Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Jazz this week: Freddy Cole & Harry Allen, Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Kirk Whalum, Chris Corsano & Darin Gray, and more

This week's calendar of jazz and creative music in St. Louis features lots more holiday-themed programming, with Christmas shows from two touring headliners and several local performers, plus at least a few shows that may not contain any seasonal music. Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, December 6
Singer and pianist Freddy Cole and his frequent collaborator/guest star, tenor saxophonist Harry Allen, (pictured, top left) make their return for the first of four nights at Jazz at the Bistro.

The brother of the late Nat "King" Cole, Freddy Cole shares his famous sibling's suave demeanor, relaxed vocal delivery, and appreciation for the Great American Songbook, yet has managed to carve out his own niche as an entertainer and interpreter of classic material. With Allen alongside in recent years, Cole has developed a good following here in multiple appearances over time - most recently in May 2016 at the Bistro - so advance reservations are strongly suggested.

Elsewhere around town, the Route 66 Jazz Orchestra will present what they're calling "1/2 a Holiday Concert" at the Webster Groves Concert Hall, and singer Erin Bode returns to Cyrano's.

Also on Wednesday, the students in the Washington University Jazz Band will play a free concert at 560 Music Center; and this week's "Grand Center Jazz Crawl" features multi-instrumentalist T.J Müller at Squatters Cafe, the jam session with bassist Bob Deboo at the Kranzberg Arts Center, and trumpeter Kasimu Taylor at The Dark Room.

Thursday, December 7
Speaking of Nat "King" Cole, the musical theater production "An Unforgettable Nat King Cole Christmas," starring Chicago-based actor and singer Evan Tyrone Martin as Cole, opens a ten-day run at the Playhouse at Westport Plaza.

Also on Thursday, the Funky Butt Brass Band plays an early evening show at Blues City Deli; the Jazz at Holmes series presents a holiday concert featuring performances from Wash U students and faculty; and the Liberation Organ Trio plays at The Dark Room

Friday, December 8
NYC's Spanish Harlem Orchestra (pictured, center left) makes their St. Louis debut with their holiday show “Salsa Navidad” at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Formed 17 years ago and led by pianist Oscar Hernández, the SOH has taken the sound of New York salsa and Latin jazz to audiences all around the world, earning acclaim as accomplished, energetic and authentic representatives of those genres. You can find out more and see some video samples of them performing in this post from last Saturday.

Also on Friday, singer Anita Jackson will perform for the late-night set at The Dark Room.

Saturday, December 9
Keyboardist, educator and East St. Louis native Reggie Thomas will be back in town to direct a "Reunion Concert" of the SIU-Edwardsville Vocal Jazz Ensemble, presented as a matinee in Monsanto Hall of the Missouri Botanical Garden's Ridgeway Visitor Center.

Then on Saturday night, The Wire Pilots with multi-instrumentalist Sandy Weltman and singer Lydia Ruffin will perform at The Chapel.

December 10
Saxophonist Kirk Whalum (pictured, bottom left) brings this year's edition of "A Gospel According to Jazz Christmas," with special guests Jonathan Butler, Sheléa, John Stoddart, and Kevin Whalum, to the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church.

And for those in the mood for something completely different, improvising percussionist Chris Corsano and bassist Darin Gray will be teaming up to headline a show of improvised and/or experimental music at El Leñador Bar & Grill with Larva & Ghost Ice and Complainer opening.

Monday, December 11
Dizzy Atmosphere plays swing and Gypsy jazz for diners at The Shaved Duck, and the Webster University Jazz Singers present their "Holiday Concert" at Winifred Moore Auditorium on the Webster campus.

Tuesday, December 12
Guitarist Vincent Varvel leads a trio at Evangeline's.

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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