Friday, December 11, 2009

The Lead Sheet--Twin Cities Jazz, December 11-17

© Andrea Canter

Holiday music is never in short supply, and this weekend’s highlights will be both seasonal and magical. Sisters in Song—aka Lila Ammons, Dorothy Doring and Vicky Mountain—return to the Dakota County Steakhouse stage with a swinging bunch of holiday tunes as well as some favorites from their tribute to Ella, Carmen and Sarah, on Saturday (12/12). Each singer is a star in her own right, but they also shine as a threesome. Tough choices must be made on Sunday (12/13) as two highly regarded events will be underway at the same time: In Minneapolis, the Dakota hosts a reprise of “A Copasetic Christmas Carol,” a “hip” take on Dickens featuring vocalist Charmin Michelle, multi-reedman Doug Haining, and the swinging Twin Cities Seven, along with master narrator Craig Eichorn. Haining’s original music and Michelle’s lyrics first came together a few years ago at the Dakota, and since have been on stage at the Capri Theater. Now the show returns to the Dakota, 7 pm.

Across the river at the Artists Quarter, Laura Caviani celebrates the holidays and music from her popular Angels We Haven’t Heard, in the fine company of vocalist Lucia Newell, saxophonist Pete Whitman, bassist Tom Lewis and drummer Phil Hey. And hipness abounds at the AQ, with Hip Santa Davis Wilson. The fun begins at 7:30 pm. If you are really undecided, you can probably catch a set of each show, start at the Dakota and then drive down I-94 and catch the late set at the AQ.

There’s more to the weekend than holiday gigs: The African Jazz Trio (Loba Akou, Serge Akou and Stokely Williams) debuts at the Artists Quarter (12/11-12); Mary Louise Knutson provides a keyboard serenade in the Galleria –stick around for Lucia Newell with Laura Caviani at Crave (12/11); Karen Quiroz and Mariameu add some Brazilian heat at Café Maude (12/11); the Dakota Late Night features young up and coming trumpeter Adam Meckler and his Quintet (12/12).

Some exciting modern jazz takes place on Mondays and now Tuesdays at the Clown Lounge in St. Paul. Things start late (10 pm) but... that’s improvisors’ prime time! On Monday (12/14), it’s Happy Apple with Adam Linz and JT Bates doing deejay duties; on Tuesday (12/15), it’s Dave King, Adam Linz, and Scott Fultz, followed by the Zacc Harris Quartet with Bryan Nichols, Chris Bates, and JT Bates. (Try to find such talent back to back at a Manhattan club!) For bop and post bop fare, the AQ this week features Dave Karr (12/16) and Phil Hey (12/17). Warming up for Phil with a 7 pm set are young lions “530” – Chris Misa, Cory Grindberg and Rob Fletcher, three Twin Citians now enrolled in music programs in Chicago. They were part of The Alternates last year, a quintet of high schoolers who had a handful of gigs at the AQ.

Fine voices ring out all over the metro this coming week, with Charmin Michelle at Crave in St. Louis Park (Sunday brunch) and Fireside Pizza (Monday) on either side of her Copasetic gig; Nancy Harms with the Hot Swing Trio at Erte, while Maud Hixson meets up with the Wolverines Trio at Hell’s Kitchen, Debbie Duncan swings at the Dakota, and Mary Ann Sullivan joins Reynold Philipsek and Doug Haining at Fireside Pizza—all on Wednesday night (12/16).

Coming soon: Listen for the Atlantis Quartet’s much anticipated CD release at the AQ next weekend (12/18-19), Connie Evingson’s Secret of Christmas (12.18-19) and an all-star tribute in honor of the 60th anniversary of Birdland featuring Bruce Henry, Debbie Duncan and Lee Engele (12/20), both shows at the Bloomington Center for the Arts; and the annual Peterson Family holiday show at the Dakota (12/20-21). Steve Kenny puts on a tribute to Chet Baker at the AQ (12/23), the Bad Plus arrive for three nights at the Dakota (12/25-27), and Bill Carrothers returns to the AQ (12/26).

Photos: (Top to bottom) Charmin Michelle and Doug Haining will be very "copasetic"; young lions of "530" -- Chris Misa, Cory Grindberg and Rob Fletcher stretch their wings at the AQ. (Photos by Andrea Canter)