Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Jazz this week: Kurt Elling, Zappa Plays Zappa, SIUE big bands, and more

As Jazz Appreciation Month 2015 reaches the halfway point, St. Louis gets a visit from one of the top male singers in jazz, a tribute to a memorable moment in 1970s jazz/fusion, and more. Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, April 15
Tonight, singer Kurt Elling returns to St. Louis to begin a four-night engagement at Jazz at the Bistro

A regular visitor here for the past decade-plus, Elling (pictured, top left) has won the DownBeat Critics Poll for male vocalist each year for the last fourteen years; has been named “Male Singer of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association eight times during that same period, and had had every one of his ten albums nominated for a GRAMMY.

Since parting with longtime pianist and music director Laurence Hobgood a couple of years ago, Elling has gigged with several different keyboardists, including the German pianist Mads Baerentzen and Gary Versace, known for his work with Carla Bley, John Scofield and many others. This week, his ensemble will feature the 24-year-old NYC pianist Emmet Cohen, along with longtime guitarist John McLean, bassist Clark Sommers and drummer Bryan Carter.

While listeners at the Bistro over the course of the week may hear some selections from Elling's last album, 1916 Broadway: The Brill Building Project, and from his recently developed touring show, "Elling Swings Sinatra," the word from other recent tour stops suggests that there also will be a lot of music from his forthcoming album Passion World, which features "ballads of love and loss from across the globe" and is scheduled for release at the end of May.

Elsewhere around town, trumpeter Keith Moyer brings his group back to BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups; Cabaret Project St. Louis presents their monthly open mic night at Tavern of Fine Arts; and keyboardist Bob Werner and singer Ellen Martinez are hosting a new weekly open mic night at Shakers, which took over the former location of Jazz on Broadway at 554 W. Broadway in Alton.

Thursday, April 16
Guitarist Dave Black, singer Feyza Eren (pictured, center left) and friends perform at Nathalie’s, and guitarist Tom Byrne and his Pat Metheny-inspired project Have U Heard will play a concert at Lewis and Clark Community College.

Friday, April 17
The Gateway City Big Band plays for dancers at Casa Loma Ballroom, and Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will play swing, hot jazz and blues at the Backstreet Jazz & Blues Club in Westport.

Saturday, April 18
Trumpeter Jim Manley leads a band including singer Charlie B, keyboardist Arthur Toney, guitarist Randy Bahr and trumpeter Joe Weber in a gig at Nathalie's, while Wack-A-Doo plays swing and Americana at Evangeline's.

Also on Saturday, singer Joe Mancuso and Dave Black will duet at Element STL; bassist David Certain will celebrate his birthday with an afternoon jam session and an evening gig with his CertainBeat WorldBop, both at Thurman Grill; and Miss Jubilee performs at Casa Loma Ballroom.

Sunday, April 19
Drummers Montez Coleman and Brandon Jones will co-lead a quintet with keyboardist Adam Maness, saxophonist Kendrick Smith and bassist Jahmal Nichols at Troy's Jazz Gallery

Monday, April 20
Repertory band Zappa Plays Zappa, led by Dweezil Zappa, guitarist and son of Frank, will play at The Ready Room, at 4195 Manchester Ave in the Grove district.

For this show, relocated from the now-closed Plush STL, ZPZ will mark the 40th anniversary of Frank Zappa's 1975 album One Size Fits All by performing the entire record, as they did last year with Apostrophe (').

Also on Monday, the Webster University Jazz Collective and student jazz singers will play at Winifred Moore Auditorium on the Webster campus, and drummer/percussionist Joe Pastor and band will perform at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups.

Tuesday, April 21
The SIUE Concert Jazz Band and SIUE Alumni Jazz Band will return for another one-show-only evening at  Jazz at the Bistro.

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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