Jazz This Week: The Wee Trio; Mardra and Reggie Thomas; CD Release Event for Swagler, Slaughter, Jost and Morrison; and More


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With the annual Mardi Gras parade this Saturday, Valentine's Day just around the corner, and the usual mix of other perormances happening around town, there's an eclectic selection of jazz and creative music on St. Louis stages this weekend. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, saxophonist Jason Swagler, guitarist Eric Slaughter, bassist Nick Jost and drummer Marty Morrison will promote the release of their first collaborative album, Rough Stuff, with two sets at Jazz at the Bistro. The ticket price includes a copy of the album, but if you can't make it to the show, it also is now on sale as a digital download from Amazon and iTunes.

Also tonight, drummer Ben Thigpen and his band will perform a free concert for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University; and the Brazilian music group Samba Bom plays at the Central West End house concert venue Joe's Cafe.

On Friday afternoon, percussionist Mike Dillon, in town to open for Umphrey's McGee this weekend at The Pageant, will do a free in-store performance and CD signing at Vintage Vinyl.

Then on Friday evening, The Wee Trio (pictured), featuring St. Louis native Dan Loomis on bass, will be in town for the first of two evenings of recording a live album at Jazz at the Bistro. They were here most recently last January, performing at the Bistro in support of their then-new release of interpretations of the songs of rocker David Bowie.

Apparently, they must have found the setting congenial enough, for they decided to make their next record right there. For more about that, and some video samples of a couple of the songs they plan to record, see this post from a couple of Saturdays ago.

Also on Friday night, you can warm up for Saturday's Mardi Gras Parade with New Orleans' own Big Sam's Funky Nation and the Funky Butt Brass Band at the Old Rock House.

Elsewhere around town that evening, retro swing band Wack-A-Doo will play a free “happy hour" concert at the Kemper Art Museum on the Washington University campus; singer Ralph Butler is at Robbie's House of Jazz; singer Dean Christopher will present the first of three performance of a Valentine's-themed cabaret show at Dramatic License Theatre in Chesterfield Mall; and drummer Paul Shaw leads a trio at Cigar Inn.

On Saturday, Mardra and Reggie Thomas return from Michigan to perform at Robbie's House of Jazz. While the Thomases still lived in the St. Louis area, for many years they did an annual gig sometime around Valentine's Day at Jazz at the Bistro. This year, with Mardra and Reggie having relocated for his new job teaching at Michigan State University, and singer Sachal Vasandani making his St. Louis debut next week at the Bistro, this gig will have to suffice for their many hometown fans.

Also on Saturday, the Funky Butt Butt Brass Band and their longtime companions, New Orleans R&B cover band Gumbohead, will present a post-parade performance at Broadway Oyster Bar; and guitarist Dave Black will lead a trio in the first of a planned series of monthly gigs at Troy's Jazz Gallery.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday guitarist Steve Schenkel performs at Webster University; and the Sessions Big Band plays their first show of the year at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups. BB's talent booker John May tells StLJN that, due to declining crowds, the Sessions band this year will only be playing once every other month at BB's. So if you're a fan of theirs, or of big bands in general, now might be a good time to show some support by turning out for the gig.

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