Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jazz this week: Ray Vega, Chris Botti, "SoundArt" with Troupe, Bell & Bluiett, Craig Pomranz, Todd Clouser, and more

This week's noteworthy jazz and creative music performances in St. Louis include visits from two traveling trumpeters, and two shows featuring St. Louis expats coming home. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, trumpet player Ray Vega (pictured) brings his Latin jazz-meets-hard bop quintet to town to open a four-night engagement at Jazz at the Bistro, continuing through Saturday. For more about Vega and some video clips of him in action, see this post from last week.

On Thursday evening, the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University will present a free concert from the St. Louis Jazz X-Tet, with saxophonist David Stone and vibraphonist Peter Schlamb. The concert is co-sponsored by campus radio station KWUR as part of KWUR Week.

On Friday, actor, singer and St. Louis native Craig Pomranz returns home from NYC to open a two-night stand of his cabaret show at the Kranzberg Arts Center under the auspices of the Presenters Dolan. Directed by Ron Cohen with musical direction from Stephen Bocchino, the performance includes a range of material, from Mel Brooks and Ronny Graham to Rodgers and Hart and Cole Porter. For more about Pomranz, see this feature article written by Alisha Alexander for the Vital Voice.

Also on Friday, singer Crystal Haywood, profiled last week here by the Post-Dispatch's Kevin Johnson, will do a Billie Holiday tribute at Robbie's House of Jazz. .

On Saturday afternoon, poet Quincy Troupe and guitarist Kelvyn Bell, who both grew up in the St. Louis area, will be back home to perform with special guest saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett in a show called "SoundArt," presented by the Nu-Art Series at the Metropolitan Gallery. The St. Louis American's Chris King interviewed Troupe about the gig for a story published in last week's paper, and it's still available online here.

Saturday also is the date for the annual Southwestern Illinois College Jazz Festival, which starts at 9:00 a.m. and continues into the evening at the Main Complex Theatre on SWIC's Belleville campus, 2500 Carlyle Ave. in Belleville. In the morning, jazz bands from area schools will perform and get critiqued. After lunch, saxophonist and noted jazz educator Ron Cart of Northwestern Illinois University will present a master class, followed by more student performances and critiques. Then at 7:00 p.m., Carter will perform a concert with the SWIC Jazz Band and a combo featuring Reggie Thomas (piano), Anthony Wiggins (trumpet), Nick Jost (bass) and Marty Morrison (drums). All events are free and open to the public.

On Saturday night, trumpeter Chris Botti returns to St. Louis to make his debut with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra at Powell Symphony Hall. The show was heavily promoted, with tickets offered as a pledge premium, by local PBS affiliate KETC, and that, plus Botti's baseline popularity, equals a show that sold out a good while ago. However, the Symphony may have some standing room tickets for sale; call 314-534-1700 for information.

That same night, guitarist Brian Vaccaro's trio, with keyboard player Nick Schlueter and drummer Kyle Hunnicutt, will play at Robbie's.

On Sunday evening, bassist Darrell Mixon's trio will play at Second Baptist Church in Richmond Heights for the St. Louis Jazz and Blues Vespers series; and pianist Kim Portnoy and his trio, with clarinetist Scott Alberici as special guest, will perform in a concert at Eliot Chapel in Kirkwood.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Tuesday night guitarist Todd Clouser and his band A Love Electric will make a tour stop at the downtown bar/restaurant Lola. For a bit more about Clouser, who comes from Minneapolis by way of Mexico, see this post.

And 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.)

(Edited 2/16/11 to add info about the SWIC Jazz Festival and fix the date for Chris Botti.)

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