The end of summer marks the beginning of a variety of concert series in St. Louis – as well as some interesting special events. For jazz fans, the top attraction is the kickoff of the Jazz at the Bistro series, which features a lineup of national names and top local attractions that runs from mid-September through May. But September also brings the St. Louis Art Fair – which highlights some top jazz musicians in the midst of one of the best art fairs in the country.
The Jazz at the bistro season officially begins on Wednesday, Sept. 24 with a appearance by contemporary jazz stalwarts, the Yellowjackets. In the past, the Bistro series has had a strong focus on acoustic jazz – with a decided emphasis on the bop tradition. But things began to loosen up a bit last year with performances by cutting edge saxophonist James Carter, a visit by St. Louis native (and always unpredictable) Greg Osby, the Jazz Composer’s Collective and Joshua Redman’s jam band-like outfit, Ya Ya.
Traditionalists shouldn’t dispair – there’s plenty of excellent mainstream musicians on tap this season, from David “Fathead” newman and Cyrus Chestnut to Monty Alexander. But you’ll also find Kenny Garrett, Avishai Cohen, Stefon Harris and the great John Hicks (another former St. Louisan) in the lineup. You can check out the complete lineup at the Bistro’s Web site, listed below.
But the Bistro isn’t waiting until visit by the Yellowjackets from Sept. 24th- 27th to highlight some jazz. One of the top young vocalists in our city, Erin Bode, performs at the club on Sept. 19th and 20th. Bode, who recently signed with the MAXJAZZ label and will head into the studio to cur her debut CD in October, will be backed by another MAXJAZZ artist, pianist Bruce Barth, during her Bistro sets. Barth will actually be coming into town a bit early to perform at the Bistro as a headliner on Thursday the 18th with his own group.
The Saint Louis Art Fair runs this Friday, sept. 5 through Sunday the 7th in downtown Clayton. As mentioned, the Art fair is one of the nation’s best. And one reason it’s so good is the musical component – featuring three stages worth of fine talent, including a stage devoted to jazz. Friday night you can catch OGD, which includes talented SIU-Edwardsville Jazz Studies faculty members Reggie Thomas on Hammond B-3 and Rick Haydon on guitar. Saturday’s lineup features another excellent SIUE faculty member, bassist Tom Kennedy, leading a trio that includes Haydon and Scott Alberici on clarinet. Dynamic vocalist Sweet Baby J’ai wraps up Saturday’s Jazz stage entertainment. Sunday afternoon, pianist Carol Schmidt leads a quartet that includes saxophonist Paul DeMarinis, Dan Eubanks on bass and drummer Kyle Honeycutt. Special guest Michelle Isam (who teamed with Schmidt in the popular duo, Jasmine for several years) will add her vocal talents to the mix. Pianist Ptah Williams closes the Jazz Stage with a solo set on Sunday.
For more information:
Jazz at the Bistro
Saint Louis Art Fair