This weekend's edition of the Women CenterStage series welcomes two St. Louis expatriates, Ntozake Shange (pictured) and Joseph Bowie, to blend poetry and jazz in Quasar Looming: The Duet Series at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 12-13, at COCA. Shange authored the landmark "choreopoem" for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf in 1976, and has produced an extraordinary body of work, including performance pieces, poetry and fiction over the last 20 years. Her time in St. Louis was a turbulent one, as she was among the first students to integrate the city schools. It was also an influential time, as Shange's family entertained friends such as Miles Davis, Ike and Tina Turner, Dizzy Gillespie and W.E.B. DuBois. Joseph Bowie also comes from an estimable St. Louis family, being the younger brother of Broadway arranger Byron Bowie and jazzlegend Lester Bowie. Like Shange, Bowie sought a wider stage for his pursuits, leaving for Paris at the age of 19, then moving to New York in the 1970s, organizing such notable groups as the Human Arts Ensemble and Defunkt, and for a time serving as manager of the La Mama Theater. Shange and Bowie return to St. Louis with an abundance of experience and talent. The energy of their collaboration should be on a level comparable to the confluence of great rivers -- also appropriate for a St. Louis homecoming. Call 725-6555 for tickets.
-- Eddie Silva