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Jazz This Week: Sachal Vasandani, Galactic, Kris Davis Quintet, Jan Shapiro, Bucky Pizzarelli and Denise Thimes, and More


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It's a jam-packed week of jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with local debuts from two noteworthy touring musicians, the return of some familiar favorites, homecoming gigs for three local expats, and lots more. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, singer Sachal Vasandani will make his St. Louis debut, beginning a four-night engagement at Jazz at the Bistro. Along with Gregory Porter, whom the Bistro presented for the first time in January, Vasandani is one of the most talked-about male jazz singers to emerge in recent years, with an intimate, ballad-friendly style and a repertoire with enough romantic songs to make him a suitable choice for Valentine's week. Yet the Chicago native certainly can swing, too, as demonstrated in some of the video samples included in this post from last Saturday.

Also tonight, trumpeter Jim Manley plays at Sasha's Wine Bar, and singer Joe Mancuso performs with a trio  at Frontenac Grill.

Tomorrow night, the New Orleans-based funk/jazz/hip-hop group Galactic returns for what's become an annual gig at The Pageant, this time bringing along as special guests singer Corey Glover of Living Color and Latryx, featuring Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truthspeaker.

For those looking specifically for something Valentine's-themed on Thursday, singer Jan Shapiro, a former St. Louisan who now heads the vocal jazz program at Berklee College of Music in Boston, will be in town to do a free concert with pianist Nathan Jatcko for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University; and singer Erin Bode will perform at Cyrano's in Webster Groves.

The romantic theme continues on Friday, as veteran guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli (father of St. Louis favorite John Pizzarelli) comes to town to serve as special guest for singer Denise Thimes' Valentine's Day show at the Sheldon Concert Hall. Now 87, Pizzarelli understandably doesn't work as much these days as he once did, but he remains a masterful practitioner of a classic style of jazz guitar playing, and definitely is worth hearing for any fan of the sub-genre.

Also on Friday, multi-instrumentalist Wayne Coniglio will lead a big band plus multiple vocalists in “The Swing of Hearts" at 560 Music Center. The show will feature guest stars including singers Cecil Cope and Ginger Berglund, trombonist Scott Whitfield, and saxophonist/clarinetist/vocalist Elsie Parker.

Elsewhere on Friday, saxophonist Tim Cunningham plays at the new downtown event space the Paragon Theater; vibraphonist Peter Schlamb performs at Robbie's House of Jazz; and saxophonist Willie Akins will lead a quartet at the Cigar Inn.

On Saturday afternoon, singer Wendy Gordon performs for brunch at Frontenac Grill. Later that day, poet, author, St. Louis native, and Miles Davis biographer Quincy Troupe will be back in his hometown once again to present another performance of his “SoundArt" ensemble at the Metropolitan Gallery downtown. The concert, a production of the Nu-Art Series, also will feature saxophonist Stan Coleman and bassist Darrell Mixon.

Then on Saturday evening, pianist Kris Davis (pictured) and her quintet will play a concert presented by New Music Circle at 560 Music Center. Born in Canada and now based in NYC, Davis blends free improvisation with compositions reflecting influences from jazz and contemporary classical, and has just released a new album, Capricorn Climber. Her St. Louis debut gig will feature most of the band from that record, including saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, drummer Tom Rainey and violist Matt Maneri, along with bassist Eivind Opsvik. For more about Davis and some video clips of her in action, check out this post from a couple of Saturdays ago.

Saturday night also offers several choices of shows featuring female vocalists, with Feyza Eren at the Wine Press, Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes at the Venice Cafe, and Zena Star at the Rustic Goat.

On Sunday, Miss Jubilee begins a series of regular matinee performances at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups,  and looking beyond the weekend, on Monday the Latin jazz band Clave Sol will play at BB's.

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