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STLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Spotlight on Patrice Rushen

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This week, we turn our video spotlight on keyboardist, singer and composer Patrice Rushen, who will be in St. Louis to perform next Sunday, June 29 at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

UPDATE - 12:30 p.m. 6/21/14: Less than an hour after this post went up, a reader got in touch to say she had tried to purchase tickets to the Patrice Rushen show yesterday, only to find it gone from both the Sheldon and Metrotix websites.

Sure enough, it seems that any mention of a Rushen performance has disappeared from the Sheldon site, and the Metrotix page for the show now says “This event is no longer available online," which makes things seem mighty dicey. Yr. humble StLJN editor has reached out to the Sheldon's marketing/PR person to try to find out what's going on, but their office are closed today so it may be Monday before anything can be confirmed. Stay tuned...

UPDATE - 1:10 p.m., 6/21/14: I just spoke with a customer service rep at Metrotix, who, after checking with her supervisor, told me that the Patrice Rushen show is still on. She could not explain why tickets cannot be purchased online, but said they're available for purchase at the Sheldon, the Fox box office, or by phone at 314-534-1111. This post will be updated again once someone from the Sheldon responds.
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Rushen, a Los Angeles native who will turn 60 this year, is best known to many music fans for her 1980s hits “Forget Me Nots" and “Haven't You Heard," but there's much more to her story.

After earning a music degree from USC, Rushen was signed to Elektra and originally was marketed as a funk/fusion keyboardist, recording a half-dozen albums before hitting the pop and R&B charts with “Forget Me Nots" in 1982.

Over the course of her career, she's accompanied, composed, arranged and/or produced for a variety of jazz, R&B and pop musicians, including Janet Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Prince, Lionel Hampton, Carlos Santana, Boys II Men, George Benson, Jean Luc Ponty, Tom Jones, Nancy Wilson, Michael Jackson, Dianne Reeves, Sheena Easton, Stanley Turentine, Joshua Redman and numerous others.

Despite all that, some fans may have lost track of Rushen in recent years, as she hasn't released an album under her own name since 1997's Signature. But though she may not be quite as visible publicly as earlier in her career, Rushen has stayed busy as ever, writing music for film and TV; serving as music director for live events like the Grammy Awards show and for tours by singer Janet Jackson; and teaching at both USC and at Berklee College of Music.

With her children now grown, Rushen has said in recent interviews that she's amenable to touring a bit more again, and so perhaps a new album will be forthcoming at some point in the not-too-distant future.

In the meantime, Rushen has done some recording with others, like the 2007 trio album of standards she made with drummer Ndugu Chancler (who she's known since high school and worked with on many projects) and bassist Stanley Clarke, the nominal leader of the date.

Thanks to a reissue of the album this year that included a DVD from the sessions, you can see them playing one of the tracks, the Sonny Rollins bebop standard “Oleo," in the first video up above. If anyone was wondering if Rushen can play straight-ahead jazz as well as funk and fusion, this clip should squash any doubts about that once and for all.

After the jump, you can see Rushen and a band led by guitarist Lee Ritenour (and seemingly augmented by some pre-recorded backing tracks) perform “Forget Me Nots" at the 2009 North Sea Jazz Festival.

Below that, there's a version of “Haven't You Heard" recorded at a 2011 gig in London with a band that included saxophonist Eric Marienthal and drummer Ricky Lawson.

That's followed by a full set from a 2012 show in the UK, featuring Rushen with Chancler, guitarist Doc Powell, saxophonist Everette Harp, and bassist Freddie Washington.

The next clip goes way back to the 1988 Montreux Jazz Festival, when Rushen performed with an all-star band led by saxophonist Wayne Shorter and guitarist Carlos Santana; this excerpt features her demonstrating her chops via a solo on Shorter's “Elegant People."

Finally, the last clip is an outtake from the documentary film Down the Rhodes: The Fender Rhodes Story in which Rushen talks about her use of the sonically distinctive electric piano.

For more about Patrice Rushen, check out this 2012 conversation with SoulInterviews.com; and this 2012 interview with SoulandJazzandFunk.com, which is in two parts.

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








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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
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