Friday, July 2, 2010

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, July 2-8

© Andrea Canter

With the 4th of July holiday, it seems there might be more time for fun in the sun and a bit less going on in the dark corners of jazz venues, but that can be a plus—fewer conflicts in scheduling your music. But it’s going to be short-lived breather so enjoy it.

The Artists Quarter is closed for the weekend, so stay on the west side of the Metro and nenew your appreciation for the great baritone of Bruce Henry, back in town for the weekend at the Dakota (7/2-3). Since he left for Chicago about a year ago, we’ve had the good fortune to remain on Bruce’s travel schedule with Dakota and other gigs every couple months. Not only a rich and passionate singer of standards, blues and more, Bruce always brings a good show to the stage, from his loyal local band to frequent guests and warm interaction with the audience. And at some point in the evening, you can be sure he will have you on your feet! And stick around either night for the marvelous expatriate Minnesotan, New York-based bassist Chris Morrisey and his Quartet doing back to back Late Night shows. On the gig—New York guitarist Nir Felder, Fat Kid Wednesdays/Happy Apple saxman Michael Lewis, and Bad Plus/Happy Apple drummer Dave King. Hey, try to find a better line-up in New York! (And hear these guys again at the Clown Lounge, first set on Monday night, 7/5.)

Two youthful bands of note at Honey on Saturday night (7/3): At 7 pm, it’s the Jake Baldwin Quartet (aka BKFS) with four of the area’s finest college students on summer break—Jake Baldwin (trumpet), Joe Strachan (piano), Daniel Duke (bass and very competently filling in for the usual Cory Grindberg) and Rob Fletcher (drums). Jake is gong into his second year at the New England Conservatory of Music and will be a force to be reckoned with well before graduation. Joe just finished his first year at Lawrence but found gigging opportunities a bit sparse in Appelton, WI so will be back in the Twin Cities this fall at the U of M. Daniel will be back for a third year at William Patterson University in New Jersey, and Rob will be returning for his second year at DePaul in Chicago. Last weekend it was a Late Night at the Dakota gig, and I would be we will hear more from this guys over the summer. Stick around, at 8 pm it’s The Penguins, playing jazz, R&B and more. I’ve heard (many times) two from this band, saxophonist Stephanie Weisler (on break from the New England Conservatory) and bassist Jordan Jenkins, maybe the youngest out there this evening, ready to start his senior year at Apple Valley High School.

Innovative sounds come from all directions this week, starting with the Fantastic Friday show at the Black Dog and moving over to the Clown Lounge on Monday and Tuesday night. Saxophonist Nathan Hanson and bassist Brian Roessler collaborate at the Black Dog tonight (7/3); Chris Morrissey’s Quartet up first at the Clown followed by Fat Kid Wednesdays (7/5); the Vinnie Rose Quartet and Zacc Harris Quartet go back to back at the Clown on Tuesday night (7/6).

For the best in Latin percussion, or just Latin jazz generally, the great conguero Poncho Sanchez comes into the Dakota for two nights (7/6-7). For the best in regional brass, it’s another round of Valves Meet Slide at the Artists Quarter (7/7) with the added attraction, the trombone quartet Locally Damaging Winds--Michael Nelson and Wade Clark joining Dave Graf (slide) and Brad Bellows (valves). Chris Lomheim, Gordy Johnson and Mac Santiago round out the VMS ensemble. It’s a Minnesota Bone-a-Rama!

Not on holiday break—Charmin Michelle sings at Crave in the Galleria with the Laura Caviani Trio (7/2); at the West End Shops on Sunday (7/4) and at Richfield’s Fireside Pizza on Monday (7/5) with Joel Shapira and Wednesday (7/7) with Joel and Bruce Heine; Christine Rosholt does a short set for Sample Night Live at the Minnesota History Theater on Wednesday (7/7); Nichola Miller is back at Spoon River on Thursday (7/8) with Rick Carlson; and Nancy Harms (fresh from a month in NYC) sings at Barbette (7/8). And among our area’s finest instrumentalists, Gordy Johnson and Tommy O’Donnell entertain at Roman Anthony’s (7/2-3); the Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar (7/4); Cory Wong Quartet followed by the Tuesday Night Band at the AQ (7/6); the Wolverines Trio at Hell’s Kitchen (7/7); Dave Karr and his quartet return to the AQ on Thursday night (7/8); Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church hosts a “Singin’ Community Picnic” on 7/8 with Maxine Sous√© and the Souset (aka Maryann Sullivan, Doug Haining and Kent Saunders). And if you want something for the family, outdoors in the wilds of the Minnesota Zoo, have some fun with Trombone Shorty and Tab Benoit—Shorty was the surprise delight at the 2009 Iowa City Jazz Festival, a real showman but also a terrific trombonist. (And no, he is not all that short either.)

Coming soon:
• July 9-10, Kendra Shank at the AQ (one of the best modern vocalists you will hear)
• July 12-13, Bill Frisell’s Beautiful Dreamers trio with violist Eyvind Kang and drummer Rudy Royston (in town a month ago with sister-in-law Tia Fuller)
• July 16-17, Mulligan Stew at the AQ
• July 17, DakotaFest on Nicollet Mall with Charmaine Neville, Bon-a-Rama, Nachito Herrera, Davina and the Vagabonds, Youth Stage and more (and free)
• July 23, Lizz Wright and Evan Christopher with the Minnesota Orchestra at Orchestra Hall

Photos: Bruce Henry; Chris Morrissey; Jake Baldwin (Photos by Andrea Canter)