Jazz This Week: Tony Bennett, Kurt Elling, Peter Martin and Wendell Brunious, "Drum Line II" and More


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Along with an assortment of jazz and creative music instrumentalists, this week brings two outstanding male vocalists to St. Louis—one representing the tradition of jazz-influenced popular singing, the other offering what amounts to a survey of the current state of the art in contemporary jazz vocals.

The representative of tradition is, of course, the great Tony Bennett, who returns to our city tonight to perform at the Fox Theatre. Bennett is currently enjoying another popular success with his recently released album Duets II, which finds him mixing it up with a gaggle of pop, rock, R&B and country singers ranging from Willie Nelson to Lady Gaga. To get an idea of how this plays out in concert, check out this review of Bennett's November 4 show in Philadelphia by AllAboutJazz.com's Lewis J. Whittington.

The contemporary singer, then, would be Kurt Elling (pictured), who's just a little more than half Bennett's age but for the last 15 years has helped define the state of contemporary male jazz singing. While Bennett is on stage at the Fox tonight, Elling will be opening a four-night stand at Jazz at the Bistro. This will be Elling's first appearance in St. Louis since the release earlier this year of his most recent recording, The Gate. For more about him, the album, and some video clips of songs from it, see this post from last Saturday.

On Thursday, the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University wraps up their fall slate of free concerts with “Bass 3—Basses with Drums," described in this week's promotional email from JAH as “an avant-garde take on the standard jazz trio. As with last week, the performers in the group have yet to be announced, so come for a surprise in this atypical jazz setting." UPDATE㬇/16/11, 10:50 a.m.: Bassist Willem von Hombracht has posted on his Facebook page that he'll be playing this gig along with fellow bassist Bob DeBoo and Eric Stiller.

Also on Thursday evening, saxophonist Jim Stevens' group plays an early show at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups; and Webster Groves High School's award-winning jazz combos will give a public performance at Highway 61 Roadhouse in Webster.

On Friday, guitarist Brian Vaccaro will celebrate the release of his new CD Going Through the Motions with a concert at Eliot Chapel in Kirkwood. Guitarist Teddy Presberg's band will share the bill. Also on Friday, guitarist Dave Black's trio plays at the Cigar Inn.

On Saturday afternoon, the Nu-Art Series presents “Drum Line II," a collaboration among jazz and creative music percussionists including Jerome “Scrooge" Harris, Charles “Bobo" Shaw, Gary Sykes, and others, at Metropolitan Gallery downtown.

Then that evening, the Sheldon Art Galleries will stage a benefit at the adjoining Sheldon Concert Hall with music from a group billed as the New Orleans Modern Jazz Masters, which features native New Orleanians Wendell Brunious on trumpet and Jason Marsalis on drums, along with St. Louisans Peter Martin on piano and Chris Thomas on bass, both of whom who have spent time living in NOLA.

Also on Saturday evening, pianist Ptah Williams will lead a trio with bassist Bob Deboo and drummer Demarius Hicks at Robbie's House of Jazz.

On Sunday, singer Denise Thimes will do a free concert for the St. Louis Jazz and Blues Vespers series at Second Baptist Church, 9030 Clayton Rd. in Richmond Heights

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday the Webster University Big Band performs at Winifred Moore Auditorium on the Webster campus, and drummer Joe Pastor's trio plays at BB's.

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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
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