STLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Live Performances from Oliver Lake and Russell Gunn


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Two former St. Louisans from different generations, saxophonist Oliver Lake and trumpeter Russell Gunn, will share a stage here next week as Jazz at the Bistro hosts four nights of Lake's Organ Trio with Gunn as special guest. (Jazz St. Louis is offering a special two-for-the-price-of-one deal on tickets for the Lake/Gunn extravaganza; see this post for details.)

Both men have been the subject of previous video posts here - Lake most recently in September, when he performed with Trio 3 at Luna Bar under the auspices of the Nu-Art Series, and Gunn back in June 2008 - and I had hoped this time out to be able to share some clips of Lake's Organ Trio, but alas, there seem to be none to be found online, with or without Gunn.

Instead, we've got a couple of clips each from both Lake and Gunn, all previously unseen here. First up is an excerpt in two parts from a performance by Lake's trio at Jazzfestival Saalfelden 2009 in Germany. According to the notes on the video, this was the first time in 25 years that Lake, guitarist Michael Gregory and drummer Pheeroan akLaff had played together. In this segment, Lake solos briefly, yields the floor to AkLaff for a while, then returns to instigate some three-way interaction.

Down below, we go back in time with a much older clip of Lake performing with the World Saxophone Quartet, probably from 1986 or 1987. It's the original lineup of the WSQ, playing their superb arrangement of “Lush Life," which was recorded for the 1986 album World Saxophone Quartet Plays The Music of Duke Ellington. The clip hasn't gotten many views on YouTube, perhaps because it's not labeled with the song title, let alone the performance date or location, but it's a choice version of the tune, and, from what I can tell, the only WSQ performance of it available on video.

Below that, we're back in the present day with a clip of Gunn, who now lives in Atlanta, fronting a funkified, guitar-drive trio at the Half Note Jazz Club in Athens, GA. The view is shaky and often obscured by audience members walking in front of the camera, but the sound is good, and the clip serves as a representative example of Gunn's approach to electric music.

To close out today's set, there's a video of Gunn jamming some straight-up bebop with drummer Chris Burroughs' Collective at a gig in Atlanta. This version of Charlie Parker's “Au Privave" begins with a trumpet solo by Gunn, followed by a trumpet solo by Dashill Smith, a piano solo by Kenny Banks, and ends with Gunn and Burroughs trading off some two and fours. Craig Shaw rounds out the group on bass.

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