The December jazz calendar tends to get a little sparse - especially after winter solstice. But until then, there are some very exciting musical offerings for St. Louis area jazz fans - beginning with the visit of Russell Gunn to Jazz at the Bistro December 1-4. Gunn, who grew up in East St. Louis and leanred trumpet under the direction of Lincoln High School bandleader Ron Carter (who now heads the jazz department at Northern Illinois University), is laying down some ferocious grooves at the Bistro. Backed by a new band of drummer Terrion Gulley (also an ESTL home boy), two additional percussionists, electric guitar and bass, alto sax and the talented Takana Miyamoto on keyboards, Gunn - as alwayscontinues to explore interesting new musical directions. Don't miss him!
Other December events at Jazz at the Bistro include local sax legend Willie Akins December 10 and 11... and a rare nightclub appearance by legendary horn player Arturo Sandoval December 15-18.
Another musician with deep St. Louis roots - pianist John Hicks - returns home on Sunday, December 12 in a concert presented by the Union Memorial United Methodist Church and The Crusaders for Jazz, Billed as "Jazz Explosion 2004," the event will feature Hicks and Elise Wood performing two concerts at the Engineers Club, 4359 Lindell Blvd. At 4 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30, and are available through the Church, through Crusaders for jazz or at Left Bank Books. Call 314-367-8314 for more information.
The Webster University Jazz Singers under the direction of Debby Lennon will be performing a concert billed as "Home for the Holidays" on December 6 and 7. In addition to traditional songs of the season, the group will sing several jazz standards - including an arrangement of caravan done Manhattan transfer style. The December 6 concert will be at Moore Auditorium on campus at 7 p.m. Admission is $3 for the public and free for Webster U, students with an I.D. The Tuesday concert at the Sheldon is a 10 a.m. Coffee Concert and tickets are available through MetroTix .
The Columbia, Missouri-based We Always Swing Jazz Series wraps up the 2004 portion of its season with two sets by pianist Benny Green and guitarist Russell Malone at Murry's on Sunday, December 5. Chances are both sets are sold out, but it's worth checking out.
Finally, singer/songwriter Rebecca Martin, the latest addition to the MAXJAZZ lable roster, pays a visit to the Borders store in Creve Coeur on Tuesday December 14 for a free 7 p.m. concert. Martin, whose debut MAXJAZZ release, People Behave Like Ballads, will be accompanied by bassist Larry Grenadier.