Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jazz St. Louis announces
2013-14 season schedule

Jazz St. Louis has announced their 2013-14 season schedule, including the season lineup for Jazz at the Bistro, plus concerts at the Touhill Performing Arts Center and a new venue for the organization, the Viragh Center for the Arts at Chaminade College Prep School in West County.

In addition to the return of many familiar favorites, the season will include the Bistro debuts of saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and saxophonist Joe Lovano's dual-drummer ensemble Us Five; local premieres of two significant cross-genre works involving, respectively, The Bad Plus and Wynton Marsalis; and some special collaborations, including pianist John Medeski joining forces with drummer Matt Wilson's quartet; the father-and-son combo of guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli and John Pizzarelli; and pianist Bill Charlap teaming up with saxophonist Houston Person.

The Bistro's season begins relatively late this year, kicking off the final weekend in September with a return appearance from Yellowjackets (who, as tipped last month here on StLJN, will feature new bassist Felix Pastorius in his St. Louis debut with the group.)

After that, the month of October is filled with thematic programming, starting with "On Sacred Ground," The Bad Plus' re-working of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, which features the trio interpreting the entire orchestral score. It will be performed as a free concert at the Viragh Center, with members of the St. Louis Symphony contributing performances of some other Stravinsky pieces to round out the program.

October also brings the local premiere of Wynton Marsalis' Abyssinian, written in 2008 on commission from the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem to celebrate its 200th anniversary. The extended work, which has been performed in New York and London, features Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the 70-member gospel choir Chorale Le Chateau, and will be the only Jazz St. Louis show this season at the Touhill.

Then at the end of the month, New Orleans saxophonist Donald Harrison (pictured, top left, in full Indian regalia), who's also The Big Chief of The Congo Square Nation in New Orleans, will bring "A Night In Treme" to the Bistro, just about the time the fourth and final season of the critically acclaimed HBO series Treme is airing. Recordings by Harrison's band, mixing modern jazz and traditional Mardi Gras Indian rhythms and chants, have been used in Treme as the music of the series' fictional trumpeter Delmond Lambreaux, portrayed by Rob Brown.

Mahanthappa (pictured, center left) will perform in March at the Bistro with his group Gamak, a quartet including guitarist Dave Fiuczynski that was featured on the album of the same name released earlier this year. Then in April, Lovano (pictured, bottom left) will play at the Bistro for the first time since March 2000, this time with his band Us Five, which includes drummers Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela, pianist James Weidman, and, usually, the acclaimed young bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding. Spalding, though, apparently won't be coming to St. Louis this time, as the list of Lovano's band members in the season brochure includes Peter Slavov as bassist instead.

Touring musicians returning to the Bistro will include pianist Laurence Hobgood's quartet with guest saxophonist Ernie Watts, reprising a one-off show they did there last year; plus trumpeter Sean Jones, violinist Regina Carter, saxophonist Lou Donaldson, singers Jane Monheit and Anne Hampton Calloway, guitarist Pat Martino, pianists Joe Sample and Cyrus Chestnut - the latter teamed with guitarist Russell Malone - and more. Trumpeter and U City native Jeremy Davenport also will return from New Orleans for his now-traditional Thanksgiving weekend shows.

The schedule of local acts during the first half of the season starts with pianist Dave Venn and continues with the Bosman Twins, trumpeter Jim Manley, and a Christmas show from Latin jazz ensemble Musica Slesa. Good 4 The Soul will close out 2013 during the final weekend of December, with the Funky Butt Brass Band playing the weekend after New Year's and Erin Bode taking over the Valentine's Day weekend slot.

All in all, it seems a solid and musically substantive season, albeit one programmed well within the familiar stylistic and necessary financial parameters that Jazz St. Louis has established in recent years. Though those of us who crave novelty might wish for a few more acts not seen in St. Louis before, and individual tastes will always vary, the overall lineup of talent seems as good as you're going to find outside of NYC, San Francisco or Chicago, and thus rather difficult to criticize from a quality standpoint.

What is of additional interest from a structural standpoint, though, is what's not on the schedule. For the last two years, JSL has presented three concerts per season at the Touhill and collaborated in the programming of the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival in April. With only one show at the Touhill this year, and no mention at all of the GSLJF, could that relationship be waning, or are the two organizations simply taking a break or reevaluating? Time will tell, but in the meantime, there are plenty of things to like about Jazz St. Louis' 2013-14 season.

Here's the schedule in chronological order:

Wednesday, September 25 - Saturday, September 28: Yellowjackets

Thursday, October 3: "On Sacred Ground" with The Bad Plus (at Viragh Center for the Arts)
Friday, October 4 & Saturday, October 5: Laurence Hobgood Quintet & Ernie Watts
Wednesday, October 9 - Saturday, October 12: Lou Donaldson
Friday, October 18: "Abyssinian: A Gospel Celebration" with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis and Chorale le Chateau (at the Touhill Performing Arts Center)
Saturday, October 19: Dave Venn
Wednesday, October 23 - Saturday, October 26: Donald Harrison Quintet in "A Night in Treme: The Musical Majesty of New Orleans”

Friday, November 1 & Saturday, November 2: The Bosman Twins
Wednesday, November 6 - Saturday, November 9: Ann Hampton Callaway
Friday, November 15 & Saturday, November 16: Jim Manley
Wednesday, November 20 - Saturday, November 23: Regina Carter
Friday, November 29 & Saturday, November 30 : Jeremy Davenport

Wednesday, December 4 - Saturday, December 7: Pat Martino
Friday, December 13 & Saturday, December 14: "Feliz Navidad" with Musica Slesa
Wednesday, December 18 - Saturday, December 21: John Pizzarelli & Bucky Pizzarelli
Friday, December 27 & Saturday, December 28: Good 4 The Soul


Friday, January 3 & Saturday, January 4: Funky Butt Brass Band
Wednesday, January 8 - Saturday, January 11: The Bad Plus
Wednesday, January 22 - Saturday, January 25: Matt Wilson Quartet with John Medeski

Wednesday, February 5 - Saturday, February 8: Bill Charlap & Houston Person
Friday, February 14 & Saturday, February 15: Erin Bode
Wednesday, February 19 - Saturday, February 22: Christian McBride

Wednesday, March 5 - Saturday, March 8: Sean Jones
Wednesday, March 19 - Saturday, March 22: Rudresh Mahanthappa

Wednesday, April 2 - Saturday, April 5: Cyrus Chestnut Trio with Russell Malone
Wednesday, April 16 - Saturday, April 19: Poncho Sanchez

Wednesday, April 30 - Saturday, May 3: Joe Lovano Us Five
Wednesday, May 14 - Saturday, May 17: Jane Monheit
Wednesday, May 28 - Saturday, May 31: Joe Sample

You can see a copy of Jazz St. Louis' 52-page season brochure online here.

Subscription information and order forms can be obtained online at the Jazz St. Louis website or by calling Bob Bennett at 314-289-4032. In addition to the full-season subscriptions, JSL once again will offer a variety of “Choose Your Own” subscription options, some with as few as four shows.

Single tickets for the Jazz at the Bistro season will go on sale Tuesday, August 13 via Metrotix and the Jazz St. Louis box office. Tickets for the concert at the Touhill Performing Arts Center will be sold through the Touhill's box office, though no on-sale date was announced.

Revised after posting to clarify and correct that it is Joe Lovano's band Us Five, and not Lovano himself, making a Bistro debut this year. Thanks to Tony Renner for pointing this out. Edited on 5/30/13 to fix the spelling of "Viragh."

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