Friday, December 15, 2017

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

Here's StLJN's latest wrap-up of assorted links and short news items of local interest:

* Record megalabel Columbia/Legacy last week announced the release of a sixth volume in their "Bootleg Series" of Miles Davis live recordings.

Miles Davis & John Coltrane - The Final Tour is a four-CD set (pictured) documenting five shows from Davis' 1960 tour of Europe, and is set for release on Friday, March 23, 2018.

* A story in UMSL Daily details the upcoming travels of the UMSL Big Band directed by Jim Widner, including a trip next week to Chicago for the annual Midwest Clinic and appearances in January at the Jazz Education Network convention in Dallas and the Missouri Music Educators Association conference at the Lake of the Ozarks.

* Singer, actor and Belleville native Lea DeLaria was the subject of a feature story on the website OutInStL.com. DeLaria, who's starred on Broadway and in cabaret, TV, and film, will make her debut at Jazz at the Bistro with shows on Wednesday, December 27 and Thursday, December 28 that also will feature singer Janis Siegel of Manhattan Transfer as a guest performer.

* The STL Free Jazz Collective has posted to YouTube a video of their complete performance with multi-instrumentalist Douglas Ewart earlier this month at the 14th St. Artist Community. 

* Also on YouTube, saxophonist Eric Person has posted a video from his show with fellow saxophonist Houston Person in March of this year at Dizzy's Club in NYC.

* The Sheldon has posted to Facebook a photo album from the Spanish Harlem Orchestra's performance there last week.

* Guitarist Dave Black's upcoming album, a collaboration with blues guitarists Tom Hall and Brian Curran, is previewed in a Riverfront Times story by Thomas Crone.

* Also in the RFT, the Funky Butt Brass Band's "Holiday Brasstravaganza" and their new Christmas album are the subjects of a brief feature story by Christian Schaeffer.

* Right Up On, saxophonist/composer Oliver Lake's recent recording in collaboration with the FLUX Quartet, made the New York Times' recently published list of "The 25 Best Classical Music Recordings of 2017."

* Singer Debby Lennon's latest theatrical role, as tone-deaf diva Florence Foster Jenkins in Max and Louis Productions' upcoming staging of the musical Souvenir, is the subject of a short feature by St. Louis Post-Dispatch theater critic Judith Newmark.

* Percussionist Moacyr Marchini of Samba Bom will lead a series of eight Brazilian percussion workshops for adult students beginning Wednesday, January 10 at Lucha in Grand Center. For more info about the workshops and how to sign up, go here.

* The venerable Edwardsville drinking spot Laurie's Place, which in recent months has featured a jazz jam session on Tuesday nights, will close at the end of this year.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Dweezil Zappa to perform
Tuesday, May 8 at The Ready Room

Guitarist Dweezil Zappa will be returning to St. Louis next year to perform at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 8 at The Ready Room.

Zappa (pictured), the son of guitarist and composer Frank Zappa, has been touring and playing his father's music for the past decade using the name Zappa Plays Zappa, with his last performance in St. Louis having been in October 2016 at The Ready Room.

Since then, he's become involved in a dispute with the Zappa Family Trust, the legal entity that controls the rights to Frank Zappa's image, music, and other intellectual property and that now is headed by Dweezil's brother Ahmet and sister Diva.

Though a complete recounting of the details is beyond the scope of a short blog post, the gist of the problem is that the ZFT wants Dweezil Zappa to pay to license future live performances of his father's music, as well as a cut of his merchandise sales. Dweezil, understandably, finds this unfair, since in recent years he's dedicated most of his working life to keeping FZ's music before the public via frequent touring, while bearing all the expenses of putting a band together and taking it on the road.

The immediate result of the disagreement was that Dweezil stopped using the name Zappa Plays Zappa for his group, and instead toured in 2017 as "50 Years of Frank: Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the F@%K He Wants." This fall, the latest twists in the saga have included a new proposal from Dweezil to resolve the situation, and an announcement from the ZFT sanctioning something called "Frank Zappa – Back On The Road: The Hologram Tour" that supposedly will begin sometime in 2018.

Will the Zappa family's internal dispute be resolved by next May? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, tickets for Dweezil Zappa at The Ready Room are $25 in advance for general admission, $50 for a "VIP Soundcheck Party" that includes a 45-minute event before the doors open and a show poster, and are on sale now via Ticketfly.

Jeter Thompson 1930 - 2017

Pianist Jeter Thompson, whose leadership of the groups Quartette Trés Bien and Trio Trés Bien made him a significant figure on the St. Louis jazz scene from the Gaslight Square era into the 21st century, died on Friday, December 1. He was 87 years old.

Born in St. Louis on March 16, 1930, Thompson (pictured, top left) started playing piano at five years old, and made his first professional appearance at age 16 in 1946, performing with saxophonist Emmett Carter at a downtown club called the Coconut Grove.

He went to Sumner High School, where in 1948 he was senior class president, and subsequently attended Stowe College for two years, earning an associates degree. He then joined the U. S. Air Force, serving in Korea.

Returning home in 1954, Thompson played various local gigs until the formation in 1959 of Quartette Trés Bien, which in its best-known lineup included bassist Richard Simmons, drummer Albert St. James, and percussionist Percy James.

The group (pictured, center left) became a popular attraction in the then-booming Gaslight Square entertainment district, serving as the house band at The Dark Side, where in 1962 they were filmed as part of an episode of the CBS drama Route 66.

In 1963, Thompson and his bandmates became partners in the Trés Bien Club, located on the south side of Olive St. near the Gaslight Club. Around that same time, they were approached by Norman Wienstroer to record for his St. Louis-based label Norman Records.

The group made two albums for Norman, Boss Trés Bien and Kilimanjaro, and in 1965 also backed singer Jeanne Trevor on her debut recording for the label. Wienstroer subsequently helped the Quartette gain the attention of Decca Records, which re-issued their first two albums and would release eight more recordings of them over the next few years.

With an assist from fellow St. Louisan Dick Gregory, whose standup comedy career was peaking at the same time, Quartette Trés Bien also became a touring band. They appeared with Gregory at the Apollo in Harlem; on a bill with Thelonious Monk at the It Club in Los Angeles (where Monk would make a famous live recording for Columbia Records); and as headliners at storied jazz spots of the 1960s including the Plugged Nickel in Chicago, Baker's Keyboard Lounge in Detroit, Crawford's Grill in Pittsburgh, The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, CA, and many others.

Back home in St. Louis, they performed with singer Sarah Vaughan at Powell Hall, and appeared on bills with singer Nancy Wilson and the Count Basie Orchestra.

In 1973, with Gaslight Square a distant memory and jazz clubs closing around the nation, Quartette Tres Bien dissolved. Thompson worked as a cartographer for the U.S. Defense Mapping Agency and as a real estate agent, and went on to form Trio Tres Bien with his brothers, bassist Harold Thompson and drummer Howard Thompson.

Trio Trés Bien (pictured, bottom left) found ample work locally playing clubs, concerts and private events, and in 2004 issued a self-released album, Coming Together. They continued to perform into the 2010s, sometimes with Harold's daughter, vocalist Danita Mumphard.

In 2014, Trio Trés Bien was inducted into the St. Louis Jazz Hall of Fame at Harris-Stowe State University's Wolfe Jazz Institute.

In addition to his brothers and niece, Jeter Thompson is survived by his wife, Louisa; his daughters Donna Patton and Pamela Cobb; his sister, Patricia Whitelocke; and, to quote his obituary in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren."

Arrangements were by Austin Layne Normandy Chapel, and a funeral was held on Friday, December 8 at St. Louis Bible Way Baptist Church.

Information for this story came from City of Gabriels: The History of Jazz in St. Louis 1895-1973 by Dennis Owsley; That St. Louis Thing, Part 2 by Bruce R. Olson; and http://www.tresbienmusic.com/.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Jazz this week: Take 6, Tatsuya Nakatani, Bonerama, Xmas jazz around town, and more

It's going to be a busy few days for jazz and creative music in St. Louis, and though a couple of high-profile shows are sold out (or nearly so), there's still going to be plenty of music - holiday and other - available on local stages. Let's go to the highlights.

Wednesday, December 13
Acappella vocal group Take 6 returns for the first of four nights at Jazz at the Bistro. The run of shows was described by Jazz St. Louis on Tuesday as "nearly sold out," so if you want to hear the multiple Grammy winners in the intimate confines of the Bistro, you'll definitely need to call ahead for advance reservations, and perhaps a bit of luck as well.

As an alternative, you can see a live video stream of Wednesday's shows in the first floor lounge on the west side of Jazz St. Louis HQ, available with no cover charge in conjunction with the free, weekly "Grand Center Jazz Crawl".

This week's crawl also features the Jazz Troubadours at The Stage at KDHX, plus the jam session led by bassist Bob DeBoo at the Kranzberg Arts Center and trumpeter Kasimu Taylor's band at The Dark Room.

Also on Wednesday, the musical show "An Unforgettable Nat King Cole Christmas" resumes its run,  continuing with performances through Sunday afternoon at the Playhouse at Westport Plaza.

Thursday, December 14
Singer Dianne Reeves, who had been scheduled to headline "Gospel Christmas: A Soulful Celebration" with the St. Louis Symphony at Powell Hall, announced on Thursday that she would be unable to perform due to an unspecified health issue. Simultaneously, the SLSO announced that the show would go on as scheduled, with St. Louis' own Brian Owens standing in for Reeves.

Also on Thursday, singer Erin Bode will be in Edwardsville for a holiday concert at the Wildey Theatre; guitarist Dave Black will play at The Pat Connolly Tavern; and trumpeter Keith Moyer and his quintet return to The Dark Room

Friday, December 15
Percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani (pictured, top left) will be back for what has become an annual convening here of his Gong Orchestra, in which he teams up with and trains a group of local musicians in specific techniques for each performance.  This year's edition, presented at the William A Kerr Foundation on the riverfront, will feature a solo percussion set by Nakatani, followed by the Gong Orchestra set with him and 14 collaborators from St. Louis.

Also on Friday, the Funky Butt Brass Band kicks off their annual "Holiday Brasstravaganza" weekend at Off Broadway. As of this writing, a few tickets may remain for Friday, but the Saturday night show and a newly added, family friendly Saturday matinee are already sold out.

Elsewhere around town, the Original Knights of Swing play for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom; singer Feyza Eren performs at the house concert venue KindaBlue Club; and Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will play vintage swing, jump blues and more at the Venice Cafe

Saturday, 
December 16
New Orleans' trombone-centric band Bonerama (pictured, bottom left) returns to perform at The Bootleg at Atomic Cowboy.

Currently touring in support of their new album Hot Like Fire - their first release as part of a new deal with New Orleans' Basin Street Records - Bonerama have been regular visitors to St. Louis for most of this decade, playing at venues including the Old Rock House, Broadway Oyster Bar and The Sheldon. If you've missed out on their brass/funk/rock sound up until now, you can find our more and see some video samples of recent performances in this post from last Saturday

Also on Saturday, Wack-A-Doo returns to Evangeline's; saxophonist Dave Stone's trio will play at Thurman's in Shaw; and Miss Jubilee performs at the Casa Loma Ballroom .

Sunday, December 17
There's more holiday jazz in the offing, as the Oikos Ensemble presents "Jazz Noel: A Child is Born" at the First Congregational Church of Webster Groves, while the Dave Dickey Big Band celebrates a "Big Band Christmas" with singer Anita Jackson and guest intermission performers, the North County HS Jazz Ensemble, at .ZACK in Grand Center.

Monday, December 18
Trumpeter Jim Manley plays his weekly Monday night gig at Momo's Greek Restaurant.

Tuesday, December 19
Still more holiday jazz on tap, as the Jazz St. Louis Big Band will play Duke Ellington's "Nutcracker" Suite (plus additional Ellingtonia) for the first of three nights at Jazz at the Bistro, and The 442s present their "Holiday Spectacular" at 560 Music Center

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 http://twitter.com/StLJazzNotes 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.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Jazz St. Louis adds shows to Bistro's winter/spring schedule, including Keyon Harrold, Ken Page, and more

Jazz St. Louis has announced additions to the winter/spring 2018 schedule for the Ferring Jazz Bistro, filling out the previously announced slate of touring acts with more than a dozen shows featuring St. Louis musicians and singers

Most notably, trumpeter Keyon Harrold (pictured, top left) will return home to perform Wednesday, February 7 and Thursday, February 8, and singer and actor Ken Page will make his debut at the Bistro with performances on Wednesday, April 4 and Thursday, April 5.

Harrold, a native of Ferguson now living in NYC, has gained considerable career momentum in the last two years, thanks to his participation in the soundtrack for Don Cheadle's film Miles Ahead and the recent released of The Mugician, his highly anticipated second album as a leader.

Page (pictured, bottom left) is a St. Louis native famed for his Broadway roles in the original casts of Ain't Misbehavin' and Cats (as well as in many other musicals including The Wiz and Guys and Dolls), and for his voice acting in Tim Burton's animated film The Nightmare Before Christmas.

He's been developing a cabaret show for the last several years, and presented a version of it in 2014 at the Gaslight Theatre as part of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival.

Also of note, the "Whitaker Jazz Speaks" series will continue with a program called "Harlem’s Renaissance" on Wednesday, April 18. The free event will begin with a discussion led by Gerald Early of Washington University, followed a performance of music from the period by Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton, Bessie Smith, and Louis Armstrong.

As for the rest of the schedule, keyboardist Nathan Jatcko will make his Bistro debut as a leader with a standalone date on Thursday, April 19, and The Peoples Key and guest multi-instrumentalist Lamar Harris will reprise their "Jazz Memories of Michael Jackson," first staged in 2014 at the Kranzberg Arts Center, on Friday, February 9 and Saturday, February 10.

Other local performers getting return engagements include the Funky Butt Brass Band "and Friends" (Friday, March 9 & Saturday, March 10), singers Brian Owens (Wednesday, March 21 & Thursday, March 22) and Denise Thimes (Friday, March 23 & Saturday, March 24), drummer Kevin Bowers (Friday, April 20 & Saturday, April 21), the JazzU Big Band student ensemble (Sunday, April 29), the Route 66 Jazz Orchestra (Thursday, May 17) and trumpeter/vocalist Dawn Weber and Friends (Friday, May 18 & Saturday, May 19).

Lastly, there's a new program called "Juice Box Jazz" for kids in pre-K through elementary school. It will be presented on three Sunday afternoons - January 21 with members of the Funky Butt Brass Band, March 4 with keyboardist/guitarist Adam Maness, and April 8 with trumpeter Riley Mulherkar - and will include musical performances, snacks, and jazz-themed activities that "will have the whole family learning and loving what jazz music is all about."

Tickets for all these performances will go on sale at !1:00 a.m. this Friday, December 15 via the Jazz St. Louis website or by phone at 314-571-6000.

Brian Culbertson to perform
Saturday, May 12 at The Pageant

Multi-instrumentalist Brian Culbertson is returning to St. Louis to perform at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, May 12 at The Pageant.

Culbertson (pictured) will be touring in support of his forthcoming album Colors of Love, which is scheduled for release in early February. He last played in St. Louis in October 2016, also at The Pageant.

Tickets for Brian Culbertson are $39.50 for reserved seating, and will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. this Friday, December 15 via Ticketmaster and The Pageant box office.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday Session: December 10, 2017

Sunny Murray
Here's the roundup of various music-related items of interest that have appeared in StLJN's inbox over the past week:

* Who can fill the role of Tom Lehrer today? (The Economist)
* Pete Escovedo: Rhythms of Life (Jazz Times)
* Paul McCartney’s Lost Experimental Christmas Album That He Made For The Beatles Has Surfaced Online (Uproxx.com)
* Spotify Attorney Estimates the Service Infringed 300,000 Songs in Settlement Hearing (SPIN)
* Why Sun Ra Matters (Philadephia Jazz Project)
* The Problem with Muzak - Spotify’s bid to remodel an industry (The Baffler)
* The Chief of Entertainers - Trumpet virtuoso Dizzy Gillespie was a jazz prophet, a musical genius, and a scatterbrained whirlwind (TheAmericanScholar.org)
* Electrifying Photos of Cuba's Thriving Music Scene (Vice.com)
* Louis Armstrong’s home in Queens is now a museum (Curbed.com)
* Historic Austin Music Venue Is Being Sold on eBay (DigitalMusicNews.com)
* Lloyd Price's Personality: Long Live The Real King! (JazzWeekly.com)
* David Bowie Sang For Devo, and Mark Mothersbaugh Might Have the Tapes (BedfordAndBowery.com)
* How I Got 10,000 Spotify Plays For a Totally Fake Song (DigitalMusicNews.com)
* Last.fm Was the Only Music Social Network That Made Sense (Vice.com)
* Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins on Retiring His Sax, His Legacy, and the Secret to Life (Vulture.com)
* Quincy Jones is about to launch the 'Netflix of jazz' (Mashable.com)
* Next Wave Forever: John Cale at Seventy-Five (The New Yorker)
* New Jimi Hendrix LP Unearths 10 Previously Unheard Recordings (Rolling Stone)
* Inside the Shady World of the Musical Hologram (Vice.com)
* The Legacy of Buddy Rich (Jazz Times)
* This Kenyan drummer is fighting to make more space for women in percussion (TED.com)
* Eric Clapton Talks Addiction, Cream's Brilliance, the Future of the Guitar (Rolling Stone)
* RIP: Sunny Murray, pioneering free jazz drummer (TinyMixTapes.com)
* Drummer Sunny Murray Dies at 81 (Jazz Times)
* Enacting Change in the Performing Arts World Begins with Changing the Conservatory Culture (AmericansForTheArts.org)
* David Sedaris: Songs for My Father - A conversation with the best-selling author and humorist on his lifelong love of jazz (Jazz Times)

Saturday, December 09, 2017

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Bonerama puts low brass on top



This week, StLJN's video spotlight shines on Bonerama, who will be back in St. Louis to perform on Saturday, December 16 at The Bootleg at Atomic Cowboy.

The New Orleans-based band puts the low brass on top, thanks to a three-trombone front line plus a sousaphone standing in for electric bass. Formed in 1998 by trombonists Mark Mullins and Craig Klein, both veterans of Harry Connick Jr.'s big band, they've forged a distinctive sound that incorporates their hometown musical traditions into funky yet hard-rocking covers of songs by the likes of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, using trombones to deliver the heavy riffs originally played by fuzzed-out guitars.

Bonerama tours frequently outside their hometown, and have been coming to St. Louis at least once a year since the late 2000s, playing several different venues including the Broadway Oyster Bar and the Old Rock House. Most recently, since their last visit here in early 2016, they signed with the New Orleans-based Basin Street Records and in October released Hot Like Fire, their first album for the label.

If you haven't been able to catch one of their previous shows here, you can sample their sound and get an idea of what to expect from their live show via today's collection of videos, starting up above with "Swamped In," recorded in May 2016 at Generations Hall in New Orleans for the local TV program New Orleans Live.

After the jump, you can see a video of "Mr. Okra," Bonerama's tribute to a beloved local New Orleans character/vegetable vendor, that was recorded for the same program.

That's followed by two clips shot in April 2016 at the CrawDebauchery Food & Music Festival in Pompano Beach, FL, namely Bonerama's storied "Led Zeppelin Medley: In My Time Of Dying~Black Dog~Good Times Bad Times" and a cover of Radiohead's "Paranoid Android."

Lastly, if you're ready for more after that, you can see videos of two complete Bonerama shows, recorded in February of this year at Ardmore Music Hall in Ardmore, PA (near Philadelphia) and in September at the Blues, Views and BBQ Festival in Westport, CT.

For more about Bonerama and Hot Like Fire, check out the two short interview features about them published in October by Offbeat magazine and CEGPresents.com.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...