By RFT Music
By Drew Ailes
By Bob McMahon
By Allison Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
With groups performing jazz styles ranging from New Orleans favorites to swing to post-bop, the Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival promises a nicely balanced musical menu in pleasant suburban surroundings. Featured performances at this year's free, all-day event will include the traditional jazz of the St. Louis Stompers, the Rat-Packesque Wild Cool and Swinging, the faculty ensemble from Webster University's jazz studies department (avowed modernists all) and up-and-coming vocalist Erin Bode, a recent signing to the MaxJazz label.
There's also a stage devoted to big bands, showcasing a whole day of sets from various student and professional ensembles, capped off by the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America, a pro-level group based across the river at Scott AFB.
As for the blues portion of the event, scheduled headliner Johnnie Johnson has been ailing in recent weeks, forcing him to postpone some out-of-town dates. However, at press time, a Festival spokesperson says that they've talked with Johnson, and he still is planning to appear. If health considerations should limit his stage time, his band, featuring vocalist Marsha Evans, is a capable crew who can deliver an entertaining set even without their leader.