For whatever reasons, in recent years New Year's Eve has not been a particularly good time to hear jazz in St. Louis, and once again NYE 2008 looks to be an evening of relatively few options for jazz aficionados.
If you're looking to have dinner and drinks and hear a band play some straight-up instrumental jazz, the best possibilities might very well be a couple of regular weekly gigs that this year just happen to fall on NYE - specifically, pianist Ptah Williams (pictured) and his group at Riddle's in University City, and Park Avenue Jazz at Hammerstone's in the Soulard neighborhood.
Beyond that, as mentioned earlier, while Jazz at the Bistro is closed for New Year's Eve, the annual First Night event in Grand Center will include a number of musicians of potential interest to jazz fans, such as Kim Massie, the Nuclear Percussion Ensemble, Farshid Etniko, Jeanne Trevor, El Caribe Tropical, and the Urban Groove Project. To see the complete schedule of First Night performances, go here (.pdf file).
If the indoor/outdoor, alcohol-free, family-friendly celebration is not your cup o' tea, a scan of local entertainment listings reveals a few more musical possibilities at places that don't regularly feature jazz. For example, singer Erin Bode and her band will be part of the New Year's Eve entertainment package at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis Riverfront (the old Adam's Mark hotel), along with the Soulard Blues Band, 1970s folk-rockers Brewer & Shipley, Steely Dan tribute band GrooveThang, and others.
Elsewhere in the city, Kim Massie will be doing an early set from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Van Goghz Martini Bar & Bistro, and the West End Grill and Pub will present what's being billed as a "New Orleans-style" event with music from the Louisiana-flavored funk/R&B/zydeco group Gumbohead.
Beyond the city limits, guitarist Todd Mosby will play solo at Bistro Alexander in Clayton; Tony Viviano will sing and swing at the Columns Banquet Center in St. Charles; and singer/pianist/saxophonist Hugh "Peanuts" Whalum is one of a number of entertainers listed as performing at the Casino Queen in East St. Louis.
As for this weekend, Jazz at the the Bistro will remain closed until next Wednesday, January 6, when The Bad Plus begins a four-night run. Also, because of the holidays and the onset of a new month and new year, schedule information from other local clubs is still a bit sketchy, though we can say that Brandt's will feature Hugh "Peanuts" Whalum on Friday night, and other regular weekly gigs, such at saxophonist Dave Stone's trio at Mangia Italiano on Friday and saxophonist Willie Akins and his group at Spruill's on Saturday, should be happening as usual.
For the most timely information, you can check your fave venue's Web site directly - see the StLJN sidebar for a list of links - or consult the St. Louis Jazz Notes Calendar, where I'll be posting any new listings of jazz-related events in St. Louis this weekend and beyond as they arrive.
(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.)