Saturday, March 31, 2012

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Inside the Nu-Art Series video vault

This week, we're taking a break from previewing upcoming concerts to take a brief trip into the video vault of the Nu-Art Series, the long-running, St. Louis-based jazz presenting organization run by trumpeter, arts administrator and consultant George Sams.

Headquartered in recent years at the Metropolitan Gallery, 2936 Locust St. downtown, the Nu-Art Series has a shoestring budget compared to Jazz St. Louis or the Sheldon, but over the years has presented a number of worthy performers while helping to preserve St. Louis' jazz legacy.

One of the musicians the series has championed is the great baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett, who can been seen in today's first clip, sitting in on the reunion of Sams' own group, the Sound Clinic, last year for a version of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman." Along with Bluiett and Sams, that's Chicago's Yosef Ben-Israel on bass, San Francisco's Lewis Jordan on alto sax, and St. Louis' own Gary Sykes on drums.

Although many of Nu-Art's productions feature musicians playing in free, avant- garde or post-Coltrane styles, they also have presented a number of concerts exploring the repertoire of more mainstream jazz musicians. Today's second clip is from one of those shows, a tribute to guitarist Grant Green staged in May 2011 by former St. Louisan Marvin Horne. Horne is seen here playing a blues in Green's style, accompanied by Sykes on drums, bassist Nick Jost, and pianist Brock Walker.

Below that are a couple of clips from 2008's "BAG and Beyond," which examined the legacy of St. Louis' Black Artists Group through concerts and panel discussions. That's trumpeter Rasul Siddik in the first of the two clips, leading a band featuring Bluiett, pianist Katherine Roberts, bassist Raymond Eldridge and drummer Tayammun Falah. The second clip features a duet between Falah and saxophonist Oliver Lake, whose visual art is currently is being exhibited at the Metropolitan Gallery.

In the fifth slot, we've got a much older clip, dating from the late 1990s when Sams still was presenting shows at variety of locations around town. It shows flutist James Newton in a 1997 solo concert at the Washington University Gallery of Art.

To wrap up, there's an excerpt from last October's "Drum Line II" concert, featuring the combined talents of percussionists Charles "Bobo" Shaw, Jerome "Scrooge" Harris, Johnny Johnson, and Gary Sykes. (Be warned that there's a rather abrupt splice between two segments at around 8:50.)

The Nu-Art Series' next concert will take place next Saturday, April 7, and will feature Erika Johnson singing songs associated with the legendary jazz vocalist Betty Carter. To see more video from the Nu-Art Series vault, check out their YouTube channel.

(Edited 7/6/12)

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