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Jazz This Week: Roscoe Mitchell and Craig Taborn, Joey Defrancesco Trio, Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O, and More


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As 2014 marches inexorably toward its conclusion, it's shaping up to be  another busy week for jazz and creative music in St. Louis.

This week's noteworthy performances include a visit from one of the top jazz organists in the business; the long-awaited return of a major jazz innovator, in duo with one of today's most in-demand keyboardists; plus a whole lot of holiday-themed jazz, and more. Let's go to the highlights....

Tonight, organist Joey DeFrancesco and his trio return to Jazz at the Bistro for the first evening of a four-night engagement continuing through Saturday. DeFrancesco is touring in support of a new seasonal album, Home For The Holidays, and word from Jazz St. Louis is that he'll be playing a vintage 1958 Hammond belonging to the late Richard McDonnell that's being used for the first time in the new Bistro space.

On Thursday, there's the first of three events this week featuring Roscoe Mitchell, as the composer and multi-instrumentalist will sit down with KWMU's Dennis Owsley and Wash U's Paul Steinbeck for a Q&A session at the Tavern of Fine Arts. The event is free and open to the public.

Also Thursday, Wash U's student jazz combos will wrap up the fall season with a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series on campus at Ridgely Hall; and singer Feyza Eren, pianist Curt Landes and bassist Ric Vice will play at Joe's Cafe.

On Friday afternoon, Mitchell will give another free public presentation, “NONAAH: From Solo to Full Orchestra," at Wash U's Music Classroom Building, Room 102. The lecture will track the evolution of one of Mitchell's best-known compositions over four-plus decades.

Then that evening, he'll team up with keyboardist Craig Taborn (pictured) for a much-anticipated duo concert presented by New Music Circle at The Stage at KDHX. For much more about Mitchell and why this show is a big deal, check out this video showcase post from last Saturday.

Also on Friday, the Funky Butt Brass Band returns for their monthly gig at Broadway Oyster Bar; guitarist John Farrar will play at Evangeline's; saxophonist Kendrick Smith leads a trio at Cigar Inn; and keyboardists Ptah Williams and Matt Villinger will team up for a performance at Thurman Grill.

Meanwhile, Friday evening options for dancers include Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes at the Venice Cafe; Miss Jubilee at the newly refurbished Boo Cat Club, and the Ambassadors of Swing at the venerable Casa Loma Ballroom.

On Saturday afternoon, the Oikos Ensemble will present “What Child is This? A Jazz Nativity" at the First Congregational Church in Webster Groves, the first of three performances of the show this holiday season. (For a guide to all the holiday jazz going on around town this month, see this post.)

Saturday evening, trumpeter/vibraphonist Joe Bozzi's band will be at Evangeline's; Wack-A-Doo will take the stage at Tavern of Fine Arts; the Ann Dueren Trio bids adieu to Il Bel Lago, as the West County restaurant is revamping its live music policy; and trumpeter Jim Manley and guitarist Randy Bahr will duet at Thurman Grill.

Sunday morning, pianist and Jazz St. Louis education director Phil Dunlap's trio will be taking over the live music duties for brunch at the Bistro through the end of December.

Later on Sunday, holiday jazz proliferates, as the Oikos Ensemble reprises “What Child is This? A Jazz Nativity" at Parkway United Church of Christ; and the Funky Butt Brass Band joins forces with St. Louis Community College - Meramec's orchestra, symphonic band and concert choir for a free concert at the Meramec Theatre on campus.

Also on the seasonal tip, jazz-fusion band Common Time and guest singers will present a holiday show at Blueberry Hill; and the Dave Dickey Big Band will tackle some original arrangements of Christmas tunes for their monthly gig at Jazz at the Bistro, with the Webster Groves HS Jazz Band performing at intermission. 

And also of note on Sunday night, veteran bassist and former St. Louisan Steve Kirby, who now teaches at the University of Manitoba in Canada, will be back in town to lead a quartet at BB's Jazz Blues and Soups.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday drummer Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O will kick off a week-long educational residency for the Webster Groves school district with a public concert at Joe's Cafe; the Webster U jazz singers will perform at Winifred Moore Auditorium on the Webster campus; and trumpeter Keith Moyer's group returns to BB's.

Then on Tuesday, singer Joe Mancuso and bassist Willem von Hombracht will play at Tavern of Fine Arts.

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