Friday, June 12, 2009

The Lead Sheet, June 12-18

© Andrea Canter

Veterans and youngsters combine for some prime jazz moments this week! Three of the most talented musicians connected to the Twin Cities are releasing their second recording, more than a decade since their debut. Led by incandescent drummer Jay Epstein, the trio also features international bass sensation Anthony Cox and the irrepressible pianist Bill Carrothers. Their new CD, Easy Company, is magical. They will be celebrating at the Artists Quarter on Friday and Saturday nights (6/12-13).

Bobby and Ginger Commodore are also celebrating, birthdays, anniversary and more at the Dakota this weekend (6/12-13). It’s always a treat to hear Ginger sing her signature combination of jazz, blues, soul and gospel. And stick around (or come after whatever) for Late Night at the Dakota with two edgy bands on this weekend’s schedule—Charlie Devanna on Friday (6/12) – there is no one named Charlie, it’s the brainchild of guitarist Park Evans and features his frequent collaborators, Brandon Wozniak, Chris Bates and Pete Hennig; and the Chris Thomson Quartet on Saturday (6/13). Worth staying out late... and after all, jazz is a late night art!

Friday night has another great option, with Debbie Duncan and the Laura Caviani Trio at Crave in the Galleria. Laura is still recovering from a hand injury (thankfully one that will fully heal!) but there’s no shortage of great “subs” in the area and Debbie can carry a night by herself. Just expect a noisy setting in the early evening, find a barstool or table near the tiny music area, and wait—when things settle down, you can enjoy a very intimate music experience. (And some good food as well.)

Sunday afternoon you can check out the future generation of jazz when the ensembles of Walker West Academy of Music perform at Dixie’s on Grand. When I encounter talented high school and college students in the Twin Cities, I can almost always find some connection to Walker West. Only a few years older, trumpeter John Raymond recently completed studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and will soon be off to a graduate program at the State University of New York – Purchase, so catch him while you can—on June 18th at the Dakota. John is already a veteran of performances at the Dakota with his own John Raymond Project as well as with Nachito Herrera.

The spotlight is on a rising star among area vocalists when Christine Rosholt appears with her stellar band at the Dakota on Monday, June 15. Always trying out new material, Christine promises some tunes from Blossom Dearie and Anita O’Day.

The Twin Cities Jazz Festival gets underway this week. On June 17th, you can see as well as hear jazz at the Grand Hand Gallery’s opening reception for Visual Jazz, an exhibit of visual artists working with jazz themes. (One of my photos was accepted for the show, along with one from my friend John Whiting and works from about 30 other artists.) Irv Williams and Peter Schimke will be on hand for the live music. Then on Thursday night (6/18) is the annual Club Crawl/Jazz Night Out. Stop by any of 15 St. Paul venues for some special music, and hitch a ride on a trolley to take you from one club to another. See the festival website for the full list of options, which include the Jazz Vocalists of Minnesota showcase at Camp Bar, guitarist John Penny at Great Waters Brewing Co., The Five at the Artists Quarter, Paula Berends followed by Jon Weber & Alex Han at the Hat Trick Lounge, Tres Mundos at Senor Wong, Joann Funk at the St Paul Hotel, and Framework at Rumors and Innuendo.

Coming soon—the Twin Cities Jazz Festival in full swing at Mears Park and several small clubs in the vicinity on June 19-20. Come down early for the 4 pm set by the amazing Dakota Combo on Friday—our area’s premiere student band; stay on and catch the legendary Alan Toussaint and then head to the AQ for Jon Weber and Alex Han; on Saturday enjoy the youthful sounds of Walker West, the very popular New Standards, and close out the festival with the prodigiously talented bassist/vocalist Esperenza Spalding. Music continues into the week with Hiromi (6/21-22) and Karrin Allyson (6/23-24) at the Dakota; Phil Hey (6/24) and Bryan Nichols (6/25) at the AQ. And note the announcement of the Chick Corea Trio with Stanley Clarke and Lenny White in a rare club gig at the Dakota September 7-8, tickets going on sale this week.
Photos: (Top) Jay Epstein; John Raymond; "Lima Lando" (my photo at the Grand Hand Gallery for Visual Jazz) -- actually Andres Prado meets Photoshop. (Photos by Andrea Canter)