Friday, October 2, 2009

The Lead Sheet --Twin Cities Jazz, October 2-8

© Andrea Canter

There’s two fine local shows each at the Dakota and Artists Quarter this weekend, a good warm up to the week’s big gig, the Stanley Clarke Trio, coming into the Dakota for two nights October 4-5. You can start out in Minneapolis (the Dakota) tonight (10/2) with the ever-ebullient Debbie Duncan, and hang out for a late night CD release from young and creative trumpeter Adam Meckler (pick up a copy of his For Dad, a good revue of a fine new ensemble and some exciting original compositions). Or start off in St. Paul (AQ) with local sax titan Brian Grivna tonight, followed by rising young guitar talent Cory Wong tomorrow night (10/3).

But save your ears for one of the most exciting trios on earth, led by Return to Forever bassist Stanley Clarke, RTF drummer Lenny White, and the amazing young pianist Hiromi. On tour in support of their fine acoustic recording, Jazz in the Garden, the trio’s two night stand at the Dakota is one of the most eagerly anticipated chamber jazz shows of the year. Clarke and White were just here last month with Chick Corea, another trio of epic stature and complementary musicianship. Swap out Corea for Hiromi, an interesting transformation particularly given that the two pianists recently recorded together (Duet) and have a relationship dating back to Hiromi’s days as a high schooler in her native Japan. The two share an affinity for wide ranges of emotion in their compositions and performance, a love of electronic experimentation, and ferocious chops. With Hiromi, you also get a dose of 21st century youth and an equally significant layer of Japanese tradition, evident in her harmonies and lyricism. Clarke, now with his first all-acoustic bass recording, is proving himself to be as inventive on upright as on the electric bass that fueled his rise to fame in the 70s. And White has always impressed me in acoustic contexts such as the Buster Williams Something More Quartet, while his reputation was also carved out of the fusion era.

You an also lead into the Clarke et al experience with a more modernistic warm up, tonight (10/2) at Café Maude with Dean Granros and Anthony Cox, two of the most adventurous stringmen in town. For more laid back, week-ending relaxation, Charmin Michelle croons with the Laura Caviani Trio at Crave/Galleria, while Aaron Keith Stewart takes the stage at the new Crave in the Mall of America; Arne Fogel soothes with Rick Carlson at Ingredients Café in White Bear;Vital Organ with young hip singer Katie Gearty performs at Hell’s Kitchen; Maud Hixson romps with the Twin Cities Hot Club at Redstone Grill at Ridgedale, all tonight (10/2). Maxine Sousé swings at Sage Wine Bar in Mendota Heights Saturday night.

Also of note this weekend is the grand finale of one of the most entertaining ensembles in the area, The Girls, who go out in grand style at the Hopkins Center for the Arts Saturday night (10/3). The original Girls—Lori Dokken, Erin Schwab, Judi Donaghy and Debbie Duncan will be on hand along with most recent Girl Patty Peterson and others who have at one time or another been part of the banter, sass, and song.

The rest of the week includes a free concert with the eclectic pianist Uri Caine at Macalester College on Tuesday night (10/6); the opening concert of the Northrop Jazz Series, featuring innovative saxophonist Larry Ochs’ Sax and Drumming Core in the intimate space of The Whole Music Club in the Coffman Memorial Union (U of M) on October 8th, as well as the second J From J to Z concert sponsored by the Twin Cities Jazz Society, this one featuring Count Basie Orchestra drummer Butch Miles and the St. Croix Jazz Orchestra in Stillwater. Miles will stick around next weekend for back to back gigs at the Bloomington Center for the Arts, with the Wolverines Orchestra (10/10) and Trio (10/11), both with guest vocalist Judi Donaghy.

Other good tips this week include Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg, back at Fireside Pizza Mondays and Wednesdays and a rare club night for pianist Benny Weinbeck, at the Dakota on Thursday (10/8).

Some special events include jazz this weekend – the Fall Color and Jazz Festival at Lowell Park in Stillwater—you can catch vocalist Nancy Harms around 4 pm; the Sight Unseen Film Festival includes some jazz-related screenings, including a film about drummer Ed Thigpen at 1 pm Sunday afternoon at Oak Street Cinema.

What’s on the jazz horizon? One of my annual favorite events, Laura Caviani’s Birthday Tribute to Thelonious Monk at the Artists Quarter (October 9-10).... and unfortunately I will be out of town. Everyone else should be sure to go! There will also be another benefit for Dean Magraw at the AQ on Sunday (10/11), and another don’t-miss gig at the Dakota with MacArthur grant-winning saxophonist Miguel Zenon (10/14).

Photos (top to bottom): Hiromi at the Dakota; Stanley Clarke at the Detroit Jazz Fest (photos by Andrea Canter)