Saturday, September 22, 2018

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Introducing Alex Mercado

Today, let's take a look at some videos featuring pianist Alex Mercado, who will make his St. Louis debut in a concert next Friday, September 28 at the Kranzberg Arts Center.

The date is part of a brief tour of the Midwest, for which Mercado will be accompanied by Rodrigo Villanueva on drums and St. Louis' own Bob DeBoo on bass. While he's here, Mercado also will present a free, public master class at 1:00 p.m. on Friday in Room 103 of Washington University's Music Classroom Building, 6500 Forsyth Blvd.

A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Mercado is considered to be one of Mexico's top jazz musicians. He's released four albums as a leader, including 2014's Symbiosis, which was selected as one of DownBeat magazine's Editors’ Picks for 2014, and his most recent recording Paisajes, which came out at the end of 2017.

You can see a performance of the title track from Paisajes in the first video up above, which features Mercado with bassist Israel Cupich and drummer Gabriel Puentes and was released online in January 2018

After the jump, you can see the same three musicians playing "Búsqueda," also included on Paisajes, and "What Lays Beyond," the latter recorded live at this year's North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

That's followed by a full set, recorded in 2015, and a solo piece called "Prisma," recorded live in 2016. Last but not least, there's another trio performance, of the title track from the Symbiosis album as recorded in 2015 at the Festival de Jazz Nuevo León in Mexico.

For more about Alex Mercado, read the Q&As with him published by and

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

Friday, September 21, 2018

Music for Lifelong Achievement launches annual musical instrument drive

Music for Lifelong Achievement (MFLA) is launching their annual musical instrument drive starting next Monday, September 24 and continuing through Sunday, October 28.

MFLA is a local not-for-profit organization based at the Sheldon Concert Hall that collects used and new musical instruments and donates them to school and community music programs serving young people in need. Since its inception, MFLA has provided more than 1,000 instruments to music students all over the St. Louis area.

There are two ways to help: by giving a musical instrument, or giving cash. Selected St. Louis-area Starbucks stores once again will serve as drop-off locations for used and new musical instruments during the drive; see for a list of participating locations.

The donated instruments then will be repaired, if needed, and distributed to students who otherwise would not be able to afford an instrument. Donors get a letter documenting the value of the instrument for tax deduction purposes.

If you don’t have an instrument to donate, MFLA gladly accepts cash contributions, which are used to help pay for necessary repairs of donated instruments and provide accessories such as strings, reeds, and sheet music. These donations also are tax deductible.

For more information or to make a donation, call The Sheldon at 314-533-9900 or visit

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Pianist Peter Martin (pictured) and his company Open Studio Network were featured in a Sunday New York Times story about taking jazz piano lessons online.

* On a related note, Open Studio Network this week released their first saxophone course, "Fundamentals of Jazz Saxophone," featuring alto saxophonist Steve Wilson.

* Harris-Stowe State University has announced plans to renovate an historic building on campus that will serve as a home for the university's Don and Heide Wolff Jazz Institute and the National Black Radio Hall of Fame.

* Bassist and singer Janet Evra was the subject of a short feature by the Riverfront Times' Christian Schaeffer.

* Flute player and composer Fred Tompkins has self-released Four For St. Louis, an EP featuring four of his most recent jazz compositions, recorded with musicians including vocalist Johanna Nordhorn, pianists Greg Mills and Maryse Carlin, and drummers Steve Davis, Kyle Honeycutt, and Charlie Dent.

* The first-ever STL Drum Show will take place Saturday, October 20 at the Koken Art Factory. The free event will feature 40 vendors, drum clinics, personal appearances from drummers Glen Sobel and James Sexton, and more.

* The Miles Davis statue in Alton, IL is listed at #1 on the Chicago Tribune's "Bucket list: 20 things to see linked to influential Illinoisans."

* The Regional Arts Commission has released their report on "A Creative Vision For St. Louis," laying out "a series of priorities for the immediate future of the region’s arts scene." You can read the entire report here.

* Drummer and St. Louis expat Kimberly Thompson made news this week, in a tabloid sort of way, for a request for a restraining order she filed against her former employer, pop star Beyoncé, that contains some bizarre allegations. Read more about it in the Riverfront Times, Pitchfork, and/or

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Jazz this week: Byron Stripling; Bonearama; Lee, McPhee, Corsano & Orcutt; Dave King & Chris Weller; and more

This week's calendar of live jazz and creative music in St. Louis includes New Music Circle's first concerts of their 60th season; the return of a popular trumpeter and singer to Jazz St. Louis; the drummer of The Bad Plus in one of his several side projects; and more.

Let's go to the highlights ...

Wednesday, September 19
Trumpeter Byron Stripling (pictured, top left) returns to Jazz St. Louis for the first of five nights of performances.

Stripling, who directs the Columbus (OH) Jazz Orchestra and also is known for his tribute to the music of Louis Armstrong, will be the first musician to do a five-night run at the Bistro since Sunday matinees and evening performances were added for select artists.

Elsewhere in Grand Center, Cabaret Project St. Louis presents their monthly "Singers Open Mic" at Sophie's Artist Lounge & Cocktail Club; and the weekly "Grand Center Jazz Crawl" features the Jazz Troubadours at The Stage at KDHX, plus the jam session led by bassist Bob DeBoo at the Kranzberg Arts Center and trumpeter Kasimu Taylor's band at The Dark Room.

Also on Wednesday, Wright's Project plays jazz-fusion and funk at Al's Lounge, and bassist Glen Smith and guitarist Eric Slaughter perform at Evangeline's.

Thursday, September 20
Guitarist Daryl Darden, back home from California for visit, will lead a quartet in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University.

Also on Thursday, The People's Key play at the Chase Club, and the Joe Park Trio performs at The Dark Room.

September 21
New Music Circle presents cellist Okkyung Lee, multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, percussionist Chris Corsano and guitarist Bill Orcutt (pictured, bottom left) at Joe's Cafe in the first of two nights of improvised duo performances.

While they're in town, Lee also will present a workshop and artist talk at 3:00 p.m. Thursday at SLU’s Xavier Hall Studio Theatre, and McPhee will do a solo performance at 1:00 p.m. Saturday at the Contemporary Art Museum, responding to CAM’s exhibit of works by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Both events are free and open to the public.

Also on Friday, New Orleans' Bonerama returns for a show at the Atomic Cowboy Pavilion, with an opening set from the Funky Butt Brass Band

Elsewhere around town, jazz-fusion band Koplant No plays a free concert at 560 Music Center, and Carolbeth True and Two Times True with saxophonist Larry Johnson returns to the Parkside Grille.

Saturday, September 22
New Music Circle presents a second evening of improvisational duets from Okkyung Lee, Joe McPhee, Chris Corsano and Bill Orcutt, this time at Off Broadway; and trumpeter Jim Manley leads a trio at Evangeline's.

Sunday, September 23
Drummer Montez Coleman and friends will play for brunch at The Dark Room, while Miss Jubilee performs at Evangeline's.

Then on Sunday evening, drummer Dave King of The Bad Plus and Happy Apple teams with Chicago-based saxophonist Chris Weller for a duo performance at The Dark Room.

Monday, September 24
Dizzy Atmosphere plays vintage swing and Gypsy jazz for diners at The Shaved Duck, and guitarist Daryl Darden gets in another gig on his visit home, this time at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups.

Tuesday, September 25
Singer and multi-instrumentalist Tonina Saputo and band perform 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.)

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sunday Session: September 16, 2018

Billy Cobham
Here's a roundup of various music-related items of interest that have shown up in one of StLJN's various inboxes or feeds over the past week:

* For Chelsea native Chick Corea, one passion, many paths (Boston Globe)
* Pianist Matthew Shipp can make magic with the perfect partner (Chicago Reader)
* Bassist Eric Revis works at the conflux of the mainstream and its far-out tributaries (Chicago Reader)
* Conversation with Billy Cobham, Part 1: The Art of Creation (
* Conversation with Billy Cobham, Part 2: Brian Gruber and Ronnie Scott’s (
* Monterey Jazz Festival celebrates 40 years in Japan – and China could be the next stop (South China Morning Post)
* Hank Mobley, the greatest sax player you never heard (The Spectator)
* Channeling the cosmic imperfections of Sun Ra’s record sleeves (
* Israeli music scene jolted by international boycott movement (Associated Press)
* Documentary Offers Intimate Portrait of a Demur Abercrombie (DownBeat)
* Barre Phillips announces his farewell record End To End (The Wire)
* Guantánamo Mixtape: This Would Be the Soundtrack to Hell (
* Quincy review – portrait of a musical legend fails to sing (The Guardian)
* Musicians, Labels and Festival Programmers Anxious Over Brexit (DownBeat)
* Live Review: 2018 Detroit Jazz Festival (Jazz Times)
* The Untold Stories of Paul McCartney (GQ)
* No Boundaries: The Many Sides of Steven Bernstein (
* Fifteen Questions Interview with Olivia Block (
* The 200 Best Albums of the 1980s (
* 'I didn’t just fade off the planet.’ Reconnecting with ’70s funk queen Betty Davis (Washington Post)
* No more heroes: how music stopped meaning everything (Irish Times)
* Count Basie Orchestra Knows Pop Music (DownBeat)
* Jazz in the Display Case (Jazz Times)
* With 'Emanon,' legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter finds a way to marry comic books and jazz (Los Angeles Times)
* In Memoriam: Randy Weston (DownBeat)
* Cuong Vu Keeps it Close to Home for ‘Change In The Air’ (DownBeat)
* Former Bad Plus pianist still 'loves playing in the Midwest' despite rocketing career (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
* Wilco Guitarist Nels Cline Reclaims Mood Music In The City Of Brotherly Love (NPR)
* Berkeley's Legendary Fantasy Studios to Close Its Doors (KQED)
* Trumpet Colossus Kenny Dorham Towers Alongside the Jazz Gods (Austin Chronicle)
* The World On Six Strings (

Saturday, September 15, 2018

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Fall 2018 jazz preview, part five

This week, StLJN's Fall 2018 jazz preview, featuring videos of the various jazz and creative music performers who will be visiting St. Louis in the next few months, wraps up with the fifth of five installments. (You can see part one here, part two here, part three here, and part four here.)

Picking up in mid-November when last week's post left off, today's first video up above features keyboardist Jeff Lorber's Fusion, who are coming to town to play starting Wednesday, November 14 through Sunday, November 18 at Jazz St. Louis. The clip features them playing Lorber's "Night Sky" at the 2018 Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia.

After the jump, you can see singer and impressionist Christina Bianco, whose show "Diva Moments" will wrap up the Gaslight Cabaret Festival's fall series with performances on Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17 at Gaslight Theater. The video shows Bianco incorporating 25 different impressions into a version of the song "Born This Way," recorded in December 2017 in London.

Next, it's trumpeter, singer, and U City native Jeremy Davenport, who will be making his annual trip back here from New Orleans to perform on Friday, November 23 and Saturday, November 24 at Jazz St. Louis. In the video, he can be seen performing his original song "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" at the 2017 French Quarter Fest in NOLA.

That's followed by a video of bassist Christian McBride's New Jawn, who are scheduled to play Wednesday, November 28 through Sunday, December 2 at Jazz St. Louis. They're seen here performing an entire set, recorded in April 2018 at Dizzy’s Club in Jazz at Lincoln Center in NYC.

The fifth clip features artist, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Lonnie Holley, who will perform in a concert presented by New Music Circle on Saturday, December 1 at Off Broadway. Holley is seen in the video singing "Somewhere in a Dream I Got Lost," recorded in 2018 at A Ship in the Woods, an art gallery in Escondido, CA.

The next video features singer Christine Ebersole &and singer/pianist Billy Stritch, who will perform their cabaret show "Snowfall" on Wednesday, December 5 and Thursday, December 6 at Jazz St. Louis. In this clip, which is from 2014, they're dueting on the Rodgers and Hammerstein standard "Surrey With The Fringe On Top."

Saxophonist Adam Larson is featured in the penultimate clip, an excerpt from a set recorded in June 2017 at Saxquest right here in St. Louis. Larson will be back in town to play "The Music of Sonny Rollins" on Friday, December 7 and Saturday, December 8 at Jazz St. Louis.

Last but certainly not least, it's pianist Robert Glasper, who be will returning with his trio for a week of shows starting Wednesday, December 12 and continuing through Sunday, December 16 at Jazz St. Louis. Today's final video is an excerpt from a performance by Glasper and the trio in 2017 at Jamboree Jazz Club in Barcelona.

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

Friday, September 14, 2018

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Just when you thought there couldn't possibly be any more un-issued Miles Davis recordings sitting on a shelf somewhere, Sleepy Night Records has announced the release on CD of Miles Davis Best of Live 1986 - 1991.

As the name implies, the album (pictured) features newly mastered versions of nine tracks recorded in the last five years of Davis' life during live performances in Paris, Melbourne, New York City, and Milan, Italy, and includes a 12-page booklet with "rare photos and insightful commentary."

Sleepy Night Records previously has released DVDs and live audio recordings featuring trumpeters Maynard Ferguson and Don Ellis.

* The Riverfront Times this week published a photo gallery documenting Sunday's "Sound of St. Louis" showcase at the Grandel Theatre and The Dark Room.

* Jazz St. Louis' 2018-19 season is previewed in an article in Alive magazine.

* Bassist and Wash U professor Paul Steinbeck's book Message to Our Folks: The Art Ensemble of Chicago will be the subject of a program and discussion at the Padova Jazz Festival, held in November in Padova, Italy.

* Max & Louie Productions has announced that singer Debby Lennon will star and Ken Page will direct the company's upcoming staging of Love, Linda, a play with music about Cole Porter's wife Linda Lee Thomas that features a number of Porter's classic songs. Tickets go on sale on Monday, October 1 for the production, which will run from Thursday, January 17 through Sunday, January 27 of next year at the Marcelle Theater in Grand Center.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Jazz this week: Chick Corea, Harold López-Nussa, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Old Webster Jazz & Blues Festival, and more

The fall presenting season for jazz and creative music in St. Louis gets underway in earnest this week, with two top-shelf pianists visiting our town; a couple of notable acts here from New Orleans; this year's edition of a popular (and free) local festival, and more.

Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, September 12
As of late Tuesday night, pianist Chick Corea's first show with his Vigilette Trio on Wednesday at Jazz St. Louis is sold out, but some tickets remain for the second show. Check the Jazz St. Louis website for the latest availability, and remember that even when shows sell out at the Bistro, you can watch a video simulcast for free in the first floor lounge across the hall, with seating available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Those free simulcasts also are considered part of the free "Grand Center Jazz Crawl," which this week includes guitarist Joe Park's trio at The Stage at KDHX, a jam session hosted by bassist Bob Deboo at the Kranzberg Arts Center, and trumpeter Kasimu Taylor's band at The Dark Room.

Also on Wednesday, Jazz St. Louis kicks off their expanded "Whitaker Jazz Speaks" series for the 2018-19 season with "The Crisis in Music," a talk by author Ted Gioia that's free and open to the public at the St. Louis Public Library's main branch downtown.

Thursday, September 13
The impressive young Cuban pianist Harold López-Nussa (pictured, top left), who made his St. Louis debut last year at Jazz St. Louis, returns to play for one night only at JSL's Bistro.

Elsewhere around town, singer Erin Bode will perform in a free outdoor concert at Kirkwood Station Plaza, and pianist Ptah Williams leads his trio in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University.

Also on Thursday, New Orleans swing and blues revivalists Frog and Henry play for dancers at the  Intersect Arts Center; and trumpeter Philip Watt, also an actor who's played the role of the late trumpeter Chet Baker in three stage productions, will lead a quartet at The Dark Room.

September 14
Also in from New Orleans this week, Big Sam's Funky Nation (pictured, bottom left) bring their brassy, danceable sound back to the Old Rock House. They're touring in support of their most recent album Songs In The Key of Funk, Vol 1, which was released in May.

That same evening, eclectic rock band the Brothers Lazaroff will augment their usual lineup with pianist Peter Martin for the first of two nights at Jazz St. Louis; the Midwest Jazztette plays West Coast "cool jazz" at Evangeline's; and singer Anita Jackson will perform for the late night crowd at The Dark Room.

Saturday, September 15
The annual Old Webster Jazz & Blues Festival will take place in the Old Webster Business District, centered around the intersection of Lockwood Ave & Gore Ave. This year, the free, all-day event will feature jazz performances from the Webster University faculty ensemble, the Webster Groves High School Jazz Band, the US Air Force's "Shades of Blue" ensemble, SpaceShip, Miss Jubilee, and Bach to the Future, as well as blues from David Dee, Marquise Knox and more.

Also on Saturday, the Funky Butt Brass Band plays a free show for the Greentree Festival in Kirkwood Park, and Dizzy Atmosphere will perform vintage swing and Gypsy jazz in the beer garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden's "Flora Borealis" exhibit.

Sunday, September 16
The St. Louis Jazz Club presents The Gaslight Squares playing traditional jazz in a matinee concert at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel St. Louis - Westport.

Monday, September 17
Members of the Webster University jazz faculty led by saxophonist Paul DeMarinis will perform music representing "The Jazz Legacy of Columbia Records 1955-1965" at Winifred Moore Auditorium on the Webster campus.

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.)