The jazz and creative music calendar this weekend is front-loaded with an all-star ensemble convening Thursday at the Sheldon Concert Hall for a big birthday party. But while that concert may have the marquee names, there are plenty of other noteworthy shows happening around town over the next few days, too. Let's go to the highlights....
As mentioned above, the big-ticket event of the weekend happens tonight, as the Sheldon Concert Hall will commemorate its 100th anniversary celebration with a gala concert featuring the world premiere of pianist Peter Martin's new work "This Present Past," commissioned specifically to celebrate the hall's centennial.
Martin (pictured) will be joined by saxophonist Branford Marsalis, bassist Christian McBride, drummer Ulysses Owens Jr, soprano Christine Brewer, violinist David Halen and other members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Halen and his SLSO colleagues also will perform the world premiere of another commissioned piece, a string quartet composed by Stefan Freund, who teaches music at the University of Missouri and is cellist with the contemporary chamber ensemble Alarm Will Sound, who will perform next Thursday at The Sheldon.
Although the Sheldon concert is reported to be close to a sell-out, there may be a few tickets remaining at the door, but I'd suggest calling ahead before making the trip down there.
Elsewhere around town tonight, trumpeter Bob Ceccarini will play "Tin Pan Alley and the Music of Jerome Kern" in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University. And although the Thursday night jam sessions hosted for several months by guitarist Tom Byrne at Highway 61 Roadhouse have ended, two new weekly events have begun downtown on Thursdays that may help fill the gap: Clave Sol, led by pianist Phil Gomez, now are hosting a Latin jazz jam session downtown at Lola, while retro-style singer Miss Jubliee will be performing swing, jazz and blues at Thaxton Speakeasy, 1009 Olive.
Tomorrow night, guitarist Dave Black and saxophonist Paul DeMarinis will play for the first of two nights at Jazz at the Bistro. Though the two veterans of the Webster University jazz faculty are capable of tackling a variety of musical styles, the promo material from Jazz St. Louis for the show says they'll be doing "straight ahead jazz," though likely with at least few twists along the way.
On Saturday afternoon, saxophonist Wilie Akins will perform at the Metropolitan Gallery as part of the Nu-Art Series' "Tenor Madness Project." Also on Saturday afternoon, the touring musical revue In The Mood, featuring music from Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and other Swing Era idols, plays the first of two shows at the Touhill, with a second performance in the evening. Then on Saturday night, trumpeter Randy Holmes will lead a sextet in a tribute to Art Blakey at Robbie's.
On Sunday afternoon, singer Wendy Gordon will present "Under the Rainbow," another performance in her "A Jazz Heaven" series, at the Florissant Civic Center Theatre. Jeanne Trevor, who starred alongside Gordon in earlier editions of the production, is back to sing music associated with Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, along with a cast featuring singers Joe Mancuso, Chuck Flowers and Barbara Helmer, poet Clayton McCants, narrator Sheila Reed, and a band including Adrian Bowers (trumpet), Chad Evans (saxophones), Arthur Toney (piano), Jeff Anderson (bass), and Gary Sykes (drums).
Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday the Sessions Big Band will be back for their monthly gig at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups. And on Tuesday, the funky organ trio Downstereo, who formerly played Sunday nights at now-shuttered Delmar Lounge, have set up a weekly gig at The Crow's Nest in Maplewood.
(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.)