Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jazz this week: SpokFrevo Orquestra, Jesse Gannon and Truth, Dave Dickey Big Band,
a new film about Clark Terry, and more

The schedule of jazz and creative music for this Halloween weekend in St. Louis features everything from intimate cabaret shows to roaring big bands, plus the local debut of a new documentary film featuring a St. Louis-born jazz legend. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, the Gaslight Cabaret Festival resumes with Ken Haller presenting the first of two performances of his show "Mama's Boy" at the Gaslight Theater; and saxophonist Adam Schefkind will become the first Washington University student to headline a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series.

Also tonight, Sandy Weltman will lead a harmonica workshop at Mozingo Music's O'Fallon location; and the Tavern of Fine Arts will present their monthly "Experimental Arts Open Improv Night" with live improvised music.

Tomorrow, pianist and singer Jesse Gannon and his band Truth will perform for the first of two nights at Jazz at the Bistro, becoming the first St. Louis act to make their Bistro debut in the new, renovated version of the room.

Also tomorrow, singer Dean Christopher no doubt will be breaking out the celebrity impressions during the performance of his "Rat Pack and More" show at the Ozark Theatre; singer Erika Johnson and guitarist Tom Byrne will duet at Robust Wine Bar's downtown location; Miss Jubilee plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom; and bassist Darrell Mixon leads a trio at Cigar Inn.

And let's not forget that Friday also is the first evening that Keep On Keepin' On, the new documentary about trumpeter and St. Louis native Clark Terry, will be showing at the Tivoli Theater. The bad news is that the film is only playing here locally for a week; the good news is that the producers are offering free tickets to selected showings this weekend. For more about all of that, see this post.

On Saturday, Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will play swing, hot jazz and jump blues at Evangeline's; singer Ron Wilkinson will perform at the Ozark Theatre; and the Gaslight Cabaret Festival will present a "Webster Senior Showcase" featuring Webster University students Michael Williams, Eden Rain Eernissee, and Michael Dewar at the Gaslight Theater

Then on Sunday, the St. Louis Record Collector and CD Show will present their November event at the  American Czech Hall, 4690 Lansdowne at Kingshighway on the south side.

That evening, listeners can choose between two big band concerts, both happening in the Grand Center district. At Jazz at the Bistro, the Dave Dickey Big Band will be making their debut at the venue, having moved their monthly shows from their former location at Kirkwood Station Brewing Company.

Meanwhile, just a couple of short blocks away, the Brazilian big band SpokFrevo Orquestra (pictured), which mixes jazz with styles associated with the Brazilan carnival, will be wrapping up their eight-city tour of the USA with a performance at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

As shown in the video of a full concert included in part three of StLJN's fall 2014 jazz preview, this a musically accomplished and sonically explosive group, and it's too bad that their appearance here seems to be flying under the radar of much of the local media.

Fortunately for big band enthusiasts, the shows start two hours apart, meaning that it should theoretically be possible to catch the first set of the Dickey band at the Bistro, then hustle on over to Sheldon to hear SpokFrevo Orquestra. (The only downside to this plan is that it likely means missing the intermission set at the Bistro by the Lindbergh High School Jazz Ensemble.)

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday the free jazz and improvising ensemble Numbers returns to Tavern of Fine Arts; and Webster University's student jazz combos will be performing at the University's Community Music School.

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, October 28, 2014

Get free tickets to this weekend's screenings
of new Clark Terry documentary

Keep On Keepin' On, the new documentary about trumpeter and St. Louis native Clark Terry and his student Justin Kauflin, is getting a St. Louis run starting this Friday, October 31 and continuing through the following Thursday, November 6 at the Tivoli Theater, 6350 Delmar.

The film tells the story of the relationship between the nonagenarian Terry and Kauflin, a blind pianist in his early twenties, and has received almost universally positive reviews since its release last month, including a rave from the New York Times. You can see the trailer for Keep On Keepin' On in the embedded video window at the bottom of this post.

To help promote the St. Louis run, the film's publicity firm is giving away a limited number of free tickets for the showings at 7:15 p.m. this Friday, October 31; 2:15 p.m. this Saturday, November 1; and 2:15 p.m. this Sunday, November 2. The free tickets are limited to two per person; to sign up, go here.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Roy Hargrove Quintet to perform
December 17-20 at Jazz at the Bistro

Jazz St. Louis has announced that trumpeter Roy Hargrove's quintet will perform Wednesday, December 17 through Saturday, December 20 at Jazz at the Bistro. Hargrove's group will fill the dates originally scheduled for pianist Joe Sample, who died on September 12.

"We were all saddened by the passing of legendary pianist/keyboardist Joe Sample. His music, both with The Jazz Crusaders and after, touched many lives and left a lasting impression on the jazz world and beyond," said a statement released by Jazz St. Louis. "We will always remember his amazing week of shows at Jazz at the Bistro in March 2013 and wish we could see him perform once again this December."

It's been a while since Hargrove (pictured) has been in St. Louis - he was here with Herbie Hancock's Headhunters in 2005 at The Pageant, and according to Jazz St. Louis, he last played at the Bistro way back in August, 1999. The trumpeter's most recent albums as a leader are 2008's Earfood with his quintet and Emergence, a big band date that came out in 2009, though since then he also has guested on recordings by Jimmy Cobb, Marcus Miller, Angelique Kidjo, and Cyrille Aimée.

Ticket holders for Joe Sample can use their tickets for the corresponding day and time for the Hargrove quintet, or return them for a full refund by calling the Jazz St. Louis box office at 314-289-4030 between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Tickets for the Roy Hargrove Quintet go on sale to Jazz St. Louis subscribers starting at 10:00 a.m. this Wednesday, October 29 and to the general public at 10:00 a.m. this Friday, October 31.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Rashad Becker & Eli Keszler

This week, let's take a look at Rashad Becker and Eli Keszler, two musicians who will be sharing a bill playing separate sets in a concert presented by New Music Circle on Saturday, November 8 at The Luminary.

The German-born Becker is known in the music industry as a mastering and cutting engineer with more than 1,200 albums to his credit. His own music uses real-time synthesis and sampling to realize what Becker calls "traditional music Of notional species."

You can hear an example of one of his solo sets in the first video window up above, recorded in April of this year in Turin, Italy. After the jump, there are two more shows by Becker, from June 2013 at the PAN ACT Festival in Boston, and February 2012 in Bristol, England.

Below that are three videos featuring Keszler, a percussionist who also does sound installations. The first, of a work called "Archway," documents a collaboration between Keszler and So Percussion to create a piece of music using the Manhattan Bridge as both the setting and, by running piano wires from the bridge to the ground, an instrument.

Next, there's another of Keszler's works created for a specific location - in this case, the Helm V&A Museum in London - that combines live performance with electronic manipulation of sound. The final video is a clip of a Keszler solo percussion set recorded in 2012 at the Bruismelk Festival in Antwerp, Belgium.

For more about Rashad Becker, read this interview in BOMB magazine; this review of volume 1 of his Traditional Music of Notional Species; and this interview with him about his engineering and mastering work. You also can hear more of Becker's music on SoundCloud.

For more about Eli Keszler, see this 2012 interview at Tiny Mix Tapes; this review of his 2012 two-disc set Catching Net; and his SoundCloud page.

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

Friday, October 24, 2014

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Singer-guitarist John Pizzarelli, in town to perform 
through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro, was a guest yesterday on John Carney's program on KTRS.

* Saxophonist Oliver Lake has a new album, What I Heard, out on his Passin' Thru label. Available any day now via the usual outlets, it's the third release from his organ quartet with trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, drummer Chris Beck, and organist Jared Gold, and features all original compositions by Lake.

* Keep On Keepin' On, the new documentary featuring trumpeter Clark Terry and his student Justin Kauflin, got a favorable review in this video from New York Times film critic A. O. Scott.

* Saxophonist Eric Person has put on YouTube a new video of his big band playing the original composition "And Then There Was Light."

* Actor/director Don Cheadle talked with Variety about completing and searching for a distributor for his Miles Davis movie, Miles Ahead.

* Speaking of Davis, NPR's new program "Jazz Night in America" debuted last week with trumpeter Wallace Roney's set from the Detroit Jazz Festival in which he performed a series of recently "rediscovered" works written for Davis and orchestra by saxophonist Wayne Shorter

* Meanwhile, the controversy over Mostly Other People Do The Killing's note-for-note remake of Davis' Kind of Blue continues, with another review of the album, by's Bruce Lindsay, while over at his blog Do The Math, pianist Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus weighs in with some interesting thoughts about the project as a work of conceptual art.

* Ladue News has party pics from the recent opening of Jazz St. Louis' new HQ.

* And in a related development, JSL's executive director Gene Dobbs Bradford has been named the St. Louis American's Nonprofit Executive of the Year. Bradford will be honored at the American's annual awards luncheon on Friday, November 14 at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis.

* Following a recent series of thefts of equipment and valuables from touring bands that had their vehicles broken into, St. Louis police were scheduled to meet yesterday with owners and managers of several rock music venues in the city to come up with plan to catch the thieves.

* There's bad news this week for the Palladium, as artist, author and preservationist Kevin Belford reported on Twitter that the historic building in Grand Center, once the site of shows by numerous touring jazz and blues performers, has been tagged with a Notice of Condemnation. No word yet as to if this is truly the end of efforts to save the structure; please stay tuned...

* St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts continues their efforts to get "Every Artist Covered" by health insurance with two workshops, about the Small Business Health Options Program for not-for-profit organizations and "Navigating Health Care Reform" for individuals, on Tuesday, November 11 at the Regional Arts Commission. VLAA also will offer individualized, in-person help with health insurance enrollment during four sessions in November and December. For more details, visit the VLAA website.

* Jazz radio update: This Saturday on Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis' “Somethin’ Else,” DJ Calvin Wilson pays tribute to the late pianist Mulgrew Miller. Right after that on "The Jazz Collective," host Jason Church will remember singer Tim Hauser of Manhattan Transfer, who passed away this week, and spin tracks from Johnny Britt, Jonathan Butler, Dan Siegel, Rick Braun, Herb Alpert, Larry Carlton, Donald Byrd, Erin Bode, The Funky Butt Brass Band, Chris Hazelton's Boogaloo 7, and Tim Cunningham.

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 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Jazz this week: John Pizzarelli, Esfoma,
The Cunninghams, a tribute to Charles Mingus, Bad Luck, and more

Autumn is definitely in the air in St. Louis, and it's looking like a fine weekend to get out and hear some live jazz and creative music. Here's a look at some of the most noteworthy performances coming up over the next few days...

Tonight, singer and guitarist John Pizzarelli opens a four-night engagement continuing through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro. The longtime St. Louis favorite has a new band for this visit, still featuring his brother Martin on bass, but also including two new members, pianist Konrad Paszkudzki and drummer Kevin Kanner. For some samples of Pizzarelli in action, check out this video post, made before his four-night run with his dad, guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, last year at the Bistro, and this one from before his 2012 gig at the club. 

Also tonight, Esfoma, an improvising ensemble led by pianist Greg Mills, will perform at Tavern of Fine Arts. Mills played out and recorded frequently from the late 1970s through the 1990s as a solo pianist and with the duo Exiles, but has kept a low public profile of late. He'll be accompanied on this gig by percussionist Henry Claude, cellist Tracy Andreotti, poet Michael Castro, saxophonist Dave Stone, and fellow pianist David Parker.

Tomorrow night, bassist Bob DeBoo leads a group playing the music of Charles Mingus in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University; singer Denise Thimes will perform in her tenth annual show raising funds for pancreatic cancer research at the Sheldon Concert Hall; and the Gaslight Cabaret Festival resumes with Antonio Rodriguez performing his show "Memories, Mistakes and Moving On" at the Gaslight Theater

On Friday, the Gaslight Cabaret Festival continues with singer and pianist Steve Ross, who will present his show "An Evening with Steve Ross" at the Gaslight Theater. Once called "the suavest of all male cabaret performers" by the New York Times, Ross will repeat the show again on Saturday.

Also on Friday, Second Generation Swing plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom; singer Joe Mancuso fronts a quartet at Nathalie's; and the The People's Key play the house concert venue KindaBlue, located at 6101 1/2 Idaho on the south side. Elsewhere around town, Miss Jubilee will be swinging at Prasino in St. Charles; guitarist Brian Vaccaro's trio will host a jam session at The Wolf in Ballwin; and Midwest Jazz-tette will play West Coast-style "cool" jazz at the Cigar Inn in Belleville.

On Saturday, the Seattle-based drum and saxophone duo Bad Luck will perform a late-afternoon show at the Tavern of Fine Arts. Regarded as one of the top experimental, improvising pairs in their hometown, drummer Chris Icasiano and saxophonist Neil Welch use live audio loops and digital effects to augment and enhance their sound.

Then on Saturday evening, vocal duo The Cunninghams will be in town from their home in Las Vegas to play at the Ozark Theater. Former St. Louisan Don Cunningham and his wife Alicia (pictured) have a long and fascinating history in the music business, some of which is detailed in this post from last Saturday and the accompanying linked material. But you don't need a lesson to enjoy their music, which features closely harmonized vocals, in the style of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross or the Manhattan Transfer, with accents of Latin jazz and exotica.

Also on Saturday, singer Erin Bode is at Nathalie's; singers Feyza Eren and Ayse Eren, aka the Eren Sisters, and guitarist Dave Black will be at The Wine Press; the Ann Dueren Trio returns to Il Bel Lago; and the Funky Butt Brass Band will be back at the Broadway Oyster Bar.

On Sunday morning, The Sidemen will be filling in providing music for the jazz brunch this week at Evangeline's, and later on that day, Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will play a matinee at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday the jazz faculty of Webster University will present their annual TKT Scholarship Benefit Concert at Winifred Moore Auditorium on campus. The event raises money for music scholarships in the names of Terry Jackson, Kirk Cappello and Tony Saputo, three musicians and Webster alumni who were killed in a 1991 plane crash along with five other members of country singer Reba McEntire's road band. This year's theme is "Jazz Interpretations of the Music of Jule Styne," paying tribute to the composer of songs such as "I Fall In Love Too Easily," "The Party's Over" and "People."

Also on Monday, singer Dean Christopher bring his "Rat Pack and More" show with pianist Chris Swan and trumpeter Jim Manley to One 19 North Tapas and Wine Bar; and "Blind" Willie Dineen and the Broadway Collective will return to BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups.

Then on Tuesday, pianist Jim Hegarty will lead a trio at Tavern of Fine Arts; and the weekly Tuesday jam sessions once held at Robbie's House of Jazz have been resurrected, like much of Robbie's other programming, at the Ozark Theatre.

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.)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
The return of The Cunninghams

This week, our video spotlight shines on The Cunninghams, a duo comprised of singer, multi-instrumentalist, and former St. Louisan Don Cunningham and his wife Alicia, a singer and pianist. The Las Vegas-based couple are returning to St. Louis for a show next Saturday, October 25, at the Ozark Theatre.

Billing themselves as the "Super Jazz Vocal Pair," the Cunninghams' main calling card is their close harmony vocals, delivered in a style that may remind jazz fans of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, Jackie Cain and Roy Kral, or the Manhattan Transfer, and spiced with touches of Latin jazz, lounge and exotica. They've toured with the Count Basie Orchestra, enjoyed great success in Asia as well as in the US, and even were nominated for a Grammy Award back in 1989.

Don Cunningham began his professional career here in the 1960s, playing in Gaslight Square and leading the house band at the Playboy Club, which is what led me to write about him and Alicia for the first time back in 2007 for the Riverfront Times. Since that piece and one of today's videos recap much of their back story, we won't do that again today.

Instead, let's go straight to the videos, starting up above with a brief promo clip they put together a couple of years ago to help introduce their act to the uninitiated.

After the jump, you can see a segment from the April 2012 episode of HEC-TV's "I Love Jazz" that includes performance footage as well as an interview, conducted by the program's host Don Wolff. After that, there's an extended excerpt from another homecoming gig the Cunninghams did a few years back at Harris-Stowe State University, accompanied by pianist Jeter Thompson's trio.

Since that's all the footage of them that seems to be available online, we'll wrap up with some vintage audio, specifically "Tabu," the track from Don Cunningham's St. Louis days that 40 years later helped him become known by DJs and record collectors all over the world. From the 2007 RFT article:
"Cunningham also earned international attention a couple of years ago when the San Francisco label Luv N' Haight reissued Something for Everyone, an album he cut in 1965 while his group was the house band at the St. Louis Playboy Club. Inspired by Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman, Les Baxter and music he heard in Hawaii while touring with Mathis, Cunningham incorporated those exotic sounds into his own act, eventually cutting an LP and pressing up 500 copies to sell at the club.

More than 30 years later, one of those copies found its way to Luv N' Haight, which included a bootlegged version of the song "Tabu" on a multi-artist compilation aimed at DJs. "Tabu" caught on with record spinners in Brazil, Japan and elsewhere, prompting the label to locate Cunningham and arrange an authorized re-release of the entire album."
For more about The Cunninghams, check out this article that Dennis Owsley wrote in 2011 for St. Louis magazine; this story written by Roscoe Crenshaw in 2009 for the St. Louis American; and this 2005 interview with Las Vegas Talk Radio.

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

Friday, October 17, 2014

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* New music ensemble Alarm Will Sound's two performances this weekend are previewed by Stef Russell of St. Louis magazine.

* Meanwhile, the Post-Dispatch's Kevin Johnson takes a look at tonight's "250 Years of St. Louis Music" show at the Sheldon Concert Hall, which features Alarm Will Sound* playing a new work by Peter Martin, plus performances from a diverse list of St. Louis jazz, blues and roots musicians.

* Drummer/bandleader and U City native Ronnie Burrage is the subject of a feature article in Jazz Times.

* To promote an upcoming gig at LA's Jazz Bakery, saxophonist Greg Osby has put together a brief online playlist of some of his favorite music.

* St. Louis singer Katie McGrath will perform her cabaret show "Love in the Desert, Romance in an Age of Scarcity" at NYC's Metropolitan Room next Thursday, October 23.

* Keep On Keepin' On, the new documentary about trumpeter Clark Terry and his student Justin Kauflin, was reviewed by's Mark F. Turner. 

* Miles Davis' "Blue Xmas" b/w "Devil May Care" will be released as a limited edition 7" blue vinyl single (pictured) for Record Store Day's annual Black Friday event on November 28.

* In more Davis-related news, Jazz Times critic Nate Chinen weighs in on Mostly Other People Do The Killing's controversial note-for-note remake of Davis' Kind of Blue, and Popmatters has an interview about the record with MOPDTK bassist and bandleader Moppa Elliott.

* In response to the controversy, the Davis estate felt the need yesterday to issue an official statement: "I Vincent Wilburn Jr., drummer and nephew of Miles Davis, and Cheryl A. Davis, daughter of Miles Davis, want to clarify that “Blue” the ultimate tribute by the band Mostly Other People Do The Killing, is not supported by us, nor done with our cooperation or participation."

* Saxophonist David Sanborn's performance this week in San Diego was previewed by the local daily the Union-Tribune.

* The performances last week by Sanborn at Jazz at the Bistro and Chick Corea at the Sheldon Concert Hall were reviewed by Calvin Wilson for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

* Bassist Stanley Clarke's show Tuesday at The Pageant was documented via a photo set posted on Facebook by Hip 96.3 FM.

* The Riverfront Times this week published a set of photos by Mabel Suen showing off the newly renovated Jazz at the Bistro.

* The Funky Butt Brass Band's version of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" was listed at #4 in an article on the website Mashable about "13 Brass Band Cover Songs That Are Better Than The Originals."

Not only that, but while on a recent trip to Arkansas to play the King Biscuit Blues Festival, the FBBB stopped off in Memphis for a visit to the Stax Records museum, where saxophonist Ben Reece, trumpeter Adam Hucke and trombonist Aaron Chandler met famed trumpeter Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns.

* KDHX has posted online a photo set of Wack-A-Doo's performance last week at one of the station's "Harvest Sessions."

* Speaking of photo sets, the Midwest Jazz-tette has posted two of them to Facebook, documenting performances earlier this year at First Unity Church and Cigar Inn

* Trombonist Dave Dickey is moving his monthly big band gig to Jazz at the Bistro, effective Sunday, November 2. The band now will play on the first Sunday of each month, continuing in their new location the practice of having local student bands perform at intermission. Their run of monthly shows at Kirkwood Station Brewing Company lasted three years. Tickets for the November 2 debut performance at the Bistro go on sale at 10:00 a.m. today via Metrotix.

* The Regional Arts Commission is accepting applications for the 2015 Katherine Dunham Internship, which provides hands-on experience in arts administration for an African-American student. The deadline to apply is Monday, November 3.

* Jazz radio update: This Saturday on Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis' “Somethin’ Else,” host Calvin Wilson explores the landscape of extended improvisation via tracks from Henry Threadgill, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis and more. The program can be heard at 8:00 p.m. on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at

* Disclaimer: I've been working with Alarm Will Sound since 2010 on publicity for their gigs in Columbia and St. Louis, including this one. However, given their demonstrated accomplishments and StLJN's usual editorial focus, I'd be writing about them here even if I had no relationship with them.
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