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Jazz this week: Christian McBride, The Soul Rebels, Greg Tardy, Grand Marquis, and more

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The calendar of live jazz and creative music coming up in St. Louis features several noteworthy visitors for the Memorial Day weekend, including a renowned.bassist and bandleader; a veteran saxophonist who's played with some very well-known jazz names; one of New Orleans' busiest brass bands; and more. Let's go to the highlights...

Wednesday, May 24

Bassist Christian McBride opens a four-night engagement continuing through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro.

Having played the club in 2014 with his trio and in 2009 with the quintet Inside Straight, this time McBride is showcasing his latest group, New Jawn, a quartet featuring trumpeter Josh Evans, saxophonist Marcus Strickland, and drummer Nasheet Waits. (For those curious about the band's name, “jawn" is an “all-purpose noun," perhaps derived from “joint," used specifically by Philadelphia natives.)

With no piano, guitar or vibes to supply chords, New Jawn's instrumentation give McBride plenty of harmonic freedom while interacting with Evans and Strickland. It's a setup that's proven adaptable to a variety of jazz styles dating back to at least the 1950s, when Ornette Coleman's original quartet and the Gerry Mulligan/Chet Baker “cool jazz" ensemble both eschewed chordal instruments with memorable, yet very different, results.

You can get an idea of what McBride, Evans, Strickland and Waits are doing with that flexibility in this video of Thelonious Monk's “Raise Four", recorded last September at SFJAZZ in San Francisco, and this clip of Monk's “Mysterioso," from a show this March in Russia.

Also on Wednesday, singer Marsha Evans will perform for the “Chapel Concerts" series at St. Vincent Home for Children, and trumpeter Jim Manley will be back for his weekly gig at Sasha's Wine Bar.

Thursday, May 25

The Soul Rebels will perform at the Old Rock House.

Putting a contemporary spin on the New Orleans brass band tradition, the Soul Rebels are known for re-imagining hit songs from a variety of genres, and for their frequent collaborations with an equally diverse range of bands, singers, and MCs.

You can find out more and see some videos of them in action in this post from Saturday before last.

Also on Thursday, The 442s will return to Cyrano's, and saxophonist Greg Tardy (pictured, center left) will be in town for a free, early evening performance at Saxquest.

Tardy, who heads the jazz studies departments at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, has released more than a dozen albums as a leader, enjoying a relationship of more than a decade with the indie label Steeplechase Records. He's also worked with a number of well-known jazz musicians, most notably Elvin Jones, Dave Douglas, Avishai Cohen, Brad Mehldau, and Joshua Redman.

Friday, May 26

Saxophonist Harvey Lockhart and the Collective will be back at The Dark Room; guitarist Tom Byrne and singer Erika Johnson will make their debut at the Parkside Grille in West County; and the Second Generation Swing Band will play for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom.

Saturday, May 27

The Kansas City-based jump blues and swing band Grand Marquis returns for a performance at the Casa Loma Ballroom; the Midwest Jazz-tette returns to Evangeline's, and the Kevin Lucas Marimba Band will play a concert at the Jacoby Arts Center in Alton.

Sunday, May 28

The Folk School of KDHX will host their monthly Traditional Jazz Jam Session on Sunday afternoon.

Later in the afternoon and just a short distance away in Grand Center, more than thirty St. Louis musicians and singers will join forces for the “Willie Akins Jazz Festival," an event paying tribute to the late saxophonist at the Grandel Theatre.

Organized by singer Joe Mancuso, the concert also is intended to raise money for music scholarships in Akins' name, and so while the event is free and open to the public, donations will be accepted at the door, and there's also a GoFundMe page for online contributions.

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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
Copyright © 2018. All rights reserved.

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