As we head into the final week of Jazz Appreciation Month, culminating next Tuesday in International Jazz Day, there's a fine selection of jazz and creative music performances taking place over the next few days in St. Louis, with several touring headliners on local stages. Let's go to the highlights...
Tonight, organist Dr. Lonnie Smith(pictured) and saxophonist James Carter join forces for the first of four nights at Jazz at the Bistro. Although the two men don't normally work together, Carter performs frequently with his own organ trio, and certainly can go deeply into the kind of funk and soul grooves that are Smith's stock in trade. So the pairing seems like a natural combination. while still offering something out of the ordinary for the Bistro's habitués. You can see some videos of both Smith and Carter performing and read more about them in this post from a couple of Saturdays ago.
Tomorrow night, singer Bobby McFerrin will be in town for the annual benefit gala at the Sheldon Concert Hall. The man who famously sang "Don't Worry, Be Happy" will perform with SpiritYouAll, a vocal ensemble informed by the traditions of African-American spirituals and gospel music. While the expensive patron tickets for the evening are sold out, some concert-only tickets still are available; contact the Sheldon for details. You can read an interview that McFerrin did with the St. Louis Beacon's Terry Perkins here.
Also on Thursday, the Tavern of Fine Arts presents their monthly "Avant-Garde Arts Night" featuring live improvised music from local musicians such as pianist Jim Hegarty, flute player Fred Tompkins, and others associated with New Music Circle.
And speaking of new music, on Friday the new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound closes out their first St. Louis season* with a performance of the multimedia show 1969 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. The work combines the music of 1960s icons including The Beatles, Leonard Bernstein, and avant-garde composers Karlheinz Stockhausen and Luciano Berio with projection video and stills and spoken word performances. For more, read this preview piece about 1969, again from Terry Perkins and the Beacon.
On Saturday, singer Dianne Reeves returns for another performance at the Sheldon Concert Hall. One of the top female jazz vocalists working today, Reeves has been a frequent visitor here in recent years, thanks in no small part to the fact that her music director and pianist Peter Martin is from St. Louis. Should you somehow be unfamiliar with her considerable talents, you'll find some biographical information and some recent video clips of Reeves (and Martin) performing in this post from last Saturday.
Also on Saturday, trumpeter Keith Moyer leads a quartet at Thurman Grill, and saxophonist Willie Akins will bring his quartet to Robbie's.
On Sunday, guitarist Bill Frisell will be back the Old Rock House, this time performing with his group Beautiful Dreamers, which features violist Eyvind Kang and drummer Rudy Royston. Having played everything from free jazz to the music of Bob Dylan, Frisell is a guitarists' guitarist who manages to mix jazz with country twang, rock crunch, and lots more, without making it seem artificial or forced. If online comments are any indicator, there should be a crowd of local guitar players in attendance to applaud his efforts.
Also Sunday, violinist Christian Howes will be in town for a house concert performance at the Deco Fortress on the south side. Howes formerly was an associate professor at Berklee College of Music, and won first place in the "Rising Star - Violin" category of the 2011 Down Beat Critic's Poll. And if that weren't enough for one night, the Dave Dickey Big Band also has their monthly gig at Kirkwood Station Brewing Company on Sunday evening, this month including an intermission set from the Kirkwood High School jazz ensemble.
Looking beyond the weekend,on Tuesday the annual celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month ends with International Jazz Day and a plethora of live jazz performances all over the world. Here in St. Louis, there are several options for celebrants this year, notably Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes performing a tribute to Billie Holiday at the Sheldon Concert Hall. Singer Sarah Jane Ulrich will present Holiday's most famous songs, as arranged by saxophonist Jerry Greene and played by an ensemble including Greene and Zac Minor on saxes, Doug Burns on trombone, Tim Garcia on piano, Ben Osborne on guitar, Marlene Long on bass, and Mike Major on drums.
Also on Tuesday, Jazz St. Louis will present their second annual International Jazz Day open jam session hosted by pianist Adaron "Pops" Jackson's trio. Admission for this event is free for musicians and patrons, but if you're an instrumentalist who wants to jam, plan on showing up early at the Bistro to sign up.
(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.)
*Department of Full Disclosure: I am employed by the public relations firm Slay & Associates to assist Alarm Will Sound with publicity and marketing for their St. Louis shows, and to work on other music-related projects. Whatever you think about that, you should go hear AWS anyway, as I'd be recommending their gig whether I was working with them or not.