Thursday, April 05, 2012

Jazz this week: Laurence Hobgood & Ernie Watts, Brad Mehldau & Joshua Redman, Frank Stemper & Altgeld Chamber Players, Erika Johnson, and more

This week's schedule of jazz and creative music in St. Louis features a variety of sounds, including what amounts to a mini-festival of piano players at Jazz at the Bistro, with the two out-of-town participants bringing along top tenor saxophonists. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, pianist Laurence Hobgood leads a quartet at Jazz at the Bistro for one night only, featuring tenor sax great Ernie Watts as special guest. Hobgood is best known for his long association with Kurt Elling, but he's taking advantage of some downtime in the singer's schedule to get out and do some touring on his own. His band also features drummer Jared Schonig, who was here earlier this year with the Wee Trio, and bassist Matthew Rybicki. For more about what to expect, check out this interview from the start of their tour, published by the Chicago edition of, and this story from last week in the Post-Dispatch.

Also tonight, guitarist Vince Varvel leads a quartet in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University.

On Friday, pianist Dave Venn checks into the Bistro for a rare one-nighter there. A longtime veteran of the local scene, Venn is an accomplished player who began back in the Gaslight Square era and is known particularly for a long association with the Chase Park Plaza hotel. He'll be accompanied by bassist David Troncoso and guitarist and former St. Louisan Rob Block.

Also on Friday, the Funky Butt Brass Band is at the Broadway Oyster Bar; vibraphonist Peter Schlamb leads a quartet at Robbie's House of jazz; drummer Paul Shaw's trio plays at the Cigar Inn; and saxophonist Tim Cunningham returns to Jazz on Broadway.

On Saturday afternoon, the Nu-Art Series will present Erika Johnson singing the music of Betty Carter in a concert at the Metropolitan Gallery. Johnson will be backed by guitarist Eric Slaughter, drummer Montez Coleman and bassist Bob Deboo.

Then on Saturday night, the Bistro completes its weekend trifecta of pianists with Brad Mehldau and saxophonist Joshua Redman (pictured). Longtime friends who worked together in Redman's band early in their respective careers, the two are doing a brief tour together this spring before going back to their respective "day jobs" as bandleaders. In an unusual bit of scheduling, they'll be back at the Bistro on Sunday night for two more sets. For more, check out this feature story by the Post-Dispatch's Calvin Wilson.

Also on Saturday night, New Music Circle presents a program of music by composer Frank Stemper, as performed by the Altgeld Chamber Players at the Kranzberg Arts Center; and drummer Marty Morrison will lead a quartet at Robbie's.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday the Webster University Jazz Combos will perform at Winifred Moore Auditorium the Community Music School on the Webster campus, and pianist Dave Becherer leads a trio at BB's Jazz Blues and Soups.

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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