STLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Helen Sung, Marcus Strickland and the Metta Quintet


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This week, we've got a grab-bag of videos related to the Metta Quintet, who will be in St. Louis next week to do an educational residency for Jazz St. Louis, culminating in performances at Jazz at the Bistro on Friday, October 31 and Saturday, November 1.

As the the official resident ensemble of JazzReach Performing Arts & Education Association in NYC, the Metta Quintet spends a good deal of time in educational settings, but the group's members - pianist Helen Sung, saxophonists Marcus Strickland and Mark Gross, bassist Joshua Ginsburg and drummer/JazzReach founder H. Benjamin Schumann - are all accomplished working players with substantial musical resumes outside the group as well. (Past members of the Metta Quintet include saxophonist Mark Turner and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, both of whom have led their own groups at the Bistro in recent years, and pianist George Colligan.)

Unfortunately, there seem to be no readily available videos online that feature the entire quintet in action, so instead, let's take at look at some clips featuring two of the group's better-known members. First up is a video featuring pianist Helen Sung performing “Blues Connotation" at the Perugia jazz festival in Italy earlier this year, backed by bassist Giuseppe Bassi, drummer Sangoma Everett and saxophonist Roberto Ottoviano.

The next video embed features an excerpt from a performance by saxophonist Marcus Strickland's group Twi-Life in April 2008 at Small's in NYC. The video quality is not great, as the clip was shot using only ambient light in a dark club, but the sound certainly is good enough to hear what Strickland is playing, ably abetted by guitarist Lage Lund, bassist Carlos Henderson and drummer E.J. Strickland.

Finally, since the Metta Quintet will be giving school performances and working with music students during their visit to St. Louis, today's final clip is an excerpt from a workshop in which they coach student musicians at the Garde Arts Center in New London, CT through some basic improvisations on the standard “C Jam Blues." Although the objective musical value of this clip is slight (assuming you're not one of the students involved, or a proud parent of same), it does provide a glimpse of how the Metta Quintet helps young musicians get acquainted with jazz concepts, as well as the enthusiasm they bring to the task.

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