Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Session: November 19, 2017

Grover Washington Jr.
Here's the roundup of various music-related items of interest that have appeared in StLJN's inbox over the past week:

* How Roy DeCarava’s jazz photographs captured the soul of Harlem and influenced a generation (
* Remembering, With Fondness, the ‘Worst Orchestra in the World’ (
* Legendary music venue My Father’s Place reopening on Long Island after 30 years (Newsday)
* Pay-Per-Beat: Inside the Underground Market Shaping Soundcloud Rap (
* Ron Lessard Is a Noise Music Hero (
* Renaissance Man: The Story of Hermeto Pascoal’s Great Lost Album, “Viajando Com O Som” (
* ‘Whisperpop’: why stars are choosing breathy intensity over vocal paint-stripping (The Guardian)
* Spatial audio is the most exciting thing to happen to pop music since stereo (
* A Bottle In Front Of Me: The Strange World Of... Tom Waits (
* Hide And Seek - For a while, hidden tracks were everywhere, especially during the CD era. But thanks to streaming music, there’s nowhere to put them. Is that good or bad? (
* The concert was about unity; the message was all Russian (Washington Post)
* Hip Hop Named as the Most Popular Music Genre in the US (
* The Body in Question: Herbie Hancock in Concert (
* The New Golden Age Of Jazz (
* How Basin Street Records Has Been Giving New Orleans Jazz Music a Home For 20 Years (Billboard)
* Steve Winwood On World Cafe (NPR)
* Influential Jazz and Classical Label ECM Records Releasing Entire Catalogue to Streaming Outlets (SPIN)
* Free improvisation: still the ultimate in underground music? (The Guardian)
* Nicole Mitchell on the lasting legacies of AACM architect Muhal Richard Abrams (The Wire)
* An abandoned pre-WWII Hasidic synagogue gets a second life as a kosher jazz club (Times of Israel)
* With $70M from Alphabet, UnitedMasters replaces record labels (
* How Grover Washington Jr. Defined And Transcended 'Smooth Jazz' (NPR)
* Bassist Ron Carter On His Life With Jazz (WNYC)
* Venezuela's Uprooted Musicians: Bands Struggle to Survive (Rolling Stone)
* The cosmic messenger: How Karlheinz Stockhausen shaped contemporary electronic music (
* Field Notes: GoGo Penguin’s “Koyaanisqatsi” in Brooklyn (Jazz Times)
* Jazz and Classical Treasures from the Digitized Catalogue of ECM Records (The New Yorker)
* Ben Riley, a Jazz Drummer Who Made Accompaniment His Art, Has Died at 84 (WBGO)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Introducing Battle Trance

Today, let's take a look at some videos featuring performances from Battle Trance, who will be coming to St. Louis to play a concert presented by New Music Circle on Saturday, December 2 at The Luminary.

One could think of them as a saxophone quartet, but with a twist, as all four members - founder and leader Travis Laplante, Patrick Breiner, Matt Nelson and Jeremy Viner - play tenor sax, with no doubles on any other instruments.

This isn't entirely unprecedented - jazz history buffs may recall that back in the late 1940s, Woody Herman's "Second Herd" featured tenor saxophonists Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Herb Stewart and Jimmy Giuffre as the "Four Brothers" - but Battle Trance is making a very different type of sound, one that PopMatters has identified as "existing in the cracks between contemporary classical music, avant-garde jazz, black metal, ambient, and world music."

Formed in 2014, they've released two recordings, their debut Palace of Wind, and last year's Blade of Love. You can see them performing music from both albums in today's compilation of videos, starting up above with a segment of the album-length composition that makes up Palace of Wind, recorded in June 2015 at the Yellow Barn Music Festival in Brattleboro, VT.

After the jump, there are four short clips, ranging from under 2 to 10 minutes, excerpting shows from 2015 and '16 in Detroit; Silver Spring, MD; Brighton, MA, and NYC.

The last two videos both were recorded in January of this year at the Vandoren Studio in Los Angeles, CA, and feature a "live in the studio" performance of the first section of Blade of Love, and an interview with the group.

For more about Battle Trance, read's review of Palace of Wind, and's October 2016 feature story about them.

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

Friday, November 17, 2017

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* The St. Louis International Film Festival has posted on Facebook a photo album from the fest's screening of the documentary Mr Handy's Blues and accompanying musical performance.

* Tomorrow night's performance by singer Cécile McLorin Salvant (pictured) at the Sheldon Concert Hall is previewed by the St. Louis American's Kenya Vaughn.

* Yaqui's on Cherokee, which frequently features The Gaslight Squares and other local performers of vintage jazz, was featured in an article on the Regional Arts Commission website.

* The jazz program at UMSL, directed by bassist Jim Widner, has produced a new fund-raising video.

* The Funky Butt Brass Band's "Holiday Brasstravaganza" and new album are previewed in a St. Louis magazine article by Thomas Crone.

* Also in St. Louis magazine, another article by Thomas Crone previews this Sunday's debut performance by cornetist TJ Muller's Arcadia Jazz Orchestra.

* Singer Katie McGrath's Gaslight Cabaret Festival show was reviewed by KDHX's Chuck Lavazzi.

* Reaching back for some history about a St. Louis native, a new article in The Daily Beast looks back at "When Jazz Age Superstar Josephine Baker Spied on the Nazis."

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Funky Butt Brass Band showcases guest singers on new Christmas album

The Funky Butt Brass Band has released a new holiday-themed album, A Funky Butt Family Christmas.

The album (pictured) includes a remix of their original song “Because It’s Christmas” and  covers of seven more holiday songs, featuring some of the guest vocalists who have been part of the band's annual "Holiday Brasstravaganza' concerts at Off Broadway

The guest singers include Big Mike Aguirre, Steve Ewing, Dave Grelle, Al Holliday, Roland Johnson, Brian Owens and Emily Wallace. Along with the FBBB's six musicians, the album also features additional instrumental contributions from Grelle and Holliday on keyboards, Aguirre on guitar, Matt Henry on percussion and chimes, Ben Reece and Derick Tramel on saxophones, Matt Brinkmann on sousaphone, Emma Tiemann on violin, and Andy Hainz on cello.

A Funky Butt Family Christmas is on sale now at FBBB's live shows, and will be available within the next few days for order or download from iTunes and CDBaby. The 2018 Holiday Brasstravaganza will take place on Friday, December 15 and Saturday, December 16 at Off Broadway, and for the first time this year, will include a children's matinee on Saturday afternoon.

Jazz this week: Russell Gunn's "Blackhawk Revisited," Cécile McLorin Salvant, and more

There's some interesting jazz and creative music on local stages this week in St. Louis, including only the second local performance ever by a highly acclaimed young singer, and a re-examination of music from an oft-overlooked period of Miles Davis' career, courtesy of a trumpeter raised in Davis' hometown.

Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, November 15
Trumpeter Russell Gunn, who grew up in East St. Louis and now lives in Atlanta, will be back home with his "Blackhawk Revisited" project for the first of four nights, continuing through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro.

"Blackhawk Revisited" is dedicated to exploring the music of Miles Davis in the early 1960s, post-Kind of Blue and before the formation of his "Second Great Quintet." To lend authenticity and elder wisdom to the proceedings, Gunn (pictured, top left) has enlisted 88-year-old drummer Jimmy Cobb, who played with Davis during those years (and is the last participant from Kind of Blue still living) . You can find out more about the project, and see some videos of them in action, plus an interview with Cobb, in this post from last Saturday.

Elsewhere in the neighborhood, this week's "Grand Center Jazz Crawl" features guitarist Eric Slaughter and bassist Glen Smith at Squatters Cafe, the new name for the front half of The Stage at KDHX, plus the weekly jam session hosted by bassist Bob Deboo at the Kranzberg Arts Center, and trumpeter Kasimu Taylor and band at The Dark Room.

Thursday, November 16
The Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University presents a free concert featuring the "Arc of Light Ensemble," which includes guitarist and series curator William Lenihan, saxophonist Paul DeMarinis, trumpeter Randy Holmes, trombonist Wayne Coniglio, pianist Ptah Williams, bassist Paul Steinbeck, and drummer Montez Coleman.

Also on Thursday, the UMSL Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Lab Band, and choral group Vocal Point will give a free concert at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, trumpeter Jim Manley plays The Pat Connolly Tavern, and percussionist Joe Pastor returns to The Dark Room

Friday, November 17
Drummer Steve Davis' "Super Band" featuring singer Feyza Eren returns to the Webster Groves Concert Hall, while just down the street, The 442s will be back to perform at Cyrano's.

Elsewhere around town, the Sentimental Journey Big Band will play for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom, and Miss Jubilee returns to the Moonshine Blues Bar in St. Charles.

Saturday, November 18
Singer Cécile McLorin Salvant, one of the most talked-about jazz vocalists to emerge in the last decade, returns for a performance at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

With one Grammy Award for "Best Jazz Vocal Album" already in her trophy case at age 28, Salvant (pictured, bottom left) has a distinctive sound that is both rooted in the tradition and quite contemporary. You can find out more about her and see some videos of recent performances in this post from a couple of weeks ago.

Also on Saturday, saxophonist Jeanette Harris will play smooth jazz and R&B in two shows at .ZACK; Thaxton Speakeasy will celebrate ten years in business with an event aptly named "A Decade of Decadence," featuring music from Annie & the Fur Trappers; and saxophonist Dave Stone and his trio are performing at Thurman's in Shaw.

Sunday, November 19
It's a Sunday made for matinees, as the St. Louis Jazz Club presents the Funky Butt Brass Band at the DoubleTree Hotel in Westport, while the Midwest Jazz-tette will bring their West Coast sound to the Webster Groves Concert Hall.

If you're looking to make it a full day of music, you can catch either one of those gigs and probably still make it to the debut performance of the Arcadia Dance Orchestra, a new 11-piece vintage jazz group fronted by cornetist and singer TJ Muller, at The Stage at KDHX.

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, November 13, 2017

Kirk Whalum's "Gospel According to Jazz" set for Sunday, December 10 at Friendly Temple

Saxophonist Kirk Whalum is bringing his "A Gospel According to Jazz Christmas" concert back to St. Louis for a performance at 7:00 p.m. Sunday,  December 10 at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church

Whalum (pictured) released his first "Gospel According to Jazz" recording back in 1998, with three more albums added to the series over the years, and began touring the Christmas show in 2012. This year's edition also will feature singer and guitarist Jonathan Butler, singers Sheléa, John Stoddart and Kevin Whalum (who is Kirk's brother), and special guests.

Tickets for the concert are priced at $20 balcony, $35 floor, and $50 for VIP seating, and are on sale now via the Friendly Temple office and bookstore and online.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday Session: November 12, 2017

John McLaughlin
Here's the roundup of various music-related items of interest that have appeared in StLJN's inbox over the past week:

* Let's face the facts: Facebook controls classical music (
* Arts Critics Are Disappearing From Newspapers. Or, Wait, Is That The Good News? (
* A Hard Day's Night: Solving a Beatles mystery with mathematics (
* Essential Solos: 40 Great Improvisations (Jazz Times)
* Van Morrison Announces New Album 'Versatile' (Rolling Stone)
* Field Notes: John McLaughlin & Jimmy Herring in NYC - Thinking about a jazz-guitar icon’s U.S. farewell tour (Jazz Times)
* Joni Mitchell Talks Exes, Addictions and Music in Candid, All-Access Biography (Rolling Stone)
* The demons and obsessions of jazz genius Thelonious Monk (The Guardian)
* Critic bashing - Defending the Music Media (
* Blue Note Records Unveils a New Subscription Boxed Set Series, Blue Note Review (WBGO)
* The Strange World Of... Linda Sharrock (
* The rise of ‘three-car garage rock’ (
* Why the indie band never dies: fake breakups, permanent adolescence and cash comebacks (The Guardian)
* Bill Frisell Receives Honorary Degree and Is Subject of Film (Jazz Times)
* I went to see La Monte Young playing in his New York loft, and you should do the same (
* 'Only 17th-century industrial bluegrass will do': your favourite weird records (The Guardian)
* 'Their DNA is forever ingrained in the keys' - Roman Rabinovich on playing composers' own pianos (
* After Six Decades in the Vault, 'Ella at Zardi's' Brings New Shine to Ella Fitzgerald's Centennial (WBGO)
* Malleable Structures: An Interview with Tyshawn Sorey (
* How Concert Ticket Prices Vary Across the U.S. (
* The Many Faces of Jazz Today: The Big Picture (
* Return of the Top 40 Troubadour: How Singer-Songwriters Reclaimed Pop Radio (Billboard)
* Pat Metheny: Driving Forces (
* ‘In five seconds my life changed. I was worse than the worst jazz snob’ (Irish Times)
* A Jazz Centennial of a Seamier Sort: The End of Storyville, As Remembered Through the Ages (WBGO)
* Paul Buckmaster, Essential Arranger for David Bowie and Elton John, Dead at 71 (Rolling Stone)
* Meet Rufus Harley, the First Jazz Bagpiper (
* Herbie Hancock: ‘I like to discover new rules so I can break them’ (The Guardian)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Russell Gunn's Blackhawk Revisited

Today, let's check out some videos featuring trumpeter and East St. Louis native Russell Gunn, who's bringing his "Blackhawk Revisited" project to St. Louis to perform starting next Wednesday, November 15 through Saturday, November 18 at Jazz at the Bistro.

The word "Blackhawk" in this case refers not to the hockey team, the comic-book hero, or the helicopter, but to the Black Hawk nightclub in San Francisco where Miles Davis in 1961 recorded In Person Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk, which turned out to be one of the more enduring live albums of his long career.

Since his death in 1991, musicians frequently have paid tribute to Davis by revisiting and sometimes re-imagining music from Kind of Blue, Birth of the Cool, and Davis' post-1967 electric bands. In contrast, this time period - between the recording of KoB and the formation of Davis' "Second Great Quintet" a few years later - has remained relatively under-examined, making Gunn's interest in it that much more notable.

The trumpeter's engagement with Davis' music from the turn of the '60s also gets a significant boost in authenticity from the presence of Jimmy Cobb, the 88-year-old drummer who's the last living participant from the Kind of Blue sessions and will be in the band for Gunn's shows at the Bistro.

So how close do they get to the sound of Miles' band in 1961? You can decide for yourself by checking out today's videos, starting up above with a clip of "So What" recorded in November 2015 at the Velvet Note in Atlanta, with Gunn, Cobb, pianist Kevin Bales, saxophonist Mike Walton, and bassist Kevin Smith.

After the jump, there's a version of Thelonious Monk's "Well, You Needn't" - another staple of Davis' repertoire in the late 1950s and early '60s - recorded at the same gig.

Below that, there are two full sets of the "Blackhawk Revisited" band in action, the first featuring Gunn, Cobb, Bales, saxophonist Morgan Guerin, and bassist Corcoran Holt in October 2016 at Dizzy's Club in NTC's Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the second from the 2015 Atlanta Jazz Festival, with Gunn, Bales, Walton, Smith, and Kinah Botto Ayah in for Cobb on the drums.

Next up are three videos that show Gunn working out on three more tunes associated with Davis - "Solar," "Walkin'" and "Blue in Green" - recorded at various jam sessions in 2017 and 2016 at Churchill Grounds in Atlanta.

Finally, the last video features an interview with Jimmy Cobb, recorded in November 2014 at SubCulture in New York for NYU's Steinhardt Jazz Interview Series, in which Cobb discusses his career, his time with Davis, and other topics.

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