It's another busy week for jazz in St. Louis, so let's go right to the highlights:
Tonight, Jazz St. Louis presents Reggie Thomas and OGD in a free concert celebrating Blue Note records at the Third Baptist Church, 620 N. Grand. In case you didn't know, "OGD" stands for organ, guitar and drums, and it's always a treat to hear Thomas play the B-3, especially given the relative dearth of jazz organ shows in town these days. Also, the Blue Note theme should provide an opportunity to draw from the catalogs of jazz organ greats including Jimmy Smith, Larry Young and Lonnie Smith, all of whom made memorable and influential recordings for the label.
Elsewhere this evening, singer and actor Tom Wopat begins a four-night run at the Kranzberg Arts Center under the auspices of Cabaret St. Louis. While Wopat still may be best remembered for his role as one of TV's Dukes of Hazzard, in recent years he's gotten lots of props for his work on stage in musicals, straight plays and cabaret. For one example, see this New York Times review of Wopat's cabaret show.
On Thursday, pianist Mark Copland, who's in town for a concert on Friday, will give a master class and a lecture at Washington University. The master class begins at 11:30 a.m. in Tietjens Rehearsal Hall, 6500 Forsyth, while the lecture will be at 4:00 p.m. in Room 102 of the music classroom building right next door. Both events are free and open to the public.
Thursday evening, local jazz historian and radio host Dennis Owsley begins his class on St. Louis jazz history at the Ethical Society. The three-week course is based on Owsley's book "City of Gabriels," which chronicles the history of jazz in St. Louis from 1895 to the mid-1970s. For more about Owsley and the course, check out this Jazz St. Louis podcast interview with Owsley.
There's lots going on Friday, starting with singer Al Jarreau (pictured) at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. Given that it's the night before Valentine's Day, I'd expect Jarreau to emphasize the R&B love songs in his repertoire, but one would hope he'll sing some jazz-oriented material as well.
Also on Friday, Marc Copland's all-star trio, featuring bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Bill Stewart, will perform at the 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity Avenue in University City. Copland is an accomplished player with a lyrical style that's been compared to Bill Evans, and Stewart and Peacock are both world-class musicians, too, so this should be an outstanding show.
That same evening, in what has become something of a Valentine's week tradition, the husband-and-wife team of pianist Reggie Thomas and singer Mardra Thomas will begin a two-night stand demonstrating both musical and marital harmony at Jazz at the Bistro.
On Sunday, the St. Louis Jazz and Blues Vespers series presents saxophonist Willie Akins will lead his band in a free concert starting at 6:00 p.m. at the Second Baptist Church, 9030 Clayton Rd. (at McKnight)
Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday Willie Akins and fellow saxophonist Paul DeMarinis will head up a tribute to the late tenor sax giant Dexter Gordon at Webster University's Winifred Moore Auditorium.
As always, these are just a few of the performances going on around town; for more jazz-related events this weekend and beyond, please visit 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.)
(Edited 2/14/09 to restore a graf, accidentally deleted during editing, about Willie Akins' concert on Sunday.)