The 1999-2000 Jazz at the Bistro concert series doesn't actually kick off until the middle of September with the McCoy Tyner Trio, but that doesn't mean you can't get a head start this week when trumpet great Roy Hargrove fronts a band that includes Sherman Irby on saxophone, Larry Willis (who has worked with, among others, Jackie McLean, Lee Morgan and Cannonball Adderley) on piano, Gerald Cannon on bass and Willie Jones III on drums.
It's been more than three years since the 29-year-old Hargrove made his last appearance in St. Louis (a one-nighter at the Bistro back in April 1996); since that concert, Hargrove has put together what Down Beat recently dubbed "the hardest working band in jazz." The group plays well over 200 gigs a year and has been gigging together as a unit for more than two years. That "working band" approach isn't seen much anymore on today's jazz scene, where musicians tend to play together only for a single tour or recording session before moving on to another gig.
Hargrove's band is a fortuitous combination of talent, and his appearance at the Bistro fell into place through a combined effort by Jazz Saint Louis and Jazz at the Bistro with the support of the Regional Arts Commission. But the real beneficiaries are St. Louis jazz fans, who have the chance to hear one of the best trumpeters and finest working bands on the planet.