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Jazz St. Louis to note 26th season with Manhattan Transfer

After a year-long COVID-19 shutdown, JSL returns with live music from more than 40 showstopping acts for its 26th season
Credit: St. Louis American

ST. LOUIS — Every season at Jazz St. Louis is different, but this year’s is truly special.

After a year-long COVID-19 shutdown, JSL returns with live music from more than 40 showstopping acts for its 26th season.

“I just can’t tell you how glad we are to be welcoming people back into our space,” Gene Dobbs Bradford, JSL president & CEO said. “It's been too long, and every day I come into the space without music or people [it is] just feeling dead. I’m looking forward to folks coming back and this is going to be a great season.”

Bradford said once capacity and other restrictions were lifted, he knew the timing was right to relaunch the season.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do because, as you can imagine, there’s been some projects we’ve put off because we thought we weren’t going to need them at the time.” Bradford said.

Bradford is especially looking forward to a performance by Manhattan Transfer, a Grammy Award-winning vocal quartet from New York, celebrating its 50th anniversary.

“It’s going to be wonderful to see them perform and I don’t think you’re ever going to see the Manhattan Transfer in a venue of our size.” Bradford said.

An abundance of new talent is welcomed this season including Connie Hahn, who Bradford describes as a “sensational” pianist, and Kandace Springs, a jazz singer and pianist from Nashville who has opened for Prince.

“Kandace Springs is a great vocalist and pianist, she’s really something.” Bradford said.

Fans will be reintroduced to favorites including the Ray Brown Tribute Band featuring Christian McBride, Benny Green and Gregory Hutchinson.

Hutchinson pays homage to the late Grammy Award-winning double bassist Raymond Matthews Brown, who is notable for his work with Oscar Patterson and Ella Fitzgerald. Other favorites include Latin jazz singer Poncho Sánchez, acclaimed vibraphonist Warren Wolf and jazz pianist Kenny Barron. 

Local acts booked include Be.Be & the Neo-Souls, Scooter Brown and Antonio Foster & Friends.

“We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to great local talent and we’re very pleased that we get an opportunity to present them,” Bradford said.

Bradford guarantees this season will have “something for everyone” no matter what demographic. He said it all comes down to being open-minded.

“Some people don’t like Jazz, but that’s like saying you don’t like color,” Bradford said.

“There’s so many of them, there’s so many styles, there’s so many to choose from. You’re really gonna find something that you enjoy. It just takes a little bit of looking around an open mind.”

Bradford looks forward to greeting guests who haven’t attended a live show since the pandemic hit the region.

“I know people have gotten used to sitting back and surfing the web or bingeing whatever’s on TV, but I hope that people who may have not gotten out and enjoyed live music will use this as an opportunity to say finally we can enjoy being together and experience music together.” Bradford said.

For more information about this season, visit: https://jazzstl.org/.