Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Jazz this week: Manhattan Transfer & Take 6; Cassity, Jensen & Wolfe; and more

While this week's concert calendar isn't as jam-packed with jazz and creative music as last week's almost-insane schedule, there still are several noteworthy shows happening over the next few days, including a long-anticipated concert teaming up two of the top jazz-influenced vocal groups in the world, and more.

Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, October 26
The eclectic instrumental quartet The 442s will take the stage for the first of two nights at Jazz at the Bistro, where their sets will include music they created this past summer as the first-ever artists-in-residence for Forest Park Forever.

Elsewhere in Grand Center, the weekly "jazz crawl" proceeds with bassist Bob Deboo and friends hosting a jam session at the Kranzberg Arts Center and trumpeter Kasimu Taylor leading a trio at The Dark Room. Also on Wednesday, Elsie Parker and the Poor People of Paris return to Nathalie's, and the Jazz Troubadours play at Evangeline's.

Thursday, October 27
Singer Denise Thimes headlines her 12th annual benefit performance at the Sheldon Concert Hall, raising money for the Mildred Thimes Foundation (named after her late mother) to fight pancreatic cancer. Thimes will be joined by guest performers including the Chicago-based singer Dee Alexander and comedian Monique Marvez.

Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Suspects are back in town for another performance at the Broadway Oyster Bar, and singer Erin Bode returns to Cyrano's.

Friday, October 28
The joint tour by vocal groups Manhattan Transfer and Take 6 (pictured, top left) billed as "The Summit" arrives in St. Louis for a concert at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

Based on reports from earlier in the tour, the show will include favorites from both groups, performing separately and together, as well as an entertaining segment in which each group performs some of the other's material. If you're a fan of jazz vocal harmony or ensemble singing in general, this should rank as the "must-see" concert of the year.

Also on Friday, saxophonist Sharel Cassity, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, and bassist Ben Wolfe wrap up their week-long educational residency for Jazz St. Louis with the first of two nights of performances at Jazz at the Bistro, with some help from pianist Phil Dunlap and drummer Marty Morrison. For more about Cassity, Jensen, and Wolfe (pictured, bottom left), and some video samples of all three musicians in action, see this post from last Saturday.

That same evening, the Gaslight Cabaret Festival resumes with singer and actress Tovah Feldshuh performing for the first of two nights at the Gaslight Theater; Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes return to the Venice Cafe; and Miss Jubilee plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom.

Saturday, October 29
Singer Feyza Eren returns to the house concert venue KindaBlue, and Animal Children will play at The Dark Room.

Sunday, October 30
The St. Louis Jazz Club presents pianist Stephanie Trick in a matinee performance at the Moolah Temple,
and the JazzU Big Band, made up of the top high school students in Jazz St. Louis' education programs, will make their debut at Jazz at the Bistro.

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.)

Sidney Street Shakers releasing debut CD
on Wednesday, Nov 2 at The Stage at KDHX

The Sidney Street Shakers will celebrate the release of their debut CD Laugh My Weary Blues Away with a performance at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, November 2 at The Stage at KDHX.

Recorded this past winter at Native Sound Studios in St. Louis, the album features renditions of 15 jazz and blues songs from the 1920s that originally were recorded by St. Louis performers such as trumpeter Dewey Jackson, the Mound City Blue Blowers, the Missourians, the St. Louis Levee Band, and more.

Formed in 2013, the Sidney Street Shakers (pictured) include TJ Muller (trumpet), Chloe Feoranzo (clarinet, C melody sax), Kellie Everett (bass sax, tenor sax), Jacob Alspach (trombone, tenor banjo), Joe Park (guitar, plectrum banjo), Mary Ann Schulte (piano), Ryan Koenig (washboard, percussion), and Matt Meyer (drums). Laugh My Weary Blues Away also features guest performances by Mike Davis (cornet), Kyle Butz (trombone), and Joey Glynn (bass).

The CD includes an eight-page booklet with artwork and liner notes by St. Louis author, illustrator and historian Kevin Belford, whose 2009 book Devil at the Confluence remains the definitive work on pre-WWII blues in St. Louis.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday Session: October 23, 2016

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

* Artists Spanning Generations Infuse BRIC JazzFest with Soul (DownBeat)
* The 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees Show a Changing Institution (Esquire)
* The Timeless Modernism of "Shuffle Along" - A Broadway sort-of-revival may have tapped out early, but its beauty and importance remain undiminished (Jazz Times)
* Why Chuck Berry Is Even Greater Than You Think (Rolling Stone)
* ‘We smuggled Michael Jackson out in a room-service trolley’ – celebrity bodyguards tell their stories (The Guardian UK)
* 'Love For Sale': A History Of Pop Music That's As Personal As It Gets (NPR)
* ‘Tilted Axes‘ and ‘Rushing Past Willow’: Classical, Jazz or Rock? (Wall Street Journal
* Google and Amazon Leverage Copyright Loophole to Use Songs Without Paying Songwriters (
* The Record Labels Of The Future Are Already Here (Forbes)
* Universal caught up in $125m lawsuit as Spinal Tap star accuses Vivendi of fraud (
* How De La Soul producer Prince Paul continues to rewrite the rules (
* Steely Dan Returns to Beacon Theatre for Nostalgic Aja Show (DownBeat)
* Calling on a higher power to save a jazz landmark: Buddy Bolden’s home (
* Blues Run The Game (MTV)
* Herbie Hancock's Latest Voyage (NPR)
* Killer Riffs: A Guide to Parody in Popular Music (
* 11 Artists You Still Can't Find on Any Major Streaming Service (Billboard)
* On His 90th Birthday, Chuck Berry Announces His Final Album (
* Phil Chess, Pioneering Blues and Rock Exec, Dead at 95 (Rolling Stone)
* Q&A with Terrace Martin: From Hip-Hop to Herbie Hancock (DownBeat)
* A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism (
* Experimental Pioneer Pauline Oliveros Still Wants You to Listen Closely (
* Concert hall acoustics in the 21st century: Interview with Sam Berkow (

Saturday, October 22, 2016

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Sharel Cassity, Ingrid Jensen & Ben Wolfe

Today, let's take a look at three musicians who will be sharing the stage next Friday, October 28 and Saturday, October 29 at Jazz at the Bistro.

Saxophonist Sharel Cassity, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and bassist Ben Wolfe aren't regular bandmates, but all three will be in town next week to do educational residencies for Jazz St. Louis, and they'll then join forces (presumably augmented by a local musician or two) to wrap things up with two nights of public performances at the Bistro.

Wolfe may be the most familiar to St. Louis audiences, as he released a couple of albums as a leader on the locally based label MAXJAZZ (acquired earlier this year by Detroit's Mack Avenue Records). However, the 54-year-old bassist probably is best known as an accompanist, particularly for his work with highly visible performers including singer/pianist Harry Connick Jr., trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and singer and pianist Diana Krall, as well as many others.

Cassity, the youngest of the three at 38, played at the Sheldon here in St. Louis last year as part of the Dizzy Gillespie tribute band led by bassist John Lee. In addition to fronting her own groups, the Iowa native also has worked with trumpeter Nicolas Payton; big bands including the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, the Jimmy Heath Big Band, and the Roy Hargrove Big Band; and numerous other small groups.

Jensen, who's 50 years old and hails from Vancouver, is a Berklee graduate who moved to NYC in the late 1980s. From busking in subway stations and playing pickup gigs, she's risen gradually to headliner status, working along the way with composer/arranger Maria Schneider's acclaimed big band, bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding, pop singer Corrine Bailey Rae, keyboardist Jason Miles, and many others. Jensen also has been nominated twice for Juno awards - the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys - and won in 1995 for her album Vernal Fields.

You can see Cassity and her band Elektra in the first video up above, performing a full set recorded in July of this year at Dizzy's Club in NYC's Jazz at Lincoln Center. Along with the leader on alto and soprano sax, the group includes guitarist Mark Whitfield, keyboardist Miki Hayama, bassist Rashaan Carter, and drummer Lucianna Padmore.

After the jump, you can see Cassity fronting an acoustic quintet with E .J. Strickland (drums), Josh Evans (trumpet), Victor Gould (piano) and Yasushi Nakamura (bass) in an excerpt from a set recorded this past April at Teatro Vivian Blumenthal in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Next, you can see Jensen starring in a episode of Discover Jazz, a program produced by Vermont PBS, that aired for the first time earlier this month. The performance features Jensen and her sister, saxophonist Christine Jensen, with a rhythm section including pianist Jon Cowherd, bassist Matt Clohesy, and drummer Jon Wikan.

Below that, you can see Jensen's set from this year's Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival, recorded in May at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Finally, you can see Wolfe providing the low end for two very different performances - a stripped-down rendition of "Stardust" by guitarist and singer Doug Wamble, recorded in 2015, and a radically reworked version of "Autumn Leaves" with pianist Orrin Evans and drummer Obed Calvaire, recorded in 2011.

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Jazz this week: Donny McCaslin, Brian Culbertson, Brand X, James Carter, Sylvaine Hélary's Spring Roll Quartet, and more

It's one of the busiest weeks of the year for jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with enough activity and musical variety to test both the stamina and the financial resources of even the most devoted music lovers.

There's so much going on that the week defies easy summary, so instead, let's go to the highlights....

Wednesday, October 19
Saxophonist Donny McCaslin (pictured, top left) makes his St. Louis debut as a bandleader in the first of four nights at Jazz at the Bistro.

It's been a big year for McCaslin, who's gone from working with the late David Bowie on his final recording Blackstar to releasing his own new album, Beyond Now. For more about McCaslin and his new recording, see the interview he did with Calvin Wilson of the Post-Dispatch and StLJN's video post from a couple of Saturdays ago.

Also on Wednesday, funk/jazz keyboardist Brian Culbertson, who's touring in support of his own new album Funk!, returns to St. Louis for the first time in four years for a performance at The Pageant. For more about that, see Culbertson's conversation with the Post-Dispatch's Kevin Johnson.

Thursday, October 20
The reunited British jazz/fusion band Brand X will play at the Wildey Theatre, featuring three key members from the band's original run - guitarist John Goodsall, bassist Percy Jones, and drummer Kenwood Dennard - plus keyboardist Chris Clark and percussionist Scott Weinberger. This show will be only the second of the group's reunion tour, so even if there are a few rough spots, the energy should be high.  

Also on Thursday, trumpeter George Sams and friends will play a free show of improvised music for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University; and the funky saxophones-and-drums trio Moon Hooch returns for a gig at the Old Rock House.

Friday, October 21
The St. Louis GypsyJazz Festival opens for the first of three days and nights of perfomances, jam sessions and workshops at Evangeline's. The lineup of musicians this year includes violinist/mandolinist Jason Anick, singer Miles Griffith, and guitarist Dario Napoli, plus St. Louis-based groups Franglais, Phatz Django, and Fleur De Lou. For more about the festival and video samples of the visiting performers, see this post from last Saturday.

Also on Friday, the Gaslight Cabaret Festival resumes with singer Storm Large returning for an encore performance at the Gaslight Theater.

Saturday, October 22
Saxophonist James Carter (pictured, bottom left) and his organ trio will provide the music for the annual "ArtSounds" benefit at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Carter, a free-spirited yet technically accomplished improviser who can play soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxes with near-equal facility, is always worth hearing, and if you need an extra incentive, The Sheldon yesterday announced a "buy one, get one free" offer for concert-only tickets bought in pairs. To purchase online and take advantage of the offer, go here and enter the promo code CARTER16.

Also on Saturday, New Music Circle present flute player and composer Sylvaine Hélary's Spring Roll Quartet at the The Stage at KDHX.

The group, which includes Hélary, Antonin Rayon (piano, synthesizer), Hugues Mayot (saxophones, clarinets), and Sylvain Lemêtre (vibraphone, percussion), offers "thematically dense surrealist arrangements with percussive counterpoint" which incorporate "a span of styles in an almost collage-like manner."

Sunday, October 23
"Days to Say Goodbye - A Celebration of the Life of David Troncoso" will provide an opportunity to remember and reminisce for, family, friends and fans of the veteran St. Louis bassist, who died this past July at age 70. The event, which features music from guitarist Dave Black, pianist Dave Venn, singer Tony Viviano, the Park Avenue Duo, Troncoso's own Latin Jazz Group and more, takes place at the Anheuser Busch Brewery Biergarten.

Also on Sunday afternoon, the US Navy Band Commodores, the Navy's top jazz big band, plays a free concert at the 560 Music Center. The group features two area natives - Petty Officer 1st Class David M. Perkel of St. Louis on lead trombone, and Chief Petty Officer Timothy D. Stanley, who grew up in Belleville, on trumpet.

Monday, October 24
To mark the event's silver anniversary, the Webster University TKT Scholarship Fund 25th Anniversary Concert will take place off-campus this year at the Sheldon Concert Hall. The concert features Webster jazz faculty and students performing to raise money for music scholarships at Webster in memory of Terry Jackson, Kirk Cappello, and Tony Saputo, three Webster alumni who were among the members of singer Reba McEntire’s road band killed in a 1991 airplane crash.

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, October 16, 2016

Sunday Session: October 16, 2016

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

* Music of the Presses: How an L.A. Printer Kept the Art of the Album Cover Alive (Collector's Weekly)
* Dual Identities: A Conversation With Jazz Soulmates Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa (Pitchfork)
* Computer Scientist Publishes Manifesto for Expressive Algorithmic Music (
* Norah Jones: "2016 Is a Weird Place to Be" (Paste)
* Is the Album a Dead Format for Music? (Inc)
* Friday essay: the sound of fear (
* Music of the mind: a stunning string quartet created through brainwaves (
* Surviving Oldchella: Scenes From the Ultimate Classic Rock Rager (Pitchfork)
* The Making of The Last Waltz, the Band’s Concert-Film Masterpiece (Vanity Fair)
* How Rock and Roll Became White (
* Mind-blowing psychedelic 60s posters of Hendrix, Dylan, Pink Floyd, Yoko Ono & The Who (
* Bob Dylan, the Musician: America’s Great One-Man Songbook (New York Times)
* After Dylan's Nobel, how about Springsteen, Mitchell, Cohen? (CNN)
* How the Most Important Promoter in NY Ensures the Music Never Stops (
* The Night When Charlie Parker Played for Igor Stravinsky (1951) (
* Jazz great Steve Coleman putting down roots in Detroit (Detroit Free Press)
* Is New Orleans A Music City? (Offbeat)
* Avishai Cohen: A Beautiful Melancholy (Jazz Times)
* How improving US-Cuba relations has helped this jazz musician (PRI)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
2016 St. Louis GypsyJazz Festival

Today, let's take a look at some of the musicians who will be part of this year's St. Louis GypsyJazz Festival, which is set for Friday, October 21 through Sunday, October 23 at Evangeline's in the Central West End.

Organized by Eve Seltzer and Ben Wood of the St. Louis band Franglais, the festival will include performances, jam sessions and workshops spotlighting three featured guest performers, violinist/mandolinist Jason Anick, singer Miles Griffith, and guitarist Dario Napoli, plus Franglais and fellow St. Louis-based bands Phatz Django and Fleur De Lou.

You can see and hear Anick in the first clip up above, performing his composition "Sleepless" at a gig this past January at Rotary Records in Springfield, MA with the Rhythm Future Quartet (guitarists Olli Soikkeli and Max O'Rourke and bassist Greg Loughman).

After the jump, you can check out Anick with guitarists Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo, playing the venerable swing number "Joseph, Joseph" at the 2015 Hot Jazz Fest in NYC.

Go searching online for video of Miles Griffith, and you can find clips of him doing all sorts of material, from free improv to knotty prog-rock to a version of "Lift Every Voice" with pianist Orrin Evans' Captain Black Big Band, but the next two clips feature him singing songs from the more familiar jazz and swing repertoire.

First up is a version of "Toot Toot Tootsie" with pianist Kirk Nurock, recorded in 2009 at NYC's Symphony Space, followed by an otherwise-unlabeled clip of Griffith, drummer David Pleasants and keyboardist Chip Crawford (best known for his work with singer Gregory Porter) offering a very loose-limbed version of "In A Mellow Tone.":

The last two videos feature Dario Napoli, performing Django Reinhardt's "Anouman" as a live solo over prerecorded accompaniment, and playing "Nuages" with the Cheek to Cheek Trio (singer Anna Rossi and vibraphonist Gianni Maestrucci).

Admission to St. Louis GypsyJazz Festival performances and jam sessions is free, but because space is limited, those interested in attending are encouraged to make advance reservations by calling Evangeline's at 314-367-3644. For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit the St. Louis GypsyJazz Festival's Facebook page.

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

Friday, October 14, 2016

St. Louis Jazz Hall of Fame honoring five
new inductees at gala on Sunday, October 23

Clockwise from top left: Bass, Bluiett, Lake and Washington
The St. Louis Jazz Hall of Fame will induct five musicians in a ceremony to be held at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, October 23 at the Emerson Performance Center on the campus of Harris Stowe State University.

The hall, which is part of the Don and Heide Wolff Jazz Institute at Harris Stowe, will welcome three new living members - saxophonists Hamiet Bluiett, Oliver Lake, and Freddie Washington - and two posthumous inductees, singer Fontella Bass and trumpeter David Hines.

As most readers of this site will already know, Bluiett and Lake both were members of the Black Artists Group in the late 1960s and went on to co-found the World Saxophone Quartet with David Murray and former St. Louisan Julius Hemphill. Both Bluiett and Lake continue to enjoy busy careers, recording and touring both nationally and internationally.

Washington has been a mainstay of the St. Louis scene for more than 50 years, teaching and performing regularly in local clubs and concert venues since the 1960s.

Bass, who died in 2012, was best known for her 1965 pop and soul mega-hit "Rescue Me," but also recorded jazz with the Art Ensemble of Chicago (which included her then-husband, St. Louis trumpeter Lester Bowie) and earned a Grammy nomination in 1995 for her gospel album No Ways Tired.

Hines was a highly regarded trumpeter, teacher and mentor who toured with Albert King, T-Bone Walker, Little Milton, Woody Herman, and Ray Charles, and worked frequently in St. Louis until his untimely death at age 49 in a 1991 motorcycle accident.

The induction ceremony is held in conjunction with the university's 18th annual "Homecoming Gold Gala" for alumni and supporters. Ronn Nichols, who serves as curator of the Wolff Jazz Institute, also will be honored with a "Lifetime Achievement Award."