Jazz | St. Louis Public Radio

Jazz

Students training with UMSL's jazz ensemble will get an enhanced travel budget, in addition to other improvements to the program. 7/24/18
University of Missouri St. Louis

Students at the University of Missouri-St. Louis will soon have access to a beefed-up jazz studies program due to a $1.3 million donation by the Steward Family Foundation.

Though the school currently has student ensembles and offers instrument instruction and related courses — including one on jazz improvisation — students will now be able to earn a degree in jazz studies from UMSL’s newly christened David and Thelma Steward Institute For Jazz Studies.

Tonina Saputo is a St. Louis-based vocalist, songwriter and bassist.
Tyler Small

Tonina Saputo speaks several languages — both musically and otherwise. She’s not very far past the beginning of her career, but the diversity of her musical interests can already be heard in projects ranging from alternative R&B to Latin jazz.

The St. Louis-based vocalist, songwriter and bassist, who performs under her first name, has a global vision. “I really want to bridge the gap between American music — I put that in air quotes, because what is American music? — and world music. And what is world music?” she said. 

Among the things on Owen Ragland's calendar are a monthly residency at the Dark Room and a slot at this year's LouFest.  6/28/18
Carl Wickman

Owen Ragland is a musician on the move. In the last year, the 17-year-old pianist, producer and bandleader has played the LouFest in support of local artist Mvstermind, released a debut album plus follow-up EP and launched a monthly residency at the Dark Room

Some of the next items on his agenda include a performance with his quintet at this year’s LouFest and graduating from Webster Groves High School.

He spoke with Cut & Paste about his path to music, which he started at age 3 — and his efforts to fuse elements of jazz, hip-hop and electronic music into a style all his own.

Mark Overton's extensive collection of rare and historically significant instruments sits on the second floor of his Cherokee Street music shop.  5/25/18
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

If you walk into the Saxquest music store on Cherokee Street, you’ll probably want to pick up a saxophone, even if you don’t know how to play. The front room is full of them. The walls are plastered with images of jazz greats, like Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins.

The folks at the store specialize in restoring and selling vintage instruments, but the biggest attraction is upstairs, where the inventory is definitely not for sale. That’s where owner Mark Overton displays his remarkable collection of saxophones.

Proceeds from Denise Thimes’ performance this Sunday at UMSL’s Touhill Performing Arts Center will help to support the Mildred Thimes Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Much like Mother’s Day itself, Denise Thimes’ benefit concert that takes place during the annual celebration of moms has grown into a recurring and anticipated event.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with the jazz great about this year’s iteration, which is set for Sunday evening at the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ Touhill Performing Arts Center.

It will benefit the Mildred Thimes Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. Thimes founded and named the foundation in remembrance of her mother, who died of the disease in 1997.

The Spanish Harlem Orchestra
Spanish Harlem Orchestra

Oscar Hernandez has been playing Latin jazz and salsa music for more than four decades, and in that time he’s performed with some of that music’s greatest performers, but also seen people turn away from their musical heritage.

So when Hernandez gets a chance to share the Latin music tradition that emerged from New York with a multigenerational crowd, he counts his blessings.

“I always say thank God for the intelligent, discerning fans that go beyond the commercial [music] that they’re fed continually in this country,” Hernandez said recently. “They go out and seek something better than that. And that’s who our audience is. That’s who our fans are.”

Jazz singer Cecile McLorin Salvant
Mark Fitton | Courtesy of the artist

When jazz vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant takes the stage Saturday at the Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis, she won't be trying to sing as her storied predecessors might have.

Though the virtuoso performer has been hailed as a successor to such greats as Ella Fitzgerald and Betty Carter, she is very much a contemporary singer. Salvant, a Haitian-American who grew up in Miami, has grown to love jazz standards, show tunes and songs many might miss, like the Kurt Weill/Langston Hughes piece "Somehow I Could Never Believe."

But the 28-year-old also writes original compositions and through her singing wants to make her own statement about the music's past, present and future.

Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock
Douglas Kirkland

If you’re a celebrated jazz artist who has played with some of the genre’s lions, you could continually reinterpret the past and satisfy fans nostalgic for your heydays.

Pianist Herbie Hancock, who performs Thursday at Powell Hall in St. Louis, has no interest in being a museum of sound — or giving a music lesson. Instead, he wants to audiences to experience jazz as a living art.

Members of the SFJAZZ Collective
Photo by Jay Blakesberg

When jazz trumpeter Sean Jones took on the job of interpreting tunes by Miles Davis, he didn’t try to recreate the famed musician’s notes.

Instead, Jones set about pushing the music forward.

He’s part of the SFJAZZ Collective, a San Francisco-based group of musicians that is booked through Saturday at Jazz at the Bistro in St. Louis. The group, which each year honors a big name in jazz, is now focusing on Davis, a trumpeter who helped give birth to the cool but stylistically never stayed in one place.

Alexis J. Roston, seen in this file photo, has performed "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill" in Chicago and Milwaukee.
Provided | Milwaukee Rep

The story of a jazz a singer whose signature song drew attention to the brutal treatment of African-Americans will be on stage in St. Louis for the next two weeks.

Max and Louie Productions presents “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” a drama about the iconic Billie Holiday. The setting is a fictional performance that takes place four months before her death.

The production includes a dozen of Holiday’s songs and a running commentary in which she looks back on her life of love, loss, addiction and struggle with racism.

Jazz pianist Alfredo Rodriguez
Photo by Betsy Newman. Courtesy of the artist.

Anyone who visits Cuba would be struck by two important musical currents: the streetwise character of modern dance music — and the elegance of classically trained performers adept at various genres.

 

St. Louisans this week have a chance to see both when pianist Alfredo Rodriguez, who hails from the Cuban Institute of Music, joins conga player Pedrito Martinez, who had no formal training. Since crossing paths in the United States in recent years, they’ve played together on stage and on recordings.

Their latest collaboration will be at Jazz at the Bistro, where they will perform fuse jazz and Afro-Cuban music, including timba, the fiery dance music that took the island by storm a couple of decades ago.

T.J. Muller, Kellie Everett and Kevin Belford joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the Sidney Street Shakers.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

If you’re from St. Louis, you know that the region was the epicenter of the nation’s first pop music in the 1800s — ragtime. But St. Louis has contributed much more to the nation’s music legacy.

The Sidney Street Shakers, a local jazz group that solely plays St. Louis jazz of the 1920s, want to bring awareness to that legacy.

The Vijay Iyer Trio
Barbara Rigon

Vijay Iyer knows that people come to his concerts with their own ideas about what the music is all about.

 

Some might expect to hear Iyer evoke the great jazz pianists who came before him. Others might expect intricate interpretations of modern pop tunes, or perhaps wonder if he will draw on his Indian American roots.

Dana Hotle and Adam Maness joined "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss the Chamber Project St. Louis' upcoming concerts.
Mary Edwards | St. Louis on the Air

The 442’s pianist and composer Adam Maness is a lifelong St. Louisan and, with that, he has something on his mind: socioeconomic and racial divisions in the city of St. Louis. He recently composed a piece called “The Delmar Wall” to address those issues.

The jazz-electronica group Koplant No emerged several years ago at the University of Iowa.
Provided by Koplant No

When an emerging jazz band seeks to make a fresh statement, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that its musicians would embrace the modern sounds they grew up with.

That explains the path of Koplant No, a quartet that fuses intricate jazz composition with improvisation, electronica and elements of hip-hop to capture a listener’s imagination. The Midwestern group, which this weekend returns to Jazz at the Bistro in St. Louis, has a light and airy sound that can sound a bit like a futuristic movie soundtrack.

For a while, even its members didn’t know how to precisely describe what they play, saxophone player Joel Vanderheyden said. But they've agreed on a description, perhaps after learning that some listeners feel that hearing the music is like taking a journey.

“Only in probably the last couple of years we sort of stumbled upon the label of cinematic electro jazz,” he said.

St. Louis Public Radio's new arts and culture editor also edits our science and medical reporters.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Do you ever wonder why St. Louis Public Radio covers a particular concert but not an art show opening on the same night? Or a certain play but not a simultaneous music festival?

Editors are instrumental in these kinds of decisions. And we’ve got a new editor for our arts and culture team, who’s come to town with some new ideas. David Cazares (pronounced CAH-sar-ehs ) comes to us from Minnesota Public Radio, where he served as a web editor and music writer with an emphasis on jazz.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

In 1997, St. Louis jazz vocalist — legend, some do say — Denise Thimes lost her mother to pancreatic cancer. In the wake of that loss, Thimes launched the Mildred Thimes Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer. While she’s held an annual Mother’s Day concert for the past 20 years to pay tribute to her mother, her rock, the reason Thimes sings could be applied to anyone who has lost their mother: maternal sacrifice.

Dennis Owsley wins 2016 Jazz Hero Award

Apr 1, 2016
Jazz Unlimited host Dennis Owsley
St. Louis Public Radio file photo

The Jazz Journalist’s Association has named Dennis Owsley the second Jazz Hero from the St. Louis region.  He’s recognized in part for his radio show, Jazz Unlimited, with St. Louis Public Radio.

“The way he puts it together in formats and themes, it can be really educational not only for hardcore jazz fans but people who are just coming into jazz,” said Terry Perkins, who oversees the JJA award in St. Louis.

Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis was home to the late, great jazz musician Clark Terry, who died in last year at the age of 94.

Contemporary trumpet virtuoso Byron Stripling was one of the many jazz musicians, from Miles Davis to Quincy Jones, who was influenced by Terry. Stripling, who spent part of his childhood in St. Louis, has returned to the city to pay tribute to Clark Terry at Jazz at the Bistro.

Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

The spring season of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival has returned, featuring 12 artists and 22 performances over the course of nine weekends. Two performers with a long, friendly history on the New York cabaret scene joined “St. Louis on the Air” contributor Steve Potter to discuss their performances this weekend.

Marissa Mulder, a cabaret singer, will perform a tribute to Marilyn Monroe in a variety of styles. She said she drew inspiration to do so from a photograph.

“There was just something about her eyes in the photograph that registered with me,” Mulder said.

Pages