Spring Music... and Memories
It's been a strange spring weather-wise in the St. Louis area, but the music scene has seen plenty of highlights over the past couple of months. The Pat Metheny/Brad Mehldau concert at the Sheldon Concert Hall in early April was outstanding, and recent appearances by Ahmad Jamal and Mulgrew Miller at Jazz at the Bistro. over the past few weeks were memorable as well.
Now both the Sheldon and the Bistro are into the final weeks of their the 2006/07 seasons, but there are still some concerts that qualify as "don't miss music. Venerable piano legend Dave Brubeck returns to the Sheldon on Sunday, June 3 with his current quartet in a benefit performance for the Sheldon's educational programs. On Wednesday, May 23, violinist extraordinaire Regina Carter wraps up the Jazz at the Bistro season with sets at 8:30 and 10:15 through Saturday, May 26.
And if you would like a preview of what the Bistro has in store for its 2007/08 season, stop by the club Friday and Saturday, May 18 and 19. It's an open house (free admission) featuring music by Jazz Saint Louis and Jazz at the Bistro Operations manager Bob Bennett on sax, backed by Adaron "Pops Jackson on piano, guitarist Shaun Robinson and other special guests.
Upcoming jazz shows at Finale feature pianist Beegie Adair on May 18 and 19, a tribute to Miles Davis on his birthday, May 26, featuring trumpeter Randy Holmes and Hard Bop heritage, and the Karl Denson Trio on June 7.
By the way, now that June is on the horizon, that means the return of the Saint Louis Jazz & Heritage Festival at Shaw Park in Clayton. This year, the Fest is consolidating to a single day schedule on Saturday, June 2. Music will run from noon until 10 p.m., featuring national headliners Ramsey Lewis, George Benson and Poncho Sanchez and local acts Jeanne Trevor, Kim Massie, SL Son, Lamar Harris and the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Big Band. Tickets are $20 for lawn seating and $75 for VIP seating.
Finally, I want to take a moment to write about the untimely passing of Bob Borgstede, one of the finest guitarists in the St. Louis area. Bob died on May 3 after five weeks in the hospital. He had pancreatitis, and complications from that serious illness. He was only 27, but he accomplished a great deal in that short time through his music. Bob won the ASCAP Young jazz Composer's Award in 2005 for his original song, "Nola's Waltz. After graduating from the SIU-Edwardsville jazz studies program, Bob taught for almost five years at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville.
I had the opportunity to hear Bob in a variety of settings: the CD release party for his recording, Narrative Threads, as a member of the bands Arvell & Co. and Wild, Cool & Swinging, in concert with vocalist Brian Owens for the recording of his live CD, Inspired,, and in the studio, recording tracks for Anita Rosamond's This Is Christmas CD.
Bob was always a delight to hear on guitar. Even more importantly, he was a great guy to be around. A memorial service at Southwestern Illinois College on May 9 was attended by more than four hundred of his friends, including dozens of Bob's fellow musicians, who paid tribute to him through their music. Fittingly, Rich Hayden, Bob's guitar instructor at SIUE, concluded the memorial by saying, "As any musician will tell you, applause is the best gift you can ever give them. So let's have one last round of applause for Bob. The resulting standing ovation, which lasted several minutes, said all there needed to be said about Bob... as a musician and as a human being.
Bob is survived by his wife Sarah and his two-year-old son, Bobby. Memorial donations may be given to the Bobby Borgstede Special Funds, Regions Bank, 210 East Washington St., Belleville, IL 62220.