The summer dog days as far as jazz activity in St. Louis came around in July this year A single national act - Dave Koz - passed through our city last month, which explains why there was no "Gateway Grooves" in July. (That, and the fact that my mind decided to go on vacation and I seemingly had no choice in the matter.) Thankfully, jazz activity is kicking back into gear in August, with appearances by the likes of Branford Marsalis, Diana Krall, George Benson, Jamie Cullum, Acoustic Alchemy, the Benoit Freeman Project and the Guitars and saxophones Tour featuring Jeff Golub, Euge Groove, Marc Antoine and Warren Hill.
A few details... Branford Marsalis appears in a free concert Friday, August 6 on the banks of the Mississippi as part of River Splash. The concert begins at 7p.m.with an appearance by guitarist (and Marsalis Music recording artist) Doug Wamble. Branford and his outstanding band - Joey Calderazzo, Eric Revis and Jeff "Tain" Watts - headline, performing in front of the Gateway Arch. River Splash features Medeski, martin & Wood the following Thursday, August 12 in another free concert.
That same night, British pianist/singer Jamie Cullum plays in a trio setting at the Sheldon Concert Hall with MAXJAZZ vocalist Erin Bode opening. But don't bother trying to buy last minute tickets - radio station 104.1 (Red) is producing the show and all the tickets have been accounted for (except for some on-air giveaways thisweek. On the same night George Benson headlines at the Fox Theater with Will Downing in the opening slot.
The following Saturday, August 14, Diana Krall plays at the Fox. It's been more than four years since Krall performed in St. Louis, and this concert will definitely be a change of pace for her local fans. Krall played the 700-seat Sheldon back in May, 2000, and all; her previous appearances in town were either at Jazz at the Bistro or Just Jazz - both very intimate clubs. But Krall is a musical star these days, so you can bet the Fox will be packed for her show. She's touring with an impressive band Anthony Wilson on guitar, bassist Robert Hurst and drummer Peter Erskine - and reviews of her tour stops to date have been outstanding.
For smooth jazz fans, the Pageant will definitely be a primary destination on weekend of August 21 and 22. The Benoit Freeman Project rolls in on Saturday--- followed by the guitars &Saxophones lineup on Sunday. And don't forget Acoustic Alchemy at the Sheldon on Friday, August 27. The concert is a benefit for the Ann E. McEnroe Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund Program. It's a special cause for the band - original member Nick Webb died of the disease. Tickets are available through MetroTix.
Local pianist Kim Portnoy has a new CD coming out on the Victoria label, and a release party is scheduled for the Sheldon on Tuesday, August 31. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. concert by Portnoy, bassist Ric Vice and drummer Clancy Newell are $6 general admission and will be available at the door. The new CD, Great Day, features rarely performed music by Gershwin and Joni Mitchell and will be available for only $10 that night.