Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Lead Sheet--Twin Cities Jazz, December 18-24

© Andrea Canter

The Lead Sheet will be more cryptic over the next month or so—as I am keyboarding pretty much one-handed these days. (Who says these are the “golden years?” Our joints wear out and need fixing and replacing....) For a calendar of area jazz events, see Pamela’s blog (

One-handed or not, I plan to enjoy some holiday cheer delivered by Connie Evingson this weekend (12/18-19) at the Bloomington Center for the Arts, are really nice moderately sized theater with good acoustics and sightlines, a great environment for songbird Connie and a band of jazz elves—Tanner Taylor, Terry Burns, Phil Hey, and Dave Karr. Tunes from her popular The Secret of Christmas will be part of her repertoire. The holidays have a different flavor at the Dakota Friday and Saturday nights with Nachito Herrera’s Cuban Christmas show. Try a little Rhumba with your eggnog? And on Saturday (12/19), stick around for some modern excitement from the Bryan Nichols Trio as part of the Dakota’s Late Night series.

The weekend gig at the Artists Quarter (12/18-19) will offer very different fare as the Atlantis Quartet releases their second CD, Animal Progress. Four of the area’s most creative (and busy!) musicians—Brandon Wozniak, Zacc Harris, Chris Bates and Pete Hennig—composed the dozen tracks on the recording, reflecting a wide range of influences that keep the attentive listener engaged throughout. Also with a CD release—the Jack Brass Band, our only true New Orleans brass ensemble locally, marks their 10th anniversary with their fourth CD release, Fourth Movement, taking place Friday night (12/18) at The Cabooze. Want one more? Paul Renz and his quintet officially release In My Hands, my favorite in a growing list of recordings from the Twin Cities’ guitar master, hot off a tour stretching from Midwest to east coast. They celebrate Sunday night (12/20) at Brit’s Pub.

Another celebration of a different sort, again at the Bloomington Center for the Arts, is the 60th Anniversary tribute to Birdland, perhaps the most famous jazz club in the world. On Sunday afternoon (12/20), the Twin Cities Jazz Society sponsors a Birdland Birthday bash with vocalists Debbie Duncan, Lee Engele, and ex-Twin Citian Bruce Henry. Songs will cover the heyday of “the jazz corner of the world.” Another tribute this week is trumpeter Steve Kenny’s salute to talented and tortured Chet Baker, at the Artists Quarter Wednesday (12/23).

Iff you need yet another dose of holiday cheer, there’s the annual Peterson Family “Home for the Holidays” celebration at the Dakota, Sunday and Monday nights (12/21-21); and George Maurer’s Big Band Holiday, at the Dakota on Wednesday night (12/23).

Check out the smaller venues this week – JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar at the St. Paul Hotel (12/18-19); the Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen in the Chambers Hotel (12/18-19), Lee Engele at the Hat Trick Lounge (12/18); Sophia Shorai at Honey (12/18); Eric Gravatt at Café Maude (12/19); the Twin Cities Hot Club at Honey (12/19); Charmin Michelle at Crave in St. Louis Park (12/20) and as usual, at Fireside Pizza with Denny Malmberg (12/21 & 23); the Zacc Harris Trio at the Riverview Wine Bar (12/20); the John Raymond Project with an early start (7:30 pm) at the Clown Lounge (12/22); Nancy Harms with the Hot Swing Trio at Erte (12/23); the Wolverines Trio with Rachel Holder at Hell’s Kitchen (12/23).

Coming Soon! Very Soon!
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day find many venues closed, but not the Dakota. Start your evening early with happy hour’s finest duo of Peter Schimke and Irv Williams; reserve for prime time with one of the hottest jazz trios on the planet, The Bad Plus; and cap Christmas Night with the late show featuring the internationally acclaimed Fat Kid Wednesdays. That might be one of the most volcanic triple headers of the year. The Bad Plus hang out through Sunday night. Although closed Christmas Day, the Artists Quarter comes to life quickly, with the return of Bill Carrothers on Saturday night (12/26). Watch the following week for Connie Evingson’s Holiday Songbook at the Jungle Theater (12/27), the Young Lions Showcase with Paris and Amber Strother, Chris Smith, John Raymond and Brandon Commodore at the Dakota (12/28), and Dave Hagedorn and Dan Cavanagh’s duo delight at the AQ (12/30).

Photos: (Top to bottom) Connie Evingson; John Raymond; Paul Renz (photos by Andrea Canter)