Virtuosos, Tributes and Soul Connections: Highlights from the Jazz St. Louis 2019/2020 Season
Jazz St. Louis continues its mission of advancing the uniquely American art form of jazz for its 2019/2020 season. The lively and eclectic bill of performances at The Harold & Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz in Grand Center ensures there’s something for every music lover.
Few instruments are as powerful or as intimate as the human voice, and Jazz St. Louis hosts some of the finest vocal artists working today. Listen to veterans like vocalist Freddy Cole, partnering with saxophone legend Houston Person; St. Louis native and Broadway fixture Ken Page; acapella legends Manhattan Transfer; and up-and-coming French vocalist Cyrille Aimee, who blends jazz with distinct pop sensibilities.
• Cyrille Aimee—Sept. 18-19, 7:30 p.m.
• Freddy Cole Quintet featuring Houston Person—Oct. 23, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 24-26, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.; and Oct. 27, 6:30 p.m.
• Ken Page—Nov. 13-14, 7:30 p.m.
• Manhattan Transfer—April 1, 7:30 p.m.; April 2, 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.; April 3-5, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.; and April 5, 2 and 6:30 p.m.
The group dynamic
Collaboration is one of the cornerstones of jazz. Listen to what happens when extraordinary musicians combine their talents, like Artemis, an international supergroup of performers interpreting works from traditional jazz to pop. Nate Smith + KINFOLK marries Smith’s fiery drumming with elements from classical to hip hop in an irresistible musical stew, while Poncho Sanchez & His Latin Jazz Band merge sounds from all over Latin and South America.
• Artemis—Oct. 9-10, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 11-12, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.; and Oct. 13, 6:30 p.m.
• Nate Smith + KINFOLK—Dec. 18-19, 7:30 p.m.; Dec 20-21, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.; and Dec, 22, 6:30 p.m.
• Poncho Sanchez & His Latin Jazz Band—May 27-30, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.; and May 31, 2 and 6:30 p.m.
Innovation is the lifeblood of jazz, but it’s also important to pay homage to those who paved the way. The Beatles’ classic Abbey Road turns 50 this year, and Ryan Marquez & The People’s Key featuring Lola pay a jazz-inspired tribute to this iconic record. One of music’s grand dames, Ella Fitzgerald, will be honored in a night of performances of some of her finest songs, while the legendary pairing of Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim will be interpreted by Paulo Szot and the dulcet tones of Mel Tormé, aka The Velvet Fog, will be celebrated by Billy Stritch.
• Abbey Road at 50—Oct. 4-5, 7:30 p.m.
• Celebrating Ella Fitzgerald—Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m.; and Oct. 19, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.
• Billy Stritch sings Mel Tormé—March 25-26, 7:30 p.m.
• Paulo Szot sings Sinatra & Jobim—May 6-7, 7:30 p.m.
Instrumental facility is a hallmark of all styles of jazz, and Jazz St. Louis is bringing some of the biggest instrumental talent to town this year. Hear Hammond B-3 organ master Joey DeFrancesco play with the STL Jazz Big Band, guitar legend Pat Martino sing on six strings and violinist Regina Carter plus pianist Xavier Davis join forces on their respective instruments, to name but a few.
• Regina Carter & Xavier Davis—Nov. 7, 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Nov. 8-9, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.; and Nov. 10, 6:30 p.m.
• Joey DeFrancesco & The Jazz STL Big Band—Nov. 15-16, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.
• Pat Martino—Feb. 5-6, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 7-8, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.; and Feb. 9, 6:30 p.m.
The soul connection
Like your jazz with a hearty dose of soul? Featured groups like Terrence Blanchard featuring E Collective, Etienne Charles and Good 4 The Soul mix these traditions along with funk, blues, gospel, R&B and more into their music for an eclectic and truly joyful noise.
• Terrence Blanchard featuring E Collective—Nov. 20-21, 7:30 p.m.; Nov. 22-23, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.; and Nov. 24, 6:30 p.m.
• Good 4 The Soul—Dec. 27-28, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.
• Etienne Charles—March 4-6, 7:30 p.m.; March 7, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.; and March 8, 6:30 p.m.
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Featured image courtesy of Gabriel Gurrola.