K. Curtis Lyle

Nu-Art Series will present poet K. Curtis Lyle, multi-reed master J.D. Parran and trumpeter/flugelhornist George Sams 8 p.m. Saturday, February 16 at St. Louis University's Xavier Hall, 3741 West Pine Mall, part of its ongoing “Jazz N' Tongues” concert series at SLU.

“Poetry has been one of my biggest influences,” Parran said. “Michael Castro, Shirley LeFlore, K. Curtis Lyle, Eugene Redmond and Ajule Rutlin have been huge inspirations for my musical work.” 

Among his many sonic excursions was on Bluiett's “Clarinet Family,” but he has led or energized a remarkable range of aggregations – in size and scope – from Stevie Wonder  to Julius Hemphill to Shirley LeFlore. His brilliance as a player and composer is bolstered by his educator's resume, whether in New York or in various residencies around the country. 

Lyle, a transplant from Los Angeles, has long been associated and worked with musicians, including Hemphill, Bluiett, of Oliver Lake, Phillip Wilson and Lester Bowie.

“For me, it's such a wonderful reunion, since it's been decades since we performed together,” Lyle said of the February 16 gig.

He will perform “Undivided Soul,” a piece comprised of six letters, which he described somewhat, but further disclosure here may soil any surprise. The iconoclastic wordsmith is known for conscience-stirring piece such as “Fifteen Predestination Weather Reports,” “Electric Church” and “Drunk On God.”

Sams, who also runs Nu-Art Series, and Parran are native St. Louisans, products of historic Sumner High School. Sams also was a great friend of the late poet Ntosake Shange, another native St. Louisan. 

Sams continues his longtime efforts to elevate and celebrate the visual and performing arts with this concert series on the St. Louis University campus that blends spoken and instrumental tones (and sometimes dance) from renowned performers.

“This new partnership with SLU is something that should be applauded, because collaborations are significant survival tools for arts organizations,” Sams said.

The next “Jazz N' Tongues” gig at Xavier Hall on March 22 will feature Oliver Lake on reeds, Greg Mills on piano, Sams on brass, and two retired Alvin Ailey dancers, Antonio and Kirven Douthit-Boyd.

Sams also noted that the Nu-Art Series recently donated four working acoustic pianos to the St. Louis Parks and Recreation Department. 

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