Jazz This Week: Thomas, Whitaker, Hayward and Warfield; Chris Hazelton and Cory Weeds; Oikos Ensemble; and More
This week's schedule of live jazz and creative music includes a diverse group of musician/educators brought together here by a returning St. Louisan; visiting players from Kansas City, Vancouver and Mississippi; the debuts of two new ensembles featuring some top local musicians; and more. Let's go to the highlights....
Tonight, the Route 66 Jazz Orchestra performs at First Unity Church of St. Louis, 4753 Butler Hill Rd in south county.
On Thursday night, the Young Friends of Jazz St. Louis and two other local organizations' young friends" groups will present the annual Jazz Under The Stars" benefit at the Planetarium in Forest Park. The event will include live music from guitarist Eric Slaughter, bassist Bob Deboo, saxophonist Willie Akins, pianist Jesse Gannon, and drummer Marty Morrison.
Also tomorrow, the St. Louis Avant-Garde Ensemble makes its debut at the Tavern of Fine Arts. This new project features Fred Tompkins, flute and melodica; Jim Hegarty, piano and electronics; Tracy Andreotti, cello; Lee Scott Price, guitar; and Thomas Zirkle, percussion and electronics.
And while all that's going on, the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University will have something a little different this Thursday: a free screening of the Mississippi blues documentary film We Juke Up In Here, produced and directed by St. Louis resident Jeff Konkel and former St. Louisan Roger Stolle. Along with the film, the event will include a Q&A with Konkel and Stolle and a performance by guitarist and singer Jimmy Duck" Holmes.
On Friday, pianist Reggie Thomas, who grew up and worked here for most of his life but moved away last year for a teaching job in Michigan, will be back in town to perform for the second time since the move. Thomas (pictured) will join forces with bassist Rodney Whitaker (a fellow faculty member at Michigan State University), trombonist Andre Hayward, and saxophonist Tim Warfield for shows on Friday and Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro.
All four men have been in town throughout the week as part of an educational residency for Jazz St. Louis, performing and teaching at local schools and working with students in the Jazz St. Louis All-Stars and JazzU programs. Thomas, of course, is a longtime StLJN favorite who's well known to local jazz fans, and yr. humble editor found Hayward to be particularly impressive a few years ago here with the SF Jazz Collective at the Bistro. (And that's certainly not to slight Whitaker or Warfield, both of whom have impressive resumes of their own.)
Also Friday, the St. Louis Big Band plays for dancers at Casa Loma Ballroom, singer Joe Mancuso brings a quartet to Robbie's House of Jazz; and Eric Slaughter will lead a quartet with Akins, Morrison and DeBoo at Cigar Inn.
On Saturday afternoon, singer Wendy Gordon and her band will be playing a new jazz brunch, this one at Ace's Bar and Grill, 9600 Natural Bridge Rd (inside the Comfort Inn) on the north side. Meanwhile, across town, trumpeter/vibraphonist Joe Bozzi and his group will be performing a matinee at Schoemehl's Southside Grill, 7529 Michigan Ave.
Then on Saturday evening, organist Chris Hazelton, who's from Kansas City, and Cory Weeds, a saxophonist from Vancouver, will team up for a performance at Robbie's. Hazelton is a former student of Hammond master Dr. Lonnie Smith, while Weeds frequently plays in the organ-trio format and also operates a club called the Jazz Cellar in Vancouver. As far as StLJN can tell, this gig is the St. Louis debut for both men; check out their respective websites for some music samples.
Also on Saturday, singer Danita Mumphard will perform at Jazz on Broadway; and the WirePilots, a new group featuring brothers Dan and Ted Rubright on guitar and percussion plus Ric Vice on bass, will debut at the Tavern of Fine Arts.
On Sunday, the Oikos Ensemble, featuring Rev. Cliff Aerie on saxophone, will present a free concert called Inner Jazz" at Kirkwood United Church of Christ, 1603 Dougherty Ferry Rd. Aerie's collaborators for the performance will include Carolbeth True (piano), Danny Campbell (trumpet), Dave Troncoso (bass) and Kevin Gianino (drums).
Also on Sunday, multi-instrumentalist Lamar Harris will present a free concert at Missouri History Museum in Forest Park, offering jazz interpretations of the music of the late hip-hop performer/producer J Dilla.