Thursday, December 03, 2009

Jazz this week: Kurt Elling, Bobby Watson, Steve Davis with William Lenihan, Erin Bode, and more

The beginnings of winter weather seem to be blowing into St. Louis this week, but as long as you're properly bundled up, there are several jazz and creative music events happening over the next few days that certainly justify braving the elements.

First up is singer Kurt Elling's return to Jazz at the Bistro, where he'll appear through Saturday night. Along with his usual trio headed by the fine pianist Laurence Hobgood, Elling will be accompanied by St. Louis saxophonist Willie Akins. Akins is on board to provide the sax parts for material from Elling's latest CD Dedicated to You, which revisits songs recorded in the 1960s by singer Johnny Hartman and saxophonist John Coltrane.

For more on Elling and Dedicated to You, check out this video post from last Saturday, this interview from, and this blog post from the New York Times' Nate Chinen.

Also in town this weekend will be saxophonist Bobby Watson (pictured), who will perform with a quartet featuring bassist Curtis Lundy on Friday and Saturday nights at Robbie's House of Jazz. The former member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers now lives in Kansax City, where he teaches at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and serves as one of the leading lights and elder statesmen of the local jazz scene.

On Saturday night, Latin/jazz/fusion group Spyro Gyra brings their holiday show "A Night Before Christmas" to the Touhill Performing Arts Center, with signer Jane Monheit also on the bill as speical guest.

Elsewhere around town, tonight drummer Steve Davis and guitarist William Lenihan will team up for a free concert to close out this semester's Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University.

On Friday, singer Erin Bode and her band will be joined by violinist and Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra concertmaster David Halen for a holiday themed concert at Sheldon Concert Hall, featuring material from Bode's own holiday CD A Cold December Night as well as familiar pop, jazz and classical selections.

Also of possible interest on Friday, a group from Madison, WI called The Venice Gas House Trolley will be performing at Mad Art Gallery as part of the kickoff party for the "Big Ass Indie Art and Craft Show" this weekend. The band "hearkens back to the times when hipsters and cool-cats would chill out digging ecstatic poets and musicians and then aggressively explodes through the present and into the future with vocal effects, bass, and twisting rhythms."

Looking beyond the weekend, on Tuesday the Jazz St. Louis CD Listening Club will have its monthly meeting at Borders, 1519 S. Brentwood Blvd. in Brentwood. Jazz historian, photographer, and DJ Dennis Owsley will serve as host and moderator, and the featured CD will be Mingus Ah Um, the classic 1959 recording from bassist Charles Mingus that introduced compositions such as “Fables of Faubus” and "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and was recently reissued in a special two-disc 50th anniversary edition.

As usually happens at the beginning of the month, band and venue schedule information is still coming in to StLJN headquarters, and updates will be ongoing over the next couple of days. In the meantime, for information on more jazz and creative music events this weekend and beyond, check out the St. Louis Jazz Notes Calendar, available for viewing on the left sidebar, or by clicking here. Also, you can follow St. Louis Jazz Notes on Twitter at and become a "fan" by signing up on the StLJN Facebook page.

(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.)

(Updated 11:00 p.m. 12/3/09 to add the Spyro Gyra/Jane Monheit show.)

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