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Best Place To Hear Jazz 

Spruill's

When jazz guitarist Russell Malone came to St. Louis, he played nice and neat for the freshly shampooed crowd at Bistro Europa, where there's no smoke, plenty of light and free valet parking to lure the suburbanites. Toward the end of the evening, Malone informed the crowd he was bringing up somebody they ought to treasure, St. Louis's own Willie Akins, who came from a generation that had presence as well as talent. "I played with him at Spruill's a few weeks ago," Malone said, as if it should be obvious and as if he'd never forget it: Spruill's, a little place just off North Jefferson Avenue where anybody's welcome but most won't venture. The Willie Akins Quartet plays there every Saturday 5-9 p.m., and they're not performing, they're playing.

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