Saturday, November 29, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
A Roscoe Mitchell sampler

When multi-instrumentalist and composer Roscoe Mitchell performs with keyboardist Craig Taborn next Friday, December 5 at The Stage at KDHX, the concert sponsored by New Music Circle will be his first St. Louis appearance since the 1990s.

After first gaining wide attention in the 1960s as a founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musician, Mitchell has gone on to combine improvised music with more formal methods of composition, putting him on a path that led to his current spot as Distinguished Darius Milhaud Professor of Composition at Mills College in Oakland, CA.

And so although there was a good dose of material related to both men in part five of StLJN's fall jazz preview, given that long gap between appearances here and Mitchell's musical and historical importance, his return seems worth anticipating just a bit more.

Reflecting his diverse output, today we've got a selection of clips spotlighting various aspects of Mitchell's musical persona, starting with a solo performance recorded in February 2013 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

That's followed after the jump by a couple of excerpts from a duo concert featuring Mitchell and Chicago drummer Mike Reed, recorded in 2013 in Poland.

The next video features Mitchell, percussionist William Winant and woodwind player James Fei performing at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, playing "Angel City," a long-form piece that Mitchell wrote originally in 2001 on commission for the Angel City Jazz Festival in Los Angeles.

Then, there's a conversation between Mitchell and pianist Sarah Cahill that preceded the performance that night. While Cahill's questions didn't strike me as being particularly on point, Mitchell still has some interesting things to say. And if you find this conversation interesting, you may want to consider attending one of the two presentations Mitchell will be giving while he's here in St. Louis.

After that, we hear from Craig Taborn, who talks about his time working with Mitchell, noting that once he began collaborating with him back in 1997, "everything I played afterwards, I couldn't look at it in the same way."

We wrap thing up a vintage performance featuring Mitchell with the Art Ensemble, recorded in 1974 in Sardegna, Italy. This features the classic AEC lineup, with St. Louis' own Lester Bowie on trumpet, Joseph Jarman and Mitchell on various reed instruments, Malachi Favors on bass, and Don Moye on drums.

For more about Roscoe Mitchell, see this 1998 interview with Perfect Sound Forever; this much more recent "fireside chat" with Red Bull Music Academy Radio, which also includes excerpts from some of his most notable recordings; and this one with Bomb magazine.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

Friday, November 28, 2014

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Jazz on Broadway, which featured first weekly and later only occasional live jazz at 554 East Broadway in downtown Alton, has closed after a three-year run.

A message sent to the club's email list by manager Jimmie Small said in part, "I do not have the liberty to divulge the overwhelming circumstances that led to this sad event. I would like to, on behalf or all who worked hard during these last 3 years to make the establishment a fine upscale venue for live entertainment, thank each and everyone for all their support, their time, and their encouragement."

* In happier news, favorable reviews keep coming in for Keep On Keepin' On, the new documentary about trumpeter and St. Louis native Clark Terry. Media outlets weighing in recently include the Philadelphia Inquirer, Arizona Republic, Toronto Globe and Mail, and DVD Talk.

* Drummer and St. Charles' own Dave Weckl is the subject of the cover feature in the January 2015 issue of Modern Drummer magazine (pictured), coming soon to subscribers' mailboxes and to booksellers and newsstands everywhere.

* Saxophonist Greg Osby has posted a new blog entry in which he opines that critics might gain some much needed empathy from experiencing first-hand the rigors of the road and the effects they have on musicians.

* And speaking of critics, here another review of Osby's new CD with fellow saxophonist Tineke Postma, via's Dan Bilawsky.

* Saxophonist Oliver Lake was interviewed by Revive Music's Natalie Weiner.

* Meanwhile, (R)anthems, the latest album from Wee Trio bassist and St. Louis native Dan Loomis' "other" band Spoke, was reviewed by AAJ's Ernest Barteldes.

* The Toronto Star has a feature on trumpeter Eugene Gillis, who's been playing his horn at the protests in Ferguson.

* The weekend's best local music-related long read, though, though is "The 100 Greatest St. Louis Songs," compiled and written for the Riverfront Times by Roy Kasten, Christian Schaeffer and assorted RFT colleagues.

The list covers all musical genres, including entries representing a number of St. Louis jazz musicians, and better yet, the article contains YouTube audio for nearly all the listed songs so readers can easily hear them. (Full disclosure: Although I didn't write any of the entries, yr. humble StLJN editor is one of a number of people ostensibly knowledgeable about local music who were solicited for their input and are name-checked in the piece.)

* New music ensemble Alarm Will Sound's recent performance at the Public Media Commons in Grand Center was the subject of a feature story on Nine Network's program Arts America. You can view the segment online here.

* Un Grand Bonheur (A Great Happiness), the first album from recent-transplants-to-St. Louis Franglais, was reviewed by the website The Noise Beneath The Apple. The Django Reinhardt-inspired Gypsy jazz group, fronted by St. Louis-born singer Eve Seltzer and her husband, guitarist Ben Wood, will make their official local debut on Thursday, December 11 at Evangeline's.

* The Bosman Twins were featured last week on the website Jazz For A Saturday Night.

* Chris Limber's show for the just-concluded Gaslight Cabaret Festival was reviewed by Chuck Lavazzi of KDHX.

* Saxquest has posted on Facebook photo albums from recent appearances at the shop by Jeff Coffin and the Mu'tet and Frank Catalano.

* Jazz radio update: This Saturday night on Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis, “Somethin’ Else” host Calvin Wilson will be breaking out the Blue Note, featuring recordings made for the legenday label by the likes of Lee Morgan, Jackie McLean and Bobby Hutcherson. The program can be heard at 8:00 p.m. on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at

Edited after to posting to the link to the Alarm Will Sound video. As noted any time AWS is mentioned here, I've been working with the firm Slay & Associates since 2010 providing publicity help to them for their performances in St. Louis and Columbia.

Jazz this week: Jeremy Davenport returns to the Bistro, Cactus Truck, and more

A few quick suggestions for some post-Turkey Day jazz and creative music in and around St. Louis...

Tonight, trumpeter, singer and U City native Jeremy Davenport returns from his current home in New Orleans to play his annual post-Thanksgiving weekend gig at Jazz at the Bistro.

Though he's been leader of the house band in the lounge at the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans for more than 10 years now, these annual visits have helped ensure that Davenport still has a strong following here in St. Louis. As a result, the 7:30 shows on both nights are sold out in advance, and though tickets for the 9:30 shows still may be available, advance reservations would seem to be a must.

Elsewhere around town on Friday, singer Feyza Eren and guitarist Tom Byrne will duet at Tavern of Fine Arts; singer Joe Mancuso brings a quartet to Nathalie's; trumpeter Jim Manley plays at Thurman Grill; and saxophonist Willie Akins leads a quartet at Cigar Inn.

On Saturday, bassist John King and friends will present another of his "My Life In Music" shows at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups; singer Wendy Gordon and pianist Carolbeth True will team up at Tavern of Fine Arts;
Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will play swing and jump blues at Evangeline's; and Miss Jubilee will perform at 612 Kitchen and Cocktails, a relatively new spot at 612 W Woodbine Ave in Kirkwood.

Then on Sunday, the Amsterdam-based free jazz trio Cactus Truck will be in town for a performance at  Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center, with saxophonist Dave Stone opening the show. For a video preview of Cactus Truck's high-energy, wall-of-skronk sound, check out this post from last week.

Also on Sunday, singer Erin Bode will present "An Evening of Holiday Music" to benefit Promise Christan Academy at the Purser Center at Logan University; and the Coleman-Hughes Project with singer Adrianne Felton will perform at Troy's Jazz Gallery.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday guitarist Tom Byrne will lead a trio at BB's Jazz Blues & Soups.

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.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Webster Groves HS jazz bands playing with Matt Wilson on December 12, at the Pageant on January 23

Photo of Matt Wilson from
Webster Groves High School jazz band director Kevin Cole sends word of two upcoming events involving the WGHS bands:

* Drummer Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O will take part in a week-long residency at WGHS starting Monday, December 8. They'll work with students on big band adaptations of the Tree-O material as arranged by the group's saxophonist Jeff Lederer, WGHS freshman Jack Snelling, and Cole.

The Tree-O and students from the school's Jazz I ensemble will "tour" Webster Groves schools during the day on Friday, December 12, followed by a public concert that evening with all the school's jazz bands at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium at WGHS, 100 Selma Ave. Admission is $10 at the door.

While they're in town, the Christmas Tree-O, which includes bassist Paul Sikivie along with Wilson (pictured) and Lederer, also will play a concert without their student accomplices on Monday, December 8 at Joe's Cafe.

* The WGHS bands will play their annual concert at The Pageant at 7:00 p.m. Friday, January 23. Also on the bill will be the jazz ensemble from Hixson Middle School and "special guests" the WGHS Alumni Jazz band, with a roster of musicians including Dan Smith, Ally Hany, Ben Steger, Isaac Helton, Kevin Killeen, Andrew Meyer, Jamie Burchett, Will Patton, Tara Bray, Robert Frye, Michael Neu, Dirk Downing, Blake Deibel, Michael Powers, Jack Popper, Bo Bray, Sam Fruend, Andrew Gurney, Holly Mead, Gus Knobbe, Jharis Yokley, Joseph Winstein-Hibbs, and Eric Grumke.

"The band will be playing original compositions by members, new arrangements, and even a commission for the occasion," writes Cole. "I don't even have to tell you how proud I'll be to see all of these guys again." Tickets will be priced at $15 for adults, $10 for children.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Music Education Monday: Saxophonists speak out, and a musician's guide to copyright

This week for Music Education Monday, an overview of the laws protecting musicians' intellectual property, and two famous saxophonists raise questions about the current state of music education...

* Composers, arrangers and musicians should always protect themselves by copyrighting original works, but first, you have to understand how the law functions; what's protected and what's not; and what paperwork needs to be completed to register your authorship.

You can get an handy overview of all that and more via this tutorial about copyright written especially for musicians and composers and published by

* Meanwhile, in the spirit of "questioning our premises," here's a brief video featuring Gary Bartz wondering about how young jazz musicians are being educated these days, and a slightly older, more infamous clip from the documentary Before the Music Dies, in which Branford Marsalis has some rather harsh words for students who have an excessive sense of entitlement.

Miles on Monday: The Sound of Miles Davis

For this week's "Miles on Monday," we reach back all the way to April, 1959 for some truly historic footage of the Miles Davis Quintet (with John Coltrane, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb) augmented by an big band arranged by Gil Evans performing for a TV special called The Sound of Miles Davis.

Recorded the same year Davis released Kind of Blue, this is some of the only footage of the core group of musicians (less Bill Evans and Cannonball Adderley) featured on that landmark album. As such, it's the sort of thing that really should be seen by pretty much anyone claiming to be a Miles Davis fan. The four tunes in the half-hour special are "So What," "The Duke," "Blues for Pablo," and "New Rhumba."

Musicians in addition to Davis and the quintet are Ernie Royal, Clyde Reasinger, Louis Mucci, Johnny Coles, and Emmett Berry (trumpets); Frank Rehak, Jimmy Cleveland, Bill Elton, and Rod Levitt (trombones); Julius Watkins and Bob Northern (French horns); Bill Barber (tuba); Danny Bank (bass clarinet); and Romeo Penque and Eddie Caine (woodwinds).

Saturday, November 22, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Cactus Truck hitting Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center on Sunday, November 30

Prickly and persistent, loud and as unsubtle as an 18-wheeler careening down a stretch of bad road at 70 miles an hour, the music of Cactus Truck certainly fits their name. Their balls-to-the-wall skronk also seems like an appropriate soundtrack for a state of emergency, either real or imagined, and so the upcoming visit by the Amsterdam-based trio on Sunday, November 30 to Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center seems rather timely.

Comprised of saxophonist John Dikeman (who's originally from the USA, born in Wyoming), guitarist/bassist Jasper Stadhouders, and drummer Onno Govaert, Cactus Truck was named "discovery of the year" in 2011 by the UK music magazine The Wire. Their first album Brand New For China! was called "brutal, furious and uncompromising" by's Eyal Hareuveni, and has evoked repeated comparisons to the electric music of saxophonist Peter Brötzmann with Last Exit, Hairy Bones and Trio Roma, and to experimental/noise groups such as The Thing and Zu.

You can sample their sonic mayhem in the first track up above, an excerpt from a performance in April 2014 at the alternative music venue Occii in Amsterdam.

After the jump, there are three excerpts from a 2013 show at Autonoom Centrum, which translates as "autonomous center," a sort of collectively managed community gathering place, performance space, and bookstore. (There are several venues in the Netherlands using the designation, including in one in Amsterdam, but it's not clear which one this is from the notes on the video.)

After that, it's a piece called "Magnum Eyebrow," recorded in 2013 at 12 Points, a festival in Dublin, Ireland for young European jazz artists.

Last but not least, the connection with 1960s free jazz is made a bit more explicit by a clip of Dikeman and Govaert performing Albert Ayler's "Ghosts" in 2012 at the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam.

Tickets for Cactus Truck at the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center will be $7 at the door. Saxophonist Dave Stone's Free Jazz Unit will open the show.

You can see the rest of today's clips after the jump....

Friday, November 21, 2014

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* The Bosman Twins (pictured) were interviewed for a short feature in St. Louis magazine by the mag's culture editor Stef Russell.

* The opening of Jazz St. Louis' new HQ was covered in the December issue of DownBeat magazine by St. Louis' own Terry Perkins.

* Cabaret singer Meghan Kirk performed Thursday on Fox 2's morning newscast. Kirk will do her show "The Story Goes On" tonight for a sold-out house at the Gaslight Theater as part of the final weekend of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival.

* Quincy Jones was interviewed by The Dinner Party Download about trumpeter Clark Terry and Keep On Keepin' On, the the new documentary about Terry that Jones co-produced.

* The Funky Butt Brass Band has posted on Facebook an album of photos from their performance last Sunday for the St. Louis Jazz Club.

* Saxquest has posted on Facebook an album of photos from saxophonist Tia Fuller's performance and workshop there last Thursday.

* The U City High School jazz band has put online some photos from their workshop last week with pianist Peter Martin and trumpeter Sean Jones.

* In this week's Miles Davis-related news, Los Angeles-based apparel company Worn Free has launched a new line of Miles Davis t-shirts, with eight different designs priced from $35 to $50.

* Meanwhile, Prestige Records is looking for producers and DJs to do remixes of Davis' version of "Doxy." Prizes for the winners include $500 cash, a "large merch package from Prestige," an official release on a Spotify EP, and more.

* Jazz radio update: Saturday night on Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis' “Somethin’ Else”, host Calvin Wilson will feature music from trios led by pianist Chick Corea, including tracks from his new album with Christian McBride and Brian Blade. The program can be heard at 8:00 p.m. on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Roscoe Mitchell to lecture Friday, December 5 at Washington University

While he's in town next month to play a concert for New Music Circle, multi-instrumentalist and composer Roscoe Mitchell (pictured) also will present a special guest lecture at Washington University to discuss the evolution of one of his best-known compositions.

Mitchell's talk "NONAAH: From Solo to Full Orchestra" will take place at 2:00 p.m., Friday, December 5 in Wash U's Music Classroom Building, Room 102, 6500 Forsyth Blvd at Wallace Dr. The event is free and open to the public.

Known as one of the founders of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Mitchell now serves as Distinguished Darius Milhaud Professor of Music at Mills College in Oakland, CA. He will perform with keyboardist Craig Taborn in a concert that same evening at 7:30 p.m. at The Stage at KDHX.

Update: Mitchell also will be participating in a Q&A session at 7:30 p.m. the previous evening, Thursday, December 4, at Tavern of Fine Arts. This event, moderated by Dennis Owsley of KWMU and Paul Steinbeck of Wash U, also is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Matt Wilson’s Christmas Tree-O to play Monday, December 8 at Joe's Cafe

Drummer Matt Wilson’s Christmas Tree-O will be making a stop in St. Louis next month to perform at 7:30 p.m. Monday, December 8 at Joe's Cafe, 6014 Kingsbury Ave. The show is being presented by Jazz St. Louis and "welcomed" by New Music Circle.

In addition to Wilson on drums (and jingle bells), Christmas Tree-O (pictured) also includes saxophonist/clarinetist Jeff Lederer and bassist Paul Sikivie. "Batting around holiday standards with a mischievous but sentimental air," according to the New York Times, the group recorded an eponymous album in 2010 for Palmetto Records, which you can sample via online streaming here.

Tickets for Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O are $20 for adults, $8 for students and "struggling music supporters," and are on sale now via the Jazz St. Louis box office and online. Tickets may also be purchased at the door, pending availability, but only with cash. (Note also that Joe's Cafe is a "house concert" venue, with no liquor license or food service, so patrons must "BYOB.")

Jazz this week: Jeff Coffin & the Mu'tet, Peter Martin, Funky Butt Brass Band CD release, Thollem McDonas, and more

This week's calendar of jazz and creative music in and around St. Louis includes the Jazz at the Bistro debut of a touring saxophonist who's already built up a nice local following; the release of a new album by some local favorites; shows from several fine piano players; and, as the saying goes, much more. Let's go to the highlights....

Tonight, saxophonist Jeff Coffin and his eclectic jazz-fusion group the Mu’tet will make their debut at Jazz at the Bistro in the first evening of a four-night run continuing through Saturday. They're touring in support of a new album, and for more about that, plus some video samples of the Mu'tet in action, see this post from last Saturday.

Also on Wednesday, two weekly gigs nearby in Grand Center continue, starting early with bassist Bob DeBoo hosting a jam session at the Kranzberg Arts Center, followed by trumpeter Kasimu Taylor leading a trio (with guests) just down the block at The Dark Room.

Elsewhere around town, guitarist Dave Black, singer Feyza Eren and friends will perform at Nathalie's, and the Sidney Street Shakers will play their monthly "Cherokee Shake" swing dance event at 2720 Cherokee.

Tomorrow night, multi-instrumentalist Jeff Anderson will lead a quartet in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University; and the Gaslight Cabaret Festival continues with actor, singer and director Christopher Limber reprising his show "Riffs in a Set of 10," originally performed at this past summer's St. Louis Fringe Festival, at the Gaslight Theater.

On Friday, pianist Peter Martin resumes his eponymous series at the Sheldon Concert Hall, though without his originally announced special guest, clarinetist Anat Cohen, who had to cancel due to a family emergency. Standing in for Cohen will be singers Erin Bode and Brian Owens.

There are two other noteworthy pianists in action on Friday, too, as free improvisor Thollem McDonas will be in town for a performance at Tavern of Fine Arts, while Carolbeth True and Two Times True will be playing straight-ahead jazz and more at the Ozark Theatre

On Saturday afternoon, as he has on several previous visits, Jeff Coffin will present a free workshop and performance at Saxquest.

Then on Saturday night, the Funky Butt Brass Band (pictured) will celebrate the release of their new album Sugar Sugar Whomp Whomp with a performance at the Broadway Oyster Bar. (You can hear a preview of the album here.)

Also on Saturday, singer, actor and Webster University faculty member Lara Teeter wraps up the Gaslight Cabret Festival's fall schedule with his show "Lucky To Be Me" at Gaslight Theater; and the Joe Bozzi Band will play at Evangeline's.

On Sunday afternoon, those who enjoy supporting local student musicians can do so by checking out the Riverview Gardens High School Big Band and "Point of View" jazz combo, along with band director and saxophonist Harvey Lockhart's quintet, at the Sheldon.

Also on Sunday, catch some swing and jump blues from Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups; or revisit "The Music of Phyllis Hyman" courtesy of singer Courtney Loveless and First Call, which features Jeff Anderson, Eric Slaughter, Phillip Graves, Everett Moore, Chad Evans, Craig Williams, and Jason Swagler, at the Clubhouse of the Probstein Golf Course in Forest Park.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday "Blind" Willie Dineen and the Broadway Collective will check in for their monthly gig at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups.

Then on Tuesday, Genesis Jazz Project will perform at the Midwest Music Conservatory in Ballwin; and the Tavern of Fine Arts will host a triple bill presented by the Society for Creative Survival, a joint project of pianists David Parker and Greg Mills.

The free show will feature the Vernacular String Trio (Tracy Andreotti, cello; Josh Weinstein, bass; and Alexander Cunningham, violin) with Nexus (Mills, piano; Dave Stone, saxophones; Jeremy Melsha, trombone; and Ajay Khanna, electronics) and Creative Delusions (Mills, Andreotti, Parker, and Henry Claude, percussion).

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.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Zappa Plays Zappa to perform One Size Fits All on Monday, April 20 at Plush STL

The Frank Zappa repertory band Zappa Plays Zappa, led by FZ's son, guitarist Dweezil Zappa, will be returning to St. Louis next year to perform on Monday, April 20 at Plush STL.

The gig will be part of a 33-date US tour commemorating the 40th anniversary of the release of One Size Fits All, the 1975 album that introduced several Zappa compositions that would become convert staples, including "Inca Roads," the dual vocal and instrumental versions of "Sofa," and "Florentine Pogen."

ZPZ will play the album in its entirety, much as they did with Apostrophe in their 2010 tour that included a stop here at The Pageant. The group's most recent visit to St. Louis was in 2012, also at the Pageant, and featured a setlist drawn from throughout Frank Zappa's career.

The 2015 tour also will mark the tenth anniversary of Zappa Plays Zappa. In addition to Dweezil Zappa on lead guitar and occasional vocals, the group's current lineup includes Ben Thomas (lead vocals, trumpet, trombone, rhythm guitar), Scheila Gonzalez (saxophone, flute, keyboards, vocals), Chris Norton (keyboards, violin, vocals), Kurt Morgan (bass), and Ryan Brown (drums), along with Pete Jones, who serves as tour/production manager and designated "stunt vocalist." Although some of their previous tours have included former FZ sidemen as special guests, they've mostly worked as a self-contained unit for several years now.

Tickets for Zappa Plays Zappa at Plush will be priced from $25 to $75 - the high end presumably being some sort of VIP package - and will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. this Friday, November 21 via TicketFly.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Music Education Monday: "Visual Reference for Musicians" & "Cymbals 101"

Because everyone likes a sweet infographic, for this week's Music Education Monday we'd like to direct your attention to "Visual Reference for Musicians," created by NYC guitarist Miles Okazaki as "a collection of visualizations for organizing pitch and rhythmic information" including "352 pitch collections, 1,211 rhythmic modes, 505 rhythmic cells, various pitch space maps." Even if many of the ideas contained therein are intended for advanced students and pros, it's worth a look just for the presentation.

And if you've ever wanted to know what makes cymbals sound the way they do, watch the video "Cymbals 101" in the embedded window below. Produced by the Avedis Zildjian Company, the presentation by Zildjian's director of research and design/quality Paul Francis understandably emphasizes the company's products, but there's still plenty of interesting general info about how cymbal design affects overall pitch, volume, and sustain.

Jane Monheit, John Pizzarelli to perform
for The Sheldon's 2015 gala

Singer Jane Monheit and singer-guitarist John Pizzarelli (pictured) will be the featured performers at the 2015 fundraising gala for the Sheldon Concert Hall and Art Galleries at 8:15 p.m., Saturday, April 18 at The Sheldon.

Both performers are familiar to St. Louis music fans, with Pizzarelli having just completed a four-night run at the new Jazz at the Bistro last month, and Monheit appearing at the Bistro most recently in May of this year. Their show for the Sheldon gala will be part of a joint tour beginning in December and continuing into next year under the banner "Singers Over Manhattan."

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Sheldon's concerts, gallery exhibitions and educational programs. Tickets for the gala can be purchased now by calling the Sheldon at 314-533-9900. Prices start at $500 per person, and include pre-concert cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, dinner, preferred concert seating, complimentary valet parking, and a tax deduction.

Concert-only tickets will be priced at $45 orchestra, $40 balcony, and will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 14 via all MetroTix outlets and online at The Sheldon's website.

Miles on Monday: "Call It Anything"

For today's installment of "Miles on Monday," we revisit Davis' famous performance at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970.

First made available to the public only as part of a three-LP set documenting various performances from both the Isle of Wight and the contemporaneous Atlanta Pop Festival, it was somewhat notorious at the time of release for being a thoroughly uncompromising example of the dissonant space-funk that Davis was into during that period.

It's also the subject of an oft-cited story about Davis. When asked the title of the 35-minute, mostly improvised set the group had played, he reportedly told the record company's representative "Call it anything." And when the record came out, sure enough, that side was titled "Call It Anything."

At any rate, the Isle of Wight Festival was not only recorded in audio form, but also filmed, and so today we can watch as well as listen to a concentrated dose of Davis in his first electric phase along with Gary Bartz (soprano sax, alto sax), Chick Corea (electric piano), Keith Jarrett (organ), Dave Holland (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums), and Airto Moreira (percussion).

(Editor's note: It has come to my attention that the Mosaic Records Tumblr has for the past nine months had an occasional feature called "Miles for a Monday" that's basically the same idea as what we're doing here on StLJN.  I didn't steal the idea from them - it's apparently just one of those things that's sufficiently obvious enough to be thought of independently by more than one person. Nevertheless, since they got there first, some sort of acknowledgement seemed to be in order, so please consider our hat tipped.)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Jeff Coffin and the Mu'tet

Today, let's spend a little time with saxophonist Jeff Coffin and the Mu'tet, who will be in St. Louis to play next Wednesday, November 19 through Saturday, November 22 at Jazz at the Bistro.

Now based in Nashville, Coffin first gained wide attention in the 1990s as member of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, and in 2008 joined the Dave Matthews Band after the death of their original saxophonist Leroi Moore from injuries suffered in an ATV accident. The Mu'tet is his main musical vehicle when not touring with Matthews, and after several previous appearances here in St. Louis, most recently in September 2013 at The Gramophone, this will be their debut at the Bistro. While he's here in St. Louis, Coffin also will be presenting a free performance and workshop on Saturday afternoon at Saxquest, as he's done on some previous visits. 

The Mu'tet's current tour is in support of their new album Side Up, which was released November 4 on Coffin's own Ear Up label. Along with Coffin, the album features fellow Flecktone Roy "Futureman" Wooten on drums and Felix Pastorius, now also a member of Yellowjackets, on bass, plus keyboardist Chris Walters, trumpeter Bill Fanning, and more than a dozen guest musicians including St. Louis' own R. Scott Bryan on congas. Judging from the previews, it's a typically eclectic outing for the group, mixing jazz with Latin- and African-derived grooves, odd time signatures, and a variety of other influences.

In the video window up above, you can see a live version of one of the tunes from Side Up, "Mogador," recorded in February 2013 by an audience member at a gig in Atlanta. After the jump, there's another tune, "Lucky 13," from the same show.

That's followed by an excerpt from the Mu'tet's gig just last week at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Wilkes-Barre, PA. After that, you can see Coffin in a slightly more informal setting, in a pair of clips recorded here in St. Louis at Saxquest in February and September of 2013.

In the final video, you can hear Coffin's perspectives on the current state of jazz as expressed in his keynote address to the 2014 Jazz Education Network Conference in Dallas. For more about Side Up, read this interview Coffin did last week with Nashville Scene.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump....

Friday, November 14, 2014

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes (pictured) performed this past Tuesday on the morning newscast on KTVI (Fox/Channel 2).

* Students from Jazz St. Louis' JazzU program can be heard playing on the soundtrack for Stairs to the Roof, a nearly forgotten Tennessee Williams play currently getting its second professional production ever at the restored theater and event space, the Boo Cat Club, 812 Union Blvd.

Working under the supervision of Jazz St. Louis education director Phil Dunlap, a group of students including Wyatt Forhan (trombone), Nathan Pence (bass), Brandon Vestal (clarinet), and Ben Steger (trumpet) recorded the original score by the show's music director, pianist Henry Palkes. The production continues through Sunday, November 23.

* Singer, actor and St. Louis native Craig Pomranz now is an author as well, with his children' book Made by Raffi published in five languages and distributed in eight countries by UK publishers Frances Lincoln. Pomranz also will be releasing a song, "Different," inspired by the book's story and co-written by Amanda McBroom (who wrote “The Rose” for Bette Midler) and Michele Brourman.

* What I Heard, the new album from saxophonist Oliver Lake's Organ Quartet,. was reviewed for Something Else by S. Victor Aaron.

* Saxophonist Greg Osby's most recent release (pictured), which teams him with Dutch saxophonist Tineke Postma, was reviewed by the website Jazz in Europe. Also, LA's Jazz Bakery has posted on Facebook a photo set of Osby's recent performance there with his quartet.

* Speaking of photo sets, the Riverfront Times has a slideshow of last weekend's Cherokee Street Jazz Crawl.

* Also, Lindy Hop St. Louis has posted on Facebook an album of photos from the Crawl and the entire Nevermore Jazz Ball weekend.

* And also on Facebook, saxophonist Eric Person has posted a photo album from his big band's recent performance at the Blue Note in NYC.

* Here's an update on efforts to stop the recent string of thefts targeting the tour vans of bands visiting St. Louis, via the Riverfront Times Brian Heffernan.

* Voting in Jazz Times magazine's annual readers poll is open through 5:00 p.m. EST on Monday, Nov. 24.

* Jazz radio update: This Saturday on Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis, “Somethin’ Else” host Calvin Wilson will feature the songs of Jimmy McHugh (writer of "On The Sunny Side of the Street," "Let's Get Lost" and more than 500 other credited compositions) as performed by Joe Lovano, Terence Blanchard, Karrin Allyson, and more.

After that on "The Jazz Collective," host Jason Church will play tracks from Count Basic, Herb Alpert, Keiko Matsui, The Peet Project, David P Stevens, Funky Butt Brass Band, Jim Stevens, Farshid Etniko, Groove Thang, Boz Scaggs, Bob James, Nina Simone, and more. Wilson's program can be heard at 8:00 p.m., followed by Church at 9:00 p.m. on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Jazz this week: Fuller, Jones & Wolf; "Swing Xing" with Bucky Pizzarelli; Jazz in Pink; and more

This week's calendar of jazz and creative music in St. Louis features two different all-star groups of visiting musicians, a return visit from one of the more prominent all-female ensembles in jazz, and a number of noteworthy shows from local bands and players. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, saxophonist Tia Fuller (pictured), who's in town for a Jazz St. Louis educational residency and weekend gig at Jazz at the Bistro, will present a free workshop and performance at Saxquest; and the Gaslight Cabaret Festival resumes with singer/actress Sheri Sanders and her show "Rock It" at the Gaslight Theater.

Also tonight, Good 4 The Soul returns for their monthly gig at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups; and guitarists Tom Byrne and William Lenihan will play as a duo at Remy's Kitchen & Wine Bar.

Tomorrow night, Fuller, trumpeter Sean Jones and vibraphonist Warren Wolf will play for the first of two nights at Jazz at the Bistro, supported by a St. Louis rhythm section of Peter Martin (piano), Jahmal Nichols (bass), and Montez Coleman (drums).

Jones and Wolf, like Fuller, are here this week doing educational residencies for Jazz St. Louis, and so since this is an ad hoc assembly rather than a regular working band, it's hard to say precisely what their repertoire will be. It seems likely that they'll draw on recent albums by the visitors - all three have recorded for the Mack Avenue label, with Wolf and Jones both releasing new CDs this year - but given the talent level, they should sound just fine no matter what they're playing.

Also on Friday, the Gaslight Cabaret Festival presents singer Carole J. Bufford in the first of two nights of her show "Body & Soul" at the Gaslight Theater. Bufford, who will be making her St. Louis debut with this show, was called “most likely to succeed” among the younger generation of New York cabaret performers by the New York Times' Stephen Holden.

Elsewhere around town, singer Erin Bode will perform at Nathalie's; singer Feyza Eren will be at the The Wine Press; and trumpeter Jim Manley returns to One 19 North Tapas & Wine Bar.

On Saturday, guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo will present their touring production "Swing Xing! Three Generations of Swing Guitar" at the Sheldon Concert Hall. For a preview of that performance and video footage of all three guitarists in action, check out this post from last Saturday.

Also on Saturday, Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will play swing, jump blues and more at Nathalie's; and guitarist Tom Byrne's trio will perform at Thurman Grill.

On Sunday, Jazz St. Louis will begin their new weekly Sunday jazz brunch at the Bistro, with musical accompaniment from guitarist and singer Tommy Halloran's Guerrilla Swing.

Then that afternoon, the St. Louis Jazz Club will present the Funky Butt Brass Band at the DoubleTree  Hilton at Westport, where perhaps concertgoers will get a live preview of some of the material from the FBBB's forthcoming album Sugar Sugar Whomp Whomp.

Right around the time that show wraps up, Jazz in Pink will be getting underway at the Sheldon Concert Hall, as the all-female band returns to St. Louis to play another benefit performance for Community Women Against Hardship.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday the Webster University Jazz Collective, featuring members of Webster's jazz faculty, will perform at Winifred Moore Auditorium on campus; and guitarist Dave Black and singer Joe Mancuso will return to BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups.

Then on Tuesday, the SIUE Concert Jazz Band, directed by guitarist Rick Haydon, and the recently formed SIUE Alumni Jazz Band will share the stage for a performance at Jazz at the Bistro, playing "your favorite charts from Basie, Ellington, and beyond."

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.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Music films featured in 2014 St. Louis International Film Festival

As in years past, the 23rd annual St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF), which starts this Thursday, November 13 and continues through Sunday, November 23, once again will feature a number of music-related films, including one of particular interest to jazz fans.

Waltz for Monica is a 2013 drama about the life of singer Monica Zetterlund, whose work in the 1960s helped popularize jazz in Scandinavia. It will be shown at 7:00 p.m. this Saturday, November 15 and again at 4:15 p.m. next Wednesday, November 19 at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema.

Although Zetterlund didn't have a big impact in the USA - part of the film deals with the less-than-favorable reception she got in the States - she did record with pianist Bill Evans' trio in 1964, and modern day jazz fans also may recognize her from a series of YouTube videos documenting a 1966 performance with Evans' trio. The film has been called "a stunning tour-de-force" for Swedish singer/songwriter Edda Magnason (pictured), who makes her acting debut as Monica.

After the jump, you can find ticketing info and a list of all the other music-related films in this year's SLIFF...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Music Education Monday: Electronic music history, and a Clark Terry master class

This week for Music Ed Monday, we've got some resources on the history of electronic music, and a video master class with a jazz trumpet great... 

* Electronic music may seem like the most futuristic genre of them all, but it's been around for more than a century. To learn more about what's gone before, start with the "Electonic Music Historical Overview," a one-page timeline from Indiana University that lays out the basics.

From there, the site 120 Years of Electronic Music offers further, more detailed explorations of many of the same ideas and topics. Next, pay a visit to, "a centralized, organized and authoritative resource for information about vintage electronic musical instruments" that Keyboard magazine calls "an excellent first stop for researching particular synths or just exploring ... an information rich and well-organized resource that serves as a terrific reference."

And to explain how all this plays out the present day, the Electronic Music Guide infographic (pictured) offers a visually appealing summary of the many current sub-genres within the genre. 

* St. Louis native Clark Terry is famous for being a great teacher and mentor as well as a great trumpet player. These two videos document a master class Terry gave in 2004 for Artists House in NYC, and the performance that followed:

Miles on Monday:
Herbie Hancock on Miles Davis

In this week's installment of "Miles on Monday," Herbie Hancock tells a story about Miles Davis, and plays a short solo piece on electric piano dedicated to Davis:

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Gramophone switching
to new format in 2015

The Gramophone, which nearly seven years ago became one of the first live music venues in the now-burgeoning Grove district, will step back from presenting live music and switch to a new format in 2015.

According to a message posted Friday on the venue's Facebook page, The Gramophone (pictured) will close for remodeling in January, and then reopen in February as "your 6 day week stop in anytime for a bite and a beer spot in The Grove."

"We will have regular hours (11-3 Tues-Sun), more beers, more cocktails, more food, more seating and NO COVER EVER," the message continued. "We will have some live music and some DJs on the weekends but most of the time we will have a great hand picked soundtrack on our new stereo at a level that you can talk at without yelling."

Although the club's live music offerings have been mostly indie rock, Americana, and hip-hop, occasionally touring jazz acts including Rebirth Brass Band and Kermit Ruffins also have been part of the mix, along with a few locals such as Tommy Halloran, Jeff Riley, and the Funky Butt Brass Band. During the first year of its existence, The Gramophone also presented local jazz musicians weekly on Tuesdays, even enlisting Jazz St. Louis as a co-sponsor of some shows, but that venture lasted only a few months.

You can see the complete text of the message after the jump...

Saturday, November 08, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
A trip to "Swing Xing" with Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo

If you enjoy jazz guitar played in a traditional style, today's post might be right up your alley, as we feature not one, not two, but three guitarists - Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo - who will be performing together in a show called "Swing Xing: Three Generations of Jazz Guitar" next Saturday, November 15 at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Pizzarelli, who will turn 89 in January, is of course one of the elder statesmen on his instrument, with credits including untold numbers of recordings, television and radio appearances, and live gigs stretching back nearly seven decades. He's also the father of singer-guitarist John Pizzarelli, and it was with his son that he performed most recently in St. Louis last December at Jazz at the Bistro.

Vignola also has headlined at the Bistro with his own band and with Raniolo, performing most recently at the club in May 2012. The three have worked together informally on various occasions and joined forces officially to tour with the "Swing Xing" show last year.

Unfortunately, there seem to be only a few videos online of all three guitarists playing together in the format they'll be using at the Sheldon, and we've already shared one of the best ones here as part of StLJN's fall 2014 jazz preview. So instead, here's a selection of clips featuring them in other combinations.

The first four videos, starting up above and continuing after the jump, all were recorded at Pizzarelli's 88th birthday celebration in January of this year at the Cutting Room in NYC, and feature him jamming on a series of standards with Vignola and fellow guitarists Ed Laub and Gene Bertoncini.

Below that, there are a couple of clips of Vignola and Raniolo performing as a duo. The first is a medley of "Summertime," "I Found A New Baby" and "Gypsymania" recorded last year in Wuppertal, while the second is described as "a classical medley with a twist," and was recorded last year in Ireland during Cloughtoberfest, an annual festival of gypsy jazz and swing.

For more of Bucky Pizzarelli, check out this Saturday video showcase that ran before his last appearance here, and for more of Vignola and Raniolo, see this one.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

Friday, November 07, 2014

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* A previously unreleased recording featuring singer and East St. Louis native Leon Thomas fronting the British jazz-rock band Nucleus at the 1970 Montreux Jazz Festival has been issued by Gearbox Records, and was reviewed by's Roger Farbey.

* What I Heard, the new album from saxophonist Oliver Lake's Organ Quartet, was reviewed by DownBeat's Ed Enright. 

* The Funky Butt Brass Band have posted a playlist from their upcoming album Sugar Sugar Whomp Whomp on SoundCloud. The official release event for the CD will be on Saturday, November 22 at the Broadway Oyster Bar.

* Trumpeter Keyon Harrold (pictured) has posted a new song, "Her Beauty Through My Eyes," on YouTube.

* New Music Circle's website has an interview with percussionist/installation artist Eli Keszler, who will perform along with electronic musician Rashad Becker in an NMC-sponsored concert tomorrow night at The Luminary.

* Keep On Keepin' On, the new documentary about trumpeter Clark Terry that just wrapped up its St. Louis run at the Tivoli Theater, has made the first cut to be eligible for an Academy Award nomination.

* In this week's Miles Davis news, here's a just-published listicle of Davis' albums ranked from best to worst by Stereogum's Phil Freeman.

* Meanwhile, in a brief article in the Wall Street Journal, percussionist and producer Thelonious Monk III recalls childhood memories of a Davis visit to the Monk family home.

* And in this past Tuesday's election, voters in Alton showed support for the Miles Davis Memorial Project by approving an advisory resolution to rename the fountain at the corner of Belle and Third Streets in downtown Alton the “Miles Davis Memorial Fountain.” The vote was 4,616 in favor, 1,833 against.

* Want to work for Jazz St. Louis? Executive director Gene Dobbs Bradford is seeking an executive assistant, specifically "someone who is an excellent writer and extremely organized" as well as "able to manage up." For more details on the job and how to apply, go here.

* Jazz radio update: This Saturday on Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis, “Somethin’ Else” host Calvin Wilson will explore jazz that draws on folk, country and Americana via tracks from Bill Frisell, Regina Carter, Sarah Jarosz, and more.

After that on "The Jazz Collective," host Jason Church will be highlighting some cuts from the new Funky Butt Brass Band album. Wilson's program can be heard at 8:00 p.m., followed by Church at 9:00 p.m. on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at 

On Sunday, this week's guest on WSIE's "Jazz Talk" will be Jazz St. Louis' Gene Dobbs Bradford. The program airs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 88.7 FM, and also can be heard online.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Anat Cohen out, Erin Bode, Brian Owens in
for Peter Martin concert Friday, November 21 at The Sheldon

The Sheldon Concert Hall has announced that clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen, who had been scheduled to return to St. Louis to perform with pianist Peter Martin on Friday, November 21 at the Sheldon, will be unable to appear that night "due to an unexpected family health situation."

Cohen's spot on the bill will be filled St. Louis vocalists Erin Bode (pictured) and Brian Owens, both of whom have performed with Martin before.

Current ticket holders who still wish to attend the concert need only to keep their current tickets and present them at the door on November 21. Single ticket buyers may request refunds for the face value of their tickets at the original point of purchase; by calling MetroTix at 314-534-1111; or in person at the Fox Theatre box office, 531 N. Grand Blvd.

Jazz this week: Joshua Redman Trio, Nevermore Jazz Ball, Eli Keszler & Rashad Becker, Marco Benevento, and more

There's a jam-packed schedule of jazz and creative music over the next few days in St. Louis, with a variety of musical styles and sensibilities on offer. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, saxophonist Joshua Redman and his long-running trio will open a four-night stand continuing through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro. Redman last played the Bistro with bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Greg Hutchinson back in 2010, and for a look at some of what they've been up to since then, check out this video post from last Saturday.

Also tonight, the eclectic instrumental quartet The 442s will play at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Tomorrow night, Lindy Hop St. Louis' weekend-long event the Nevermore Jazz Ball gets underway with an opening dance at The Gramophone featuring music provided by the Mound City Mamas, a new St. Louis group led by banjo player Kellie Everett.

Also tomorrow, the Gaslight Cabaret Festival resumes with St. Louisans Joe Dreyer and Rosemary Watts presenting their show "Mixing It Up" at the Gaslight Theater; and the Mike Buerck Orchestra, featuring a number of musicians who have worked in the pit bands at the Muny and/or Fox Theatre, will play a free concert of big band swing for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University.

On Friday, pianist/singer Jesse Gannon will perform at the Ozark Theatre, while Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes return to the Venice Cafe.

That same evening, the Gaslight Cabaret Festival will feature two Chicago performers, pianist and singer Beckie Menzie and singer Tom Michael, presenting "That '60s Show" at the Gaslight Theater.

Meanwhile, the Nevermore Jazz Ball will continue with a sextet led by guitarist/banjoist Jake Sanders providing the music for dancers at the Franklin Room, a venue at 816 Allen Ave in Soulard that's usually used for wedding receptions and private parties.

On Saturday afternoon, the NJB will present the annual Cherokee Street Jazz Crawl, a free, public event that will feature Tommy Halloran, Miss Jubilee, Wack-A-Doo, Swing Deville, The Sidemen, the Jazz St. Louis All-Stars student ensemble and more performing at various venues and businesses located along a stretch of Cherokee St. from the 2100 to the 2800 blocks. The Ball continues Saturday evening with Sanders’ Arcadian Serenaders, an expanded version of his band from Friday night, playing for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom.

Also on Saturday night, percussionist and installation artist Eli Keszler (pictured) and electronic musician Rashad Becker will perform separate sets in a concert presented by New Music Circle at the new location of The Luminary, 2701 Cherokee St. For more about both men, plus some performance videos, see this post from a couple of weeks ago.

Elsewhere around town, Chicago's Joan Curto will keep the Gaslight Cabaret Festival going with a performance of Cole Porter songs at the Gaslight Theater; singer Feyza Eren will bring her quartet to house-concert venue the KindaBlue Club; and singers Mary Dyson and Diane Vaughn will team up for a return appearance at Troy's Jazz Gallery.

On Sunday, keyboardist (and now singer!) Marco Benevento will be in town to play at 2720 Cherokee, likely showcasing much of the material from his most recent album Swift, for which he vocalized on record for the very first time.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday more of Webster University's student jazz combos will be performing at the Community Music School on the Webster campus; and percussionist Joe Pastor's group returns to BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups.

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.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Review: John Pizzarelli at Jazz at the Bistro

Calling John Pizzarelli a throwback to the days when jazz still was considered popular entertainment might sound like a veiled compliment, but it's not.

For one thing, it takes a great deal of skill to not only play the guitar as well as he does, but also to sing, tell funny stories, and keep a crowd's attention over the course of a 75-minute set. Pizzarelli did all these during the second set on Thursday, October 23 at Jazz at the Bistro, and he did them very well.

For another thing, while not every musician has Pizzarelli's affability, gift for gab, and comic timing, many certainly could benefit from a similar ability to put together a well-constructed, well-paced show.

Drawing on mostly familiar numbers associated with "The Great American Songbook" and/or Duke Ellington, Pizzarelli deftly mixed guitar licks and laugh lines with effective assistance from a trio including his brother Martin on bass and two new band members, pianist Konrad Paszkudzki and drummer Kevin Kanner. Both of the newcomers fit in well, and Paszkudzki, who's from Australia, in particular seems like a real find, soloing frequently with an appealing combination of melodic economy and supple technique.

Highlights of the set included "I Like To Recognize The Tune," a Rodgers and Hart song with a lyric that could double as Pizzarelli's musical manifesto; "We'll Take Manhattan"; and a speedy version of "Johnny One Note" in which this particular John played a great many notes, speedily and accurately.

Ellingtonia was well represented by Pizzarelli's version of "Just Squeeze Me," which was preceded by a story about learning it from the late, great bassist Ray Brown, as well as "Satin Doll," "In A Mellowtone" and a bit of "C Jam Blues."

In between, Pizzarelli interspersed various bits of business about the history of the songs, along with occasionally self-deprecating stories about how he came to learn or record them. He let his drummer deliver the one truly musty joke (about the difference between Russian opera and Italian opera) but, like any veteran comic performer, had a few "ad libs" tucked into his pocket waiting to be deployed, including eying a stage-side patron's dinner and noting that "pizza is right there in my name!"

Although most of the interpretations were straightforward and swinging, Pizzarelli did change things up considerably with what he called his "James Taylorization" of "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught," a song from South Pacific recast as a folk-rock ballad. Given the recent events in Ferguson, the song's message about how racism is imparted rather than inherent could have come across as heavy-handed, but this low-key treatment delivered the meaning in a surprisingly powerful way.

Not every gimmick worked, though. Pizzarelli's pairing of the lyrics from "Don't Get Around Much Any More" with the music of "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo" did demonstrate his point about the former being a song with depressing lyrics that's usually sung in a sprightly manner, but the payoff seemed more conceptual than musical.

The set's penultimate number involved a long story detailing the background of "I Like Jersey Best," a tune written by an old bandmate to promote the state of New Jersey that was recorded by the group, including Pizzarelli, very early in his career.

While the story had some laughs along the way, it mostly served to set up a rendition of the song in a series of styles recalling various rock and pop stars, ranging from Paul Simon to Bob Dylan to the Beach Boys to Amy Winehouse. Most of these musical caricatures were broad and fairly obvious, but they got laughs. More important, none overstayed their welcome, turning what would be, at best, a rather slight piece of material into a memorable part of the show.

If you're old enough to remember when jazz enthusiast Johnny Carson ruled the late-night talk show scene, it's not hard to imagine a time-traveling Pizzarelli doing that number on The Tonight Show and then sitting down on the couch to banter with Johnny like Buddy Rich or Mel Torme used to do.

Unfortunately, even with 300 channels, contemporary television doesn't seem to be able to sustain a program format in which Pizzarelli and other similarly inclined musicians and singers might flourish, but if he ever were to realize his wish to host a TV variety show, I'd tune in.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Music Education Monday: "Music Theory for Musicians and Normal People" & The Red Hot Jazz Archive

(Editor's note: In this new recurring weekly feature, every Monday StLJN will share a couple of links to online resources devoted to music education, jazz history, and related topics.)

* Written to be understandable for beginners, but also a useful reference in general, "Music Theory for Musicians and Normal People" is a series of illustrated PDFs explaining the basics of music theory a page at a time. (You also can grab all the PDFs published to date as a single document.)

Topics includes everything from the basics of musical notation (pictured) to more advanced subjects like counterpoint, altered chords, extended harmonies, and more.

* If you're interested in the early history of jazz, the venerable Red Hot Jazz Archive is worth a look as a starting point for learning about bands and musicians who worked and recorded before 1930. (Though some might be put off initially by the site's design, which hasn't changed since the early days of the World Wide Web, the historical information contained therein is still good.)

The RHJA includes discographies and biographies of hundreds of early jazz musicians and bands, both famous and obscure, as well as a series of essays discussing various aspects of the music. Many of the entries also include audio files which, though regrettably presented in the now-antiquated Real Player format, are free for the listening.

Miles on Monday: In his own words

(Editor's note - This is the first installment in what will be a regular feature here on StLJN, in which each Monday we'll offer some bit of news, music or media connected to the most famous and influential jazz musician to come from the St. Louis area.)

What better way to begin a new recurring feature about Miles Davis than with some words from the man himself? Here are a couple of interviews - one short, one long - featuring Davis talking about himself, his music, other trumpet players he enjoyed, race and racism, Gil Evans, and a variety of other topics:

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Recently on Heliocentric Worlds

With the start of a new month, it's time for another of our periodic check-ins with StLJN's sibling site Heliocentric Worlds, where each day we post a new music video, drawing on genres including jazz, blues, soul, funk, classic rock, prog rock, experimental and more. The most-watched clips during the month of October were:

Max Roach Quintet with Abbie Lincoln - "Driva Man"
Quicksilver Messenger Service - "Fresh Air"
Rebirth Brass Band - Live at the Howlin' Wolf
Canned Heat - "On The Road Again"
eighth blackbird, Third Coast Percussion & Friends - "Music For Eighteen Musicians"
Bob Dylan - "With God On Our Side"

Other recent posts have featured performances from John Surman, Lucky Peterson, Osibisa, Buddy Rich, Egberto Gismonti & Naná Vasconcelos, Ginger Baker's Jazz Confusion, Lonnie Liston Smith and the Cosmic Echoes, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock, Don Byas, Bobby Hutcherson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Cassandra Wilson and David Murray's Black Saint Quartet, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Heatwave, Lester Bowie, Chris Potter, Ornette Coleman, Randy Newman, Klaus Doldinger & Passport, Brecker Brothers Band, Grandmothers of Invention, John Lee Hooker, and the Ensemble InterContemporain.

If you missed out, not to worry, because you still can see all these clips, plus thousands more from the carefully curated archives, by going to

Saturday, November 01, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Joshua Redman Trio

Today, let's take a look at saxophonist Joshua Redman and his trio, who are coming to St. Louis to perform next Wednesday, November 5 through Saturday, November 8 at Jazz at the Bistro.

Though Redman leads several different ensembles and also is a member of the cooperative band James Farm, his trio with bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Gregory Hutchinson remains one of his staple formats - so much so that the last time he came to St. Louis back in 2010, it was with the very same musicians at the same venue.

In addition, earlier this year Redman released Trios Live, an album documenting his collaborations with Hutchinson, Rogers, and Matt Penman, who handles the bass duties when Rogers is not available.

That recording received mostly glowing reviews, and serves as a succinct introduction to the trio's style. But for those who haven't heard it, who may have missed Redman's previous gigs here, or simply are coming in late, here are some glimpses of them in action.

We get started up top with an episode of the Voice of America program Beyond Category with Eric Felten from 2013 that features an interview with Redman plus versions of “Mack the Knife,” “Soul Dance,” and, with Felten sitting in, Thelonious Monk’s “Misterioso.”

After the jump, you can see five more clips of Redman, Rogers and Hutchinson, recorded during various European tours over the last three years. The first is a version of "Riddle Me This," a song by pianist Aaron Parks, that was recorded at a gig in February 2012 in Norway.

That's followed by another clip from the same tour showing them playing "Odd Man In" at a concert in Germany. The next video, recorded in 2013 in Stockholm, starts off as a version of "Stardust" and morphs from there into a considerably different groove.

We close out with two songs recorded at a 2011 show in Moscow, "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" and "Hide & Seek."

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...