Saturday, September 20, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Fall 2014 jazz preview, part 4

Today, it's part four of StLJN's video preview of jazz and creative music performers who will be coming to St. Louis this fall. (In case you missed them, here's part 1, part 2, and part 3.)

For this installment, we resume with more of what's coming up in November, starting with a video featuring keyboardist Marco Benevento, who will be back to play Sunday, November 9 at 2720 Cherokee.

Benevento is touring this fall in support of his recent album Swift, which features him singing lead vocals for the first time. As someone who's generally enjoyed his instrumental music, I've not found what I've heard so far of his singing to be particularly compelling, so rather than showcasing one of his new songs here, we've got a live version of the Benevento concert staple "RISD", recorded in June of this year at The Saint in Asbury Park, NJ. (For samples of Benevento new vocal material, check out these live performances of "At The Show" and "Eye to Eye.")

Later that week, saxophonist Tia Fuller, trumpeter Sean Jones and vibraphonist Warren Wolf will team up to perform on Friday, November 14 and Saturday, November 16 at Jazz at the Bistro.

Although all three have recorded for the Mack Avenue label, and Fuller and Jones have worked together on occasion, this specific lineup is a custom one-off for Jazz St. Louis, so there's actually no footage online of all three of them playing together.So instead, we've got clips of them performing individually.

First up is Fuller, seen in a recording made in March of this year at Smoke in NYC that excerpts her solo on a tune that's not positively identified but may very well be "Impressions." The interesting thing about this is that it demonstrates that while some may think of Fuller as a slick R&B saxophonist, based on her tenure with pop singer Beyonce and other commercial gigs, she's also comfortable going outside in a post-Coltrane style.

And speaking of Coltrane, the next clip features Sean Jones' trumpet solo on a big band version of "Giant Steps" recorded with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, for whom he has spent nearly a decade as lead trumpeter. Below that, you can see Wolf in a duo performance of Chick Corea's "Senor Mouse" with pianist Alex Brown, recorded at a performance by Wolf's band in March of this year in Boston at Berklee College of Music's 939 Cafe.

After that, you can see singer Carole J. Bufford doing "Cry Me A River" in a recording made last year in NYC. She'll perform her show "Body and Soul" on Friday, November 13 and Saturday, November 14 for the Gaslight Cabaret Festival.

Next, it's guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo, who will bring their show "Swing Xing! Three Generations of Swing Guitar" to the Sheldon Concert Hall on Saturday, November 15. They're seen here performing "Three Little Words" in a recording made in May 2014 at the Cutting Room in NYC.

The very next evening, the all-female ensemble Jazz in Pink will take the Sheldon stage in a benefit performance for Community Women Against Hardship. In this clip from 2013, they're playing "Soulchestral Groove."

A few days later, saxophonist Jeff Coffin and his band, the Mutet, will make make their debut at Jazz at the Bistro with a four-night run starting Friday, November 19 and continuing through Saturday, November 22. This recording of "The Mad Hatter Rides Again" was made by an audience member at Coffin's show last October in Athens, GA.

That same weekend, clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen will be back in town to serve as special guest for pianist Peter Martin's concert on Saturday, November 21 at the Sheldon. Cohen, who led her own group for a week at the Bistro a couple of years ago and this year toured with Martin as part of the Newport Jazz Festival 60th anniversary band, is seen here last December at the Umbria Jazz Festival dueting with guitarist Howard Alden on "Espinha de Bacalhau."

Last but certainly not least, today's final video features trumpeter, singer and U City native Jeremy Davenport, who will return from his adopted home in New Orleans for his annual post-Thanksgiving performance on Friday, November 28 and Saturday, November 29 at Jazz at the Bistro. This is a full set of Davenport and his band, apparently recorded within the last year at some sort of private or corporate gig, but otherwise not labeled with a date or place.

You'll find the fifth and final part of the fall 2014 jazz preview in this space next week, and you can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

Friday, September 19, 2014

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Wednesday night's performance in Chicago by Joe McPhee and Survival Unit III was the subject of a post by Howard Mandel for his blog Jazz Beyond Jazz. The group plays tonight in St. Louis at Joe's Cafe.

* Dan Warner, one of the organizers of the Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival, was interviewed on Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis about the fest, which happens tomorrow. Featured performers will include the "St. Louis Jazz All-Stars" (pictured), with Montez Coleman (drums), Bob DeBoo (bass), Ptah Williams (keyboards), Freddie Washington (tenor and soprano sax), Danny Campbell (trumpet), and Joe Mancuso (vocals).

* New Music Circle has posted on Facebook an album of photos from last Friday's concert by Thumbscrew.

* There's lots of Miles Davis-related news this week, as both the New York Times and Jazz Times have stories about actor/director Don Cheadle and Miles Ahead, his film about Davis that wrapped principal photography last month in Cincinnati.

* Meanwhile, the website has an article about Davis as an icon of men's clothing styles; and has a piece about a journalist's early-career encounter with Miles. 

* And if all that weren't enough, a four-CD set featuring performances from a 1960 European tour by Davis' band with John Coltrane will be issued in December by Trapeze Music & Entertainment on its Acrobat label.

* Here's a report on last Saturday's memorial service for trumpeter Floyd LeFlore by Chris King of the St. Louis American.

* The St. Louis Rivermen are headed this weekend to McComb, IL, where they'll play at the 13th annual Al Sears Jazz Festival.

* Trumpeter Keyon Harrold helped kick off the 2014 FONT (Festival of New Trumpet) Music Festival with a set last night at the NYC club Smoke. Harrold's band included fellow St. Louisans Shedrick Mitchell on keyboards and Marcus Baylor on drums, plus saxophonist Marcus Strickland on saxophone.

* Jazz radio update: On this Saturday's episode of Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis' “Somethin’ Else,” host Calvin Wilson will play the compositions of songwriter Arthur Schwartz ("Dancing In The Dark," "Alone Together") as interpreted by jazz musicians including Gary Bartz, Robert Glasper, and Patricia Barber.

Then on "The Jazz Collective," host Jason Church will pay tribute to the late Joe Sample with solo recordings, tracks from the Jazz Crusaders and duets with Randy Crawford, and also will spin tracks from Gregg Karukas, Cindy Bradley, Ryan Montano, Steve Cole, Ragan Whiteside, Erin Bode, Jesse Gannon, Tommy Halloran's Guerrilla Swing, and Hugh "Peanuts" Whalum.

Wilson's program can be heard at 8:00 p.m., followed by Church at 9:00 p.m., on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jazz this week: Joe McPhee & Survival Unit III, Old Webster Jazz & Blues Festival, Snarky Puppy, and more

It should be another good weekend to get out and hear some live jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with several free shows featuring local performers, plus a couple of noteworthy touring acts coming to town. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, there are a couple of free concerts, as guitarist Vincent Varvel plays for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University, and trumpeter/singer Dawn Weber performs as part of the "Not So Quiet" concert series at the main branch of the St. Louis Public Library downtown.

Also tonight, there's an eclectic bill of improvised and electronic music at Blank Space, featuring Alex Cunningham, Beauty Pageant, Dave Stone, Eric Hall, Stone Hen, and Willis.

On Friday, you can catch more avant-jazz and free improv from multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee (pictured), cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and percussionist Michael Zerang, aka Survival Unit III, at Joe's Cafe.

The trio performed here in 2011 under the auspices of New Music Circle, and it went well enough that NMC's Jeremy Kannapell set up this return date for them as an independent production. If you missed that show, you can get a preview of Friday's action via a video of a full set by McPhee, Lonborg-Holm and Zerang included in part one of StLJN's fall 2014 jazz preview.

Elsewhere around town on Friday, writer and poet Michael Castro leads his "poetrio" in a show at Tavern of Fine Arts; Second Generation Swing plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom; singer Feyza Eren and pianist Curt Landes perform at The Wine Press; and saxophonist Austin Cebulski leads a trio at Cigar Inn.

On Saturday, the annual Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival will take place in the Old Webster business district surrounding the intersection of Lockwood and Gore Avenues in Webster Groves. This year's edition of the free, all-day event will have two stages featuring performances from the Funky Butt Brass Band; the Webster University faculty jazz ensemble; The 442s with Erin Bode; an ad hoc group assembled for the occasion and dubbed the St. Louis Jazz All-Stars; the Webster Groves High School Jazz Band; trumpeter Jim Manley and Wild, Cool and Swingin'; and more.

Also on Saturday, singer Gene Lynn brings his smooth sound to Evangeline's; fusion band Koplant No plays at the Tavern of Fine Arts; and keyboardist Adam Maness and drummer Irvin Neal will perform at Troy's Jazz Gallery.

On Sunday, the jazz/funk/world music ensemble Snarky Puppy (pictured) will be back in town for an encore performance at the Old Rock House. Since their last gig here in May 2013 at The Demo, they've stayed quite busy, spending this past summer playing the festival circuit in the USA, Europe and Asia and promoting their sixth album, We Like It Here, which came out in February. You can read more about them and see a couple of videos of them in action (though several other clips have disappeared due to link rot) in this post made before their last St. Louis appearance.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday saxophonist Paul DeMarinis will lead a sextet performing his original compositions in a concert at Moore Auditorium on the Webster University campus.

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, September 16, 2014

Music for Lifelong Achievement annual instrument drive starts September 29

If you've got an old, unused, or extra musical instrument taking up space in the basement, garage or spare room, Music for Lifelong Achievement will get it out of your way and put it to good use as part of their annual instrument drive, which this year begins Monday, September 29 and continues through Sunday, October 26.

MFLA is a not-for-profit organization based at the Sheldon Concert Hall that collects used and new musical instruments and donates them to school and community music programs serving disadvantaged young people. Since its inception, the organization has provided more than 500 instruments to music students all over the St. Louis area.

There are two ways to help: by giving a musical instrument, or giving cash. For the ninth year, St. Louis-area Starbucks stores once again will serve as drop-off locations for used and new musical instruments during the drive. The donated instruments then will be repaired and distributed to students who otherwise would not be able to afford an instrument. Donors get a letter documenting the value of the instrument for tax deduction purposes.

If you don’t have an instrument to donate, MFLA gladly accepts cash contributions, which are used to help pay for necessary repairs of donated instruments and provide accessories such as strings, reeds, and sheet music. These donations also are tax deductible. For more information or to make a donation, call The Sheldon at 314-533-9900 or visit

Saturday, September 13, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Fall 2014 jazz preview, part 3

It's the third chapter of our Fall 2014 video preview of jazz and creative music performers coming to St. Louis, and today we'll cover the touring acts that will be in town during the first part of November. (You can find part one of the fall jazz preview here, and part two here.) 

Today's first video features the SpokFrevo Orquestra, a 17-piece Brazilian big band who will make their St. Louis debut on Sunday, November 2 at the Sheldon Concert Hall. Seen here performing a full set in 2011, the group blends jazz with frevo, a high-energy Brazilian musical genre associated with Carnival time.

After the jump, you can see saxophonist Joshua Redman, who will return to lead a trio with bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Greg Hutchinson starting Wednesday, November 5 through Saturday, November 7 at Jazz at the Bistro. Redman is seen here playing two songs - his own composition "I'll Go Mine" and Gil Evans' "Barracudas" - in March of this year at the Visioninmusica festival in Terni Italy, accompanied by pianist Aaron Goldberg, Rogers, and Hutchinson.

That same weekend, the Gaslight Cabaret Festival will be spotlighting three performers from Chicago. Beckie Menzie and Tom Michael, who will perform "That '60s Show" on Friday, November 7, are seen in the next clip dueting on "You and the Night and the Music" at the Chicago Cabaret Professionals 2011 annual gala. After that, it's Joan Curto, who will perform the music of Cole Porter on Saturday, November 8, singing "Change Partners" in a clip recorded at the 2013 Chicago Humanities Festival.

That same weekend, New Music Circle will present a double-bill concert on Saturday, November 8, at the new location of The Luminary, 2701 Cherokee St. The concert will feature separate sets from improvising percussionist Eli Keszler and electronic musician Rashad Becker. Both men are seen here in videos recorded earlier this year (in May and March, respectively) at Cave 12 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Closing out our preview of the first half of November is singer Sheri Sanders with a rendition of the song "Pieces" from the musical Salvage, recorded last year in NYC. Sanders is coming to St. Louis on Thursday, November 13 to do her show "Rock It" as part of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival.

Look for part four of StLJN's Fall 2014 jazz preview next week, and you can see the rest of today's videos after the jump.

Friday, September 12, 2014

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Guitarist Mary Halvorson was interviewed for an article on the New Music Circle website. NMC is presenting Thumbscrew, featuring Halvorson, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, in concert tonight at Joe's Cafe.

* Saxophonist David Sanborn has sold his NYC townhouse for $11 million. The property has been on the market since 2009 as part of a reported effort by Sanborn to downsize to slightly more modest quarters.

* Pianist and St. Louis expat Linda Presgrave (pictured) and her husband, saxophonist Stan Chovnick, have posted online a video of their duo concert recorded last week at Michiko Studios in NYC. The complete show can be seen for free until October 5.

* The reissue of composer/flute player Fred Tompkins' Fanfare 8: The Early Works was reviewed by blogger Grego Applegate Edwards of the blog Gapplegate Music Review, who called Tompkins "one of the greatest, if lesser known, of the so-called "third-stream" composers."

* Last weekend's LouFest set by Trombone Shorty was discussed in reviews of the event from the Riverfront Times and KDHX's Kevin Korinek.

* The Cherokee Street music and art venue Blank Space is expanding, as detailed in this story by the RFT's Joseph Hess.

* St. Louis Volunteer Attorneys and Accountants for the Arts and Missouri Arts Council have put online a video of their "Copyright Basics" workshop.

* The St. Louis swing dance community this week is mourning the death of veteran dancer Tommy Russo, who passed away last week at age 98.

* As part of their 65th anniversary promotion, Prestige Records has released online a short video interview with producer Ira Gitler, who describes what really happened during one of the Miles Davis sessions included among the label's recent reissues.

* Writing for the St. Louis American, James Ingram (not the singer, but rather a columnist for the paper) wonders why Don Cheadle couldn't have filmed his Miles Davis movie in East St. Louis rather than Cincinnati.

(Actually, I think I know the answer to this one. Presumably, one big reason is because ESL lacks sufficient locations that could double for NYC in the 1970s, which was cited as a key reason Cheadle chose Cincinnati. Ingram's essay mentions having room in ESL to construct sets and facades, but the modest budget of Miles Ahead would have precluded that option no matter where it was shot. The film also reportedly received tax incentives from the city and from the state of Ohio, which Illinois and/or ESL may have been unwilling or unable to match.)

* Jazz radio update: This Saturday on Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis' “Somethin’ Else,” host Calvin Wilson will feature tracks from saxophonist Sonny Rollins' recent series of “Road Shows” recordings. The program can be heard 8:00 p.m. on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at

A bit farther down the dial, this week's edition of "St. Louis Jazz Talk" at 11:00 a.m. Sunday on WSIE (88.7 FM) will feature an interview with drummer Steve Davis.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Jazz this week: Thumbscrew, U City Jazz Festival, Funeral Bonsai Wedding, and more

There's lots going on this week with jazz and creative music in St. Louis, as two concert series offer their first shows of the season; a free fall festival returns; and other stages around town will be filled with even more improvised music influenced by everything from funk to flamenco. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University begins the fall semester with a free concert reuniting the jazz-fusion trio Tracer, with pianist Ptah Williams, bassist Darrell Mixon and drummer Gary Sykes.

Also tonight, Good 4 The Soul will play their monthly show at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups; and trumpeter Jim Manley will be doing his weekly gig at Joyia Tapas.

On Friday, it's the start of another season for New Music Circle, as guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, aka Thumbscrew (pictured), will perform at the house-concert venue Joe’s Cafe, 6014 Kingsbury Ave.

Also on Friday, the St. Louis Big Band plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom; saxophonist Tim Cunningham returns to Troy's Jazz Gallery; singer Joe Mancuso enlists the support of not just one, but two guitarists, as he joins forces with Dave Black and Steve Schenkel for an evening of Beatles covers at the Tavern of Fine Arts; saxophonist Jim Stevens plays a free outdoor show at Ferguson Citywalk; and singer Tony Viviano returns to Talayna's in Chesterfield.

On Saturday, the U City Jazz Festival will take place in Heman Park, located at Olive & Midland in University City. This year's free outdoor concert is headlined by funk/fusion band Pieces of A Dream, with supporting acts including Bach to the Future, pianist Carolbeth True and Two Times True, the Tony Viviano Big Band, trumpeter Anthony Wiggins, and the Jazz St. Louis All-Stars student ensemble.  

Also on Saturday, Funeral Bonsai Wedding will be in town from Chicago to promote their debut release with a performance at The Stage at KDHX. The newly formed group features singer-guitarist Steve Dawson, best known as the front man for the roots-rock band Dolly Varden, backed by vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, drummer Frank Rosaly and bassist Jason Roebke, who all work regularly in Chicago's jazz and improvised music scene.  

Elsewhere around town that evening, percussionist Herman Semidey and his Orquesta Son Montuno will continue the new jazz series at the Ozark Theatre; and singers Mary Dyson and Diane Vaughn will perform at Troy's Jazz Gallery.

On Sunday, there are a couple more free outdoor shows in the offing, as Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will play swing, hot jazz and vintage blues at Benton Park, while the St. Charles Municipal Big Band will hold forth by the river in Frontier Park.

That evening, jazz meets flamenco in a performance by EviscerArt, featuring pianist Cristian de Moret, guitarist Eduardo Pachecho, and dancer Vanesa Aibar, at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday the Webster University jazz faculty will present their tribute to  "Great Jazz Records of 1964" at Winifred Moore Auditorium on the Webster campus; and on Tuesday, guitarist and singer Tommy Halloran will play the music of Randy Newman in a "Notes From Home" concert at The Sheldon.

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, September 09, 2014

Floyd LeFlore, trumpeter and co-founder
of Black Artists Group, dead at age 74

StLJN has learned from reliable sources that trumpeter Floyd LeFlore, who co-founded St. Louis' Black Artists Group, performed and recorded with most of the city's important "free jazz" musicians, and later served as a board member for New Music Circle, has died. Available public records list his year of birth as 1940 and his age at death as 74.

LeFlore was born in Mississippi, but as a young child moved with his family to St. Louis, where his uncle Clarence "Bucky" Jarman was a guitarist. He attended Sumner High School at the same time as a number of other notable local jazz musicians, including fellow trumpeters Lester Bowie and David Hines, saxophonist Oliver Lake, pianist John Hicks, and drummers Jerome "Scrooge" Harris and Philip Wilson.

After serving in the military from 1962 to 1965, LeFlore returned home and got involved in the city's rapidly changing music scene, becoming a member of what's generally acknowledged as St. Louis' first organized, recurring "free jazz" ensemble, the Oliver Lake Art Quartet, with Lake, Harris, and bassist Carl "Arvinia" Richardson.

With many of the musicians mentioned above, LeFlore then helped to start the Black Artists Group in 1968. When a number of the BAG co-founders moved to Europe in 1972, LeFlore initially remained in St. Louis, but he later went to Paris and stayed for a couple of years, touring and recording with BAG on their "official" debut album Black Artists Group - In Paris, Aries 1973.

Around this same time, LeFlore also recorded with Oliver Lake; the BAG-related Human Arts Ensemble; saxophonist Luther Thomas; and Solidarity Unit, Inc, which featured Lake, Richardson, drummer Charles "Bobo" Shaw, trombonist Joseph Bowie, trumpeter Baikida Carroll, guitarist Richard Martin, and bassist Kada Kayan. He also picked up occasional sideman work, ranging from early gigs with blues guitarist Albert King to a one-off local show with the Arkestra of legendary pianist and bandleader Sun Ra.

In the 1980s, LeFlore recorded and gigged with pianist David Parker, and in the early 1990s he became a board member of New Music Circle. He served on the organization's music committee and was a featured performer in several concerts produced by NMC, including his music/theater piece “Ritualistic Revival,” with LeFlore performing his own poetry and dialogue in the role of the Rev. Alonzo Alphonso Jones.

At this point, this story gets personal for me. As an NMC board member and later administrator during those years, I was fortunate to get to know and work closely with Floyd LeFlore, playing keyboards on some shows he was involved in, and also line-producing "Ritualistic Revival" and several other events he conceived.

Although he was having some trouble with his chops around that time, due to the lingering effects of an auto accident in which he had injured his mouth and lip, LeFlore was still an inventive player and, perhaps more important, an inspiring presence - just a great person to work with and be around. In the near future, I hope to do another post paying tribute to Floyd LeFlore that will draw more on some of those memories as well as archival materials from those years.

Floyd LeFlore's first and only recording as a leader, the 1998 CD-EP City Sidewalk Street Song Suite, was praised by Terry Perkins in a Riverfront Times review for combining “elements of straight-ahead jazz, R&B, funk and traditional children’s street rhymes into a seamless and highly entertaining recording.”

In the early 2000s, LeFlore performed a few gigs around the St. Louis area with saxophonist Freddie Washington as the Divinity Jazz Quintet. He also took part in the BAG retrospective convened in 2006 at Washington University, but otherwise had been mostly inactive in recent years. At present, there's no information available as to the cause of his death.

(Updated 9/12/14 with information from the obit published by the St. Louis American.)

LeFlore is survived by his ex-wife Shirley Bradley LeFlore, daughters Lyah Beth LeFlore, Jacie Price, and Hope Price Lindsay; four grandchildren, Noelle Lindsay, Jordan Lindsay, Jullian Price Baez, and Bella Grace LeFlore Ituen; and one sister, Cynthia A. LeFlore.

A memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, September 13, 2014 at McClendon Mortuary, 12140 New Halls Ferry Road, St. Louis MO, 63033.
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