Here's the latest wrap-up of assorted links and short local news items of interest:
* Jazz St. Louis announced this week that a newly formed group to be known as the Jazz St. Louis Big Band will perform Duke Ellington’s "Nutcracker Suite" on Wednesday, December 11 at Jazz at the Bistro. The holiday favorite, based on Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker," originally was recorded by Ellington's orchestra for Columbia Records and released in 1960, and was last performed locally in November 2011 by the St. Louis Symphony.
Prominently featuring alumni of the jazz program at SIUE, the Jazz St. Louis Big Band will include JSL's education director Phil Dunlap on piano, with Eric Warren on bass and Kevin Gianino on drums, providing the rhythmic underpinning for Jason Swagler, Harvey Lockhart, Ben Reece, Kristian Baarsvik, and Aaron Lehde (saxophones); Andy Tichenor, Adam Hucke, Danny Campbell, and Matt Bittles (trumpets); and Cody Henry and Jordin Gouge (trombones).
They'll perform "Nutcracker Suite" for one set only, starting at 7:30 p.m.; tickets are $25, $10 for students, and are on sale now via Metrotix and the Jazz St. Louis box office.
* A new CD by bassist Jim Widner's big band, And the Beat Goes On, was reviewed by Jack Bowers for AllAboutJazz.com. (The album, Widner's sixth for the Chase Music Group, features mostly faculty members from Widner's summer jazz camps, but at least some the musicians, including trombonist Brett Stamps and pianist Ken Kehner, will be familiar to local listeners.)
* DiscMakers, CDBaby and music gear retailer Sweetwater have teamed up for a promotion called the Independent Musician Sweepstakes, offering a grand prize package of products and services worth more than $20,000. The winner will get "guitar and bass amps, a bass guitar, a stage piano, an electric drum kit, a digital mixer, a pair of powered PA speakers, microphones and stands, CDs, a design and mastering package, posters, worldwide distribution," and more - "everything you need to outfit an entire band to record and sell a CD," as the promo puts it. To enter, go to www.discmakers.com/request/indie-musician-sweepstakes.asp