Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Jazz this week: SFJAZZ Collective, Bill Frisell, Tomas Fujiwara's The Hook Up, and more

This week's calendar of live jazz and creative music in St. Louis features three noteworthy touring acts with widely disparate styles, plus a couple of Sunday big band performances, some free jazz, some vintage swing, and more.

Let's go to the highlights...

April 26
The SFJAZZ Collective opens a four-night engagement continuing through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro.

The all-star ensemble's featured composer this year is Miles Davis, and they'll be performing a repertoire drawn from their latest album, which features eight new arrangements of music associated with the iconic trumpeter, plus new original music by each of the group's eight members.

You can see and hear the SFJAZZ Collective perform some of that material on video, and find out more about their Miles Davis project in this post from last Saturday.

Also on Wednesday night, singer Erin Bode will perform for the Chapel Concerts series at St. Vincent Home for Children in north county; the Grand Center Jazz Crawl offers live music at four different venues in the district, and the weekly jazz jam session at Nesby's in South County welcomes both players and listeners.

Thursday, April 27
Singer Brian Owens headlines "Evening of Hope," an event at the Sheldon Concert Hall benefiting the Hope Center at Washington University; and around the corner, pianist Ptah Williams, guitarist Eric Slaughter and company will be performing at The Dark Room.

Friday, April 28
Guitarist Bill Frisell (pictured, top left) will lead a trio with his frequent collaborators, bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen, in a performance at The Ready Room.

Recently the subject of a feature-length documentary about his life and music, the prolific Frisell last year released When You Wish Upon a Star, featuring interpretations of songs from Hollywood films and TV, and also did an album and a series of live dates with with saxophonist Charles Lloyd's latest group, The Marvels.

Frisell's next project, a series of duets with bassist Thomas Morgan called Small Town, is due out in May, but given his long history with Scherr and Wollesen, he could be pulling material from deep in his catalog for Friday's show, his first St. Louis performance since 2013.

Also on Friday, the STL Free Jazz Collective will present a free concert at the 14th Street Artist Community in the Old North neighborhood.

Saturday, April 29
Drummer Tomas Fujiwara’s The Hook Up (pictured, bottom left) will perform in a concert presented by New Music Circle at The Stage at KDHX.

Fujiwara and guitarist Mary Halvorson played a concert for NMC in 2014 as part of the trio Thumbscrew, and in some ways, The Hook Up seems a bit like a superset of that band, with Adam Hopkins in for Formanek on bass and the addition of saxophonist Brian Settles and trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson.

Starting in 2010, The Hook Up has released three recordings so far, the most recent being 2015's After All Is Said, which New York City Jazz Record described as “layered and cohesive, rhythmically diverse, with a lean but muscular sound that defines Fujiwara’s distinctive approach to melody and harmony,” and called “one of the most accessible, challenging and inventive recordings of recent vintage.”

Also on Saturday, trumpeter Randy Holmes' quintet will celebrate the birth of Duke Ellington with a free concert of his music at the Ozark Theatre; and Evangeline's has a day-night double-header of live jazz, with The Sidemen performing at lunch and Wack-A-Doo during the evening,

Sunday, April 30
The St. Louis Record Collector and CD Show will present their spring event at the American Czech Educational Center, and Folk School of KDHX will host their monthly traditional jazz jam session.

A little later in the day, the student performers of the North County Big Band will team up with the pros in the Gateway City Big Band for a joint concert at the The Sheldon. Meanwhile, out in St. Charles County, the Dave Dickey Big Band will play an early evening show at Brewskeez in O'Fallon, with the Pattonville High School Jazz Ensemble performing at intermission.

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.)

Monday, April 24, 2017

StLJN turns 12

Twelve years ago today, the first post went up on St. Louis Jazz Notes. More than 4,500 posts later, StLJN is one of the longest continuously operating outposts of what's left of the jazz blogosphere and one of the longest running music websites in St. Louis, and it remains the city's most complete and regularly updated source devoted to news about jazz.

Thanks once again to all the readers, commenters, musicians, music students and educators, presenters, club owners, publicists, tipsters, media people, record label employees, and others who have taken an interest in the site over the years. Your time and continued attention are much appreciated.

As usual, if you have any anniversary wishes, congratulations, questions, suggestions, or complaints, the comments are open.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Session: April 23, 2017

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

* Philip Glass on Listening (and Composing) at 80 (
* “It wasn’t until I experienced a great amount of pain at one time in my life that I really understood what the blues were about:” An Interview with Matana Roberts (WTJU)
* Forgotten audio formats: The flexi disc (
* Alice Coltrane’s Devotional Music (The New Yorker)
* A Year On, Few Answers From Probe Into Prince's Death (Billboard)
* Rejuvenating contemporary classical music (The Economist)
* Newest Two Time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Greg Rolie (Santana/Journey) Talks Past & Present (INTERVIEW) (
* E Street Band Bassist Garry Tallent Gears Up for First Solo Tour, Talks Bruce Springsteen & Chuck Berry (Billboard)
* Allan Holdsworth, Guitarist Revered in Both Jazz and Prog-Rock Circles, Dies at 70 (WBGO)
* Jimmy Webb on John Lennon's Lost Weekend, Writing for Frank Sinatra (Rolling Stone)
* Online music is about to experience another MySpace moment (
* Are Music Festival Lineups Getting Worse? (
* Concert Review: 2017 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute - Is this the last one? Trump's FY2018 budget proposal eliminates the NEA (Jazz Times)
* 'Jazz Is The Mother Of Hip-Hop': How Sampling Connects Genres (NPR)
* Jazz singer Gregory Porter is an ex-lineman with a blues-infused soul (
* Shorter, Bridgewater, Kamasi To Headline Detroit Jazz Festival (DownBeat)
* Wayne Shorter, "The Newark Flash," Recalls His Formative Years in the Ironbound and Beyond (WBGO)
* Songwriters ‘More Heavily Regulated Than Pharmaceutical Companies’ and Other Takeaways From ASCAP Expo (Variety)
* How Music on TV Actually Works, According to ‘The Leftovers’ and ‘FNL’ Music Supervisor (
* New Orleans Jazz: Expanding the Tradition (Wall Street Journal)
* Vinyl fantasy: Is the record boom bad for new music? (
* History of Muzak: Where Did All The Elevator Music Go? (WQXR)
* Those Timeless Tunes of the 1940s, ’60s, and ’80s (
* Surface Noise (The Paris Review)
* Sylvia Moy, Motown songwriter who wrote hits for Stevie Wonder, dies at 78 (Los Angeles Times)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Site news: Post #4,500

Today, yr. humble editor must briefly pause our regularly scheduled blogging (pictured at left) to point out that this is post number 4,500 on St. Louis Jazz Notes.

Many thanks to all the readers, commenters and sources who have been part of this site since it began in April, 2005.

To mark the occasion of today's questionable achievement, please feel free to use the comments to offer your sincere congratulations, helpful suggestions, jeering taunts and/or bitter complaints.

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
SFJAZZ Collective plays Miles Davis

This week, it's time to check out some videos of the latest iteration of the SFJAZZ Collective, who will be here in St. Louis to perform starting next Wednesday, April 26 through Saturday, April 29 at Jazz at the Bistro.

Founded in 2004 as a sort of ever-evolving, all-star house band for the San Francisco presenter SFJAZZ, the group's lineup by design has changed considerably over the years, and currently features Miguel Zenón (alto sax), David Sánchez (tenor sax), Sean Jones (trumpet), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Warren Wolf (vibraphone), Edward Simon (piano), Matt Penman (bass), and Obed Calvaire (drums).

Each year, the members come together to record an album, with each contributing two arrangements - one original, the other re-imagining a work from a specific composer chosen as the season's focal point.

That repertoire then serves as the basis for a subsequent tour, and when last seen here in St. Louis in March 2016 at the Bistro, the SFJAZZ Collective was playing the music of pop icon Michael Jackson. This year's featured composer is a lot closer to home for St. Louis listeners, since it's none other than the legendary trumpeter Miles Davis, who was born in Alton, grew up in East St. Louis, and played some of his first gigs here in St. Louis.

Recorded live in performances on October 20-23, 2016 at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, the Collective's latest two-disc album features new arrangements of works composed by and associated with Davis, plus the new original compositions by members of the group.

To show how the project has evolved, today's collection of videos offers a look at SFJAZZ Collective both before and after the recording of their Miles Davis album, starting up top with a brief promotional clip featuring quotes about Davis from several of the musicians.

After the jump, you can see them performing "Milestones" as part of an event last May at the SFJAZZ Center revealing Davis as this season's featured composer.

Next, you can see and hear three selections, starting with "So What," from a show the Collective did on the corporate campus of YouTube just a week before making the album.

That's followed by a playlist assembling a full show recorded in Milan, Italy two weeks later, after the album was recorded.

For more about the SFJAZZ Collective's take on Miles Davis, you can read a review of the show at which album was recorded from's David Becker, and check out some of the advance press for the album and tour featuring quotes from Obed Calvaire, Matt Penman , and Miguel Zenon.

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* This Saturday, April 22 is the 10th annual celebration of Record Store Day, and as in recent years, yr. StLJN editor once again will be taking part by doing a "guest DJ" stint at Vintage Vinyl, spinning tunes inside the U City store for an hour starting at 4:00 p.m. (If you look closely at the event poster (pictured), you can even see my name in small type at the lower right.)

As usual, VV and their fellow music retailers in St. Louis have a full day of activities, live music, giveaways and more planned for RSD, and you can get an overview of who's doing what via Kevin Johnson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

* Are you, or do you know, an accountant with an appreciation for jazz? If so, your dream job could be waiting, as Jazz St. Louis is looking for a Chief Financial Officer. You can find out more about the job and how to apply here

* The second annual Make Music Day St. Louis festival, the relatively recent local addition to a long-running, worldwide event marking the summer solstice, is scheduled for Wednesday, June 21. Musicians and venues interested in participating can find more information at

* Trumpeter Sean Jones, a frequent visitor to St. Louis in recent years, is preparing to put out his first-ever  live album, which was recorded here at Jazz at the Bistro. Set to be released by Mack Avenue Records on Friday, May 26, the aptly titled Live from Jazz at the Bistro features Jones' working band of the past 12 years and is available for pre-order now.

* The group of musicians from the STL Free Jazz Collective, Vernacular String Trio, and others recording under the "Secret Sessions" banner have released another album as a pay-what-you-will download on Bandcamp.  

* Trumpeter Adam Hucke of the Funky Butt Brass Band (and various other local ensembles) is the subject of a feature story in this week's Riverfront Times. Hucke will celebrate the release of his first solo album Madam, I'm Adam with a show Sunday night at the Old Rock House.

* The date is set for the 2017 Old Webster Jazz & Blues Festival, which will take place from noon to 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 16 in the area around the intersection of Lockwood and Gore in Webster Groves' "Old Webster" business district. The festival's lineup of bands will be announced at a later date.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Jazz this week: Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival, tributes to Oliver Nelson and Ella Fitzgerald, a new weekly jam session, and more

As Jazz Appreciation Month 2017 moves past the halfway point, the calendar of live jazz and creative music performances here in St. Louis takes a turn toward the historic, with events scheduled to pay tribute to St. Louis' own Oliver Nelson, as well as to Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Dizzy Gillespie, and more. Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, April 19
The Saxquest Jazz Orchestra will play the music of saxophonist, composer and St. Louis native Oliver Nelson for the first of two nights at Jazz at the Bistro.

The nine-piece band (three reeds, three brass, three rhythm) will perform material from throughout Nelson's career, with an emphasis on works addressing topics of civil rights and social justice, including "I Hope In Time A Change Will Come," "Emancipation Blues" and "The Kennedy Dream Suite," as well as songs from Nelson's most famous album Blues and the Abstract Truth.

Also on Wednesday, the weekly jam session hosted by pianist Curt Landes, bassist Glen Smith, and drummer Chuck Kennedy continues at @Nesby's in South County.

Thursday, April 20
Cabaret Project St. Louis presents their monthly open mic night, now re-named "Broadway Open Mic," at its new home, the Curtain Call Lounge; and trumpeter Jim Manley and keyboardist Chris Swan play at The Pat Connolly Tavern.

Friday, April 21
The first of two nights of the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival's public performances at the Touhill Performing Arts Center will feature a tribute to Louis Armstrong, starring trumpeter Terrell Stafford, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, saxophonist Chris Vadala, and the UMSL Big Band directed by Jim Widner.

For more about the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival, plus some videos of Stafford, Gordon, Vadala, and Saturday night's headliner, trumpeter Jon Faddis, (pictured, top left) see this post from last Saturday.

Also on Friday, Jazz St. Louis will celebrate the centennial of the birth of Ella Fitzgerald at Jazz at the Bistro with the first of two evenings of music associated with Fitzgerald as sung by Anita Jackson (pictured, bottom left), with help from drummer Montez Coleman, pianist Adaron “Pops” Jackson, bassist Bob DeBoo, and saxophonist Ben Reece.

Elsewhere around town, drummer Steve Davis, singer Feyza Eren, and band will perform at the Ozark Theatre; and Miss Jubilee plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom.

Saturday, April 22
The Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival concludes with a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dizzy Gillespie, featuring Gillespie's protege Jon Faddis and Friends, at the Touhill.

Sunday, April 23
Singer Chuck Flowers will perform in a late-afternoon matinee at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups.

Monday, April 24
Dizzy Atmosphere will play swing and Gypsy jazz for diners at The Shaved Duck, and the Webster University Jazz Singers will present their final performance of the semester at Winifred Moore Auditorium on the Webster campus. 

Tuesday, April 25 
Troy's Jazz Gallery begins a new, weekly Tuesday night jam session hosted by drummer Montez Coleman.

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, April 18, 2017

Lee Morgan documentary opening
Friday, April 28 at the Tivoli Theatre

I Called Him Morgan, the well-reviewed new documentary about the life and death of trumpeter Lee Morgan, is getting a St. Louis engagement, opening on Friday, April 28 at the Tivoli Theatre.

Morgan, a major trumpet star of the 1960s, first gained fame as a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and later had a big pop hit with "The Sidewinder." He was shot dead when he was just 34 years old by his common-law wife, Helen, in February 1972 during a gig at Slugs', a club in New York City.

Described as "part true-crime tale, part love story, and an all-out musical treat," I Called Him Morgan recounts the story of their volatile relationship and the killing, using an audio interview conducted with Helen more than 20 years later as the basis for the tale. 

The film, which was directed by Swedish filmmaker Kasper Collin and shot by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Bradford Young, who worked on the recent hits  Arrival and Selma, also includes archival photographs and footage, interviews with Morgan's friends and fellow musicians, and recordings of his music.

You can watch the trailer for I Called Him Morgan in the embedded window below, and see a Q&A with the director, recorded at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, here.