Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Jazz this week: The Bad Plus, budget-friendly local listening, and more

The first part of January typically is a slow time of year for touring bands, and so The Bad Plus (pictured) have the local field virtually to themselves in that regard this week, as they return to St. Louis to perform through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro.

Almost always entertaining and/or interesting, occasionally controversial, the Bad Plus have proved to be one of the more buzzworthy groups in jazz over the last few years, re-conceiving the piano trio format to their own specifications and doing improvisational interpretations of unexpected songs with origins in pop, rock and techno. For more about on The Bad Plus, check out the Jazz St. Louis podcast interview with the band, as well as last Saturday's video post here at StLJN.

The Bad Plus may be the only major touring jazz group in St. Louis this week, but they're far from the only band worthy of your attention, as many of our local stalwarts also are working diligently at their usual gigs. Note also, O cash-strapped and recession-wary music lovers, that most of these local gigs are very affordable, with some fine music available for a modest cover and/or the cost of a couple of drinks or, in some cases, absolutely free.

For example, if you're a big band fan or a swing dancer, a few bucks will get you in to see the Original Knights of Swing big band on Friday at Casa Loma Ballroom. If you like soulful singers, on Saturday vocalist Kim Massie brings her potent brew of blues, jazz, pop and whatever else she feels like singing to Brandt's.

If small combo jazz is more your speed, there's saxophonist Dave Stone's trio on Friday at Mangia Italiano; saxophonist Willie Akins' group on Saturday at Spruill's; a Sunday jazz brunch with trumpeter Jim Manley and keyboardist Mark Friedricks at Jimmy's on the Park; and the Sunday evening session with the St. Louis New Jazz X-Tet at Riddle's.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday the Sessions Big Band does their first gig of 2009 at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups, and on Tuesday, Utter Chaos returns for another no-cover-charge show at The Gramophone.

Also on Tuesday, the Des Lee Big Band Jazz Festival takes place at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. This free event featuring three student jazz ensembles - a high school honors band and groups from McKinley Classical and Academic Middle School and St. Gabriel the Archangel School - in concert "performing big band standards as a culminating activity of an all-day festival of clinics, master classes and rehearsals."

And coming up on Wednesday, the Jazz St. Louis CD Listening Club has its monthly meeting at Borders, 1519 S. Brentwood Blvd in Brentwood. This month, KMOV-TV anchor/reporter Russell Kinsaul and Jazz St. Louis' Gene Dobbs Bradford will discuss Dave Brubeck's landmark album Time Out with the assembled throng.

For more jazz-related events in the St. Louis area this weekend and beyond, please visit the St. Louis Jazz Notes Calendar.

(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.)

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