Saturday, July 22, 2017

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Previewing the Gateway Jazz Festival

When commercial radio abandoned smooth jazz as a format a few years back, the audience for the music played on those stations didn't just disappear, and neither did the musicians who played it.

And while St. Louis never had what you'd call a surfeit of live smooth jazz shows, even when the format was at its peak, the limited number of such bookings that previously existed - at the Pageant, at local casinos, and occasionally at other venues like long-departed Finale - has dwindled off in recent years to almost nothing. That would seem to represent a potential business opportunity for someone able to reunite an under-served audience with the musicians they enjoy.

Enter Summerset Jazz LLC, an Alabama-based production company that is presenting the Gateway Jazz Festival* next Saturday, July 29 at the Chesterfield Amphitheater.

Apparently modeling their St. Louis event on the Music City Jazz Festival, which they've presented for the past two years in Nashville, the company has put together a day-long bill of acts, headed by saxophonist Najee and singer Maysa, and featuring a number of other names familiar to smooth jazz fans.

To help give you an idea of what to expect, today StLJN has compiled videos of all the featured performers. They're presented here in alphabetical order, starting up above with a set from saxophonist Steve Cole and guitarist Nick Colionne, recorded when they teamed up for a gig in May of this year at Pizza Express in London.

After the jump, you can see Maysa performing "Inside My Dream" in May 2016 at the KSBR Birthday Bash Jazz Festival in Mission Viejo, CA.

Next it's guitarist Chieli Minucci with his band Special EFX in 2016 at Long Beach Jazz Fest, delivering a surprisingly faithful version of the Allman Brothers Band's "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed."

That's followed by a full set of Najee, recorded in July 2016 in Riviera Beach, FL; and then a clip of guitarist Steve Oliver doing "Soul Deep" in a performance recorded at the Carvin guitar factory in San Diego.

The veteran duo Pieces of a Dream is next, seen here performing "Fo-Fi-Fo" in October 2016 at the Catalina JazzTrax Festival in California.

Then it's keyboardist Brian Simpson, performing his song "WWonderland" at the 2017 Mallorca Smooth Jazz Festival in Spain; guitarist Chris Standring, playing "Oliver's Twist" in February 2017 at Pizza Express; and last, but not least, bassist and Kansas City native Julian Vaughn doing his showcase "Ju Ju's Groove" at a show in May in Houston, TX.

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

*Not to be confused with the identically named event presented in recent years over the Labor Day weekend by the St. Louis Jazz Club.

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