Thursday, March 31, 2011

April is Jazz Appreciation Month

Once again in 2011, April has been declared Jazz Appreciation Month by the Smithsonian Institution.

Jazz Appreciation Month (or JAM) was created "to draw greater public attention to the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz and its importance as an American cultural heritage. In addition, JAM is intended to stimulate the current jazz scene and encourage people of all ages to participate in jazz—to study the music, attend concerts, listen to jazz on radio and recordings, read books about jazz, and support institutional jazz programs."

This is the tenth anniversary year of JAM, and the Smithsonian this year is spotlighting the legacies of jazz women, and their advocates, who "helped transform race, gender and social relations in the U.S. in the quest to build a more just and equitable nation." As part of that focus, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, the nation’s first integrated, all-female big band, will be remembered in a museum display and in special online and public programming offered by the National Museum of American History.

For those who can't get to the museum in Washington DC, the Smithsonian offers a list of "112 ways to celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month" and once again has produced a poster honoring a famous jazz musician.

This year's JAM poster (pictured) was created by Keith Henry Brown, former art director for Jazz at Lincoln Center, and features pianist and bandleader Mary Lou Williams. The Smithsonian distributes the posters for free to schools, libraries, music and jazz educators, music merchants and manufacturers, radio stations, arts presenters, and U.S. embassies worldwide. To request a copy, write

Also, anyone can download a copy of the 2011 poster featuring Mary Lou Williams in .pdf format here, and see and download the commemorative posters from previous years here.

Interview with Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey's Brian Haas now online

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey returns to St. Louis tonight for the first time since 2002 to perform at Cicero's, and a few days ago, I interviewed JFJO keyboardist Brian Haas for the Riverfront Times' A to Z music blog. The resulting article is now online, and you can read it here.

Nu-Art Series announces spring concerts

The Nu-Art Series has announced a schedule of spring Saturday matinee concerts beginning on April 2 and continuing until May 14 at the Metropolitan Gallery, 2936 Locust St. in downtown St. Louis.

The concerts, put together by Nu-Art's George Sams, will feature a mix of St. Louis musicians and returning expats, plus a couple of Sams' musical colleagues from when he lived in the San Francisco area. As with last year's spring series, the theme is "Re-Arrangements and Nu-Compositions," and each performer will offer his or her interpretation of the work of a well-known musician.

Singer Felicia Ezell, who last year performed a program of songs associated with Ella Fitzgerald for Nu-Art, will get it started on Saturday, April 2 performing "Favorites of Dionne Warwick" with accompaniment from pianist Brock Walker.

Next up, St. Louis native Marlin Bonds, now based in New York, comes home to play the music of Herbie Hancock on Saturday, April 9. Bonds began his musical career as a trumpet player, but lately has been working as a producer and arranger with hip-hop performers such as Twista, Bow Wow, and Swizzbeats. Sams says Bonds will pick up his horn again for this concert, with pianist Adam Maness, drummer Marc Colenburg and bassist Nick Jost serving as the rhythm section.

And speaking of picking a trumpet again, Sams will get his own horn out for the concert on Saturday, April 23, re-teaming with saxophonist Lewis Jordan (pictured at top left) in a new edition of their group The Sound Clinic to perform music by Ornette Coleman. Sams and Jordan, who lives in the Bay Area, will be joined by Chicago bassist Yosef Ben Israel and St. Louisan Charles "Bobo" Shaw on drums.

After a week's respite, the series will feature another visitor from the Bay Area, as keyboardist Rudi Mwongozi (pictured at left) plays a program of music by Duke Ellington on Saturday, May 7. Mwongozi, who's from Oakland and leads a jazz/R&B/reggae group called SONWA (Sound Of New World Afrikah) , will play with Sams, Shaw, bassist Claude Montgomery and alto saxophonist Kendrick Smith.

The spring series wraps up on Saturday May 14 with another St. Louis native, guitarist Marvin Horne, playing the music of Grant Green. Horne, now based in NYC, will be backed by Brock Walker, Nick Jost and Charles "Bobo" Shaw.

Doors open at 2 p.m. for all concerts, with music from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jazz this week: Ann Hampton Callaway, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Peter Henderson and more

This week's calendar of jazz and creative music events in St. Louis offers another varied selection of styles, from swinging jazz in a mainstream groove to eccentric, electric fusion to cabaret to contemporary avant-garde concert music. Let's go the highlights, presented as usual in chronological order:

Tonight, singer, songwriter and pianist Ann Hampton Callaway (pictured) opens a four-night engagement at Jazz at the Bistro. Callaway has performed in St. Louis many times, most recently in 2009 for a benefit at the Contemporary Art Museum. According to this interview she did with the P-D's Calvin Wilson, this time out she'll be singing material from her most recent CD and also performing some new arrangements.

Tomorrow night, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey returns to St. Louis for the first time in a decade to play at Cicero's. For more about this eclectic quartet from Tulsa, see this post from last Saturday. (I also spoke last week with JFJO keyboardist and founding member Brian Haas for an interview that will go up soon on the RFT's A to Z music blog, and will add a link here to that post once it's online.)

Also on Thursday, pianist Carobeth True and Two Times True (which she co-leads with her son, drummer David True) will play a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University; and Erin Bode will perform at Cyrano's in Webster Groves.

On Friday, singer Katie McGrath will start a two night run at the Kranzberg Arts Center under the auspices of the Presenters Dolan. McGrath's show "The Underside of Love" includes songs composers such as Stephen Sondheim, Judy Collins, Peter Gabriel, Cole Porter and Leon Redbone, and was directed by Tim Schall, with Rick Jensen as music director.

Also on Friday, pianist Curt Landes leads his trio, with featured guest singer Mary Dyson, at Robbie's House of Jazz.

On Saturday, pianist Peter Henderson will perform at Christ Church Cathedral in a concert sponsored by New Music Circle. Henderson, who specializes in performing contemporary works, will play Frederic Rzewski's "The People United Will Never Be Defeated!" and "24 Studies in African Rhythms" by Fred Onovwerosuoke, founder of the St. Louis African Chorus. Onovwerosuoke, who was raised in Ghana and Nigeria and moved to St. Louis in 1994, will be on hand to introduce his piece.

If you're in the mood from something more straight ahead on Saturday, the fine trumpeter Randy Holmes and his quartet will be returning that evening to Robbie's.

On Sunday, there's the April edition of the monthly jam session with saxophonist Jason Swagler and guitarist Eric Slaughter's trio at Bossanova Restaurant & Lounge in Alton. Also on Sunday, BB's Jazz Blues and Soups has funk and R&B-infused sounds from Good 4 The Soul in the early evening and Latin jazz from Ritmo Caliente later on.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Tuesday bassist Bob Deboo will lead a quartet with saxophonist Willie Akins, pianist Ptah Williams and drummer DeMarius Hicks in a a couple of early evening sets. They'll be there from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tuesdays for an open-ended run, and Deboo tells StLJN that they're also doing some live recording.

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.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Norman Brown, Richard Elliot to play Saturday, June 25 at The Pageant

Guitarist Norman Brown (pictured) and saxophonist Richard Elliot are coming to St. Louis to perform at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, June 25 at The Pageant.

Elliot was here most recently last July to perform at The Pageant on a bill with trumpeter Rick Braun. Brown hasn't been to St. Louis since 2006, when he played a holiday-themed show at the same venue with singer Will Downing and saxophonist Gerald Albright. Along with the Candy Dulfer show announced last week, their concert this year would seem be a continuation of The Pageant's recent practice of booking several smooth jazz shows during the summer months.

Tickets for the Norman Brown/Richard Elliot concert at The Pageant are $40 and $50, and will go on sale at 5:00 p.m. this Friday, April 1 via Ticketmaster and The Pageant box office.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Vanessa Rubin to perform
Monday, April 18 at SIUE

Singer Vanessa Rubin (pictured) is coming back to the St. Louis area to perform at 8:00 p.m. Monday, April 18 in the Dunham Hall Theater at SIUE. The free concert will feature Rubin and SIUE's vocal jazz ensemble, which is under the direction of Reggie Thomas. The event is sponsored by SIUE's Singer's Society, a new student organization at the university, which also will present a masterclass with Rubin during the day Monday, time and location TBA.

Rubin was in St. Louis most recently in February 2010 to star in the Black Rep's production of Yesterdays: An Evening with Billie Holiday. The Cleveland native has performed with many well-known jazz musicians, including St. Louis' own Clark Terry, Pharoah Sanders, Barry Harris, Kenny Barron, Lionel Hampton, the Mercer Ellington Orchestra, Cecil Bridgewater, Etta Jones, Toots Thielemans, Steve Turre, Cedar Walton, Grover Washington, Jr., Herbie Hancock, the Woody Herman Orchestra, and the Jazz Crusaders. Rubin has recorded seven albums as a leader and also has been actively involved in jazz education.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Four from Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

Today we've got a musical video journey courtesy of Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, who will return to St. Louis for the first time in ten years this Thursday, March 31 to play at Cicero's.

Formed in the early 1990s in Tulsa, JFJO originally was a funk-influenced eight-piece outfit with horn players and MCs. By 1999, they had gotten down to a trio, later becoming a quartet and weathering more personnel changes, including the departure of bassist and founding member Reed Mathis in 2009. The current JFJO includes the band's lone remaining founding member Brian Haas on piano, Rhodes electric piano and melodica, Josh Raymer on drums, Chris Combs on lap steel guitar, and Jeff Harshbarger on acoustic bass.

Their music incorporates a variety of influences, from fusion, free improv and a bit of straight ahead jazz to classical, pop instrumentals, and programmatic film music. The addition of Harshbarger and Combs also has brought what critics have described as a pastoral or rustic aspect to their sound, comparable in some ways to recent Bill Frisell or the early Pat Metheny quartet with Lyle Mays.

These four clips show several sides of JFJO's musical personality, starting with the lyrical "The Sensation of Seeing Light," which they recorded as a special 7" single for Record Store Day 2010. This video was made at an in-store performances at Starship Records in Tulsa on Record Store Day in April, as were the two clips below, "Trampoline Phoenix" and "Hamby's Window."

All three songs were included on JFJO's 2010 release Stay Gold, as was "The Return," shown in the fourth clip, which was recorded in June 2010 at the B-10 Club of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, MA.

Friday, March 25, 2011

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

Here's the latest wrap-up of assorted links and short local news items of interest:

* The Riverfront Times has a slideshow of photos from last week's concert by Galactic at The Pageant, courtesy of photographer Jon Gitchoff

* Hamiet Bluiett talked with the St. Louis American's Chris King for an article about his Big Orchestra Band, Youth Division, which plays this Saturday afternoon at the Metropolitan Gallery for the Nu-Art Series.

* Singer/songwriter and pianist Ann Hampton Callaway (pictured) will be in town next week to perform at Jazz at the Bistro, and the Post-Dispatch's Calvin Wilson has an interview with her here.

* Over on St. Louis magazine's Look/Listen blog, Stefene Russell interviewed pianist Kara Baldus Vandiver about her upcoming concert of music associated with Bill Evans, which is scheduled Thursday, April 7 for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University.

* St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (VLAA) will continue their seminar series for individual artists with a presentation on band partnership agreements at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, March 28 at the Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar. Presenters will include attorneys Andrew Scavotto of Stinson Morrison Hecker and Chris Coleman of RubinBrown, with "ripped from the headlines stories provided by Loren Wells, creator of The Discography: Legal Encyclopedia of Popular Music." The registration fee is $10 in advance, $15 at the door. For more information, call 314-863-6930 or visit VLAA’s website.

* Record Store Day 2011 is set for Saturday, April 16, and yr. humble StLJN editor actually will be playing a small supporting part this year, as Vintage Vinyl has invited me to DJ at their store for an hour as part of the daylong celebration of independent record sellers across the USA.

I'll be spinning the platters that matter and stacks of hot wax from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. that day at VV , and they and their fellow local indie music retailers have a full menu of activities scheduled, with guest DJs, live bands, limited-edition releases, special pricing, and more. The RFT's Annie Zaleski has a roundup of all the Record Store Day festivities in St. Louis here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Jazz this week: The Langston Hughes Project; Julian Lage; Hamiet Bluiett's Big Orchestra Band, Youth Division; Orange CD release; and more

This week's jazz and creative music offerings in St. Louis are a varied lot, from a multimedia project with an historical focus to a concert featuring a 50-piece band of students playing the compositions of one of St. Louis' greatest living jazz musicians, plus lots more. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, trumpeter Ron McCurdy brings his multimedia presentation The Langston Hughes Project to SIUE's Meridian Ballroom. For much more about this musical look at the jazz-influenced poet, author and essayist, check out last Saturday's Video Showcase post.

Also tonight, the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University resumes after spring break with a free concert from guitarist Vince Varvel's trio; and singer Kim Massie performs at the Sheldon Concert Hall to benefit the March of Dimes.

On Friday, the talented young guitarist Julian Lage and his group will be in town for one night only to play at Jazz at the Bistro. Jazz St. Louis is offering a 2-for-1 discount on tickets for Lage's performances; you can find out more about that offer, and hear some samples from his new CD here.

Also on Friday, saxophonist Kendrick Smith and his quartet will take the stage at Robbie's House of Jazz, and songwriter Al Hammerman will present a benefit concert for the Make A Wish Foundation at the Sheldon. Although not a jazz performer in the strict sense, Hammerman clearly has been influenced by the Great American Songbook, and typically deploys a number of local jazz players to help realize his compositions. Friday's concert will include vocals from Debby Lennon and Alan Ox, among others, and a 12-piece band playing arrangements of Hammerman's original songs.

On Saturday afternoon, the great baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett (pictured) will unveil his latest project The Big Orchestra Band, Youth Division in a concert for the Nu-Art Series at Metropolitan Gallery. The 50-piece ensemble is made up of kids participating in school and community center music programs in St. Louis City, St. Louis County and East St. Louis, and they'll perform new arrangements of some of Bluiett's compositions.

That evening, the group Orange will celebrate the release of their first CD at Jazz at the Bistro. Together now for a couple of years, Orange is essentially a busman's holiday for members of singer Erin Bode's band - pianist Adam Maness, bassist Syd Rodway, and drummer Mark Colenburg - plus vibraphonist Peter Schlamb. (Steve Davis will fill in on Saturday for Colenburg, who's on the road with pianist Robert Glasper.)

Their eponymous self-released CD features seven of Maness' original compositions, plus one from Schlamb. You can read more about it in Terry Perkins' article for the St. Louis Beacon here, and check out samples from the CD on Orange's Facebook page.

The busman's holiday will be short-lived, however, as Maness, Rodway & co. will be back at work Sunday evening, accompanying Erin Bode in a concert at Chapel of the Cross Lutheran Church in St. Peters to benefit Peace Lutheran Church and the Ablaze Center in Riverview, MO.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday guitarist Tom Byrne's trio is playing at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups; and guitarist Dave Black and others have put together a homecoming celebration for vibraphonist Lee Roth at Pop's Blue Moon on the Hill. Roth, who worked with a number of local jazz groups from the late 1970s to the 1990s, is back in town for a few days, and musicians, especially those who might have known him back in the day, are encouraged to bring their instruments and take part in a jam session.

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.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jazz St. Louis offering 2-for-1 special
on tickets for Julian Lage

Jazz St. Louis is offering a 2-for-1 special on tickets for guitarist Julian Lage (pictured), who's playing this Friday, March 25 at Jazz at the Bistro.

The advertised ticket price is $20 each, but with the discount, ticket buyers get two seats for twenty bucks. The discount is available for both the 8:30 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. sets. To get it, call 314-289-4030 and use coupon code JLG2011.

A California native, Lage was mentored early in his career by vibraphonist Gary Burton, and also is a musical associate of the much-hyped young pianist Taylor Eigsti. Lage's 2009 debut CD Sounding Point was nominated for a Grammy Award, and he's just released the follow-up, Gladwell. With influences including modern jazz, chamber music, newgrass, and various world music traditions, Lage is a bit hard to pin down stylistically, but he's clearly a talented player with potential appeal beyond a hardcore jazz audience. You can hear three sample tracks from Gladwell in the embedded audio player below.


New Tricks to play Sunday, April 10
at the Bistro at Grand Center

The New Jersey-based jazz quartet New Tricks (pictured) is coming to St. Louis to perform at 7:00 p.m. Sunday, April 10 at the Bistro at Grand Center. The jazz combos from Webster Groves High School will open the show.

New Tricks is co-led by tenor saxophonist Mike Lee and trumpeter Ted Chubb, who are both originally from Cleveland, and includes bassist Kellen Harrison and drummer Shawn Baltazor. They're touring in support of their second self-released CD Alternate Side, which officially comes out on Tuesday, April 5. Admission will be $10 at the door.

For a sample of New Tricks' music, check out the embedded video window below, which features a 2009 performance of the original composition "Old Dog."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Candy Dulfer to perform Saturday, May 21 at The Pageant

Saxophonist Candy Dulfer (pictured) is coming to St. Louis to perform at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, May 21 at The Pageant.

As best as StLJN can tell, the Dutch-born saxophonist last appeared here in 2004 at the Saavis Center (now the Scottrade Center) as part of the backing band for Prince. Her most recent CD Funked Up and Chilled Out came out in 2009. Dulfer's show at The Pageant also will feature bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Chance Howard, a longtime member of her band, as the support act.

This show is being sponsored by The Smooth Jazz Cruise, which is presenting a pre-concert meet-and-greet with Dulfer. To attend, you must purchase a ticket in the "Gold Section" online from Ticketmaster before March 24 by using the promotion code "Candy". Tickets are priced from $29 to $49 via Ticketmaster and the Pageant box office.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Webster Groves HS band visits NYC, part 2

Editor's note: As mentioned here earlier, the jazz band from Webster Groves High School is in New York City this week to perform, take part in workshops and master classes, and hear some live music. WGHS jazz band director Kevin Cole is reporting in from the road via email; you can read part one of his report here, and here's part two:

"Good morning from rainy New York. We've had a truly amazing 48-hour span, during which we have not only walked around lower Manhattan and toured Central Park, Riverside, and Harlem, but also witnessed some of the most soulful, proficient playing on the planet.

Saturday night's itinerary took us to the Blue Note, where Kenny Werner, Randy Brecker, David Sanchez, Scott Colley, and Antonio Sanchez were performing songs from Werner's fabulous new album Balloons. Trombonist Michael Dease and saxophonist Sharel Cassity joined our bands in clinic and concert yesterday afternoon, and we were treated again to Dease's astounding work last night at Dizzy's as he joined the legendary Heath Brothers' Quintet. I actually heard multiple students call it "the best night of our lives."

This morning, Jazz at Lincoln Center bassist Carlos Henriquez is conducting a clinic with our younger bands, after which we'll tour Lincoln Center and then the UN. Tonight's gig takes us across the Hudson as we perform at Cecil's in West Orange, NJ with Mike Lee and the Cecil's Big Band. Don't be surprised if we stay in New York for a few more...weeks!"

Saturday, March 19, 2011

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
The Langston Hughes Project

Today, we turn our video spotlight on The Langston Hughes Project, a multi-media setting of Hughes' 1961 poem “Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz” that will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 24 at the Meridian Ballroom on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville under the auspices of SIUE's Arts And Issues series.

Led by trumpeter and jazz educator Ron McCurdy, the project combines a reading of Hughes' 12-part poetic suite with live music from McCurdy's quintet and projected images of the Harlem Renaissance by African American artists and photographers including Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks and Romare Bearden. Hughes originally had intended to collaborate with bassist Charles Mingus on a musical score for "Ask Your Mama," but died in 1967 before the project could be developed.

Four decades later, McCurdy and Dr. John Wright of the University of Minnesota expanded on Hughes’ original concept by adding the visuals, and since then, The Langston Hughes Project has been performed by McCurdy and Wright all around the country. The chairman of jazz studies and professor of music at the University of Southern California, McCurdy also has performed with jazz artists such as Joe Williams, Arturo Sandoval, Maynard Ferguson, Lionel Hampton and Dianne Reeves and with pop singers including Rosemary Clooney and Leslie Uggams.

Up above, you can see a brief video trailer that introduces The Langston Hughes Project. Down below, you can see and hear performances of the first section "Cultural Exchange" and the sixth, "Horn of Plenty." The fourth video is an excerpt from the piece's world premiere in 2008, a big-budget extravaganza that featured an orchestral score written by McCurdy and performed by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra as well as rapper/actor Ice-T reading Hughes' words.

Though he's most often associated with Harlem, Hughes (1902-1967) actually was a Missouri native. He was born in Joplin, grew up in Lawrence KS and Cleveland OH, and moved to New York as a young man just in time to be part of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. An avid jazz and blues fan, Hughes enjoyed sitting in clubs listening to music and writing poetry, and he was quite a prolific writer. His works include writing sixteen books of poems, two novels, three collections of short stories, four volumes of fiction, and twenty plays, plus children's poetry, musicals and operas, three autobiographies, a dozen radio and television scripts, and dozens of magazine articles and essays, as well as editing seven anthologies.

For more about Hughes' life and work, check out these two short bios of him. You can read a selection of his poems here, and hear him reading his own work in a 1945 audio recording posted to YouTube in four parts (1, 2, 3, 4). Hughes also was recorded reading "Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods For Jazz" in 1967 for an album called The Black Verse. Although the LP is out of print, you can hear those recordings (interspersed with a variety of jazz cuts) on this program paying tribute to Hughes that aired earlier this year on KDVS, a public radio station associated with the University of California-Davis.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Singer's sister killed in crossfire

Patrice Thimes, the sister of St. Louis jazz singer Denise Thimes, was shot and killed Thursday night in St. Louis. Police reports say that Thimes was driving through the intersection of Page Ave. and North Euclid at 9:55 p.m. when she was hit by a stray bullet from a gun battle between two groups of young men thought to be gang members. The Post-Dispatch's story is here, and local NBC affiliate KSDK has a report that includes a brief interview with Denise Thimes here.

According to the Post story, SLPD believe the gunfight and Thimes' shooting are related to other recent shootings and killings in the area involving the same perpetrators. In response, police on Friday dispatched a 30-member "Violent Offense Team" to the neighborhood; they "are following leads" but have made no arrests yet.

Patrice Thimes was 39 years old and worked in the hospitality industry; the Post reports that she had been planning to open a restaurant with family members later this year. In addition to her sister and four other siblings, survivors include two daughters, ages 18 and 5; her father, noted radio personality Lou "Fatha" Thimes; and her fiance Gregory Bell.

UPDATE - 11:30 a.m., 3/21/11: Police have arrested and charged three men in conjunction with the shooting, and say more arrests are possible. Read the Post's story on the arrests here.

Webster Groves HS jazz band visits NYC

As noted here earlier this month, the jazz band from Webster Groves High School is traveling to New York City this week to perform, take part in workshops and master classes, and hear some live music. WGHS jazz band director Kevin Cole is reporting in from the road via email, and here's what he had to say about their first day in NYC:

"Our first day in NYC was just outstanding. After a day-long bus ride, we arrived in Manhattan at about midnight on Thursday night. A 9:30AM call time at Lincoln Center didn't afford the kids (and adults) much sleep, but trumpeter/composer Michael Philip Mossman predictably managed to grab their attention during a two-hour clinic (pictured). While Michael is beyond knowledgable in all jazz styles, we chose to focus on our tunes that played to his specialty, latin jazz.

After the clinic students and parents teamed up to roam about the Times Square/Hell's Kitchen areas, eating at distinctly-New York restaurants and shopping and some of the stores for which Times Square is known.

Our first evening in the city found us at The Garage, a Greenwich Village jazz club, where we saw Harlem gospel pianist Enoch Smith and his trio. Tomorrow is the day during which we have the most freedom, spending a good portion of the day walking in lower Manhattan. We're all looking forward to the students' first visit to the famed Blue Note Jazz Club tomorrow night, where we'll see Kenny Werner, Randy Brecker, David Sanchez, Scott Colley, and Antonio Sanchez. What a great city!"

Photo courtesy of Kevin Cole.

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

Here's the latest wrap-up of assorted links and short local news items of interest:

* Singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb (pictured), who's in town this weekend to perform for the Presenters Dolan at the Kranzberg Arts Center, is the subject of two preview stories in local media - one written by Terry Perkins for the St. Louis Beacon, the other by Calvin Wilson for the Post-Dispatch.

* Speaking of cabaret, here's a review of St. Louis native Craig Rubano's performance last weekend at the Kranzberg, written by Chuck Lavazzi for KDHX.

* Jazz St. Louis now has a slideshow and recap of their recent benefit gala up on their website.

* Reunion Revolution, a new store selling vinyl records, art, antiques and collectibles, has opened in the New Town area of St. Charles.

* St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts is sponsoring a workshop about mediation at 7:00 p.m. next Monday, March 21 at the Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar. The workshop is intended to teach members of arts community about a "non-litigious way to resolve conflicts" that is "voluntary, confidential, fast and affordable." The registration fee for the workshop is $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Get more information at or by calling 314-863-6930.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jazz this week: Ray Brown Tribute, Galactic, Jimmy Webb, Latin and East Indian rhythms meet jazz, and more

The jazz and creative music calendar this week in St. Louis offers a variety of stylistic approaches, from a tribute to a beloved mainstream bassist to shows mixing jazz with funk, Latin and East Indian sounds, electronica, and more.

Fans of bop and swing naturally will gravitate toward the Ray Brown Tribute that begins tonight and continues through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro. Headed by Brown's protege, bassist Christian McBride, and featuring pianist Benny Green and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, the trio pays tribute to Brown as composer as well as to his bass playing with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Peterson that helped set the standard on his instrument for the post-WWII era and beyond. For more about Brown and some video samples of the tribute trio in action, see this post from last Saturday.

Also tonight, saxophonist Dave Cheli, multi-intrumentalist John Covelli and drummer Martino Covelli (John's son) debut a new project called The Name Of This Band Is at The Gramophone. They'll be doing a live recording session at the club for the next three Wednesdays, laying down original tunes that - Talking Heads reference in their name notwithstanding - Covelli describes as being in a funk/fusion style.

Tomorrow night, the New Orleans funk/jazz band Galactic (pictured) returns to The Pageant, this time bringing along special guests Cyril Neville of the Neville Brothers and Corey Henry of the Rebirth Brass Band. Mike Gordon will open, and given that this is being billed as a "special show" by both acts, the Phish bassist seems likely to join Galactic and friends to jam a bit as well.

Also on Thursday, famed songwriter Jimmy Webb begins a three-night run of his cabaret show for the Presenters Dolan at the Kranzberg Arts Center. The performance features Webb singing, playing piano and telling stories about his many hit songs, which range from the wistful country hit "Wichita Lineman" to the melodramatic pop bombast "MacArthur Park" and beyond. Given the limited seating capacity of the room, advance reservations would seem to be a must. For more about what Webb has been up to recently, see this interview with him published last fall by the Onion's AV Club.

On Friday, the eclectic Chicago-based guitarist Fareed Haque brings his new electronica-influenced band MathGames to 2720 Cherokee, headlining a bill that also include saxophonist Dave Stone's trio, and Hot House Sessions with special guest guitarist Dave Black.

Also on Friday, Latin-jazz band Musica Slesa will perform on a triple bill with the Aakash Mittal Quartet and Les Filles du Jazz in the Sheldon Concert Hall ballroom. Mittal is an alto saxophonist from Boulder, CO who combines jazz with East Indian musical meters, rhythmic cycles, and raga-informed melodies; Les Filles du Jazz is the Francophone name for a collaboration between singer Carmen Emborski and pianist Heather Bosshardt.

On Saturday, saxophonist Stan Coleman will bring his University Big Band back to Robbie's House of Jazz, and on Sunday, the Funky Butt Brass Band is doing a free concert at Second Baptist Church in Richmond Heights for the St. Louis Jazz and Blues Vespers Series.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday BB's Jazz Blues and Soups has pianist Dave Becherer's trio and on Tuesday, Robbie's presents their weekly open jam session.

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.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bruce Hornsby and the Noise Makers to play Friday, June 10 at The Pageant

Pianist, singer and songwriter Bruce Hornsby (pictured) is coming to St. Louis on Friday, June 10 to play The Pageant.

An alumni of Berklee School of Music, Hornsby is known for his wide-ranging musical interests, playing pop, rock, classical, country and bluegrass with a long list of stars as well as collaborating with jazz players such as Branford Marsalis, Bela Fleck, Christian McBride and Jack DeJohnette.

With his current band the Noise Makers, which often has included jazz/funk drummer Sonny Emory, Hornsby has sought to blend those multiple genres together with plenty of improvisation. His most recent recording with them was the 2009 CD Levitate.

Tickets for Bruce Hornsby and the Noise Makers at The Pageant are $35 each and will go on sale at 5:00 p.m. this Friday, March 18 via Ticketmaster and the Pageant box office.

Recently on Heliocentric Worlds

With winter almost over, now's as good a time as any to "spring" over to StLJN's sibling site Heliocentric Worlds and take in a few music videos. There's a new one online every day, featuring some of the greatest musicians in jazz, blues, soul, funk, classic rock, prog rock and experimental music.

Just this month, there have been videos posted of performances by Ry Cooder, Bill Evans, Santana, Maceo Parker, Modern Jazz Quartet, ICP Orchestra, Sonny Boy Williamson, Joe Henderson, Louis Armstrong, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Cobham, Duke Ellington, David Liebman, Tito Puente and Howlin' Wolf.

They're all still waiting for you, along with hundreds more carefully curated clips from the astonishing archives, when you visit

Saturday, March 12, 2011

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Paying tribute to Ray Brown

This week, let's take a look at some videos previewing the tribute to bassist Ray Brown that will play at Jazz at the Bistro starting next Wednesday, March 16 through Saturday, March 19. The band is led by bassist Christian McBride, who was a protege of Brown's, and includes pianist Benny Green and drummer Greg Hutchinson, who both worked with Brown as up-and-coming musicians during the 1990s.

Unfortunately, there don't seem to be any readily available clips online of the McBride-Green-Hutchinson troika, so instead, we've got four videos of McBride, Green and drummer Karriem Riggins doing a tribute to Brown last September at the Detroit Jazz Festival. These were all shot by an audience member with a camcorder, so they're not broadcast quality, but the audio is more than adequate to convey the trio's sound and overall approach.

Up above, you can see and hear them play "Captain Bill," a blues written by Brown as a tribute to Count Basie. Below, there's a version "Li'l Darlin," which was made famous initially by Basie and later recorded by Brown, and renditions of two more Brown compositions, "Gumbo Hump," which evokes a New Orleans vibe, and "Bass Face," the title track to a 1993 CD of Brown's.

As for the subject of the tribute, though Ray Brown may not be as well known outside the jazz world as seemingly ubiquitous tribute subjects such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane or Thelonious Monk, his stellar career and lasting influence on generations of bassists certainly are worth celebrating.

Ray Brown was born in 1926 in Pittsburgh, and made his first major breakthrough at age 20 when he got a job playing with Dizzy Gillespie. He spent five years with Gillespie during the height of the bebop era, during which time he also met and married Ella Fitzgerald, though the union lasted only until 1952. Brown also appeared during those years in Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts, through which he met pianist Oscar Peterson, with whom he would go on to play from 1951 to 1966.

After leaving Peterson, Brown moved to Los Angeles, where he became a manager and promoter as well as a performer. He worked with singers including Frank Sinatra, Billy Eckstine, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, and Nancy Wilson, and composed music and played in orchestras for TV and movies. Brown also managed artists such as the Modern Jazz Quartet and Quincy Jones; produced concerts at the Hollywood Bowl; and wrote jazz bass instruction books, some of which still are used today.

Later in his career, Brown performed and recorded with the The L.A. Four, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, pianist Gene Harris and others as well as with and his own trios. Brown died in 2002, but his big tone, musical versatility, and always-swinging support for his collaborators set a standard for mainstream jazz bassists that still applies today.

For more on Ray Brown, check out this article from a couple of years ago on, in which Christian McBride selects and comments on 12 of his favorite tracks featuring Brown on bass. Also, read this remembrance of a late career gig by the bassist; pore over transcripts of his solos on "Li'l Darlin," "Au Privave" and "Night Train"; or just check out some of the many videos of Brown's performances that have surfaced on YouTube.

Hamiet Bluiett to direct "The Big Orchestra Band, Youth Division" on Saturday, March 26 at Metropolitan Gallery

When he's not working in New York or on tour in Europe, baritone sax great Hamiet Bluiett has spent a lot of his time back home in the St. Louis area working with music students. He's emphasized his educational efforts so much that in recent years, it sometimes seems like he's performed as often locally with players young enough to be his grandchildren - or even great-grandchildren - as with his peers.

Continuing along those same lines, Bluiett (pictured) will unveil his latest project, The Big Orchestra Band, Youth Division, in a concert presented by the Nu-Art Series at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, March 25 at the Metropolitan Gallery, 2936 Locust St. downtown.

The group is a 50-member ensemble made up of kids participating in school and community center music programs in St. Louis City, St. Louis County and East St. Louis. They'll perform some of Bluiett's compositions that have been arranged specifically for them, with the composer conducting and - if past performances with other young musicians are any indication - perhaps joining in on his own instrument from time to time as well.

Tickets for "The Music of Hamiet Bluiett performed by The Big Orchestra Band, Youth Division" are $10 for general admission and will be available at the door.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Presenters Dolan schedule
two new cabaret shows in April

Cabaret producers The Presenters Dolan have announced two new shows that will play the Kranzberg Arts Center in April:

Katie McGrath (pictured) will perform "The Underside of Love" at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2. Described as "an evening of music and musings on the ups and downs of grownup love," it includes songs by Stephen Sondheim, Judy Collins, Peter Gabriel, Cole Porter and Leon Redbone. Tim Schall is the show's director, and Rick Jensen is the music director.

Two weeks later, Kay Love will offer"Confessions of a Pom Pom Reject" at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, April 15 and Saturday April 16. The performance draws on some seemingly unlikely material for a cabaret show - pop songs of the 1970s and 80s made famous by Boston, the Little River Band, Journey, Irene Cara and others. Lennie Watts will direct, with Steven Ray Watkins as music director.

Tickets are $20 for Katie McGrath, $25 for Kay Love, and are available online at or by phone at 314-725-4200, ext. 10.

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

Here's the latest wrap-up of assorted links and short local news items of interest:

* In an article about Jazz St. Louis' benefit gala last Sunday, the Post-Dispatch's Deb Peterson says that JSL raised an estimated $200,000 for its education programs at the event. You can read Peterson's account of the party here.

* Jazz broadcaster Don Wolff has been uploading dozens of exclusive videos to his YouTube channel. There are a few interviews, but most of the clips are live performances from currently active musicians playing traditional jazz and swing. You can check out the contents of Wolff's video vault here.

* Brandt's Cafe (pictured), a longtime live music staple in the Delmar Loop, announced on their Facebook page that they're changing to an "ultralounge" format next month. That apparently means "VIP seating," bottle service, more DJ music and, presumably, higher prices. Though there's mention of live music continuing in early evenings, there's no calendar of events on the Facebook page, and the registered address for Brandt's website has been allowed to expire and seems to have fallen into the clutches of domain-jackers.

A bit of history: After transferring to new ownership three years ago, Brandt's abandoned its long-running jazz-centric format for a confusing mix of blues, rock, folk, karaoke, DJ spins, and the occasional jazz performer. They stopped emailing out their monthly music schedule, and updates to the website were sporadic and often incomplete. The result seems to have been that after leaving their old niche behind, they've had, at best, mixed success carving out a new one.

More recently, they announced that a new general manager had taken over, and started adding some jazz musicians back onto the schedule, but this whole ultralounge business would appear put an end to that. Is this latest attempt to cater to the trendy crowd a savvy business decision, or a desperation move? Time will tell, I suppose, but letting such a well-established business' longtime web address expire does not exactly inspire confidence that everything is well under control.

* In other semi-depressing news this week, Fair St. Louis this week announced what might very well be its whitest lineup of musical performers ever, and that's saying something. Headliners for the three-day Independence Day weekend festivities downtown will include country band Montgomery Gentry, pop-rock group Maroon 5, and 1970s hitmakers the Steve Miller Band, whose leader at least has some acquaintance with the blues.

Perhaps the Celebrate St. Louis shows (formerly Live on the Levee) yet to be announced will include some music that recognizes our city's actual cultural heritage, but given the questionable taste and abysmal past record of the organizers, yr. humble StLJN editor will not be holding his breath.

* Wondering how to get to Jazz at the Bistro, the Sheldon Concert Hall, and other Grand Center venues once the Grand Ave bridge closes for renovation next Monday? The St. Louis Beacon breaks down the alternate routes in an annotated map here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Jazz this week: Ronald Carter and OGD, Peter Martin, Craig Rubano, Funky Butt Brass Band, and more

Assuming you've recovered sufficiently from this past week's Mardi Gras revelry and haven't given up live music for Lent, there are a number of jazz and creative music gigs in St. Louis this week that you may want to check out. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, drummer Ben Thigpen leads his group in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University. The series then will be hiatus for two weeks as the campus goes on spring break, but will resume on March 30 with a performance by pianist Carolbeth True and Two Times True.

Also tonight, St. Louis native Craig Rubano returns home to open a three-night run of his cabaret show "We Can Be Kind" at the Kranzberg Arts Center under the auspices of the Presenters Dolan. Rubano will perform songs from composers such as Cole Porter, Richard Rogers, Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon, with musical direction from pianist Beth Ertz.

On Friday night, saxophonist Ronald Carter (pictured) will team up once again with the organ-jazz trio OGD, featuring Reggie Thomas at the keyboard and Rick Haydon on guitar, for the first of two nights at Jazz at the Bistro.

The former band director at East St. Louis High School, Carter performed last weekend at Jazz St. Louis' benefit gala and still is a frequent visitor to our area from his current home base at Northern Illinois University. Look for a mix of hard bop, soul jazz and more as Carter reunites with OGD, with whom he's worked numerous time.

Also on Friday, vibraphonist Peter Schlamb will front his quartet at Robbie's House of Jazz, and on Saturday, pianist Peter Martin will play at 560 Music Center in a benefit performance for Kids Place. If you're in the mood for a road trip Saturday evening, saxophonist/clarinetist Anat Cohen is performing down I-79 at the Blue Note in Columbia for the We Always Swing jazz series.

On Sunday afternoon, the spirit of Mardi Gras will linger for just at bit longer, as the Funky Butt Brass Band undoubtedly will be reprising some New Orleans carnival-time favorites when they perform at the Doubletree Hotel at Westport under the auspices of the St. Louis Jazz Club.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday the Sessions Big Band is back at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups , and on Tuesday, Robbie's House of Jazz continues their series of weekly jam sessions.

Then on Wednesday evening, Robbie's will begin "Golden Voices," a new weekly open mic night intended to showcase jazz vocalists, who are invited to sit in with accompanist Becky Alexander.

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 3/10/11 to correct the location of the Funky Butt Brass Band/St. Louis Jazz Club show.)

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Whitaker Music Festival
announces 2011 schedule

The Whitaker Music Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden has announced the schedule of performers for its 2011 season. The annual summer series of Wednesday night concerts kicks off on June 1, and though this year's schedule doesn't feature any straightahead jazz shows, there are a few performers who may be of interest to jazz fans.

Of particular note is Irish singer-guitarist Nigel Mooney (pictured), who's being touted as "the first international act to take the Whitaker Music Festival stage" and "widely regarded as Ireland’s leading jazz singer and guitarist." Mooney will perform on Wednesday, June 29, and you can see him singing "Hard Times" in the video embedded at the bottom of this post. He sounds pretty good, though bringing an Irish guy to St. Louis to play blues and jazz definitely could be thought of as a musical "coals-to-Newcastle" kind of deal.

At any rate, here's the complete 2011 Whitaker Music Festival schedule:

June 1: Gumbohead
June 8: Teddy Presberg
June 15: Hudson and the Hoodoo Cats
June 22: Jenny Kavanaugh Band
June 29: Nigel Mooney
July 6: Marquise Knox
July 13: Western Satellites
July 20: Billy Peek
July 27: Erin Bode
August 3: Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three

The Whitaker Music Festival concerts are held outdoors on the lawn of the Cohen Amphitheater, just west of the Climatron dome. Concertgoers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets, and are welcome to bring their own picnic baskets or coolers or to purchase food and beverages on site. Admission to the Garden is free on Wednesdays after 5:00 p.m., with music beginning at 7:30 p.m.

For more information, visit the Garden's website or call the recorded hotline at 314-577-9400. In the event of inclement weather, In the event of inclement weather, check the Garden’s website, Twitter feed or Facebook page for immediate concert updates.

Monday, March 07, 2011

St. Louis Jazz Club to celebrate 60th anniversary on Saturday, May 14

The St. Louis Jazz Club will celebrate its sixtieth anniversary on Saturday, May 14 with a pair of performances at the Concord Farmers Club.

The venerable presenters of monthly concerts of traditional jazz and swing will feature Red Lehr and the St. Louis Rivermen (pictured) from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., followed that evening by a dance/concert with music from the Michael Lacey Band from 7:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

The Concord Farmers Club, located at 10140 Concord School Rd in South County, has been the site of the SLJC's summer picnic in recent years. Tickets for all SLJC shows, including the the 60th anniversary fete, are $10 for members, $15 for non-members, with students getting in free.

Fareed Haque bringing MathGames
to 2720 Cherokee on Friday, March 18

Guitarist Fareed Haque is returning to St. Louis later this month, bringing his new band MathGames to town for a performance at 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 18 at 2720 Cherokee.

In an interview earlier this year, Haque (pictured) told the blog Chicago Jam Scene that MathGames is now his "primary project" following his departure from Garaj Mahal, who have played here several times in recent years.

Described as an "electro-funktronic rave-up," MathGames made its debut last November in Chicago, and features Haque on Moog guitar synth along with Greg Fundis on drums and Alex Austin on upright bass. Both Fundis and Austin also have played with Haque in his group Flat Earth Ensemble, which works more in a "world music" vein. For more about MathGames, see this review of a show they did earlier this year in Chicago.

The show also will feature two opening acts: saxophonist Dave Stone's trio, and Hot House Sessions, which mixes live musicians with DJ grooves and will feature a guest appearance on this gig by guitarist Dave Black.

Tickets are $10 for general admission, and are on sale now via show promoters Loyal Family.

(Edited after posting.)

Saturday, March 05, 2011

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Mardi Gras time with Glen David Andrews

It's parade Saturday of Mardi Gras week in St. Louis, which makes it a doubly appropriate time to check out some clips of New Orleans trombonist and vocalist Glen David Andrews, who will be in town next Wednesday, March 9 to play The Gramophone.

A protege of New Orleans legend Anthony “Tuba Fats” Lacen, cousin of Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, and brother of Rebirth Brass Band's Derrick Tabb, Andrews draws on jazz, gospel, rock, blues and funk and, as seen in today's four videos, has his own idiosyncratic takes on the familiar Crescent City standards.

The first clip catches Andrews in mid-set at the Louisiana Music Factory during Jazz Fest 2009, winding down a tune and launching into a raucous "Basin Street Blues, then jumping offstage into the crowded aisles to encourage audience participation.

Down below are three clips show at Joe's Pub in NYC that provide additional examples of Andrews' high-energy style. From July 2009, there's a version of "When The Saints Go Marching In" that segues into a head-banging rock number, followed by "Iko Iko" and, from a different gig in October 2010, "I Walk On Gilded Splinters." Note that these clips were all shot by an audience member with a camcorder, so they're not exactly broadcast quality, but they're entertaining nonetheless.

Friday, March 04, 2011

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

Here's the latest wrap-up of assorted links and short local news items of interest:

* Jazz St. Louis executive director Gene Dobbs Bradford and the Jazz St. Louis All-Stars went on KPLR's afternoon newscast Wednesday to promote JSL's annual benefit gala this Sunday. You can see the clip of their appearance here.

* Dennis Owsley has another post up on St. Louis magazine's Look/Listen blog, an enthusiastic appreciation of pianist Hiromi.

* Who should be nominated for the Riverfront Times' 2011 Music Awards? RFT music editor Annie Zaleski is giving readers a chance to weigh in by commenting on this blog post.

* Guitarist Dave Black (pictured) is teaching an "Introduction to Jazz Guitar" class starting next Tuesday, March 8 and continuing weekly through April 26 at The Folk School in Maplewood. The fee is $145 per student for the eight 70-minute classes. For more information or to enroll, visit The Folk School's website or call (314) 781-2244

* Cable network HEC has a new episode of Don Wolff's I Love Jazz, featuring an interview with and music by singer, songwriter and pianist Ann Hampton Callaway. Callaway will be in St. Louis to perform Wednesday, March 30 through Saturday, April 2 at Jazz at the Bistro. I Love Jazz airs at 8:00 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays on HEC-TV Charter Channel 989 and AT&T U-Verse channel 99. You also can see episodes online at For more about Callaway, see this interview she did recently with the Vital Voice's Joshua Barton.

* Lastly, if you're used to traveling from south St. Louis city or county to Jazz at the Bistro, the Sheldon, or Powell Symphony Hall via Grand Avenue, you'll need to find an alternate route for a while. The Grand Ave. bridge stretching between Chouteau and Highway 40/64 is scheduled to close March 14 so that the viaduct can be demolished and a new replacement built. Some traffic may resume in 14 months, but the project will take two years to complete. The Post-Dispatch has details on the shutdown here.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Metrotix, Fox Theatre offering presale of Steely Dan tickets on Friday, March 4

Metrotix and the Fox Theatre are offering online buyers a presale of tickets to the concert by Steely Dan on Wednesday, August 24 at the Fox. Tickets go on sale to the general public at 10:00 a.m. this Saturday, March 5; the presale begins at 10:00 a.m. Friday, March 4 and continues until 10:00 p.m. that evening. To access the presale, go to the Metrotix site and use promo code HEY19.

For a band whose musical output is usually categorized as "rock," Steely Dan has always had considerable numbers of fans among jazz listeners, too. Both pianist/vocalist Donald Fagen and bassist/guitarist Walter Becker have spoken frequently in interviews of their appreciation for jazz, and early in their career they paid direct homage to jazz heroes like Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington, recording the original song "Parker's Band" and a cover of Duke's "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo" on the Pretzel Logic album.

Over the years, Steely Dan also have used well-known jazz players such as Phil Woods, Wayne Shorter and Larry Carlton as guest soloists on record, and employed numerous other jazz musicians as part of their touring band. Their 2011 tour group includes Jim Beard (keyboards), Keith Carlock (drums), Jon Herington (guitar), Michael Leonhart (trumpet, keyboards), Jim Pugh (trombone), Roger Rosenberg (baritone sax), Freddie Washington (bass), Walt Weiskopf (saxophone), and Catherine Russell, Cindy Mizelle and Carolyn Leonhart-Escoffery (backing vocals).

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Jazz this week: Chris Potter Underground, Craig Hultgren, Jazz St. Louis' benefit gala, Mardi Gras music, and more

It's Mardi Gras week, and here in St. Louis there's a variety of jazz and creative music coming up on local stages (though not at the city's official Mardi Gras celebration; a bit more about that later.) Let's go the highlights...

The most highly anticipated performer of the week likely is saxophonist Chris Potter (pictured), who brings his electric group Underground to Jazz at the Bistro for the first time beginning tonight and continuing through Saturday. The 40-year-old Potter has been one of the more talked-about saxophonists on the scene for a decade now, and though he's played the Bistro before with his acoustic group, Jazz St. Louis tried for a couple of years to get Underground here before the proverbial stars finally aligned this season. Given both of those factors, expect good crowds for Potter all weekend, but at last word, there were tickets remaining for most sets.

For more about Potter, check out this StLJN video post from last Saturday; this short article by Calvin Wilson from last Friday's Post-Dispatch; this 2008 NPR broadcast featuring a set of Underground recorded live at NYC's Village Vanguard; and this 2010 interview with Potter conducted for the jazz studies program at NYU.

On Thursday, the Funky Butt Brass Band will get the weekend started with an early evening set at the Blues City Deli; and guitarist Eric Slaughter's trio will play a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University.

The FBBB will be back in action for an hour Friday night, performing from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. for the Mayor's Ball at City Hall before yielding to the band Groovethang, best known for their tribute shows to Earth Wind & Fire and Steely Dan. Alas, said hour-long set would appear to be the only jazz and/or blues-related sounds offered at any of this year's official St. Louis Mardi Gras events; all the music for Saturday's parade-related doings in Soulard is slated to come from DJs and a list of depressingly generic-seeming local rock cover bands. (Yr. humble StLJN editor has ranted about the lack of appropriate music at these events before; follow the links to learn all the reasons why I think the Mardi Gras powers-that-be continue to err in their music-booking reasoning. )

Fortunately, there's jazz to be found elsewhere throughout the weekend, starting on Friday as saxophonist Kendrick Smith's quartet plays at Robbie's House of Jazz; and guitarist Tom Byrne's trio, with Phil Graves on drums and Chris Watrous on bass, is at the Cigar Inn in Belleville.

On Saturday, the Funky Butt Brass Band will perform in late afternoon at the Old Rock House, along with the New Orleans R&B/funk cover band Gumbohead, with whom they share a couple of members.

That evening, cellist Craig Hultgren will employ his impressive array of extended techniques in a performance at Focal Point under the auspices of New Music Circle, and saxophonist Stan Coleman's University Jazz Big Band takes the stage at Robbie's.

Also on Saturday, guitarist William Lenihan's trio will play a Mardi Gras-themed fundraiser at Trinity Episcopal Church in St. Charles to benefit the church's choir program; and the eclectic roots music band Sins of the Pioneers will play jazz, blues, honky tonk and more at Iron Barley's basement room Fred's 6-Foot Under.

On Sunday, the St. Louis Record Collector and CD Show will hold their spring event, typically the largest and best attended of year, at the American Czech Hall on the south side.

That evening, Jazz St. Louis will hold their annual fundraising gala at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark, featuring dinner, an auction, and music from the Jazz St. Louis All-Stars student group, saxophonist Ronald Carter and the East St. Louis High School Jazz Band, and the seemingly ubiquitous Funky Butt Brass Band. Tickets start at $250 per person, and proceeds benefit Jazz St. Louis' educational programs. For more information, call JSL's Melissa Jones at 314-289-4037 or email her at melissa @

Also on Sunday is the March edition of the monthly jam session at Bossanova Restaurant and Lounge in Alton, featuring saxophonist Jason Swagler and Eric Slaughter's trio with Marty Morrison and bassist Nick Jost.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Fat Tuesday you can catch the Funky Butt/Gumbohead combination at the Broadway Oyster Bar, or take in the traditional jazz sounds of Bud Shultz and his "You Can't Beat Experience" Jazz Band as they perform for a Mardi Gras celebration at the Lewis & Clark Community College's Benjamin Godfrey Memorial Chapel in Godfrey, IL.

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.)