Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival
Featured Guest Artists
Thursday, April 20: Keyon Harrold
"Midwest Music Matters: Jazz, Blues, and Hip-Hop"
Join Jazz St. Louis Creative Advisor, jazz trumpeter, vocalist, songwriter, activist, educator, and producer for an in-depth look at how his background in Jazz and Blues has led him to work with some of the biggest names in American popular music. He will draw on his years of experiences working with luminaries like Common, Snoop Dogg, Jay Z, Beyonce, and many more to demonstrate how jazz influences and is used in Hip-Hop and beyond.
Jazz St Louis is thrilled to welcome renowned jazz trumpeter, vocalist, songwriter, activist, educator, and producer Keyon Harrold as our Creative Advisor! Harrold will work to enhance the programming of Jazz St. Louis by curating performances that showcase jazz in new and different lights, drawing on influences and collaborations with artists outside the world of jazz from hip-hop to dancers, poets, and visual artists. He will interact with the community through a multitude of public events and participation in Jazz St. Louis's education programs.
“I'm very excited to return to St Louis because it is my home and I have always been a part of the Jazz St. Louis family. It is exciting to come full circle and I look forward to doing something unique and thoughtful as well as boundary-pushing,” says Harrold. “I plan on bringing a myriad of different voices - unexpected voices - to speak to the consciousness of now and to educate about where we come from musically and culturally.” Harrold's three-year appointment will focus on annual performances, culminating with a major commissioned work reflecting on the St Louis Community that will close the 2023-24 season.
Friday, April 21: Terreon Gully
Tanktified, St. Louis Edition
What is TANKTIFIED?
At once a play on words while also a conceptual mission statement, TANKTIFIED yields from one of Terreon’s most popular compositions, TANKTIFIED, which features a melodic cycle based on his distillation of a traditional African-American worship service experience:
Melody: The Sermon
A soulful deliverance of the message for the day
Bridge: The Offering
An odd-meter rhythmic pattern meant to express the ambivalence some may feel for the financial aspect of churchgoing
Solos: The Testimonies
An opportunity for the artists (as congregants) to give testimony based upon the Sermon
Coda: The Alter Call
A soothing denouement designed to pull the listener deeper into the music and prepare him/her to give themselves fully to the spirit
is but one example of the intellectual heft and musical insight Terreon has applied towards this project. Each musical selection, whether an original composition or a newly-arranged standard has been TANKTIFIED to Terreon’s exacting sonic specifications and vibe.
Terreon has spent many years developing and creating with SH & BO & w/ CMB. He always wanted for his first solo project to feature some original music specifically written for those groups alone with some other configurations. Musical compatriots joining Terreon in helping him fulfill his vision include not only Christian McBride and Stefon Harris but the whole of each of their renown groups, the Christian McBride Band and Blackout: Christian McBride/Ron Blake/Geoffrey Keezer and Stefon Harris/Casey Benjamin/Marc Cary/Ben Williams. Recording sessions for the album marked the first time members of these bands had played together in several years!
This performance in St. Louis will be an exciting sneak peek of some of the music from this project.
Adaron “Pops” Jackson
Saturday, April 22: Reggie Thomas in TRIO NEXUS
with vocalist Mardra Thomas
The Chicago-based TRIO NEXUS features pianist Reggie Thomas, bassist Dennis Carroll, and drummer George Fludas. Guest vocalist Mardra Thomas joins Trio Nexus for this performance. The group is heard regularly in the Chicago area at signature jazz clubs such as Jazz Showcase, and Andy’s Jazz, and at other venues as well as Chicago festivals. Trio Nexus' rhythm section is often heard performing within the legendary Chicago Jazz Orchestra and with other jazz greats around the country.
Bassist Dennis Carroll has played professionally for over forty years. He grew up in the small village of Poplar Grove, Illinois where his father was the Band Director. Dennis was largely self-taught on the bass but learned much from his father William who nurtured his love of jazz and blues by sharing his extensive record collection.
Carroll started playing bass professionally at age 17 while in Poplar Grove, IL. He later studied with the great bassist Mike Barnett and the wonderful pianist Russ Long in Lake Geneva at the Playboy Club Resort.
After settling in Chicago, Carroll performed with a multitude of fine artists such as Bobby Broom, Eddie Harris, Eric Reed, Von Freeman, Ron Blake, Ira Sullivan, Russ Long, Johnny O’Neal, Pharaoh Sanders, Charles McPherson, Jodie Christian, Eddie Harris, Bobby Hutcherson, Clark Terry, John Schofield, Pharoah Sanders and many more.
Carroll regularly works and records with Bobby Broom, Pharez Whitted, Ron Perrillo, Pat Mallinger, and John Wojciechowski. He’s heard in all of Chicago’s first-rate jazz clubs and his musical ties and talents have taken him to clubs and festival stages all over this county and into other parts of the world including Mexico, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Portugal.
Carroll leads Jazz Combos and has been a Professor of Jazz Bass for over ten years at Chicago’s DePaul School of Music. He is an educator and bassist for Ravinia’s Reach Teach Play Program where over 75,000 community members are served each year, ensuring that music education remains accessible to all.
Dennis Carroll is the principal bass player for the Chicago Jazz Orchestra and has been connected with this legendary organization for more than twenty years.
He continues an over thirty-year affiliation with artist Bobby Broom, along with other world-class musicians, including playing an integral and creative role as the pulse of TRIO NEXUS with George Fludas and Reggie Thomas.
Drummer George Fludas, born in Chicago was inspired to play drums by his father, who was also a drummer, and who exposed him to some of the great jazz drummers such as Art Blakey, Max Roach, and "Philly" Joe Jones. Fludas began his professional career in the late 80s playing with Chicago greats Von Freeman, Jodie Christian, and Lin Halliday, as well as playing in groups with guitarist Bobby Broom, saxophonist Ron Blake and Eric Alexander. Subsequently, he played with many stellar musicians such as Ira Sullivan, Buddy Montgomery, Lou Donaldson, Frank Wess, Kenny Burrell, Betty Carter, Johnny Griffin, Benny Green, Roy Hargrove, Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, Cedar Walton, Diana Krall, Benny Carter, Phil Woods, Junior Cook, Slide Hampton, and Bobby Hutcherson.
Fludas has performed at numerous jazz venues in the U.S. such as the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, Yoshi’s in Oakland, the Blue Note, Village Vanguard, Smoke, The Jazz Standard in New York, and Catalina's of Hollywood, as well as many International Jazz Festivals, including the Montreal Festival du Jazz, Bern Jazz Fest in Switzerland, Glasgow and Edinburgh Jazz Fests, Vitoria Jazz Fest, San Sebastian Fest in Spain, and the USS Norway Jazz Cruise. He toured Europe and Japan extensively as a member of Ray Brown's Trio, and with groups led by Hank Jones, Diana Krall, Monty >Alexander, Cedar Walton, and Joey Defrancesco.
Fludas lives in Chicago and performs regularly with local artists and visiting headliners at clubs and concert venues throughout the city. He continues to tour often with many of the top names in jazz and can be heard on numerous CDs as a sideman with Ray Brown, Eric Alexander, Monty Alexander, Kyle Asche, Geof Bradfield, Scott Burns, Bobby Broom, Lin Halliday, and The Chicago Jazz Orchestra.
Vocalist/Actor Mardra Thomas for years has painted a musical and historical picture of the legendary Billie Holiday, and was nominated for Chicago’s 2018 Best Leading Actress Lena Horne Award: for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in the Fleetwood Jourdain production of “Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill.”
Mardra’s jazz roots are planted in the St. Louis area where early in her career she performed for Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s opening of Dizzy Gillespie’s 70th Birthday Concert. Shortly thereafter she found herself trading scat solos with world-class trumpeter Clark Terry when Director Ronald Carter of the East St. Louis Lincoln High School Band graciously welcomed her to perform with his world-class group.
>Mardra has performed with a number of jazz greats and is seen in concert halls, jazz festivals, and premier clubs around the country. You will hear her on various recordings including her latest Matters Of The Heart with her husband, pianist Reggie Thomas. She currently resides near Chicago and has been performing as a guest vocalist with the legendary Chicago Jazz Orchestra and is always delighted when the opportunity arises to make music with TRIO NEXUS . For many years she’s been the principal vocalist for the Birch Creek Jazz Academy Orchestra in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin.
Mardra has performed in a number of college festivals across the country as well as The Hyde Park, Chicago, Lansing, Michigan, St. Louis area festivals and the Monterey’s Next Generation Jazz Festival .
Her jazz performances and acting roles are often intertwined like when her acting and jazz vocal styling was blended in Barry Moton’s “ DAYDREAM-THE LIFE OF BILLY STRAYHORN ” at the Kennedy Center and later evolved into a part of a new audio drama series. www.daydreamseries.com .
Pianist "Reggie" Thomas is the Coordinator of the internationally recognized Northern Illinois University School of Music's Jazz Studies program. He is the director of the acclaimed NIU Jazz Orchestra, which has been featured at venues such as the Chicago Jazz Festival and just this year was selected to perform at Jazz At Lincoln Center for the Jack Rudin Jazz Championship.
Thomas came to NIU from the Michigan State University College of Music, where he served as a Professor of Jazz Piano. Prior to his position at MSU, he was a Professor of Music at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and was SIUE's Director of Black Studies.
Reggie has performed at festivals around the world – St. Louis Jazz Festival in Senegal, West Africa; The Montreal International Jazz Festival; and The Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia.
After leaving the St Louis area, he also spent three years as pianist for the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra with whom he performed at a festival before the King of Thailand. Thomas has performed abroad in Brisbane, Calgary, London, Milan, Montreal, Poznan, Senegal, Sydney, Toronto, Trinidad, and Warsaw. He has also performed across the US in cities including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.
As a recording artist, Thomas has appeared as a leader or co-leader on several recordings. The most recent, Matters of the Heart (with wife Mardra), was released in 2015 and follows previous recordings Fade to Blue (MaxJazz), Standard Time (Victoria), and 4 (Jazz Compass). Recordings as a sideman include Clay Jenkins’ Yellow Flowers After (Chase Music Group) and Azure Eyes (Chase Music Group), Kim Richmond’s Ballads (Chase Music Group) and Inner Spirit (Jazz Compass), Clark Terry/Mike Vax’s Creepin’ With Clark (Summit) and the MSU Professors of Jazz Better Than Alright .
Reggie remains active with some of the top institutions in jazz and music education including as a 2023 Juror for The American Pianist Association and recent travel to South Africa to serve as a juror for the 14th Unisa International Piano Competition . Since 2018 he has served as the ensemble coach for NYO Jazz Orchestra , a national youth jazz orchestra created by The Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, and teaches for their Summer Music Educators Workshops. From 2004-16, he served as a clinician and education consultant for Jazz at Lincoln Center, working with the Essentially Ellington Program and Band Director Academy . Since 2011 he has worked with the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz (formerly the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz ) serving as the pianist in the rhythm section that accompanies the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competitions.
Reggie has directed All-State Jazz Bands, Combos, and Jazz Choirs in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, and Tennessee and directed the first-ever Missouri All-College Jazz Band. He has served on summer jazz faculties across the country and abroad including the IAJE Teacher Training Institute, the Birch Creek Music Center, the Eastman School of Music Summer Jazz Camp, the Summer Jazz Academy in Chodziez, Poland, the Barbican Center in London, and the University of Trinidad and Tobago. Reggie was an early recipient of the Excellence in the Arts award from the Greater St. Louis Arts and Education Council and has been named in Riverfront Times "Best of St. Louis" as Best Jazz Artist.
Reggie continues to perform with some of the finest artists in the country and around the world. He remains active on the Chicago area jazz scene with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra and has found an especially great connection for creativity while making music with Dennis Carroll and George Fludas in Trio Nexus.