Jazz This Week: The Jazz Crusaders, Wine Dine and Jazz Festival, Sylvia McNair, Coco Soul, and More


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Mid-summer heat has arrived in St. Louis several weeks ahead of schedule, but if you can brave the unseasonable temperatures, there are a number of jazz and creative music events worth checking out over the next few days.

Today at lunchtime, the band Swing Set will play a free concert from noon to 1 p.m. at the Old Library Plaza at 8th and Locust as part of the St. Louis Public Library's “Not So Quiet" concert series.

Tomorrow, there are several options for the discerning listener, including the first night of the Wine Dine and Jazz Festival in downtown Belleville. Friday's performers at the free event include the Usual Suspects with Gypsy Brown, the Dawn Weber Group and the Jim Stevens Group, while Saturday's lineup includes the USAF Starlifter Jazz Band, Tony D and the Groove, the Santana tribute band Stantana, and blues from guitarist and singer Vince Martin. (Full disclosure: Yr. humble StLJN editor will be playing keyboards with Martin. Consider yourself warned.)

Also on Friday, singer Coco Soul opens a two-night engagement at Jazz at the Bistro. Soul (nee Rochelle Walker) is known mostly as an R&B singer, former host of the open mic event Cafe Soul, and occasional performer in musical theater at venues including the Black Rep, Stages and Westport Playhouse. The promo blurb for her Bistro debut suggests that “her jazz influences, coupled with a strong R&B and soul background will surely delight listeners," but to these ears, the songs on her MySpace page sound more like straight R&B, albeit with the occasional brass background and/or trumpet obbligato.

Elsewhere on Friday, singer and pianist Bruce Hornsby and his band the Noisemakers are playing at The Pageant—you can read my Riverfront Times Critic's Pick on that show here—and singer Cheri Evans is at Robbie's House of Jazz

The most significant jazz show of the week, however, happens on Saturday, when the Jazz Crusaders (pictured) play at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. With original members Joe Sample, Wilton Felder and Wayne Henderson reuniting for the first time since Henderson left the band in the mid-1970s, this tour definitely counts as a special occasion. And with Jazz St. Louis offering tickets at half price, the least expensive seat is only $17.50, which is quite affordable. For more about the Jazz Crusaders, including videos of performances of six of their best-known songs, see this post from last Saturday.

Also on Saturday, pianist and singer Curt Landes teams with singer Mary Dyson for a gig at Robbie's House of Jazz; and on Sunday, BB's Jazz Blues & Soups has Latin jazz in the early evening from Clave Sol.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday the Sessions Big Band will be back at BB's, and on Tuesday, singer Sylvia McNair will give a special cabaret performance in the Sheldon Concert Hall's upstairs ballroom.

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