Jazz This Week: Poncho Sanchez, Catherine Russell, the Cunninghams, and More


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As Jazz Appreciation Month 2014 continues past the halfway point, the live performance calendar this week in St. Louis includes several touring performers visiting our town, the return of a veteran of Gaslight Square, and the usual variety of activity from local musicians. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, percussionist Poncho Sanchez and his band (pictured) open a four-night engagement continuing through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro. One of the standard-bearers for mainstream Latin jazz, Sanchez' group over the years has consistently offered satisfying grooves topped with engaging solos, and the current edition is no exception. You can check out some relatively recent Sanchez performances on video in this post from a couple of Saturdays ago.

Also tonight, the Route 66 Jazz Orchestra returns to Kirkwood Station Brewing Company; Cabaret Project St. Louis presents their monthly “open stage" event at the Tavern of Fine Arts; and Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center presents a double-bill featuring free improvisation by Joe Hess, Nick Horn, Alex Cunningham and Dave Stone, plus some more structured jazz sounds from the newish band Boysiac, with Mason Baran, Matt Villinger, Joe Hibbs, and Nathan Pence.

Tomorrow night, Miss Jubilee will being doing double duty, with a happy hour performance at Magpie's in St. Charles and a late night session downtown at Thaxton Speakeasy; and guitarist Dave Black and Friends, including singer Joe Mancuso, will be at Nathalie’s.

On Friday, the Twin Cities jump blues and swing band Davina and the Vagabonds will be back in town for a show at The Gramophone, with singer/guitarist Tommy Halloran's Guerilla Swing as opening act. That same evening, Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will perform at the Highway 61 Roadhouse; singer Feyza Eren will lead a quartet in concert at the Kranzberg Arts Center; and guitarist Tom Byrne's trio plays at Cigar Inn.

On Saturday evening, singer and multi-instrumentalist Don Cunningham and his wife, singer-pianist Alicia Cunningham - better known as The Cunninghams - will be visiting from their home in Las Vegas to perform at 560 Music Center, accompanied by a local rhythm section including pianist Carolbeth True, Jeff Anderson on bass, and Gary Sykes on drums. You can read more about Don Cunningham's days performing in Gaslight Square, his first meeting with Alicia, the couple's subsequent popularity as a touring act in Asia, and more in this short feature about them that I wrote a few years back for the Riverfront Times.

If the Cunninghams' close harmony and occasional forays into exotica aren't your bag, you might want to check out singer Catherine Russell, who will be making her St. Louis debut as a headliner on Saturday at the Sheldon Concert Hall. Russell is sometimes referred to as “the daughter of jazz royalty," and you can find out more about that and see some video samples of her performing in this post from last Saturday. And if that piques your interest, you also should know that The Sheldon and Metrotix now are offering a discount on tickets to the concert.

Elsewhere around town on Saturday, saxophonist Jason Swagler, guitarist Eric Slaughter, bassist Nick Jost, and drummer Marty Morrison will take the stage at Robbie's House of Jazz; singer Tony Viviano returns to Talayna's of Chesterfield; and the Funky Butt Brass Band will play at the Old Rock House.

On Sunday, saxophonist Jim Stevens and band will perform in a matinee by the Mississippi at The Loading Dock in Grafton; and pianist Dave Venn will be holding forth at Pomme Café & Wine Bar.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday the student jazz singers from Webster University will cap their semester with a performance at Winifred Moore Auditorium on campus.

Then on Tuesday, this spring's series of “Twilight Tuesday" concerts at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park gets underway with saxophonist Michael Fitzgerald offering “A Tribute to Miles Davis and David Sanborn"; and the SIUE Concert Jazz Band & Alumni, directed by Brett Stamps, will be back for another evening at Jazz at the Bistro.

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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

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