heat & Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Duke Ellington, Steve Coleman & Five Elements, Ry Cooder, Oregon, Lonnie Liston Smith & Swindle, George Adams Quartet, The Electric Flag, Can, Gene Harris, Ray Brown & Grady Tate, and Steps Ahead.

If you've somehow managed to miss out on all this music video goodness before now, no worries - you still can see all these clips, plus thousands more from the carefully curated archives, by visiting

Monday, June 29, 2015

Music Education Monday: Master classes
with pianists Chick Corea and Kenny Werner

This week for "Music Education Monday," you can check out video master classes from a couple of prominent keyboardists.

Chick Corea is one of the best-known pianists in jazz, having served his apprenticeship with Miles Davis and played free jazz with Circle before co-founding the seminal jazz-fusion band Return to Forever. His extensive catalog as a composer and bandleader includes recordings with various acoustic and electric groups and as a solo pianist, so his experience pretty much runs the gamut of modern jazz styles.

Kenny Werner may be less well-known to the general public than Corea, but he still gets substantial respect in the music community for his work as a pianist, bandleader, teacher, arranger/composer, and collaborator with the likes of the Mel Lewis Orchestra, saxophonist Joe Lovano, singer Roseanna Vitro, harmonica player Toots Thielemans, and many others.

Werner can be seen in the embedded video window up above presenting a master class in jazz piano back in 2012 at the Blue Note in NYC. The class "addresses a wide variety of issues that jazz players on all instruments face," including "issues of confidence and mental preparation, techniques for better improvisation and for improving your ability to collaborate, and how to overcome the mind games that every musician plays with themselves over 'what to play next?' and 'does this sound good?'"

After the jump, there are two more master classes with Werner - one titled "A Master Class in Jazz Performance and Creativity," recorded in 2005 at the very same Blue Note; and "An IAJE Clinic in Playing Free Jazz with Kenny Werner," a presentation sponsored by the now-defunct International Association for Jazz Education in which he "discusses the history of free music, what it is and what it means, and offers extended thoughts on what players can and should to do prepare themselves mentally, physically, and musically for the unique challenges that free music presents."

Last but certainly not least, today's fourth video is Corea's "Electric Workshop," an instructional video from 1989 in which he talks about how to create new sounds and combine them into textures, and then takes the viewer through the process of writing, developing and performing a new composition.

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

Miles on Monday: 33 1/3 does Bitches Brew, another Memorial Project update, and more

This week in Miles Davis-related news:

* The "33 1/3" series of books, each of which examines an important or historic music album via an extended essay from a single author, is taking on Miles Davis later this year with a volume about Davis' Bitches Brew. The book (pictured), written by George Grella Jr., comes out in October.

* The latest update from the Miles Davis Memorial Project features photos of tradespeople from Walker Masonry placing commemorative bricks and blocks at the statue site on 3rd Street in Alton. Check out the pix on Facebook here.

* As the July 17 release date approaches for the box set collecting Davis' performances at the Newport Jazz Festival, Newport organizers announced that this year's fest on August 1 and 2 will include a series of four seminars about the trumpeter. The fourth and final session on Sunday, August 2 will feature trumpeters Jon Faddis and Randy Sandke and moderator Ashley Kahn celebrating "Miles, Clark Terry & St. Louis Trumpeters" with music and video.

* Impresario and pianist George Wein, who founded the Newport festival and ran it for many years, talked with writer Mike Ragogna of the Huffington Post about his experiences working with Davis.

* Last but not least on the Miles-at-Newport front, the Columbia/Legacy label has released another advance preview track from the upcoming box set, a performance of "Directions" recorded on October 22, 1971 at the festival's iteration in Switzerland. You can hear the track online here.
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