Tonight, the inaugural St Lou Fringe Festival opens with an evening of performances that will include the first of four stagings of Cool Like That: A Tribute to Miles Davis, an event that incorporates spoken word, music, and dance to pay tribute to the legendary trumpeter.
Also tonight, there's another jazz-meets-theater experience in the offing as Stages St. Louis' production of the Fats Waller musical Ain't Misbehavin' continues through the weekend (and on until the end of the month). Other gigs tonight include saxophonist Jim Stevens playing an early set at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups; and singer Tony Viviano performing at Fortel's, 15483 Clayton Rd. in Ballwin.
On Friday, guitarist Charlie Hunter returns to St. Louis to open a two-night stand at Jazz at the Bistro. Known for his distinctive technique that lets him play melody, chords and basslines all at once, Hunter will be performing in a duo with drummer Scott Amendola. For more about Hunter, and lots of video footage of him in action, check out this post from last Saturday.
Also on Friday, singer Erin Bode plays a free outdoor concert sponsored by Ferguson CityWalk at the Plaza at 501, 501 S. Florissant Rd; trumpeter Jim Manley brings a quartet to Robbie's House of Jazz; guitarist Dave Black will lead a trio at Cigar Inn; and singer Anita Jackson will perform at Jazz on Broadway.
On Saturday afternoon, Hunter will present a master class at City Music; see the link for enrollment details.
Then on Saturday night, there are a couple more free outdoor events on tap, as the Gateway City Big Band plays a free concert at Kirkwood Amphitheater; and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis will present a free screening of the 1967 Jacques Tati film Play Time with live musical accompaniment from guitarist Curt Brewer, bassist Ben Wheeler, and drummer Marty Morrison.
Also on Saturday, Robbie's will feature a tribute to Billie Holiday from singer Sarah Jane Ulrich and saxophonist Jerry Greene.
On Sunday, the Saint Louis Jazz Club presents the Funky Butt Brass Band in a matinee concert at the Doubletree Hotel at Westport. When that winds down, you should have enough time to get over to the Kirkwood Station Brewing Company, where the Dave Dickey Big Band will be playing their monthly show, joined this time by special guest trumpeter Roger Ingram.
Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday drummer Rob Silverman (of Bach to the Future) and his band will play a free concert at Heman Park in University City, and on Tuesday, the Tavern of Fine Arts presents their monthly Avant-Garde Arts Night" featuring improvised live music.
Last, but by no means least, next Wednesday night the great baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett (pictured) will perform a free outdoor concert as part of the Whitaker Music Festival series at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Bluiett's local gigs are rare enough that any one of them can be considered an occasion, but this one should be particularly special, as he'll be leading an all-star band that is scheduled to include pianist D.D. Jackson, bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake.
Bluiett remains one of the most influential and important modern players on his chosen instrument, and with three such distinguished and experienced collaborators, the sparks really ought to be flying on Wednesday night. If you've heard Bluiett play before, you're likely already making plans to be there. If you haven't heard him, this is your chance to check out a truly world-class musician and St. Louis legend for free, and you definitely should take advantage of the opportunity.