Saturday, January 13, 2018

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Winter/spring 2018 jazz preview, part five

This week, StLJN's winter/spring 2018 jazz preview continues with part five in a series of posts featuring videos of jazz and creative music performers who will be coming to St. Louis in the first few months of the new year. (If you missed the previous installments, you can see part one here, part two here, part three here, and part four here.)

Continuing in chronological order from where last week's post left off, the first video up above features singer and St. Louis native Ken Page, the St. Louis native and star of Broadway and film who will bringing his cabaret act to Jazz at the Bistro on Wednesday, April 4 and Thursday, April 5. Page, who's known for his roles in the original casts of musical theater megahits such as Ain't Misbehavin' and Cats, as well as for his voice characterization of Oogie Boogie in Tim Burton's animated film The Nightmare Before Christmas, is seen here in a demo reel compiled to showcase his talents for potential bookings.

Page will be followed on the Bistro stage by drummer Allison Miller, trumpeter Riley Mulherkar and saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, who will be in town that week to do an educational residency for Jazz St. Louis and will cap it with performances on Friday, April 6 and Saturday, April 7 at the Bistro.

As with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Group that's here this week at the Bistro, Miller, Mulherkar and Lefkowitz-Brown (and presumably a local support musician or two) will be joining forces specifically for this gig, so the only available footage to show you is of them performing individually.

Miller can be seen in the first video after the jump with her band Boom Tic Boom, performing "Fuster," the opening track from their album Otis Was a Polar Bear, at a gig in May 2016 in Philadelphia. (Along with the leader on drums, Boom Tic Boom includes pianist Myra Melford, violinist Jenny Scheinman, cornetist Kirk Knuffke, clarinetist Ben Goldberg, and bassist Todd Sickafoose.)

After that, you can see Mulherkar playing Duke Ellington's "Echoes of Harlem" in a jam session last April at the Kranzberg Arts Center right here in St. Louis, accompanied by bassist Bob DeBoo and drummer Montez Coleman, followed by a clip of Lefkowitz-Brown playing Charlie Parker's "Yardbird Suite" with his quartet, which includes Takeshi Ohbayashi on piano, Tamir Shmerling on bass, and Bryan Carter on drums.

Next up at the Bistro will be "Songs of Freedom," a show developed by drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr that will be performed by a group led by him and featuring vocalists Alicia Olatuja and Joanna Majoko starting Wednesday, April 11 and continuing through Saturday, April 14 at the Bistro.

First presented at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, "Songs of Freedom" is based on the music of what the promotional copy calls "three iconic voices of the 1960s--Joni Mitchell, Abbey Lincoln and Nina Simone--and the complex ways in which they call out to each other."

Unfortunately, none of the previous performances seem to have been recorded on video and put online, so instead in today's fourth clip you can see a full set of Owens leading a band with bassist Reuben Rogers, vibraphonist Joel Ross, and singer Vuyo Sotashe last August as Dizzy's Club in NYC.

That's followed by a clip of Majoko singing "Bye Bye Blackbird" recorded a couple of years ago at UMFM studios in Winnipeg, MB, Canada, accompanied by Jocelyn Gould (guitar), Carter Graham (keyboard), Karl Kohut (bass), and Curtis Nowosad (drums). (St. Louis native Olatuja can be seen in last week's post, which previewed, among others, her solo shows in February at the Bistro.)

The same night that Owens and company wrap up at the Bistro, pianist Abdullah Ibrahim and his band Ekaya will be in town to perform on Saturday, April 14 at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Ibrahim originally was scheduled to be joined by trumpeter Hugh Masekela for a program recounting the history of the Jazz Epistles, South Africa's first bebop band, of which both men were members.

However, Masekela's health issues have caused him to cancel all his live shows for the first part of 2018, so as of this writing, the concert is still set to go on, but no replacement trumpeter has been announced yet.

It was announced this past week that the estimable Wadada Leo Smith will be performing with Ibrahim for dates next month at SFJAZZ in San Francisco, which ought to make for a very interesting collaboration. And Ibrahim has worked with some other very capable trumpeters, too, as in the next clip, which shows him and Ekaya plus special guest Terence Blanchard in a full set recorded last July at the Jazzaldia festival in Donosti, Spain.

The final two videos today feature the headliners of the 2018 Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival, which will present the The University of North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band on Friday, April 21 and Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band on Saturday, April 22, both at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

The One O'Clock Lab Band, which is UNT's top student ensemble, can be seen in the penultimate clip performing "Harlem Nocturne" in a show last November on campus. That's followed by a video of a full show from the Big Phat Band, recorded in November 2015 at the Los Angeles College of Music.

Look for part six of StLJN's winter/spring 2018 jazz preview next week in this space. You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

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