Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Jazz this week: Byron Stripling's tribute to Clark Terry, The Necks, and more

From a big band tribute to one of St. Louis' all-time musical greats to the debut appearance by an avant-garde band from Australia, this week's calendar of jazz and creative music in St. Louis offers an exceptionally eclectic selection of shows. Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, March 23
Burlesque performer Lola Van Ella and her band present the first of two evenings at Jazz at the Bistro, and Elsie Parker and the Poor People of Paris return to Nathalie's.

Thursday, March 24
Saxophonist Mark Colby will front a quartet for a free performance at Saxquest. Colby, who broke into the business with Maynard Ferguson's band and made a number of well-received albums in the 1980s with keyboardist Bob James, now splits his time between touring and recording activities and teaching at DePaul University and Elmhurst College in Chicago.

Also on Thursday, keyboardist Bill Laurance will perform at the Old Rock House. Laurance probably is best known as one of the keyboardists for Snarky Puppy, but he's had a diverse career as a sideman, session player, and composer for dance companies.

He's currently touring in support of his recently released third solo album Aftersun, described as "a paean to space exploration and life in the cosmos" that was recorded with help from Snarky Puppy bandmates Michael League and Robert "Sput" Searight and percussionist Weedie Braimah.

Elsewhere that evening, the Gaslight Cabaret Festival resumes with singer Natalie Douglas presenting her show "Hello Dolly - The Music of Dolly Parton" at the Gaslight Theater; and drummer Montez Coleman leads a quartet in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University.

Friday, March 25
Trumpeter Byron Stripling (pictured, top left, with Clark Terry) returns to join the Jazz St. Louis Big Band for the first of two nights of a "Tribute to Clark Terry" at Jazz at the Bistro.

While Terry was undeniably a singular talent, Stripling (who's toured successfully for years with a tribute to Louis Armstrong) certainly brings both chops and showmanship to the party. He's also bringing a specially composed big-band suite paying tribute to Terry, which was premiered last year by the Columbus Jazz Orchestra (which Stripling directs) and will be expanded for this weekend's performances by a new fourth movement composed by St. Louis trombonist and tuba player Cody Henry.

Nearby in Grand Center, The Dark Room will celebrate two years in business with food and drink specials and live music from its Friday night regulars, keyboardist Mo Egeston, joined for the occasion by his trio, and keyboard player and singer Jesse Gannon.

Elsewhere on Friday, singer and pianist Liam Forde will present the first of two performances this weekend at the Gaslight Theater; Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes return to the Venice Cafe; trumpeter Jim Manley takes the stage at Thurman Grill; and Miss Jubilee plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom.

Saturday, March 26
On Saturday afternoon, saxophonist Adam Larson will be back in St. Louis to present a free performance and workshop in jazz improvisation at Saxquest.

That evening, the Australian trio The Necks will make their St. Louis debut in a concert presented by New Music Circle at The Stage at KDHX.

Together for nearly 30 years now, The Necks (pictured, bottom left) are a piano-bass-drums trio that defies the familiar conventions of that format, and are known instead for their extended minimalist improvisations, which can last up to an hour each. For some video samples of past performances, plus interviews with the band members, see this post from a couple of Saturdays ago.

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.)

Edited 3/23/16 to correct the name of the composer of the Clark Terry tribute suite's fourth movement.

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