Saturday, January 21, 2017

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Remembering Charles "Bobo" Shaw

Today, let's take a break from previewing upcoming performances here in St. Louis to look at some videos of the late drummer Charles "Bobo" Shaw.

Shaw, who died Monday in a St. Louis nursing care facility at age 69, was a founder of the Black Artists Group and played with many well-known jazz and creative musicians of the past 50 years.

He had a varied career in music that was sufficiently important that, in addition to his obituary here on StLJN, his passing has been noted by national publications including the New York Times and DownBeat, which published an obituary written by veteran St. Louis journalist Terry Perkins. (In contrast, Shaw's hometown newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has yet to offer any coverage of his death, nor have any other media outlets here, except for the one you're reading right now.)

In the last years of his life, Shaw may have had a lower profile on the national and international scenes that he did in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, but he did perform here in St. Louis as part of a number of different musical projects, and today's videos offer a glimpse of three of them. (Please note that none of these videos was professionally produced, so the audio and video quality varies widely.)

The first video up above features Shaw and pianist David Parker playing Parker's "Scott Joplin Blues" in 2014 at the Tavern of Fine Arts. After the jump, you can see two more clips from the same gig, featuring Shaw, Parker, and cellist Tracy Andreotti engaged in some free improv.

Next is a series of six clips from two concerts that Shaw and three other St. Louis drummers did for the Nu-Art Series in 2010 and 2011 at the Metropolitan Gallery downtown.

Presented under the name "The Drum Line" by trumpeter and impresario George Sams, a friend of Shaw's since childhood, the concerts were a spotlight for the individual and collective skills of four percussionists - Shaw, Jerome "Scrooge' Harris, Gary Sykes, and Johnny Johnson - as well as a tribute to the local drum and bugle groups American Woodsmen and Tom Powell American Legion Post #77 that offered training and opportunities to many young St. Louis African-American musicians in the mid-20th century.

The next two videos feature Shaw playing with the group Melodies of the Kabbalah in a session recorded in May 2010 at the old studios of radio station KDHX on Magnolia Ave in south St. Louis. In contrast to the sometimes-sprawling free improvisations in today's other clips, the versions of "Hine Ma Tov" and "Latin Moderato 75" feature Shaw in an accompanying role, supporting the ensemble of keyboardist Michael Loveman, bassist Josh Weinstein (of KDHX's "All Soul, No Borders), violinist Brien Seyle, and fellow drummer Brian Sullivan in a couple of concise, melodic performances.

As a lagniappe, at the end of this post you'll find an audio-only YouTube playlist compiling tracks from various projects Shaw did with violinist Billy Bang, the Human Arts Ensemble, and bassist William Parker.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

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