Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jazz this week: John McLaughlin & 4th Dimension, Mike Stern, Charles "Bobo" Shaw, and more

This week's jazz and creative music events in St. Louis include visits from two stellar guitarists known for their electrified explorations; two appearances by the too-rarely-seen drummer Charles "Bobo" Shaw; and lots more. Let's go to the highlights:

Tonight through Saturday, guitarist Mike Stern is back at Jazz at the Bistro, accompanied by St. Louisans Dave Weckl on drums and Tom Kennedy on bass, plus tenor saxophonist Bob Malach. Though he's demonstrated considerable versatility over the course of his 30-year career, Stern is at his best when rocking a jazz-fusion sound, and with local heroes Weckl and Kennedy on board, demand for tickets should be brisk. For more on Stern, check out this video showcase post from last Saturday, as well as StLJN's past coverage. (While he's here in St. Louis, Stern also will do a free, public master class on Friday afternoon at Graham Chapel on the Washington University campus. )

On Thursday, drummer Charles "Bobo" Shaw, Josh Weinstein and Zimbabwe Nkenya will do a free performance at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in Grand Center as part of the gallery's "sound wave" series. Playing off the current exhibition "stylus," a project by artist Ann Hamilton, the musicians will be "situated in different galleries in the Pulitzer and will form a kind of "call and response" with each other, responding to each other's music and the exhibition."

That same evening, pianist Ptah Williams leads his trio in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University, this time drawing on his repertoire of modern jazz and fusion material.

Also on Thursday, the Presenters Dolan kick off a weekend of cabaret performances at the the Kranzberg Arts Center, with Robert Brieg reprising his show "Feels Like Home." Singer and actor Elise Labarge then takes the Kranzberg stage on Friday and Saturday with her show "Kurt Weill in Berlin, Paris and New York."

Friday's big event, however, would seem to be the concert by guitarist John McLaughlin and 4th Dimension at the Sheldon Concert Hall. It's been nearly a decade since McLaughlin last played St. Louis, in an all-acoustic "tribute to Shakti" at the Sheldon, and much longer since local audiences have had a chance to watch the former leader of the seminal fusion band Mahavishnu Orchestra show off his electric chops. To see some videos of McLaughlin and his current cohorts in action, check out this post from a couple of Saturdays ago. Yr. humble StLJN editor also penned a Critic's Pick on the show for the Riverfront Times, which can be read online here.

On Saturday, the Nu-Art Series presents "The Drum Line" with Charles "Bobo" Shaw, Jerome "Scrooge" Harris and Gary Sykes at the Metropolitan Gallery, 2936 Locust St downtown. As noted in the intro to this post, Shaw, who first gained wide attention as a member of St. Louis' Black Artists Group and co-leader of the Human Arts Ensemble, doesn't perform locally all that often these days, so any chance to hear him is something of a rarity. Add in Sykes and Harris - two top local drummers who, though highly skilled, aren't as well known outside of St. Louis - and it promises to be an afternoon of powerful percussive prowess.

Elsewhere around town, Robbie's House of Jazz is offering a "blues weekend," with Big George Brock and the New Houserockers on Friday and singer Barbara Carr on Saturday; and on Sunday, singer Anita Jackson and keyboardist and singer Jeremiah Allen will perform an early evening show at the Ambassador Events Center's Klub Klymaxx.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday the Sessions Big Band returns to BB's Jazz Blues and Soups, while the student musicians in the Webster University Big Band will perform a free concert in Winifred Moore Auditorium on the Webster U campus. On Tuesday, the Genesis Jazz Project will play a free concert at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

For more jazz-related events in St. Louis this weekend and beyond, please visit the St. Louis Jazz Notes Calendar, which can be found on the left sidebar of the site or by clicking here. You also can keep up with all the latest news by following St. Louis Jazz Notes on Twitter at or clicking the "Like" icon 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.)

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