Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum to host Birth of the Cool Jazz

Alton, IL, native Miles Davis helped invent the notion of "cool" with his groundbreaking album Birth of the Cool, a recording that also ushered in a whole new school of West Coast jazz. This fall the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum will celebrate Davis's legacy with a series of free Saturday afternoon jazz concerts. Held in conjunction with the exhibition Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury on view at the museum Sept. 19 to Jan. 5 the series will consist of four performances by notable St. Louis musicians, each inspired by the work of a modern jazz master.

Concerts begin Sept. 27 with the BAG Trio, which will perform works inspired by Davis himself. Led by Zimbabwe Nkenya on bass and African Mbira, the trio takes its name from the Black Artist Group, a St. Louis collective that flourished between 1968 and 1972, but also incorporates Cuban, European, African and other influences.

The series continues Oct. 25 with the William Lenihan Quartet performing music inspired by Wes Montgomery. Lenihan, director of jazz performance in Washington University's Department of Music in Arts & Sciences, is a well-known guitarist who has performed across the United States and Europe. The author of five books on jazz, he records for Caligola Records in Venice, Italy.

On Nov. 22 Teddy Presberg, a national touring artist based in St. Louis, and his band, the Red Note Revivalists, will present a concert of improvisational acid-jazz inspired by the Birth of the Cool era. Presberg's own debut album, Blueprint of Soul, was released in late 2007 by the Outright Music label. He also performs with The Brothers Lazaroff and the Roly Poly Dub Band.

The series concludes Dec. 27 with the Randy Holmes Trio performing music inspired by Chet Baker. Holmes, a well-known trumpeter, is a founding member of the Webster Jazz Repertory Ensemble and a member of the Legacy Big Band, the Kim Portnoy Ensemble and the Sessions Big Band. He has performed with David Brubeck, Clark Terry and Louis Bellson, among others, and has backed soloists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Nancy Wilson.

All concerts are free and open to the public and take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Refreshments will be served. The Kemper Art Museum is located near the intersection of Skinker and Forsyth boulevards.

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