Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Jazz this week: Blue Note 7, Pat Martino, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and more

There's lots going on in St. Louis this week with regard to jazz and creative music, and yr. humble editor's time is somewhat short today due to other pressing business, so let's go right to the highlights:

Tonight, guitarist Pat Martino (pictured) and his trio, featuring organist Tony Monaco, open a four-night engagement at Jazz at the Bistro, with two sets a night through Saturday. For more about Martino, including some video clips, see this post from a couple of weeks ago.

On Thursday night, Washington University's Jazz at Holmes series resumes with a free concert from the Todd Mosby Group.

Then on Friday, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band will bring their traditional New Orleans sound to Powell Symphony Hall for a Mardi Gras-themed concert. (For more about St. Louis' local Mardi Gras events over the next few days, go here or here.) Also on Friday is the opening reception for the Sheldon Art Galleries' "Visions of Sound" exhibit of musical instruments, which was covered earlier by StLJN here.

On Saturday, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra will honor singer Mae "Lady Jazz" Wheeler during a special concert at Powell Hall celebrating Black History Month. Singers Denise Thimes, Zella Jackson Price and Skeet Rogers will pay tribute to Wheeler, with Brian Owens serving as MC. The program also will feature the SLSO's In Unison Chorus, directed by Robert Ray, and will include orchestral works from Still and Beethoven as well as James Weldon Johnson's "Lift Every Voice And Sing."

That same evening, just down the street at the Kranzberg Arts Center, keyboardist and electronic musician James Hegarty will debut his new ensemble Off-Topic, which also includes saxophonist Dave Stone, percussionist Henry Claude and bassist Willem von Hombrecht. From the program description sent out by New Music Circle, it sounds like they'll be working at the intersection of free improv, jazz and contemporary classical. If you like that style of music, this gig seems quite promising.

Also on Saturday: The Southwestern Illinois College Jazz Festival in Belleville, which will feature a day of performances by student bands from schools in Metro East, and culminating in an free evening concert spotlighting the fest's guest artist, bassist Rodney Whitaker, with Reggie Thomas on piano, Marty Morrison on drums and Rick Haydon on guitar. Whitaker also will present a clinic/master class at 1:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

Then on Sunday night, the Blue Note 7 perform at the Sheldon Concert Hall. For more about this all-star ensemble and their tour commemorating the 70th anniversary of Blue Note records, plus videos of performances by the individual members of the group, see this post from last Saturday. (UPDATE: 12:00 p.m., 2/22/09 - The Post-Dispatch's Calvin Wilson previewed the Blue Note 7 concert in an interesting story for Sunday's paper that includes quotes from the band's pianist, Bill Charlap, and producer Michal Cuscuna. For some reason, the article isn't being promoted on the front page of the Post's Web site STLtoday, but you can read it online here.)

Also on Sunday, Bud Shultz and the You Can't Beat Experience Jazz Band will present their monthly performance of traditional jazz in a matinee session at VFW Hall in Alton.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday morning singer Mardra Thomas and pianist Reggie Thomas will do a "Coffee Concert" at the Sheldon. (The program repeats at the same time on Tuesday.) Then on Monday night, the Webster University Big Band performs at Winifred Moore Auditorium on the Webster campus.

As always, these are just a few of the performances going on around town over the next few days; for more jazz-related events 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.)

(Updated 2/19/09 to add info on two more events on Saturday.)

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