Saturday, August 16, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Summer 2014 jazz film festival, part 2

This week, we are once again in vacation mode, with a second installment of our summer jazz "film festival" offering a whole day's worth of online jazz videos for your viewing and listening enjoyment. In part one a couple of weeks ago, we served up a half-dozen documentary films about jazz greats.

In part two, the theme is simple: "editor's picks, in concert." And so, without further preamble, we present today's selections, starting up above with a full set by Miles Davis, recorded on November 16, 1971 in Turin, Italy with a band including Gary Bartz (alto, soprano saxes), Keith Jarrett (electric piano, organ), Michael Henderson (bass), Ndugu Leon Chancler (drums), and Don Alias and James "Mtume" Foreman (percussion).

After the jump, you'll find a solo concert by Duke Ellington, recorded for Australian television, date unknown; a performance by the Count Basie Orchestra, recorded in 1981 in Paris; and a complete performance by Herbie Hancock and an all-star band at the 1997 Montreux Jazz Festival.

The fifth video features a full concert by Ray Charles from 1975 in Madrid, and we wrap up with a complete show by Weather Report, recorded on September 28, 1978 in Offenbach, Germany and featuring Wayne Shorter (saxophones), Joe Zawinul (keyboards), Jaco Pastorius (bass) and Peter Erskine (drums).

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

Friday, August 15, 2014

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* Last weekend's fundraising event for the Miles Davis Memorial Project was a success, according to an article published this week in the Alton Telegraph.

The group seeking to place a statue of Davis in Alton, where he was born, also has posted to their Facebook page an album of photos from the fundraiser. The project's IndieGoGo campaign continues until September 4, and a "trivia night" fundraiser is scheduled for September 12 at the Commons on the campus of Lewis and Clark Community College.

* On a related note, Prestige Records announced this week that their 65th anniversary reissue series also will include a box set compiling Davis' work for the label.

* Meanwhile, Miles Ahead, actor/director Don Cheadle's feature film about Davis, shot some scenes last week at the former city jail in Dayton, OH, and was scheduled to complete principal photography today in Cincinnati.

* Drummer Dave Weckl and his new acoustic band, which also includes St. Louis native Tom Kennedy on bass, started their tour this week with three dates in California. After that, they'll go to Phoenix, back to Los Angeles and then on Washington DC and NYC.

* Trumpeter and St. Louis native Clark Terry has been named chair of the honorary committee for the 2015 Billy Strayhorn Centennial.

* Drummer Andre Boyd (pictured) was interviewed by drummer/journalist Mike Dolbear.

* The Missouri Association for Jazz Education announced this week that trombonist Steve Wiest will direct the 2015 Missouri All-State Jazz Ensemble. The group will perform at the MMEA Conference in January at the Lake of the Ozarks.

* New Music Box has published the second of my four guest blog posts scheduled this month. It's about opportunities for Missouri students grades K - 12 to get involved in new music via the University of Missouri's Creating Original Music Project (C.O.M.P.) and a collaborative program offered by Alarm Will Sound and the Community Music School of Webster University. 

* Jazz radio update:  This Saturday on Radio Art Foundation- St. Louis' “Somethin’ Else,” host Calvin Wilson will be spinning sounds from underappreciated jazz pianists including Sonny Clark, Andrew Hill and Herbie Nichols.The program con be heard at 8:00 p.m. Saturdays on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at

Then Sunday on KWMU, "Jazz Unlimited" host Dennis Owsley continues his 10-art documentary series on the history of St. Louis jazz with episode number six, covering the the 1970s and '80s. "Jazz Unlimited" is broadcast from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Sundays on KWMU (90.7 FM) and also can be heard online at

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Commentary: The Trouble in Ferguson

Warning: I'm going to do something here I've never done before in nine and a half years of running this site - namely, write about a non-musical topic. If you're not interested in reading this, please feel free to move on to another post, or another site.

My apologies for the lack of posts here this week. In addition to having some other work to do, and some blogging burnout as well, I've been preoccupied with following the events in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis that's less than a 30 minute drive from StLJN HQ.

By now, many of you outside the St. Louis area will have seen news reports about this, and I'm not even going to attempt to recount everything that's gone down in the last five days, although there will be some links at the bottom of this post with more info.

What I will tell you is this: On Saturday, an 18-year-old black kid named Michael Brown was walking to his grandmother's house with a friend when they were stopped by a Ferguson police officer. Brown, a recent high school graduate who had no criminal record, was unarmed.

Statements from witnesses and the statements made by police sources differ on exactly what happened next, but the end result of the altercation was that the officer, whose name still has not been disclosed, shot and killed Brown. Immediately afterward, while police secured the scene and gathered evidence, Brown's body was left uncovered in the road for several hours, causing a great deal of distress for family members and neighbors on the residential street.

The next evening, a group of people gathered near the site of Brown's death were met by a large contingent of police in riot gear. When the crowd disbursed, there was some vandalism and looting of businesses on a nearby commercial street, and one, a QuikTrip convenience store/gas station, was set on fire and destroyed.

This led to three nights of tense confrontations between protestors, who were noisy but almost completely non-violent except for a handful of rock-throwing knuckleheads, and a frighteningly large force of police officers, drawn from more than two dozen local departments, fitted out in military gear, and seemingly determined to escalate tensions rather than ease them.

For three nights in a row, police pointed guns at the protestors, formed battle lines to block the streets and prevent people from moving freely (and in some cases, from getting home), and ultimately wound up using an array of weapons including tear gas, rubber bullets and "baton rounds" to disperse the crowds. In the process, police gassed a state senator; targeted members of the news media, detaining some and firing on others; and in a couple of instance, shot tear gas at people standing in their own yards.

Despite all this, and despite how it may have been portrayed in the media outside St. Louis, there's been no further "rioting," burning or looting. The continuing escalation of tensions appears to have been a result of the actions of police, more specifically the command decisions made by the leaders of the St. Louis County Police Department and the Ferguson PD, and NOT the fault of the protestors, who have been attempting to exercise their First Amendment rights to speak and protest freely. Much of the damage from Sunday night has been cleaned up already, with people pitching in from all over the community; a number of the looters have been arrested and charged; and several of the affected businesses have reopened.

Today, Missouri's governor came to St. Louis, and put the Missouri State Highway Patrol in charge of security for the ongoing protests in Ferguson. With a new man - Captain Ronald Johnson, an African American who used to live in Ferguson - in charge, the easing of tensions onsite seems to have been almost immediate, as he and other police officers mingled, talked and marched with the protestors instead of pointing guns at them.

As I'm writing this shortly after 9:00 p.m. St. Louis time, there have been peaceful protests all over St. Louis and all over the country tonight, but so far, no more violence in Ferguson.

I fervently hope that continues to be the case, and that the investigation of Mike Brown's death, which now has been joined by the FBI, will be thorough, transparent, and lead to a just result. Nothing can undo what's already been done, but the Brown family and the larger community deserve some answers.

In the meantime, there are plenty of large questions that still will need to be addressed, about police conduct in this specific case, and towards black folks and other people of color generally; the militarization of many of our local police departments; racism and political representation; and many other issues that I don't have the time or expertise to comment upon in a meaningful way. So, I'm not even going to try, except to note that these are things we all should be concerned about. 

Instead, I'm going to try to get back to writing about music. I don't know if I'll be able to get a "Jazz This Week" post up in time for it be of any use, but I will update the St. Louis Jazz Notes calendar with all the latest information I've received, and with any luck, something resembling regular posting will resume some time tomorrow.

For more about the situation in Ferguson, this seems to be as evenhanded and accurate an overview of events as I've been able to find so far:

The local daily, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has had reporters on scene all week and has extensive coverage here:

The local NPR affiliate, KWMU aka St. Louis Public Radio, has maintained a timeline of social media posts and other reporting that's being updated on an ongoing basis:

Antonio French, an alderman in the City of St. Louis (which is surrounded by, but not technically part of, St Louis County), has been doing citizen journalism all week, posting videos to his Twitter feed. Alderman French also spent a night in the lockup for his trouble, but even with that interruption, many St. Louisans from all over the area and people from all over the world have been continuing to follow his coverage:

Saturday, August 09, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
New Orleans piano with Tom McDermott

This week, let's take a look at some videos featuring pianist Tom McDermott, a St. Louis native now living in New Orleans who's coming back home to play this coming Thursday, August 14 at the Tavern of Fine Arts.

(The events page on hHis website also shows a gig on Wednesday, August 13 at Joe's Cafe, but none of the three websites associated with that venue make any mention of it, and there don't seem to be any listings of it in local media, so we're still trying to verify that.)

McDermott, 57, grew up here in St. Louis and earned degrees at St. Louis University and Washington University. A fan of ragtime and traditional jazz from an early age, after graduation he did some freelance writing about music for the old St. Louis Globe-Democrat before his interest in New Orleans music prompted him to move there in 1984.

He found work first as solo pianist, and eventually joined the Dukes of Dixieland, touring extensively and recording several albums with the group. Then in 1995, he co-founded the New Orleans Nightcrawlers and made three albums with them while also continuing his solo career.

McDermott has worked frequently with clarinetist Evan Christopher, and more recently has been doing a regular weekly gig with singer Meschiya Lake. With a dozen albums as a leader to his credit, his music has been used on NPR, and he's also had small roles in several movies and TV programs, most notably the HBO series Treme.

One of his most recent recordings is a duo album with Lake, recorded earlier this year at their regular gig at Chickie Wah Wah, and last year, famed producer Van Dyke Parks oversaw the compilation of a "best of" album called Bamboula.

Interestingly, McDermott has come to be regarded as something of an expert on New Orleans traditional music and piano styles, an unusual distinction for a non-native of the city. In 2012 he was asked to present a performance and lecture about New Orleans piano styles at Tulane University, and you can see that presentation in its entirety in the first video window up above.

After the jump, there are two clips that McDermott selected for posting on his own website: his interpretation of Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag," recorded in December 2007 at his home in New Orleans, and an excerpt from a set he played with Meschiya Lake at Louisiana Music Factory during the 2012 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

The fourth clip shows McDermott with Evan Christopher at a gig in 2007 at Snug Harbor in New Orleans, playing in the Brazilian style called choro, which the two explored on the 2005 album Danza.

The final two clips, two more solo pieces recorded at the same time as "Maple Leaf Rag,", are a version of the New Orleans standard "Tipitina" and McDermott's own composition "Copasetic Boogie."

For more about Tom McDermott, read this feature story written by Terry Perkins for the St. Louis Beacon before McDermott's visit back home last year.

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

Friday, August 08, 2014

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

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

* The Miles Davis Memorial Project's campaign to place a statue of Davis in downtown Alton was featured this week in a story on St. Louis Public Radio.

* Meanwhile, this week's news from the set of Miles Ahead, actor-director Don Cheadle's feature film about Davis now lensing in Cincinnati, includes a first look at Emayatzy Corinealdi in costume as Davis' ex-wife Frances Taylor, via IndieWire; and a brief feature about the film on WNYC radio.

* Saxophonist and U City native Marty Ehrlich will help kick off the fall season of the New York chapter of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians with a concert on Friday, September 12 at the Community Church of New York. Ehrlich's Trio Exaltation, with bassist John Hebert and drummer Nasheet Waits, will share the bill with drummer Thurman Barker's ensemble. The series also will feature a concert by saxophonist and former St. Louisan Oliver Lake on November 7.

* Singer Denise Thimes (pictured) has been named a recipient of a 2015 St. Louis Arts Award from the Arts and Education Council. Thimes' trophy for "Excellence in the Arts" will be presented along with the rest of this year's awards at a gala event on January 19 at the Chase Park Plaza.

* The Big Little Big Band has posted to Facebook an album of photos from their concert last week for the St Louis Jazz Club.

* Last Friday's St. Louis Cabaret Festival performance by pianist/singer Billy Stritch and singer Marilyn Maye was reviewed by Chuck Lavazzi of KDHX.

* Single tickets for the various 2014-15 series at the Sheldon Concert Hall go on sale at 10:00 a.m tomorrow, Saturday, August 9. (However, you can get a day's head start by going here and entering the promo code SHE14.) You can listen to music samples from the various performers on the Sheldon's SoundCloud page.

* Saxophonist Tim McAllister, the soloist on the St. Louis Symphony's recent recording of composer John Adams' City Noir, recounts the history and development of the work in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News' Richard Scheinin.

* Yr. humble StLJN editor is serving this month as a guest blogger for New Music Box, the online publication of New Music USA, and you can see the first of four scheduled posts - an essay about the potential uses and misuses of musical genre designations - here.

* To celebrate the 65th anniversary of Prestige Records, the label is holding a giveaway of prizes including a 20-CD boxed set of remastered recordings supervised by legendary engineer Rudy Van Gelder and reissues of early music by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and more. You can enter the drawing here.

* Jazz radio update: On this Saturday's edition of “Somethin’ Else” on Radio Arts Foundation - St. Louis, host Calvin Wilson will spin music from trios led by saxophonists, including Joshua Redman, Joe Henderson and Branford Marsalis. "Somethin' Else" can be heard at 8:00 p.m. Saturdays on 107.3 FM, 96.3 HD-2, and online at

Then on Sunday night, KWMU's "Jazz Unlimited" continues host Dennis Owsley's documentary look at the history of St. Louis jazz with an episode covering the late-1960s rise of the Black Artists Group and Human Arts Association. "Jazz Unlimited" can be heard from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Sundays on KWMU (90.7 FM) and online at

(Updated after posting to add New Music Box link.)

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Jazz this week: Stooges Brass Band,
free outdoor concerts, and more

Things are fairly quiet again this week for touring jazz acts coming through St. Louis, with tonight the notable exception as the Stooges Brass Band will be in town to perform at the Broadway Oyster Bar.

They're not as well known outside New Orleans as the Dirty Dozen, Rebirth or Hot 8, in part because until recently, they haven't toured as much, and in part because they've released only one recording, back in 2003. But the Stooges have been around since 1996, with former members including notables such as Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews and Big Sam Williams of Big Sam's Funky Nation.

Like most of the contemporary NOLA brass bands, the Stooges incorporate a variety of influences, and their version of the tradition highlights beats in a hip-hop style. Their Facebook page describes them as "Genre Funk, Hip Hop, Brass & all the things that make you GET DOWN," and you can see and hear exactly what that means by checking out the video and audio samples there.

Elsewhere around town tonight, guitarists Tom Byrne and William Lenihan will duet at Remy's Kitchen & Wine Bar; and Miss Jubilee will be back at Thaxton Speakeasy.

Tomorrow night, the Ambassadors of Swing will play for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom; Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will perform at Nathalie's; bassist Darrell Mixon leads a trio at Cigar Inn; and the Broadway Oyster Bar will have more brass band music, this time in the form of St. Louis' own Funky Butt Brass Band.

Looking ahead to Saturday, Samba Bom will bring a bit of Brazil to a free outdoor concert at Kirkwood Park; Wack-A-Doo performs at Evangeline's; singer Joe Mancuso, pianist Kim Portnoy and bassist Glenn Smith will play at Tavern of Fine Arts; and singer Erin Bode and her band will return to Nathalie's.

On Sunday, in addition to a recently proliferating variety of jazz brunch options too numerous to list here (but tallied in detail on the StLJN calendar) the St. Charles Municipal Big Band will play a free outdoor concert at Frontier Park .

Then on Monday, the Sessions Big Band will be back for one of their every-other-month gigs at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups; and guitarist John Farrar and the Park Avenue Trio will hold forth for what's now a regular weekly gig at Evangeline's.

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.)

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Rebirth Brass Band to perform
Thursday, October 9 at The Gramophone

New Orleans' Rebirth Brass Band is returning to St. Louis to perform at 9:00 p.m., Thursday, October 9 at The Gramophone.

The group (pictured) played here most recently in October 2011 at the same venue. Since then, their 2011 CD Rebirth of New Orleans on the Basin Street Records label won a 2012 Grammy Award for Best Regional Roots Music Album. The NOLA-based indie label also is home to St. Louis native, trumpeter and singer Jeremy Davenport.

Rebirth's most recent album Move Your Body was recorded live at the club Howlin' Wolf in their hometown and released on CD in April of this year. Then in July, it was issued on vinyl along with an LP version of Rebirth of New Orleans.

Their St. Louis gig is part of a busy late-summer and fall touring schedule that will include visits to more than 20 different cities interspersed with gigs back home in New Orleans. To promote the tour, the group last week released a music video of a song from Move Your Body, "Rebirth Groove," which you can see at the end of this post.

They also recently have lent their name to Rebirth Pale Ale, a craft beer introduced last month by the NOLA Brewing Company, which will direct a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the brew to The Roots of Music, a nonprofit music-education program co-founded by Rebirth drummer Derrick Tabb. For now, distribution is local to New Orleans, but the company hopes to sell the beer elsewhere in the near future.

Tickets for Rebirth Brass Band at The Gramophone are $21 for general admission and are on sale now.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Summer 2014 jazz film festival

It's summertime, when the livin' is allegedly easy, and yr. humble editor needs a brief respite from the usual blogging routine. So today, in keeping with a venerable tradition that we just made up a couple of years ago, we're bringing back StLJN's online summer festival of jazz-related films, featuring a whole day's worth of documentaries about some all-time greats of jazz. .

First up is On The Road with Duke Ellington, filmed in 1967 by documentarian Robert Drew and updated in 1974 after Ellington's death, which offers an inside look at the Duke traveling and working with his orchestra.

After the jump, you'll find Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way, a 2010 BBC documentary about Brubeck's life and work.

The life of another famous jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson, is the subject of the next film, Music in the Key of Oscar, which was made in 2004.

The fourth movie, The World According to John Coltrane, is a 1990 documentary about the groundbreaking saxophonist, bandleader and composer, directed by Robert Palmer and Toby Byron.

In the fifth slot, it's Triumph of the Underdog, a 1998 documentary about bassist Charles Mingus, produced in cooperation with his widow Sue Mingus and bearing the same name as Mingus' well-known autobiographical book.

The festivities conclude with Queens of Jazz: The Joy and Pain of the Jazz Divas, produced in 2013 by the BBC as "a celebration of some of the greatest female jazz singers of the 20th century," including Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and more.

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

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