Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Jazz this week: Kenny Barron, Tyondai Braxton, Thurman Barker, an all-star band with Cohen, Wilson, Hill & Oh, and more

It's a terrifically busy week for jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with a number of interesting musicians visiting town over the next few days. So let's skip the rest of the preamble and go straight to the highlights...

Wednesday, April 6
Pianist Kenny Barron returns to St. Louis for the first of two evenings with his trio at Jazz at the Bistro.

Officially designated as an NEA "Jazz Master," the 72-year-old Barron is a stylistically versatile pianist, albeit with a notable affinity for the music of Thelonious Monk, who possesses touch, technique, tone, and taste in abundance, and deploys them in a consistently satisfying fashion. For some samples of his playing, check out the video post that preceded his appearance last year at the Bistro.

Thursday, April 7
Percussionist Thurman Barker, a founding member of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians who's played with some of the most significant figures of the past half-century of improvised music, will headline a ticketed concert ($10 GA, $5 students) for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University.

Barker (pictured, top left) will be joined by saxophonist Joel Vanderheyden, trombonist Wayne Coniglio, and bassist Paul Steinbeck, who teaches at Wash U. He'll also perform in a separate event at Wash U on Friday (see below). For more about Barker, and some video samples of him performing in several different musical context, see this video post from a couple of Saturdays ago.

Most weeks, Barker's performance would a shoo-in must-see for local fans of adventurous music, but that's complicated in this particular instance by the appearance of composer Tyondai Braxton in St. Louis on the same night for a solo performance at The Luminary.

Braxton, the son of famed composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton, has made a variety of music in his career, ranging from experimental rock with the group Battles to compositions for full orchestra to sound installations in museums. While it's not clear from the advance promotion exactly what's involved in one of his solo performances, based on his recent work and reputation, it should be worth hearing.

Elsewhere around town on Thursday, the Gaslight Cabaret Festival resumes with St. Louis' own Joe Dreyer and Rosemary Watts performing "Nuance and Novelty" at the Gaslight Theater; singer Ralph Williams begins a monthly residency at Troy's Jazz Gallery; and The Gaslight Squares will play traditional jazz at Thaxton Speakeasy

Friday, April 8
This week, Jazz St. Louis has brought several well-known musicians to town for educational residencies, and to wrap up their stay, clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen, drummer Matt Wilson, trumpeter Marquis Hill, and bassist Linda Oh will take the stage at Jazz at the Bistro for the first of two nights of performances.

While an ad hoc ensemble like this one obviously doesn't have an established songbook to tap, Cohen (pictured, center left) and Wilson have both led their own bands at the Bistro before, offering ample energy and showmanship in the process, while Hill and Oh are regarded as two of the top up-and-coming players in jazz on their respective instruments. So, with a little help from Jazz St. Louis' own Phil Dunlap on piano, a good time should be had by all.

Meanwhile, over at Washington University, Thurman Barker, Joel Vanderheyden & Paul Steinbeck will improvise live music to silent films for "Sonic Visions: Experimental Film + Live Jazz", a free event presented in Brown Hall's Auditorium (aka Room 100) on the Wash U campus.

Also on Friday, jazz/fusion band Dreaming In Colour performs at the Kranzberg Arts Center; The Sidemen will play for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom; and singer, songwriter and pianist Steven Lutvak offers "A Gentleman's Guide to A Gentleman's Guide" for the first of two nights at the Gaslight Theater.

Saturday, April 9
The Bloomington, Indiana-based Liberation Music Collective (pictured, lower left) will be in town for two events at the Center for Social Empowerment and Justice, located at Wellspring Church, 33 S. Florissant Rd.

LMC is a self-described "socially conscious big band" featuring students and alumni of Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Following "in the footsteps of Charlie Haden, Max Roach, Charles Mingus, and many others, " the group is "dedicated to performing original compositions about contemporary social issues." They'll host an afternoon workshop for young musicians (middle school to college age), with a  "Jazz for Justice" concert that evening.Both events are free, with donations accepted.

Also on Saturday, saxophonist Rahsaan Barber will be in town to present an afternoon performance and workshop at Saxquest, and The Wire Pilots will serve up their original jazz fusion that evening at the gallery and event space 1900 Park.

Sunday, April 10
If you're in the mood for some Gypsy jazz and swing this weekend, Sunday would seem to be the pick day and the Central West End the place, as Franglais are playing for the jazz brunch at Evangeline's, and Coco Rico will be doing an early evening performance at Nathalie's.

Monday, April 11
The Webster University Jazz Collective will perform at Winifred Moore Auditorium on the Webster campus

Tuesday, April 12
The Saxquest Nonet Jazz Orchestra will return for an early evening performance at the Tavern of Fine Arts.

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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