April is unofficially female jazz vocalist month in St. Louis. From the Sheldon Concert Hall to Jazz at the Bistro, you’ll find an outstanding array of singers to enjoy – from Karrin Allyson and Mary Stallings to Jane Monheit, Claudia Acuna, Sweey Baby J’ai and local favorite Erika Johnson.
Allyson kicks things off with a visit to the Bistro April 2-5, backed by her longtime musical compadres from the Kansas City scene – pianist Paul Smith, guitarist Danny Embrey, bassist Bob Bowman and drummer Todd Strait (who now lives in Portland, Oregon. Allyson now makes New York City her home base, but she has a great rapport with this quartet – many of whom have worked and recorded with her for more than a decade.
As soon as Allyson wraps up her visit, Mary Stallings shows up for a concert on Sunday, April 6 at the Sheldon. The San Francisco native worked with legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Eckstine and Count basie, took some time off, and is now back in the spotlight recording with the MAXJAZZ label. Her concert here features an excellent backing band of local favorites Reggie Thomas on piano, Jeffrey Anderson on bass and drummer Jerome “Scrooge” Harris.
The following weekend, Jane Monheit returns to St. Louis to headline at the Sheldon on Saturday April 12. Catching Monheit in the acoustic perfection of the 700-seat Sheldon should be a treat. But if you’re looking for tickers, don’t bother – this one’s sold out. That doesn’t mean you can’t hear some other fine jazz that night. Local singer Erika Johnson headlines at Jazz at the Bistro on the 11th and 12th.
Jazz singing with a South American flavor is in store at the Bistro from April 16-19 as Claudia Acuna hits town. It’s the Chilean singers third visit here in a little more than a year (she played both the Bistro and the U.S. Bank Saint Louis Jazz Festival in 2002). I’d advise getting tickets quickly – there’s a very good chance all 8 sets will sell out in advance.
Sweet Baby J’ai rounds out the parade of jazz vocal attraction in April when she hits Jazz at the Bistro on April 25 & 26. But there’s plenty more to hear in the way of instrumental jazz this month as well. Trombone ace Steve Turre is also in town performing with the Northern Illinois University Jazz Band at Normandy High School. Tickets for this 7 p.m. concert are $10 in advance and $12 at the door, and benefit the Normandy Senior High Bands program. The legendary Benny Golson headlines at Generations on Sunday April 27... and bassist extraordinaire Christian McBride takes us swinging into May with a visit to Jazz at the Bistro from April 30-May 3.