Friday, May 26, 2017

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Attention donut lovers: The pastry devotees and baked-goods aficionados at Jazz St. Louis will celebrate National Donut Day once again this year with a morning of festivities at Jazz at the Bistro.

The free, public event, scheduled for 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Friday, June 2, will feature free donuts from 14 local shops, plus complementary beverages, live music from students in JSL's JazzU program, a "Best Donut" competition, activities for kids, and more.

* Speaking of the Bistro, thanks to radio station WBGO,  you can get a first listen to trumpeter Sean Jones' new "live" album on Mack Avenue Records, which was recorded last year at the club.

* A crew from the Japanese documentary TV series Yume No Tourimichi has been in Missouri this month, shooting footage in St. Louis and Sedalia for an upcoming episode about ragtime pianist and composer Scott Joplin.

* And speaking of ragtime, the Goldenrod Showboat - which for 50 years hosted ragtime and vintage jazz festivals while moored on the St. Louis riverfront - finally has been declared beyond all hope by preservationists after recent flooding on the Illinois River where the boat's remains had been stored.

* Today is the 91st anniversary of the birth of Miles Davis, and should you be looking for a thoroughly annotated list of 10 noteworthy Latin jazz interpretations of Davis compositions, it turns out that Chip Boaz of the website Latin Jazz Corner has you covered.

In other Miles-related news, the London Vocal Project last week performed for the first time singer and lyricist Jon Hendricksvocalese version of the Davis/Gil Evans orchestral album Miles Ahead. Hendricks (pictured, with the album's reissue cover) has been working on this project since the late 1960s, and you can read reviews of the London production here and here.

To commemorate the trumpeter's natal day, you also can read a retrospective look at Davis' album E.S.P. from Stereophile's Fred Kaplan, occasioned by the 45th anniversary of its release; listen to the most recent episode of the "Night Lights" program from Indiana public radio station WPIU, which covers "Final Miles," as represented by the trumpeter's late-career recordings for Warner Brothers; and watch StLJN's video tribute to Davis from last Saturday

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe to perform Friday, July 21 at Atomic Cowboy

Saxophonist and singer Karl Denson and his band Tiny Universe are returning to St. Louis to perform at 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 21 at Atomic Cowboy's outdoor pavilion.

The show is part of Denson's "Runnin' With The Diesel" tour, which will take KDTU (pictured) to 14 cities this summer, showcasing material from their forthcoming studio album (due out later this year) plus older tunes and some select covers.

The current Tiny Universe touring lineup includes Denson, guitarist DJ Williams, drummer Alan Evans, bassist Chris Stillwell, keyboardist David Veith, trumpeter Chris Littlefield, and slide and lap steel guitarist Seth Freeman.

Tickets for Karl Denson's Tiny Universe at Atomic Cowboy are $25 in advance, $28 day of show, and are on sale now.

Edited after publication to correct the day of the week.

Jazz this week: Christian McBride, The Soul Rebels, Greg Tardy, Grand Marquis, and more

The calendar of live jazz and creative music coming up in St. Louis features several noteworthy visitors for the Memorial Day weekend, including a renowned.bassist and bandleader; a veteran saxophonist who's played with some very well-known jazz names; one of New Orleans' busiest brass bands; and more. Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, May 24
Bassist Christian McBride opens a four-night engagement continuing through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro.

Having played the club in 2014 with his trio and in 2009 with the quintet Inside Straight, this time McBride is showcasing his latest group, New Jawn, a quartet featuring trumpeter Josh Evans, saxophonist Marcus Strickland, and drummer Nasheet Waits. (For those curious about the band's name, "jawn" is an "all-purpose noun," perhaps derived from "joint," used specifically by Philadelphia natives.)

With no piano, guitar or vibes to supply chords, New Jawn's instrumentation give McBride plenty of harmonic freedom while interacting with Evans and Strickland. It's a setup that's proven adaptable to a variety of jazz styles dating back to at least the 1950s, when Ornette Coleman's original quartet and the Gerry Mulligan/Chet Baker "cool jazz" ensemble both eschewed chordal instruments with memorable, yet very different, results.

You can get an idea of what McBride, Evans, Strickland and Waits are doing with that flexibility in this video of Thelonious Monk's "Raise Four", recorded last September at SFJAZZ in San Francisco, and this clip of Monk's "Mysterioso," from a show this March in Russia.

Also on Wednesday, singer Marsha Evans will perform for the "Chapel Concerts" series at St. Vincent Home for Children, and trumpeter Jim Manley will be back for his weekly gig at Sasha's Wine Bar.

Thursday, May 25
The Soul Rebels (pictured, top left) will perform at the Old Rock House.

Putting a contemporary spin on the New Orleans brass band tradition, the Soul Rebels are known for re-imagining hit songs from a variety of genres, and for their frequent collaborations with an equally diverse range of bands, singers, and MCs.

You can find out more and see some videos of them in action in this post from Saturday before last.

Also on Thursday, The 442s will return to Cyrano's, and saxophonist Greg Tardy (pictured, center left) will be in town for a free, early evening performance at Saxquest.

Tardy, who heads the jazz studies departments at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, has released more than a dozen albums as a leader, enjoying a relationship of more than a decade with the indie label Steeplechase Records. He's also worked with a number of well-known jazz musicians, most notably Elvin Jones, Dave Douglas, Avishai Cohen, Brad Mehldau, and Joshua Redman.

Friday, May 26
Saxophonist Harvey Lockhart and the Collective will be back at The Dark Room; guitarist Tom Byrne and singer Erika Johnson will make their debut at the Parkside Grille in West County; and the Second Generation Swing Band will play for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom.

Also on Friday, the annual Glendale Jazz Festival will take place on an outdoor stage at Glendale City Hall. The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature music from the Funky Butt Brass Band, blues/R&B singer Coco Soul, the St. Louis Big Band with singer Anita Rosamond, and Randy Holmes and the Satchmo 7.

Saturday, May 27
The Kansas City-based jump blues and swing band Grand Marquis (pictured, bottom left) returns for a performance at the Casa Loma Ballroom; the Midwest Jazz-tette returns to Evangeline's, and the Kevin Lucas Marimba Band will play a concert at the Jacoby Arts Center in Alton.

Sunday, May 28
The Folk School of KDHX will host their monthly Traditional Jazz Jam Session on Sunday afternoon.

Later in the afternoon and just a short distance away in Grand Center, more than thirty St. Louis musicians and singers will join forces for the "Willie Akins Jazz Festival," an event paying tribute to the late saxophonist at the Grandel Theatre.

Organized by singer Joe Mancuso, the concert also is intended to raise money for music scholarships in Akins' name, and so while the event is free and open to the public, donations will be accepted at the door, and there's also a GoFundMe page for online contributions.

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.)

Edited after posting to add info on the Glendale Jazz Festival. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Session: May 21, 2017

Thelonious Monk
Here are some interesting music-related items that have landed in StLJN's inbox over the past week:

* The 20 hottest music startups of 2017 (according to Midemlab) (
* #AfroNation: The House That Africa Built (
* Cleveland's legendary Leo's Casino made music history, transcended race (photos, videos) (
* Cécile McLorin Salvant’s Timeless Jazz (The New Yorker)
* With a New Collaborations Album, Todd Rundgren Talks About Loving Reznor, Fagen and Robyn… and Loathing Trump (Variety)
* The failed experiment of the digital album booklet (
* Benmont Tench - The 40th Anniversary Interview (Keyboard)
* Google’s AI Invents Sounds Humans Have Never Heard Before (Wired)
* With Experience on their Side, The Cookers Heat Up Dizzy’s (DownBeat)
* 'Rolling Stone' Founder Jann Wenner On 50 Years Of Rock And Roll History (NPR)
* “MP3 is dead” missed the real, much better story (
* Hear 2,000 Recordings of the Most Essential Jazz Songs: A Huge Playlist for Your Jazz Education (
* Nels Cline on Why Playing Jazz Has Never Been More Important (
* Hear Aerobic Exercise: When Soviet Musicians Recorded Electronic Music for a Subversive Home Fitness Record (1984)(
* Maxwell, Cat Power, and 5 More on Their Favorite Nina Simone Songs (
* Rebuilding—and Recording With—the 1920s Technology That Changed American Music Forever (Wired)
* How the Internet financially kills musicians and other artists (Washington Post)
* The Art of the Mistake - Why flubs and clinkers are part of the myth of authentic jazz. (
* Magical Mystery Drum: The Quest for Ringo's Ed Sullivan Snare (
* A Long-Lost Thelonious Monk Album Is Finally Released Nearly 60 Years Later (Newsweek)
* The science of songs: how does music affect your body chemistry? (The Guardian)
* Drumset = You (The Paris Review)
* An ode to the joy and madness of the B-side (
* 17 charts that show the current state of the music industry (
* Making sounds with Suzanne Ciani, America's first female synth hero (The Guardian)
* Trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson Shares the Cuban Inspiration Behind His "Folk Song" (WBGO)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
A birthday tribute to Miles Davis

With the 91st anniversary of Miles Davis' birth coming up next Friday, May 26, it's time for StLJN's annual tribute to the most famous and influential jazz musician ever to come from this area.

In an encore post from last year's celebration of the trumpeter's 90th natal date, here are nine videos from throughout his career- one for each decade since his birth - selected by yr. editor as personal favorites. From that post, here's a description of the clips: 
The first, embedded up above the text, is the by-now-at-least semi-famous live version of "So What," the leadoff track from Kind of Blue, seen here as recorded by Davis and his quintet for the 1959 TV special The Sound of Miles Davis.

After the jump, you can see Davis and the Gil Evans Orchestra performing "The Duke" and "Blues for Pablo" from that same TV special.

The next two clips show Davis' so-called "Second Great Quintet" - with Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone), Herbie Hancock (piano), Tony Williams (drums) and Ron Carter (bass) - in 1967, performing "I Fall In Love Too Easily" in Karlsruhe, Germany, and then doing "Footprints" in Stockholm, Sweden.

Davis was on the precipice of his "electric period" at that point, and in the next clip, a full set recorded in 1969 in Copenhagen, you can see him taking the leap with help from Shorter plus Chick Corea (keyboards), Dave Holland (bass), and Jack DeJohnette (drums).

This relatively short-lived band, which years later was dubbed the "Lost Quintet," led directly to the group seen in the next video, an entire set recorded on August 18, 1970 at the Berkshire Music Center, Tanglewood, MA. The band here is Davis, Corea, Holland and DeJohnette along with Gary Bartz (alto and soprano sax), Keith Jarrett on organ, and Airto Moreira on percussion, and at this point, Miles has gone full-on electric.

By the time the seventh clip was recorded, in 1973 at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Davis had changed the entire band again, and the version of "Ife" offers an even more jagged soundscape than the previous clip, courtesy of David Liebman (soprano sax), Pete Cosey (guitar, percussion), Reggie Lucas (guitar), Michael Henderson (bass), Mtume (congas, percussion), and Al Foster (drums).

The final two videos are both from the 1980s, well after Davis' comeback from the period of self-imposed exile in which Don Cheadle's film Miles Ahead is set. "Time After Time," Davis' cover of a hit originally recorded by Cyndi Lauper, was a staple of his live sets for several years, and is heard here in a version recorded in 1975 in Tokyo, Japan.

The last clip is a version of "Tutu," recorded in 1988 in Stuttgart, Germany, which unfortunately does not feature Marcus Miller, the song's composer and producer of the album of the same name. But it does show off one of Davis' more interesting and idiosyncratic late-period bands, with Kenny Garrett on saxophone and flute, Robert Irving III and Adam Holzmann on keyboards, Joseph "Foley" McCreary on six-string "lead bass" plus Benjamin Rietveld on electric bass, percussionist Marilyn Mazur, and the great drummer Ricky Wellman, who Davis plucked from Washington DC go-go godfather Chuck Brown's band, the Soul Searchers.
You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

Friday, May 19, 2017

Jazz at Holmes reveals schedule
for 2017 "Jazz in July" series

The Jazz at Holmes series of free concerts at Washington University has announced the schedule for this summer's "Jazz in July" shows. 

The series begins on Thursday, July 6 with pianist and singer Curt Landes (pictured) and his band, followed by a show on Thursday, July 13 by pianist Kara Baldus' trio.

The slate of keyboard-centric performances continues on Thursday, July 20 with a quartet featuring Dallas-based pianist Myles Tate, with Paul Steinbeck on bass, Jeff Anderson on tenor sax, and Maurice Carnes on drums; and concludes on Thursday, July 27 with a trio led by pianist Ptah Williams.

Admission to the "Jazz in July" concerts is free and open to the public. Concerts begin at 8:00 p.m. in Holmes Lounge, Ridgley Hall, located on Washington University’s campus at the west end of the Brookings Quadrangle, near the intersection of Brookings and Hoyt drives.

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Saxophonist and former St. Louisan Oliver Lake (pictured) was interviewed about the founding of the Black Artsists Groups and various other subject by journalist Seth Colter Wells for a feature story on

* A recent visit by drummer Kimberly Thompson and trumpeter Keyon Harrold to Francis Howell High School was chronicled by the school's student newspaper FHC Today. Thompson and Harrold were back home in St. Louis last month for a week-long educational residency sponsored by Jazz St. Louis and performances at Jazz at the Bistro.

* Pianist Peter Martin's Open Studio Network, which produces music education videos featuring wll-known jazz musicians, was featured on a recent episode of KETC's Living St. Louis.

* Condolences to the family and friends of Tom McMahon, trombonist with the Route 66 Jazz Orchestra, who died last Wednesday, May 10 after a two-year fight with melanoma.

McMahon, 57, worked days as a software application architect at Enterprise Holdings. He is survived by his wife Amy McMahon; children Michael, Nathan and Hannah; and other members of his extended family. A visitation will take place at 1:00 p.m. this Saturday, May 20 at Bopp Chapel, 10610 Manchester Rd. in Kirkwood, followed at 2:00 p.m. by a remembrance. The Route 66 Jazz Orchestra dedicated their performance on Wednesday, May 17 at Jazz at the Bistro to McMahon's memory.

*.ZACK, the newest venue in Grand Center - and yes, the name is supposed to be pronounced "dot-zack" - was the subject of  a feature story on KSDK's Show Me St. Louis.

* Vernacular String Trio was profiled in the Riverfront Times as one of the 77 local bands set to perform in the paper's ShowcaseSTL event, which is set for Saturday, June 17 at various venues in The Grove.

* The jazz program at St. Dominic's High School in St. Charles, directed by saxophonist Larry Johnson, was featured in the Archdiocesan newspaper St. Louis Review. Trombonist Wyatt Forhan, a junior at St. Dominic's, is one of two St. Louis area student musicians selected this year for the Monterey Jazz Festival's Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Jazz St. Louis announces
2017-18 season schedule

Jazz St. Louis has announced the touring performers scheduled for the 2017-18 season at Jazz at the Bistro.

In what is undoubtedly the season's biggest "get," the organization will be one of the presenters for the previously announced concert by pianist Herbie Hancock in August at Powell Symphony Hall.

Also as announced earlier this year, the Bistro will host pianist Orrin Evans' debut as a member of The Bad Plus next January.

With those bits of news already public for weeks, the season announcement (which covered only touring acts and did not include any of the locally based performers that presumably will be playing the venue next year) contained very few surprises, but here are the key takeaways:

* Kicking off in late September with a four-night run from Yellowjackets, the schedule is heavy on familiar names such as Terrell Stafford, Cyrus Chestnut, Sean Jones, Houston Person, Benny Green, Freddy Cole, and Poncho Sanchez, all of whom have performed at the Bistro multiple times over the years.

Other than Hancock, the season's most notable shows would seem to be the return of vocal group Take 6 (pictured, top left), who performed at the Bistro in 2011 and will be back for a week in December; and the quartet co-led by guitarist John Scofield and saxophonist Joe Lovano (pictured, center left), who will play the club in April.

* Just three acts - the fewest ever that yr. StLJN editor can remember - will be making their Bistro debuts as headliners. Saxophonist and singer Grace Kelly (pictured, bottom left) and Cuban pianist Harold Lopez-Nussa are the complete newbies to the venue, while singer and St. Louis native Alicia Olatuja, who co-headlined a show this year at the Bistro with harmonica player Gregoire Maret, will be appearing at the club for two weeks next season.

She'll headline shows under her own name during Valentine's Day week (taking the slot occupied for years by Mardra and Reggie Thomas, and more recently by Erin Bode) and then will turn up again in April as a featured singer with drummer Ulysses Owens Jr.

* In addition to Olatuja, three other St. Louis area natives also will return next season to headline at the Bistro. Trumpeter Russell Gunn, who grew up in East St. Louis, will return from his current home in Atlanta to play a week in November with a band including drummer Jimmy Cobb, the last surviving musician who played on Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.

Later that month, trumpeter Jeremy Davenport will be back from New Orleans to perform his usual Thanksgiving weekend shows. And next spring, drummer Marcus Baylor's Baylor Project will be featured for a week of performances in March.

Here's the lineup of announced shows in chronological order:

Thursday, August 10: Herbie Hancock (at Powell Symphony Hall)

Wednesday, September 20 - Saturday, September 23: Yellowjackets

Wednesday, October 4 - Saturday, October 7: Grace Kelly
Friday, October 13 & Saturday, October 14: Arturo Sandoval
Wednesday, October 16 - Saturday, October 21: Harold Lopez-Nussa Trio

Wednesday, November 1 - Saturday, November 4: Houston Person Quartet
Wednesday, November 15 - Saturday, November 18:: Russell Gunn w/ Jimmy Cobb
Friday, November 24 & Saturday, November 25: Jeremy Davenport
Wednesday, November 29 - Saturday, December 1: Jane Monheit

Wednesday, December 3 - Saturday, December 6: Freddy Cole Quintet
Wednesday, December 10 - Saturday, December 13: Take 6


Wednesday, January 3 - Saturday, January 5: Joshua Redman Quartet
Wednesday, January 17 - Saturday, January 20: The Bad Plus
Wednesday, January 31 - Saturday, February 3: Cyrus Chestnut Trio

Wednesday, February 14 - Saturday, February 17: Alicia Olatuja
Wednesday, February 21 - Saturday, February 24: Benny Green Trio

Wednesday, March 14 - Saturday, March 17: Sean Jones Quartet
Wednesday, March 28 - Saturday, March 31: The Baylor Project

Wednesday, April 11 - Saturday, April 14: “Songs of Freedom” w/ Ulysses Owens Jr., Alicia Olatuja & Joanna Majoko
Wednesday, April 25 - Saturday, April 28: John Scofield-Joe Lovano Quartet

Wednesday, May 9 - Saturday, May 12: Terell Stafford Quintet
Wednesday, May 23 - Saturday, May 26: Poncho Sanchez

Various season subscription packages can be purchased now via the Jazz St. Louis website or by calling 314-571-6000, with single tickets scheduled to go on sale on Thursday, August 10.