It's been a tough summer for me personally with the loss of my father, and for everyone on the Gulf Coast in particular. Thankfully almost all of my close friends in the New Orleans music community seem to have made it through the Katrina disaster... although I'm still anxiously awaiting word on a couple of them. But September is always a time to look forward, so let's check out what's happening on the St. Louis area jazz scene over the next three weeks.
Jazz at the Bistro has already played host to pianist Mulgrew Miller on Sept. 9 & 10, and the regular season kicks off Sept. 21-24 with a visit from John Pizzarelli and his quartet, pianist and St. Louis native Ray Kennedy, bassist Martin Pizzarelli and drummer Tony Tedesco. Local sax legend Willie Akins follows with performances on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. This year marks the 10th anniversary season for Jazz at the Bistro, and the lineup is packed with some amazing shows. Check out the full schedule at jatb.
Finale, the intimate Clayton club that debuted in 2004, doesn't present jazz every week, but the venue does feature a strong mix of national and local acts on a regular basis. September offers a particularly strong mix with Acoustic Alchemy headlining Sept. 16 & 17, followed by vocalists Diane Schuur from Sept. 22-24 and Steve Tyrell Sept. 26-29. St. Louis-based Erin Bode (whose recently recorded MAXJAZZ label sophomore effort is set for January 2006 release) performs on Sept. 14. For the full Finale schedule, check out finale-stl.
There's also some exciting jazz on deck at the University of St. Louis' Touhill performing Arts Center this month as well. Jazz legend Wayne Shorter brings his quartet to the Touhill on Sept. 28 to share the stage with musicians of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra led by new SLSO Music Director David Robertson. Check out the Touhill's website for more info: A HREF=http://www.touhill.org TARGET=_BLANK>finale-stl.
Guitarist Bill Frisell makes his long overdue St. Louis debut on Friday, Sept. 23 when he plays at the Sheldon Concert Hall, recreating his 2005 Grammy Award winning recording, Unspeakable. Guitarist Corey Christiansen opens. The event also serves as a prelude to the 6th annual Great Midwest Guitar Show at the Sheldon on Sept. 24 & 25. Find out more at finale-stl.
On the local scene, the Webster University Jazz Series is already in full swing as well. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the always interesting series features guitarist Tom Byrne and friends on Monday, Sept. 12, and a celebration of famed trumpeter Kenny Wheeler on Sept. 26. Billed as "A Diamond for Kenny, it features Michael Parkinson on trumpet; Paul DeMarinis on woodwinds; guitarist Dave Black, Kim Portnoy on piano, bassist Willem von Hombracht and drummer Kyle Honeycutt performing Wheeler compositions. Both concerts will be held at Winifred Moore auditorium on the Webster campus with a $3 admission charge.
There's also plenty more local talent on display in Webster Groves on Saturday, Sept. 17 at the Old Webster Jazz Festival. The free event marks its fifth anniversary with performances by the likes of Bode, Christiansen, Jeanne Trevor, Wild, Cool & Swingin' and the Webster University Jazz Band, among others. Find the full schedule and info about free jazz workshops that day at Webster University at finale-stl.
Finally, please remember to support all those affected by Hurricane Katrina's devestation... with a special eye toward New Orleans musicians. Several Big Easy-based musicians such as Jeremy Davenport, Banu Gibson and Spencer Bohren have already relocated to St. Louis for the interim. Here in St. Louis, there's a benefit concert scheduled for Jazz at the Bistro on Sunday, Sept. 18 from 2-6 p.m. Erin Bode, Reggie and Mardra Thomas and several other local bands and musicians will be donating their services for the effort, with all funds earmarked for Tipitina's Foundation. If you can't attend, you can find plenty of info about how to help right here on the All About Jazz site. Dig deep!