Jazz This Week: Kurt Elling, Ronnie Burrage, Phil Woods, Andre Delano, and More
It's another busy week for jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with the return of one of the top male singers in jazz; a rare local appearance by a legendary saxophonist; homecoming gigs featuring three different musicians who grew up in the area, and much more. Let's go the highlights....
Tonight, the St. Louis Jazz Orchestra, directed by bassist Jim Widner and featuring top musicians from all around the metro area, plays the music of Count Basie at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.
Tomorrow night, singer Kurt Elling opens a four-night engagement at Jazz at the Bistro. One of the most critically acclaimed jazz singers working today and a relatively frequent visitor to St. Louis, Elling was here most recently in 2011. His latest album 1619 Broadway - The Brill Building Project, which came out last year, focuses on novel interpretations of pop tunes created at the famous NYC address that was home to Bacharach and David, Lieber and Stoller, Goffin and King, and other hit songwriters of the 1950s and 60s. For more about that album, and some video samples of some recent performances by Elling, see this post from last Saturday.
On Thursday, drummer and U. City native Ronnie Burrage, who's played with jazz greats including Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner and Joe Zawinul and now teaches at Penn State University, will be back home for the first of several events this week, leading a trio in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University. Also on Thursday, it's the monthly Avant-Garde Arts Night" featuring live improvised music at the Tavern of Fine Arts.
Then on Friday evening, Burrage and a quartet featuring saxophonist Freddie Washington will perform for the first of two nights at The Office, located at 5917 Delmar (east of Skinker, in the building most recently home to Binion's). That same evening, Lindy Hop St. Louis presents their monthly West End Stomp" swing dance at the Mahler Ballroom with music from guitarist-singer Tommy Halloran's quintet; and guitarist Tom Byrne leads a trio with drummer Steve Davis and bassist Nathan Pence at Cigar Inn.
On Saturday afternoon, Burrage will present a drum workshop and master class at the Wolf Public House in Ballwin; tickets are available through the event's sponsor, Mozingo Music.
On Saturday evening, an hour or so to the south of St. Louis down in Park Hill, MO, renowned saxophonist Phil Woods will be the special guest performer for this year's Carol Moore Memorial Jazz Festival at Mineral Area College. Now 81, the bebop master continues to spread the musical legacy of Charlie Parker, with whom he was personally acquainted. (In fact, after Parker's death, Woods wound up marrying his widow, Chan Parker, who died in 1999.) The event will feature a series of student bands from around the area performing throughout the day, and conclude with an evening concert featuring Woods, the MAC Jazz Ensemble, and MAC Kicks Band.
Update, 12:30 a.m., 2/27/13: Michael Goldsmith, director of jazz at Mineral Area College, emailed to add that Woods will be presenting a free, public master class at noon on Saturday. Also, there actually will be two separate concerts that night featuring Woods and the MAC bands: one at 6:00 p.m., which already is sold out, and one at 8:30 p.m., for which tickets still remain.
Also on Saturday, saxophonist Willie Akins fronts a quartet at Robbie's House of Jazz, Miss Jubilee will perform for dancers at Casa Loma Ballroom, singer Joe Mancuso leads a trio at EdgeWild Restaurant and Winery, and singer Ann Dueren's trio will be at Il Bel Lago.
On Sunday, saxophonist and East St. Louis native Andre Delano, whose R&B-flavored style has been featured on tours and recordings with Maxwell, Jeff Lorber, Bobby Womack, Lionel Richie and many others, returns home from California to perform in an early evening show with Good 4 The Soul at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups.
Looking beyond the weekend, on Tuesday guitarist Larry Brown Jr., who grew up in Venice, IL and attended SIUE, will return from Chicago to present a jazz tribute to Motown great Marvin Gaye as part of the Notes From Home" series at the Sheldon Concert Hall.