Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ku-umba Frank Lacy, The Cunninghams
to perform in October at Ozark Theatre

Adding some visiting artists to the mix of local musicians, trombonist Ku-umba Frank Lacy and vocal duo The Cunninghams are among the performers scheduled in October by the new Robbie's House of Jazz series at the Ozark Theatre.

Lacy (pictured) will perform at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 18, while Don and Alicia Cunningham, supported by a local rhythm section TBA, will take the stage at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, October 25.

Lacy, who's originally from Houston, has something of a local connection via his past collaborations with St. Louis musicians such as Greg Osby, Oliver Lake, Julius Hemphill, and Lester Bowie. He also served as music director for one of the latter-day editions of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers; has been a member of the Mingus Big Band; and has worked with many other prominent musicians including Henry Threadgill, Carla Bley, Dizzy Gillespie, Abdullah Ibrahim, Bobby Watson, David Murray, McCoy Tyner, and the R&B singer D'Angelo.

Although he's been featured on so many recordings that a Down Beat magazine article once referred to him as "the baddest sideman in jazz," Lacy has released only four albums as a leader, the most recent of which, Live at Smalls, came out earlier this year.

The Cunninghams, who are based in Las Vegas, are well-known to St. Louis audiences. Don Cunningham, a percussionist and saxophonist as well as a vocalist, began his career here performing in local clubs during the Gaslight Square era, and in recent years he and Alicia, a singer and pianist, have made several return visits to perform at the Sheldon Concert Hall and other local venues.

The duo's extensive credits include headlining tours in Japan and elsewhere in Asia and a stint touring as featured vocalists with the Count Basie Orchestra as well as performances with a long list of other jazz greats, and even a Grammy nomination in 1992 for their Charlie Parker tribute album Strings 'n Swing. Their most recent recording is 2012's Sao Paulo Lights, recorded in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Tickets for Ku-umba Frank Lacy are $15 general admission, $10 for students with ID, while tickets for The Cunninghams are $20 and $10. Tickets can be reserved by phone at 314-578-2049 or purchased at the door.

Local jazz performers in October at the Ozark will include pianist Brad Ellebrecht's quartet with singer Diane Vaughn (Saturday, October 4); singer Feyza Eren (Friday, October 10); pianist Carolbeth True and Two Times True (Saturday, October 18) and singer Dean Christopher's "Rat Pack and More" show on Friday, October 31.

Other scheduled shows include "oldies tribute band" Recap on Saturday, October 4, and singer, guitarist and songwriter Kevin Renick on Friday, October 17. Tickets for all of these performances are $15 general admission, $10 for students.

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