Jazz This Week: The Cunninghams, Tony Desare, "Bag and Beyond," and More


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It's a week of homecomings for St. Louis jazz, as performers from both the Gaslight Square era of the early 1960s and the experimental period of the late 1960s return to local venues.

The Gaslight Square veteran is singer/percussionist/multi-instrumentalist Don Cunningham, who now lives in Las Vegas and works with his wife Alicia, a singer and pianist, as The Cunninghams. They'll be at the Sheldon Concert Hall this evening with an act that's a mix of cleverly arranged jazz vocals, straightahead swing, Latin jazz, lounge music and exotica, honed by many years touring the United States and Asia as headliners and as featured performers with the Count Basie Orchestra. I wrote more about The Cunninghams when they were in town in July 2007, and you can read those posts here and here.

Also returning to St. Louis this weekend are saxophonist Oliver Lake, trumpeter Rasul Siddik and other members of the original Black Artists Group, the musicians and artists collective that flourished here briefly in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Lake, Siddik, and many other former BAG members will be at the Metropolitan Gallery downtown this weekend in conjunction with a three-day series of events dubbed “BAG and Beyond."

It starts with a reception on Friday evening for an exhibit by artist Oliver Jackson, another co-founder of the multi-disciplinary arts collective. Saturday's concert will showcase Siddik, performing with pianist Katy Roberts, plus a group led by saxophonist Freddie Washington and featuring young trumpeter Marlon Bonds, plus additional musical, poetry and spoken word performances. On Sunday, Lake will perform on a bill that also includes his fellow World Saxophone Quartet member and BAG co-founder, baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett (who still lives nearby in Brooklyn, IL), poet Quincy Troupe and others. For more on the “BAG and Beyond" weekend, see the posts here, here and here. (As an aside, this week's edition of the St. Louis American features some previously unpublished poetry by Troupe and other BAG associated writers; read their work online here.)

Elsewhere in town, clarinetist Scott Alberici will give a free concert tonight to kick off the fall 2008 Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University. Alberici probably is the preeminent local player on his instrument, with great technical facility and a pleasing tone, and his incorporation of modern influences - to these ears, similar in some ways to the approach of Eddie Daniels - allows him to demonstrate respect for the long history of the clarinet in jazz without being completely hemmed in by traditional conceptions.

Last but not least, singer/pianist Tony DeSare (pictured) has returned for another stint at Jazz at the Bistro, where he'll perform through Saturday night. (DeSare's not from St. Louis, but given that this is his fourth trip here in the last three years, he's probably starting to feel somewhat at home.) If you're a fan of vintage Frank Sinatra or and/or Harry Connick Jr., chances are you'll enjoy DeSare, who's a highly skilled piano player as well as a personable entertainer. You can see a couple of videos of DeSare in action here.

These performances are just some of the week's highlights, so to see listings of more jazz-related events in and around St. Louis this weekend and beyond, please visit the St. Louis Jazz Notes Calendar.

(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.

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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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