Saturday, July 09, 2011

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
A brief appreciation and farewell
to Reggie and Mardra Thomas

The St. Louis jazz scene is losing two outstanding musicians this summer, as keyboardist Reggie Thomas and his wife, singer and actress Mardra Thomas, are moving to East Lansing, MI, where Reggie has accepted a job at Michigan State University. Working together and separately, both have delivered many fine performances to St. Louis audiences, and Reggie Thomas also has taught and mentored many young jazz musicians in SIU Edwardsville's jazz program. They will be missed.

The Thomases will say goodbye to St. Louis next weekend with performances on Friday and Saturday night at Jazz at the Bistro and on Sunday afternoon at the Wildey Theatre in Edwardsville. Today, in recognition and appreciation of their contributions to St. Louis' local culture over the past two decades, we present some brief video clips of them in action.

Up above is what seems to be the only full-length performance video by both Thomases available online. It's a version of the Ray Charles song "Unchain My Heart" shot last summer at O'Fallon Park, and though we've featured it once before in this space, the scarcity of videos with either Thomas is sufficient to warrant an encore.

Down below, you can three short videos featuring keyboard solos by Reggie Thomas. In the first, he plays the standard "Cherokee" with a student ensemble in Purchase, NY. The next two both were shot at Jazz at the Bistro, and feature Thomas demonstrating his skills on Rhodes and synth, accompanied backed by bassist John King and drummer Montez Coleman, who also gets a solo in both clips.

(Both clips were posted by videographer James Ross, who shares a lot of short clips of St. Louis musicians to YouTube, but, for whatever reason, seems to eschew complete versions of songs. Mr. Ross, if you happen to read this: You seem to have good taste in musicians, and have done some capable work capturing them on video. Please consider recording some entire songs, not just excerpts, and posting them to YouTube.)

Though both Thomases certainly merit a more extensive tribute, these clips seem to be the only ones available online. To see and hear more, you'll just have to catch them next weekend at the Bistro or the Wildey; as of this writing, tickets remain available from both venues.

No comments: