Friday, August 20, 2010

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, August 20-26

© Andrea Canter

I spent a week without any live jazz and with a very weak signal from the Bay Area jazz radio station. It was a big week in many ways, too, with the deaths of ground-breaking vocalist Abbey Lincoln and jazz photographer Herman Leonard, and locally, on a much brighter note, with the return of Kelly Rossum for two nights at the Artists Quarter (I hear it was sensational). I’ll stick around this week for sure, to catch another night with Greg Skaff at the AQ, Ingo Bethke late night at the Dakota, another benefit for guitarist Dean Magraw, and Nancy Harms last Twin Cities gigs before becoming a real New Yorker.

The Artists Quarter periodically holds “Jazz Guitar Hero Weekends,” but this past week initiated an extended celebration featuring New York guitar whiz Greg Skaff, first in trio with Billy Peterson and Kenny Horst, last night in an organ trio format with “Downtown” Bill Brown and special guest Joey DeFrancesco for a few tunes during the late set. Joey will be at the Minnesota Zoo tonight (8/20) supporting saxman David Sanborn in the outdoor amphitheater; Patty Peterson and Friends opens. But guitar week continues at the AQ, with one last night with Greg Skaff and two local guitar heroes, Chris Olson and Loren “Wally” Wolsted. Skaff leaves town but the guitar extravaganza continues into Saturday (8/21) with a triple bill featuring Cory Wong, Dean Granros and Billy Grazcyk.

You can have your cake and eat it too Saturday night, by taking in the first set at the AQ and then heading over to the Dakota for Late Night with Ingo Bethke, one of the most unique ensembles in area music. There’s a tuba (Stefan Kac), for starters. Outside of New Orleans brass bands, we don’t get to hear much from the big horn in jazz circles. Then there’s the original music from band members, as intriguing as the ensemble’s name. Great fare for night owls. (And if you need a blues fix, come early for prime time with Davina and the Vagabonds!) Irvin Mayfield is back in town (maybe he never left?) for another performance at Orchestra Hall, this time with Los Hombres Caliente, the Latin/New Orleans band he coleads with percussionist Bill Summers (8/21).

If that does not sound like a sufficiently eclectic weekend, check out the Burnsville Art and All That Jazz Festival. Friday night features a ticketed show with guitar great Larry Carleton; Saturday is the free afternoon festival with the Jack Brass Band, Steve Clarke and the Working Stiffs, the young Penguins, and a smooth finish in the evening with Lao Tizer followed by Jesse Cook. Maybe this is really Art and All That Music but with concessions and art, it will be a day of fun. Hearing young jazz musicians is also fun as well as inspiring. For an indoor activity Saturday afternoon, consider the final performance of the Walker West Music Academy jazz camp's advanced ensemble, on the stage of the Dakota with special guest clinician Wessell "Warm Daddy" Anderson. Just an hour and no cover.

Sunday (8/22) brings another fund raiser at Celtic Junction for guitar hero Dean Magraw, on the road to recovery from lymphoma and a bone marrow transplant. The music starts early afternoon and goes on all day, bringing together a wide variety of musicians representative of Dean’s own eclectic career. More about Dean, the benefit and more at .

Sunday (8/22) also brings a preview of Connie Evingson’s new project, with "Summer Samba" at the Jungle Theater (two shows). Ever searching for new directions, this time Connie is focusing on the music of Normal Gimbel who wrote English lyrics for many popular Brazilian songs (e.g., “Girl From Ipanema). The recording will come out soon, but you can get a taste when Connie, Joan Griffith, Gordy Johnson and Dave Schmalenberger hit the Jungle Stage (4 & 7:30 pm).

You have three final opportunities to hear Nancy Harms before she moves to New York at the end of the month—brunch at Hell’s Kitchen on Sunday (8/22); a late dinner or cocktails at Barbette on Thursday (8/26), and at the new "musicians' venue", Jazz Central, on Sunday, 8/29. Sure, she’ll be back now and then, in fact she already has a commitment at the Capri Theater on October 9-10. But then she’ll be a visiting artist! Catch her as a local thrush while you can.

Oh yeah, the new Jazz Central is opening to the public. Headed by local jazzers Tanner Taylor and Mac Santiago, this little space in the former Glacier Studios on Central Ave (where Nordeast meets Southeast) is "for the cats, by the cats," a venue for performance and teaching. This coming week, young drum legacy Nic Bortolussi's trio with Tanner Taylor and Steve Pikal make some music (8/24) with special guest, saxophonist Don Jacques.

That’s just some of the great talent on call this week. More vocalists? Nichola Miller (with Tanner Taylor) at Hell’s Kitchen Friday (8/20); Charmin Michelle with Joel Shapira on Saturday (8/21) at Midtown Global Market; Charmin and Rick Carlson at Crave in the West End Shops on Sunday (8/22) and with Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza in Richfield (8/23 & 8/25); Lee Engele and Denny Malmberg at Pardon My French in Eagan Saturday night (8/21); Lee again on Monday (8/23) with Reuben, Diane and Dan Ristrom in "Jazz American Style' at the Old Log Theater and yet again for Pops on the Porch at the White Bear Lake Historical Society on Thursday (8/26); Reuben and Dan Ristrom at Sawatdee in Maple Grove on Wednesday (8/25); Arne Fogel at Hell’s Kitchen on Thursday (8/26).

Instrumental jazz is alive and well: Fantastic Fridays hosted by Nicholas Hanson at the Black Dog (8/20); Patrick Harrison at the Aster Café (8/20); JoAnn Funk at Luna Rossa in Stillwater (8/21); Alden Ikeda, Adam Linz and Chris Thomson experiment at Café Maude on Saturday (8/21); the James Buckley Trio brings music with an edge to Sea Change (8/21); Milo Fine with Aerosol Pike and Viv Corringham at Homewood Studios (8/22); Fat Kid Wednesdays does their Monday thing at the Clown Lounge (8/23); Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express pulls into the Dakota on Tuesday (8/24); Park Evans, Graydon Peterson and Jay Epstein bring fun and clamor to the Clown Lounge (8/24); Cory Wong Quartet followed by the Tuesday Night Band at the AQ (8/24); How Birds Work returns to the AQ on Wednesday (8/25); Gary Berg and his quartet bring life to Thursday night at the AQ (8/26).

Coming Soon!
• August 27, Happy 89th to Jeanne Arland Peterson at the AQ with Irv Williams and Cliff Brunzell
• August 29-30, Karrin Allyson at the Dakota
• September 9, Connie Evingson with the Hot Club of Detroit at the Dakota
• September 10-11, Kyle Asche Trio with Melvin Rhyne at the AQ
• September 11, Selby Avenue Jazz Festival (Gerald Veasley, local artists)
• September 12, Turtle Island Quartet (Music of Jimi Hendrix) at the Dakota
• September 15, Chris Lomheim’s Bill Evans Tribute at the AQ
• September 16-17, Joe Sample and the Crusaders at the Dakota
• September 21-22, Esperanza Spalding at the Dakota
• September 24-25, Laura Caviani and Ben Thomas at the AQ
• September 26, CC Septet at the Bloomington Art Center (TCJS “Jazz From J to Z”)
• September 30, Charles Lloyd Quartet at the Dakota
Photos (top to bottom): Greg Skaff (during Thursday nights' Guitar Hero set); Dean Magraw; Nancy Harms ("farewell" set at the AQ). (All photos by Andrea Canter)