It's Juneteenth, Baby

Jazz and joy abound as St. Louis commemorates the end of slavery

One of the longest-lasting and most jam-packed Juneteenth Heritage and Jazz festivals in the country graces the city of St. Louis annually. Juneteenth, for those not in the know, is June 19, a commemoration of the same day in 1865, when Union soldiers brought Texas slaves late news of the Emancipation Proclamation. This week includes a slew of musical events celebrating the glory of freedom and the freedom of jazz, and they're only a prelude to the climactic events of next week.

Creative drummer Chico Hamilton and Euphoria, featuring Eric Person, Cary Dnigris and Paul Ramsey, perform June 9 and 10 at Grand Center's Backstage Bistro, 3536 Washington Ave. Jazz station WSIE (88.7 FM) sponsors a show by big-name saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman with John Hicks on June 9 at Spruill's, 1101 N. Jefferson Ave. Fairgrounds Park is the setting for All-Day Sport Tournaments on June 10. On the same day, the Black World History Wax Museum, 2505 St. Louis Ave., unveils a figure of this year's jazz honoree, Josephine Baker. The festival shifts gears with "Rap on Jazz I," a panel discussion on music and more co-sponsored by KMOV (Channel 4) and featuring Newman, Victor Roberts, Hamilton, Leo Cheers and New Orleans ensemble Astral Project on June 10 at Library Ltd., 7700 Forsyth Blvd. Afterward, JazzTimes magazine presents a free concert by Astral Project at 6 p.m. on the bookstore's parking lot. Kiener Plaza, Seventh and Market streets, is filled with the sounds of the Metro High Jazz Band at noon on June 12, the Normandy High Jazz Band at noon on June 13 and the Washington University Inside Out Jazz Quartet at noon on June 14.

Events June 15-19 include concerts by Donald "Duck" Harrison, Deborah Coleman, Greg Osby and Jason Maron, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Long John Hunter, the Jazz Crusaders, Bobbi Humphrey and Kenny Garrett, Roy Hargrove and finale headliner Hugh Masekela. And don't forget the lectures, plays, musicals, poetry readings, art exhibits, kids' activities, food and tours taking place in conjunction with the festival, too. As this year's motto says, "It ain't summer till it's Juneteenth, baby."

Call 314-367-0100 for more information.

 
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