Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jazz this week: Metta Quintet,
Lenihan & Williams, and more

Whether it's because of Halloween, the impending end of Daylight Savings Time, pre-Election Day activities, the economic recession, or something else entirely, it's a relatively slow weekend for jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with just a handful of shows to highlight:

Tonight, guitarist William Lenihan and pianist Ptah Williams will play music from Miles Davis' album Bitches Brew in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University. Also tonight, percussionist Thomas Zirkle gives a free concert at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park's Mildred E. Bastian Performing Arts Center. The concert will feature Zirkle's compositions for solo marimba as well as new music for the duo HaZMaT, which teams Zirkle with fellow percussionist Matt Henry.

On Friday and Saturday, the Metta Quintet performs at Jazz at the Bistro. The NYC-based ensemble led by drummer H. Benjamin "Hans" Schumann has been in town all week for an educational residency for Jazz St. Louis, and they've brought a lineup that's significantly different from the one described on their Web site and in a post here last Saturday.

Schumann and bassist Joshua Ginsburg remain with the ensemble, but saxophonists Marcus Stickland and Mark Gross and pianist Helen Sung are gone. For their St. Louis gig this week, the Metta Quintet instead is featuring trumpeter Phillip Dizack, a 2007 graduate of Manhattan School of Music who's worked with saxophonist Greg Tardy and done freelance jazz and Latin gigs around NYC; alto saxophonist Sharel Cassity (pictured), who went to Juilliard and has worked with the Diva Jazz Orchestra, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and guitarist Mark Whitfield; and the fine young pianist Lawrence Fields, a St. Louis native and recent graduate of Berklee College of Music.

Fields is, as many local listeners already know, an enormously promising player who has performed and/or recorded with notables such as Alvin Batiste, Branford Marsalis, Roy Haynes, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Terri Lynne Carrington and Nicholas Payton. You can see a profile of him done by Ruth Ezell for Living St. Louis, the local newsmagazine show of PBS affiliate KETC, in the embedded video window below.

As for Dizack and Kassity, I honestly can't tell you much beyond what you can see for yourself on their respective Web sites, though Jazz St. Louis director of operations Bob Bennett, a saxophonist himself, did note in an email that he digs Kassity's bop-flavored sound.

This just in: Jazz St. Louis is offering a two-for-the-price-of-one deal on tickets for Friday night's sets by the Metta Quintet. To take advantage of the special offer, order your tickets by calling the Jazz St. Louis offices at 314-289-4030 and using the coupon code METTA0801.

Looking beyond the weekend, the Sessions Big Band will be back at BB's Jazz Blues and Soups on Monday night, and on Tuesday, The Gramophone features saxophonist Bennett Wood along with election returns on the big-screen TV.

As usually happens at the end of one month and the beginning of another, gig information from both venues and musicians is still arriving at StLJN HQ. You'll find the latest updates on more jazz-related events in St. Louis this weekend and beyond on the St. Louis Jazz Notes Calendar.

(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.)

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