Jazz This Week: Jane Monheit, Miles Davis Jazz Festival with Russell Gunn, New Music Circle Showcase, Tammy McCann, and More


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This week's menu of jazz and creative music offerings in St. Louis includes a number of special events, most notably the annual Miles Davis Jazz Festival in Alton, plus the long-awaited return of one of the more popular female vocalists in jazz.

That would be singer Jane Monheit, who's back in St. Louis to perform in a four-night engagement beginning this evening and continuing through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro.

It's Monheit's first visit here since 2010 and this time, her show has a theme, “Celebrating the Jazz of Judy Garland." Though Garland wasn't known specifically as a jazz performer, the catalog of songs she recorded, ranging from up-tempo numbers like “Get Happy" to ballads like “The Man That Got Away," certainly offers ample opportunities for Monheit and her trio to stretch out and explore emotional and musical nuances.

For more about what else Monheit has been up to since her last visit here, and some video samples from recent performances, see this post from a couple of Saturdays ago.

Tomorrow, KDHX will present their annual “Midwest Mayhem" event at the City Museum, with music from the Funky Butt Brass Band, Wack-A-Doo, The People's Key, and 16 more bands and DJs representing a variety of musical genres. 

Also on Thursday, guitarist Dave Black, singer Joe Mancuso and band will perform at Nathalie’s; and the World Chess Hall of Fame in the Central West End will celebrate their current exhibit about composer John Cage with a free performance of Cage’s “Reunion" featuring Lemp Neighborhood Art Center's Mark Sarich, Nathan Cook, Greg Farough and, somewhat surprisingly, Good 4 The Soul keyboardist Adaron “Pops" Jackson.

On Friday, Chicago's Tammy McCann, an alumna of Ray Charles' Raelettes who's also been working recently with Kurt Elling's former pianist Laurence Hobgood, will perform at Robbie's House of Jazz. Hobgood won't be on this gig, though, as McCann will be backed by a quartet including Tom Vaitsas (piano), John Sutton (bass), Sam Jewel (drums), and St. Louis' own Eric Slaughter on guitar.

Also on Friday, the Ambassadors of Swing play for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom; singer Feyza Eren and pianist Nathan Jatcko will duet at The Wine Press; and guitarist Vincent Varvel leads a trio at Tavern of Fine Arts.

On Saturday, the 2014 edition of the annual Miles Davis Jazz Festival takes place at the Jacoby Arts Center in Davis' birthplace of Alton, Illinois. This year's headliner is trumpeter Russell Gunn (pictured), the former East St. Louisan whose variegated catalog of recordings includes one explicitly paying tribute to Davis, as well as several albums of electric music that reflect some of the spirit of Davis' later years. Saxophonist Fred Walker and prog-rock band Locrian Manor are the supporting acts.

Also on Saturday, pianist Peter Martin performs in a benefit event for New City School; the WirePilots, featuring guitarist Dan Rubright, bassist Ric Vice, and percussionist Ted Rubright, play at the Kranzberg Arts Center; and smooth jazz/fusion ensemble The Freedom will take the stage at Thurman Grill.

On Sunday, Russell Gunn will cross the Mississippi, serving as the “special guest" for a gig nominally headed by drummer Montez Coleman at the Bistro at Grand Center; while down on Cherokee St., the Sidney Street Shakers will be playing pre-WWII style hot jazz for the monthly “South City Shuffle" event at Van Ella Studios.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday New Music Circle will present a free improv session at Blank Space with saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, drummer Tom Rainey, and an assortment of St. Louis musicians.

Then on Tuesday, Laubrock, Rainey and drummer Tyler Damon will be the visiting performers taking part in NMC's final concert of the season, aka the “New Music Circle Showcase," at the William A Kerr Foundation, 21 O'Fallon St on Laclede's Landing. Also joining in will be St. Louis guitarist Chris Trull and electronic musicians Kevin Harris and NNN Cook. For a look at and listen to the visitors improvising in various situations, check out this video post from last Saturday.

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