Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Jazz this week: Omaha Diner, Eliane Elias, Stanley Clarke, Susan Werner, and more

It's shaping up to be another busy week for jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with a handful of visiting headliners in town at various venues, a couple of homecoming shows featuring former St. Louisans, and a full schedule of performances from local players as well. Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, November 18
The quartet Omaha Diner (pictured, top left), featuring guitarist Charlie Hunter, saxophonist Skerik, drummer Bobby Previte, and trumpeter Eric Bloom, makes their St. Louis debut in the first of four nights at Jazz at the Bistro.

As an ensemble, they're both high concept - performing nothing but songs that have reached number one on the Billboard pop charts - and loose-limbed, taking considerable liberties with the material while still maintaining the sort of funky grooves associated with Hunter, who, in his customary fashion, simultaneously provides both bass lines and chords. To get a better idea of what this actually sounds like, you can see and hear Omaha Diner in action in this video post from last Saturday.

Thursday, November 19
Guitarist Vincent Varvel plays a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University.

Friday, November 20
Singer/songwriter Susan Werner closes out the fall series of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival with the first of two performances at the Gaslight Theater; Dreaming in Colour will play jazz-fusion at the Ozark Theatre; and the contemporary chamber ensemble Alarm Will Sound returns to the Sheldon Concert Hall with a program of music from St. Louis composers including pianist Peter Martin, Wash U music professor Christopher Stark, and multimedia artist and activist Damon Davis.

Also on Friday, Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will be swinging at Backstreet Jazz & Blues in Westport; the Sentimental Journey Dance Band plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom; and the Funky Butt Brass Band will be back for their regular monthly gig at Broadway Oyster Bar.

Saturday, November 21
Pianist and singer Eliane Elias returns to St. Louis for the first time since 2010 for a performance at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

The Brazilian-born Elias (pictured, center left) first gained wide recognition outside her home country in the 1980s as a member of the fusion band Steps Ahead. She subsequently teamed up with her ex-husband, trumpet player Randy Brecker, for a number of albums mixing straight-ahead, contemporary and Brazilian jazz before going solo with a varied menu of projects that have ranged from a big-band album arranged by Bob Brookmeyer to a tribute to pianist Bill Evans.

Elias has spend a good portion of this year touring in support of her most recent album Made In Brazil, which came out last spring and marked the first time she had gone back to her home country to record since moving to the United States in 1981. You can read more about that in the interview Elias did in August with Keyboard magazine.

Also on Saturday night, bassist Stanley Clarke will be playing at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. Clarke, who was here last year at The Pageant, just wrapped up a two-week run at the Blue Note in NYC that included guest appearances from drummer Lenny White and pianists McCoy Tyner and George Cables.

He also has a new album out this month, a trio recording with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and guitarist Biréli Lagrène called D-Stringz. For the show at the Touhill, though, Clarke (pictured, lower left) will perform with the current version of his electric band, which includes pianist Beka Gochiashvili, keyboardist Cameron Graves, and drummer Michael Mitchell.

Elsewhere on Saturday night, guitarist Tom Byrne and singer Erika Johnson take the stage at Thurman Grill; singer, actor and St. Louis native Craig Pomranz is back home from NYC to perform his cabaret show "Love Takes Time" at Cyrano's; and singer Danita Mumphard will be interpreting the music of Whitney Houston at the Ozark Theatre.

Sunday November 22
Trumpeter Ally Hany returns home from NYC to celebrate the release of her first album Journeys Ahead with a performance at Ferring Jazz Bistro, and Jay Hutson and Da Wolvez will play at Nathalie's.

Monday November 23
Dizzy Atmosphere plays Gypsy jazz and swing at The Shaved Duck, and trumpeter Keith Moyer and band will perform at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups.

Tuesday November 24
Genesis Jazz Project will play a benefit concert for the Circle of Concern Food Pantry at the Midwest Music Conservatory in Ballwin; and student jazz ensembles from Webster Groves High School will perform in a fundraiser for the school's music programs at Highway 61 Roadhouse.

For more jazz-related events in and around St. Louis, please visit the St. Louis Jazz Notes Calendar, which can be found on the left sidebar of the site or by clicking here. You also can keep up with all the latest news by following St. Louis Jazz Notes on Twitter at or clicking the "Like" icon on the StLJN Facebook page.

(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 after posting to correct info on this week's Jazz at Holmes show. 

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