This week's schedule of jazz and creative music in St. Louis is jam-packed, with three notable big band performances, two shows benefiting an ailing elder statesman of the local jazz scene, an evening of free-form music from two intriguing improvisors, and much, much more.
Let's go to the highlights...
Wednesday, September 30
The eclectic acoustic ensemble The 442s perform for the first of two nights at Jazz at the Bistro, and pianist Greg Mills plays free improv and contemporary compositions at the Tavern of Fine Arts.
Thursday, October 1
Guitarist Tom Byrne will lead a quartet in a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University, serving up original compositions, some Pat Metheny tunes, some Jobim" and more.
Elsewhere on Thursday night, there are a couple of opportunities for some short-distance road-tripping for those so inclined. In DeSoto, MO, the fourth annual Mel Bay Jazz Festival begins with a show from guitarist Larry Bay and Sugar Moon at the Fountain City Grille on Main St.
The festival continues for two more nights with music from singer Joe Mancuso, guitarists Eric Slaughter and Dave Black, singer Lena Seikaly, and pianist Chris Grasso on Friday at the Fountain City Grille and on Saturday at The Arlington Inn event space, also on Main St.
At the same time across the river in Lebanon, IL, the Count Basie Orchestra will be performing for the first of two nights at McKendree College's Hettenhausen Center for the Arts. Friday's show is sold out, but some tickets apparently still remain available for Thursday's concert.
Friday, October 2
New Music Circle opens their 2015-16 season with an evening of free improvisation from saxophonist Evan Parker and trumpeter Peter Evans at Joe’s Cafe, 6014 Kingsbury Ave.
For more about Parker and Evans, see this video post from last Saturday. (While they're here, both men also will take part in a free workshop and Q&A session on Saturday morning at Foam on South Jefferson.)
Also on Friday, the Italian pianist Roberto Magris will be in town to lead a quartet in a performance at Ozark Theatre; the New Orleans Suspects return to St. Louis to play at Broadway Oyster Bar; and Feyza Eren offers a Tribute to Billie Holiday" at the Kranzberg Arts Center.
And as if all that weren't enough for one evening, Jazz St. Louis education director Phil Dunlap will bring his quintet to Jazz at the Bistro for the first of two nights showcasing material from his forthcoming album. Along with the leader on piano, Dunlap's group features trumpeter Danny Campbell, saxophonist Ben Reece, bassist Nathan Pence, and drummer Montez Coleman.
Saturday, October 3
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, led by famed famed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, return to serve as the featured performers at the Friends of the Sheldon Benefit Gala" at Sheldon Concert Hall. (For availability of concert-only tickets, check with the Sheldon's box office.)
Marsalis and JaLCO have just released Live in Cuba, a two-disc set recorded earlier this year, and the first album on Jazz at Lincoln Center's new in-house imprint Blue Engine Records.
Also on Saturday, drummer/multi-instrumentalist and U City native Ronnie Burrage will be back home from his current residence in Pennsylvania to reactivate his RoBu Big Band for the first of two performances at Voce, 212 S. Tucker.
The group will include Burrage and fellow St. Louis expat, guitarist Kelvyn Bell, plus saxophonists Jeff Anderson, Stanley Coleman, Chad Evans, and Jerome JDubz" Williams; trumpeter Khamali Cuffie-Moore; bassist Darrell Mixon; pianist Ptah Williams; percussionist Henry Claude; and vocalist Charisse Swan.
The RoBu Big Band also will play a matinee on Sunday afternoon, and both gigs will be recorded on video for what promo material for the shows describes as a larger film documentary initiative to explore the rich cultural history of St. Louis and to tell the stories of numerous artists that have come from the region." You can read more about that at the GoFundMe page that Burrage has set up for the film project.
Sunday, October 4
Tom Byrne and friends will present a Tribute/Benefit Event for Willie Akins" at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups, raising funds for the veteran St. Louis saxophonist who's now ailing from heart disease and unable to work.
Along with Byrne on guitar, the list of prospective performers includes drummers Montez Coleman and Kyle Honeycutt, bassists Bob DeBoo, Ben Wheeler, and Willem von Hombracht; trumpeters Danny Campbell and Randy Holmes, saxophonist Paul DeMarinis, guitarist Eric Slaughter, singer Erika Johnson, and, crossing over from Ronnie Burrage's matinee gig, Jeffrey Anderson, plus sit-ins and/or special guests TBA.
Also on Sunday, the Dave Dickey Big Band returns for their monthly show at Jazz at the Bistro, with the Ft. Zumwalt North HS Jazz Band performing during intermission.
Monday, October 5
Dizzy Atmosphere plays Gypsy jazz and swing at The Shaved Duck.
Tuesday, October 6
In another fund-raiser for the saxophonist, singers Wendy Gordon, Jeanne Trevor and friends will offer Music for Willie Akins"at the Sheldon Concert Hall.
In addition to Gordon and Trevor, the announced list of performers includes singers Marty Abdullah, Elaine Donahoe, Marsha Evans, Chuck Flowers, Linda Kennedy, Joe Mancuso, Diane Vaughn, and Ron Wilkinson, along with keyboardists Arthur Toney and Pauline Stark, bassists Jimmy Hinds and Willem Von Hombracht, saxophonist Kendrick Smith, trumpeter Adrian Bowers, guitarist Eric Slaughter, and drummer Alfred Barnes.
Also on Tuesday, the Spiritual Revolution Ensemble plays free jazz at Tavern of Fine Arts; and the First Tuesday Composers Club will have their monthly meeting at The Dark Room.