Jazz this week: Donny McCaslin, Brian Culbertson, Brand X, James Carter, Sylvaine Hélary's Spring Roll Quartet, and more


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It's one of the busiest weeks of the year for jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with enough activity and musical variety to test both the stamina and the financial resources of even the most devoted music lovers.

There's so much going on that the week defies easy summary, so instead, let's go to the highlights....

Wednesday, October 19

Saxophonist Donny McCaslin makes his St. Louis debut as a bandleader in the first of four nights at Jazz at the Bistro.

It's been a big year for McCaslin, who's gone from working with the late David Bowie on his final recording Blackstar to releasing his own new album, Beyond Now. For more about McCaslin and his new recording, see the interview he did with Calvin Wilson of the Post-Dispatch and StLJN's video post from a couple of Saturdays ago.

Also on Wednesday, funk/jazz keyboardist Brian Culbertson, who's touring in support of his own new album Funk!, returns to St. Louis for the first time in four years for a performance at The Pageant. For more about that, see Culbertson's conversation with the Post-Dispatch's Kevin Johnson.

Thursday, October 20

The reunited British jazz/fusion band Brand X will play at the Wildey Theatre, featuring three key members from the band's original run- guitarist John Goodsall, bassist Percy Jones, and drummer Kenwood Dennard- plus keyboardist Chris Clark and percussionist Scott Weinberger. This show will be only the second of the group's reunion tour, so even if there are a few rough spots, the energy should be high.

Also on Thursday, trumpeter George Sams and friends will play a free show of improvised music for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University; and the funky saxophones-and-drums trio Moon Hooch returns for a gig at the Old Rock House.

Friday, October 21

The St. Louis GypsyJazz Festival opens for the first of three days and nights of perfomances, jam sessions and workshops at Evangeline's. The lineup of musicians this year includes violinist/mandolinist Jason Anick, singer Miles Griffith, and guitarist Dario Napoli, plus St. Louis-based groups Franglais, Phatz Django, and Fleur De Lou. For more about the festival and video samples of the visiting performers, see this post from last Saturday.

Also on Friday, the Gaslight Cabaret Festival resumes with singer Storm Large returning for an encore performance at the Gaslight Theater.

Saturday, October 22

Saxophonist James Carter and his organ trio will provide the music for the annual “ArtSounds" benefit at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Carter, a free-spirited yet technically accomplished improviser who can play soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones with near-equal facility, is always worth hearing, and if you need an extra incentive, The Sheldon yesterday announced a “buy one, get one free" offer for concert-only tickets bought in pairs. To purchase online and take advantage of the offer, go here and enter the promo code CARTER16.

Also on Saturday, New Music Circle present flautist and composer Sylvaine Hélary's Spring Roll Quartet at the The Stage at KDHX.

The group, which includes Hélary, Antonin Rayon (piano, synthesizer), Hugues Mayot (saxophones, clarinets), and Sylvain Lemêtre (vibraphone, percussion), offers “thematically dense surrealist arrangements with percussive counterpoint" which incorporate “a span of styles in an almost collage-like manner."

Sunday, October 23

“Days to Say Goodbye- A Celebration of the Life of David Troncoso" will provide an opportunity to remember and reminisce for, family, friends and fans of the veteran St. Louis bassist, who died this past July at age 70. The event, which features music from guitarist Dave Black, pianist Dave Venn, singer Tony Viviano, the Park Avenue Duo, Troncoso's own Latin Jazz Group and more, takes place at the Anheuser Busch Brewery Biergarten.

Also on Sunday afternoon, the US Navy Band Commodores, the Navy's top jazz big band, plays a free concert at the 560 Music Center. The group features two area natives- Petty Officer 1st Class David M. Perkel of St. Louis on lead trombone, and Chief Petty Officer Timothy D. Stanley, who grew up in Belleville, on trumpet.

Monday, October 24

To mark the event's silver anniversary, the Webster University TKT Scholarship Fund 25th Anniversary Concert will take place off-campus this year at the Sheldon Concert Hall. The concert features Webster jazz faculty and students performing to raise money for music scholarships at Webster in memory of Terry Jackson, Kirk Cappello, and Tony Saputo, three Webster alumni who were among the members of singer Reba McEntire’s road band killed in a 1991 airplane crash.

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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
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