Friday, September 26, 2008

Another New York Weekend at Home

Everyone seems to have their “picks of the weekend” so why not me? This weekend the recommendations are pretty much unanimous across my usual sources (The Star Tribune, Minn Post, Jazz Connections). It’s one of those weekends when I am not jealous of the Manhattan line up. If I was at Birdland or Blue Note this weekend, look what I would miss:

Kelly Rossum’s CD release party at the Artists Quarter (Friday and Saturday nights at 9 pm). I reviewed Kelly’s new “Family” (see, CD of the Month) and find new joys with each listening. Some have dubbed this as his most “straight ahead” recording yet, but don’t expect typical swing or bop because there is a lot more going on here. And this quartet is hardly an ensemble dedicated to sitting back and honoring its legacy, even if that legacy includes the likes of Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman or new millennial experimenters. With Bryan Nichols on piano, Chris Bates on bass and JT Bates on drums, the Kelly Rossum Quartet might start here, but they always go somewhere else. How many musicians have covered “If I Were a Bell?” On Family, even the familiar benefit from creative redesign.

Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra with Carla Bley (Saturday at Ted Mann, 8 pm). It took an election year for Charlie Haden to reassemble his 70s band of protest with original collaborator and arranger Carla Bley. But the leftist bassist had already written his definitive musical denouncement of the Bush administration, Not in Our Name, a few years earlier. Maybe a retrospective of three decades of musical commentary will have more impact than trying to single out any one platform or misstep. And it’s a great excuse to hear an assemblage of some of the finest musicians working today, including not only the distinguished Haden but drummer Matt Wilson, himself not immune to the musical language of protest and arguably the most divergent thinker in modern percussion. (And hey, if this ends by 10:30, there’s still a late set to catch at the Artists Quarter!) Pamela has posted an interesting interview with Haden on this week’s MinnPost (

The Artists Quarter Tribute to Leigh Kamman (Sunday at 7 pm at the Artists Quarter). Not only an opportunity to hear some of the Twin Cities’ best jazzers in one evening in varying combinations, this Sunday night party also provides us with one more chance to thank Leigh Kamman for brining jazz into our lives and homes for 65 years as one of the nation’s leading jazz broadcasters. The Jazz Image on national public radio has been silent for about a year since Leigh’s retirement, but his pithy interviews and observations continue to inform our interpretations and appreciation of jazz every day and night. The salute includes the inimitable rhythm section of Laura Caviani, Gordy Johnson and Phil Hey; the vocal chops of Carole Martin, Arne Fogel and Bruce Henry (back from Chicago for the weekend), the hornlines of Pete Whitman, Dave Graf, Brad Bellows and Dave Karr..... and more. And I think we can count on a few spontaneous interviews with Leigh Kamman.

Benny Green and Bucky Pizzarelli, Live Recording Session (Sunday/Monday, 7 and 9:30 pm at the Dakota). I blogged last month about the first encounter of 45-year-old pianist Benny Green and 82-year-old swing guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. This was a musical blind date arranged by Dakota owner Lowell Pickett, and it was loving swing at the first note. The music was intimate, the communication telepathic, the rapport reverant. The tapes should have been rolling. Moments can not be recaptured but can be given new birth, and that is the plan as Benny and Bucky return to make a live recording at the Dakota, inventing new magic. Maybe there will be room at the late set after we shut down the Artists Quarter Sunday night. If not, I have my seats for both sets on Monday.
More coming.... Not sure there is much time to rest up from this whirlwind. Among the happenings of the new week, there's the monthly REEL Jazz film series at Bryant Lake Bowl. The October 2nd offering includes documentary films about Milt Hinton and Freddy Cole. The weekend finds the eternal bluesman Mose Allison back at the Artists Quarter for three nights. And if you can stay up late like they do in New York, there's the masters of innovation, the Ellen Lease/Pat Moriarty Quintet at the Dakota on Friday for Late Night, starting at 11:30 pm. And I am sure there's more.

If you call and just get my voice mail, I am not out of town. I’m reveling in mine. The other Apple.

Photos: (top) Kelly Rossum in a pensive mood; Benny Green and Bucky Pizzarelli at their Dakota debut in August. Photos by Andrea Canter