Jazz This Week: Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival, John Pizzarelli, King Sunny Ade, Ronald Carter and Russell Gunn, Lea Delaria, and More


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It's an extremely busy week for jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with everything from big bands and straight-ahead small group swing to organ-driven soul-jazz, cabaret, free improv, and two or three different flavors of ethnic music fused with jazz.

Let's go to straight to the highlights, described here in more-or-less chronological order:

On Wednesday, singer and guitarist John Pizzarelli, who's always a good draw here in the Gateway City, begin a four-night run at Jazz at the Bistro. This time around, expect to hear at least a few selections from his latest CD, the Duke Ellington tribute Rockin' In Rhythm, as well as other classic jazz and popular songs from Pizzarelli's extensive repertoire.

On Thursday evening, it's the final Jazz at Holmes event of the semester at Washington University, a free concert featuring saxophonist Larry Johnson and Two Times True, led by pianist Carolbeth True and including her son David True on drums.

Also on Thursday, the 2010 Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival also gets underway at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, with student combos playing and working with guest clinicians all day. There will be more student bands and clinics during the day on Friday and Saturday, with evening concerts headlined by trombonist Conrad Herwig's Latin-jazz band on Friday and Gordon Goodwin and the Big Phat Band (pictured) on Saturday. (For a complete schedule of events, see this post.)

In addition to the events for the participating student ensembles, Herwig also will present public master classes on Friday and Saturday. Also, word from GSLJF publicist Dawn DeBlaze is that the Big Phat Band will perform Goodwin's new arrangement of Gershwin's “Rhapsody in Blue, “ which should be interesting. For some video of the Big Phat Band in action, see this post from last Saturday, and for more about the GSLJF, check out Terry Perkins' preview story now online at the St. Louis Beacon.

On Friday and Saturday, singer/actor/comic and Belleville native Lea DeLaria brings her cabaret show to Nancy's Place, 4510 Manchester (in the Grove neighborhood). DeLaria, who's best known for her out-and-outrageous comedy but also has some serious vocal chops, will be accompanied by pianist Janette Mason, whose CD Alien Left Hand was just nominated in the “Best Jazz CD" category of the UK's 2010 Parliamentary Jazz Awards. (You can see DeLaria and Mason on video here, doing a swinging version of “The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," from the musical Sweeney Todd.) The show's promoter tells StLJN that some tickets remain for both nights, including some VIP packages for Friday, and can be purchased online via brownpapertickets.com.

And speaking of cabaret, Jim Dolan's Presenters Dolan has two shows this weekend at the Kranzberg Arts Center. Jeffrey Wright will reprise his show “The Dance" on Friday, and Shana Farr will make her St. Louis cabaret debut on Saturday with"Pure Imagination," accompanied by musical director Amanda Kirkpatrick and bassist Jay Hungerford.

On Saturday afternoon, the Nu-Art Series wraps up its spring skein of jazz composers concerts with a performance by saxophonist Stan Coleman and the Youth Jazz Band doing the music of Duke Ellington.

Then on Saturday evening, sitarist Imrat Khan and guitarist Todd Mosby will do a benefit concert at the Ethical Society; the Dutch lute player/composer Jozef van Wissem and NYC free improv duo Che Chen and Robbie Lee play at Open Lot; and keyboardist Reggie Thomas performs at Robbie's House of Jazz to celebrate the release of his new CD Four, which features Thomas on Hammond B-3 organ with trumpeter Clay Jenkins, guitarist Rick Haydon and drummer Gary Hobbs.

On Sunday afternoon, saxophonist Ronald Carter and the Northern Illinois University Jazz Ensemble plus special guests Russell Gunn and Reggie Thomas will perform at the Sheldon Concert Hall in the sixth annual “Youth In the Arts" benefit for the Genesis Performing Arts Foundation. For ticket information, go here or call 618-741-0898.

Also on Sunday, singer Erin Bode appears in the final free concert of the spring for the St. Louis Jazz and Blues Vespers series at Second Baptist Church.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Tuesday the godfather of juju music King Sunny Ade and his African Beats will play at the Old Rock House. Although this show seems to have stirred interest well beyond St. Louis, as of this writing it looks like there are still tickets available, though there's no telling how long the remaining supply will last.

For more jazz-related events in St. Louis this weekend and beyond, please visit the St. Louis Jazz Notes Calendar, which can be found on the left sidebar of the site or by clicking here. You also can keep up with all the latest news by following St. Louis Jazz Notes on Twitter at http://twitter.com/StLJazzNotes or by becoming a “fan" of the StLJN Facebook page.

(If you have calendar items, band schedule information, news tips, links, or anything else you think may be of interest to StLJN's readers, please email the information to stljazznotes (at) yahoo (dot) com. If you have photos, MP3s or other digital files, please send links, not attachments.)

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