The Nu-Art Series, run by trumpeter, gallery owner and former arts administrator George Sams out of his Metropolitan Gallery downtown, is kicking off its fall 2009 season this month with two concerts featuring former St. Louisans who have earned international acclaim in the jazz world.
The group Trio 3, featuring saxophonist and former St. Louisan Oliver Lake (pictured), bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Andrew Cyrille, will perform on Saturday, September 19. The following week, trumpeter Rasul Siddik returns home to the Gateway City to headline a concert on Saturday, September 26.
Both performances will take place from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at Luna Bar, 13 Maryland Plaza in the Central West End. (Luna Bar is serving as a temporary home for the Nu-Art Series while storm damage to the Metropolitan Gallery building at 2926 Locust is being repaired. Pending the completion of construction, Sams says he hopes to resume regular operations at the gallery in October.) Tickets for each show will be $25.00 at the door.
Lake is well known to St. Louis listeners as a member of St. Louis' Black Artists Group (BAG), co-founder of the World Saxophone Quartet, and as a solo artist whose own music has run the gamut from free jazz to R&B to bop to reggae.
His work with Trio 3 represents an equal collaboration with two genuine heavyweights of the jazz world. Workman has performed or recorded with many of the notable jazz musicians of the past five decades, including landmark albums with John Coltrane and Cecil Taylor, while Cyrille is considered one of the most important and innovative drummers to emerge from the free jazz movement of the 1960s, working with Taylor, Archie Shepp, Roswell Rudd, and others.
As an added bonus, St. Louis trumpeter Floyd LeFlore, another BAG veteran, is scheduled to open the show with a solo version of his performance piece "Ritualistic Revival."
Though younger than Lake, Siddik also was affiliated BAG with as an up-and-coming musician. He has worked with many notable jazz performers, including Lester Bowie, Henry Threadgill and David Murray, and now splits his time between NYC and Paris. For his St. Louis performance, Siddik will bring along his frequent collaborator, pianist Katy Roberts, with bassist Darryl Mixon and drummer Gary Sykes added from the local ranks to complete the band.
Both of these concerts are certainly welcome additions to the fall schedule of jazz performances here in St. Louis, but, being a nosy reporter, I had to ask Sams why he booked Trio 3 on the same night of Sonny Rollins' highly anticipated performance at the Touhill Performing Arts Center (and, for that matter, the Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival).
He explained that the show had been in the works for a year now, and September 19 was the only date Trio 3 had available. Sams added that he thought the two concerts would appeal to "different crowds." Here's hoping that he's right about that, or at least that there are enough local jazz fans willing and able to shell out their hard-earned cash to support both shows.
UPDATE - 11:00 p.m., 9/11/09: K. Curtis Lyle has more on Lake, Trio 3 and Siddik in an article for this week's St. Louis American, found online here.
(Edited after posting to fix typos.)