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.
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.
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.
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).
(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.)