April in St. Louis: It's Rainin' Jazz!

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The weather’s just too great to make sitting down in front of a computer screen and banging out a column seem like an inviting proposition. Flowers are blooming, trees are full of blossoms and baseball is back. There’s even a Cardinals day game later this week. But there is plenty that’s inviting about the St. Louis jazz scene in April as well. Start with the possibility of a drive down to Columbia after Thursday’s game to catch Herbie Hancock at historic Jesse Hall on the University of Missouri campus. Tickets are still available for what promises to be a great show that’s part of the We Always Swing jazz series.

Back in St. Louis the following week you can catch plenty more keyboard, sax and vocal excitement in four great performances. Brian Auger brings his new Oblivion Express lineup into Generations on Tuesday the 13th. Auger will be playing his usual outstanding organ and keyboards, accompanied by his son Karma on drums and his daughter Savannah on vocals. Bassist Jeff Golden rounds out the band, which has dropped guitar to focus on a sound similar to Auger’s legendary ‘60s band, Trinity.

Wednesday you get two jazz pianists for the price of one when Les McCann joins the Monty Alexander Trio Wednesday the 14th through Saturday the 17th. By the way, if you haven’t already, check out Alexander’s new CD on Telarc, Rocksteady, featuring guitarist Ernest Ranglin. Jamaican native Alexander actually started his musical career as a teenager working alongside Ranglin at Kingston’s famed Studio One, and this recording is one tasty blend of jazz and ska/reggae sounds. Add McCann’s funky approach and the Bistro is sure to be locked into a groove during all 8 sets of this one.

No that’s not all. Argentine sax legend Gato Barbieri makes a very rare St. Louis visit at the Sheldon Concert Hall Saturday the 17th. Just a thought... do you think Gato might stroll a block over to the Bistro after his concert to sit in with Alexander and McCann on their late set? I’d definitely want to be there just in case. (By the way, Alexander and his trio (without McCann) play two sets at Murry’s in Columbia on the 18th.)

Then on Sunday the 18th, vocalist Mary Stallings is featured in performance at the Sheldon, backed by great local players Johnnie O’Neal on piano, Jeffrey Anderson on bass and drummer Jerome “Scrooge” Harris. Stallings has jumped back into the vocal spotlight with her critically-acclaimed MAXJAZZ recording, Live at the Village Vanguard, and in the intimate, acoustically-perfect Sheldon, she should put on a memorable show. The concert is also a benefit for a very worthy non-profit group, Community Women Against Hardship.

Okay, you’ve probably blown your budget by now, but there’s more. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe hits Mississippi Nights on Laclede’s Landing on Monday the 19th... and Chilean singer extraordinaire headlines at Jazz at the Bistro on Friday and Saturday, April 23rd & 24th. Finally, April concludes with a visit to Jazz at the Bistro April 28th- May 1st by Stefon Harris and Blackout. Enjoy!

For more information:

Jazz at the Bistro
We Always Swing jazz series
Sheldon Concert Hall
Mississippi Nights

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