Sunday, March 29, 2009

Notes from the Net: Rare Miles Davis photos online; Greg Osby, Bela Fleck reviewed; plus interviews, festival news, and more

Here's our weekly compilation of news and links related to jazz, improvisation, and creative music in St. Louis, including news of musicians originally from the Gateway City, recent visitors, and coming attractions, plus assorted other items of interest:

* There's some tasty Miles Davis-related material this week, courtesy of Lockwood & Summit, the staff blog of Euclid Records (and a site yr. humble editor hereby resolves to visit more frequently). Store owner, co-blogger and jazz fan Joe Schwab has written about Davis several times since the first of the year, most recently posting part one of the audio of a 1953 radio interview of the trumpeter by DJ Harry Frost on East St. Louis radio station KXLW.

L&S also has run some rare photographs of Davis, including a picture of him at Lincoln High School in 1944, and a number of photos shot by Bernie Thrasher, a St. Louis jazz fan and amateur photographer who took pictures at many jazz shows here, mostly during the 1950s. Two posts document a Davis gig (with John Coltrane on tenor) at the St. Louis club Peacock Alley, and several others show off previously uncirculated vintage photos of Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker and others.

In more Miles-related news, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Davis' landmark album Kind of Blue, Stanford University is presenting “50 Years of Kind of Blue: A Live Jazz Laboratory” on Saturday, April 18 on the Stanford campus, and Doug Ramsey's Rifftides had a compilation of Miles Davis quotes last week.

* Saxophonist and St. Louis native Greg Osby's composition "The Single Petal of a Rose" from his St. Louis Shoes CD was reviewed by as part of their ongoing series of reviews of single tracks (as opposed to entire CDs). Osby will be in St. Louis in two weeks for an educational residency with Jazz St. Louis and performances on April 10 and 11 at Jazz at the Bistro .

* And speaking of saxophonists, here's a recent video interview with former Webster University student turned tireless avant garde composer, performer and impresario John Zorn.

* Turning to the "coming attractions" file, has an interesting piece in which pianist Eric Reed discusses the impact of religious faith on his career as a jazz musician. Reed has recorded for the St. Louis-based label MAXJAZZ, and will be here next week to perform in "The Genius of Eddie Jefferson" at the Bistro.

* Here's a review from of a March 19 show at Yoshi's in Oakland pairing banjo master Bela Fleck and kora player Toumani Diabante on . Both men will perform at the Sheldon Concert Hall this Wednesday, April 1 as part of Fleck's Africa Project tour.

* Trumpeter Sean Jones, who's set to perform at the Bistro from April 15-18, has released a new CD, The Search Within.

* Guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli recently went on Seattle NPR affiliate KPLU to perform a few songs and talk about Richard Rodgers, George Gershwin and the "Great American Songbook." You can listen to an online stream of the broadcast here. Pizzarelli will be in town on Saturday, April 18 as part of the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

* Guitarist John Jorgenson (pictured), who's bringing his Django Reinhardt-inspired quintet to the Sheldon in April, recently did an interview and live performance on a local talk show on the Washington, DC NBC affiliate. You can see a video of the segment online here. (Note: The link launches an embedded video player containing a .wmv (Windows Media) file.)

* Opening the "recent visitors" file, saxophonist Javon Jackson, seen here last fall at the Bistro with keyboardist Les McCann, was interviewed by DJ and blogger Leroy "The Jazzcat" Downs; you'll find the conversation in Downs' archives here.

* The Bad Plus, who opened 2009 at the Bistro, were in Philadelphia last week and were the subjects of two feature stories in the local papers.

* From the "Everybody likes free stuff" file: Down Beat magazine is offering online readers the chance to win free trips to the Telluride and Litchfield Jazz Festivals. The packages include airfare, lodging and tickets to the festival. The Telluride Jazz Festival in Colorado runs from June 5-7, and you can enter the Telluride contest here. The Litchfield Jazz Festival in Connecticut runs from July 31-August 2, and you can enter the Litchfield contest here

* And speaking of festivals, a recent article in the New York Times asked the question, "Will New York have a major jazz festival this summer?" It seems that "concert promoters, booking agents and others in the jazz world say that because of the economy and a rift between Festival Network and the impresario George Wein, it is possible that New York will lack a big festival for the first time in 37 years." You can read the whole Times article here, and Howard Mandel has more on the Wein-vs-Festival Network dispute here.

* NYC's festival woes notwithstanding, upstate in Rochester they've got big plans for the eighth annual Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, featuring headliners such as Smokey Robinson, Dave Brubeck, St. Louis native Michael McDonald and Taj Mahal as part of a nine-day event held June 12-20.

Impressively, the Rochester fest will include more than 800 musicians performing in 200-plus concerts, which raises a question: How is it that Rochester - which I'm sure is a nice place filled with fine folks, but is neither a major metropolis nor a particularly significant historic center of jazz activity - is able to successfully mount a festival on this scale, while the St. Louis Jazz and Heritage Festival, which actually began the year before the Rochester event, has been reduced to going "on hiatus" for 2009 because they were unable to marshal the necessary resources and/or moxie to organize a single day of programming? I'm just sayin'...

* Following up on last week's item about the possible demise of famed Detroit jazz club Baker's Keyboard Lounge, Clayton McDonnell of MAXJAZZ sent along a link to an item from the Los Angeles Times noting that long-running LA venue the Jazz Bakery has lost its lease. Fortunately, the Jazz Bakery's operators seem to have both the interest and the funding to re-open in a new location, though exactly where is unknown at this time. You can read the whole story here.

* Last, but not least, the UK newspaper the Guardian is running an ongoing series of articles about 50 key moments in jazz that defined the music's history. It';s the sort of thing that, even if you disagree with some of the specifics picks, provides some entertaining food for thought and/or discussion. The home page for the Guardian's "50 Great Moments In Jazz" series is here.

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