Jazz This Week: John Pizzarelli, Kirk Whalum, Marcus Roberts, Four in One, and More
It's a busy weekend for jazz and creative music in St. Louis, and time is short, so let's skip the introduction and go straight to the highlights...
Tonight, guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli opens a four-night engagement at Jazz at the Bistro. A longtime local favorite thanks to numerous previous appearances in St. Louis, Pizzarelli currently is on tour promoting both a book (the musical memoir" World On A String) and a new album, Double Exposure.
The album features Pizzarelli doing what essentially are live mash-ups - pop songs from writers such as Lennon and McCartney, Neil Young, James Taylor, Leiber and Stoller, Tom Waits and Joni Mitchell, re-conceived using grooves, harmonies and arrangement ideas borrowed from Wes Montgomery, Billy Strayhorn, Thad Jones, John Coltrane and others. For more about Double Exposure, and some video samples of recent Pizzarelli performances, see this post from a couple of weeks ago.
Also tonight, multi-instrumentalist Lamar Harris is playing a free show at the Missouri History Museum, featuring music from hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest reworked in what's being described as an experimental jazz style.
Tomorrow night, singer Kim Fuller will be be the featured performer in Songs of Love and Other Difficulties: Work and Protest Songs," a free concert presented by the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University. Also on Thursday, eclectic singer Jessica Fichot, whose work ranges from computer music to children's songs, does an early-evening show at Rue Lafayette; and guitarists Tom Byrne and Eric Slaughter will play at the new Central West End venue Troy's Jazz Gallery. UPDATE - 10:00 p.m., 11/28/12: The Byrne/Slaughter gig has been postponed" for one week to next Thursday, December 6.
On Friday, Rue Lafayette has another early evening show featuring Victor & Penny, a Kansas City duo playing music inspired by pre-WWII pop and jazz. Later that evening, trumpeter Randy Holmes and singer Tom Heitman will play the music of Frank Sinatra at Robbie's House of Jazz; saxophonist Kendrick Smith leads a quartet at the Cigar Inn in Belleville; and the Funky Butt Brass Band takes the stage at Broadway Oyster Bar.
Saturday offers several interesting choices, too, starting with pianist Marcus Roberts and his trio performing at the Sheldon Concert Hall. A longtime associate of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, Roberts impresses both with his technical skills and his ability to incorporate ideas derived from classic pianists like Fats Waller and James P. Johnson into a modern context. For more about Roberts and some video samples of him in action, see this post. Also, The Sheldon is offering a buy one, get one free" discount on tickets for the show; for details on that, go here.
Also on Saturday, saxophonist Kirk Whalum brings his Gospel According to Jazz Christmas" show to the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church. The concert also will feature pianist Keiko Matsui and singer Amber Bullock, the St. Louisan who recently won BET's Sunday Best Gospel reality show competition, as well as singers John Stoddart and Kevin Whalum and the FTMBC's own choir.
And as if that weren't enough for one evening, Saturday also marks the debut of the new band Four In One (pictured) at Robbie's House of Jazz. The group features four well-known musicians, all associated with Webster University - guitarist Steve Schenkel, bassist Ric Vice, drummer Alan Schilling, and saxophonist Paul DeMarinis - offering new interpretations of the music of Thelonious Monk using electric instruments.
On Sunday, the University of Missouri-St. Louis music department presents their annual UMSL's Jazz for the Holidays" show at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. The free concert will include music from the UMSL Jazz Ensemble, Vocal Point and University Orchestra. Also on Sunday, singer Erin Bode and her group will perform in a Christmas dessert" concert at Third Baptist Church, 620 N. Grand Blvd (across the street from Jazz at the Bistro).