There's lots going on in jazz and creative music this week in St. Louis, and so we bring you StLJN's weekly highlights post slightly earlier than usual to perhaps better help facilitate some advance planning.
One of the week's major attractions is the team-up of pianist and singer Les McCann (pictured) and saxophonist Javon Jackson, who will perform Wednesday through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro. Both men previously have led their own bands at the Bistro, but their current collaboration, dubbed Swiss Movement Revisited" in honor of McCann's famed partnership with the late saxophonist Eddie Harris, will be making its St. Louis debut.
Though McCann, who turned 73 last month, and Jackson, who's 43, are from different generations, they seem like a natural musical match - both men have made a lot of groove-oriented music over the course of their respective careers, but both also have shown a proclivity for occasional detours into more adventurous and/or eccentric territory. For some video of McCann and Jackson together, see this post from last Saturday. You may also enjoy perusing this interview Jackson did with StLJN back in 2005.
Also returning to St. Louis this week for a four-night stand is songwriter and poet Fran Landesman, who's performing a cabaret show called The Gaslight Square Years" beginning Wednesday and running through Saturday at the Gaslight Theater, 356 N. Boyle in the Central West End. Landesman is something of a St. Louis legend, having (with her husband Jay) operated the Crystal Palace nightclub, one of the key venues during Gaslight Square's heyday in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Landesman also co-wrote (with pianist Tommy Wolf) the musical The Nervous Set, which ran briefly on Broadway and yielded the frequently recorded tune Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most." The St. Louis Beacon's Bob Duffy, a former Post-Dispatch writer who knew her way back in the day, has a feature story about Landesman and her show here.
Elsewhere in town, NYC-based multi-intrumentalist Cooper-Moore, who plays original jazz- and blues-influenced music on both conventional and self-invented instruments, will perform Saturday at Joe's Cafe and Sunday at the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site's Rosebud Cafe. Cooper-Moore has roots in the 1970s avant garde and loft jazz scene, but since then he's forged his own distinctive musical path. For more on Cooper-Moore's performances, see these twoposts. You also can see an excerpt from a Cooper-Moore improv with bassist William Parker in the embedded video window below.
In addition to these distinguished visitors, St. Louis' local musicians also have much to offer this week, starting on Thursday when saxophonist Dave Stone and pianist Adam Maness (of Erin Bode's group and Orange) perform a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University. If you're still in the mood for more music after Stone and Maness, you can head over to Brandt's in the nearby Delmar Loop and catch the gypsy jazz stylings of Sandy Weltman and Hot Club Caravan.
Then on Saturday, guitarist William Lenihan's quartet will do a free concert at the Kemper Museum on the Wash U. campus as part of the ongoing series accompanying the museum's current Birth of the Cool" exhibit.
Sunday evening brings two more events of interest, starting with a performance by guitarist Matthew Von Doran's trio, featuring Nick Jost on bass and Miles Vandiver on drums, at Music Folk in Webster Groves.
That same night, the 45th Oliver Sain Soul Reunion will take place at the Sheldon Concert Hall, featuring blues and soul from singers Renee Smith, Roland Johnson, Mae Wheeler, Skeet Rogers, Uvee Hayes and Beau Shelby as well as a goodly helping of Sain's funky instrumental compositions as played by the current Oliver Sain Revue. Dan Durchholz has more on Sain's legacy and this year's show in an article for the St. Louis Beacon, found here. (Full disclosure: Yr. humble editor is a member of said Revue, and will be at the keyboards Sunday night at the Sheldon.)
On Monday morning, Red Lehr and the Old St. Louis Levee Band, featuring pianist Pat Joyce, will do a Coffee Concert" of traditional jazz at the Sheldon. (They'll repeat the program at another performance on Tuesday morning.)
On Monday evening, the annual TKT Memorial Scholarship Concert takes place at Webster University's Winifred Moore Auditorium. This year's event pays tribute to the musical legacies of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Billy Eckstine, with featured performers including singers Jeanne Trevor, Sherri Drake, and Eddie Eaton; pianists Marion Miller, Carolbeth True, and Kim Portnoy; guitarists Steve Schenkel and Tom Byrne; Paul DeMarinis on tenor sax; and the rhythm section of Willem von Hombracht on bass and Kevin Gianino on drums. Also on Monday evening, the Sessions Big Band continues their ongoing series of gigs at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups downtown.
(If you have calendar items, band schedule information, news tips, links, or anything else you think may be of interest to StLJN's readers, please email the information to stljazznotes (at) yahoo (dot) com. If you have photos, MP3s or other digital files, please send links, not attachments.)
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.