St. Louis, MO., May 13, 2014 – From Scott Joplin’s playing of Ragtime in 1895 to Miles Davis playing Be-Bop in 1944 and to the dozens of other jazz greats who hail from the Gateway City, St. Louis has played an important and pivotal role in the history of jazz. Today, Jazz St. Louis – one of the best known and longest running not-for-profit jazz organizations in the country – announced its $10 million capital campaign supporting a new state-of-the-art live performance and jazz education center, jazz lounge and staff headquarters. Located at 3540 Washington Avenue in Grand Center, the expanded and improved facility is projected to nearly double attendance by 2017.
“After analyzing jazz centers across the country and years of planning, we are primed to deliver a world class experience for fans of all ages to experience and study jazz,” said Gene Dobbs Bradford, Executive Director of Jazz St. Louis. “We’re confident this redesign will place St. Louis among the top five jazz hubs in the world.”
The project became a reality as a result of leadership gifts by David & Thelma Steward, John & Alison Ferring, Centene Corporation, Ken & Nancy Kranzberg, Emerson, the Jazz St. Louis Board of Directors, and other jazz patrons in excess of $5.8 million. The remaining $4 million will be raised during the public phase of the capital campaign. The funds will be used to build a top-tier jazz facility after the purchase of two buildings in Grand Center: Jazz at the Bistro – which until now was leased by Jazz St. Louis – and the former Greenberg Van Doren Gallery Building. Jazz St. Louis has allocated $6 million for improvements, including:
- State-of-the-art jazz club with seating for 220 (currently 150)
- Jazz Lounge with seating for up to 75 and featuring a jazz video wall
- Jazz education and practice space featuring six soundproof, individual and small group practice rooms and two large rehearsal studios
- Recording and live streaming to share performances with an audience of jazz enthusiasts across the globe
St. Louis-based contractors secured include Lawrence Group (architecture), Jamieson Design (interior design) and BSI Constructors (construction). World-renowned acoustician, Sam Berkow, will ensure these new facilities are optimized for live sound. He is responsible for the sound and/or acoustical design of some of the top performing and recording spaces worldwide, namely:
- Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York
- SFJazz Center, San Francisco
- NYU Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, New York
- The Pearl at the Palms Concert Hall, Las Vegas
Jazz St. Louis’ new and expanded facilities will be The Harold and Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz, housing the brand new Centene Jazz Education Center and the completely redesigned and renovated Ferring Jazz Bistro, home of the Jazz at the Bistro concert series.
“My parents, Harold and Dorothy Steward, were passionate advocates of arts and education,” said Dave Steward. “My wife, Thelma, and I are eternally grateful that the new facilities will represent their legacy and incorporate an educational pillar to enrich the jazz community.”
The construction will commence on June 2 and is expected to be complete by October. Jazz St. Louis has booked Wynton Marsalis – a national recording artist, trumpeter, composer and educator – and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra as the inaugural concert during the grand opening in October. Marsalis is a nine-time Grammy winner and one of his jazz recordings has received the Pulitzer Prize for Music.
About Jazz St. Louis
Jazz St. Louis advances the uniquely American art of jazz through live performance, education, and outreach. Each year, this non-profit organization presents over 270 performances in its internationally-acclaimed Jazz at the Bistro concert series. Jazz St. Louis takes a three-pronged approach to its work: presenting jazz, encouraging and educating future audiences, and nurturing budding musicians. For more information about Jazz St. Louis visit www.jazzstl.org or www.facebook.com/jazzstl.