Friday, August 26, 2011

Miles Davis Festival regroups with sessions at BB's on August 29, September 11

A group of student musicians from East St. Louis High School will team up with three seasoned pros from the St. Louis jazz scene to pay tribute to Miles Davis at two performances taking place at 7:00 p.m. Monday, August 29 and 7:00 p.m. Sunday, September 11 at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups.

The "Miles To Go" ensemble assembled by ESL HS band director Delano Redmond includes trumpeter Brady Lewis; saxophonists Carlos Brown Jr., and Garrell Lewis; trombonist Javier Staples; bassist Marvin Cooper; and drummers Everette Benton and Kayla Coates. They'll be joined for the two performances at BB's by three veteran professional musicians - trumpeter Anthony Wiggins (pictured) and pianist Adaron "Pops" Jackson, both alumni of East St. Louis' Lincoln High School, and saxophonist Willie Akins.

Both events are being presented under the banner of the Miles Davis Festival, which at a news conference in May at BB's announced an ambitious schedule of events for this summer and fall in St. Louis to coincide with the 85th anniversary of Davis' birth. The festival as originally proposed was to have included a series of performances by up-and-coming musicians at the Metropolitan Gallery under the auspices of the Nu-Art Series; an outdoor concert at a golf course in Illinois; a concert and art exhibit at the Sheldon Concert Hall and Galleries; and a giveaway of a deluxe CD box set collecting all of Davis' recordings for the Columbia label.

As it turns out, none of those events will happen, which festival organizer Deborah Granger, an East St. Louis native who now lives in Los Angeles, attributes to a lack of sponsors willing to underwrite the festival. Although the late trumpeter's estate and Sony/Legacy both ostensibly gave their blessings to the concept, financial support was supposed to have come from local businesses, foundations and other funders in the St. Louis area. With only a couple of months to fundraise in an economy still suffering from recession, Granger said she was unable to secure that support, which in turn has cast doubt on future plans. "We did want to launch an annual event, but that right now is up in the air," said Granger. "I'm wondering if St. Louis wants a Miles Davis Festival. "

(Edited after posting.)

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