August: Slow... But Still Happenin'

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August usually vies with January as the slowest month for live jazz in almost every metropolitan area in the U.S., and St. Louis is no exception. Jazz at the Bistro is dark for almost the entire month, with one very interesting exception. But thanks to Finale, area jazz fans can check out an interesting mix of local, national and international jazz acts throughout the month.

Finale kicks off the month with a visit from British keyboard legend Brian Auger and his Oblivion Express on August 2. If you haven't checked out Auger on CD or on tour recently, he's still playing as great as ever. Moving on chronologically, Denny Jiosa makes his Finale debut on Saturday August 5. With recording credits that include five CDs as a leader and work with Kirk Whalum, Yolanda Adams, Take 6 and Philip Bailey, the Nashville-based guitarist should provide plenty of interesting music in the smooth jazz groove.

On August 9, Tim Cunningham, one of the more popular contemporary sax players in town, returns to Finale, followed on the 18th by Wild, Cool & Swinging. Led by trumpeter extraordinaire Jim Manley, this longtime Finale favorite features a swinging, retro-Vegas groove. On the 19th, vocalist Jeanne Trevor provides a salute to the music of Billie Holiday. After an appearance by SL Son Latin Jazz on the 23rd, the tributes continue with Debbie Lennon's performance of Gershwin's music on the 25th, and Kim Massie's take on the music of Gladys Knight on the 26th. Finale's August menu concludes with the fine combination of keyboard player Curt Landes and basist/guitarist Vince Martin on the 30th, followed by Craig Russo and his Latin Jazz Project on the 31st. The band also performed here in June at the U.S. Bank Saint Louis jazz & Heritage Festival. As usual at Finale, sets at 7:30 and 9:30 each evening.

Jazz at the Bistro lights up on Thursday and Friday, August 24 & 25 with a double bill of vocalists who both recently signed to the MAXJAZZ label... Cassandre McKinley and John Proulx. McKinley's debut on MAXJAZZ, Til Tomorrow: A Tribute to Marvin Gaye, features some highly eclectic treatments of Gaye's R&B classics, taking them into a variety of interesting genres. Proulx, from the Los Angeles area, features a blend of classic standards and his own finely honed originals on his recording, Moon and Sand. Sets at 8:30 and 10:15 each evening.

By the way, Jazz St. Louis, the umbrella organization for the Jazz at the Bistro series, is sponsoring appearances by local musicians this summer at the Hilton at the Ballpark Hotel, just north of the new Busch Stadium. Kim Massie performs on August 9, followed by pianist Dave Venn on August 23. Admission is free with sets at 6 and 8 p.m.

If you're over on the Illinois side on the weekend of August 26 & 27, stop by Longacre Park for the Midwest Salute to the Arts. It's one of the top art fairs in the area and features an eclectic mix of musical entertainment as well. Highlights for jazz fans include the appearances of vocalists Erin Bode on Saturday from 3-6 p.m. and Anita Rosamond on Sunday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. It's free as well.

As usual, for much more August jazz listings in the St. Louis area, check out St. Louis Jazz Notes, a blog created by local musician and writer, Dean Minderman. See you in September with a preview of the 2006-07 Jazz at the Bistro season!


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