Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Session: January 25, 2015

Maceo Parker
For your Sunday reading enjoyment and edification, here are some noteworthy items encountered during the past week about jazz, creative music, and more:

* The Piano Is Dead! Long Live the Piano! (The Daily Beast)
* For Musicians, a TV Series Underscores Diminishing Role (New York Times)
* Five Long Term Music Industry Predictions (And How Disney Will Rule The World) (Music Industry Blog)
* Blowin’ Heat: Maceo Parker On James Brown, ‘Get On Up,’ Ferguson, and Musical Unity (KQED)
* Netflix Producing Nina Simone Documentary from Liz Garbus, Set for 2015 (Variety)
* Sundance 2015 first look review: What Happened, Miss Simone? – a remarkable life, painted by numbers (The Guardian UK)
* Watch a human musician and his robots improvise together (Washington Post)
* Jazz Education Network Conference 2015: Sharing The Gift Of Jazz (KPLU)
* Jazz Connect & Winter Jazzfest – a New York state of mind (Seattle Times)
* 4-Disc Box of Coltrane’s 1961 European Tour Coming - Quintet recordings feature Eric Dolphy (Jazz Times)
* Bo Dollis, Mardi Gras Indians Big Chief, Dies at 71 - Prominent frontman of NOLA’s Wild Magnolias (Jazz Times)
* Meeting of New Music Minds at SF Gathering (New Music Box)
* Chick Corea & Herbie Hancock Announce World Tour (Billboard)
* Moog Announces System 55, System 35 & Model 15 Reissues (Future Music)
* Setting New Standards - American Songbook Series Reshapes the Canon (New York Times)
* Pro Tools Is Releasing a Free Version of Its Legendary Audio Software (Gizmodo)
* Music Bureaucrats’ Nomination Abomination (Wall Street Journal)
* When Bauhaus Met Lounge Music (The Atlantic)
* The Bad Plus puts its spin on a classic Ornette Coleman LP (Boston Globe)
* This Is What The Sound of Your Refrigerator Looks Like (
* Branford Marsalis, taking the long view (Boston Globe)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Riding the "Night Train" with Jimmy Forrest

What's the most performed song ever written by a St. Louis jazz musician? While it's probably impossible to ever know with absolute certainty, at first one might guess that it's something from Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.

After all, it is the best-selling jazz album of all time, and tunes from it such as  "All Blues" and "So What" frequently get played at jam sessions and on cover gigs, and have been recorded by various other musicians besides Davis.

However, the popularity of Davis and Kind of Blue notwithstanding, further investigation suggests that the most likely candidate for most-performed song probably is "Night Train," first recorded in 1951 by saxophonist and St. Louis native Jimmy Forrest. A #1 R&B hit for Forrest, "Night Train" over the years has spawned dozens of cover versions recorded by well-known artists, as well as countless live performances by assorted jazz, rock, R&B, country and variety bands.

Forrest (pictured) was born on January 24, 1920 in St. Louis, making today the 95th anniversary of his birth. To celebrate, we're taking an in-depth look at "Night Train," a song that's interesting for a number of reasons beyond its sheer popularity.

Recognized by the Grammy Hall of Fame as one of the top jazz singles of all time, "Night Train" may be just a 12-bar blues in Ab, but it has taken a trip through American culture that also helps to illuminate certain aspects of the nature of musical composition; the malleability of the blues; and the flow of musical ideas between black and white musicians and audiences in the middle of the 20th century.  The whole story is after the jump...

Friday, January 23, 2015

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* KDHX has posted online a photo set from last Saturday's New Music Circle concert featuring pianist Johanna Ballou at 560 Music Center.

* Euclid Records, both in St. Louis and New Orleans, was featured in the Vinyl Lives section of

* Saxophonist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas’ band Soundprints, featuring St. Louis native and Berklee grad Lawrence Fields (pictured) on piano, is set to release their debut album Live at Monterey Jazz Festival, which includes two new Wayne Shorter compositions.

* Saxophonist Oliver Lake's NYC Winter Jazzfest show with Trio 3 and guest pianist Vijay Iyer was reviewed by Feast of Music.

* Guitarist Farshid Soltanshahi aka Farshid Etniko will be performing a live soundtrack of original music for Upstream Theater’s upcoming production Bashir Lazhar. Described as "a timely and poetic piece about grief and healing, love and survival," the play tells the story of "an Algerian refugee in Montreal who is hastily hired as a substitute teacher for a class of sixth graders who, like him, have experienced recent trauma."

The production opens next Friday, January 30 and continues weekends through Sunday, February 15 at the Kranzberg Arts Center, with tickets on sale now via Brown Paper Tickets.

* The Arts & Education Council's video tribute to singer Denise Thimes, first shown Monday night at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel when Thimes was honored at the annual St. Louis Arts Awards ceremony, has been posted to YouTube.

* Saxophonist Greg Osby's latest blog post ruminates about the potential difficulties and rewards for musicians trying to deal with change.

* Singer and East St. Louis native Phil Perry has released a new album, A Better Man, on the Shanahachie label. The CD, which features guest musicians including saxophonist Kim Waters and trumpeter Rick Braun, is Perry's sixth for the label and eleventh overall.

* Pianist Peter Martin's New Year's Eve performance with singer Dianne Reeves and the New York Philharmonic has been posted online by PBS. (Martin's bit begins in the second half of the concert at about 1:15, with his piano solo on "Embraceable You" starting at 1:35:53.)

* Singer Wendy L. Gordon has announced details on new scholarships funded with proceeds from her "Jazz Heaven" series of concerts. The two LeeVert & Wendy Gordon Scholarships are worth $500 each, and will be awarded to a Sumner High School student (or students) attending Harris Stowe State University in the fall of 2015. (Both Gordon and her husband LeeVert are alumni of Sumner HS.)

The 2015 edition of "Jazz Heaven" is scheduled for Sunday, August 30 at the Florissant Civic Center's James Eagan Theater.

* The St. Louis Cabaret Conference has announced July 18-25, 2015 as the dates for its tenth anniversary, with more details promised next week. To get on the email list for conference information, just send a request to

* Jazz radio update: This Saturday on Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis, Calvin Wilson's “Somethin’ Else” program will explore the influence of Charlie Parker via the bop stylings of alto saxophonists Frank Morgan, Jackie McLean, and Sonny Stitt. Wilson can be heard at 8:00 p.m. Saturdays on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dalton Ridenhour to perform Saturday, February 14 at Scott Joplin House

Ragtime and stride pianist Dalton Ridenhour is coming to St. Louis to perform at 6:00 p.m. Saturday, February 14 at the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site's New Rosebud Cafe. The concert is co-sponsored by the Friends of Scott Joplin.

Ridenhour (pictured), a native of St. James, Missouri, is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and the Eastman School who first performed at the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival in Sedalia when he was just nine years old. He currently lives in New York City, where he plays with various jazz, rock and funk bands in addition to his solo piano gigs.

Tickets for Dalton Ridenhour will be $20 at the door.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Jazz this week: Arturo O'Farrill Sextet,
Fidel Morales Trio, and more

This week's menu of live jazz and creative music in St. Louis has a bit of what Jelly Roll Morton once called "the Latin tinge," with two different touring Latin-jazz performers passing through town, plus the usual variety of local sounds, from Gypsy jazz and big band swing to funkified Beatles and New Orleans-style brass.

Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, January 21
Tonight, pianist Arturo O’Farrill (pictured, top left) and his sextet will make their debut at Jazz at the Bistro, continuing with two sets nightly through Saturday.

O'Farrill, the son of legendary Latin bandleader Chico O'Farrill, is a fine pianist with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Latin-jazz idiom, and his big band put on a powerful show when they performed at the now-defunct St. Louis Jazz and Heritage Festival back in the mid-2000s. Though this ensemble may be smaller, the energy level and musicianship should be equally high.

Also tonight, Cabaret Project St. Louis presents their monthly "open mic" night at the Tavern of Fine Arts; and Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes trio will perform at The Feasting Fox .

Thursday, January 22
This semester's Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University begins with a free concert from bassist Eric Warren and his quartet; and pianists David Parker and Greg Mills will play at the Tavern of Fine Arts.

Friday, January 23
The Funky Butt Brass Band return for their monthly performance at the Broadway Oyster Bar, while the Webster Groves HS Jazz Band, Hixson MS Jazz Band and WGHS Alumni Jazz Band will play their annual concert at The Pageant.

Elsewhere around town, Second Generation Swing will play for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom, and singer Joe Mancuso leads a quartet at Nathalie's.

Saturday January 24
Percussionist Fidel Morales (pictured, below left), who teaches at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music and has performed with well-known musicians including Danilo Pérez, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Eddie Gómez, and Jon Faddis, brings his Afro Cuban Jazz Trio to Voce.

Also on Saturday, The People's Key interpret the Beatles in their show "Sgt. Pepper's Jazzy Hearts Club Band" at the Kranzberg Arts Center;  trumpeter Jim Manley will be back at One 19 North Tapas & Wine Bar; Wack-A-Doo performs at Evangeline's ; and singer Feyza Eren and pianist Curt Landes will be at The Wine Press

Sunday, January 25
Gypsy-jazz group Franglais plays for brunch at Evangeline's.

Monday, January 26
Jazz-fusion quartet Common Time will play at Winifred Moore Auditorium on the campus of Webster University; and saxophonist "Blind" Willie Dineen and the Broadway Collective return to BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups.

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, January 20, 2015

Zappa Plays Zappa concert
moved to The Ready Room

When Plush STL closed earlier this month, it left a number of already-booked shows in need of a place to happen.

Now it appears the last performance still in need of a new venue has found one, as the concert by Zappa Plays Zappa on Monday, April 20 (announced previously in this post) has been moved to The Ready Room.

This spring's ZPZ tour commemorates the 40th anniversary of the release of Frank Zappa's 1975 album One Size Fits All, and will feature performances of all the music from the album. Located at 4195 Manchester Ave in the Grove, The Ready Room is an 8,000 square foot venue that opened last year, featuring a musical menu of mostly rock acts booked by Mike Cracchiolo of the downtown club The Firebird.

Doors will open for the Zappa Plays Zappa show at 7:00 p.m., and the concert will start at 8:00 p.m.. General admission tickets for the all-ages concert are $25 in advance, $30 day of show, with a $2 surcharge for minors, and are on sale now via TicketFly.

There's also a VIP ticket offering early entrance and soundcheck access for $50 in advance. And in addition to the band's concert that evening, ZPZ's leader and guitarist Dweezil Zappa (pictured) apparently also will be doing a master class for guitarists at 3:00 p.m. that afternoon. Tickets for that cost $75 and do not include admission to the concert.

Jazz at Holmes updates winter/spring schedule

The Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University has updated their schedule of free concerts for the winter and spring of 2015. A story published by StLJN on January 8 cited a version of the schedule published that day on the Jazz at Holmes Facebook page, but as it turns out, that iteration wasn't quite ready for public release.

In the final version of the schedule, posted to Facebook last Friday, bassist Eric Warren and his band will kick off this semester's series starting this coming Thursday, January 22. That means saxophonist Kristian Baarsvik now will perform on Thursday, February 19, and the gig featuring Kara Baldus, Bill Lenihan and Steve Davis originally announced for that date has been bumped a week to Thursday, February 26.

Also, StLJN's previous story mentioned a special performance by guitarist John Abercrombie (pictured) and his quartet on Tuesday, April 7 without noting that, unlike most Jazz at Holmes concerts, there will be an admission charge. Though the exact price is yet to be determined, Bill Lenihan, guitarist and Wash U faculty member who curates the Jazz at Holmes series, tells StLJN that it likely will be along the lines of $10 for students with ID, $20 for the general public.

Both the StLJN calendar and the previous story have been revised to reflect these changes. And as soon as there's more specific information released on ticket prices and the onsale date for the John Abercrombie Quartet concert, we'll have it for you here.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Music Education Monday: Behind the score of Birdman with drummer Antonio Sanchez

The Academy Award nominated film Birdman, now playing in theaters across the US, has won acclaim for its script, cinematography, lead performance by Michael Keaton, and the musical score created by drummer Antonio Sanchez.

Perhaps best known to jazz fans for his work with guitarist Pat Metheny, Sanchez (pictured) unfortunately was eliminated from consideration in this year's Oscars due to a technicality, as the film's soundtrack also included some pre-existing material.

But that snub hasn't stopped viewers and critics from raving about Sanchez' contribution to Birdman, and this article about Sanchez and the Birdman score at includes a video in which the drummer talks about how he put the music together.

Down below here on this page, there's a video of a complete master class that Sanchez did in 2013 when he was a guest artist-in-residence at Berklee College of Music. Though the class is focused on jazz drumming, not film scoring, it offers more insight into Sanchez' techniques and his approach to music.

For more about Antonio Sanchez' score for Birdman, read this article from Vanity Fair; this interview the drummer did with, which includes some audio samples from the score; his interview with the blog The Film Experience; and this article from You can hear audio of all 28 minutes of Sanchez' music for Birdman here.

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