Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jazz this week: Norman Brown & Richard Elliot, Denise Thimes, Monterey County All-Star Band, and more

It's jazz festival season in many parts of the US and Europe, so touring jazz groups are bit thin on the ground this time of year in non-festival cities like St. Louis. Still, with many local summer free concert series underway and local musicians at the usual venues, there's a pretty decent variety of live jazz happening around town over the next few days. Here's a look at some of the most noteworthy upcoming events:

On Thursday, the Funky Butt Brass Band will play a free outdoor concert at Strauss Park in Grand Center as part of radio station KDHX's "Music and Movies" series. The film for the evening is, fittingly, The Music Man, though as far as I know, the FBBB has no plans to add 75 additional trombones for the occasion. (And for those who may not know, Strauss Park is the small, triangle shaped park at Washington at Grand, across the street from the Fox Theatre and right outside the front door of the Bistro at Grand Center. )

On Friday and Saturday, singer Denise Thimes returns to Jazz at the Bistro. A popular performer locally who's also developing something of a national reputation thanks to appearances with Clark Terry and other name-brand jazz performers, Thimes usually seems to draw well at the Bistro, so if you plan to go, advance reservations would be a good idea.

Also on Friday, guitarist Farshid Soltanshahi's salsa music group Café Danza will play a free concert at the St. Louis Art Museum as part of SLAM's "Art After 5" series; saxophonist Jim Stevens is doing a free outdoor performance for Ferguson Citywalk in downtown Ferguson; and drummer Marty Spikener and the On Call Band will play at Robbie's House of Jazz.

Moving a bit further from the Arch that same evening, saxophonist Dave Cheli's group Tribal Chicken, with guest Fred Tompkins on flute, will play the St. Charles Coffeehouse; and guitarist Eric Slaughter's trio with drummer Marty Morrison and bassist Nick Jost will return to the Cigar Inn in Belleville.

Saturday brings the week's touring headliner, a double-bill of guitarist and singer Norman Brown and saxophonist Richard Elliot (pictured) at The Pageant. You can read my Riverfront Times Critic's Pick on that show here, and see some videos of Elliot in performance in this post from a couple of Saturdays ago.

Also on Saturday, the Gateway City Big Band will play a free, early evening outdoor concert at Kirkwood Park, 111 S. Geyer Rd; and singer Tony Viviano and his band are presenting a dinner-and-a-show package called "Sophisticated Lady" at Robbie's House of Jazz.

On Sunday, many local musicians and music fans no doubt will be in attendance at the funeral services for the late singer Mae "Lady Jazz" Wheeler that will be held that afternoon.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday you can check out some of the proverbial "stars of tomorrow" as the Monterey County All-Star Band and Vocal Honor Ensemble, a student band associated with the Monterey Jazz Festival in California, brings their summer tour to Jazz at the Bistro. Also on Monday, bassist David Certain's CertainBeat WorldBop will be back at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups.

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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