Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Jazz this week: The Thing, Denise Thimes, Charlie Hunter, Victor Wooten Trio, and more

This week's calendar of live jazz and creative music in St. Louis features several stellar singers; the local debut of an esteemed free jazz trio; some straight-up bebop; funky sounds from New Orleans, California, and beyond; and more.

Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, March 21
Singer Brian Owens will performs for the first of two nights at Jazz at the Bistro, revisiting some of the jazz material he did earlier in his career, with backing from pianist Adam Maness' trio.

(Thursday's show will features Owens' current working band, the Deacons of Soul, with an emphasis on songs recorded for his most recent album The Soul of Cash, an R&B-flavored re-imagining of songs associated with country music legend Johnny Cash.)

Also on Wednesday, the Ambassadors of Swing return to Tin Roof St. Louis downtown; and singer Joe Mancuso is back at Taha'a Twisted Tiki in The Grove.

Thursday, March 22
New Music Circle presents the Scandinavian free-jazz trio The Thing (pictured, top left) at Off Broadway. Saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love have been working together since the turn of the century, touring and recording frequently as a trio and also playing with musicians such as Peter Brötzmann, Ken Vandermark, Thurston Moore, Joe McPhee, James "Blood" Ulmer, and singer Nenah Cherry.

This is their St. Louis debut, and there seems to be a good deal of interest in the show, so if you're planning on going, don't be late. For more about The Thing and some videos of their live performances, see this post from Saturday before last.

Also on Thursday, the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University will present a free concert featuring trumpeter Randy Holmes' quintet playing 1940s and '50s bop in the style of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, and guitarist/violinist Christopher Voelker of Dizzy Atmosphere leads a trio at The Pat Connolly Tavern.

Friday, March 23
Singer Denise Thimes (pictured, center left) who recently moved from St. Louis to Chicago and got a rave review from the Chicago Tribune for her first shows there, will be back home to present a tribute to Nina Simone in the first of two nights at Jazz at the Bistro.

A few blocks away, Jeanne Trevor - another longtime favorite St. Louis female vocalist who, unfortunately, gigs infrequently these days - will perform with guitarist Dave Black and bassist Willem von Hombracht at The Judson House.

Also on Friday, pianist Ptah Williams will be in his usual spot at The Dark Room; the Gateway City Big Band plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom; and guitarist and singer Tommy Halloran does the penultimate gig in his winter residency at Das Bevo Underground.

Saturday, March 24
Guitarist Charlie Hunter (pictured, bottom left) returns to lead a trio with singer Dara Tucker and drummer Damon Grant at Off Broadway; the New Orleans Suspects are back for another performance at the Broadway Oyster Bar; and trumpeter Jim Manley is playing at One 19 North Tapas & Wine Bar.

Sunday, March 25
Miss Jubilee performs for brunch at Evangeline's; pianist Carolbeth True and Two Times True with singer Kim Fuller and saxophonist Larry Johnson play a late-afternoon concert at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ, and singer Mary Dyson is back with an early evening show at Troy's Jazz Gallery.

Monday, March 26
Webster University's Student Jazz Combos will show off what they've learned this semester with a concert at the Community Music School.

Tuesday, March 27
Bassist Victor Wooten and his trio with drummer Dennis Chambers and saxophonist Bob Franceschini will perform at the Old Rock House.  Wooten, who played the Chesterfield Jazz Festival here last summer with his family band, the Wooten Brothers, currently is touring in support of his most recent album Trypnotyx, which was released last fall and features Chambers and Franceschini.  For more about that, and some videos of recent live performances of material from the album, see this post from last Saturday.

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.)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday Session: March 18, 2018

Charles McPherson
Here's the roundup of various music-related items of interest that have shown up in one of StLJN's various inboxes or feeds over the past week:

* Syrian refugees using music therapy to soothe the trauma of war (
* Meet the Electric Guitarist Who Gave Benny Goodman a Jolt (
* Inside the Gramercy: The Grit and Glamour of New York's Rock & Roll Hotel (Rolling Stone)
* The long, slow death of print music journalism (
* Dark and Deep Flows the River: An Interview with Wadada Leo Smith (
* The Treasured Preservation Hall Sousaphone Has Been Returned (Offbeat)
* Saudi Arabia's bootleg music shops (BBC)
* Why Labels Are Looking to Africa to Find the Next Global Pop Star (Billboard)
* Kurt Elling Remembers Jon Hendricks (Jazz Times)
* Blue Note Label Boss Don Was Is Not Ready to Give Up on Jazz (
* The end of live music? (
* Kamasi Washington at Sydney Opera House: a defiant cry from a jazz star in his prime (The Guardian)
* Will Corporations Ruin Live Music in the Bay Area? (East Bay Express)
* Expert Introductions: The Quietus' Top 40 Genre Compilation Albums (
* iHeartMedia Files for Bankruptcy (Variety)
* Charles McPherson: The Man and His Muse (
* Chicago saxophonist Dave Rempis builds an intentional community in jazz (Chicago Reader)
* Q&A with Paal Nilssen-Love: In a Natural Way (DownBeat)
* The Residents pay tribute to Sun Ra (and Barry White) (
* Here's a Playlist of Songs You Know But You Can’t Name (
* Reconsidering Gene Krupa, A Great Jazz Drummer Hiding in Plain Sight (WBGO)
* Bobby Previte: the Art of Travelling Trustingly (
* Quincy Jones: 20 Great Productions (Rolling Stone)
* Which Cities Get the Most (and Least) Concerts? (
* The Man Who Made Violins Out of New York City Buildings (
* Celebrating the Free Jazz Revolution, in Black and White (Village Voice)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Victor Wooten Trio's Trypnotyx

Today, let's check out some videos of the Victor Wooten Trio, who are coming to St. Louis to perform Tuesday, March 27 at the Old Rock House.

Featuring Wooten on bass, Dennis Chambers on drums, and Bob Franceschini on tenor sax, the group is touring in support of their latest album Trypnotyx, which was released last September. The album feature 14 tracks of original material, with Wooten and Franceschini augmenting their instruments with various electronics to expand the sound, plus some guest contributions from singer Varijashree Venugopal and actor/comedian/"voicetrumentalist" Michael Winslow.

You can see Wooten, Chambers and Franceschini getting into something from the bassist's back catalog in the first video up above, which shows them playing "Zenergy" from his 1999 album Yin-Yang in a version recorded in January of this year at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco

After the jump, you can see live versions of some of the material from Trypnotiyx, starting with "Take Off" from that same Regency Ballroom gig; "DC10," recorded last October at the C2G Music Hall in Fort Wayne, IN; "The 13th Floor," from a gig in May 2017 at the Joy Theater in New Orleans; and "Funky D," recorded in January 2017 during the halftime of an NBA game at NYC's Madison Square Garden.

The sixth video is a full show, recorded on December 12 of last year at Brooklyn Bowl in NYC.

That's followed by a recording of Wooten's solo spot from the Joy Theater show, in which he touches on tunes including "You Can't Hold No Groove," "Sex In A Pan," and "Amazing Grace"; and a one-on-one interview with the the bassist, recorded in July of last year for the YouTube channel Scott's Bass Lessons.

For more on Victor Wooten and Trypnotyx, check out Wooten's interviews from December 2017 with the Boston music website and the website For Bass Players Only

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

Friday, March 16, 2018

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* "Rubberband," a "lost" Miles Davis recording made after the trumpeter's mid-'80s switch of record labels from Columbia to Warner Brothers and then shelved, will be released as a vinyl EP (pictured) for Record Store Day 2018.

* On a related note, Paste magazine has posted online some tracks featuring Davis' band recorded live in 1970 at NYC's Fillmore East, just before the release of the trumpeter's landmark album Bitches Brew.

* And while we're on the subject of Miles Davis, Pitchfork's ongoing series of retrospective album reviews this week found a lot to like about his album Get Up With It, a compilation of tracks from various early '70s sessions released in 1974, just before Davis' infamous six-year hiatus from performing.

* Speaking of Record Store Day, pianist and St. Louis native Lawrence Fields performs on a special RSD release from Sound Prints, the band co-led by trumpeter Dave Douglas and saxophonist Joe Lovano. The limited-edition, green vinyl 45 RPM record on Douglas' Greenleaf Music label features Lovano’s new original tune “On Pebble Street” and an alternate take of "Scandal," a Douglas composition that's the title track of the band's forthcoming album.

* Trumpeter Kasimu Taylor, The Dark Room, saxophonist Kendrick Smith, and Thurman's in Shaw all were mentioned this week in an article about St. Louis by the New York Times' "Frugal Traveler" columnist Lucas Peterson.

* Applications for program grants from the Arts & Education Council of Greater St. Louis are due on Friday, April 20.

* Saxophonist David Sanborn recently sat down with journalist/author Cal Fussman for an episode of Fussman's new podcast "Big Questions." The interview goes online soon at

* Singer Denise Thimes was interviewed on the latest episode of the "Chicago Jazz" podcast from

* Jazz St. Louis is now accepting applications for their 2018-19 JazzU program for middle school and high school student musicians, with auditions set for Monday, June 4 through Thursday, June 7. Applications are due by Friday, April 27.

* Trumpeter and former East St. Louisan Russell Gunn's residency this week at Columbia College Chicago is the subject of an article in DownBeat.

* The Funky Butt Brass Band has posted to SoundCloud more than 30 tracks of audio from last weekend's gigs at Jazz at the Bistro.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Jazz this week: Melissa Aldana Quartet, Ben Wendel's "The Seasons," Galactic, and more

This week's calendar of live jazz and creative music in St. Louis features performances from two stellar saxophonists, one of New Orleans' favorite funk bands, and more.

Let's go to the highlights...

March 14
Saxophonist Melissa Aldana returns with her quartet for the first of four nights of performances at Jazz at the Bistro.

Aldana, who was born in Chile and educated at Berklee, has enjoyed a fast rise in the jazz world since becoming the first female instrumentalist and the first South American to win the annual Thelonious Monk competition in 2013, thanks to her distinctive tone on tenor sax and a musical approach influenced by players such as Sonny Rollins, Don Byas and Mark Turner.

For more about Aldana, you can see and hear some samples of her playing on video in this post, which dates from her St. Louis debut two years ago, and read an interview with her published a few weeks ago by the Chicago Tribune here.

Aldana's sets also will be simulcast on video to the first-floor lounge opposite the Bistro, where they can be viewed for free as part of the "Grand Center Jazz Crawl,"  which this week also includes Jacob Alspach and Friends at The Stage at KDHX, the jam session led by bassist Bob Deboo at the Kranzberg Arts Center, and trumpeter Kasimu Taylor's quartet at The Dark Room.

Thursday, March 15
Saxophonist Ben Wendel performs at The Ready Room. Wendel (pictured, top left), best known as a member of the cooperative band Kneebody, currently is touring with music from a project called "The Seasons," which featured 12 original compositions dedicated to musical friends and colleagues that were released as a series of duo performances on video over the course of a year.

You can find out more about Wendel and "The Seasons," and hear some of the compositions that have been expanded to full-band arrangements for the tour, in this post from a week ago Saturday.

Update: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 14: StLJN has just gotten word from Ben Wendel's publicist that his St. Louis date has been cancelled. If you bought tickets, contact your point of purchase for refund details.

Also on Thursday, New Orleans funk/jazz band Galactic (pictured, bottom left) will be back for another visit to St. Louis, their destination this time being Delmar Hall; Cincinnati "garage jazz" band Animal Mother tops a bill that also includes Animal Children and saxophonist Dave Stone at Foam; and saxophonist Ben Reece's Unity Quartet returns to The Dark Room.

Friday, March 16
Catch some of St. Louis' own at one of several weekly residencies happening on Fridays, including pianist Ptah Williams' trio at The Dark Room; singer and guitarist Tommy Halloran at Das Bevo Underground, or saxophonist Tim Cunningham at Troy's Jazz Gallery.

Saturday, March 17
Pianist Christopher Parrish plays a matinee at the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site's Rosebud Cafe as part of a new monthly series presented by the Friends of Scott Joplin.

Then on Saturday night, singer Tony Viviano will be doing his thing at Table Three, while keyboardist Mo Egeston offers late night grooves at The Dark Room.

Sunday, March 18
The St. Louis Jazz Club presents Miss Jubilee in concert at the Moolah Shrine Temple in Maryland Heights.

Monday, March 19
Trumpeter Jim Manley will be back at Momo's Greek Restaurant, and pianist Carolbeth True and saxophonist Paul DeMarinis will perform a duo concert at Webster University's Winifred Moore Auditorium.

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.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Jazz St. Louis adds more shows, including David Sanborn, for spring and early summer

Jazz St. Louis today announced five additional bookings for late spring and early summer at Jazz at the Bistro.

The slate of shows features a return visit from saxophonist David Sanborn (pictured), who will come back to his hometown to perform with a quintet (personnel TBA) from Wednesday, June 6 through Saturday, June 9 at the Bistro.

Also added to the schedule are performances from singer Erin Bode on Wednesday, May 2 and Thursday, May 3; pianist Peter Martin and Inner Circle on Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5; the student ensembles JazzU and the Jazz St. Louis All-Stars with special guest saxophonist Antonio Hart on Friday, June 1 and Saturday, June 2; and the JazzU Big Band and the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra with Antonio Hart on Sunday, June 3.

Tickets for all these shows will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. this Friday, March 16 via the Jazz St. Louis website or by phone at 314-571-6000.

Edited after posting to correct the end date of David Sanborn's engagement.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday Session: March 11, 2018

Herbie Hancock
Here's the roundup of various music-related items of interest that have shown up in one of StLJN's various inboxes or feeds over the past week:

* Ben Sidran Remembers Tommy LiPuma (Jazz Times)
* An ‘Astral Weeks’ origin story, told 50 years after Van Morrison fled to Boston (Boston Globe)
* Big Ears 2018 – Q&A With Milford Graves (
* McCoy Tyner In The ’70s: Part 1 (
* Herbie Hancock 'still learning,' as eclectic music icon works on new album with Kendrick Lamar, Wayne Shorter and more (San Diego Union Tribune)
* Why are concert tickets going on sale so early? And where does all that cash go? (Kansas City Star)
* 7 Candid Photos of Jazz Legends (BBC)
* Like A Cosmic Newspaper: Val Wilmer On Sun Ra (
* How the classical took control of the jazz in ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ (San Francisco Chronicle)
* Mere Virtuosity - Variations on a Slippery Idea (
* Inside the Bizarre, Booming Business of Turning Hit Songs into Baby Lullabies (
* Q&A with Steven Bernstein: On Respectability (DownBeat)
* Founder of Tower Records dies at 92 while drinking whiskey and watching the Oscars (Sacramento Bee)
* Herbie Hancock Taps Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat for New Album (Rolling Stone)
* NPR’s Tiny Desk Is Actually Not Tiny at All (
* NME to close print edition after 66 years (The Guardian)
* Big Ears Announces Full 2018 Lineup (DownBeat)
* An Impressive Audio Archive of John Cage Lectures & Interviews: Hear Recordings from 1963-1991 (
* There’s a Tuba Crime Wave Sweeping America (Wall Street Journal)
* The Many Dimensions of Drummer, Composer and Bandleader Allison Miller (WBGO)
* Van Morrison teams up with Hammond hero Joey DeFrancesco on new album You’re Driving Me Crazy (Jazzwise)
* A Cherished BBC Radio Show Asks Celebrities to Pick a Desert Island Survival Kit (
* For iconic jazz club Village Vanguard, music rather than food is its main gig (New York Business Journal)
* Taylor Ho Bynum Presents New Suite in Hartford (DownBeat)
* Linda Ronstadt: From Tucson to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, her lifetime love affair with music (
* The Original Noise Artist: Hear the Strange Experimental Sounds & Instruments of Italian Futurist, Luigi Russolo (1913) (
* An Interview with Billy Cobham, Genius Drummer with Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis, Peter Gabriel, Etc. Etc. (The Stranger)
* Kobalt invests $150m in independent artists to challenge ‘stupidity’ of traditional major label deals (
* Her Tiny Apartment is New York’s Most Secret Jazz Club (

Saturday, March 10, 2018

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Spotlight on The Thing

Today, let's check out some videos featuring The Thing, who will be in St. Louis later this month for a show presented by New Music Circle on Thursday, March 22 at Off Broadway.

With an energetic, extroverted style that's sometimes been called "Action Jazz" (after their 2006 album of the same name), saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, and bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten draw as much inspiration from punk rock and various world musics as they do from the jazz tradition.

Founded in 2000 in Stockholm, Sweden, they've recorded more than 20 albums to date, roughly split between releases credited only to The Thing and those that give equal billing to collaborators such as Peter Brötzmann, Ken Vandermark, Thurston Moore, Joe McPhee, James "Blood" Ulmer, and singer Nenah Cherry, whose father, trumpeter Don Cherry, lived in Stockholm for years and served as an important initial inspiration for The Thing.

You can hear them in action starting up above with a performance of "Red River," recorded on October 15, 2016 at the Skopje Jazz Festival in Skopje, Macedonia.

After the jump, you can see them play "Viking" from their 2011 album Mono, recorded July 7, 2014 at the Skuespilteatret in Copenhagen, Denmark, followed by a full set from October 30, 2014 at Jazzhouse, also in Copenhagen.

Next, there's another full set from the 2014 Music Unlimited festival in Wels, Austria, featuring a sit-in from saxophonist Ken Vandermark, followed by a set from 2013 recorded at a venue called MDK Dragon in Poznań, Poland.

Last but not least, you can see an excerpt from a show that The Thing did in October 2015 for students at the Austin Discovery School in Austin, TX, demonstrating the visceral appeal of their approach to all sorts of audiences.

For more, read the interview Mats Gustafsson did last year with The Vinyl Factory; his 2015 interview with the website Something Else!; and his 2013 interview published by The Quietus.

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