Hot Jazz in the February Deep Freeze
The deep freeze has settled in big time in the St. Louis area over the past couple of weeks. And temperatures and wind chill factors in the single digitsoccasionally with a minus sign in frontcertainly don't encourage jazz fans to bundle up and head out into the bitter cold to catch some live music. But for those willing to make the effort, there's certainly plenty of good stuff to hear in local clubs and concert halls this month.
Let's begin with Jazz at the Bistro, where vocalist Jeanne Trevor, whose St. Louis roots go back to the 1960s and the heyday of Gaslight Square, plays the club Friday and Saturday, Feb. 9 & 10. Drummer and vocalist Grady Tate comes in for four nights at the Bistro starting on Valentine's Day. He'll be backed by the always tasty reggie Thomas on piano, bassist Zeb Briskovich and drummer Montez Coleman (which means you can expect plenty of singing from Tate). The following Friday and Saturday, February 23 7 24, Thomas will be back at the bistro with his OGD trio (organ, guitar, drums), backing his former music instructor at Lincoln High in East St. Louis, Ronald Carter. These days, Carter is Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University, where he has built an excellent program. By the way, Carter will also be speaking at a free reception presented by Jazz saint Louis at 6 pm on Tuesday, February 27th on the fourth floor of the Centene Center for the Arts, located at 3547 Olive St.. February closes out at the Bistro with a return visit by vocalist and pianist Tony DeSare from February 28 through March 3.
Around the corner from the Bistro, The Sheldon Concert Hall has a winning lineup of jazz this month as well. On Friday, February 9, Victor Goines and the Juilliard Jazz Small Ensemble will perform in concert with some talented local high school and college music students from the area. Goines and the Ensemble will also be conducting workshops with local music students during the day on Friday at the Sheldon. Saturday, renowned pianist Fred Hersch and his Ensemble will present his interpretation of poet Walt Whitman's masterwork, Leaves of Grass. Kate McGarry and Bradley Fox will provide the vocals for Hersch's musical settings. Then get ready to party hearty for Mardi Gras with Don Vappie and the Creole Jazz Serenaders on Saturday, February 17. Vappie is a New Orleans native whose family has been part of the Big Easy musical tradition for generations.
The Sheldon also continues its special "Notes From Home jazz concerts in conjunction with the special exhibition of area jazz memorabilia and artifacts on display in the Sheldon Art Galleries tied to Dennis Owsley's book, City of Gabriels: A History of Jazz in St. Louis, 1895-1973. Trombonist Brett Stamps leads the SIUE Jazz Ensemble on Feb. 20, with plenty of talented special gueststhe ubiquitous Reggie Thomas, Tom Kennedy and Rick Haydon, to name a few. Stamps, who just finished recording his debut CD as a leader, In Your Own Sweet Way, will have that CD available for sale at the concert.
On the higher education front, Washington University's Holmes Lounge jazz series continues February 15 with a performance by Washington U. Music Department faculty member and guitarist William Lenihan.. The concert is free and begins at 8 p.m. For more info, call 314-935-4841.
The Webster University Jazz Series continues with a couple of Monday concerts at Moore Auditorium on campus. February 19 the program is called "Crossing the BridgeRollins and Hall Revisited. The Webster Jazz Studies faculty members Paul DeMarinis, Steve Schenkel, Willem von Hombracht and Kevin Gianino will recreate the famed 1962 recording, The Bridge, which featured Sonny Rollins and Jim Hall. On Monday February 26, the program is titled "Ellington Is Forever! not many other details at this point, but Duke is always a good place to start.
Finally, The Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri St. Louis will feature local vocalist Brian Owens in concert on Sunday, February 25. The concert, billed as a "Black History Music Celebration, will feature an array of compositions from traditional spirituals to the music of Ellington, Billie Holiday and other African-American musicians and composers. Admission is $15.
For many more listings for the fine local jazz musicians appearing in the St. Louis area, check out Dean Minderman's St. Louis Jazz Notes.