Jazz This Week: Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Oikos Ensemble, Craig Pomranz, St. Louis Rivermen, Andy Coco's Rhythm Section Road Show, and More


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If you feel like combining jazz and Christmas this weekend, you're in luck, as there are several holiday themed performances by local and touring musicians coming up over the next few days around the St. Louis area. And if you're not quite ready to go the full-on holiday music route just yet, you can also find funky soul-jazz, traditional New Orleans and swing music, cabaret, and more. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, Washington University's student jazz ensembles will perform a free concert as part of the Jazz at Holmes series. This will be the final JAH presentation of the semester; the winter/spring lineup for the series usually is announced toward the end of the break between semesters.

Also tonight, jazz-rock/fusion band Steizuello are downtown at Plush; and funk organ trio Downstereo are playing at Atomic Cowboy, where they'll be doing a regular Thursday gig until further notice.

On Friday, bassist Andy Coco's Rhythm Section Road Show opens a two-night gig at Jazz at the Bistro. This will be the Bistro debut for the Road Show, who offer up soul-jazz and funk from a variable cast of players drawn from several local bands, including Hip Grease (who originally were scheduled to play the Bistro this weekend, but bowed out a couple of weeks ago), The Feed, Gumbohead, and others.

Friday night also offers a couple of home-for-the-holidays gigs, as singer and St. Louis native Craig Pomranz will be back from NYC to present the cabaret production “The Break-Up Show" at Kranzberg Arts Center, with an encore performance on Saturday.

That same evening, drummer Montez Coleman, bassist Chris Thomas and pianist Tony Suggs will join forces at Cigar Inn in Belleville. This gig is particularly noteworthy because all three musicians are locals who have “made good" touring with internationally known performers - Coleman with Roy Hargrove and McCoy Tyner; Thomas with Dianne Reeves and Josh Redman, and Suggs with the Count Basie Orchestra.

On Saturday afternoon, the Oikos Ensemble will present their Christmas program “Follow That Star: A Jazz Nativity" at First Congregational Church United Church of Christ, 10 W. Lockwood in Webster Groves.

The production features saxophonist Rev. Cliff Aerie; his daughter, vocalist Arianna Aerie; and a cast of St. Louisans that includes singer Kim Massie, trumpeter Danny Campbell, pianist Carolbeth True, bassist Dave Troncoso, and drummer Kevin Gianino. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to benefit the St. Louis Back Stoppers Inc., Joplin Relief Tornado Fund, Webster-Rock Hill Ministries Food Pantry and the Bi-State Pet Food Pantry. “Follow That Star" will be repeated on Saturday night and again on Sunday afternoon.

Also on Saturday night, singer Erin Bode and her band will give a holiday-themed performance at New Covenant Church in Weldon Spring; and singer Becky Alexander and saxophonist Sammy Hag's trio will be at Robbie's House of Jazz.

On Sunday, there's a double dose of New Orleans-style traditional jazz, starting in the afternoon as the St. Louis Jazz Club presents a matinee featuring longtime local favorites Red Lehr and the St. Louis Rivermen at the Doubletree Hotel at Westport.

Then on Sunday evening, New Orleans' own Preservation Hall Jazz Band (pictured) will present their “Creole Christmas" show at the Sheldon Concert Hall. Thought the PHJB has played in St. Louis several times in recent years, this will be the first time they've done “Creole Christmas" here, and this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the band's founding. For more about that, and some video samples of them in action, check out this post from a couple of weeks ago.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday the Sessions Big Band will be at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups for their final appearance there this year; and vocal students from Webster University will present their annual cabaret showcase and benefit at the Kranzberg Arts Center, with a repeat performance on Tuesday.

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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.

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