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With the arrival of March, we’re all hoping that the snowstorms that have hit us with clockwork regularity over the past few weeks will finally begin to fade – making it much more bearable getting to concerts and club gigs in the area. Case in point; the furious snowstorm that his St. Louis just before the Dirty Dozen Brass Band hit the stage at the Casa Loma Ballroom (a south St. Louis landmark that was home to many big band gigs during the swing era, and that’s still going strong today). The Dozen kept the capacity crowd on the dance floor for tow excellent sets, but the drive home afterward was no fun at all.
Luckily, the winter weather didn’t prevent great gigs by the likes of Jimmy Scott and the Greg Osby Four from happening at jazz at the Bistro, or concerts by Terence Blanchard and Monty Alexander at the Sheldon Concert Hall. And now that Spring looms officially on the horizon, there are some “must see” shows in St. Louis as well. Topping the list is the appearance of Wynton Marsalis and his Septet at the Sheldopn on March 14. The venerable Sheldon with it’s intimate seating capacity of 700+ and its world class acoustics was the site of Wynton’s debut as a leader in St. louis back in 1983, and whenever possible, he makes it a point to play there. Talk about “The Intimacy of the Blues!” Aside from a small club date, there’s just no way you’re going to hear Wynton and his band in a better setting. But tickets are almost gone, so you better get ‘em quick. And don’t forget the following night – March 15 – the legendary Ahmad Jamal makes his debut at the Sheldon in a special Jazz at the Bistro production.
Speaking of Jazz at the Bistro, the top jazz club in the city brings in Dr. Lonnie Smith March 5-8 as a replacement for the ailing Irene Reid. But if you happened to catch Smith last year backing up Lou Donaldson at the Bistro, you know this will be much more than a fill-in performance. Backed by Peter Bernstein on guitar and Fukushi Tainaka on drums, the turbaned Smith is sure to provide a seminar in B-3 bop and blues. Cyrus Chestnut – a perennial fave at the Bistro – returns March 19-22... and for smooth jazz fans, Boney james hits the Pageant on March 30.
The fine We Always Swing jazz series in Columbia, MO offers up a performance by the Dave Brubeck Quartet on March 9 at Jesse Hall on the U. Of Missouri campus... which also plays host to Wynton and his band on March 15.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.