Thursday, May 07, 2009

Jazz this week: Tony Bennett, Umoja Orchestra, Erin Bode, Denise Thimes, a tribute to Kind of Blue, and more

There's a nice range of choices over the next few days for fans of jazz and creative music in St. Louis, from the swinging sounds of a classic crooner to the percussive gumbo of a young twelve-member ensemble blending jazz, funk, Latin, African music and more. Let's go to the highlights:

Tonight, there's a tribute to the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue at the Missouri History Museum, with the Legacy Jazz Quintet performing and discussing compositions from the historic album. Admission is free and open to the public. (Note also that since StLJN's previous post about the show, the starting time has been pushed back an hour, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.)

On Friday, singer Tony Bennett (pictured) takes the stage at the Fox Theatre. For most folks, Bennett really needs no further introduction, but I did take on the task of summing him up for the uninitiated in a Critic's Pick for this week's Riverfront Times, which you can read online here. If you'd just like to enjoy some video clips of him, check out this post from last Saturday. Tickets for this show originally were offered as pledge drive premiums by local PBS affiliate KETC, but as of this writing, the Metrotix Web site indicates that some seats are still available for purchase.

Also on Friday, singer Erin Bode and her band return to Jazz at the Bistro. Bode is, as regular readers of the site doubtless already know, a local favorite, and usually draws a good crowd to the Bistro even during periods when she and her band are performing regularly at other venues around town. Perhaps that's because the Bistro's listening room policy provides a better showcase for the quieter, more intimate aspects of her music than some of those other spots. Regardless, expect a crowd for the personable young vocalist and her ever-evolving ensemble.

Meanwhile, there a whole lot of smooth jazz saxophone playing in the offing this weekend at the St. Louis Jazz Cafe with Readus Miller tonight, Rosmon J on Friday and Tim Cunningham on Saturday. The Cafe also will have not one, but two duos performing for Mother's Day brunch: The Usual Suspects duo with singer and saxophonist Jessica Butler and keyboardist Charles Brown, and 2Smooth, with saxophonist Rod Tate and guitarist Gregg Haynes.

And speaking of Mother's Day, Sunday is also the date for singer Denise Thimes' annual Mother's Day show at the Sheldon Concert Hall, with proceeds once again benefiting the Mildred Thimes Foundation, named after Denise Thimes' mother. There's a buffet before the late-afternoon concert, but ticket buyers who don't wish to dine can purchase admission to the concert only.

Also on Sunday, there's a fundraiser at Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center to benefit LNACs new music education program, "Orchestrating Diversity". The event features desserts and drinks, plus music from a chamber ensemble supplied by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, electronic musician Eric Hall, and a jazz combo with Jazz St. Louis' Phil Dunlap on piano, saxophonist Andy Ament of Utter Chaos, singer Brian Owens, and others.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Tuesday the funk/jazz/Afrobeat group Umoja Orchestra performs at The Gramophone. With a dozen musicians, this band from Gainesville, FL produces a thickly layered sound featuring prominent brass, reeds and percussion. For more about them, please see this post.

That same evening, the Jazz St. Louis CD Listening Club will have its monthly meeting at Borders in Brentwood. This month's featured CD is Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, with JSL's Gene Dobbs Bradford and Dr. Gerald Early of Washington University leading the discussion.

For more jazz-related events in St. Louis 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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