Jazz This Week: Les McCann and Javon Jackson, Fran Landesman, Cooper-Moore, TKT Memorial Scholarship Concert, and More


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There's lots going on in jazz and creative music this week in St. Louis, and so we bring you StLJN's weekly highlights post slightly earlier than usual to perhaps better help facilitate some advance planning.

One of the week's major attractions is the team-up of pianist and singer Les McCann (pictured) and saxophonist Javon Jackson, who will perform Wednesday through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro. Both men previously have led their own bands at the Bistro, but their current collaboration, dubbed “Swiss Movement Revisited" in honor of McCann's famed partnership with the late saxophonist Eddie Harris, will be making its St. Louis debut.

Though McCann, who turned 73 last month, and Jackson, who's 43, are from different generations, they seem like a natural musical match - both men have made a lot of groove-oriented music over the course of their respective careers, but both also have shown a proclivity for occasional detours into more adventurous and/or eccentric territory. For some video of McCann and Jackson together, see this post from last Saturday. You may also enjoy perusing this interview Jackson did with StLJN back in 2005.

Also returning to St. Louis this week for a four-night stand is songwriter and poet Fran Landesman, who's performing a cabaret show called “The Gaslight Square Years" beginning Wednesday and running through Saturday at the Gaslight Theater, 356 N. Boyle in the Central West End. Landesman is something of a St. Louis legend, having (with her husband Jay) operated the Crystal Palace nightclub, one of the key venues during Gaslight Square's heyday in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Landesman also co-wrote (with pianist Tommy Wolf) the musical The Nervous Set, which ran briefly on Broadway and yielded the frequently recorded tune “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most." The St. Louis Beacon's Bob Duffy, a former Post-Dispatch writer who knew her way back in the day, has a feature story about Landesman and her show here.

Elsewhere in town, NYC-based multi-intrumentalist Cooper-Moore, who plays original jazz- and blues-influenced music on both conventional and self-invented instruments, will perform Saturday at Joe's Cafe and Sunday at the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site's Rosebud Cafe. Cooper-Moore has roots in the 1970s avant garde and loft jazz scene, but since then he's forged his own distinctive musical path. For more on Cooper-Moore's performances, see these two posts. You also can see an excerpt from a Cooper-Moore improv with bassist William Parker in the embedded video window below.

In addition to these distinguished visitors, St. Louis' local musicians also have much to offer this week, starting on Thursday when saxophonist Dave Stone and pianist Adam Maness (of Erin Bode's group and Orange) perform a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University. If you're still in the mood for more music after Stone and Maness, you can head over to Brandt's in the nearby Delmar Loop and catch the gypsy jazz stylings of Sandy Weltman and Hot Club Caravan.

On Friday, the Legacy Jazz Quintet, led by pianist Phil Dunlap and trumpeter Anthony Wiggins, will do a free performance in the St. Louis Art Museum's Griggs Gallery, while singer, pianist and saxophonist Hugh “Peanuts" Whalum plays at Brandt's.

Then on Saturday, guitarist William Lenihan's quartet will do a free concert at the Kemper Museum on the Wash U. campus as part of the ongoing series accompanying the museum's current “Birth of the Cool" exhibit.

Sunday evening brings two more events of interest, starting with a performance by guitarist Matthew Von Doran's trio, featuring Nick Jost on bass and Miles Vandiver on drums, at Music Folk in Webster Groves.

That same night, the 45th Oliver Sain Soul Reunion will take place at the Sheldon Concert Hall, featuring blues and soul from singers Renee Smith, Roland Johnson, Mae Wheeler, Skeet Rogers, Uvee Hayes and Beau Shelby as well as a goodly helping of Sain's funky instrumental compositions as played by the current Oliver Sain Revue. Dan Durchholz has more on Sain's legacy and this year's show in an article for the St. Louis Beacon, found here. (Full disclosure: Yr. humble editor is a member of said Revue, and will be at the keyboards Sunday night at the Sheldon.)

On Monday morning, Red Lehr and the Old St. Louis Levee Band, featuring pianist Pat Joyce, will do a “Coffee Concert" of traditional jazz at the Sheldon. (They'll repeat the program at another performance on Tuesday morning.)

On Monday evening, the annual TKT Memorial Scholarship Concert takes place at Webster University's Winifred Moore Auditorium. This year's event pays tribute to the musical legacies of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Billy Eckstine, with featured performers including singers Jeanne Trevor, Sherri Drake, and Eddie Eaton; pianists Marion Miller, Carolbeth True, and Kim Portnoy; guitarists Steve Schenkel and Tom Byrne; Paul DeMarinis on tenor sax; and the rhythm section of Willem von Hombracht on bass and Kevin Gianino on drums. Also on Monday evening, the Sessions Big Band continues their ongoing series of gigs at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups downtown.

For more jazz-related events in St. Louis this weekend and beyond, please visit the St. Louis Jazz Notes Calendar.

(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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