Although this week's schedule of jazz and creative music is considerably less jam-packed than last week's, listeners still will have a chance to check out several intriguing young performers visiting St. Louis, plus an assortment of shows from various hometown favorites.
Let's go to this highlights...
Wednesday, April 27
Saxophonist Melissa Aldana(pictured, top left) makes her St. Louis debut with the first of four evenings of performances continuing though Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro
Aldana, a 27-year-old native of Chile who studied at Berklee College of Music, draws significant inspiration from saxophonists a couple of generations her elder - most notably Sonny Rollins, but also Joe Henderson, Cannonball Adderly, and even older players as Don Byas and Lucky Thompson, whom she learned about as a young girl from her father, also a professional sax player.
She first made a big splash here in the US in 2013 when she became the first female instrumentalist ever to win the annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. For more about Aldana, and some video samples of her performances - including her award-winning set at the Monk competition - see this post from last Saturday.
Friday, April 29
Chicago-based singer Keri Johnsrud, who made her St. Louis debut a few weeks ago with a concert at The Chapel in Clayton, will be back in our town for a more informal show at Evangeline's.
Johnsrud (pictured, center left) is a third-generation singer who's originally from Iowa. She's played top Chicago venues including the Green Mill and the Jazz Showcase, and has released two albums, the most recent of which, 2015's This Side of Morning, featured all original material.
Also on Friday, the saxophone-playing brothers Peter and Will Anderson will perform at the Tavern of Fine Arts. Hailing from Washington DC, the brothers both studied at the Juilliard School and then took up residence there in NYC after graduation. Since then, in addition to fronting their own group on tour and as leaders on a couple of recordings, they've also appeared with the Jimmy Heath Big Band, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.
(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.)
* Meanwhile, news and reviews of the film of Miles Ahead - playing this week in St. Louis at the Tivoli and the AMC Creve Coeur 12 - continue to proliferate. Here are links to the latest, grouped roughly by topic; for much, much more about Miles Ahead, check out previous posts here under the "Miles on Monday" tag.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA is known as one of the top schools in the country for engineering, math, and science, and as such, they've also been a pioneer in online learning, putting material from many courses on the internet for anyone to access for free.
And while MIT may not be known particularly as a mecca for the arts, they do have some music courses among those online offerings, including the one being spotlighted here today for Music Education Monday, a series of 13 videos recorded in Spring 2013 for the course "Musical Improvisation."
Taught by trumpeter Mark Harvey and saxophonist Tom Hall with some help from MIT students and various guests, the course deals with improvisation more on a conceptual level than in a "here's how to navigate the chord changes" sort of way.
This first video in the series is a lab session "about sonic experimentation, improvising free from judgments of right vs. wrong. It begins with structured improvisation exercises incorporating sound and movement, followed by more exercises with graphic notation."
The series continues with concerts and workshops dealing with an eclectic selection of topics including electronics, improvisation in Indian classical music, and "In A Silent Way," plus demonstrations from musicians including trombonist Robin Eubanks and cellist Eugene Friesen.
All 13 videos are collected in a playlist that will show them in order from the embedded video window at the bottom of this post. You can find more course materials, including supplemental readings and a recommended list of recordings for additional listening, here.
If this piques your interest in some more big-brain content on the subject, read "Improvised Music after 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives," an essay by composer, trombonist, electronic musician, Columbia University professor and AACM member George Lewis that appeared originally in the Spring 1996 issue of Black Music Research Journal, a journal published by the Center for Black Music Research - Columbia College Chicago and University of Illinois Press.
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This week, let's check out some video performances featuring saxophonist Melissa Aldana, who will making her St. Louis debut starting next Wednesday, April 27 through Saturday, April 30 at Jazz at the Bistro
A 27-year-old native of Santiago, Chile, Aldana began learning saxophone at age 6 from her father Marcos Aldana, a professional saxophonist in Chile. She started playing in local clubs as a teenager, and in 2005 met pianist Danilo Pérez, who was touring in Chile with saxophonist Wayne Shorter. Pérez helped arrange an audition for Aldana at Berklee College of Music, where she was accepted and studied with teachers including Joe Lovano, George Garzone, St. Louis' own Greg Osby, and others.
After graduating from Berklee, Aldana moved to New York, where she was mentored by Osby and veteran tenor saxophonist George Coleman. In 2013, she entered the Thelonius Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition and became the first female instrumentalist to win the prize.
Aldana has released four albums, the most recent being Back Home, which came out earlier this year and features her current trio with bassist Pablo Menares and drummer Jochen Rueckert.
You can see and hear that trio in action in the first video up above, which features Aldana performing her tune "Sonny" (named in honor of Sonny Rollins) in January of this year at the Movitz Jazz Club in Östersund, Sweden.
After the jump, you can see nearly an hour's worth of Aldana's trio, as recorded by Vermont PBS last fall during the Discover Jazz festival at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington, VT. That's followed by an outtake from the program, a version of "My Ship".
Below that, you can see Aldana play "M&M" in September 2014 at the Monterey Jazz Festival, followed by another full set recorded by radio station WBGO in October 2013 at Berklee College of Music, featuring Aldana, Menares, and drummer Francisco Mela.
The last clip shows Aldana's award-winning performance at the 2013 Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Saxophone Competition. And yes, that's former St. Louisan Reggie Thomas backing her up on piano, along with bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Carl Allen.
The Sheldon Concert Hall today announced their 2016-17 season schedule, including the four concerts making up their jazz subscription series for next year plus some other events of potential interest to StLJN readers.
Percussionist Jason Marsalis' Vibes Quartet will be first up for the jazz series on Saturday, October 1. Marsalis, the youngest brother of the famous New Orleans family of musicians that also includes his siblings Wynton, Branford, and Delfeayo and their dad Ellis, leads his own band as a vibraphonist when not behind the drum set in the trio of pianist Marcus Roberts.
Next will be a quintet co-led by Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés and NYC saxophonist Joe Lovano(pictured) on Saturday, November 12. Valdés, a founding member of the Cuban jazz-fusion band Irakere, played with his own group at the Sheldon in 2012, while Lovano was in St. Louis most recently with his band Us Five in 2014 at Jazz at the Bistro, but this performance will be their first here together.
Clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen and her quartet will return to bring in the New Year with a concert on Saturday, January 14, and New Orleans trumpeter Etienne Charles will close out the 2016-17 jazz series with some “Creole Soul” on Saturday, March 11.
The Sheldon's 2016-17 "Coffee Concerts" series will include performances of traditional jazz and swing by Cornet Chop Suey (Tuesday, September 27 and Wednesday, September 28) and The Gaslight Squares (Tuesday, November 1 & Wednesday, November 2); a tribute to Nancy Wilson by singer Kim Fuller (Tuesday, April 4 and Wednesday, April 5); and two non-subscription shows by Miss Jubilee (Tuesday, May 2 and Wednesday, May 3).
Also of interest, new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound will return to the Sheldon for the fourth year with concerts on Thursday, December 1 and Thursday, June 1. You can see the complete schedule for all the 2016-17 concert series at the Sheldon's website.
Single tickets for the jazz series shows will be priced at $25 and $40 for Marsalis, Cohen, and Charles, and $30 and $45 for Valdés & Lovano, or you can purchase a series subscription for $135 or $150. Single tickets for the "Coffee Concerts" are $15 and $18, with subscriptions priced at $60 and $70. Single tickets for Alarm Will Sound will be $10 and $20.
Subscriptions for The Sheldon's 2016-17 jazz series and the venue's other concert series will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. Monday, May 16. Single tickets will be available starting at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, August 13 via MetroTix.
* Saxophonist David Sanborn, who was back home in St. Louis last week to play at Jazz at the Bistro, has been announced as one of the performers for the February 2017 edition of The Contemporary Jazz Cruise, along with Pat Metheny, Gregory Porter, Terence Blanchard, and others.
* Singer Wendy L Gordon announced that the Leevert & Wendy Gordon Scholarship Fund will grant another $1000 scholarship this year to a yet-to-be-selected Sumner High School senior attending Harris Stowe State University in the fall.
The scholarships are funded with proceeds from Gordon's series of "Jazz Heaven" tribute concerts, the next of which is scheduled for Sunday, September 11 at the Florissant Civic Center Theatre, and from special events like the upcoming tribute to singer Mae Wheeler by Gordon and fellow vocalist Jeanne Trevor set for Tuesday, May 17 at the Sheldon Concert Hall.