Thursday, September 11, 2014

Jazz this week: Thumbscrew, U City Jazz Festival, Funeral Bonsai Wedding, and more

There's lots going on this week with jazz and creative music in St. Louis, as two concert series offer their first shows of the season; a free fall festival returns; and other stages around town will be filled with even more improvised music influenced by everything from funk to flamenco. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University begins the fall semester with a free concert reuniting the jazz-fusion trio Tracer, with pianist Ptah Williams, bassist Darrell Mixon and drummer Gary Sykes.

Also tonight, Good 4 The Soul will play their monthly show at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups; and trumpeter Jim Manley will be doing his weekly gig at Joyia Tapas.

On Friday, it's the start of another season for New Music Circle, as guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, aka Thumbscrew (pictured), will perform at the house-concert venue Joe’s Cafe, 6014 Kingsbury Ave.

Also on Friday, the St. Louis Big Band plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom; saxophonist Tim Cunningham returns to Troy's Jazz Gallery; singer Joe Mancuso enlists the support of not just one, but two guitarists, as he joins forces with Dave Black and Steve Schenkel for an evening of Beatles covers at the Tavern of Fine Arts; saxophonist Jim Stevens plays a free outdoor show at Ferguson Citywalk; and singer Tony Viviano returns to Talayna's in Chesterfield.

On Saturday, the U City Jazz Festival will take place in Heman Park, located at Olive & Midland in University City. This year's free outdoor concert is headlined by funk/fusion band Pieces of A Dream, with supporting acts including Bach to the Future, pianist Carolbeth True and Two Times True, the Tony Viviano Big Band, trumpeter Anthony Wiggins, and the Jazz St. Louis All-Stars student ensemble.  

Also on Saturday, Funeral Bonsai Wedding will be in town from Chicago to promote their debut release with a performance at The Stage at KDHX. The newly formed group features singer-guitarist Steve Dawson, best known as the front man for the roots-rock band Dolly Varden, backed by vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, drummer Frank Rosaly and bassist Jason Roebke, who all work regularly in Chicago's jazz and improvised music scene.  

Elsewhere around town that evening, percussionist Herman Semidey and his Orquesta Son Montuno will continue the new jazz series at the Ozark Theatre; and singers Mary Dyson and Diane Vaughn will perform at Troy's Jazz Gallery.

On Sunday, there are a couple more free outdoor shows in the offing, as Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will play swing, hot jazz and vintage blues at Benton Park, while the St. Charles Municipal Big Band will hold forth by the river in Frontier Park.

That evening, jazz meets flamenco in a performance by EviscerArt, featuring pianist Cristian de Moret, guitarist Eduardo Pachecho, and dancer Vanesa Aibar, at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday the Webster University jazz faculty will present their tribute to  "Great Jazz Records of 1964" at Winifred Moore Auditorium on the Webster campus; and on Tuesday, guitarist and singer Tommy Halloran will play the music of Randy Newman in a "Notes From Home" concert at The Sheldon.

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.)

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