Friday, May 13, 2011

Jazz St. Louis announces
2011-12 season schedule

Jazz St. Louis today released its 2011-12 season schedule, encompassing several different series at Jazz at the Bistro as well as a new "Legends of Jazz" series at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

The "Legends" series will kick off with the previously announced concert on Sunday, August 7 by George Duke, Marcus Miller and former St. Louisan David Sanborn, and also will include a performance by Herbie Hancock (pictured) in March, plus another show in November that is still TBA.

In a related development, JSL also will be collaborating with the University of Missouri-St. Louis on the 2012 Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival. They'll present a performance by the festival's guest clinicians on Thursday, April 19 at the Bistro, and also are co-presenting the festival's weekend shows at the Touhill. Percussionist Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band featuring trumpeter Terence Blanchard will perform on Friday, April 20, and bassist Christian McBride's Big Band will be the headliner on Saturday, April 21.

Among the musicians making their Bistro debuts next year will be vocal group Take 6, fusion keyboardist Jeff Lorber (with Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haislip and saxophonist Eric Marienthal), and veteran pianist Ramsey Lewis, who will bring his electric group to the club. Other newcomers will include drummer Dafnis Prieto's trio, saxophonist Tia Fuller's quartet, and another quartet led by clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen, who did play the Bistro a couple of years ago as a member of Waverly Seven.

In addition, trumpeter Byron Stripling, saxophonist Sherman Irby, and drummer Matt Wilson's band Arts and Crafts all will do week-long educational residencies culminating in two nights of performances at the Bistro.

Returning acts from recent seasons will include The Bad Plus, pianist Vijay Iyer's trio, organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, singers Kurt Elling, Marlena Shaw and Freddy Cole, and saxophonist and St. Louis native Greg Osby, who will come back home for four nights in December.

Other well-known performers will be back with different musical configurations. After making his Bistro debut earlier this year, bassist Stanley Clarke is set to return next season, this time leading a trio, and saxophonist Josh Redman and pianist Brad Mehldau, both of whom have led their own bands at the Bistro, will team up for two nights of duet performances. Guitarist John Scofield, who last played the club in 2007 with a trio, will be back with a quartet, while trumpeter Nicholas Payton, last seen at the Bistro with a full band in 2006, will be stripping it down to a trio this time around.

New local acts booked for the fall include singer Anita Jackson, the Crusaders tribute band Scratch, and Rare Departure, a group inspired by 1970s fusion featuring bassist Zeb Briskovich, keyboardist Adaron “Pops” Jackson, saxophonist Jason Swagler, guitarist Rick Haydon and drummer Miles Vandiver. (Bookings of more local musicians, covering dates at the Bistro from January through May, usually are announced near year-end.)

The other significant piece of news is that beginning in September, all performances at the Bistro will have new, earlier set times of 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.. While I'm sure there are good objective reasons for making the change - I'd imagine it will be popular with the older members of the subscription audience - the idea of a jazz club that's basically shut down by 11 p.m., even on weekends, just seems very, very wrong to me, in a "disturbance in the Force" kind of way.

That gripe notwithstanding, it looks like another high quality, well-rounded season of music, within what are now fairly predictable and well-defined artistic and financial parameters. For example, you won't see any trad jazz or avant garde at the Bistro, nor any hugely expensive acts such as Harry Connick or Diana Krall. And that's OK - no one presenter can be all things to all people.

More specifically, as a big fan of Herbie Hancock, I'm always excited to hear that he's coming to town, and the chance to check out musicians like Clarke, Iyer, Mehldau, Redman, Lewis, and Elling up close over multiple nights would be welcomed by jazz fans just about anywhere. Cohen, Prieto and Fuller are up-and-coming performers with good buzz among critics and fans, and Lorber and Take 6 no doubt will be strong at the box office.

As a way to present musicians whose popularity necessitates a larger venue, the "Legends of Jazz" series potentially adds more interesting possibilities, and the Touhill is an attractive, good-sounding hall that currently is empty more than 200 nights a year. The one possible drawback is that if the new series ends up just replacing the jazz programming that the Touhill formerly did on their own, there's no real net gain in terms of the number of jazz shows at what continues to be an underutilized venue.

Still, I'm very interested to hear who the TBA performer in November will be, as JSL's Bob Bennett has teased with info suggesting it could be someone very big who hasn't played St. Louis in a long time. And even not knowing what that show will be, I think Bennett, executive director Gene Dobbs Bradford and the rest of the JSL crew have earned good marks for the 2011-12 lineup.

Here's the complete schedule of shows, listed in chronological order:

Sunday, August 7: DMS with George Duke, Marcus Miller and David Sanborn (at the Touhill)
Friday, September 9 & Saturday, September 10: Funky Butt Brass Band
Friday, September 16 & Saturday, September 17: Kim Massie
Wednesday, September 21 - Saturday, September 24: Take 6
Friday, September 30 & Saturday, October 1: Rare Departure

Wednesday, October 5 - Saturday, October 8: Stanley Jordan Trio
Friday, October 14 & Saturday, October 15: Anita Jackson
Wednesday, October 19 - Saturday, October 22: Jeff Lorber Fusion featuring Jimmy Haslip & Eric Marienthal
Friday, October 28 & Saturday 29: Sherman Irby Quartet

Wednesday, November 2 - Saturday, November 5: John Scofield Jazz Quartet
Sunday, November 6: TBA (at the Touhill)
Friday, November 11 & Saturday, November 12, 2011: Scratch
Wednesday, November 16 - Saturday, November 19: Kurt Elling
Friday, November 25 & Saturday, November 26: Jeremy Davenport
Wednesday, November 30 – Saturday, December 3: Ramsey Lewis Electric Band

Friday, December 9 & Saturday, December 10: Good 4 The Soul
Wednesday, December 14 - Saturday, December 17: Greg Osby


Wednesday, January 4 - Saturday, January 7: The Bad Plus
Wednesday, January 18 - Saturday, January 21: Ravi Coltrane Quartet
Wednesday, February 1 - Saturday, February 4: Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio
Wednesday, February 15 - Saturday, February 18: Anat Cohen Quartet
Friday, February 24 & Saturday, February 25: Byron Stripling

Wednesday, February 29 - Saturday, March 3: Freddy Cole
Wednesday, March 14 -Saturday, March 17: Vijay Iyer Trio
Sunday, March 18: Herbie Hancock (at the Touhill)
Friday, March 23 & Saturday, March 24: Matt Wilson’s Arts & Crafts
Wednesday, March 28 - Saturday, March 31: Nicholas Payton Trio

Friday, April 7 and Saturday, April 8: Joshua Redman / Brad Mehldau Duo
Wednesday, April 11 - Saturday, April 14: Marlena Shaw
Thursday, April 19: Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival clinicians
Friday, April 20: Poncho Sanchez & his Latin Jazz Band w/Terence Blanchard (GSLJF at the Touhill)
Saturday, April 21: Christian McBride Big Band (GSLJF at the Touhill)
Wednesday, April 25 - Saturday, April 28: Tia Fuller Quartet

Wednesday, May 9 - Saturday, May 12: Dafnis Prieto Trio
Wednesday, May 23 - Saturday, May 26: Stanley Clarke Trio

Ticket prices for the "Legends of Jazz" shows at the Touhill will be $150, $60 and $40, while the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival concerts at the same venue will be priced at $65, $40 and $20. Those tickets will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, June 14 via the Touhill ticket office.

Ticket prices for performances at the Bistro range from $25 to $40 for touring acts, and $15 to $20 for local musicians, with student tickets available from $10 to $25. Tickets for Jazz at the Bistro performances will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, August 16 via Metrotix and the Jazz St. Louis box office at 314-289-4030.

(Edited after posting to fix some typos.)

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