Saturday, December 18, 2010

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
The further adventures of Hamiet Bluiett

With the holidays coming up, the jazz concert schedule here in St. Louis is relatively devoid of touring attractions for the next couple of weeks. So let's take the opportunity to catch up with some of the recent activities of one of our favorite musicians with local roots, the great baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett.

Bluiett was born and raised in southern Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, and after decades of living in New York, re-established residency in the metro east a few years ago. Though he's been a more frequent presence on the local scene since then, he still spends a good bit of time in NYC, and also continues to tour, both as a solo artist and with the World Saxophone Quartet.

Today, we'll take a look at just a couple of the projects Bluiett was involved in during the past year. The first clip was recorded in August at the Eddie Lang Jazz Festival at Pignatelli Castle in Monteroduni, Italy, and features some trio music from Bluiett, bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Lee Pearson. In the second clip, they're joined by the Telepathic Improvisational Orchestra, a group of student musicians taking part in the festival's educational program, for a big band arrangement directed by Bluiett and featuring a skronky bari solo that starts about three minutes in.

Below that, there's a four-part documentary on the meeting earlier this year between the World Saxophone Quartet (co-founded by Bluiett, former St. Louisans Oliver Lake and the late Julius Hemphill, and David Murray) and the all-percussion ensemble M'Boom, which was started in 1970 by the late, legendary drummer Max Roach and recently revived by surviving members Warren Smith, Ray Mantilla and Joe Chambers.

The two groups first came together in 1981 for a concert at the the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC. They reunited in January 2010 for a series of dates at Birdland in NYC and a European tour, and in the clips below, you'll see interviews with members of both groups as well as some performance footage from those dates. Here's hoping that a full-length performance film will be forthcoming at some point...

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