Jazz This Week: Marcus Miller, Bob Sheppard, Tributes to Horace Silver and the Blue Note Sound, and More


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It looks to be a nice weekend in St. Louis, weather-wise, and there's also a nice selection of live jazz and creative music available in local venues as the fall presenting season begins.

And speaking of seasons, tonight Jazz St. Louis will have their first-ever public “season preview party" at Jazz at the Bistro. (They've had similar events before for subscribers, but this is designed to give even Bistro novices a chance to get a feel for the room and the music.) The free event will feature a multimedia presentation on the organization's schedule for 2012-13 at the Bistro and Touhill Performing Arts Center, along with complimentary hors d'oeuvres, water and tea, plus a cash bar. Though the RSVP deadline has passed, you can find out if there any spots still available by contacting JSL's Devin Rodino at 314-289-4030 or [email protected]

Also tonight, there are jazz jam sessions on both sides of the Mississippi River, with guitarist Tom Byrne hosting at Highway 61 Roadhouse in Webster Groves and drummer Paul Shaw taking the lead at the Cigar Inn in Belleville.

Tomorrow night, trumpeter Randy Holmes leads a tribute to Horace Silver at Robbie's House of Jazz; saxophonist Tim Cunningham will be back at Jazz on Broadway; and Shaw will front a quartet featuring saxophonist Kristian Baarsvik, bassist Bob DeBoo and vibraphonist Tom Rickard at Cigar Inn.

Friday also is the first day of the St. Louis Art Fair in Clayton, which usually presents some musical acts of interest to jazz listeners, starting this year with a set from multi-instrumentalist Lamar Harris on Friday on the main stage.

Saturday's lineup includes the student ensembles Jazz in Outer Space and the Jazz St. Louis All-Stars on the Forsyth stage, and smooth jazz/fusion band The Freedom on the main stage. The festival closes on Sunday with music including Wack A Doo and Le Jazz Hot on the Forsyth Stage, and The Poor People of Paris and the Usual Suspects on the main stage.

Also on Saturday, the St. Louis Big Band with singer Joe Mancuso will play at the Chesterfield Amphitheater.

On Sunday afternoon, saxophonist Bob Sheppard will be at Saxquest for a free performance, demonstration and clinic. Sheppard, a Los Angeles-based studio veteran who also has toured and recorded with Steely Dan and many other major rock, jazz and pop acts, will perform an informal concert with bassist Chris Watrous and drummer Drew Weiss. The program also will showcase products from MACSAX, manufacturers of a line of saxophones and saxophone mouthpieces that includes Sheppard-endorsed mouthpieces for alto and tenor. MACSAX reps will be on hand to answer questions and offer mouthpiece consultation and re-facing work.

Then on Sunday evening, Jazz St. Louis kicks off their 2012-13 season with the first of two evenings featuring bassist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Marcus Miller (pictured) at Jazz at the Bistro. Though Miller was here in August 2011 with David Sanborn and George Duke at the Touhill, his gig at the Bistro is, so far as we can tell, his first small-club appearance here in St. Louis. Hardcore fans of the bassist - who, among his many accomplishments, wrote and produced what many listeners and critics consider to be Miles Davis' last great recordings - no doubt already are salivating at the chance to see him work up close in the intimate space of the Bistro instead of a theater or auditorium.

Miller's eighth studio album as a leader, Renaissance, was released last month on the Concord label. (You can hear some abbreviated samples from the album here.) For more on that, check out Miller's recent interview with the blog Alternate Takes. And for some video samples of the bassist and his band in action , see this StLJN post from a week ago Saturday. (A couple of the videos originally included in the post have since been removed from YouTube; I'll be trying to find replacement versions, and if successful, will update ASAP.)

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday, in addition to Miller's seond night at the Bistro, the Webster University Faculty Jazz Ensemble will present their first concert of the season, “Cool Struttin': Soulful Sounds from Blue Note Records," at Moore Auditorium on the Webster campus; and the Sessions Big Band will play their monthly gig at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups.

On Tuesday, vocal octet Java Jived and pianist Carolbeth True's group Two Times True will team up to present a program called “All American Jazz in Remembrance of 9/11" at the Sheldon Concert Hall. Also on Tuesday, BB's has guitarist Dave Black and his band in the early evening slot, followed by saxophonist Jim Stevens' group.

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