The holiday season may end in terms of the calendar, but it has a tendency to continue rolling pleasantly along in our mental outlook on life. That is, until the bills start showing up. And as freelance writers and musicians all know, that January 16th estimated tax deadline is always a major wakeup call.
It certainly worked for me... and this column is the result. So now that reality has gained the upper hand... and IAJE is over as well... let's see what's up in St. Louis for the rest of January and early February. The first part of January featured the debut of the Bad Plus at Jazz at the Bistro. My reaction? The sets I heard presented enjoyable, and at times innovative music, but it was hardly the cutting edge revolution in the piano trio format that some critics would have you believe. Most of the Bad Plus' originality flows from the group's choice of repertoirechoosing rock tunes to interpret and focusing on original compositions that incorporate rock styles. Still, the members are all very nice guys (especially pianist Ethan Iverson) and fine musicians.
St. Louis vocalist Anita Rosamond, backed by bassist Tom Kennedy and his Trio, played the Bistro January 12 & 13, turning in entertaining sets during the midst of an ice storm that turned out not be the end of the world as we know it, as weather forecasters kept predicting. This week, Fly buzzes into the Bistro Jan. 17 through the 20, and for me, the trio of Mark Turner on sax, Larry Grenadier on bass and drummer Jeff Ballard is doing more interesting things in the pianoless trio format than just about any other combination on the current jazz scene. Don't miss it.
January wraps up at the Bistro with East St. Louis homeboy Montez Coleman on drums, leading a group that should include some talented local players well worth seeing. Soulful vocalist Marlena Shaw returns to the Bistro Jan.31 to Feb. 3, and she always turns in a performance that incorporates plenty of soul, emotion and just plain fine singing. As usual, sets at 8:30 and 10:15 each evening for all Jazz at the Bistro performances.
The Sheldon Concert Hall goes local with its own jazz series this month, presenting pianist Peter Martin and his Trio on Saturday, Jan. 27. Martin now lives back in the area, relocating to University City after Hurricane Katrina. In addition to continuing in his role as musical director for Diane Reeves for the past several years, Martin also leads the "Big River concerts that benefit Katrina victims. St. Louis vocalist Erin Bode and her band open the concert. The Sheldon 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. Blues belter Kim Massie is next up in the series on Jan. 30.
Washington University's, Holmes Lounge jazz series kicks off for the spring semester on Thursday, Jan. 18 with an appearance by Reggie Thomas. Dave Stone follows on Jan. 25, then Tom Kennedy takes the spotlight on Feb. 1 All concerts in the series are free and start at 8 p.m. For more info, call 314-935-4841.
The Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri St. Louis has a couple of jazz events on tap this month. The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra performs on Jan. 21, and trumpeter Chris Botti returns for two concerts on Jan. 26 & 27. Lots of other fine local musicians on the schedule as well.
And don't forget Brandt's Café's Red Carpet Lounge music lineup. Almost always no cover charge, and this month you can catch guitarist Todd Mosby and his fine trio Jan. 17 and 24, and local legend Peanuts Whalum Jan. 18 & 25.
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.