Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday Session: April 22, 2018

Kamasi Washington
Here's a 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:

* Why the Hell Can’t Hollywood Make a Decent Music Festival Movie? (Los Angeles)
* A record shop life (
* Cape Town Festival Honors Hugh Masekela (DownBeat)
* The Unlikely Pairing of Louis Armstrong With Ella Fitzgerald Is (Still) Pure Bliss (Mother Jones)
* Laurindo Almeida: Forgotten Genius of Guitar Arrangement (Acoustic Guitar)
* Bill Charlap: “I’m Not a Composer” (Jazz Times)
* Beyond 'Blurred Lines': How Forensic Musicology Is Altering Pop's Future (Rolling Stone)
* The State of the Music Cities Union (
* This Must Be David Byrne (GQ)
* Kendrick Lamar's 'DAMN.' Wins Historic Pulitzer Prize In Music (NPR)
* Pulitzer Prize Administrator Explains How Kendrick Lamar Won (Billboard)
* This Year’s Other Two Pulitzer Finalists on Losing to Kendrick Lamar (Slate)
* What the classical-music world can learn from Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize (Washington Post)
* Should Artists Get a Cut When Their Songs Land On Branded Playlists on Spotify? (Billboard)
* Kamasi Washington on how South Central shaped his experiential new record (
* My Amazing Day…and Night, with Jimi Hendrix (
* Los Tigres Del Norte Perform At Folsom Prison 50 Years After Johnny Cash (NPR)
* 10 of the Best Music Podcasts (Variety)
* Tiger Lily Records: The wild story of the tax scam label run by the notorious Morris Levy (Part II) (
* "Jazz & Social Justice": A Playlist by Angela Davis (
* Vinyl: Ornette Coleman’s Revolution (DownBeat)
* Global Recorded Music Revenues Grew By $1.4 Billion in 2017 (Music Industry Blog)
* Outlaws of the Airwaves: The Rise of Pirate Radio Station WBAD (KCRW)
* What Is HD Vinyl and Is It Legit? (Gizmodo)
* The great Record Store Day debate and why we like vinyl so much, anyway (Alternative Press)
* The Beatles: In Defense of Revolution 9 (Den of Geek)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Spotlight on the John Scofield Joe Lovano Quartet

Today, StLJN's video spotlight shines on the John Scofield Joe Lovano Quartet, who will be in St. Louis to perform starting next Wednesday, April 25 through Saturday, April 28 at Jazz at the Bistro.

In terms of both popularity and musical accomplishments, both Scofield and Lovano rank in the upper echelon of current jazz players on their respective instruments, and their musical relationship dates back to the early 1990s, when they put together the first version of the quartet.

However, since both are involved in multiple musical projects, their gigs together in recent years have been comparatively rare, with their most recent quartet tour coming back in 2015, and that's the time from which most of today's videos are drawn.

The best-produced documentation from that tour probably is the recording of Scofield, Lovano, bassist Ben Street and drummer Bill Stewart in November at the Leverkusener Jazztage festival in Germany, and you can see a version of Scofield's "Chariots" from that show in the first embedded video up above.

After the jump, there are three more performances from that same Leverkusener Jazztage show: "Slinky," "Hangover," and "Chap Dance."

The fifth clip is an audience-shot video that catches them a little earlier in the same tour, playing "Cymbolism" in late October at the Republic Theater in Salzburg, Germany.

Next, you can see a nearly hour-long interview with both men, recorded in October 2015 at the Blue Note in New York City for NYU's Steinhardt Interview Series.

Last but not least, there's a blast from the past that documents the long duration of the Lovano/Scofield partnership, in the form of a full set of the two of them with Stewart and the late bassist Dennis Irwin in 1993 at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy.

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

Friday, April 20, 2018

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 is featured in a new instructional video for Jazz at Lincoln Center's "Jazz Academy."

* Trumpeter/singer and U City native Jeremy Davenport's song "One Way Ticket to New Orleans," written to commemorate the city's tricentennial, was the subject of a feature story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

* Grant Green Jr. will take his father Grant Green's music on the road this summer to help promote Resonance Records' release of two previously unheard albums by the guitarist and St. Louis native (pictured).

In addition to Green Jr, who is Green's eldest son and also a guitarist, the band billed as "Grant Green's Evolution of Funk" will include saxophonist Donald Harrison, keyboardist Marc Cary and drummer Mike Clark, and will make their debut with performances from June 28 to July 1 at NYC's Jazz Standard.

* On a related note, London Jazz News has reviewed Green's two new Resonance albums, Live at Oil Can Harry's and Funk in France, which will be released officially this Saturday, April 21 for Record Store Day.  You can find much more on this year's RSD jazz releases in this article from DownBeat.

* Drummer Kevin Bowers was interviewed about his shows this weekend at Jazz at the Bistro by the Post-Dispatch's Kevin Johnson.

* Multi-instrumentalist Adam Maness has composed and produced music for a new video honoring the St. Louis Cardinals' Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson on the 50th anniversary of his historic performance in 1968, aka "The Year of the Pitcher."

With some coaching from Maness and singer Brian Owens, kids from the not-for-profit LIFE Arts, Inc wrote and performed the lyrics for the video, which can be seen on Major League Baseball's site

* Speaking of baseball, the Cardinals' Ernie Hayes was among the MLB ballpark organists featured in a recent post by JazzWax's Marc Myers.

* The Sheldon Concert Hall has posted to Facebook an album of photos from Ramsey Lewis' performance at last Friday night's benefit gala and an album from last Saturday's performance by pianist Abdullah Ibrahim and Ekaya.

* Singer Denise Thimes' Mothers Day show raising money to fight pancreatic cancer, which will be held this year at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, was previewed in an article by Ladue News' Emma Dent.

* Trumpeter Keyon Harrold has been on tour in the UK and Europe, and his show last week at Jazz Cafe in London got a rave review from Jazzwise magazine.

* Miles Davis was the subject this week of a BBC program hosted by Adrian Utley of the British "trip-hop" band Portishead. Also on the Miles beat, the recently released box set Miles Davis & John Coltrane — The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6 was reviewed by the Village Voice's Michael J. Agovino.

* HEC-TV has produced a video featuring testimonials from two local students, Kendall Blumenthal and Brittany O'Reilly, who have benefited from music scholarships awarded by Jazz St. Louis.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Jazz this week: Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival, The Sunset Stomp, "Bach and Jazz," and more

It's a big week for big bands in St. Louis, as the calendar of upcoming jazz and creative music events in St. Louis features a couple of famed large ensembles as headliners of the annual Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival.

There's also a retrospective of the Harlem Renaissance and a look at how Johann Sebastian Bach influenced jazz, plus plenty of other performances in jazz styles ranging from vintage to modern. Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, April 18
Jazz St. Louis' "Whitaker Jazz Speaks" series continues at Jazz at the Bistro with Washington University professor Gerald Early talking about "Harlem's Renaissance,"  followed by a performance of music associated with the period.

Meanwhile, this week's "Grand Center Jazz Crawl" will help kick off the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival by featuring small ensembles from UMSL's jazz program at The Stage at KDHX and as opening acts for the jam session led by bassist Bob DeBoo at the Kranzberg Arts Center and for trumpeter Kasimu Taylor's band at The Dark Room.

Also on Wednesday, the Ambassadors of Swing return for the monthly "Shake n Shout" event at Tin Roof St. Louis.

Thursday, April 19
Singer Erin Bode performs at Cyrano's, and the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival continues with trumpeter Hermon Mehari (pictured, top left), who's originally from Kansas City and now splits his time between there and Paris, leading a quartet at The Dark Room.

(You can find out more and see some videos of performances by Mehari and the headlining bands of the GSLJF's weekend shows in this post from last Saturday.)

Friday, April 20
The SLGJF presents the University of North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, while drummer Kevin Bowers reunites the band from his Nova project for the first of two nights at Jazz at the Bistro.

Also on Friday, pianist Dave Venn begins a new weekly. early-evening gig at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel's Sidecar Lounge, and singer Danita Mumphard will perform at the Webster Groves Concert Hall

Saturday, April 21
The Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival concludes with a performance by Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band (pictured, bottom left); and Carolbeth True and Two Times True will be joined by singer Joe Mancuso at the Webster Groves Concert Hall.

Sunday, April 22
This week's Sunday jazz brunch options include The Bonbon Plot playing bossa nova and more at The Dark Room, and Miss Jubilee singing vintage jazz and blues at Evangeline's.

Also on Sunday afternoon, the St. Louis Jazz Club presents traditional jazz band The Sunset Stomp from Indianpolis, IN at the  Doubletree Hotel St. Louis at Westport.

Monday, April 23
The Webster University Jazz Singers will show off what they've learned this year in a performance at  Winifred Moore Auditorium on the Webster campus.

Also on Monday, Dizzy Atmosphere returns to The Shaved Duck, and trumpeter Jim Manley will be back at his weekly residency at Momo's Greek Restaurant.

Tuesday, April 24
As part of St. Louis Bach Festival 2018, the Bach Society of St. Louis will present "Bach & Jazz" with singer Erin Bode, guitarist Steve Schenkel and pianist Kim Portnoy at Jazz at the Bistro.

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 17, 2018

Joe Policastro Trio to perform
Thursday, May 3 at The Dark Room

The Chicago-based Joe Policastro Trio is coming to St. Louis to perform at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 3 at The Dark Room. Admission to the show is free (though The Dark Room does require a food or drink purchase).

The group (pictured), which includes the leader on bass along with guitarist Dave Miller and drummer Mikel Avery, is touring to promote their latest album Screen Sounds.

The trio's third release, after 2013's West Side Story Suite, and 2016's POPS!, Screen Sounds features their re-imaginings of music from film and TV, ranging from Cool Hand Luke to Yojimbo to Twin Peaks and more.

When not touring, Policastro, Miller and Avery perform three nights a week at Chicago’s Pops For Champagne, and individually, their credits include work with the likes of Phil Woods, Jeff Hamilton, Diane Schuur, Patricia Barber, Joshua Abrams, Rob Mazurek, and more.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Willie Akins Jazz Festival set for
Sunday, May 27 at Grandel Theatre

The second annual Willie Akins Jazz Festival will take place starting at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, May 27 at the Grandel Theatre.

The event honors the late St. Louis saxophonist by raising money for music scholarships in his name at Webster University, where Akins (pictured) was an adjunct faculty member. Singer Joe Mancuso is organizing the fest and will serve as co-MC with singer Erika Johnson, who worked with Akins early in her career.

The concert will feature music from saxophonist Ben Reece's Unity Quartet, trumpeter Danny Campbell's quartet, and the "Willie Akins All-Stars," an ad hoc group of musicians who worked with and/or knew Akins, including saxophonists Freddie Washington, Paul DeMarinis and Kendrick Smith, guitarist Tom Byrne, bassist Willem von Hombracht, and drummer Kyle Honeycutt.

Following the concert, the action moves to The Dark Room, where pianist Ptah Williams, bassist Darrell Mixon and drummer Gary Sykes will host a post-performance jam session.

Tickets for the Willie Akins Jazz Festival will be $12 for general admission, available at the door.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday Session: April 15, 2018

Nina Simone
Here's a 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:

* The British jazz explosion: meet the musicians rewriting the rulebook (The Guardian)
* Monika Herzig’s SHEroes Addresses Gender in Jazz (DownBeat)
* Why Hip-Hop Is Taking Center Stage On Netflix's Original Music Programming (
* At Tiny Telephone music studio, recording to tape is not a metaphor (KALW)
* MATA at 20 (New Music Box)
* How Drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath Learned to Play Jazz (Westword)
* Philadelphia native James Mtume returns to celebrate 35th anniversary of ‘Juicy Fruit’ (New Pittsburgh Courier)
* Jimmie Vaughan’s B-3 Vibe (Jazz Times)
* The Deceptively Accessible Music of Cecil Taylor (The Atlantic)
* Illuminating Cecil Taylor with Pianist Jason Moran, on The Checkout (WBGO)
* Turning The Tables: The 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women (As Chosen By You) (NPR)
* “All at Full Fullness”: Remembering Cecil Taylor - Steve Coleman, Vijay Iyer, Jason Moran, Matthew Shipp and Wadada Leo Smith pay tribute to an avant-jazz icon (Jazz Times)
* All That Jazz: A #JazzAppreciationMonth Podcast Round-up (
* Music Publishers Win Major Copyright Fight Over Streaming of Legendary Rock Concerts (Hollywood Reporter)
* Composer Tyondai Braxton: 'I'm at war with myself. That's what the piece sounds like' (The Guardian)
* Spotify could kill Jazz, Soul and Classical music. Really. (
* Q&A with Al Di Meola: In a Good Place (DownBeat)
* The New Jazz Torchbearer: Kamasi Washington on His Musical Message (Rolling Stone)
* Cecil Taylor and the Art of Noise (The New Yorker)
* The Revolutionary Genius of Cecil Taylor (The New Yorker)
* The British Guitar Embargo: When Brits Were Banned from Buying American (
* How Nina Simone Captivated a New Generation (Rolling Stone)
* In Memoriam: Cecil Taylor (DownBeat)
* ‘It’s an insane project’: Toronto resident documenting city’s live-music history through posters (The Globe and Mail)
* Esperanza Spalding: Redefining Production - The bassist, composer and bandleader on her innovative recent "pop-up" album, "Exposure" (Jazz Times)
* How Musicians Are Using Field Recordings to Capture the Politics of Place (
* ‘A Singular Sound, A Singular Force’: Artists Remember Jazz Great Cecil Taylor (
* Saxophonist Kamasi Washington Announces New Album 'Heaven and Earth' With Two Teaser Videos (
* Hitting Reboot: Manhattan Transfer (DownBeat)
* American orchestras: Revamping the model, or embracing the obvious? (Washington Post)

Saturday, April 14, 2018

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Previewing the 2018 Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival

This week, let's take a look at some videos of the musicians who will be performing at the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival, which takes place next week and culminates with concerts on Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

While the first part of the festival involves student bands from around the area working with and performing for visiting clinicians, the GSLJF also usually has several public events. This year, those performances include a show by trumpeter Hermon Mehari on Thursday at The Dark Room, and the weekend concerts at the Touhill, which will feature the One O'Clock Lab Band from the University of North Texas on Friday and Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band on Saturday, with the UMSL Jazz Band directed by Jim Widner as opening act on both nights. Small ensembles from UMSL also will be performing as part of next week's "Grand Center Jazz Crawl" on Wednesday night.

Based in Los Angeles and stocked with first-call West Coast musicians, the Big Phat Band occupies a place in the jazz world not unlike that once held by Stan Kenton and later Maynard Ferguson. They're favorites of band directors and members of high school and college student big bands across the country, thanks to their energetic live show and slickly executed arrangements, and no doubt aided by their willingness to travel and perform at high schools and small colleges as well as at more prestigious venues.

The first video of the Big Phat Band up above, "Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes," was recorded in 2016 at one of those off-the-beaten-path gigs at New Trier High School in Winnetka, IL, near Chicago. So were "Count Bubba's Revenge" and "Horn Of Puente," the two numbers that follow it after the jump. While the videos are low-res, the audio quality is good, and the three numbers depicted give a good taste of the Big Phat Band's sound and stylistic range.

The One O'Clock Lab Band is the top student band at the University of North Texas, home to one of the most storied and longest-running collegiate jazz programs in the USA. Although like any college band, they have ongoing turnover in membership, the One O'Clock band over the years has maintained a consistent high standard of musicianship rivaling many professional ensembles, as you can hear in the next three videos.

"Hey, It’s Me You’re Talking To" is an arrangement of a tune by drummer Victor Lewis, recorded on March 1 of this year at Winspear Hall on the North Texas campus, as was the Robert Washut arrangement "Beneath the Mask" just eight days later. The third of clip of the group, a new arrangement of the venerable "Harlem Nocturne," was recorded last November, also at Winspear Hall.

Today's last two videos feature Hermon Mehari. who grew up in Kansas City and now splits his time between there and Paris, France. "Minority" is, as Mehari mentions in his introduction, a staple of his live shows, seen here in a version recorded last October at Belleville Brûlerie in Paris, while "I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face" showcases Mehari alongside the acclaimed young pianist Aaron Parks in a live-in-the-studio promotional clip for the trumpeter's 2017 debut album Bleu.

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