StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Winter/spring 2016 jazz preview, part 1


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This week, it's the first part of StLJN's video preview of jazz and creative music performers who will be visiting St. Louis during the winter and spring months of 2016.

First up are The Bad Plus, who will be returning to our town to perform Wednesday, January 6 through Wednesday, January 9 at Jazz at the Bistro. Given that this will be the tenth consecutive year that the provocative piano trio has played the Bistro in the month of January, many local jazz fans will already be familiar with them, but if you'd like to catch up with StLJN's coverage of their past appearances here, including posts compiling various performance videos from the last ten years, just click on the tag at the bottom of this post that says “The Bad Plus."

As for what they've been up to since their last St. Louis gig, The Bad Plus spent much of 2015 on two projects that augmented their lineup with additional musicians. One of those was a series of live performances of all the music from Ornette Coleman's 1971 album Science Fiction, aided by saxophonists Tim Berne and Sam Newsome and trumpeter Ron Miles. The other project was a critically acclaimed album and string of gigs with saxophonist Josh Redman, a string that, alas, won't extend to their dates here. 

As you may have noticed if you're a regular reader of this weekly feature, the default practice is to try to include the most recent footage available of the performers in question. Unfortunately for purposes of this particular preview, there's no good-quality video available online that was 1) shot during the past year and 2) features just The Bad Plus; the best yr humble editor could find was a handful of audience-shot clips from the Seoul Jazz Festival with adequate audio that were rendered headache-inducing by terribly shaky camera work. So, even though Redman won't be here in St. Louis, the first clip at the top of this post shows one of those Bad Plus gigs with him - specifically, a full set recorded in May of this year at the Detroit Jazz Festival.

Next to arrive here in January will be an ad hoc ensemble billed as the Jazz at Lincoln Center Group, featuring four musicians who have varying degrees of affiliation with that NYC institution, but who all are heavily involved in jazz education. Their performances on Thursday, January 14 and Friday, January 15 at the Bistro will cap a week of working with students in Jazz St. Louis' various education programs and in selected local school districts.

The group features the homecoming of saxophonist and University City native Todd Williams, a contemporary of trumpeter Jeremy Davenport and pianist Peter Martin who's spent much of the last 15+ years under the wing of Wynton Marsalis, working as a member of both the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Marsalis' own septet.

Williams has moved on from JaLC to a teaching job at Indiana Wesleyan University, and according to his website, he's also now working on a doctorate from Indiana University, so perhaps it should be no surprise that recent footage of him performing seems to scarce online. In fact, aside from some older clips of the JaLC Orchestra and Marsalis' small band, most of which feature Williams only briefly, the best video of him seems to be a clip he recorded not long ago for JaLC's education program, in which he talks about blues inflections for the saxophone and plays “St. Louis Blues," and that's what you'll find right after the jump.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Group at the Bistro also will include another former member of the JaLC Orchestra, trumpeter Terell Stafford. Stafford also should be quite familiar to local jazz fans, thanks to his recordings for the St. Louis based MAXJAZZ label and a number of headlining appearances here over the past decade, most recently as part of the band assembled to play the Bistro this past September to commemorate Jazz St. Louis' 20th anniversary.

Stafford, who's now teaching at Temple University and directing the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, can be seen in the third clip playing his song “Favor" during a performance recorded in September at the Network for New Music in Philly.

Rounding out the group will be the veteran tuba player Bob Stewart, who's not a member of any regular Jazz at Lincoln Center ensemble but serves as an “educational consultant" to the organization; and drummer Jeff Hamilton, who lives all the way across the country in Los Angeles and whose affiliation with JaLC seems limited to appearing in some educational videos and leading his trio in the occasional gig at JaLC's club venue, Dizzy's.

You can see Hamilton expertly driving that trio in the fourth video clip, which features four songs recorded in May of this year at Dizzy's, and catch can see Stewart in the fifth video, in which he plays a duet with trombonist Ray Anderson on Arthur Blythe's “Lenox Avenue Breakdown," recorded in 2012 at NYC's Cornelia St. Cafe.

After that, vibraphonist Warren Wolf will be in town to lead his group in a series of shows from Wednesday, January 20 through Saturday, January 23 at the Bistro. Wolf, who played the club last season as a co-leader with trumpeter Sean Jones and saxophonist Tia Fuller, can be seen in the sixth clip performing “Things Were Done Yesterday" in May of this year at a northern California venue called Silo's Napa.

The same week Wolf is in town, steel guitarist Susan Alcorn and percussionist Frank Rosaly also will be in St. Louis to play a concert for New Music Circle on Friday, January 22 at Joe's Cafe. You can see Alcorn in the seventh video, performing solo and with bassist Michael Formanek and saxophonist Derrick Michaels in July 2015 at Normal's Books and Records in Baltimore. The eighth (and final) video features an excerpt from a Rosaly solo set in August 2013 at the Milwaukee Noise Fest.

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