Grammy winner headlines 2012 Jazz Festival

Bassist Charles McBride leads a big band that won the Grammy Award for "Best Large Jazz Ensemble Band." The Charles McBride Big Band is the headliner for UMSL's 2012 Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival.

As a sideman with more than 20 years experience, bassist Christian McBride is no stranger to winning Grammy Awards. But never has he basked in Grammy glory as a bandleader – at least not until the most recent awards were handed out.

Now the Christian McBride Big Band, which won a Grammy for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album” for its debut “The Good Feeling,” will headline the 2012 Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival this week at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. The band will perform Saturday (April 21) at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center.

Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band featuring Terence Blanchard will perform its project “Cubano Be, Cubano Bop,” a tribute to conga king Chano Pozo and Dizzy Gillespie, Friday night (April 20) at the Touhill.

The concerts will begin at 8 p.m. and the UMSL Jazz Ensemble led by Jim Widner, director of jazz studies, will open both shows. Tickets for both Touhill performances are $20-$65.

The festival will kick off tomorrow (April 19) at Jazz at the Bistro in St. Louis with a pair of shows by Stefon Harris and Sean Jones. Tickets are $15-$30 for each of the Jazz at the Bistro shows.

Many of the artists also lead clinics with young aspiring jazz musicians throughout each day of the festival. Widner, who also organizes the festival, told St. Louis Magazine he had a strategy in selecting the performing artists.

“We want it to be groups or individuals who are world class artists but also have a strong feel and passion for jazz education,” Widner said in the St. Louis Magazine article. “We want these students and the community to hear the jazz icons.”

Click here to read a Q&A with Jim Widner in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.



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