Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jazz this week: Matt Wilson & Arts and Crafts, Straight Ahead, Grand Marquis, and more

While there would seem to be no great thematic or conceptual ideas, either intentional or serendipitous, unifying this week's offerings, some fairly nice spring weather and a variety of jazz on local stages should make this a good weekend in St. Louis to get out and hear some music. So let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, drummer Matt Wilson and his band Arts and Crafts will present a free performance and clinic at Saxquest. Wilson, trumpeter Terell Stafford, bassist Martin Wind and keyboard player Gary Versace are in town this week doing an educational residency for Jazz St. Louis, and will play two full-length sets on Friday and Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro.

Also tonight, Kansas City's Grand Marquis, who combine jump blues, swing, hot jazz and more, are back at BB's Jazz Blues and Soups; saxophonist Paul DeMarinis will lead his group in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University. and guitarist Tom Byrne takes over the hosting duties for the weekly jazz jam session at Highway 61 Roadhouse.

On Friday, Wilson and Arts and Crafts open their weekend at the Bistro, and pianist Carolbeth True will do a "women in jazz" themed performance at Robbie's House of Jazz. That same evening over on the Illinois side of the river, the SIUE jazz faculty will perform in concert at the Wildey Theatre in Edwardsville; saxophonist Tim Cunningham returns to Jazz on Broadway in Alton; and guitarist Eric Slaughter's trio is back at the Cigar Inn in Belleville.

On Saturday, the Detroit-based band Straight Ahead (pictured) plays at the Sheldon Concert Hall. As one one of the first all-female groups in contemporary jazz, they helped launch the career of violinist Regina Carter, and more than 20 years later, they're one of the longest running female-led bands in jazz.

Though their personnel has changed over the years (and they now sometimes feature male musicians as guest stars or subs), Straight Ahead still features three founding members: bassist Marion Hayden, drummer Gayelynn McKinney, and pianist Alina Morr. For more about them, and some videos of the group that include current vocalist Kimberli Wright, check out this video post from last Saturday.

Also on Saturday, singer Joe Mancuso and his quartet, featuring special guest saxophonist Willie Akins, will play at Johnnie Gitto's bar and restaurant; and the Yard Dawgs Jazz Quartet, led by drummer Dustin Page, will be at Robbie's House of Jazz.

On Sunday, Mancuso will be back at Gitto's along with bassist Willem von Hombracht for the fourth installment of their nascent weekly jam; and the Dave Dickey Big Band returns to Kirkwood Station Brewing Company for their monthly gig there.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday Webster University's music department will present the annual Sheperd and Davis Scholarship Concert at Winifred Moore Auditorium on campus. The event will feature the Webster jazz faculty joined by scholarship recipients to perform jazz interpretations of music by Cole Porter. The faculty players will include Paul DeMarinis (saxophones), Steve Schenkel (guitar), Kim Portnoy (piano), Jay Hungerford (bass) and Kevin Gianino (drums), while the scholarship students are violinist Alyssa Avery, bass player Mark Wallace, and saxophonist Chloe Feoranzo.

For more jazz-related events in and around St. Louis, 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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