Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ronnie Burrage performances this Friday and Saturday moved to Probstein Golf Club in Forest Park

This just in:  There's been a last-minute change in venues for the previously announced performances by drummer Ronnie Burrage's quartet this Friday and Saturday.  The shows for both evenings have been moved to the clubhouse of the Norman Probstein Golf Club, 6141 Lagoon Dr. in Forest Park. Set times will be 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.

In an email to StLJN, Burrage (pictured) said problems with the ownership of the original venue for the shows prompted the switch. Those who already have purchased tickets from that previously announced venue, The Office nightclub at 5917 Delmar,  are asked to bring their receipts to be admitted to the Probstein Golf Club. Ticket buyers who paid for the package including a buffet dinner also will get a $10 refund, as that won't be offered at the new location.

However, while there won't be a buffet, the club does have food and beverage service, which will be available during the show.  Tickets for Ronnie Burrage at the Probstein Golf Club are $20 at the door.

Amina Figarova concert rescheduled for Tuesday, March 5

The concert by pianist Amina Figarova's quintet for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University that had been postponed due to last week's snowstorm now has been rescheduled.

Figarova (pictured) and her band will make up the date at 7:00 p.m. next Tuesday, March 5 at the series' usual location, Holmes Lounge in Ridgely Hall on Wash U campus.

Admission to the concert is free and open to the public. For more about Amina Figarova and some video samples of her performing live, see this post.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Jazz this week: Kurt Elling, Ronnie Burrage, Phil Woods, Andre Delano, and more

It's another busy week for jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with the return of one of the top male singers in jazz; a rare local appearance by a legendary saxophonist; homecoming gigs featuring three different musicians who grew up in the area, and much more. Let's go the highlights....

Tonight, the St. Louis Jazz Orchestra, directed by bassist Jim Widner and featuring top musicians from all around the metro area, plays the music of Count Basie at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

Tomorrow night, singer Kurt Elling opens a four-night engagement at Jazz at the Bistro. One of the most critically acclaimed jazz singers working today and a relatively frequent visitor to St. Louis, Elling was here most recently in 2011. His latest album 1619 Broadway – The Brill Building Project, which came out last year, focuses on novel interpretations of pop tunes created at the famous NYC address that was home to  Bacharach and David, Lieber and Stoller, Goffin and King, and other hit songwriters of the 1950s and 60s. For more about that album, and some video samples of some recent performances by Elling, see this post from last Saturday.

On Thursday, drummer and U. City native Ronnie Burrage (pictured), who's played with jazz greats including Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner and Joe Zawinul and now teaches at Penn State University, will be back home for the first of several events this week, leading a trio in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University. Also on Thursday, it's the monthly "Avant Garde Arts Night" featuring live improvised music at the Tavern of Fine Arts.

Then on Friday evening, Burrage and a quartet featuring saxophonist Freddie Washington will perform for the first of two nights at The Office, located at 5917 Delmar (east of Skinker, in the building most recently home to Binion's).

Update - 3:30 p.m., 2/28/13:  The performances by the Ronnie Burrage Quartet on Friday and Saturday have been moved to the clubhouse of the Probstein Golf Club in Forest Park. See this post for details.

That same evening, Lindy Hop St. Louis presents their monthly "West End Stomp" swing dance at the Mahler Ballroom with music from guitarist-singer Tommy Halloran's quintet; and guitarist Tom Byrne leads a trio with drummer Steve Davis and bassist Nathan Pence at Cigar Inn.

On Saturday afternoon, Burrage will present a drum workshop and master class at the Wolf Public House in Ballwin; tickets are available through the event's sponsor, Mozingo Music.

On Saturday evening, an hour or so to the south of St. Louis down in Park Hill, MO, renowned saxophonist Phil Woods will be the special guest performer for this year's Carol Moore Memorial Jazz Festival at Mineral Area College. Now 81, the bebop master continues to spread the musical legacy of Charlie Parker, with whom he was personally acquainted. (In fact, after Parker's death, Woods wound up marrying his widow, Chan Parker, who died in 1999.) The event will feature a series of student bands from around the area performing throughout the day, and conclude with an evening concert featuring Woods, the MAC Jazz Ensemble, and MAC Kicks Band.

Update, 12:30 a.m., 2/27/13:  Michael Goldsmith, director of jazz at Mineral Area College, emailed to add that Woods will be presenting a free, public master class at noon on Saturday. Also, there actually will be two separate concerts that night featuring Woods and the MAC bands: one at 6:00 p.m., which already is sold out, and one at 8:30 p.m., for which tickets still remain.

Also on Saturday, saxophonist Willie Akins fronts a quartet at Robbie's House of Jazz, Miss Jubilee will perform for dancers at Casa Loma Ballroom, singer Joe Mancuso leads a trio at EdgeWild Restaurant and Winery, and singer Ann Dueren's trio will be at Il Bel Lago.

On Sunday, saxophonist and East St. Louis native Andre Delano, whose R&B-flavored style has been featured on tours and recordings with Maxwell, Jeff Lorber, Bobby Womack, Lionel Richie and many others, returns home from California to perform in an early evening show with Good 4 The Soul at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Tuesday guitarist Larry Brown Jr., who grew up in Venice, IL and attended SIUE, will return from Chicago to present a jazz tribute to Motown great Marvin Gaye as part of the "Notes From Home" series at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

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.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Coming attractions include Larry Brown Jr's Marvin Gaye tribute, Chris Hazelton & Cory Weeds, Marco Benevento

Recent days have brought details on three more upcoming shows of interest to St. Louis jazz fans:

* Guitarist Larry Brown Jr., a native of Venice, IL and graduate of SIUE who's now working in Chicago, will return home to perform "I Remember Marvin: A Jazz Tribute to Marvin Gaye" at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 5 at the Sheldon Concert Hall.  The performance is  part of The Sheldon's "Notes From Home" series.

Brown (pictured) will be joined for the concert by fellow SIUE alumnus Alphonzo Jones on drums, St. Louisan Bob DeBoo on bass, and two Chicago musicians, pianist Collin Clauson and singer Saalik Ziyad, who placed in the "Male Vocalist - Rising Star" category of the 2012 DownBeat Critics Poll.

The concert will feature Brown's arrangements of favorite tunes recorded by Gaye, including original compositions such as "Mercy Mercy Me" and "Inner City Blues" as well as standards like "The Shadow of Your Smile," which Gaye cut during the 1960s at a time when Motown head Berry Gordy was working to get some of the label's stars booked in Las Vegas.

Tickets for "I Remember Marvin: A Jazz Tribute to Marvin Gaye" will be $10 at the door.

* Kansas City-based organist Chris Hazelton's trio will team up with Vancouver saxophonist Cory Weeds for a gig at 8:00 p.m., Saturday, March 9 at Robbie's House of Jazz. Hazelton, who studied with Hammond organ master Dr. Lonnie Smith while living in NYC for a few years, gigs regularly around the KC area, while Weeds frequently plays in the organ-trio format and also operates his own club, the Jazz Cellar, in his home city.

Tickets for the Chris Hazelton Trio with Cory Weeds will be $10 at the door.

* Finally, there's word that keyboardist Marco Benevento will be returning to St. Louis as part of his spring 2013 tour, playing on Saturday, April 6 at 2720 Cherokee. Benevento, who performed here most recently last September at the Old Rock House, will be going out for a total of 20 dates in March and April, hitting St. Louis between shows in Louisville, KY and Chicago.

Details on ticket prices and the on-sale date for his show here have yet to be released, but it is is listed on 2720 Cherokee's website and so would seem a fairly safe bet to happen. Watch this space for more information...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ross Gentile, former WSIE DJ, dead at 60

Ross Gentile, known to St. Louis jazz fans for more than 15 years as the host of "Standards In Jazz" on WSIE (88.7 FM), has died. He was 60.

Gentile, a longtime resident of Glen Carbon, IL, reportedly had been in poor health for some time, and according to friends and published accounts, had been undergoing regular dialysis treatments. A report first published on the website Berger's Beat says he died of a massive heart attack on Friday night at Anderson Hospital in Maryville; subsequent reports put the time of death early Saturday morning.

In addition to being a familiar voice, Gentile (pictured) also was a familiar face to local jazz enthusiasts, often serving as master of ceremonies at live jazz shows in the area. He began at WSIE in 1993, and frequently incorporated recordings from and interviews with St. Louis jazz musicians into his program. For much of his time at WSIE, he was on the air seven days a week, broadcasting from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

His jobs before WSIE included work as a broadcaster for KSHE from 1970 to 1973, and in promotions for A&M Records.

Gentile was fired by WSIE in April 2009 as they began a series of cutbacks that eventually resulted in the elimination of all local on-air hosts. (The station since has returned to featuring local programming and hosts, though some of the voiceover work now is pre-recorded.) He subsequently sued Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, seeking to regain his old job and recover back wages and benefits. Though the filing of the suit was covered in local media such as the Edwardsville Intelligencer, no information about any resolution was ever made public.

After leaving WSIE, Gentile went on to host a jazz program on Saturday afternoons for KZQZ (1430 AM) and continued to attend, and sometimes MC, live jazz performances around the area.

According to the obituary published Monday, February 25 in the Belleville News-Democrat, visitation will be held from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 27 at Sunset Hill Funeral Home, 50 Fountain Dr. in Glen Carbon, followed immediately at 7:00 p.m. by a funeral service.

Update - 3:30 p.m., 2/26/13:  An expanded obituary for Ross Gentile was posted today on the Belleville News-Democrat website. Here is the complete text:
"Ross Kenton Gentile was born on June 3, 1952, in East St. Louis, Ill., and died on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, at Anderson Hospital in Maryville, Ill.

Mr. Gentile began his career as a radio broadcaster at WIBV in Belleville, Ill., in 1967, at the age of 15, under Jim Bolen. He continued his career at KSHE-95 in St. Louis, Mo., and also served in the Illinois Army Reserves.

In 1974, he became the midwest regional promotions director for A&M Records in Los Angeles, Calif., where he earned numerous gold and platinum records and was responsible for the signing of the rock group Head East to a long term recording contract with A&M.

He promoted and remained personal friends with artist such as Beatle George Harrison, Peter Frampton, the Carpenters and music greats: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald and many others.

He worked at the "jazz station" WSIE, hosting his daily radio show "Standards in Jazz" until 2009, when he retired from his passion and love of radio due to failing health and kidney disease. Currently he hosted an hour long radio show "A Touch of Velvet" on 1430 KZQZ, in Belleville, Ill.

Ross was preceded in death by his parents, Betty Jean, nee Botkin, Zdroik and Sam Gentile.

Surviving are his sister, Dianne (Joe) Turek of Collinsville, Ill.; niece, Heather (Dr. James) Koch of Columbia, Mo.; great-nephew, John Joseph Koch; many loving family members, friends and radio fans.

Memorials may be made to the family. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at

Visitation: Friends may call from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, at Sunset Hill Funeral Home, Glen Carbon, Ill.

Funeral: Services will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, at Sunset Hill Funeral Home in Glen Carbon, Ill. A memorial concert for Ross is being planned for a date in April."
Update - 12:45 a.m., 2/27/13: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has published a detailed obituary about Ross Gentile, written by reporter Michael Sorkin, that can be read online here.

(Updated after posting with information about Gentile's program on KZQZ. Updated 2/23/13 to correct Gentile's age at the time of his death and to add mention of his work at KSHE and A&M. Updated a third time to include information on funeral services.)

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Catching up with Kurt Elling

This week, let's take the opportunity to renew our musical acquaintanceship with singer Kurt Elling, who's returning to St. Louis next week to perform Wednesday, February 27 through Saturday, March 2 at Jazz at the Bistro.

Elling, considered by many critics and fans to be the top male jazz singer working today, has been a regular visitor to St. Louis. He was here most recently in November 2011 touring in support of The Gate, his then-current album which featured interpretations of songs associated with Stevie Wonder, the Beatles, Joe Jackson, Earth Wind and Fire, and other rock and pop musicians.

Since that visit, Elling has continued his efforts to expand the jazz songbook with his latest album 1619 Broadway – The Brill Building Project, which came out last year and focuses on pop songs created at the famous NYC address that served as the professional home for many top songwriters in the 1950s and 1960s.

Today, we'll take a look at some of what Elling's been up to since his last trip to St. Louis, starting up top with a song from his new album, his re-imagining of "Come Fly With Me," the Jimmy Van Heusen/Sammy Cahn standard made famous by Frank Sinatra. This performance is from May 2012 at the Maison des Cultures du Monde in Paris, and features Elling with longtime pianist/musical director Laurence Hobgood, guitarist John McLean, bassist Clark Sommers, and drummer Quincy Davis.

Down below, there's a performance from the same gig of "I Only Have Eyes For You," also recorded by Elling on 1619 Broadway, followed by two more examples of how Elling reworks diverse material for his own purposes. The spare, bluesy version of Ray Charles' "Lonely Avenue" was recorded last year at Elling's old stomping grounds The Green Mill in Chicago, while the country-meets-scat-singing rendition of Cheap Trick's pop hit "I Want You To Want Me" is from one of a series of shows that Elling did with guitarist Charlie Hunter last summer in Europe.

The fifth clip also is from that tour with Hunter, but offers something very different, with Elling singing an unaccompanied version of a Civil War folk song called "He's Gone Away" at the Musicamdo Festival in Camerino, Italy. (A hat-tip to Pamela Espelund for pointing this one out.)

Finally, just for fun, we set the time machine back to November, 1993 for the sixth clip, which shows a then-26-year-old Kurt Elling, a good two years before his major label debut recording, in a gig at the Cook County Jail, of all places. He's fronting the Chicago Jazz All-Stars in a version of Horace Silver's "Doodlin," and it's a fascinating early look that at him that reveals some aspects of his style and stage persona already well-developed and others still being formed.

For more current Elling, you can listen to NPR's archived broadcast of his set at last summer's Newport Jazz Festival here, and the press page on Elling's website has links to several recent news stories about the new album.

You can see StLJN's 2011 Saturday video post about Elling here. Other past coverage on this site includes a critical reconsideration and review of his live show from 2006, and a previous Saturday Video Showcase post from 2009.

Friday, February 22, 2013

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

Here's the latest wrap-up of assorted links and short local news items of interest:

* New Music Circle has posted on Facebook an album of photos from last Saturday's concert by the Kris Davis Quintet at 560 Music Center.

* And speaking of photo albums, the Sheldon Concert Hall added a photo album to their Facebook page featuring pix of last Friday's performance by Denise Thimes and Bucky Pizzarelli.

* Trumpeter Terence Blanchard has been in St. Louis all this week, taking part in various activities related to Opera Theatre of St. Louis' production this summer of his opera Champion.

Tonight at 5:30 p.m., Blanchard, baritone Aubrey Allicock, and pianist Peter Martin will be at Hamburger Mary’s Attic Rooftop Lounge, 3037 Olive, for “Meet the Composer: A Young Professionals Happy Hour.” The event sponsored by the Young Friends of OTSL and Jazz St. Louis will include drinks, appetizers and a sampling of the opera’s music. During his stay in St. Louis, the trumpeter also was interviewed on KWMU's Cityscape program.

* Saxophonist Oliver Lake was interviewed by the Houston Press before a Trio 3 gig there last week, and spent some time discussing his work with the Black Artist Group in St. Louis as well as his current projects.

* Singer Kurt Elling's concert last week at Kansas City's Gem Theater was reviewed for the Kansas City Star by Bill Brownlee (who also blogs about KC jazz at Plastic Sax). Elling (pictured) will be in St. Louis next week to perform at Jazz at the Bistro.

* Electronic musician Joe Raglani's latest release was reviewed by

* The list of recent podcasts posted at the Mel Bay website includes one featuring guitarist Lionel Loueke, who's coming to St. Louis in May to play at the Bistro.

* Guitarist Bill Frisell, who will be here in April to play at the Old Rock House, was was featured this past week on NPR's "Jazz Set."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dennis Owsley seeking recent recordings
for updated jazz history of St. Louis

Dennis Owsley, host of the Jazz Unlimited program airing at 9:00 p.m. Sunday nights on KWMU (90.7), is preparing to celebrate his 30th year of continuous jazz broadcasting on the station, and to do so, he needs a bit of help from local St. Louis musicians.

Owsley (pictured), who also wrote the book City of Gabriels: The History of Jazz in St. Louis 1895-1973, is updating his multi-part 1986 radio documentary about the history of jazz in St. Louis, with the revised version to air on Jazz Unlimited during April and the first part of May. Having donated his extensive CD collection to Webster University a few years back, he's now looking for recent recordings from St. Louis musicians to include in the final episode of the broadcast.

Musicians who are interested in having their work considered are asked to send CDs to him in care of KWMU, 3651 Olive St., St. Louis, MO 63108. Alternatively, you can send MP3 files (or a link to a legal download site) directly to Owsley at jazz @

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Andre Delano to perform with Good 4 The Soul on Sunday, March 3 at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups

Saxophonist Andre Delano, the East St. Louis native who's had significant success as a touring musician and recording artist, is returning home to perform at 6:00 p.m. Sunday, March 3 at BB's Jazz Blues and Soups.

He'll be backed for the gig by Good 4 The Soul, which includes fellow East St. Louisans Adaron "Pops" Jackson (keyboards), John King (bass), James Jackson (drums), and Shaun Robinson (guitar).

Delano (pictured), who now lives in California, grew up in East St. Louis and went to Lincoln High there during the tenure of the school's famed band director Ronald Carter.

After attending Jackson State University in Jackson, MS, he turned professional and subsequently has performed and/or recorded with Maxwell, Jeff Lorber, Bobby Womack, Stevie Wonder, Chieli Minucci, Doc Powell, Bobby Lyle, and Lionel Richie, for whom he was a featured sideman for three years. For some samples of Delano's playing, check out this StLJN Saturday video feature, which ran in 2010 before Delano appeared at The Pageant on a double bill with Euge Groove.

Tickets for Andre Delano and Good 4 The Soul at BB's will be $10 at the door.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jazz this week: Jim Pugh, Jeremy Haynes, Amina Figarova, Jazz St. Louis gala, Jeff Coffin, Chris Botti, Dan Thomas, and more

There's jazz and creative music happening early and often throughout this week in St. Louis, and so to help make sure that you don't miss anything, here's a special early edition of the weekly highlights post:

Tonight, trombonist Jim Pugh is in town for a free concert at at Maryville University presented by the St. Louis Low Brass Collective. Pugh is best known for his work with Woody Herman and Chick Corea, but also has been a top studio trombonist recording for film soundtracks, pop music sessions, and much more. The concert will feature Pugh backed by ten local jazz trombonists, a rhythm section, and the entire trombone section of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Meanwhile, back downtown, drummer Jeremy Haynes and the Rhythm Is Life band will play at Lola. Haynes, a St. Louis native who's been part of five Grammy winning gospel recordings, is performing in support of the release of his first instrumental album Prodigal Son 2K.

Also tonight, Three Central gives a free concert at the St. Louis Public Library main branch downtown; and the Tommy Halloran Quintet plays for Lindy Hop St. Louis' weekly swing dance at Grandel Theatre.

Tomorrow night, the Route 66 Jazz Orchestra brings their big band sound to West County at the Sky Music Lounge in Ballwin; Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes perform at the Feasting Fox; and the Ann Dueren Trio is at Frontenac Grill.

On Thursday, pianist Amina Figarova (pictured) and her group will perform in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University. Figarova's skills at writing for small ensembles prompted Jazz Times to call her "among the most important composers to come into jazz in the new millennium." For more about her, and some vidfeo samples of her group in action, see this post from Saturday.

Also on Thursday, singer Erin Bode is at Crave coffee house.

Update, 4:50 p.m. 2/21/13: Both the Amina Figarova concert for the Jazz at Holmes series and Erin Bode's performance at Crave have been postponed due to bad weather. Bode's gig will take place next Thursday at the same time; JAH organizers hope to reschedule Figarova some time next month.

Update, 5:10 p.m. 2/21/13:Tonight's shows featuring Miss Jubilee at Thaxton Speakeasy and Downstereo at Atomic Cowboy have been cancelled due to bad weather. Both are recurring weekly gigs, so both bands should be back at work at the same venues next Thursday.

On Friday, Jazz St. Louis will present their annual fundraising gala at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, featuring music from David Sanborn and "surprise musical guests." The event is effectively sold out, but if you've got the price of admission - tickets start at $400 per person and go up from there - you can see if any spaces have opened up by calling JSL's director of development Kate Francis at 314-289-4037 or emailing her at katef @

For those on a more modest budget on Friday, saxophonist Jeff Coffin will be back in town to present a free early-evening performance and workshop at Saxquest; Kansas City saxophonist Dan Thomas plays for the first of two nights at Robbie's House of Jazz; and trumpeter Kasimu Taylor leads a quartet at Cigar Inn.

Update: 1:30 p.m., 2/21/13: The previously announced dates for Dan Thomas have been removed without explanation from the Robbie's House of Jazz website. The site now lists saxophonist Jerry Greene's trio playing on Friday, and drummer Gerald Warren's group on Saturday.

On Saturday, trumpeter Chris Botti and his band will perform with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra at Powell Hall. (Given Botti's popularity, this one also is probably close to a sellout by now, so if you're interested in going, don't count on being able to get tickets at the door - call the box office first.)

Also on Saturday, saxophonist Willie Akins, drummer Montez Coleman and band will promote the release of their new album The St. Louis Connection with two sets at Jazz at the Bistro; and Miss Jubilee plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom

Then on Sunday, the Dave Dickey Big Band plays their monthly show at Kirkwood Station Brewing Company, this month featuring an intermission set from the St. Louis Metrobones.

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.)

(Edited after posting to fix a garbled sentence and correct some formatting.)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Amina Figarova's jazz journey

St. Louis jazz fans this year already have been able to hear the local debuts of several noteworthy musicians, and there's another one coming next week who's made a long journey, both physically and culturally, to get to where she is now. We're speaking of pianist and composer Amina Figarova, who will be in St. Louis with her sextet to perform a free concert this coming Thursday, February 21 for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University.

Figarova, 46, was born in Baku, Azerbaijan and as a young girl studied classical piano at the Baku Conservatory. She knew little about jazz until moving to the Netherlands, where she studied jazz performance at the Rotterdam Conservatory. Figarova later completed her studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and while she continued to live in the Netherlands, she and her sextet also began touring in the USA, playing major festivals in Newport, Chicago, New Orleans and Detroit.

Since releasing her first album Attraction in 1995, Figarova has put out 11 more recordings, including 2005's September Suite, a critically acclaimed extended piece written in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and 2008's Above the Clouds, which prompted Jazz Times reviewer Thomas Conrad to call her "among the most important composers to come into jazz in the new millennium."

Figarova and her husband, flute player Bart Platteau, moved from the Netherlands to NYC a couple of years ago. Her most recent album Twelve, released last year, offers her musical impressions of living in New York, delivered in a style influenced by the post-bop acoustic jazz groups of Miles Davis, Horace Silver, and Herbie Hancock. In addition to Platteau, Figarova's current group includes Ernie Hammes on trumpet, Marc Mommaas on tenor sax, Jeroen Vierdag on bass and Chris "Buckshot" Strik on drums.

In the first two video embeds, up above and just below this text, you can see a two-part video Figarova made to promote the release of Twelve, featuring musical excerpts, interviews, and in-studio footage of the recording of the songs "Sneaky Seagulls" and "Shut Eyes, Sea Waves."

Below that, there are two segments from September Suite, "Numb" and "Rage," recorded live in 2011 with a different lineup of the sextet that included Figarova, Platteau and Strik as well as saxophonist Kurt van Herck, trumpeter Nico Schepers and bassist Wiro Mahieu.

Below that are live versions of two songs from Twelve: "Shut Eyes, Sea Waves," recorded at the 2013 Winter Jazz Fest in NYC with a band including both some regulars and subs; and "NYCST," recorded in October 2012 at the Dutch Jazz & World Meeting in Amsterdam.

For more about Amina Figarova's jazz journey, check out this 2011 interview recorded for Voice of America, and her episode of NPR's "Piano Jazz" from back in 2008.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Bill Frisell's Beautiful Dreamers to perform Sunday, April 28 at Old Rock House

Guitarist Bill Frisell (pictured) is returning to St. Louis to perform at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, April 28 at the Old Rock House.

Frisell's last St. Louis appearance was with his quartet in May 2011 at the ORH. This time, he'll be with the ensemble known as Beautiful Dreamers, which also includes Eyvind Kang on viola and Rudy Royston on drums. (You can read of review a show they did in 2011 at the Village Vanguard here.)

A veteran of more than 30 years on the international music scene, Frisell incorporates a variety of influences into his sound, including jazz, country, folk, Americana, classical, noise, and free improv. He's worked with a diverse range of artists from various genres, including Paul Motian, John Zorn, Wayne Horvitz, Elvis Costello, Bono, T-Bone Burnett, Paul Simon, McCoy Tyner, Ornette Coleman, Brian Eno and Ry Cooder.

Like his previous appearance at ORH, this show is part of their "Listening Room Series," for which the club adds more tables and chairs and offers reserved seating to create a cabaret-type setting. Unlike the previous show, which was 21-and-up only, this one is all ages.

Tickets for Bill Frisell's Beautiful Dreamers at the Old Rock House are $36 for reserved seats, $26 for general admission, and will go on sale at 5:00 p.m. next Wednesday, February 20 via Metrotix.

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

Here's the latest wrap-up of assorted links and short local news items of interest:

* In a week that started with news of the closing of the south side cafe Rue Lafayette, it looks like another local presenter of jazz may be shutting its doors, too. In a story in the St. Louis Beacon, George Sams of the Nu-Art Series told writer Terry Perkins that Saturday's concert featuring Quincy Troupe will be his final production at the Metropolitan Gallery downtown. (Sams did leave the door open to presenting shows at other locations, and StLJN will be following up with him about that.)

* In a related development that could be seen either as ironic or just a coincidence, Live In Berlin, the final album by Sams' old band United Front that originally was released in 1983 on the FMP label, has just been digitally reissued.

* Pianist Kris Davis, whose quintet will play in a concert presented by New Music Circle at 560 Music Center tomorrow night, spoke with the Post-Dispatch's Calvin Wilson for a brief preview of the show. Meanwhile, Davis' concert with the same band on Sunday in Washington DC was reviewed by the Washington Post.

* Also in the Post, drummer Jeremy Haynes (pictured) talked with pop music reporter Kevin Johnson for a  preview story about Haynes' performance next Tuesday night at Lola; and classical music writer Sarah Bryan Miller had an interesting feature about how local musicians are using their iPhones and iPads to replace sheet music, metronomes, tuners and more.

* reports that the commemorative postage stamp depicting the trumpeter was the USPS' top-selling stamp featuring a celebrity in 2012.

* Finally, Mardi Gras may be over for another year, but the Funky Butt Brass Band have posted a few memories online, including a video from their performance last Thursday at Blues City Deli (featuring a medley of Fats Domino's "I'm Walkin'" and "When The Saints Go Marching In") and a Facebook photo album from Friday's show with Big Sam's Funky Nation at the Old Rock House.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Jazz this week: Sachal Vasandani, Galactic, Kris Davis Quintet, Jan Shapiro, Bucky Pizzarelli & Denise Thimes, and more

Photo by Peter_Gannushkin from
It's a jam-packed week of jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with local debuts from two noteworthy touring musicians, the return of some familiar favorites, homecoming gigs for three local expats, and lots more. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, singer Sachal Vasandani will make his St. Louis debut, beginning a four-night engagement at Jazz at the Bistro. Along with Gregory Porter, whom the Bistro presented for the first time in January, Vasandani is one of the most talked-about male jazz singers to emerge in recent years, with an intimate, ballad-friendly style and a repertoire with enough romantic songs to make him a suitable choice for Valentine's week. Yet the Chicago native certainly can swing, too, as demonstrated in some of the video samples included in this post from last Saturday.

Also tonight, trumpeter Jim Manley plays at Sasha's Wine Bar, and singer Joe Mancuso performs with a trio  at Frontenac Grill.

Tomorrow night, the New Orleans-based funk/jazz/hip-hop group Galactic returns for what's become an annual gig at The Pageant, this time bringing along as special guests singer Corey Glover of Living Color and Latryx, featuring Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truthspeaker.

For those looking specifically for something Valentine's-themed on Thursday, singer Jan Shapiro, a former St. Louisan who now heads the vocal jazz program at Berklee College of Music in Boston, will be in town to do a free concert with pianist Nathan Jatcko for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University; and singer Erin Bode will perform at Cyrano's in Webster Groves.

The romantic theme continues on Friday, as veteran guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli (father of St. Louis favorite John Pizzarelli) comes to town to serve as special guest for singer Denise Thimes' Valentine's Day show at the Sheldon Concert Hall. Now 87, Pizzarelli understandably doesn't work as much these days as he once did, but he remains a masterful practitioner of a classic style of jazz guitar playing, and definitely is worth hearing for any fan of the sub-genre.

Also on Friday, multi-instrumentalist Wayne Coniglio will lead a big band plus multiple vocalists in "The Swing of Hearts" at 560 Music Center. The show will feature guest stars including singers Cecil Cope and Ginger Berglund, trombonist Scott Whitfield, and saxophonist/clarinetist/vocalist Elsie Parker.

Elsewhere on Friday, saxophonist Tim Cunningham plays at the new downtown event space the Paragon Theater; vibraphonist Peter Schlamb performs at Robbie's House of Jazz; and saxophonist Willie Akins will lead a quartet at the Cigar Inn.

On Saturday afternoon, singer Wendy Gordon performs for brunch at Frontenac Grill. Later that day, poet, author, St. Louis native, and Miles Davis biographer Quincy Troupe will be back in his hometown once again to present another performance of his "SoundArt" ensemble at the Metropolitan Gallery downtown. The concert, a production of the Nu-Art Series, also will feature saxophonist Stan Coleman and bassist Darrell Mixon.

Then on Saturday evening, pianist Kris Davis (pictured) and her quintet will play a concert presented by New Music Circle at 560 Music Center. Born in Canada and now based in NYC, Davis blends free improvisation with compositions reflecting influences from jazz and contemporary classical, and has just released a new album, Capricorn Climber. Her St. Louis debut gig will feature most of the band from that record, including saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, drummer Tom Rainey and violist Matt Maneri, along with bassist Eivind Opsvik. For more about Davis and some video clips of her in action, check out this post from a couple of Saturdays ago.

Saturday night also offers several choices of shows featuring female vocalists, with Feyza Eren at the Wine Press, Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes at the Venice Cafe, and Zena Star at the Rustic Goat.

On Sunday, Miss Jubilee begins a series of regular matinee performances at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups,  and looking beyond the weekend, on Monday trumpeter Keith Moyer's quartet will play at BB's.

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.)

(Edited 2/15/13 to correct an error in Monday's listing.) 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Rue Lafayette closes

Rue Lafayette, the Lafayette Square cafe and boutique that featured live jazz regularly on weekends, has closed. According to reports published today on STLtoday and the website of St. Louis magazine, the closing is a byproduct of divorce proceedings between proprietress Araceli Kopiloff and her co-owner and soon-to-be-ex-husband.

The venue (pictured) had presented live jazz during Saturday and Sunday brunch and on occasional evenings, featuring retro jazz and swing performers such as Miss Jubilee, the Sidemen, Wack-A-Doo, and others. Miss Jubilee, who had been playing at brunch there most Sundays, now will move over to a regular slot on that day at BB's Jazz Blues and Soups, performing weekly from noon to 4:00 p.m beginning this coming Sunday, February 17.

The St. Louis magazine story said, "Kopiloff confided that she has attempted a variety of measures to keep Rue Lafayette open, including selling the business to a third party, but no agreement has yet been reached." A post on Kopiloff's Facebook page, since deleted, also mentioned the possibility of reopening under new management. Watch this space for news of any further developments.

Recently on Heliocentric Worlds

You'd think that at some point, there'd be an end to the vintage footage of various musical performers posted to YouTube. But apparently we are nowhere near that point yet, and as long as rediscovered classic clips and fresh performances by some of the same artists keep turning up, StLJN's sibling site Heliocentric Worlds will keep posting them.

Drawing on genres including jazz, blues, soul, funk, classic rock, prog rock and experimental, posts in the past month have included music from Matthew Shipp, Bill Evans, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Nina Simone, John Zorn's Masada, Blood Sweat and Tears, Clark Terry, James Cotton & Jimmy Rogers, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Roosevelt Sykes, Maceo Parker, John Lee Hooker & Van Morrison, Ken Vandermark's Made to Break, and Warren Zevon... well as Mongo Santamaria, Deep Purple, Sonny Stitt, Nat "King" Cole & Johnny Mercer, Pat Metheny Group, Jimmy Witherspoon, Atomic Rooster, Charles Lloyd, Professor Longhair, Roy Ayers, Dizzy Gillespie Dream Band, The Beatles, Ray Anderson Pocket Brass Band, Count Basie Orchestra, Gerry Hemingway Quintet, Jerry Lee Lewis, Howlin' Wolf, and Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy.

And that's not all - you can see not only these clips, but hundreds and hundreds more from the carefully curated archives, just by visiting

Saturday, February 09, 2013

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
The song stylings of Sachal Vasandani

St. Louis this winter already has seen the local debut of one of the most talked-about male singers in jazz when Gregory Porter came to town in January to perform at Jazz at the Bistro. Now, just a few weeks later are the first St. Louis gigs for the man who's probably been the other most talked-about male jazz singer of recent years besides Porter. That would be Sachal Vasandani, who will be here to perform next Wednesday, February 13 through Saturday, February 16 at the Bistro.

However, while both men have enjoyed significant success, they're very different stylistically. Porter, a big-voiced baritone heavily influenced by gospel and R&B, is like a jazz equivalent of Eddie Levert Sr. or Teddy Pendergrass, while Vasandani has a lighter vocal timbre, a propensity to croon, and diction that at times sounds like that of someone who's had training in musical theater.

In fact, Vasandani, now in his early thirties, grew up in Chicago and graduated from the University of Michigan, where he was named DownBeat magazine's Collegiate Jazz Vocalist of the Year in 1999.

Moving to New York, Vasandani signed with Mack Avenue Records in 2006 and released his debut album Eyes Wide Open the following year. In a review of the album, the Boston Globe said it was "mature in sound and rich in texture but also possesses enough youthful angst in its lyrical themes to ward off the fogeyism that male vocalists so easily slip into before their time."

Vasandani's second album, 2009's We Move, was chosen as a New York Times Critic's Pick, prompting the Times' Nate Chinen to call him "a jazz singer with good ideas, including some about what a jazz singer can be." In 2010, Vasandani was a Rising Star winner in the annual DownBeat poll, and the following year, he put out his third record on Mack Avenue, Hi-Fly, which also garnered positive reviews.

In addition to touring the USA, Europe and Asia as a headliner, Vasandani has worked with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis; JalCO members Wycliffe Gordon, Sean Jones, and Eric Reed; and drummer/producer T.S. Monk; as well as doing some special joint performances with Jon Hendricks and touring Japan with Sheila Jordan.

Today's video clips show off Vasandani performing a variety of material, starting in the embedded window up above with Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Dream," a song he recorded for his second album. This video was made in April 2011 in Pittsburgh, and features backing from pianist Jeb Patton, bassist David Wong and drummer Kendrick Scott.

The next two clips down below are from the same gig, and show Vasandani and the trio performing "Nancy," a song long associated with Frank Sinatra, and a version of Amy Winehouse's "Love Is A Losing Game." Below that, there's a video of Vasandani singing "Afternoon Sun," recorded in March 2012 in Muri, Switzerland with pianist Laurent Coq and bassist Darryl Hall.

The fifth clip features Vasandani's version of the Paul Simon song "Let Me Live in Your City." It was recorded in February 2012 with pianist Jez Graham during a vocal master class for the jazz society in Dunwoody, GA. The final video is from one of those concerts that Vasandani did with Jon Hendricks, and shows the two of them romping through "In Walked Bud" in December 2012 at the Olympia in Paris.

For more about Sachal Vasandani, check out this NPR feature on him from 2011, and his episode of the network's Piano Jazz program in 2012. The singer also offers his impressions of some of his jazz singing predecessors and peers in a "Before & After" listening test in the January 2013 issue of Jazz Times.

(Edited 2/13/13 to fix a garbled sentence.)

Friday, February 08, 2013

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

Here's the latest wrap-up of assorted links and short local news items of interest:

* New Orleans funk/jazz/hip-hop group Galactic (pictured) will be in St. Louis next week to perform on Valentine's Day at The Pageant, and the group's bassist Robert Mercurio talked to writer Daniel Durchholz for a short preview story in the Post-Dispatch.

* Here's a review of The Wee Trio's set at last weekend's Ottawa Jazz Festival, written by the Ottawa Citizen's Peter Hum. The group will be performing and recording for an upcoming live album tonight and tomorrow at Jazz at the Bistro.

* HEC-TV this week premiered a new episode of I Love Jazz, featuring performances from the archives by musicians including The Cunninghams, Jim Manley, Reggie and Mardra Thomas, Bach to the Future, and Rick Haydon. Check your TV provider's program guide for dates and times, or view it online at

* Saxophonist Oliver Lake has a new album out on the Intakt label. All Decks was recorded live in November 2011 in Zurich, Switzerland, and features Lake with bassist Christian Weber, drummer Dieter Ulrich and trombonist Nils Wogram.

* has been compiling the reviews of the newly released recordings featuring Davis' "Lost Quintet" of the late 1960s, and they're "stellar."

* The downtown music venue/bar/restaurant Lola is recalibrating after the departure of partner/music booker Chris Hansen for the new venue The Demo. The Post-Dispatch's Kevin Johnson has the story on Lola's new direction here.

* Lindy Hop St. Louis is looking for sponsors for the Cherokee Street Jazz Crawl, a part of the Nevermore Jazz Ball, which will be held this year from November 7 through November 10. The Crawl showcases St. Louis traditional jazz and swing musicians in a free-to-the-public event on Cherokee Street. Sponsoring businesses will get recognition in program materials, and donations are tax-deductible. Businesses or organizations interested in becoming sponsors can contact Christian Frommelt of Lindy Hop St. Louis via email at christian @

* Finally, did you know that St. Louis Jazz Notes has a page on YouTube? If you'd like to see only the StLJN posts that contain online music videos, you can find them all collected for your viewing and listening enjoyment here.

StLJN Interview: Dan Loomis of The Wee Trio on recording live at Jazz at the Bistro

As mentioned several times before in this space, The Wee Trio (pictured, top left) are in St. Louis this weekend, performing and recording a live album on Friday and Saturday nights at Jazz at the Bistro.

Though scheduling complications over the past week rendered fruitless our attempts to connect via phone with bassist and St. Louis native Dan Loomis (pictured, below left), he was kind enough to respond to a few questions about the impending gig/recording session via email: 

StLJN: Your last album began with the idea of exploring the music of a single composer, and after considering various possibilities, you decided on David Bowie. Is there an overall concept behind this recording, and if so, what is it?

Loomis: "The driving motivation behind this record is to capture the live energy of the band. A captivating live experience has always been paramount to The Wee Trio's mission. People often come away from our shows saying, "I don't usually like jazz but I really liked THAT!" So this is our attempt to 'bottle' that, so to speak."

What songs do you plan to record, and who are the composers/arrangers? (Anything else you can tell me about the specific compositions would be good, too.)

"For this record we are synthesizing the musical information from the Bowie record -- smart pop sensibility and a knack for making the avant-garde mainstream -- and returning with a fresh batch of originals. The band had a chance to rehearse for the second time ever before our California tour this winter. We took the opportunity to add the new tunes to the book and hone the arrangements on some jazz classics that we have been playing for a while. There will be new tunes from all three members on the album."

Why did you pick Jazz at the Bistro as the site to record?

"Jazz at the Bistro is my hometown club. My Aunt Hera used to take me to the opening night of every act that came through. Hearing Ray Brown, Ahmad Jamal, Nicholas Payton, Gary Bartz and so many others live at The Bistro were the most formative listening experiences of my life. Returning there to make a live record is an absolute dream for me. When we decided to make a live record it was the first place that I thought of. (Plus the room sounds great!)"

Who's engineering and producing?

"When we asked around for a live recording engineer everyone said the same thing: Paul Hennerich. We are happy that he was available and enthusiastic to do the project."

(Hennerich is a St. Louis-based engineer who's been doing live sound, recording, and radio broadcasts for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra since 1993. Some of his other credits include "artists as diverse as Christine Brewer and the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis to the great gravelly voiced Big Bad Smitty and broadcast work for Jazz at the Bistro." He also teaches recording at Webster University.)

How does the schedule lay out, in terms of set-up, soundcheck, test recordings, etc? Will you be playing the same material on both nights? For all four sets?

"As we said, the live experience is paramount to The Wee Trio. So we don't want to sacrifice the experience of the folks coming out for the sake of the record. So we'll play different material on the first and second sets. We will likely repeat a few songs from night to night to get a few takes of them. But we have a lot of material that we love to play so we won't be repeating too much!"

(As regards rehearsal and test recordings, since the band didn't get to St. Louis until Thursday evening, the obvious but unstated answer to that question is that they've got Friday to get things set up and dialed in.)

Will the album consist entirely of recordings from the Bistro, or will there be additional material? If there's more, will it be live or studio, and from where?

"It will be an entirely live album. If it doesn't happen this weekend, it's not making the album! We will likely include some material from previous albums that has evolved into something entirely new since the first time it was recorded. Expect a few Bowie numbers and few choice tunes from Capitol Diner Vols. 1 & 2."

Do you have a name for the album yet? When will it be released, and on what label?

"No name yet. Stay tuned. The record is due out September 1st, 2013. We all grew up on "live at the Bistro" records on the MAXJAZZ label. MAXJAZZ plans pretty far ahead and the band is ready to move forward now. So..... if we can convince Richard McDonnell to completely disrupt his release schedule, we'd love to put this out on MAXJAZZ! But the current plan is to release it on our faithful, independent, New Orleans label (what more could one ask for in this day and age!), Bionic Records.

Tour dates are currently in the works for the end of 2013 and early 2014. There may also be a few surprise Canadian jazz festivals. Stay tuned for the latest at"

For more about The Wee Trio, which also includes vibraphonist James Westfall and drummer Jared Schonig, and video samples of some of the material they plan to record this weekend, see this post.

Thanks to Jason Paul Harman Byrne of Red Cat Publicity for his help in setting up this interview.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Jazz this week: The Wee Trio; Mardra & Reggie Thomas; CD release event for Swagler, Slaughter, Jost & Morrison; and more

With the annual Mardi Gras parade this Saturday, Valentine's Day just around the corner, and the usual mix of other performances happening around town, there's an eclectic selection of jazz and creative music on St. Louis stages this weekend. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, saxophonist Jason Swagler, guitarist Eric Slaughter, bassist Nick Jost and drummer Marty Morrison will promote the release of their first collaborative album, Rough Stuff, with two sets at Jazz at the Bistro. The ticket price includes a copy of the album, but if you can't make it to the show, it also is now on sale as a digital download from Amazon and iTunes.

Also tonight, drummer Ben Thigpen and his band will perform a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University; and the Brazilian music group Samba Bom plays at the Central West End house concert venue Joe's Cafe.

On Friday afternoon, percussionist Mike Dillon, in town to open for Umphrey's McGee this weekend at The Pageant, will do a free in-store performance and CD signing at Vintage Vinyl.

Then on Friday evening, The Wee Trio (pictured), featuring St. Louis native Dan Loomis on bass, will be in town for the first of two evenings of recording a live album at Jazz at the Bistro. They were here most recently last January, performing at the Bistro in support of their then-new release of interpretations of the songs of rocker David Bowie.

Apparently, they must have found the setting congenial enough, for they decided to make their next record right there. For more about that, and some video samples of a couple of the songs they plan to record, see this post from a couple of Saturdays ago.

Also on Friday night, you can warm up for Saturday's Mardi Gras Parade with New Orleans' own Big Sam's Funky Nation and the Funky Butt Brass Band at the Old Rock House.

Elsewhere around town that evening, retro swing band Wack-A-Doo will play a free "happy hour" concert at the Kemper Art Museum on the Washington University campus; singer Ralph Butler is at Robbie's House of Jazz; singer Dean Christopher will present the first of three performance of a Valentine's-themed cabaret show at Dramatic License Theatre in Chesterfield Mall; and drummer Paul Shaw leads a trio at Cigar Inn.

On Saturday, Mardra and Reggie Thomas return from Michigan to perform at Robbie's House of Jazz. While the Thomases still lived in the St. Louis area, for many years they did an annual gig sometime around Valentine's Day at Jazz at the Bistro. This year, with Mardra and Reggie having relocated for his new job teaching at Michigan State University, and singer Sachal Vasandani making his St. Louis debut next week at the Bistro, this gig will have to suffice for their many hometown fans.

Also on Saturday, the Funky Butt Butt Brass Band and their longtime companions, New Orleans R&B cover band Gumbohead, will present a post-parade performance at Broadway Oyster Bar; and guitarist Dave Black will lead a trio in the first of a planned series of monthly gigs at Troy's Jazz Gallery.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday guitarist Steve Schenkel performs at Webster University; and the Sessions Big Band plays their first show of the year at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups. BB's talent booker John May tells StLJN that, due to declining crowds, the Sessions band this year will only be playing once every other month at BB's. So if you're a fan of theirs, or of big bands in general, now might be a good time to show some support by turning out for the gig.

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.)

(Edited 2/8/13 to fix a typo.) 

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

February brings homecoming gigs for Quincy Troupe, Jeremy Haynes, Ronnie Burrage

Given what St. Louis weather usually is like in February, there may be better times to visit. But cold, snow and slush notwithstanding, there are three noteworthy St. Louis expats returning home this month with shows of interest to local jazz fans:

* Poet, author and teacher Quincy Troupe will lead another edition of his "SoundArt" project in a performance at 3:00 p.m., Saturday, February 16 at the Metropolitan Gallery, 2936 Locust St. downtown.

Troupe, who's originally from St. Louis and collaborated with Miles Davis on the trumpeter's 1989 autobiography, has brought SoundArt home twice previously - in 2009, performing with guitarist Kelvyn Bell and drummer Ronnie Burrage at Robbie's House of Jazz, and in 2011 with Bell at the Metropolitan Gallery.

This time, Troupe will be joined by saxophonist Stan Coleman and bassist Darrell Mixon. The event is presented by the Nu-Art Series, and general admission will be $20 at the door.

* Drummer Jeremy Haynes, a St. Louis native who's made his fame playing gospel music, will show off another side of his musical personality with his show "Return of the Prodigal Son" at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 19 at Lola. The gig is in support of Haynes' recent jazz album Prodigal Son 2K, which is available for purchase on iTunes and CD Baby. Haynes' band Rhythm is Life includes keyboardists Eric W. Catron and Jarrell "JDot" Little and bassist Jermaine Hall.

Haynes (pictured) began his career at age 12, drumming with St. Louis' famed gospel singers the O’Neal Twins, and recorded his first album with them at 15. Haynes went on to play in the Broadway production of “God’s Trying to Tell You Something” and has continued to work with well-known gospel acts including Kevin Bond, Karen Clark Sheard, Kirk Franklin and Donnie McClurkin. To date, Haynes has performed on four movie soundtracks and been part of more than 150 gospel recordings, which have received a total of five Grammys and 12 Stellar Awards and accounted for 15 #1 hits on the Billboard gospel charts. Tickets for Haynes' show at Lola will be $15 at the door.

* Lastly, there are more details on the upcoming events featuring drummer Ronnie Burrage first described several weeks ago in this post.

Rehearsals for Burrage's trio gig on Thursday, February 28 for Washington University's Jazz at Holmes series will be held on campus on Tuesday, February 26 and Wednesday February 27 at a location TBA. The rehearsals with Burrage, bassist Darrell Mixon and pianist Ptah Williams will be open for student observation from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. each day. The performance is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Thursday, and is free and open to the public; Burrage tells StLJN that there will be some Wash U. students invited to sit in on the gig as well.

The set times for Burrage's shows on Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2 at The Office, 5719 Delmar, have been confirmed as 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. The band for those shows will include Burrage, saxophonist Freddie Washington, guitarist Eric Slaughter and bassist Darryl Mixon.

Advance ticket prices have been finalized at $30.00 for the "VIP" package, which includes a ticket to an "all you can eat" buffet; $20 for general admission, which includes one drink; and $25.00 per person for a special Valentine's Day "lovers" offer, which includes a champagne toast. Tickets for groups of 20 or more are priced at $25 for the VIP package and $15 for general admission.

In addition, the first 20 advance ticket purchasers for the shows at The Office will receive a free CD from Burrage. Tickets are on sale now via his website at

Monday, February 04, 2013

"Best Jazz of 2012" list roundup, revisited

A few lists that came out in the latter half of January have just been added to StLJN's year-end post rounding up "Best Jazz of 2012" lists from jazz journalists, critics, bloggers and radio hosts all over.

The final updates include additional 2012 year-end lists from Destination: Out, Jazz Times, critics from and, and a few more. (Thanks also to the fellas at D:O for including a link to StLJN's list roundup in their post.)

You can see the complete updated roundup of all the "Best Jazz of 2012" lists here.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Introducing Kris Davis

This week, let's get acquainted with pianist Kris Davis, who will be making her St. Louis debut as a leader in a concert presented by New Music Circle on Saturday, February 16 at 560 Music Center.

Davis will be touring in support of her most recent CD, Capricorn Climber, which was released late last year on Clean Feed Records. It features her performing with two of her most frequent collaborators, saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and drummer Tom Rainey, along with violist Mat Maneri and bassist Trevor Dunn. (For the St. Louis show, bassist Eivind Opsvik will be playing in place of Dunn.)

While this quintet's early gigs reportedly were focused solely on improvisation, according to her website Davis since then has begun to write specifically for them, “focusing on compositions that embrace the first meeting...the instant chemistry when improvising, the sonic qualities and blends between the instruments and each individual’s ability to shape ideas and create a story using the compositional material.”

Originally from Calgary, Canada, Davis, 33, studied classical music through the Royal Conservatory and attended the Banff Centre for the Arts jazz program. She earned a bachelor's degree in jazz piano from the University of Toronto before moving to New York in 2001. She since has gone on to get a masters in composition from City College of New York, and now teaches for the School for Improvised Music, City College and Queens College.

Davis has recorded frequently, releasing ten records as a leader or co-leader with various ensembles, including the trio Paradoxical Frog with Laubrock and drummer Tyshawn Sorey; a quartet and big band with saxophonist Tony Malaby; and another trio with Rainey and bassist John Hebert; plus one recording as a solo pianist. In addition to her work as a leader, Davis has performed with musicians such as Tim Berne, Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, Andrew Cyrille, Mary Halvorson, John Hollenbeck, Chris Speed, and many others.

In 2011, Davis was one of four young piano players featured in a New York Times article titled "New Pilots at the Keyboard," For more about the Capricorn Climber project, see this article from the NYC Jazz Record (reproduced on the Clean Feed Records site).

Since the band Davis is bringing to St. Louis seems not to have been documented online so far on video, today we've got some clips featuring Davis in other settings with some of the same musicians.

The first video up above shows her, Laubrock and Rainey in October 2011 at the Jazz & Wine of Peace festival in Italy, followed down below by another clip of the same band a couple of weeks later at the Landesmuseum in Linz, Germany.

Below that, you can see an excerpt from a set by Davis, Laubrock and Tyshawn Sorey in 2010 at the Moers Festival in Germany. Lastly, returning much closer to the present day, the final three embeds show a December 2012 performance by Davis, Laubrock, Rainey, and trumpeter Ralph Alessi at the NYC free improv venue The Stone.

For more about Davis, check out this interview she did in 2011 with The Jazz Session podcast.

Friday, February 01, 2013

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

Here's the latest wrap-up of assorted links and short local news items of interest:

* The latest posthumous Miles Davis CD release, Miles Davis Quintet - Live In Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2, came out this week to favorable reviews from, among others, NPR, and Pitchfork.

* Jazz St. Louis has posted to their Facebook page an album of photos from Dave Holland's second set Wednesday night at Jazz at the Bistro. Holland and his quintet continue at the Bistro through Saturday.

* In a related development, JSL also got word this week that the Bistro once again has been named by DownBeat to the magazine's list of top jazz clubs worldwide.

* Also on Facebook, there's an album of photos from the Dave Dickey Big Band's performance last Sunday at Kirkwood Station Brewing Company. The show marked Dickey's one-year anniversary of monthly gigs at the venue, with guest pianist Chip Stephens sitting in for the celebratory show, and the All-Suburban Honors Jazz Band playing at intermission.

* While in St. Louis last month to play at the Bistro, The Bad Plus' pianist Ethan Iverson took a shopping trip to Euclid Records to buy some jazz vinyl, and now he's documented his finds (with some good-natured grumbling about having spent too much money) in a blog post here. Euclid also made the news recently via their New Orleans branch store, which, thanks to its hot-pink exterior, was named one of The Most Beautiful Record Stores in the World by Flavorwire.

* Celebrating 50 years in business, Granite City music store owner John Fornaszewski was profiled by the Suburban Journals.