Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Jazz this week: Chris Botti, JazzU with Stefon Harris, Don Cunningham, U City Jazz Festival, Daniel Bennett, and more

This week's lineup of jazz and creative music performances in St. Louis encompasses musicians with a vast range of experience, from young teenage players getting their first chances onstage at a showcase club to an elder statesman who got his start more than a half-century ago in the fabled Gaslight Square entertainment district. Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, June 3
Billed as the "New York Jazz Ensemble," bassist Tom Kennedy, saxophonists George Garzone and Steve Wirts, guitarist Joe Cohn and drummer Miles Vandiver will play an early evening show at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups.

Also on Wednesday, the Route 66 Jazz Orchestra will make their debut at Jazz at the Bistro.

Thursday, June 4
Singer Feyza Eren teams with guitarist Brian Vaccaro's trio to re-imagine songs from a variety of genres at the Tavern of Fine Arts; guitarist Dave Black and friends, featuring singer Joe Mancuso, return to Nathalie's; and saxophonist Jim Stevens and band will perform at Hammerstone's.

Friday, June 5
If there's a sentimental favorite among this week's jazz and creative music attractions, it would have to be singer, multi-instrumentalist and St. Louis native Don Cunningham.

Cunningham (pictured, top left), a veteran of the Gaslight Square era who now lives in Las Vegas, is returning to his hometown this weekend for his first performances since his wife and musical partner, singer and pianist Alicia Cunningham, passed away back in December.

He'll be joined by singer Jeanne Trevor and a local rhythm section for shows paying tribute to his wife and the late St. Louis singer Gene Lynn on Friday and Saturday nights, plus a Sunday matinee, at the Ozark Theatre.

Also on Friday, trumpeter Chris Botti (pictured, center left) returns to St. Louis for the first time since 2012 for a performance with the St. Louis Symphony at Powell Hall; and the students from Jazz St. Louis' JazzU and Jazz St. Louis All-Stars programs will begin their annual weekend showcase at Jazz at the Bistro, with a little help from special guest vibraphonist Stefon Harris (pictured, lower left).

Elsewhere around town, Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will perform at Evangeline's; the Funky Butt Brass Band check in for their monthly gig at Broadway Oyster Bar; and the Original Knights of Swing play for dancers at Casa Loma Ballroom.

Saturday, June 6
Starting mid-afternoon and continuing through the evening, the annual U City Jazz Festival in Heman Park will present free performances by drummer Demarius Hicks' quartet, the Silverman Brothers Band, trumpeter Anthony Wiggins with drummer Maurice Carnes, pianist Philip Gomez' trio, and the student band Nexus.

Also on Saturday, pianist Greg Mills and the Perihelion Ensemble return to the Tavern of Fine Arts; and The People's Key offer instrumental interpretations of the music of Michael Jackson at the Kranzberg Arts Center.

Sunday, June 7
The Friends of Scott Joplin present their monthly "Ragtime Rendezvous" matinee at the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site, this month welcoming performs who will have just played the annual Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia; and Good 4 The Soul plays their monthly show at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups.

Tuesday June 9
Saxophonist Daniel Bennett, touring in support of his new album The Mystery at Clown Castle, will play a free concert with his trio in the auditorium at the downtown branch of the St. Louis Public Library.

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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