Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Session: May 24, 2015

George Lewis
For your Sunday reading, some interesting music-related items that have hit StLJN's inbox over the past week: 

* In defense of the lowly “Greatest Hits” album: They’re not just “for housewives and little girls” (Salon)
* Sun Ra's free space (Pitchfork)
* Lyric Intelligence In Popular Music: A Ten Year Analysis (
* Bruce Lundvall, Blue Note Records Veteran, Beloved Executive, Dead at 79 (Billboard)
* Jazz Stars Celebrate “Go-Go” Heritage in Washington, D.C. (DownBeat)
* Bob Belden—Musician, Producer, Arranger, Writer, Historian—Dies at 58 (Jazz Times)
* 5 Questions to George Lewis (composer, improvisor, trombonist) (I Care If You Listen)
* Victoriaville Festival Unites Jazz, Rock, Avant-Garde in Quebec (DownBeat)
* "Mad Men" Theme Composer RJD2 Plans His Next TV Takeover (Fast Company)
* 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Composer: 'The First Time I Saw The Movie I Thought, This Is So Insane!' (Billboard)
* Louis Johnson, Legendary Bassist, Dead at 60 (The Boombox)
* New Sun Ra Recordings To Be Released This Fall: Exclusive (Billboard)
* 'Robert Johnson' photo does not show the blues legend, music experts say (The Guardian UK)
* Sony Music “holding artists hostage” in campaign against SoundCloud (Fact)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Dr. Lonnie Smith & Lionel Loueke

Dr. Lonnie Smith is the elder statesman of jazz organ, one of the last living links back to the 1960s and 70s heyday of Jimmy Smith, Brother Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, Charles Earland, Richard "Groove" Holmes, and other Hammond heroes. Lionel Loueke is a guitarist from a different generation and half a world away who mixes jazz with the rhythms of his home country, the west African nation of Benin. Both men have distinctive sounds that tend to dominate the harmonic and rhythmic directions of their respective bands.

So what happens when you put them together on one stage? St. Louis listeners will find out next week, when Smith and Loueke team up to perform Wednesday, May 27 through Saturday, May 30 at Jazz at the Bistro.

Of course, in addition to being bandleaders, both man also are quite experienced in supporting roles. Loueke has spent much of the past decade as Herbie Hancock's guitarist of choice, while Smith has had a long-running, fruitful partnership with saxophonist Lou Donaldson that dates back nearly 50 years.

You can hear Smith and Loueke together, along with drummer Kendrick Smith, backing Donaldson in the first video up top, which was recorded last year as part of a "Blue Note at 75" celebration involving many of the label's artists, past and present. (All three men have put out records on Blue Note at various times.)

While it seems unlikely that Smith and Loueke will take on the bawdy blues "Whiskey Drinkin' Woman" or Donaldson's signature song "Alligator Boogaloo" during their visit to St. Louis, the versions of those tunes in the clip at least give a hint of how they might interact on stage.

Alas, that seems to be the only video available online of Smith and Loueke performing together. They did do some collaborative gigs last year at NYC's Jazz Standard, but apparently no documentation of those shows has surfaced. So instead, after the jump you can see and hear some examples of both men leading their own bands.

The next three clips all were recorded in 2014 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and feature Loueke with bassist Massimo Biolcati and drummer Ferenc Nemeth. The songs are "Hiroshima," "Nonvignon," and "Veuve Malienne".

After that, you can check out Smith performing one of his signature songs, "Backtrack," in March of this year at Jamboree Jazz in Barcelona, Spain. That's followed by a medley recorded in July 2015 at Jazz Panorama in Valencia Spain, in which Smith plays a free-form intro that goes into the tune "Beehive." After solos and a drum break, Smith, guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Jamire Williams then end with a version of "My Favorite Things."

The final clip is a re-imagining of "Straight, No Chaser" in which the good Doctor offers a rather idiosyncratic set of substitute chord changes for the song's usual 12-bar blues progression.

For more of Smith, see the two previous video posts made before his appearances here in 2012 and 2013;  Loueke was the subject of a previous video showcase post back in 2013.

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

Friday, May 22, 2015

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* The New Music Circle concert earlier this month featuring saxophonist Tim Berne's Snakeoil was reviewed for DownBeat magazine by St. Louis freelance writer Terry Perkins.

* Guitarist Jeff Beck's show this past Tuesday night at the Fox Theatre was reviewed for the Post-Dispatch by freelancer Dan Durchholz.

* Saxophonist Oliver Lake's latest release (pictured), a duet album with bassist William Parker called To Roy, was reviewed by's John Sharpe.

* Drummer Kaleb Kirby and his band Animal Children are featured in the latest issue of St. Louis magazine.

* The Sheldon and Jazz St. Louis are among 11 St. Louis arts groups that will get funding next year from the PNC Arts Alive program.

* Hand drummers are congregating this weekend in St. Louis at the first ever Grandmaster Djembe Xplosion, a four-day event presented by Africa United Ballet at Better Family Life Cultural, Educational and Business Center. Instructors from Guinea, Mali, Ivory Coast, New York and Chicago are leading more than 20 workshops and demonstrations of drumming techniques, as well as discussions of African history and culture.

* Jazz radio update: On this Saturday's edition of Radio Arts Foundation-St. Louis's program “Somethin’ Else,”  host Calvin Wilson will be puttin' the bass in your face, with a selection of music featuring bassist Ron Carter, both as a bandleader and as a sideman to Miles Davis, Joe Henderson, and others. The program can be heard at 8:00 p.m. on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Jazz St. Louis announces
2015-16 season schedule

Melissa Aldana
Jazz St. Louis has announced their 2015-16 season schedule, and with it, a new, explicitly stated policy of offering live music every Wednesday through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro.

That will mean more acts playing two-night stands at the Bistro, with touring groups occasionally showing up midweek as well as on the weekends. Given the developments this year since Jazz St. Louis purchased its building and renovated and expanded the Bistro, that change may be more evolutionary than revolutionary, but it does move the venue toward being essentially a full-time operation rather than a seasonal presenter.

Some of the most noteworthy bookings for 2015-16 include a trio version of bassist Dave Holland's Prism, with guitarist Kevin Eubanks and drummer Eric Harland, but minus keyboardist Craig Taborn (October 21-24); a pairing of singer DeeDee Bridgewater with a band led by New Orleans trumpeter Irvin Mayfield (March 16-19); and the current edition of the all-star SFJAZZ Collective, returning to St. Louis for the first time since 2007 (March 30-April 2).

Cyrille Aimée
Notable St. Louis debuts will include singer Cyrille Aimée (February 3-6); saxophonist Melissa Aldana (April 27-30); the Dave King Trucking Company, led by the drummer who's played the Bistro many times with The Bad Plus (September 4 & 5); and the previously mentioned Omaha Diner, with guitarist and Bistro veteran Charlie Hunter along with drummer Bobby Previte, saxophonist Skerik, and trumpeter Eric Bloom in place of Steven Bernstein (November 18-21).

Gregory Porter
As for returning acts, singer Gregory Porter has been booked for a much-anticipated encore appearance, but since his shows at the Bistro back in January 2013, his star has risen sufficiently that this time he'll be doing a one-nighter at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on Saturday, February 6 instead of a week at the Bistro.

Bassist Stanley Clarke's electric band also will play on Saturday, November 21 at the Touhill under the auspices of Jazz St. Louis, apparently renewing the collaboration between the two presenters that seems to have been dormant for a couple of years.

Nostalgically speaking, Jazz St. Louis will celebrate its 20th anniversary officially in September with a custom assemblage of musicians who have played the Bistro numerous times over the years, including bassist Christian McBride, pianist Cyrus Chestnut, drummer Gregory Hutchinson, guitarist Russell Malone, trumpeter Terell Stafford, and saxophonist Tim Warfield.

DeeDee Bridgewater & Irvin Mayfield
Return appearances by pianist Monty Alexander and singer Karrin Allyson also will harken back to the Bistro's early days. Both (along with a return visit from pianist Kenny Barron, who was here just this past season) are part of a new series named after the late Barbara Rose, the presenter and impresario whose "Just Jazz" series evolved into Jazz at the Bistro and the founding of Jazz St. Louis.

Saxophonist and hometown hero David Sanborn also will be back, along with such now-familiar figures as The Bad Plus, saxophonist James Carter, trumpeter Sean Jones, pianist Freddy Cole with saxophonist Harry Allen, the fusion band Yellowjackets, and more.

After the jump, you can see the complete 2015-16 schedule, ticket ordering information, and some additional commentary and analysis...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Jazz this week: Moon Hooch, Avishai Cohen's Triveni, Mardra & Reggie Thomas, and more

Memorial Day weekend may be arriving a bit earlier than usual this year, but along with it, St. Louis fans of jazz and creative music can enjoy a couple of touring headliners, the return of some longtime local favorites, a day of performances paying tribute to an influential figure on the local scene, and more. Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, May 20
Moon Hooch (pictured, top left) returns to St. Louis for another gig at 2720 Cherokee. The difficult-to-categorize trio got their start busking in the subways and streets of NYC, and over the past couple of years have brought their funky, stripped-down sound to clubs, concerts and festivals.

Also tonight, Sarah Jane & The Blue Notes perform at the Feasting Fox, and guitarist Dave Black plays at Thurman Grill.

Thursday, May 21
Trumpeter Avishai Cohen (pictured, center left) brings his trio Triveni to Jazz at the Bistro for one night only.

Also featuring drummer Nasheet Waits, who's appeared on all three of the group's recordings, and bassist Linda Oh, subbing for Omer Avital, Triveni is featured on three of Cohen's recordings as a leader, the most recent of which is Dark Nights, released last October. 

You can read more about Cohen and Triveni and see some samples of them in performance in this video post from last Saturday, and you can read a review of their show this week in Kansas City here.

Elsewhere around town, pianist Ptah Williams and guitarist Eric Slaughter are continuing with themed shows in their weekly residency at The Dark Room, this week performing music from the songbook of Earth, Wind and Fire.

Friday, May 22
Former St. Louisans Mardra and Reggie Thomas, whose vocals and keyboards were staples of the local music scene for more than a decade, will be back in town to headline two nights of performances at Jazz at the Bistro.

After moving to Michigan several years ago, the Thomasas (pictured, bottom left) now are based in Macomb, IL, where last fall Reggie Thomas succeeded Ronald Carter as head of the jazz studies program at Northern Illinois University.

This weekend, they'll be showcasing some of the music from their most recent album, Matters of the Heart, accompanied by a band including three St. Louis musicians - saxophonist Jason Swagler, bassist Zeb Briskovich, and drummer Montez Coleman - plus backing vocalists Nicole Jonas, Olivia Neal, and Zelina Star, and Detroit native Perry Hughes on guitar.

Elsewhere on Friday, the annual Glendale Jazz Festival will feature free, outdoor performances from the St. Louis Big Band, blues guitarist Pennsylvania Slim, and Miss Jubilee at Glendale City Hall, 424 N Sappington Rd.; singers and brothers Tony Viviano and Frank Viviano will join forces at Talayna's Italian Restaurant in Chesterfiled; and singer Joe Mancuso brings a quartet to Nathalie's.

Saturday, May 23
Saxophonist Tim Cunningham will be back at Troy's Jazz Gallery, while guitarist Eric Slaughter and bassist Glen Smith will team up for some duets at Thurman Grill.

Sunday, May 24
Jazz St. Louis will present the second Richard McDonnell Memorial Concert at Jazz at the Bistro. The concert honoring the memory of the late founder of MAXJAZZ records and former Jazz St. Louis board member will begin mid-afternoon and continue through the evening will music from Peter Martin, the Funky Butt Brass Band, Adam Maness, Bob DeBoo, Eric Slaughter, Montez Coleman, Jesse Gannon, and more. 

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, May 18, 2015

Music Education Monday: Six-month index

It's been six months since StLJN's "Music Education Monday" feature began, and since the idea here is to make this information easily accessible to as many people as possible, now seems like a good time to index all the related posts so far.

The series will continue with a new entry next week In the meantime, here's your chance to catch up with any of the previous posts you may have missed:

* A master class in understanding audio formats
* A master class with percussionist Milford Graves
* Still all about that bass (with Ray Brown and Milt Hinton)
* Jazz piano lessons from Mike Wolff and Barry Harris
* John Abercrombie on jazz guitar improvisation
* Sound system basics
* Aebersold's "Jazz Handbook," plus Latin percussion classes with Dafnis Prieto
* Electronic music production tips, plus a keyboard workshop with Richard Tee
* Arranging 101
* Saxophone master classes with Greg Osby
* Inside the musical mind of Bill Evans
* A jazz improvisation primer and video workshop
* Fusion fundamentals with Lorber, Haslip & Marienthal
* Books, both fake and Real
* What's the score?
* Video workshops with Urbie Green & Delfeayo Marsalis
* Behind the score of Birdman with drummer Antonio Sanchez
* A jazz guitar master class with Jim Hall
* Free play-along recordings, and a free class from Gary Burton
* All about that bass
* Microphone basics, and some studio tips from Al Schmitt
* A Benny Golson master class, and the Saxophone Museum
* A music theory reference, and a Matt Wilson master class
* Monk's advice and Bishop's fourths
* Saxophonists speak out, and a musician's guide to copyright
* "Visual Reference for Musicians" & "Cymbals 101"
* Electronic music history, and a Clark Terry master class
* "Music Theory for Musicians and Normal People" & The Red Hot Jazz Archive

Miles on Monday: Wayne Shorter speaks out, Amandla turns 26, and more

This week for "Miles on Monday," some recent news items related to the legendary trumpeter:

* In a new interview with Billboard magazine, saxophonist Wayne Shorter (pictured) discusses topics including his relationship with Davis as a member of the trumpeter's "second great quintet."

* With the 89th anniversary of Davis' birth coming up next Tuesday, saxophonist Gary Bartz and drummer Al Foster - both ex-sidemen of Davis' - will join trumpeter Eddie Henderson for a series of tribute gigs this weekend at the NYC club Smoke.

* Visual artists opening a new exhibit in London, citing the influence of Davis' album of the same name, have titled their show "In a Silent Way."

* Today is the 26th anniversary of the release of Davis' album Amandla, his third and final recording with bassist/composer Marcus Miller serving as producer. (The others were Tutu in 1986 and the soundtrack to the film Siesta, issued in 1987.) Amandla also features some keyboard work from the late George Duke and a very young Joey DeFrancesco, who had just turned 18 years old when the record came out.

You can listen to all the tracks from the album by clicking on the embedded YouTube playlist below.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Session: May 17, 2015

Jack DeJohnette
For your Sunday reading, some interesting music-related items that have hit StLJN's inbox over the past week: 

* When does a violin copy become a forgery? (The Strad)
* Review: Pharoah Sanders at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn (New York Times)
* Austin Signal Cuts to the Chase (Pro Sound News)
* Tiny Music Royalties Add Up, Unexpectedly (NPR)
* For orchestra musicians, thrill of Cuba trip tempered by fear over instruments (Minnesota Public Radio)
* Review: The New Orleans Jazz Scene, 1970-2000: A Personal Retrospective (
* More Evidence Of Big Changes Coming To Guitar Center (Forbes)
* A holding corporation called old America: Charles Mingus’ religious multitudes (Oxford University Press)
* Spillage and Flow: Notes from the 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (
* Further Spillage (The Good Kind): More Notes on the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (
* An Animated John Coltrane Explains His True Reason for Being: “I Want to Be a Force for Real Good” (Open Culture)
* VNYL Sliding: Why The “Netflix For Vinyl” Service Is Such A Mess (Stereogum)
* LOVE WILL FIND A WAY: The VNYL Subscription Service Blows It? (Pt. 1) (Blurt)
* Jerome Cooper, a Multitextured Jazz Percussionist, Dies at 68 (New York Times)
* The Death of the One-Hit Wonder (
* 'The In Crowd': An Audience-Fueled Jazz-Pop Crossover Hit (NPR)
* Spalding Showcases Range, Diversity in San Francisco (DownBeat)
* The Technology That Saved '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' (The Atlantic)
* BB King was that rare thing – a game-changer who was also beloved (The Guardian UK)
* King’s Essential Recordings (DownBeat)
* Composer Philip Glass’s Childhood Gig (Wall Street Journal)
* Even when looking back, Jack DeJohnette forges ahead (Boston Globe)
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