Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Jazz this week: Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O, Karl Denson, and more

This week's calendar of jazz and creative music in St. Louis includes a generous helping of holiday music; the long-awaited return of a popular jam-band performer; a tribute to one of St. Louis' all-time jazz greats; and more.

Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, December 7
Drummer Matt Wilson’s Christmas Tree-O returns to spread their particular brand of holiday cheer for the first of two nights at Jazz at the Bistro.

For more about the Tree-O (pictured, top left) and some video samples of past performances, see this post that ran just before their gig here last year.

Also on Wednesday night, the Route 66 Big Band will play a show featuring seasonal music at the Ozark Theatre ; and singer Erin Bode will be incorporating some holiday favorites into her performance at Cyrano's.

Thursday, December 8
The Wire Pilots will be joined by special guest Sandy Weltman and opening act Mayor Taylor for a concert at Joe's Cafe, and guitarists Dave Black and Aaron Burlbaw will duet at The Pat Connolly Tavern.

Friday, December 9
Trumpeter Jim Manley reassembles his seven-piece band Mad Brass & Rhythm for the first of two nights of "A Very Manley Christmas" at Jazz at the Bistro.

Also on Friday, trumpeter Randy Holmes and his quintet commemorate the birthday of a St. Louis jazz great with the first of two nights of a "Tribute to Clark Terry" at the Ozark Theatre; and singer Feyza Eren leads a a quartet in a performance at the art gallery and event space 1900 Park in Soulard.

Saturday, December 10
Saxophonist and vocalist Karl Denson (pictured, bottom left) returns with his band Tiny Universe for his first St. Louis performance in more than six years at the Old Rock House.

Denson's long absence can be attributed in part to his roles in several other bands besides his own, including most recently The Rolling Stones, for whom he has served as touring saxophonist since 2014.

For more about that, and some video samples of recent Tiny Universe performances, see this post from last Saturday.

Also on Saturday, the Midwest Jazz-tette plays West Coast-style "cool" jazz at Evangeline's and trumpeter Kasimu Taylor and his trio will play at The Dark Room.

Sunday, December 11
The STL Free Jazz Collective will play a matinee at the Ozark Theatre; the Ambassadors of Swing return for an early evening show at Kirkwood Station Brewing Company; and singer Tony Viviano will pay tribute to Frank Sinatra's 101st birthday along with some holiday music in a dinner show at Patrick's at Westport.

Monday, December 12
Dizzy Atmosphere plays swing and Gypsy jazz for diners at The Shaved Duck, and singer and impressionist Dean Christopher will bring his "Rat Pack & More" show back to One 19 North Tapas and Wine Bar.

Tuesday, December 13
The Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University presents their final free concert of the semester, featuring Italian pianist Francesca Tandoi.

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, December 04, 2016

Sunday Session: December 4, 2016

Charles Lloyd
Some interesting music-related items that have landed in StLJN's inbox over the past week:

* Why Mary Halvorson Sounds Like No Other Guitarist (NPR)
* Jazz great Anthony Ortega maintains his sax appeal at 88 (San Diego Union-Tribune)
* Sun Ra: Singles review – a cosmic ride (The Guardian UK)
* The Top 25 Music Schools 2016 (Hollywood Reporter)
* Andrew Norman Wins The Grawemeyer Award For Music (NPR)
* Cuba: Music of a 'New Era' (Billboard)
* Recycling My Back Pages: A Music Writer/Collector Reflects on Disposing of His Magazine Archive (The Stranger)
* Forgotten audio formats: Wire recording - From espionage to home recording, the colorful life of the longest-used audio medium. (Ars Technica)
* Corea Elektric Band, Béla & Flecktones To Join Forces for 2017 Summer Tour (DownBeat)
* In Defense of Jazz (New Music Box)
* James Booker Was Hands Down the Greatest New Orleans Piano Player Ever (The Daily Beast)
* Darryl Jones: The unknown Stone (BBC)
* The weird and true story of Moondog (Macleans)
* God Is on the Loose! How the Tropicália Movement Provided Hope During Brazil’s Darkest Years (Pitchfork)
* What makes Bach sound like Bach? New dataset teaches algorithms classical music (
* The Sex Pistols’ ‘Anarchy in the UK’ Is More Relevant Now Than Ever (
* The Re-Flowering: Charles Lloyd's Second Golden Age (The Atlantic)
* At 85, Jazz Guitarist and Educator Kenny Burrell Is Still Going Strong (LA Weekly)
* Chicago's new generation of bluesmen (The Guardian UK)
* Fidel Castro: A First-Person Account of the Day the Music Stopped in Cuba (Billboard)
* The Band Before They Were The Band: A Listening Guide (Pitchfork)
* Cécile McLorin Salvant On Past, Present, Future (

Saturday, December 03, 2016

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Six from Karl Denson's Tiny Universe

This week, let's check out some recent performances from saxophonist and vocalist Karl Denson, who with his band Tiny Universe is coming back to St. Louis next week for the first time since 2010 to perform on Saturday, December 10 at the Old Rock House.

That relatively long absence may be attributed in part to the fact that Denson, a California native who turns 60 at the end of this month, has been spending time since 2014 as the touring saxophonist with the Rolling Stones, a pretty choice sideman gig for any musician. Then again, Denson also is a member of the bands Greyboy All-Stars and Slightly Stoopid, both of which also have their own touring and recording schedules to be considered.

Long before the Stones, though, Denson played here a number of times in the 2000s, both at the now-defunct Finale in Clayton with a trio, and at several different venues with Tiny Universe, a six- (or now) seven-piece band that focuses on danceable, groove-oriented music.

That particular musical approach has made Denson and Tiny Universe a popular act on the jam band circuit, and thanks to the propensity of jam band fans to record their favorite acts (dating back to the many tapers who continue to trade audio of Grateful Dead shows), there are plenty of videos of Denson online.

Today's first two clips were recorded in September 2016 at Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, CA. The song in the first clip up above is called "Fearless," and after the jump, it's "Satisfied."

Next are two songs Denson and company recorded in 2014 for the web series Jam in the Van, "My Baby Like to Boogaloo" and "Grenadiers".

The final two videos are full sets, from from a gig in January 2016 at Ardmore Music Hall, and, last but not least, from a tribute to Prince presented on Halloween night in 2015 (well before the Purple One's untimely death) at Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, NY.

For more about Denson and his gig with the Rolling Stones, see this interview he did last year with the San Diego Union-Tribune, and his brand-new interview with PRI's "Rolling Stones Radio Hour," which just came out on the first of this month and also discusses the current Tiny Universe tour.

At the time this is being posted, YouTube apparently is having some sort of systemic glitch that's disabling full-screen mode on embedded videos. With luck, that will be fixed soon, but regardless, you can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Recently on Heliocentric Worlds

It's the start of another new month, and so it's time once again to check in on StLJN's sibling site Heliocentric Worlds, where each day there's posted a new online music video, drawing on genres including jazz, blues, soul, funk, classic rock, prog rock, experimental, and more.

The five most-watched videos added to the site last month were:

Sun Ra Arkestra - Live in London
Doug Sahm - "Who Were You Thinkin' Of?"
Ray Barretto - "Fuerza Gigante"
Buddy Rich Big Band - "Time Check"
Bad Company - "Can't Get Enough"

Other recent posts have included videos featuring Snarky Puppy, Taj Mahal, Diana Krall, David Bowie, Ralph Towner, Charles Lloyd & The Marvels, Hot 8 Brass Band, Mulgrew Miller, Esperanza Spalding, Gary Bartz, Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet, Matthew Shipp Trio, Jimi Hendrix, Galactic, Jason Moran, Donny McCaslin Group, Little Richard, Magic Slim, Vijay Iyer Trio, The Cookers, Edgar Winter, Mal Waldron, Pharoah Sanders Quartet, Sonny Rolllins, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

If you've somehow missed out on all this up until now, you still can see all these videos, plus thousands more from the archives, by going to

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Jazz St. Louis announces more
2017 bookings for Jazz at the Bistro

Jazz St. Louis today announced additional performances that will complete the winter/spring 2017 schedule at Jazz at the Bistro.

Most notably, drummer Jeff Hamilton (pictured) and his trio will play a one-nighter on Thursday, March 9 at the Bistro.

They're the only touring group added to the schedule; the rest of the new dates announced will feature St. Louis-based musicians, most making return visits to the venue, along with a few Bistro debuts.

The newly added shows, in chronological order, are:

Wednesday, January 11 & Thursday, January 12: Jazz St. Louis All-Stars Alumni Quintet
Thursday, January 26: Adam Maness, Bob DeBoo & Montez Coleman
Friday, January 27 & Saturday, January 28: Denise Thimes "Sings Nancy Wilson"

Wednesday, February 22 & Thursday, February 23: Rob Endicott Quintet
Saturday, February 25: Dave Venn with special guest Jeanne Trevor

Thursday, March 9: Jeff Hamilton Trio
Friday, March 10 & Saturday, March 11: Weather Forever
Wednesday, March 22 & Thursday, March 23: Two Times True with Larry Johnson
Friday, March 24 & Saturday, March 25: Funky Butt Brass Band & Friends
Sunday, March 26: Williams Brothers
Tuesday, March 28: Washington University Jazz Band

Tuesday, April 18: SIUE Concert & Alumni Jazz Bands
Wednesday, April 19 & Thursday, April 20: Saxquest Nonet
Friday, April 21 & Saturday, April 22: Ella Fitzgerald 100th Birthday Celebration featuring Anita Jackson, Montez Coleman, Adaron “Pops” Jackson, Bob DeBoo & Ben Reece

Wednesday, May 3 & Thursday, May 4: Ben Reece’s Unity Quartet
Friday, May 5 & Saturday, May 6: Kevin Bowers' NOVA
Wednesday, May 17: Route 66 Jazz Orchestra
Friday, May 19 & Saturday, May 20: Bosman Twins

Tickets for these shows are priced from $15 to $25 depending on the performer, $10 for students, and will go on sale to the general public at 10:00 a.m. next Wednesday, December 7 via the Jazz St. Louis website and box office.

Jazz this week: Vijay Iyer Trio, Dianne Reeves, Tomeka Reid's Artifacts Trio, and more

It's going to be a very busy few days for jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with several noteworthy touring headliners in town, plus the beginning of our town's annual cornucopia of holiday-themed performances from both visiting and local musicians.

Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, November 30
Pianist Vijay Iyer returns with his longtime associates, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore, to perform for the first of four nights continuing through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro.

Iyer already was considered one of the fastest-rising stars in jazz when he last played here in St. Louis - in January 2010, also at the Bistro - and in the nearly seven years since, he's taken on a variety of new projects that have earned continued critical acclaim and growing public recognition.

For more about that, plus some recent video samples of Iyer's trio (pictured, top left) in action, check out this video post from a couple of Saturdays ago, as well as his recent interviews with St. Louis Public Radio's David Cazares and the Post-Dispatch's Calvin Wilson.

Thursday, December 1
Singer, educator and former St. Louisan Jan Shapiro, the longtime head of vocal music at Berklee College of Music, will return home to perform in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University.

Also on Thursday, the student musicians of the North County Big Band, directed by saxophonist Harvey Lockhart, will present their semester-ending performance at the Sheldon Concert Hall; and pianist Carolbeth True and Two Times True will be joined by singer Erika Johnson for a concert presented by St. Louis Public Radio at UMSL at Grand Center.

Friday, December 2
Singer Dianne Reeves returns to St. Louis for the first time since 2013 with a holiday-themed concert at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

Reeves (pictured, center left) will offer her interpretations of seasonal favorites such as “Little Drummer Boy,” “Carol of the Bells,” “Christmas Waltz,” “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” “Let It Snow,” and more, accompanied by a band featuring two musicians from the St. Louis area - her longtime pianist and music director, U City native Peter Martin, and drummer Terreon Gully, who's originally from East St. Louis - plus bassist Reginald Veal and guitarist Romero Lubambo.

Also on Friday, The Fat Babies, a Chicago-based band specializing in vintage jazz of the 1920s and '30s will perform at Off Broadway in the first of three shows they'll be doing in St. Louis this weekend. The group also will play for dancers on Saturday night at Casa Loma Ballroom, then provide an opening set for the St. Louis Jazz Club on Sunday (see below) before heading home.

Saturday, December 3
Cellist and composer Tomeka Reid's Artifacts Trio with flute player Nicole Mitchell and percussionist Mike Reed will play a New Music Circle-presented concert at Joe's Cafe.

Following in the footsteps of the founders who started Chicago's venerable Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) in the 1960s, Reid, Mitchell, and Reed (pictured, bottom left) represent what might be called the next generation of the AACM's leadership, having all served together on that organization's board at one point a few years back.

All three are active as bandleaders and collaborators in Chicago's busy jazz and creative music scene, and their shared musical history and the AACM connection eventually brought them together in 2015 under Reid's nominal leadership to record Artifacts, an album of new interpretations of music by AACM-affiliated composers. For more about that, and some video samples of various Tomeka Reid performances, take a look at the video post from last Saturday.

Also on Saturday, saxophonist Eric Marienthal will perform with St. Louis' Bach to the Future in a benefit concert for the adoption agency Dillon International at the Mandarin House Banquet Hall in U. City; and pianist Carolbeth True and multi-instrumentalist Sandy Weltman will reunite to revisit music from their 1998 album "New World Harmonica Jazz" at the Ozark Theatre

Sunday, December 4
The St. Louis Jazz Club's annual holiday party gets underway at an earlier-than-usual starting time with an opening set from Chicago's Fat Babies, followed by a full-length performance of traditional jazz and swing from St. Louis' own Cornet Chop Suey at the Moolah Shrine Center.

Also on Sunday afternoon, the Friends of Scott Joplin present their monthly "Ragtime Rendezvous" at the  Scott Joplin House State Historic Site's New Rosebud Cafe; and music students at the University of Missouri St. Louis present "UMSL's Jazz For The Holidays" a free concert at the Touhill Performing Arts Center featuring music from the UMSL Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Jim Widner, Vocal Point conducted by Jim Henry, and the University Orchestra.

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.)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill to open Max & Louis Productions' 2017 season

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, the award-winning musical drama about singer Billie Holiday, will be the opening production of St. Louis theater company Max & Louie Productions' 2017 season.

The play by Lanie Robertson first premiered in 1986 at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, GA, and went on to run Off-Broadway and in regional theaters soon after that, finally making it to Broadway in 2014.

The St. Louis production will run from Friday, February 17 through Saturday, March 4 at the Kranzberg Arts Center, with Alexis J. Roston playing Holiday. Performances will be at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2:00 p.m. Sundays, with one additional matinee at 4:00 p.m. onSaturday, March 4.

Roston (pictured), who won Chicago’s Jeff Award and Black Theatre Alliance Award for her portrayal of Holiday in a previous production of the play by that city's Porchlight Theatre Company, will be accompanied by pianist, composer and arranger Abdul Hamid Royal, with Leda Hoffmann of the Milwaukee Rep directing.

Described as "a moving portrait of Holiday’s struggles with addiction, racism, love and loss," Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill is set in a run-down bar in Philadelphia, circa 1959. Evoking Holiday's nightclub act, the play includes musical numbers such as “God Bless the Child,” “Strange Fruit,” and “What A Little Moonlight Can Do,” alternating with Holiday telling stories about her life.

General admission tickets for Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill are $45, or $35 for seniors 65 and older and students with ID, and will go on sale this Thursday, December 1 at; by phone via MetroTix at 314-534-1111; and in person at the Fox Theatre box office.

Tortoise to perform Thursday,
January 12 at Old Rock House

The eclectic instrumental band Tortoise is returning to St. Louis to perform at 8:00 p.m. Thursday, January 12 at the Old Rock House, with indie rock band Hope and Therapy as opening act.

Drawing on rock, jazz, dub, electronica, and minimalism, Tortoise (pictured) has recorded six albums in nearly 25 years together, the most recent being The Catastrophist, which came out in January and is their first studio album in almost seven years. The Chicago-based quintet last played in St. Louis in May of this year at the Ready Room.

Tickets for Tortoise with Hope and Therapy are $18 in advance, $20 day of show, and are on sale now.