Jazz at the Bistro

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.

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.

Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Jazz St. Louis and leading national institution Jazz at Lincoln Center are again joining forces to show area students how a treasured musical art continues to evolve.

The organizations will bring nationally recognized musicians into schools to give high school students an up-close view of jazz, a music rich in tradition that relies heavily on improvisation. Musicians also will speak on the role jazz musicians played during the music’s heyday a few generations ago and to the continuing importance of jazz in the 21st century.

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.

Eugene Redmond, Professor and Poet Laureate of East St. Louis
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

In the past year, St. Louis has been saturated by a groundswell of art related to social justice concerns, specifically issues of the region’s racial inequalities. For scholars, fans and former members of St. Louis’ Black Artists Group (BAG), the trend is remarkably familiar.

Terence Blanchard performs with his band E Collective
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Grammy-winning jazz musician Terence Blanchard is no stranger to composing music inspired by social injustice. He wrote an album about New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  He wrote the opera "Champion," which dealt with race and sexuality issues in boxing and debuted at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis last year. And he just released a new work inspired by the death of Eric Garner and the #BlackLivesMatter social media campaign that’s taken root in St. Louis since the shooting death of Michael Brown.

(Courtesy: John Pizzarelli)

“It’s only had strings on it for less than 70 hours,” John Pizzarelli said of his new guitar that was made in Springfield, Missouri at Moll Custom Instruments.

Pizzarelli is a world-renowned jazz guitarist and singer. This is the latest of several guitars that Bob Moll has made for Pizzarelli over the years.

After playing live in our studio, Pizzarelli told “Cityscape” host Steve Potter, “It felt really good while I was playing it.”

Robert Orth as Howie Albert and Aubrey Allicock as Young Emile Griffith
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre of St. Louis

I recently joined a group of arts leaders at the Nine Network to discuss how organizations in Grand Center could collaborate more effectively. As part of the meeting, they asked us to name some of the ways collaborations have created value in the community. This question took me back to my first day of business school at Washington University, when we talked about the concept of value: how the benefits an organization produces are greater than the costs of the organization. It is a classic case of one plus one equals three.

Richard McDonnell
MAXJAZZ

On Sunday, May 25, Jazz at the Bistro will have a lineup of performers worthy of the man everyone is gathering to honor: Richard McDonnell.

In addition to founding St. Louis-based independent record label MAXJAZZ, McDonnell was one of the original board members of Jazz St. Louis.

The night before he died this past February, Richard McDonnell spent the evening doing what he loved most, said his son Clayton McDonnell. First he went to hear Peter Martin at the Sheldon, and then he went to hear sets performed at Jazz at the Bistro.

Jazz St. Louis

Jazz St. Louis in Grand Center has announced a new expansion that it hopes will make it one of the top five jazz hubs in the world.

The $10 million plan includes the purchase its building at 3536 Washington Ave. and another next door, a renovated performance space, an education center and a jazz lounge.

Anna Webber

Kurt Elling is a prominent American jazz vocalist.  Each of his ten albums have been nominated for a Grammy award and he has been named “Male Singer of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association eight times.