Thursday, July 09, 2009

Jazz this week: The Cunninghams, Monterey Jazz Festival's Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, St. Louis Ragtimers, Dawn Weber, Erin Bode, and more

Though summer vacation season is officially underway, the next few days will offer St. Louis jazz fans a pretty fair number of musical choices during what's usually a relatively slow time of year.

Tonight, the Monterey Jazz Festival's Next Generation Jazz Orchestra (pictured at left), a select ensemble of mostly teenage musicians from the West Coast that's touring the country this summer, stops in St. Louis for a performance at Jazz at the Bistro. The East St. Louis High School Jazz Band will open the show.

There are also a couple of noteworthy free concerts tonight, as trumpeter and singer Dawn Weber plays for the at Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University, and singer Erin Bode takes the stage for the Whitaker Urban Evenings concert series at St. Louis Place Park, located at St. Louis and Rauschenbach Avenues on the near North Side. Rounding out the musical menu for Thursday is drummer Joe Pastor's trio at the St. Louis Jazz Cafe.

On Friday and Saturday, Jazz at the Bistro will feature keyboardist Reggie Thomas' jazz-organ trio OGD, augmented for the occasion by the great tenor saxophonist Willie Akins, while the St. Louis Jazz Cafe has the Usual Suspects Quartet on Friday and smooth jazz saxophonist Tim Cunningham on Saturday.

On Sunday afternoon, the St. Louis Jazz Club will present a concert featuring the St. Louis Ragtimers plus special guest pianist Dr. Dave Majchrzak. Note that while yhis show originally had been announced as playing at one of the SLJC's longtime venues, the Moolah Shrine Center in Maryland Heights, it's been moved to a new location, the Doubletree Hotel in Chesterfield.

Then on Sunday night, the jazz vocal duo The Cunninghams (pictured at right) , featuring multi-instrumentalist and former St. Louisan Don Cunningham and his wife, singer and pianist Alicia Cunningham, will perform at the Sheldon Concert Hall. Now a resident of Las Vegas, Don Cunningham got his start in the music business in St. Louis' Gaslight Square, and this show is being billed as "Coming Home One Mo' Time," perhaps in recognition of the reduced touring schedule he and Alicia have adopted in recent years after spending the previous couple of decades criss-crossing the U.S., Asia and Europe as headliners of their own show and special guests with the Count Basie Orchestra.

I won't reiterate all of StLJN's previous coverage of the Cunninghams, because, hey, that's what links are for. Suffice it to say that they are fine musicians and old-school entertainers in the best possible sense, the sort of jazz veterans who should be heard and celebrated while the opportunity is still there, so go check 'em out.

As always, these are just some of the notable performances happening over the next several days; for more listings of jazz-related events in St. Louis 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.)

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