Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New Jazz St. Louis HQ makes national news

Thanks to an Associated Press story that's getting picked up by media outlets across the country, this weekend's opening of Jazz St. Louis' newly renovated performance space and headquarters is making national news.

The AP story has been run by dozens of newspapers and websites over the past couple of days, even serving as the basis for a brief mention in the New York Times.

Here in St. Louis, the two evenings of performances featuring trumpeter Wynton Marsalis (pictured) and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra that will open the refurbished and expanded Jazz at the Bistro space already are sold out. So, for the benefit of those who don't have tickets, Jazz St. Louis has made arrangements to offer live video coverage of the shows on both Thursday and Friday.

On Thursday, you can watch the evening's events unfold via an online video stream that will run on the websites of both Jazz St. Louis and HEC-TV, as well as that of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Marsalis' and JaLCO's home venue in NYC. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. with interviews and a dedication ceremony, with music scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

Friday's show will be streamed live to the giant outdoor video screens at the new Public Media Commons, located in Grand Center at 3655 Olive between the offices of St. Louis Public Radio and the Nine Network. A live performance by the Jazz St. Louis All-Stars student ensemble will open the evening at 7:00 p.m., followed by video of Marsalis and JaLCO from the Bistro at 7:30 p.m.. Admission is free, but to attend you must reserve a ticket, which can be done online here.

Also, the Bistro shows won't be only the performances by Marsalis and the band while they're in town, as on Friday morning, they'll be at Normandy High School to perform in concert with the Normandy HS Jazz Band.

The concert begins at 10:30 a.m. in the school's Viking Hall, and is free and open to "anyone living within the boundaries of the Normandy School Collective." No tickets are required, but since seating and parking are limited, Jazz St. Louis is requesting that anyone who'd like to attend make a reservation by calling 314-289-4071.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tribute to Floyd LeFlore set for Monday, October 6 at Tavern of Fine Arts

Musical colleagues and friends of Floyd LeFlore will pay tribute to the late trumpeter with a performance at 7:00 p.m. next Monday, October 6 at the Tavern of Fine Arts.

LeFlore, a co-founder of St. Louis' Black Artists Group and a former board member of New Music Circle, died on September 6 at age 74.

The tribute will feature the improvising ensemble Numbers, whose pianist David Parker and drummer Charles "Bobo" Shaw both performed and recorded with LeFlore - Parker during the 1980s and 1990s, and Shaw at various times going all the way back to the founding of BAG in the 1960s. Numbers trumpeter George Sams also has history with LeFlore, from occasional gigs to presenting him in concert as part of the Nu-Art Series to serving together on the New Music Circle board.

Also performing will be poet Shirley Bradley LeFlore, percussionist Henry Claude, cellist Tracy Andreotti, and pianist Greg Mills.

Admission to the Floyd LeFlore tribute is free, but donations will be accepted for the performers (who also get a portion of the Tavern's food & drink sales during the show.)

Dave Weckl to present drum clinic
Monday, October 13 at Airport Hilton

Drummer and St. Charles native Dave Weckl is coming home to present a drum clinic at 7:00 p.m., Monday, October 13 at the St. Louis Airport Hilton, 10330 Natural Bridge Rd.

The event is sponsored by Fred Pierce Studio Drum Shop, which was a frequent hangout for Weckl (pictured) during his teenage years. It's one of a series of clinics Weckl will be doing next month, and will be followed by stops in New York, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.

Weckl's latest recording, Of The Same Mind, was released earlier this month, and features an acoustic band with bassist and fellow St. Louisan Tom Kennedy, keyboardist Makuto Ozone and bassist Gary Meek.

Tickets for the Dave Weckl drum clinic are $20 each and can be purchased at Fred Pierce's and, if seats are still available, at the door.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Fall 2014 jazz preview, part 5

This week, we finally wrap up StLJN's multi-part video preview of visiting jazz and creative music performers coming to St. Louis this fall. (You can see parts one through four here, here, here and here.)

As the Christmas and New Year's holidays approach, the month of December here in St. Louis usually has relatively few shows from touring jazz musicians, and this year is no exception. Sadly, the number was further reduced earlier this month with the death of pianist Joe Sample, who had been scheduled to play at Jazz at the Bistro the week before Christmas. Jazz St. Louis has not yet named a replacement performer for that week, though some sort of announcement should be coming soon. So, to fill out this week's post, we're going to offer some additional videos related to what should be one of the most noteworthy concerts of the entire season.

First though, up top we get things started with a clip featuring organist Joey DeFrancesco, who will be returning to perform Wednesday, December 3 through Saturday, December 6 at the Bistro. DeFrancesco has been a frequent visitor to the venue in recent years, both as the leader of his own group and in support of David Sanborn. Given that he's releasing his first Christmas album, Home For The Holidays, next month, it seems likely that some of that material will be featured during his St. Louis dates.

Here, though, he's seen playing "At Long Last Love" earlier this year at the Java Jazz Festival in Indonesia, assisted by drummer George Fludas and, interestingly, Chicago guitarist Jeff Parker (who's known more for experimental and "post-rock" music with his own band Tortoise and others than as a player in the typical organ-trio style.) Though there's been no mention yet of who will be playing with DeFrancesco here this time around, both Fludas and Parker are featured on the holiday album, too, so perhaps they'll end up being part of the subsequent live dates supporting it.

After the jump, the rest of today's videos are related to the previously-touted-as-noteworthy concert, a duo performance by multi-instrumentalist Roscoe Mitchell and keyboardist Craig Taborn that will be presented by New Music Circle on Friday, December 5 at The Stage at KDHX.

As a founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Mitchell was a key player in the "free jazz" movement of the 1960s, and since then has continued both to refine his craft and expand his musical landscape, drawing on compositional ideas and techniques associated with classical and new music as well as improvisation.

Taborn, who's from Minneapolis, is one of the most critically acclaimed keyboard players of his generation, working with major musicians like Dave Holland and Chris Potter and deploying distinct styles on acoustic piano and Rhodes electric piano.

Taborn has played here a couple of times recently, with Potter and Danish saxophonist Lotte Anker, but Mitchell - a musician of major importance in jazz history - hasn't played publicly here in a very long time. (There was at least one Art Ensemble gig here in the mid-1980s, and more recently, in 1996 Mitchell did some work with the St. Louis Public Schools, though I don't recall any public performances being advertised and an online search turns up nothing.) Suffice it to say, then, that while two top improvisers working together should offer plenty of sonic rewards, the relative rarity of Mitchell gigs here should make the evening even more special. 

Unfortunately, although Mitchell and Taborn have collaborated a few times before, there seems to be no video available available online, so instead we'll take a look at each man playing solo.

You can see Mitchell, first on alto saxophone and then on soprano, in two videos recorded in 2010 at the Nickelsdorf Konfrontationen festival in Austria. That's followed by a video interview with Mitchell, who currently serves as the Darius Milhaud Chair of Composition at Mills College in Oakland, CA.

As for Taborn, you can check him out in two solo piano sets, the first recorded in 2013 at the Jazz Jantar festival in Gdansk, Poland and the second in 2010 at a concert in Spain.

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

Friday, September 26, 2014

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Pianist Reggie Thomas, who left St. Louis a couple of years ago to teach at Michigan State University, has a new job a bit closer to home this fall. Thomas (pictured) is the new head of the jazz studies program at Northern Illinois University, taking over after the retirement of the program's former director, saxophonist Ronald Carter (who also was Thomas' former high school band director in East St. Louis).

* The September edition of HEC-TV's I Love Jazz, hosted by Don Wolff, is available now for viewing on the cable network and online. The episode includes video of Miss Jubilee performing at Casa Loma Ballroom, a "day in the life" feature about trumpeter Sean Jones, and more. Check your TV provider's listing for days, times and channel, or watch online here.

* The Tuesday jazz jam sessions formerly held at Robbie's House of Jazz, which ended earlier this year when the club closed, have returned to Webster Groves at the Ozark Theatre, where former Robbie's GM Dorothy Edwards now is presenting jazz performances on the weekends. The newly revived jam sessions will begin at 7:30 p.m. each Tuesday, with no admission or cover charge.

* Six St. Louis area classical music organizations are teaming up to offer a program for students called the Concert Pass Collaborative (CPC). For a $15 annual fee, students with a valid ID can purchase the pass, which is good for admission to any event produced by the six participating organizations (as long as there's a seat available). Groups taking part include the Chamber Music Society of St. Louis, The Sheldon's classical series, St. Louis Classical Guitar Society, Chamber Project St. Louis, St. Louis Women’s Hope Chorale, Saint Louis Chamber Chorus, and you can get more information on the offer here.

* The Kranzberg Arts Center will present a screening of the new film Finding Fela, a documentary about Afrobeat musician and bandleader Fela Kuti, next Friday, October 3.

* In conjunction with the label's 65th anniversary, Prestige Records is giving away a set of 20 CDs reissue of albums remastered by famed engineer Rudy Van Gelder. Get details and enter to win here.

* Jazz radio update: This Saturday on Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis' “Somethin’ Else,” host Calvin Wilson will feature the music of saxophonist, composer and former St. Louisan Julius Hemphill via Hemphill's recordings asa  leader and as a member of the World Saxophone Quartet, plus interpretations of his work by others including saxophonist Tim Berne. The program can be heard at 8:00 p.m. on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at http://www.rafstl.org/listen.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Jazz this week: A Gaslight Square tribute,
Mel Bay Jazz Festival, Storm Large, Tatsuya Nakatani, and more

This week's calendar of live jazz and creative music in around St. Louis once again offers plenty of variety, from big bands to cabaret to free improv to a nostalgic look at an historic time for local music. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University presents a tribute to Gaslight Square, beginning with a panel discussion featuring trumpeter Bob Ceccarini, saxophonist Freddie Washington and pianist Dave Venn, who all played various clubs in the famed entertainment district during the 1960s.

That's followed by a free concert featuring Ceccarini, clarinetist Scott Alberici, trombonist Wayne Coniglio, guitarist (and series curator) William Lenihan, bassist Eric Stiller and drummer Steve Davis.

Also tonight, the Tavern of Fine Arts presents their monthly "Experimental Arts Open Improv Night" with live improvised music; and down in Jefferson County, the second annual Mel Bay Jazz Festival gets underway with a performance by guitarist Larry Bay's group Sugar Moon at Lorenzo’s Italian Kitchen in De Soto.

The Mel Bay fest continues on Friday with a performance featuring the event's two visiting headliners, guitarist Sheryl Bailey and singer Lena Seikaly, at Fojo Studio, also in DeSoto.

Also on Friday, Los Angeles-based guitarist Tim Fischer leads a quartet at Cigar Inn; singer Joe Mancuso brings his quartet to Nathalie's; Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will present an all-stringed-instruments lineup at Thurman Grill; Miss Jubilee plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom; and guitarist Brian Vaccaro's trio will host a jam session at The Wolf.

The Mel Bay Jazz Festival then wraps up on Saturday, with a lunchtime performance by Sheryl Bailey at Fountain City Grille, and the grand finale showcase that evening featuring Bailey, Lena Seikaly, and Joe Mancuso at LaChance Vineyards.

Meanwhile, back in St. Louis on Saturday night, singer Storm Large will kick off this fall's edition of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival with a performance of her show "Le Bonheur (Good Times)" at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups.

Also on Saturday; the Coleman Hughes Project with singer Adrienne Felton will play smooth jazz and R&B at Harry's Restaurant and Bar; The Sidemen perform at Evangeline's; pianist Carolbeth True is at The Wine Press; guitarist Tom Byrne leads a quartet at the Ozark Theatre; and the Funky Butt Brass Band plays at the Broadway Oyster Bar.

On Sunday, the Dave Dickey Big Band will play their monthly gig at Kirkwood Station Brewing Company, with an intermission set by the University of Missouri Concert Jazz Band, who will be in from Columbia for the evening.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday singer Dean Christopher will return with his "Rat Pack & More" show featuring trumpeter Jim Manley to One 19 North Tapas & Wine Bar; and saxophonist "Blind" Willie Dineen and the Broadway Collective will be back at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups.

Then on Tuesday, percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani (pictured) returns to Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center to lead an improvisation workshop for local musicians, followed by a collective performance featuring Nakatani and the workshop participants. (The workshop, which has 10 openings, costs $15 to $20 on a sliding scale, with dinner provided. For more information, contact LNAC's Tom Hill at tomhill.tch at gmail.com.)

Also on Tuesday, the Route 66 Jazz Orchestra will play in a "Notes From Home" concert at The Sheldon; and trumpeter Keith Moyer will return to BB's.

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 http://twitter.com/StLJazzNotes 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.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ku-umba Frank Lacy, The Cunninghams
to perform in October at Ozark Theatre

Adding some visiting artists to the mix of local musicians, trombonist Ku-umba Frank Lacy and vocal duo The Cunninghams are among the performers scheduled in October by the new Robbie's House of Jazz series at the Ozark Theatre.

Lacy (pictured) will perform at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 18, while Don and Alicia Cunningham, supported by a local rhythm section TBA, will take the stage at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, October 25.

Lacy, who's originally from Houston, has something of a local connection via his past collaborations with St. Louis musicians such as Greg Osby, Oliver Lake, Julius Hemphill, and Lester Bowie. He also served as music director for one of the latter-day editions of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers; has been a member of the Mingus Big Band; and has worked with many other prominent musicians including Henry Threadgill, Carla Bley, Dizzy Gillespie, Abdullah Ibrahim, Bobby Watson, David Murray, McCoy Tyner, and the R&B singer D'Angelo.

Although he's been featured on so many recordings that a Down Beat magazine article once referred to him as "the baddest sideman in jazz," Lacy has released only four albums as a leader, the most recent of which, Live at Smalls, came out earlier this year.

The Cunninghams, who are based in Las Vegas, are well-known to St. Louis audiences. Don Cunningham, a percussionist and saxophonist as well as a vocalist, began his career here performing in local clubs during the Gaslight Square era, and in recent years he and Alicia, a singer and pianist, have made several return visits to perform at the Sheldon Concert Hall and other local venues.

The duo's extensive credits include headlining tours in Japan and elsewhere in Asia and a stint touring as featured vocalists with the Count Basie Orchestra as well as performances with a long list of other jazz greats, and even a Grammy nomination in 1992 for their Charlie Parker tribute album Strings 'n Swing. Their most recent recording is 2012's Sao Paulo Lights, recorded in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Tickets for Ku-umba Frank Lacy are $15 general admission, $10 for students with ID, while tickets for The Cunninghams are $20 and $10. Tickets can be reserved by phone at 314-578-2049 or purchased at the door.

Local jazz performers in October at the Ozark will include pianist Brad Ellebrecht's quartet with singer Diane Vaughn (Saturday, October 4); singer Feyza Eren (Friday, October 10); pianist Carolbeth True and Two Times True (Saturday, October 18) and singer Dean Christopher's "Rat Pack and More" show on Friday, October 31.

Other scheduled shows include "oldies tribute band" Recap on Saturday, October 4, and singer, guitarist and songwriter Kevin Renick on Friday, October 17. Tickets for all of these performances are $15 general admission, $10 for students.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Fall 2014 jazz preview, part 4

Today, it's part four of StLJN's video preview of jazz and creative music performers who will be coming to St. Louis this fall. (In case you missed them, here's part 1, part 2, and part 3.)

For this installment, we resume with more of what's coming up in November, starting with a video featuring keyboardist Marco Benevento, who will be back to play Sunday, November 9 at 2720 Cherokee.

Benevento is touring this fall in support of his recent album Swift, which features him singing lead vocals for the first time. As someone who's generally enjoyed his instrumental music, I've not found what I've heard so far of his singing to be particularly compelling, so rather than showcasing one of his new songs here, we've got a live version of the Benevento concert staple "RISD", recorded in June of this year at The Saint in Asbury Park, NJ. (For samples of Benevento new vocal material, check out these live performances of "At The Show" and "Eye to Eye.")

Later that week, saxophonist Tia Fuller, trumpeter Sean Jones and vibraphonist Warren Wolf will team up to perform on Friday, November 14 and Saturday, November 16 at Jazz at the Bistro.

Although all three have recorded for the Mack Avenue label, and Fuller and Jones have worked together on occasion, this specific lineup is a custom one-off for Jazz St. Louis, so there's actually no footage online of all three of them playing together.So instead, we've got clips of them performing individually.

First up is Fuller, seen in a recording made in March of this year at Smoke in NYC that excerpts her solo on a tune that's not positively identified but may very well be "Impressions." The interesting thing about this is that it demonstrates that while some may think of Fuller as a slick R&B saxophonist, based on her tenure with pop singer Beyonce and other commercial gigs, she's also comfortable going outside in a post-Coltrane style.

And speaking of Coltrane, the next clip features Sean Jones' trumpet solo on a big band version of "Giant Steps" recorded with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, for whom he has spent nearly a decade as lead trumpeter. Below that, you can see Wolf in a duo performance of Chick Corea's "Senor Mouse" with pianist Alex Brown, recorded at a performance by Wolf's band in March of this year in Boston at Berklee College of Music's 939 Cafe.

After that, you can see singer Carole J. Bufford doing "Cry Me A River" in a recording made last year in NYC. She'll perform her show "Body and Soul" on Friday, November 13 and Saturday, November 14 for the Gaslight Cabaret Festival.

Next, it's guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo, who will bring their show "Swing Xing! Three Generations of Swing Guitar" to the Sheldon Concert Hall on Saturday, November 15. They're seen here performing "Three Little Words" in a recording made in May 2014 at the Cutting Room in NYC.

The very next evening, the all-female ensemble Jazz in Pink will take the Sheldon stage in a benefit performance for Community Women Against Hardship. In this clip from 2013, they're playing "Soulchestral Groove."

A few days later, saxophonist Jeff Coffin and his band, the Mutet, will make make their debut at Jazz at the Bistro with a four-night run starting Friday, November 19 and continuing through Saturday, November 22. This recording of "The Mad Hatter Rides Again" was made by an audience member at Coffin's show last October in Athens, GA.

That same weekend, clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen will be back in town to serve as special guest for pianist Peter Martin's concert on Saturday, November 21 at the Sheldon. Cohen, who led her own group for a week at the Bistro a couple of years ago and this year toured with Martin as part of the Newport Jazz Festival 60th anniversary band, is seen here last December at the Umbria Jazz Festival dueting with guitarist Howard Alden on "Espinha de Bacalhau."

Last but certainly not least, today's final video features trumpeter, singer and U City native Jeremy Davenport, who will return from his adopted home in New Orleans for his annual post-Thanksgiving performance on Friday, November 28 and Saturday, November 29 at Jazz at the Bistro. This is a full set of Davenport and his band, apparently recorded within the last year at some sort of private or corporate gig, but otherwise not labeled with a date or place.

You'll find the fifth and final part of the fall 2014 jazz preview in this space next week, and you can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

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