Jazz in July begins July 7

Ritmo Caliente launches free summer concert series

The Brian Vaccaro Jazz Trio will perform July 21 for the Jazz in July series.

Missouri in July is hot, hot, hot, but not as hot as Ritmo Caliente, one of St. Louis’ premier Latin jazz-fusion bands.

Next month, Ritmo Caliente will launch Washington University’s annual Jazz in July series with a free performance at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 7.

Sponsored as part of the larger Jazz at Holmes series, Jazz in July will feature four local ensembles performing Thursday evenings throughout the month in the cool, coffeehouse-style setting of Holmes Lounge.

“The 2011 summer series is designed to showcase jazz in all its aesthetic diversity,” says Sue Taylor, PhD, an instructor in University College, who coordinates the series with William Lenihan, director of jazz performance in the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences, and Steven Ehrlich, associate dean of University College.

“The schedule will include both new and established groups of professional musicians performing in a wide variety of styles,” Taylor says, “from Latin fusion to modern jazz repertoire to French popular song.”

Ritmo Caliente consists of guitarist Tom Byrne, keyboardist Myron Williams, bassist Phil Burton, percussionist Rich Tokatz and drummer Ron Carr. Musically, the group draws on the work of fusion artists such as Chick Corea, who in the 1960s began combining hard bop with Latin American and Spanish influences.

“Latin jazz offers listeners a variety of beats, combining the harmonies of modern jazz with rhythms that stem both from Africa and from the native music of Central and South America,” Lenihan says. Indeed, “the rhythms, largely based in the clave patterns, are probably the key ingredient distinguishing Latin jazz from the many rhythms of urban American jazz,” he says.

Jazz in July will continue July 14 with the St. Louis Jazz Ensemble, which will perform both original music and modern jazz repertoire. The group is led by Maurice Carnes, a jazz combo coach in the Department of Music, who is widely regarded as one of St. Louis’ most important jazz drummers.

Next up, on July 21, will be the Brian Vaccaro Jazz Trio. A graduate of Webster University and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, Vaccaro has performed and recorded with many of the area’s top players. He currently heads the music education program for Fazio’s Music in St. Louis County.

The series will conclude July 28 with The Poor People of Paris. One of the city’s more established ensembles, the group is led by vocalist Elsie Parker, who also performs on clarinet, flute and saxophone. It specializes in traditional jazz and popular French music, particularly the songs of Edith Piaf.

All concerts are free and open to the public and begin at 8 p.m. Holmes Lounge is located in Ridgley Hall, on the west side of Brookings Quadrangle, near the intersection of Brookings and Hoyt drives.

For more information, visit ucollege.wustl.edu/jazz; friend Jazz at Holmes on Facebook; or contact Sue Taylor at staylor@wustl.edu or (314) 862-0874.

Jazz at Holmes presents free concerts most Thursday evenings throughout the fall, spring and summer terms. The series is sponsored by Washington University’s College of Arts & Sciences, Student Union, Congress of the South 40, Department of Music in Arts & Sciences, University College and Summer School, Campus Life, Danforth University Center and Event Management, Community Service Office, Office of Student Involvement and Leadership, Greek Life Office, and Office of Residential Life.

Jazz at Holmes Summer Schedule

July 7: Ritmo Caliente
July 14: St. Louis Jazz Ensemble with drummer Maurice Carnes
July 21: Brian Vaccaro Jazz Trio
July 28: Elsie Parker and The Poor People of Paris