Thursday, December 11, 2014

Jazz this week: Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O, "A Very Manley Christmas," Cornet Chop Suey, Alarm Will Sound, and more

As you might expect, this week's calendar of jazz and creative music in St. Louis features plenty of seasonal sounds, but there also are a variety of other offerings, ranging stylistically from traditional jazz to free improv, for those seeking an audio alternative.
Let's go to the highlights...

Thursday, December 11 
New music ensemble Alarm Will Sound* performs their final show of 2014 at the Sheldon Concert Hall, presenting the world premiere of the complete score of Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy's The Hunger.

While this concert version of the extended work about the great Irish famine doesn't have all of the planned multimedia features in place yet, it will have Iarla Ó Lionáird, of The Gloaming and Afro Celt Sound System, and mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway, a last-minute substitute for Dawn Upshaw, who's ill, as guest vocal soloists.

Also on Thursday, the Funky Butt Brass Band returns to the Blues City Deli for an early evening show; and Franglais, a Gypsy jazz group fronted by singer Eve Seltzer and her husband, guitarist Ben Wood, and newly arrived in St. Louis, will make their local debut at Evangeline's.

Friday, December 12
Drummer Matt Wilson and his Christmas Tree-O wrap up a week-long educational residency with a public concert at Webster Groves High School, performing expanded arrangements of holiday favorites back by student big bands from WGHS.

Also on Friday, trumpeter Jim Manley (pictured) will be in the holiday spirit as he convenes his Mad Brass and Rhythm for the first of two nights of "A Very Manley Christmas" at Jazz at the Bistro.While the material from Manley's newest album Funk Factory doesn't really fit the format for this particular gig, fans no doubt will be able to purchase copies of the just-issued CD at the merch table.

Elsewhere around town, Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will perform at Nathalie's; and Second Generation Swing plays for dancers at Casa Loma Ballroom.

Saturday, December 13
On Saturday afternoon, there's one more chance to hear the Oikos Ensemble's "What Child is This? A Jazz Nativity," which will be performed this week at St. Paul United Church of Christ in Belleville.

Then that evening, singers Mary Dyson and Diane Vaughn will return to Troy's Jazz Gallery; the Kevin Mitchell 4 will be playing seasonal songs at Evangeline‘s; and Miss Jubilee performs at the Casa Loma Ballroom.

Sunday, December 14 
The St. Louis Jazz Club presents their final concert of the year, a matinee with trad jazz and swing band Cornet Chop Suey performing at the DoubleTree Hotel at Westport; and the Jazz Edge Orchestra, featuring singers Ron Wilkinson and Marsha Evans, will return to Kirkwood Station Brewing Company.

Monday, December 15 
The Sessions Big Band will check in for their last gig of the year at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups; singer Dean Christopher bring his "Rat Pack and More" show back to One 19 North Tapas and Wine Bar; and Off Topic II, an improvising trio featuring pianist Jim Hegarty, bassist Paul Steinbeck and drummer Gary Sykes, will take the stage at the Tavern of Fine Arts.

Tuesday, December 16
The Tavern of Fine Arts will offer what should be another noteworthy evening of improvised music as the Society for Creative Survival, a new venture spearheaded by pianists Greg Mills and David Parker, presents "Soliloquy - An Evening of Solo Performances," featuring brief solo sets by Mills, Parker, trumpeter George Sams, cellist Tracy Andreotti, percussionist Henry Claude, and more.

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.)

* Full disclosure: StLJN's editor is paid by the firm Slay & Associates to assist Alarm Will Sound with publicity for their gigs in Missouri. However, given our editorial focus, I'd be writing about their shows regardless. So, rather than not telling you about something that might be of interest, you get this disclosure instead. 

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