Jazz St. Louis

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.

Grant awardees and PNC employees gather at the Public Media Commons.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Gene Dobbs Bradford, executive director for Jazz St. Louis, stands in the Public Media Commons in Grand Center as the PNC Arts Alive grants are about to be awarded. He’s enjoying a chilly, sun-dappled morning and the chance to discuss the Jazz St. Louis programing related to jazz and baseball funded by this grant.  

“This is our attempt to help people in the community draw connections to jazz in other parts of their lives,” said Dobbs Bradford.

Jazz St. Louis is one of 11 local arts organizations that each received upwards of $20,000.

Nathan Pence, jazz bassist and high school senior
Devin Rodino / Jazz St. Louis

JazzU is a program of Jazz St. Louis that places talented middle and high school musicians in jazz combos. Applications for the 2015-2016 season are due May 1 and auditions will take place June 1-4.

This year, 53 students in the St. Louis area are part of the program and represent nearly four dozen schools. One participant of the JazzU program is Nathan Pence, a jazz bassist and senior at Bishop DuBourg High School.

“It’s really just inspiring to be in the program and that just pushed me forward,” Pence told “Cityscape” host Steve Potter on Friday.

Two looks of Raja
Provided by the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts

As our city rocked from the upheavals of 2014, a series of quieter changes was taking place in the St. Louis art world.

Several arts organizations debuted, others expanded and a few folded. Some relocated and others featured uncharacteristic fare to appeal to wider audiences. Here’s a look at eight of this year’s evolutions in the local arts scene.

Jazz at the Bistro's new season opened Friday, October 3.
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

Expectations are high for the new Jazz at the Bistro space.  Local vocalist Erin Bode, 37, said anticipation is high among local musicians.

“It’s just going to revitalize our motivation and our zest and zeal for making music in Grand Center,” said Bode.

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.

Wynton Marsalis
Frank Stewart / (Courtesy Jazz at Lincoln Center)

Grammy-winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis will be performing in St. Louis next week as part of an eight city tour of Abyssinian: A Gospel Celebration, a piece he composed in honor of the 200th anniversary of a Baptist church in Harlem.

Abyssinian models a traditional Baptist church service and features the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Chorale Le Chateau in addition to Marsalis.

Cameron Wittig / (Courtesy Jazz St. Louis)

Jazz trio The Bad Plus is making an extra stop in St. Louis this year. In addition to their January performance at Jazz at the Bistro, the group will be in town September 30th through October 3rd as part of Jazz St. Louis' Residency Series.

Jazz enthusiasts will be able to hear The Bad Plus discuss their work at various events, as well as listen to them perform with members of the St. Louis Symphony.

 

(Courtesy Jazz St. Louis)

This Saturday, Grand Center, Inc. and Jazz St. Louis team up to present a showcase of American music.  The event will take place at five venues in Grand Center and will feature performances by six local bands.

When they first started planning the event, they were going to present music across a wide range of genres, said Devin Rodino, communications and operations manager at Jazz St. Louis. But in the end they settled on American music --jazz, folk, blues, country and bluegrass.

From April 18th through 20th, the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival will bring some of the greatest names in professional jazz to the stage as well as provide training opportunities for some 800 students.  In its tenth year, the festival has grown to be one of the most significant festivals in the Midwest.  Founded in 2004 by the University of Missouri – St. Louis and the Touhill Performing Arts Center, the festival last year added a partnership with Jazz St. Louis.

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.

Eric Woolsey

As a world-renowned jazz trumpeter, composer and band leader, Terence Blanchard has received five Grammy Awards and has written jazz pieces for small ensembles, symphonic settings, film and stage. But when he was contacted by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Artistic Director James Robinson about writing an opera, his first question was “are you sure you have the right guy?”  Robinson knew exactly what he was doing.