Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Jazz this week: Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival, Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience, Kneebody, Jazz Edge Big Band, and more

It's looking like the busiest weekend so far this year for live jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with a number of touring bands and musicians passing through town in the next few days, as well as some particularly noteworthy shows from local players.

Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, March 18
The eclectic quintet Kneebody makes their St. Louis debut, opening a four-night engagement continuing through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro. Although their instrumentation (trumpet, sax and rhythm section) may seen familiar, Kneebody pulls in a lot of influences from beyond the jazz tradition, ranging from punk rock to contemporary classical. You can see and hear the results for yourself in this video showcase post from last Saturday.   

Also tonight, Cabaret Project St. Louis presents their monthly "Open Mic Night" at the Tavern of Fine Arts

Thursday, March 19
Pianist Carolbeth True and Two Times True will play a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University.

Friday, March 20
The 2015 Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival opens with a concert featuring a ad hoc group fronted by saxophonist "Blue" Lou Marini, trombonist Steve Wiest, and trumpeter Clay Jenkins at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. The UMSL Jazz Ensemble will open the show. 

Also on Friday, singer Joe Mancuso and guitarist Dave Black will duet at Chaser's Lounge in the Chase Park Plaza Hotel; and the Sentimental Journey Dance Band performs at Casa Loma Ballroom.

Saturday, March 21
The Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience will perform at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Led by Dizzy Gillespie’s long-term bassist John Lee, the group pays tribute to Gillespie’s pioneering efforts to fuse jazz and Latin music in the 1940s and 50s, with a repertoire featuring the trumpeter's compositions as well as contemporary Latin jazz that draws on the tradition he helped establish.

Back at the Touhill, the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival continues with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.

Led by bassist John Clayton, his brother, saxophonist Jeff Clayton, and drummer Jeff Hamilton, and often featuring St. Louis native Keith Fiddmont in the saxophone section, the Los Angeles-based big band is a hard-swinging outfit with original charts that puts contemporary touches on the mainstream tradition, not unlike a West Coast version of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.

Also on Saturday, singer/actress Anna Blair will perform music composed by a famous former St. Louisan in her show "Inside Story - The Songs of Fran Landesman" for the Gaslight Cabaret Festival; Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will be swinging at the Backstreet Jazz and Blues Club at Westport; guitarist Brian Vaccaro's trio adds singer Feyza Eren as special guest for a gig at The Wolf; and drummer Montez Coleman and Friends play at the Kranzberg Arts Center.

Sunday, March 22
The Jazz Edge Big Band will present a "Salute to St. Louis Women in Jazz" at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

Inspired by Women's History Month, the concert will feature the 17-piece band and guest performers including singers Marsha Evans and Denise Thimes, trumpeter/singer Dawn Weber, pianist Carolbeth True, and saxophonist Hope Walker playing "jazz standards and also a few soon to be standards."

Monday, March 23
Guitarist and St. Louis native Daryl Darden, who's been based on the West Coast in recent years, will be back home for a performance at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups; and pianist Matt Villinger will play while artist Vesna Delevska paints at Tavern of Fine Arts.

Tuesday, March 24
Keyboardist Jim Hegarty doubles down on his Off Topic trio to launch STL, The Free Jazz Septet with a debut performance at the Tavern of Fine Arts. In addition to Hegarty, the septet includes Off Topic members Paul Steinbeck on bass and Gary Sykes on drums, plus "Baba" Mike Nelson (trumpet, shells, poetry), Jay Dubz (alto sax, percussion, vocals), John Tamm-Buckle (electronics), and Michael Castro (poetry).

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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