Friday, April 30, 2010

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, April 30-May 6








© Andrea Canter

Any weekend with a band from Ellen Lease and Pat Moriarty and a visit from Kelly Rossum bodes well for the week!

Expatriate Minnesotan Kelly Rossum is finding interesting work in New York these days but is taking time to play with the jazz ensembles at St. Olaf on Friday night (4/30) and Sunday afternoon (5/2) before summoning his spontaneous improv chops for a set of creative merrymaking with drummer Phil Hey at the Clown Lounge on Monday night (5/3). They’ll reprise the collaborative fun which they recorded as Conflict and released last August.

Fun and collaboration are on stage at the Southern Theater Friday night (4/30) for the second night of So Percussion, an innovative quartet scheduled to coincide with the International Marimba Festival on the U of M campus. Also on Friday night (4/30), the Ginger Commodore Quartet is back to the Dakota, with Lee Blaske on keys, Mark Weisberg on bass, Bobby Commodore on drums and Peter Vircks filling the sax chair. Ginger’s golden voice guarantees an evening of diverse moods and stellar songs. Come Saturday it’s the last installment of this season’s “Tonight at Noon” series at Studio Z in St. Paul’s Lowertown, a string of experimental jazz gigs led by Ellen Lease and Pat Moriarty. This finale brings the pianist and saxophonist together with Adam Linz and Phil Hey—making it a quartet of the finest improvisors here or anywhere else. No one knows where it will go, but it will be great fun to be on the ride.

Friday and Saturday at the Artists Quarter, it’s a Peterson Party, this time led by keyboardist/producer Ricky with brothers Billy and Paul, sisters Patty and Linda, nephew Jason DeLaire, and perhaps mom Jeanne… and who really knows how many Petersons can fit on the AQ stage?

Other special gigs this week include the Dakota debut of vocalist Rachelle Ferrell, known for a six-octave range and creative takes on pop tunes and standards. She comes in for two nights, May 5-6. Another debut takes place across town as the Twin Cities Jazz Society launches its Young Artists Series on Thursday night at the Artists Quarter at 7 pm with the MacPhail Advanced Jazz Ensemble. This series will feature a middle, high school or college level band approximately six times per year as an early set on the first Thursday of the designated month. The student artists will be followed by the regularly scheduled set at 9 pm. No cover! The first band, directed by Bryan Nichols, features Thomas Strommen on sax, Kai Olstad on piano, Jordan Jenkins on bass and Sean Powers on drums, all students in area high schools.

And our regular assortment of vocals and instrumentals this week:
• Friday (4/30), Fantastic Friday at the Black Dog; Willie August Project at the Dakota Late Night
• Saturday (5/1), Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the St Paul Hotel Lobby Bar; Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico in the Chambers Hotel; Vicky Mountain and James Allen at First Course Bistro
• Sunday (5/2), Connie Olson at Famous Dave’s in Calhoun Square (Brunch); Charmin Michelle at Crave in the West End Shops (Brunch); Alicia Wiley at Hell’s Kitchen (Brunch); Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar
• Monday (5/3), Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza
• Tuesday (5/4), Dan Newton’s Café Accordion at Loring Pasta Bar; Cory Wong Quartet followed by the Tuesday Night Band at the AQ
• Wednesday, 5/5, Charmin Michelle and International Night at Fireside Pizza; Valve Meets Slide (Brad Bellows/Dave Graf Quintet) at the AQ; Wolverines at Hell’s Kitchen
• Thursday (5/6), Steve Kenny Quartet at the AQ

Very disappointing, it seems the cool lower level bar, Honey, in the old Jitters space, is booking very little if any jazz this month. On the other hand, the Artists Quarter is booking four national acts…. The scene is constantly changing!

Coming soon: Laura Caviani’s tribute to Mary Lou Williams at the AQ (May 7-8); Tessa Souter at the AQ (May 12); Bobby Lyle at the Dakota (May 12); the Dakota Combo at MacPhail (May 13); Jeremy Pelt at the AQ (May 14-15); Schubert Club/Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education Jazz Piano Scholarship Competition, finals at the Dakota (May 16); Christian McBride’s Inside Straight at the Dakota (May 16-17).
Photos: (Top to bottom), Kelly Rossum (with his Manhattan haircut) at the Dakota in January; Phil Hey; Pat Moriarty at Studio Z; composite photo of the MacPhail Advanced Jazz Ensemble (top, Thomas Strommen, Jordan Jenkins, Kai Olstad; bottom, Sean Powers) (Photos by Andrea Canter)