This column may be a little late for March... but on the positive side, it's early for April. I'm thinking ahead, realizing that I'm going to be a little pre-occupied the next few weeks pulling together assorted invoices, receipts and forms and instructions in my annual effort to make sense of paying taxes as a self-employed freelance writer and producer. So let's move on quickly to the St. Louis area jazz highlights from mid-March through the end of April... because there's lots of good music headed our way.
Jazz at the Bistro has a very full calendar, with plenty of highlights to mention. First up is a mid-week appearance by the SF Jazz Collective on Wednesday and Thursday, March 21 and 22. The all-star lineup includes Joshua Redman, Bobby Hutcherson, Dave Douglas (subbing for Nicholas Payton), Renee Rosnes, Miquel Zenon, Andre Hayward, Matt Penman and Eric Harland. An expensive ticket at $45... but a rare chance to hear these great musicians together on the same stage.
John Scofield returns to the Bistro March 28 to 31, followed by another distinguished guitarist with an entirely different approach, Bucky Pizzarelli, who is there April 11 to 14. The legendary Ahmad Jamal returns for his annual visit April 25 to 28 as well. Local musicians take the stage at the venue when the St. Louis Jazz Orchestra directed by Jim Widner does its monthly performance on April 5. The Bosman Twins are featured April 6 and 7, and THF Realty All-Star Student Ensemble plays April 20 and 21.
Around the corner from the Bistro, the Sheldon Concert Hall features a can't miss jazz event when Pat Metheny and Brad Mehldau, backed by Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard, take the stage on Wednesday, April 4 at 8 p.m. Again, an expensive ticket at $55 and $50, but the music should be amazing. The Northern Illinois University Jazz Band, featuring director Ron Carter and special guest John Clayton, appear on Sunday, April 15 at a 5 p.m. performance. And the Freddy Cole Trio appears on April 28.
Finally, the Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri St. Louis will host the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival April 20 and 21 2007. Friday evening's performance will feature the University of Missouri St. Louis Jazz Ensemble directed by Jim Widner... with special guests Bobby Watson and Steve Weist. Saturday evening, Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band will make a rare area appearance.
Finale has an interesting lineup of jazz on the horizon. Vocalist Harmony Fernandez joins bassist Tom Kennedy on March 22. Guitarist Joe Friedman teams up with drummer Neal Smith to front a talented quintet on March 24. This marks a homecoming for the St. Louis- born Friedman, who has been working on the New York City scene since 1999. On March 31, song stylist Anita Rosamond returns to Finale with "Cabaret... My Way!" a show that focuses on music with a New York City connection, from Broadway and cabaret, and presented with a jazzy twist. On April 14, 12-year-old percussionist Tito Pascoal is on the bill, and on April 20 the San Gabriel Seven perform. On April 21, Carol Schmidt and Friends appear, and on April 26, Chicago vocalist Typhanie Monique and guitarist Neil Alger headline.
Washington University's Jazz at Holmes concert series continues at Holmes Lounge on campus on March 29 with blues vocalist Big George Brock. On April 5, it's singer Jan Shapiro, and on April 12 guitarist Chris Pacek headlines. The concerts are free and begins at 8 p.m. For more info, call 314-935-4841.
Check out many more listings for the fine local jazz musicians appearing in the St. Louis area at Dean Minderman's St. Louis Jazz Notes.