Jazz This Week: Ann Hampton Callaway, Nevermore Jazz Ball, Trombone Shorty, and More


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This week's highlights in jazz and creative music include the return to St. Louis of a singer, songwriter and pianist who's been a longtime local favorite, and a funky New Orleans trombonist who's rapidly becoming one, plus a weekend-long event that attracts swing dancers from around the country, and more. Let's go to the highlights...

On Wednesday, the aforementioned singer, songwriter and pianist Ann Hampton Callaway opens a four-night engagement continuing through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro.

Callaway (pictured) has played St. Louis many times before, most recently in March 2011 at the Bistro, and has a substantial and loyal fan base here. This time, she'll be showcasing material from her forthcoming CD From Sassy to Divine: A Celebration of Sarah Vaughan, which is scheduled for release next year. Given Callaway's continued popularity in St. Louis, advance reservations are strongly suggested.

Tomorrow night, the weekend-long Nevermore Jazz Ball kicks off with a “welcome" evening of music from Wack-A-Doo at the Schlafly Brewery & Tap Room. The ball continues with more dances, classes, contests and other activities through Sunday; read on for more about the other musical performances.

Also on Thursday, singer Denise Thimes will present her annual benefit for the Mildred Thimes Foundation, performing the music of the late Phyllis Hyman at the Sheldon Concert Hall; multi-instrumentalist Jeff Anderson, concentrating on tenor sax for the evening, leads a quartet in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University; and Sandy Weltman will showcase his virtuoso skills in a harmonica workshop at Mozingo Music in O'Fallon.

On Friday, the Nevermore Jazz Ball gets going in earnest with an afternoon performance from singer-guitarist Tommy Halloran at City Museum and an evening of dancing to music from Miss Jubliee at the Casa Loma Ballroom. Also on Friday, singer Wendy Gordon performs at DeLeo's Café & Deli, 2782 N. Lindbergh; drummer Robert Tucker leads a quartet at Robbie's House of Jazz; guitarist Tom Byrne brings his trio to Thurman Grill; and singer Zena Star will hold forth at the Cigar Inn.

On Saturday afternoon, the Nevermore Jazz Ball will present the Cherokee Street Jazz Crawl, a free, open-to-the-public event featuring nine different St. Louis bands and soloists playing at venues and businesses along a stretch of Cherokee St, from roughly the 2300 block up to the 2800 block. Participating performers and locations this year include Saxquest's nine-piece jazz orchestra at Saxquest; Tommy Halloran's Guerrilla Swing at Retro 101; Miss Jubilee at Foam; Tom Hall at Scarlett Garnet Jewelry; Wack-A-Doo at Black Bear Bakery; Devil's Dream at I Scream Cakes; Swing Deville at MELT; the Jazz St. Louis All-Stars at Blank Space; plus the Saint Boogie Brass Band, who presumably will be roaming about. 

The ball continues on Saturday evening with another dance featuring trumpeter and pianist Ben Polcer's Nevermore Jazz Band at Casa Loma, plus a late night event at the Grandel Theatre featuring banjo player Jake Sanders' Arcadian Serenaders.

Elsewhere around town n Saturday, Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will play swing, traditional jazz and jump blues at Malle's, 3506 Hampton Ave; and pianist Carolbeth True brings the quartet version of her band Two Times True to Robbie's House of Jazz. That same evening, singer Ann Dueren's trio is at Il Bel Lago; and saxophonist and percussionist “Raven Wolf" C. Felton Jennings II will team up with poet Dwight Bitikofer and some other friends to play the Stone Spiral Coffee House.

On Sunday, Kirkwood United Church of Christ continues its monthly “Inner Jazz" series with the Oikos Ensemble, led by saxophonist Rev. Cliff Aerie and this month featuring guest singer Kim Fuller. Later that evening, the Nevermore Jazz Ball concludes with a final performance from Ben Polcer and band at 2720 Cherokee.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday New Orleans' own Trombone Shorty (aka Troy Andrews) will be back in town with his band Orleans Avenue to play at the Old Rock House. For more about Shorty and lots of video of him and the band in action, please see this post from last Saturday.

Also on Monday, percussionist Joe Pastor's trio returns to BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups; and music students from Webster University will be doubly busy, as the student jazz combos present another free performance at the Community Music School, while the singers involved in the cabaret program will have their annual showcase and benefit at the Kranzberg Arts Center.

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