Friday, April 24, 2015

StLJN turns ten

Ten years ago today, the first post went up on St. Louis Jazz Notes. Nearly 3,900 posts later, StLJN remains one of the longest continuously operating outposts of the jazz blogosphere and one of the longest running music blogs in St. Louis, as well as the city's most regularly updated source devoted to news about jazz.

Thanks once again to all the readers, commenters, musicians, music students and educators, presenters, club owners, publicists, tipsters, media people, record label employees, and others who have taken an interest in the site over the years. Your time and continued attention are much appreciated.

As usual, if you have any anniversary wishes, congratulations, questions, suggestions, or complaints, the comments are open.

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* The deadline for student musicians to apply to Jazz St. Louis’ JazzU program for the 2015-16 school year is coming up next week on Friday, May 1.

Auditions for JazzU, which offers weekly jazz instruction to middle school and high school students in a small-combo setting, will take place Monday, June 1 through Thursday, June 4. For more information or to submit an application, call 314-881-3093 or visit the website.

* Coincidentally, JazzU and its current crop of student players also are featured in an article in the May issue of DownBeat, penned by St. Louis freelance writer Terry Perkins. The issue (pictured) also contains a nice tribute to the late Clark Terry, written by longtime DB contributor John McDonough.

* Speaking of Clark Terry, now that Keep On Keepin' On has been released on Netflix, the documentary film about the St. Louis-born trumpeter got a recommendation from London Jazz News.

* Pianist Herbie Hancock and filmmaker Ken Burns, whose PBS series Jazz is still the most extensive history of the music to air on TV in the US, are two of the five people receiving honorary degrees from Washington University this year. The commencement ceremony will be held at 8:30 a.m., Friday May 15 in Brookings Quadrangle on the main Wash U campus.

* Drummer and St. Charles native Dave Weckl's Acoustic Band begins a European tour this week, with dates scheduled in Norway, Greece, the UK, Italy, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, France and Sweden.

* Last Saturday's Record Store Day celebration was the subject of a feature story from St. Louis Public Radio's Willis Ryder Arnold. (And if you'd like to hear the tunes that yr. humble StLJN editor laid on the shoppers at Vintage Vinyl during my RSD DJ set there, you can listen to the whole set online here.)

* Guitarist Eric Slaughter is profiled by drummer (and now, writer) Joe Pastor in the latest issue of the St. Louis Blues Society's Bluesletter (PDF).

* The Funky Butt Brass Band are the Reader's Pick in the "Best Local Band" category of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's 2015 GO! List Awards.

* In his latest CD reviews in the Post-Dispatch, Calvin Wilson opines on the new releases from bassist Kyle Eastwood and tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby’s band Tubacello.

* Jazz radio update:  Meanwhile, on Saturday's edition of his Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis program  “Somethin’ Else,” Wilson will compare and contrast music from recent recordings by pianists Vijay Iyer and Myra Melford.

After that on "The Jazz Collective," host Jason Church will be playing some tracks from the new album by The Bosman Twins, as well as music from Wes Montgomery, Chuck Mangione, Miles Davis, 3rd Force, Dizzy Gillespie, Spyro Gyra, David Sanborn, and more

"Somethin' Else" can be heard at 8:00 p.m. Saturdays, followed by "The Jazz Collective" at 9:00 p.m. on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at http://www.rafstl.org/listen.

Pollstar: The Bad Plus returning
in January 2016 to Jazz at the Bistro

In a move that should surprise no one, the online tour information service Pollstar has added new listings showing The Bad Plus returning to St. Louis next year to perform Wednesday, January 6 through Saturday, January 9 at Jazz at the Bistro.

If said listings are accurate, 2016 then would be be the tenth consecutive year that The Bad Plus (pictured) will serve as the first touring act of the calendar year to headline at the Bistro.

The trio's recent endeavors have included a series of live performances with saxophonists Tim Berne and Sam Newsome and trumpeter Ron Miles, interpreting the music from Ornette Coleman's 1972 album Science Fiction; working on an upcoming album with saxophonist Joshua Redman that's set to come out in May; and continuing to perform  live dates in support of their most recent album, 2014's Inevitable Western.

As always, we remind you, dear reader, that listings on Pollstar should not be considered final until announced by the presenter or venue. But given that this particular booking is something of a tradition now, and considering Pollstar's near-spotless record of accuracy in such things, this one seems like a lock. In any event, Jazz St. Louis usually announces their upcoming season sometime in May, and whenever that announcement occurs, StLJN will have the details for you right here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jazz this week: Robert Glasper Experiment with Keyon Harrold; Black Host; and more

As Jazz Appreciation Month swings on, it's a big week for jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with the local debuts of two significant contemporary ensembles offering two different takes on the jazz diaspora, and more.

Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, April 22
First up is the much-talked-about Robert Glasper Experiment, with St. Louis native Mark Colenburg on drums and featuring fellow St. Louisan, trumpeter Keyon Herrold, as special guest.

Although Glasper has played here before with his piano trio, the Experiment will be making their debut at the new Jazz at the Bistro with a special midweek two-night engagement, with two sets on Wednesday and again on Thursday.

And while the Experiment's blend of jazz with hip-hop, funk and neo-soul influences may not suit all the purists out there, they've managed (with help from a couple of Grammy wins) to attract a considerable number of fans from outside the core jazz audience.

Given that, plus the presence of hometown success stories Colenburg and Harrold, advance reservations are highly recommended. For more about the Robert Glasper Experiment and some video samples of the band in action, check out this video showcase post from a couple of weeks ago.

Elsewhere around town, the touring musical production In The Mood, featuring a live band with singers and dancers performing Swing Era favorites, returns for matinee and evening shows at the Touhill Performing Arts Center; and singer Erin Bode will perform at Nathalie's.

Thursday, April 23
Denise Thimes inaugurates a new concert series for Radio Arts Foundation-St. Louis with an early evening performance at Centene Auditorium, 7700 Forsyth in Clayton; pianist Ptah Williams, guitarist Eric Slaughter and bassist Darrell Mixon begin what's billed as a new weekly residency at The Dark Room in Grand Center; and guitarists Tom Byrne and William Lenihan will duet at Remy's Kitchen & Wine Bar.

Friday, April 24
Guitarist and singer Tommy Halloran and his band Guerrilla Swing have been performing weekly for Sunday brunch at Jazz at the Bistro for a couple of months now, and this weekend, they'll make their official evening debut on the Bistro stage with performances on Friday and Saturday night.

Also on Friday, the Webster University New Music Ensemble will perform "The Music of Brian Eno" at the Community Music School on the Webster campus; Tim Cunningham will take the stage for what's billed as the first of two nights of live recordings at Troy's Jazz Gallery; and Herman Semidey and Orquesta Son Montuno will play for Latin and salsa dancers at Casa Loma Ballroom

If swing dancing is more your style, there's also the monthly "West End Stomp" at the Mahler Ballroom, with music this month from The Sidemen; and if you're in more of a "sit and listen" mood, Jim Manley and Randy Bahr will be performing on trumpet and guitar, respectively, in the relatively intimate confines of Thurman Grill.

Saturday, April 25
Although at this point they've got only a fraction of the public profile of Robert Glasper and the Experiment, drummer Gerald Cleaver's group Black Host arguably are of equal potential significance in indicating a possible way forward for improvised music, and so their concert presented by New Music Circle at The Stage at KDHX should be of significant interest to music fans wondering what could be next.

With Cleaver providing compositional frameworks that draw on a variety of influences, Black Host blends jazz with loud, rock-guitar textures, free improv, and more into something that's hard to pigeonhole but certainly offers vast sonic possibilities. You can see them on video, and find links to a couple of extended interviews with Cleaver, in this post from last Saturday.

Also on Saturday, singer Joe Mancuso will return to Nathalie's; Wack-A-Doo will perform at the house concert venue Kinda Blue, 6101 1/2 Idaho; and Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will be playing swing, hot jazz and blues at the Venice Cafe.

Sunday, April 26
Sarah Jane and The Blue Notes won't have much time for rest after Saturday night's gig, as they'll be filling in for Sunday brunch at Evangeline's,  Meanwhile, Tommy Halloran and band will be right  back on stage at the Bistro, while the rest of the weekly Sunday brunch gigs around town proceed (we hope) as usual.

Also on Sunday evening, Sound Unlimited, aka multi-instrumentalists Gary Presley and John Pyatt plus assorted guests and friends, have begun what's anticipated to be a weekly Sunday dinner-hour gig at Candicci’s Restaurant, 100 Holloway Rd in Ballwin.

Monday, April 27
Saxophonist "Blind" Willie Dineen and the Broadway Collective will be back for their monthly gig at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups.

Tuesday, April 28
Eclectic instrumental band The 442s will play at the Tavern of Fine Arts.

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 http://twitter.com/StLJazzNotes 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.)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Music Education Monday: Jazz piano lessons from Mike Wolff and Barry Harris

Today for "Music Education Monday," we've got some video lessons that nominally are intended for jazz pianists, but also contain information that may be of interest to jazz improvisors in general.

Pianist Mike Wolff is know for his early work with Cal Tjader, Cannonball Adderly and Nancy Wilson, for leading the house band on the original Arsenio Hall Show in the 1990s, and more recently, for film scoring work and collaborations including the Wolff & Clark Expedition with former Headhunters drummer Mike Clark.

Today's first video is an hour-long master class that Wolff gave back in 2011 for students at Loyola University in New Orleans, in which he touches on a variety of topics, from how his career developed to playing outside the changes to how he got fired by Jean-Luc Ponty, and much more.

Below that, there are three shorter video featuring pianist Barry Harris. A native of Detroit, Harris (pictured) has run the gamut from swing to bop to modern jazz in his 85 years, performing with major musicians including Sonny Stitt, Illinois Jacquet, Coleman Hawkins, Dexter Gordon, Lee Morgan, Charles McPherson, Max Roach, and many more. He's also been heavily involved in jazz education, giving master classes at colleges and universities all over the world.

Harris also worked with NYC's Jazz at Lincoln Center last year to produce a video for their "Jazz Academy" series, in which he discusses some of his concepts of jazz theory and harmony.

After that, you can see two clips that are part of a series of videos of Harris recorded by Dutch piano player and educator Frans Elsen between 1989 and 1998 at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. In the first, Harris discusses his affinity for the 6th diminished scale, and how to use it in accompaniment and improvisation; in the second, he breaks down his approach to the famously challenging John Coltrane composition "Giant Steps."

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

Miles on Monday: Construction begins on Miles Davis Memorial Project, and more

Photo via ‏@LeicaStoreLA
Glen Craig & Erin Davis
Today for "Miles on Monday, " the latest in Miles Davis-related news:

* The Miles Davis Memorial Project in Alton, IL took another step forward last Thursday, as concrete footings were poured for the plaza in downtown Alton that later this year will be the site for a statue of Davis.

* "A Day In The Life of Miles Davis," a show of photos by Glen Craig, opened last week at the Leica Gallery in Los Angeles, and will continue through May 11. You can read an interview with Glen Craig (pictured, with Davis' son Erin Davis) here.

* Saxophonist, arranger and composer Bob Belden and his group Animation offered a 21st century take on some famous Miles Davis music from 1948 for "Birth Of The Cool Reimagined: Celebrating The Royal Roost and Miles Davis," a concert presented on April 10 at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in NYC.

* Even without an official release date, Miles Ahead, the feature film about Davis directed by and starring Don Cheadle, has been identified by Esquire magazine as a potential Academy Award contender.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Session: April 19, 2015

Herbie Hancock
For your Sunday reading, some interesting music-related items that have hit StLJN's inbox over the past week:

* Cecil Taylor in 1983 (Burning Ambulance)
* Listen to the Future (The New Yorker)
* How Lester Young Invented Cool (The Daily Beast)
* At Corea and Hancock’s performance, crowd-pleasers and timeless classics (Washington Post)
* This New Collection of 12,000 Photographs Chronicles the American Jazz Scene (Smithsonian)
* Lonnie Liston Smith’s life in jazz (Red Bull Music Academy)
* The Media Column: The music business is starting to think the next big thing is just a computer algorithm away (The Independent UK)
* Rewind The Biggest Instrumental Hits of the Past 50 Years (Medium.com)
* Bill Withers: The Soul Man Who Walked Away (Rolling Stone)
* Stan Freberg 1926-2015 (Pro Sound News)
* Universal Music Agrees to Pay $11.5 Million to Settle Digital Royalties Class Action (Hollywood Reporter)
* A Pressing Business: tQ Goes Inside A Czech Vinyl Plant (The Quietus)
* Revenge Of The Record Labels: How The Majors Renewed Their Grip On Music (Forbes)
* This record store will lathe-cut any song you want to 7-inch disc (Consequence of Sound)
* Being Ringo: A Beatle's All-Starr Life (Rolling Stone)
* Anna Clyne, a Composer Who Creates With Images (New York Times)
* The Story Behind the Robert Johnson and Johnny Shines Cover Photo (American Songwriter)
* From Woody to Lead Belly, the master of Smithsonian Folkways (Washington Post)
* Tour the Wild, Modular Robotic Percussion of Bastl Instruments (CreateDigitalMusic.com)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Gerald Cleaver & Black Host



Today, let's have a look at some videos featuring drummer, composer and bandleader Gerald Cleaver, whose group Black Host will be in St. Louis next Saturday, April 25 for a New Music Circle concert at The Stage at KDHX.

Cleaver is a Detroit native known for his work with a wide range of artists in jazz and improvised music, including Joe Morris, Roscoe Mitchell, Miroslav Vitous, Michael Formanek, Tomasz Stanko, Lotte Anker, Craig Taborn, and many more. Black Host, just one of several ensembles he leads, was formed in 2011 and is said by their record label Northern Spy to "blend modern jazz, free music, psych, post-punk and electrified noise with painstaking detail and heady abandon."

When asked to characterize the group's sound, Cleaver has said, "The music is not written as a tribute to anyone, but if I were to engage in a fanciful description, I’d say I’m trying to embody the passionate empiricism of Roscoe Mitchell, the power and scary joy of Black Sabbath, and the smart, bad-assed and rocking songwriting of PJ Harvey (in addition to a hundred other references)."

In addition to the drummer/leader, Black Host also includes alto saxophonist Darius Jones, guitarist Brandon Seabrook, bassist Pascal Niggenkemper, and multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore, who concentrates mostly on piano and/or electric keyboard.

So far they've released one album, 2013's Life In The Sugar Candle Mines, which NYC music writer Hank Shteamer described as "discrete tunes that satisfy in the manner of good pop or funk or even (dare I say?) jazz fusion, but that are constructed from and defined by the timbres and rhythmic interplay most often associated with freely improvised jazz and experimental electronic music."

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of video of Black Host online, but they did do a couple of shows in 2013 at the Brooklyn house concert venue Seeds that were live-streamed on video and later posted on YouTube. One of those shows, from May 28 of that year, can be seen in the embedded window up above.

The other, from the next night, was posted here on StLJN a few weeks ago as part of the "bonus edition" of our spring jazz preview, and since there's really not much other live footage of the band available, that clip is reposted after the jump.

Below that are a couple of short music videos released by Northern Spy to promote the tracks "Hover" and "Test-Sunday" from Life In The Sugar Candle Mines. While these don't necessarily tell you much about Black Host's live show, they do convey a sense of the group's overall aesthetic.

Lastly, just to fill out our quota of clips, there are a couple of videos featuring Cleaver improvising with Black Host's bassist and some other collaborators. Specifically, the fifth video is an excerpt from a show last year for the Evolving Music Series in NYC, featuring Cleaver, Niggenkemper, clarinetist and saxophonist John Dierker, and drummer Ches Smith, while the sixth is from a 2013 show at JACK in Brooklyn, and shows him with saxophonist Lotte Anker (with whom he played here in St. Louis a couple of years ago), saxophonist Tim Berne, and bassist William Parker.

For more about Black Host, you can read a review of one of the band's early live shows from Hank Shteamer, as well as reviews of Life In The Sugar Candle Mines from Shteamer for Pitchfork, Something Else's S. Victor Aaron, and the Free Jazz blog's Paul Acquaro. Gerald Cleaver also talks quite a bit about Black Host in the 2013 interviews he did with Point of Departure and BlouinArtInfo.com.

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