Saturday, February 17, 2018

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe's modular sounds

This week, let's take a look at some videos featuring multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, who will be in St. Louis next week to perform in a concert presented by New Music Circle on Saturday, February 24 at Urb Arts.

Born in 1975, Lowe grew up in Kansas City and began playing bass and singing in post-punk and rock bands as a teenager. After joining the "math rock" band 90 Day Men and moving to Chicago to be closer to their base of operations, in the mid-2000s Lowe began giving solo performances of just his voice and modular synthesizer, sometimes using the pseudonym Lichens.

Now based in Brooklyn, Lowe subsequently has worked with a wide range of artists and musicians, including Ben Russell, Ben Rivers, Rose Lazar, Hisham Akira Bharoocha, Tarek Atoui, Ben Vida, Mark Borthwick, Lucky Dragons, Alan Licht, Michael Zerang, Doug Aitken, Patrick Smith, Monica Baptista, Lee Ranaldo, White/Light, Kevin Martin, Chris Johanson, Tyondai Braxton, David Scott Stone, Genesis P-Orridge, Rose Kallal, and more.

In addition to his solo performances, he still plays with the experimental metal band Om, and in recent years also has begun collaborating with filmmakers and videographers, adding a visual element to his live performances.

Here in St. Louis, he'll be playing unaccompanied, and you can see and hear an example of one of Lowe's solo sets in the first video up above, which was recorded in July 2017 at the Berkeley Arts Museum in Berkeley, CA.

After the jump, you can see another full performance by Lowe, recorded November 4, 2016 at the Renaissance Society in Chicago in conjunction with an exhibition of work by artist Ben Rivers.

Next is a piece called "We Echo Now His Love," recorded in April 2016 at the Sonambient Barn, an eighteenth-century stone barn in Barto, Pennsylvania that house metal sculptures/instruments devised by artist Harry Bertoia.

That's followed by another full set, from 2014 at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, and then by an interview video from the 2017 Brighton Modular Meet in England, in which Lowe discusses his creative process and use of modular synths.

The next-to-last video is sort of a lecture and demonstration of his gear by Lowe, recorded in 2016 at Superbooth, a modular synth exposition held in Berlin, Germany. The final clip is a recording of a discussion on "universal musics" led by Lowe at "Machines in Music," an event held in October 2015 in NYC.

For more about Robery Aiki Aubrey Lowe, read his 2014 interview with The Quietus and this interview published in December 2017 on the website of the Museum of Art and Design.

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

Friday, February 16, 2018

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Multi-instrumentalist Lamar Harris (pictured) and pianist Kim Portnoy are among this year's group of 10 winners of $20,000 artist fellowships from the Regional Arts Commission.

* Metro Theater Company's production of Bud, Not Buddy, which features a score by trumpeter Terence Blanchard performed live on stage by a 13-piece band, was reviewed by's Steve Callahan.

In addition, local NBC affiliate KSDK's Show Me St. Louis last week ran a feature about the show, and Jazz St. Louis also has released a short promotional video about the production. "Bud, Not Buddy" continues through Sunday, February 25 at the Grandel Theater.

* Trumpeter Keyon Harrold's return home last week to play at Jazz at the Bistro was the subject of a column from the St. Louis American's Delores Shante.

* In an interview with the campus newspaper, flute player Oliver Nelson Jr. talked about the concert tonight at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ paying tribute to his father, St. Louis native, saxophonist and composer Oliver Nelson. The university will close its annual jazz festival with a performance of Nelson's works, including his suite "The Kennedy Dream."

* Former St. Louisan Katie McGrath has won the 2018 Bistro Award for "Best New York Debut" for her cabaret show, "Significant Others." The awards were established in 1985 to recognize excellence among cabaret, jazz and comedy artists in NYC. 

* Saxophonist and former St. Louisan Oliver Lake is part of an all-star lineup of performers taking part in "Timeless Portraits and Dreams: A Festival/Symposium in Honor of Geri Allen" this weekend at Harvard University. The event will include two concerts and two days of panel discussions featuring musicians and artists who worked with Allen, including Lake, Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington, Vijay Iyer, Jason Moran, Craig Taborn, Don Byron, Carmen Lundy, Kenny Davis, Tia Fuller, and Yosvany Terry.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Jazz this week: Alicia Olatuja, jazz for Valentine's Day, and more

For the second consecutive week, the calendar of live jazz and creative music in St. Louis features performances by a local expat making a triumphant return home after earning national acclaim.

For more about that and the other jazz shows happening around town, let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, February 14
Singer Alicia Olatuja (pictured) performs for the first of four nights at Jazz at the Bistro.

Known by her maiden name Alicia Miles while growing up in St. Louis, Olatuja has seen her career take off since she gained national attention in 2013 as a featured soloist at President Barack Obama's second inauguration.  With one solo album under her belt and another set for release later this year, she's not a household name yet, but her star definitely seems on the rise.

Olatuja was a featured guest last year during harmonica player Gregoire Maret's week at the Bistro, and she'll be back in a few weeks with drummer Ulysses Owens Jr's "Songs of Freedom" project, but this will be her debut performance as a headliner at the venue, so expect a good turnout from the hometown crowd. For more about Alicia Olatuja, plus some video samples of past live performances, see this post from last Saturday.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, singer Erin Bode will be doing two shows at Cyrano's; the Joe Bozzi Band plays at Evangeline's; and there are a number of other gigs happening specifically for Valentine's Day - see the St. Louis Jazz Notes calendar for the complete listings.

Thursday, February 15
Singer Tony Viviano will perform in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University; Cabaret Project St. Louis presents their monthly "Broadway Open Mic" at the Curtain Call Lounge; and bassist/singer Tonina Saputo's quartet is back at The Dark Room.

Friday, February 16
Miss Jubilee plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom, saxophonist Tim Cunningham is doing a special Valentine's-themed dinner-and-show at Troy's Jazz Gallery (advance reservations suggested), and saxophonist Kendrick Smith returns to Thurman's in Shaw.

Saturday, February 17
The Gaslight Squares will play an early afternoon show at the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site's Rosebud Cafe as part of a new Saturday matinee concert series presented by the Friends of Scott Joplin.

At the dinner hour, check out pianist Ptah Williams playing at The Dark Room, and later in the evening, saxophonist Dave Stone trio's continues their weekly residency at Thurman's in Shaw.

Sunday, February 18
Guitarist and singer Tommy Halloran will play for brunch at The Dark Room, while Miss Jubilee serenades the brunch crowd as Evangeline's.

Monday, February 19
Faculty members comprising the Webster University Jazz Collective will play a concert at Winifred Moore Auditorium on the Webster 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.)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday Session: February 11, 2018

Cécile McLorin Salvant
Here's the roundup of various music-related items of interest that have shown up in one of StLJN's various inboxes or feeds over the past week:

* Cécile McLorin Salvant: The Ghost Writer (Jazz Times)
* In Memoriam: Hugh Masekela (DownBeat)
* Sirius XM Radio Has 32.7 Million Subscribers — Less Than Half That of Spotify (
* Here’s the Entire Facebook Contract for Music Publishers & Songwriters (
* LISTEN: Dennis Edwards recalls the angry studio session behind 'Papa Was a Rollin' Stone' (Detroit Free Press)
* California brewery must face lawsuit by son of jazz great Thelonious Monk (
* Monk’s son wins right to sue over ‘Brother Thelonious’ ale (San Francisco Chronicle)
* Ndugu Chancler, Drummer On Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," Dead At 65 (
* La Monte Young - The Well-Tuned Piano 81 X 25 6:17:50 - 11:18:59 PM NYC (
* India sings the blues (The Hindu)
* How the Super Bowl halftime show gets set up in just six minutes (
* Photos: “A Musical Tribute to Dr. Muhal Richard Abrams” (Jazz Times)
* Frank Zappa Hologram to Play With Former Mothers on 'Bizarre World' Tour (Rolling Stone)
* Meditating On The Healing Power Of Alice Coltrane's 'Journey In Satchidananda' (NPR)
* Snarky Puppy Evokes 1960s at Carnegie Hall Concert (DownBeat)
* Geri Allen’s Spirit Fills Winter Jazzfest During All-Star Tribute (DownBeat)
* In Conversation: Quincy Jones (
* Blue Note at Sea a Showcase for Abundant Talent (DownBeat)
* David Crosby: Crosby, Coltrane & Miles (Jazz Times)
* 'Body and Soul' doc explores links between jazz and Jews (Chicago Tribune)
* A Look Back at Hipgnosis, Pioneers of the Avant-Garde Record Cover (
* A Conversation With Ken Vandermark (WFIU)
* Johnny O’Neal: Pianist, Singer, Storyteller (Jazz Times)
* Q&A with Alfredo Rodríguez: Global References (DownBeat)
* Electronic pioneer Ryuichi Sakamoto: 'My great regret is not reconnecting with Bowie' (The Guardian)
* How Black Panther Composer Ludwig Göransson Found the Sound of Wakanda (
* The Night Latin Jazz Was Born (
* Terry Gibbs: Tales of a True Bebopper (Jazz Times)
* Wesla Whitfield’s Long Musical Adventure Comes to an End (KQED)

Saturday, February 10, 2018

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Spotlight on Alicia Olatuja

Today, let's check out some videos featuring singer and St. Louis native Alicia Olatuja, who will be coming back home to perform starting next Wednesday, February 14 through Saturday, February 17 at Jazz at the Bistro.

Olatuja was known by her maiden name Alicia Miles while growing up here and then while attending the University of Missouri. After graduating from Mizzou's School of Music in 2005, she moved to New York City to earn her master's degree at the Manhattan School of Music, eventually meeting and marrying British/Nigerian bassist Michael Olatuja.

The two began working together as The Olatuja Project, releasing an album in 2011. Two years later, Alicia gained international attention for her performance as the featured soloist with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir at President Barack Obama's second inauguration.

That led to interest in her as a solo artist, and in 2014 she released her first album, Timeless. Olatuja gained additional exposure that year on tour with pianist Billy Childs as part of his show “Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro,” and subsequently has performed with other well-known musicians including organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, bassist Christian McBride, and harmonica player Gregoire Maret, with whom she made her Bistro debut last year as a guest vocalist.

Now touring as a headliner with her own band, anchored by her husband as bassist and musical director, and having recently completed a Kickstarter campaign to fund a second album, Intuition-Songs from the Minds of Women, which is expected to be released in June, Olatuja seems well-positioned for even bigger things soon.

You can see her perform a full set of music in the first video up above, which was recorded in October 2014 in NYC, shortly after the release of Timeless.

After the jump, you can see three performances recorded in August 2015 at Dizzy's Club at Lincoln Center in NYC, starting with a cover of "Love Me Still," originally made famous by Chaka Khan, followed by two of Olatuja's own songs, "In The Dark" and "Truth In Blue."

Next up is a performance of "Serrado," written by the Brazilian singer/songwriter Djavan and recorded in 2014 as a duet with guitarist David Rosenthal.

The final video is an extended interview with Olatuja, just recorded on February 1 of this year before her performance for the Modlin Arts series in Richmond, VA.

For more about Alicia Olatuja, read the profile of her in last month's issue of Jazz Times, and this Q&A, also published in January.

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

Friday, February 09, 2018

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Pianists Peter Martin and Adam Maness have teamed up for a new podcast for aspiring musicians called "You'll Hear It," offering "a combo of actionable advice and occasional humor in just 10 minutes a day" via Martin's Open Studio Productions.

* Bassist Jim Widner, who heads the jazz studies program at the University of Missouri St. Louis and directs the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival, has been named the Missouri Association for Jazz Education’s Outstanding Jazz Educator for 2018.  Widner, who previously won the award back in 1990, has announced that he plans to retire from UMSL next year.

* Metro Theater Company's production of "Bud, Not Buddy," the "concert play" with a score by trumpeter Terence Bradford, was spotlighted on the HEC-TV arts program Scope.

* Bassist Bob DeBoo and trumpeter Kasimu Taylor (pictured) promoted the weekly "Grand Center Jazz Crawl" in a segment on KMOV's Great Day St. Louis.

* The bossa nova and jazz trio The Bonbon Plot was featured in a story in the Alton RiverBender.

* St. Louis native Josephine Baker's trip back to her hometown in 1953 after decades living overseas was the subject of an archival St. Louis Post-Dispatch article posted this week on

* Singer and Webster University alumna Alyssa Hegwood was featured in Webster U's campus paper The Journal.

* 80-year-old saxophonist Lee Trapp, who frequently practices outdoors on the Lindenwood University campus ala Sonny Rollins on the Williamsburg Bridge, was profiled in Lindenwood's online student publication The LindenLink.

* Keyboardist Jim Hegarty has posted to Bandcamp as a "name your price" download another of his "Secret Sessions" recordings, featuring percussionist Henry Claude, pianist Greg Mills, cornetist George Sams, guitarist Steven Thomas, and flute player Fred Tompkins, plus Hegarty on Moog Voyager.

He's also posted to Bandcamp a live album called Sky Water Smokestack, recorded just last week at St. Louis Community College - Forest Park. The performance was improvised to non-narrative films of scenes of the Mississippi River by an ensemble including Hegarty on piano and synthesizer, cellist Tracy Andreotti, clarinetist Eric Paul Mandat, and mallet percussionist Thomas Zirkle.

* CarolBrass representative Jim Bohm will be in St. Louis from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. next Tuesday, February 13 at UMSL, showing off the company's line of Bb, C, and piccolo trumpets, flugelhorns, and cornets and offering demonstration models for brass players to try.

* The weekly jazz performances at Thurman's in Shaw are briefly mentioned in a Riverfront Times food blog post about the bar's new menu.  

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Charlie Hunter Trio to perform
Saturday, March 24 at Off Broadway

Guitarist Charlie Hunter is returning to St. Louis for a performance with his trio at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, March 24 at Off Broadway.

Hunter (pictured) is known for his distinctive technique on seven-string guitar that enables him to play melodies, chords, and bass lines simultaneously.

His most recent recording is 2016's Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth, and he last performed in St. Louis in November 2015 with the group Omaha Diner at Jazz at the Bistro.

Hunter's trio tour this spring will feature Nashville-based jazz vocalist Dara Tucker and percussionist Damon Grant, who's worked with performers ranging from bluesman Joe Louis Walker to funk trombonist Fred Wesley to pop diva Madonna.

Tickets for the Charlie Hunter Trio at Off Broadway are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, and are on sale now via Off Broadway's website

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Terence Blanchard writing new work to premiere at Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard is writing a new work to be premiered in 2019 at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

In a post Wednesday night on Facebook, Blanchard (pictured) announced that he's composing the music for a new opera based on the book Fire Shut Up In My Bones, the 2014 memoir by New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow.

The libretto for the operatic version of Blow's story will be written by Kasi Lemmons, the St. Louis native, director and actress who's known for films such as Eve's Bayou, The Caveman's Valentine, and Talk to Me.

In a Tweet on Wednesday, Blow said that the opera Fire Shut Up In My Bones is scheduled to premiere on June 15, 2019 at OTSL, and that the lead roles will be played by baritone Davone Tines (as the protagonist) and soprano Julia Bullock.

Described as "a pioneering journalist's indelible coming-of-age tale," Blow's book won considerable critical acclaim when released four years ago, with The AV Club calling it "the memoir of the year." It traces his life story from a troubled childhood in Louisiana to his current status as an internationally respected journalist.

This will be Blanchard's second collaboration with Opera Theatre St. Louis, which in 2013 premiered his first opera Champion, based on the story of professional boxer Emile Griffith.

The New Orleans native, also known for his film scoring work, has been a frequent visitor to St. Louis over the last decade. He was just here this past Saturday to play a benefit for Metro Theater Company, which this month at the Grandel Theatre is staging Bud, Not Buddy, a "concert play" for children with a score by Blanchard that's performed live on stage by a 13-piece band. The trumpeter also will play here with his band the E-Collective in May at the Grandel.