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St. Louis Spring: A Jazz Soundtrack

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After several years in a row when spring seemed to only last a week or so before giving way to that famous St. Louis summer heat and humidity, we're finally enjoying a lengthy stretch of balmy, enjoyable weather. There are several interesting jazz events on the May calendar as well—ranging from some interesting offerings at Jazz at the Bistro as the 10th anniversary season winds down, to a tribute to the legendary Miles Davis in his hometown of East St. Louis.

Vocalist extraordinaire Kurt Elling returns to Jazz at the Bistro Wednesday, May 10 through Saturday the 13th, bringing his interesting mix of original songs, vocalese takes on jazz instrumentals and improvised vocal "raves to othe intimate club. Backing Elling will be longtime cohort Laurence Hobgood on piano, bassist Rob Amster and new drummer Willie Jones—who played with Roy Hargrove for the past five years. You can expect to hear plenty of tunes from Elling's next Blue note recording, which he hopes to have available by this fall.

May 21-24, the Bistro brings together two jazz greats—the legendary sax and flautist, James Moody, and singer/pianist Freddy Cole. It's a pairing that was specially put together just for the 10th anniversary season, and will feature Cole and his regular backing group joined by Moody on tenor sax and flute.

And don't forget the Bistro's annual open house event on May 19 and 20. The bistro's operation manager, Bob Bennett will take the stage with his own band, playing tenor sax with pianist Adaron Jackson, bassist Jamal Nichols and drummer Demarius Hicks. It's a free event, and in addition to the music of Bennett and the band, you'll get a chance to preview the lineup for Jazz at the Bistro's 2006-2007 season.

There's a special concert set for May 26 in east St. Louis at Blackmon's Entertainment Plaza, located at 127 Collinsville Ave. East St. Louis's own Russell Gunn returns home to play at an event billed as Lifting the Legacy: Miles, MO' Music and Juneteenth Jazz. It's tied to what would have been Miles Davis' 80th birthday, and Gunn will perform with pianist Reggie Thomas, saxophonist Amos Brewer, bassist John King and drummer Montez Coleman—all graduates of the famed East St. Louis Lincoln High School music program when it was directed by Ron Carter (now at Northern Illinois University).

Check out much more April jazz on St. Louis Jazz Notes, a blog created by local musician and writer, Dean Minderman.


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