Monday, February 08, 2016

Music Education Monday: A master
class with pianist Bill Charlap

Bill Charlap has won wide acclaim as one of the most accomplished and tasteful pianists of his generation. Charlap (pictured) who turns 50 this year, has recorded seven albums as a leader or co-leader for the Blue Note label, including two Grammy-nominated CDs.

He also was a member of Blue Note Seven, the all-star group assembled in 2008 to mark the label's 70th anniversary, and as a sideman has performed or recorded with many well-known singers and musicians, including Tony Bennett, Phil Woods, Harry Allen, Ruby Braff, Scott Hamilton, Gerry Mulligan, Warren Vaché, Jim Hall, Benny Carter, Clark Terry, and more.

More recently, Charlap last year was named director of jazz studies at William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ, and today for Music Education Monday, you can see a video of a master class Charlap presented in 2013 at the Jazz Philharmonic Hall in Saint Petersburg, Russia. While the quality of the video (shot by an audience member) isn't particularly good, and there are occasional interjections from a translator, it's listenable and watchable enough to spend 50 minutes with Charlap as he shares the story of his career and some musical perspectives, with accompanying musical examples. 

You can see the video after the jump...

Miles on Monday: News, reviews, and more

This week in Miles Davis news:

* The box set Miles Davis at Newport 1955-1975 has won an NAACP Image Award as 2015's "Outstanding Jazz Album."

* The Hi-Hat label will release Miles Davis - Sun Palace, Fukuoka, Japan October '81 next month on vinyl as a two-LP set. Originally recorded for FM radio broadcast and issued last year on CD, the digitally remastered album (pictured) features Davis, Bill Evans (sax, flute), Mike Stern (guitar), Marcus Miller (bass), Al Foster (drums), and Mino Cinelu (percussion) in a set of material from Davis' comeback album The Man With The Horn.

* Davis' classic album Bitches Brew was the subject of a "Listening Diary" feature from writer David Leone on the website Musica Kaleidoskopea.

* The recently reissued eight-CD box set Miles Davis: The Last Word – The Warner Bros Years was reviewed on the website UK Vibe.

* Miles Ahead, Don Cheadle's film about Davis, has been booked for screenings at the Pan African Film Festival and SXSW.

* Meanwhile, blogger CocoaFab asked "Will New Miles Davis Movie Erase Abuse of Black Women Like Straight Outta Compton?", and the New York Daily News has taken the film's impending release on April 1 as an opportunity to look at "the best music biopic portrayals"

* Finally, the past seven days also yielded a couple of media references to Davis in non-musical contexts, as the website Delancey Place used his style of bandleading as an exemplar in "To Delegate or Not To Delegate," while GQ name-checked the trumpeter's sartorial style in "What Miles Davis Can Teach You About Your Suit Game."

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Sunday Session: February 7, 2016

Maurice White
For your Sunday reading, some interesting music-related items that have turned up recently in StLJN's inbox:

* Esperanza Spalding on Her Alter Ego and Being Inspired 'By Stuff People in Suits Don't Give a Shit About' (Billboard)
* For the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Monday Becomes an All-Week Affair (New York Times)
* Who Should Pay for the Arts in America? (The Atlantic)
* Inside the Strange, Hidden World of Offstage Touring Musicians (LA Weekly)
* The Riffs And Rhythms That Led To Jazz As We Know It (NPR)
* Five Questions With Jason Kao Hwang (
* Cash-Strapped Spotify Is Desperately Seeking a $500 Million Loan (
* All On A Mardi Gras Day: New Orleans’ unique carnival traditions (Offbeat)
* Interview: Trombone Shorty on refining Supafunkrock, the future of jazz, and playing for Obama (
* If Rihanna Can Go Platinum Giving ANTI Away For Free, What Does Platinum Even Mean? (Stereogum)
* The Art of Blue Note (
* SFX Entertainment files for bankruptcy in the US (
* A Conversation with Randy Weston - The African connection (Jazz Times)
* Pianist Aaron Goldberg Tells the Story of How Expatriate Drummer Leon Parker Returns and Begins His Next Chapter at National Sawdust (
* Maurice White, Earth, Wind & Fire Singer and Co-Founder, Dead at 74 (Rolling Stone)
* Maurice White: The Audacity Of Uplift (NPR)
* Good time: the greatest moments of Maurice White and Earth, Wind & Fire (The Guardian UK)
* How David Liebman got the keys to the jazz kingdom (Irish Times)
* Hear the Experimental Music of the Dada Movement: Avant-Garde Sounds from a Century Ago (
* Vinyl revival: Canadian company reinvents the record pressing plant (The Globe and Mail)
* The Biggest Session Drummer Of All Time Is Ready For The Spotlight (
* Marshall Allen Spreads Enlightenment with Arkestra (DownBeat)
* Bowie: follow the changes (Jazz Journal)
* A Fearless Soprano's Case For Contemporary Music (NPR)

Saturday, February 06, 2016

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Branford Marsalis, in the tradition

Although he's known as a thoroughly modern musician, saxophonist Branford Marsalis also is the second-eldest son of one of New Orleans' most famous musical families. So it's no surprise that he's demonstrated an affinity for classic jazz tunes throughout his career, mixing interpretations of well-known standards with his own original compositions both on stage and on record.

Marsalis will be returning to St. Louis to perform here for the first time since 2011 starting next Monday, February 8 through Wednesday, February 10 at Jazz at the Bistro.When he and his quartet take the stage at the Bistro, the leader's proclivities suggest that they're likely to play a few of those songs "in the tradition" as well as their own material. So, today's video showcase post is intended to show how Marsalis approaches some of those classics, via various performances recorded during the past year.

In the first clip up top, Marsalis plays a solo version of "Stardust" in April of last year at the ECHO Jazz awards ceremony in Germany. He recorded the song for his 2014 album In My Solitude: Live at Grace Cathedral, and this version explores a similar territory.

After the jump, you can see Marsalis and his dad, the veteran pianist Ellis Marsalis, performing an impromptu duo version of "Sweet Lorraine" in April of last year in New Orleans. (Note that this video, as well as the rest of today's clips, was shot by an audience member using non-professional gear. That means that while the audio is listenable across the board, the video quality may vary from pretty good, as in the clip of Marsalis and his dad, to not-so-good.)

The third clip shows Marsalis and his long-running quartet - pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Justin Faulkner - doing Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" in July 2015 at the Ravello Festival in Italy.

In the fourth video, shot in November 2015 during a master class at La Usina del Arte in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Marsalis and bassist Russell Hall play a duo version of "Tea For Two". The fifth video is from that same trip to South America, and features Marsalis, Hall, Faulkner and pianist Samora Pinderhugues doing Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone" in concert at the Teatro Colon de Buenos Aires.

Last but not least, the sixth and final clip shows Marsalis, Calderazzo, Revis, Faulkner, and guest saxophonist Ponder East playing the venerable NOLA standard "St James Infirmary" at a gig last year in Austin, TX.

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

Friday, February 05, 2016

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

Here's this week's wrap-up of assorted links and short news items of local interest:

* Saxophonist Paul DeMarinis (pictured) has been named Webster University's "Outstanding Jazz Instructor of the Year."

* Bassist Bob DeBoo's weekly Wednesday night gig and jam session at the Kranzberg Arts Center was the subject of a short feature on KTVI/Fox 2 news.

* Singer Cyrille Aimée is featured in a photo set shot by Valerie Tichacek and posted to KDHX's website. Aimée continues at Jazz at the Bistro through Saturday night.

* Drummer Emanuel Harrold was profiled in an article by Kevin Johnson of the Post-Dispatch/STLtoday. Harrold and bassist/fellow St. Louisan Jahmal Nichols will perform with singer Gregory Porter on Saturday night at the Touhill.

* St. Louis Public Radio's Dennis Owsley is devoting his "Jazz Unlimited" programs this month to a series called "Jazz Families-Blood Relatives." Owsley, who wrote City of Gabriels: The History of Jazz in St. Louis, 1895-1973, researched the subject and found "around 175 jazz musicians who have fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and cousins who are also performing musicians," making up "sort of a genetic map of jazz."

That cohort includes some St. Louis musicians, such as Arville Harris, Leroy Harris Sr. and Jr., Asa Harris, her father Ace Harris, and her uncle Erskine Hawkins; and Lloyd Smith and the Bosman Twins, as well as well-known clans like the Adderley family, the Jones family, the Heath family, and others.

* The proprietors of The Pageant concert club, U City mogul Joe Edwards and Patrick Hagin, announced this week that they'll open a new venue called Delmar Hall this fall.

Using the space next to The Pageant occupied until recently by Big Shark Bicycle Company, the venue is intended to "fill the gap in The Loop’s current concert offerings with a capacity of 800, between Blueberry Hill’s 340-person Duck Room to the 2,000 capacity of The Pageant - and hosting a similarly wide range of music styles, comedy, events and private parties."

* Saxophonist Rev. Cliff Aerie and trumpeter Tim Osiek of the Oikos Ensemble have released the third volume of arrangements in their "Worship in a New Key" series, featuring 12 charts for use in jazz ministry in conjunction with Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter.

* Stringed-instrument repair shop, studio, and manufacturer Tritone Guitars will present their second annual "Tritone Expo" on Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3 at the @4240 building on the Cortex campus in the Central West End.

* The late saxophonist, arranger/composer, and St. Louis native Oliver Nelson was one of the composers featured in "Suite History: Jazz Composers And The African-American Odyssey," this week's episode of the "Night Lights" program on WFIU/Indiana Public Media.

* The St. Louis Banjo Club has elected Dave Kempa as its new president. Kempa succeeds Al Lehmann, who served as president of the group for five years.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Jazz this week: Cyrille Aimée, Gregory Porter, Branford Marsalis, Jeff Barnhart, and more

Although the official celebrations during Mardi Gras week in St. Louis typically don't offer much for jazz fans, leaning heavily on rock cover/tribute bands and DJs, this year the concert calendar countdown to Fat Tuesday just happens to feature several noteworthy touring jazz headliners, plus an assortment of shows from local performers. Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, February 3
Singer Cyrille Aimée makes her St. Louis debut in the first of four nights continuing through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro.

Born in France and working in the US for much of the last decade, the 31-year old Aimée (pictured, top left) has musical roots in Gypsy jazz and swing, but also deploys some very non-traditional techniques, like using a looping pedal to create one-woman acapella arrangements in real time.

You can read more about her and her just-released album Let's Get Lost in the preview story written by Calvin Wilson for the Post-Dispatch/STLtoday, and see and hear her in action in StLJN's Saturday video post from a couple of weeks ago.

Thursday, February 4
The Funky Butt Brass Band, one of the few jazz or jazz-related local acts that does get extra work at Carnival time, will play an early evening "Mardi Gras Party" at the Blues City Deli.

Around the time that's wrapping up, pianist Ken Kehner, singer and saxophonist Elsie Parker and the Poor People of Paris will be kicking off this semester's Jazz at Holmes series of free concerts at Washington University, and singer Ken Haller will be doing an encore of his popular cabaret performance "The TV Show" at The Monocle.

Also on Thursday, trumpeter Jim Manley will be working his weekly gig at Momo's Greek Restaurant; pianist Ptah Williams and guitarist Eric Slaughter return to their regular spot The Dark Room after taking off to play the Bistro last week; and traditional jazz and swing band The Gaslight Squares will perform at Thaxton Speakeasy.

Friday, February 5
The Saint Boogie Brass Band will headline "The People Party Gras M@squerade Ball on Cherokee" at 2720 Cherokee; saxophonist Christopher McBride will be in from Chicago to lead a trio at Cigar Inn; saxophonist Jay Hutson and Da Wolvez perform at Evangeline's; and the Ambassadors of Swing will play for dancers the Casa Loma Ballroom.

Saturday, February 6
To hear some jazz, funk and/or R&B after the big parade on Saturday, your best bet downtown may be the Old Rock House's Mardi Gras Parade Day celebration featuring the Funky Butt Brass Band and Al Holliday & the East Side Rhythm Band.

However, the most-anticipated local jazz event on Saturday would have to be the return to St. Louis of singer Gregory Porter for the first time in three years for a concert at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

When Porter (pictured, center left) was here last back in 2013, he was just starting to enjoy some crossover success. Since then, he's released a Grammy winning album and, as his audience has continued to grow, moved up to headline at bigger venues and major festivals.

He's also now employing two St. Louis musicians - drummer Emanuel Harrold (brother of trumpeter Keyon Harrold) and bassist Jahmal Nichols - in his band, which should make for a lively homecoming feel at the Touhill. You can read more about Porter's successes, and see some of his recent performances, in last week's Saturday video post.

Sunday, February 7
For those not committed to Super Bowl Sunday, the Friends of Scott Joplin will present the versatile pianist Jeff Barnhart, a skilled player in ragtime, stride and more modern styles, in a concert at the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site's Rosebud Cafe.

Monday, February 8
While a three-night, Monday-through-Wednesday booking isn't the usual for Jazz at the Bistro, Jazz St. Louis understandably was willing to change things up a bit to secure the services of saxophonist Branford Marsalis and his quartet, who have proven to be both a good draw and of high musical quality for years now.

Marsalis (pictured, lower left) and pianist Joey Calderazzo played a duo show at the Sheldon back in January 2012, but given that it's been even longer since the saxophonist did a full-band show here, demand for tickets should be substantial. The good news is that while seats for Marsalis' 7:30 sets may be hard to come by at this point, tickets for the 9:30 performances may be more available for shows early in the week than they would be on a weekend. Regardless, advance reservations are recommended.

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.)

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Trailer released for Don Cheadle's
Miles Davis movie Miles Ahead

Arriving too late for yesterday's "Miles on Monday" post, and too hot to wait for next week's, it's the official trailer for the US release of Miles Ahead, actor and director Don Cheadle's film about Miles Davis, just out today and available in the embedded video window below.

The film will open in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, April 1, with a UK release to follow on Friday April 22.

For much more coverage of Miles Ahead, going all the way back to Cheadle's crowd-funding campaign to raise the money to make it and beyond, see StLJN's posts under the "Miles on Monday" label.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Music Education Monday: Learning jazz
violin with Christian Howes, and more

Although there have been jazz violinists ever since the music began, formal jazz education programs in schools usually are set up to cater mostly to trumpets, trombones, saxophones and rhythm sections, leaving many aspiring string improvisors to forge their own musical paths.

Fortunately, there seem to be plenty of instructional materials available to help chart that pathway, both for purchase and for free online.

And since pointing out free music education resources available on the internet is the stated premise of Music Education Monday, today's installment spotlights a few useful videos and articles that are readily accessible to any violinist who wants to learn jazz:

* The well-known jazz violinist Christian Howes (pictured) offers lessons online and has written several books you can buy on how to play jazz violin, but he's also shared some materials for free on YouTube.

At the end of this post, you'll find embeds of five short video lessons by Howes, covering "How to play Jazz Violin"; "Blues for Jazz Violin"; "Improvisation for Beginning to Intermediate String Players"; "Arpeggios for Jazz Violin, Cello, and Viola"; and "How to use Modes on violin from Light to Dark".

* Jazz violinist Regina Carter was interviewed last year by the "string blog" for two articles offering "some advice on exploring the genre."

* For more ideas about violin improvisation, check out the "how to" articles by Tracy Silverman of the Turtle Island String Quartet; UK violinist Chris Haigh; and violinist Martin Norgaard, an assistant professor at Georgia State University who's written ten jazz string method books for Mel Bay Publishing.

* For further reading, you can peruse "A Guide to Pedagogical Resources for Improvisation on Violin, Viola, Cello and Bass", a 101-page PDF put together by a doctoral of musical arts student that serves as a handy guide to the commercially available materials that are available for string players who want to learn jazz.

You can see the Christian Howes instructional videos after the jump...