Friday, September 10, 2010

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, September 10-16

© Andrea Canter

I promise, I will remember to post this today!

The weekend is packed even tighter than usual with a wide range of jazz and related activity. The annual Lowertown Concrete and Grass Music Festival kicks off the fun in Mears Park tonight and running through tomorrow evening (9/10-11). The focus is more pop but there’s something for everyone, with Energizer Bunny Irv Williams performing this evening and the Tanner Taylor Trio on deck tomorrow. Catch a little opera, blues, and rock along the way!

For night owls tonight (9/10), a fast-rising sax star/composer will preview music from his forthcoming debut CD when Aaron Hedenstrom and his quartet play at the Dakota Late Night. A recent graduate of the UW-Eau Claire jazz program, Hedenstrom has been busy recording with his Aaron Hendestrom Orchestra, fusing some hip hop to his post bop. Tonight, without the hip hop and big band components, it’s more mellow but with plenty of room for surprise from four young turks—Aaron on sax, Joe Strachan on piano, Graydon Peterson on bass, Brian Claxton on drums.

The Artists Quarter continues its at-least-monthly parade of national artists with the Kyle Asche Trio (9/10-11). Based in Chicago, Ashe was a semifinalist in the 2005 Thelonious Monk International Guitar Competition and has been burning up the Windy City stages at venues like the Green Mill. His cohorts include Chicago drum legend George Fludas and the great B-3 veteran, Melvin Rhyne. The AQ does not often bring in a full touring band so this is a special occasion.

Another special occasion, although it should be far more common, is the appearance of the Twin Cities Seven with guest vocalist Arne Fogel, at the Dakota on Saturday night (9/11). Scheduled at the last minute due to a cancellation, it’s everyone’s gain to have a relaxing Saturday night listening to one of the Midwest’s finest swing ensembles and crooners in a rare club collaboration. There probably will not be room for a dance floor but you never know….. Led by sax and clarinet expert Doug Haining, the TC Seven has been swinging for more than a decade and boasts some of the area’s finest, with Rick Carlson on keys, Steve Wright on trumpet, Dick Bortolussi on drums, and more. And of course Arne, host of The Bing Shift on KBEM, brings Bing and Frank to life. It’s time that the Dakota brought back some old favorites!

Saturday also brings back the Selby Avenue Jazz Festival, a truly neighborhood family gathering in the heart of St Paul at Milton and Selby Avenues. For the past decade, this event (from 11 am til dark) has brought together a diverse community and a diverse array of music, from soul and gospel to swing, bop and contemporary jazz, drawing largely from our own well of talent as well as at least one artist from the national scene. Headliner this year is bassist Gerald Veasley, with musicians from Walker West, Brio Brass, and Penumbra Theater among the local highlights. It’s free, with plenty of food and fun for the family.

If your ears lean toward modern strings, make the trek to Turtle Island—the Turtle Island Quartet at the Dakota on Sunday night (9/12). My first exposure to TIQ was last fall’s Coltrane-oriented show, and I was entranced. It’s a standard string quartet in instrumentation, but these guys are skilled and clever improvisers who bring a Schoenberg essence to their interpretations of Coltrane or, as in the case of their latest release, Jimi Hendrix. Their credentials speak to their eclecticism—scan their bios and you’ll see references to jazz, bluegrass, and Celtic fiddling as well as traditional classical training. You do not have to be a fan of 60s rock to enjoy this 21st century ensemble. Hendrix never sounded this close to Aaron Copeland, or vice versa!

It’s been a while since we heard from Monk in Motian, the ensemble dedicated to the approach of Paul Motian’s Electric Band. They’re back to back with the Enormous Quartet at the Clown Lounge for night owls on Tuesday (9/14).

And marking the 30th anniversary of the death of one of the true legends of modern jazz, Bill Evans, will be Chris Lomheim and his trio (Chris Bates, Jay Epstein) at the Artists Quarter (9/15). There is no finer interpreter of Evans than Lomheim, and the trio will surely do justice to some of Evans’ best ensembles.

The week will close with a special appearance from Joe Sample and the Jazz Crusaders, or at least some incarnation of the band that made contemporary jazz intelligent and, well, contemporary in the 70s. Saxophonist Gerald Albright brings a special touch to this tour, stopping at the Dakota Thursday and Friday (9/16-17).

So what else is up this week? The Fantastic Merlins are back at the Black Dog for Fantastic Fridays (9/10); one of the area’s premier big bands, the St. Croix Jazz Orchestra performs at the Stillwater Library Terrace (9/10); the Zacc Harris Quartet plays Café Maude (9/10); Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske are back at the Lobby Bar of the St Paul Hotel (9/11); Alicia Wiley brings the keys to Hell’s Kitchen brunch on Sunday (9/12); Milo Fine and like-minded improvisors (Stefan Kac, Scott Newell, Dave Seru) star in the Improvised Music Series at Homewood Studios (9/13); Cory Wong Quartet followed by the Tuesday Night Band at the AQ (9/14); James Buckley Trio at the Aster Café (9/15); Jon Pemberton Quintet at the AQ (9/16).

The air will be filled with song this week, thanks to Arne Fogel at the Ingredients Café (9/10), the Dakota as noted above (9/11), and in a Sunday night cabaret at Honey with Jennifer Eckes and special guest Maud Hixson (9/12); George Faber and Debbie Duncan at the Dakota (9/10); Charmin Michelle at Cinema Ballroom (9/12) and with Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza (9/13); Nichola Miller with the Wolverines at Hell’s Kitchen (9/15); Maud Hixson (again) with Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza (9/15); Christine Rosholt with Beasley’s Big Band at the Wabasha Street Caves (9/16).

Coming Soon!
• September 18-19, Atlantis Quartet at the AQ
• September 21-22, Esperanza Spalding at the Dakota
• September 24-25, Ben Thomas with the Laura Caviani Trio at the AQ
• September 26, CC Septet (TCJS Jazz From J to Z) at the Bloomington Center for the Arts
• September 30, Charles Lloyd Quartet with Jason Moran at the Dakota
• October 2, JazzMN Orchestra with Michael Mossman, Hopkins High School Arts Center
• October 7, Anat Cohen Quartet at the Dakota
• October 7, Dave Douglas & Keystone, “Spark of Being” at the Walker

Photos (top to bottom): Arne Fogel and Maud Hixson (at the TC Jazz Festival in June); Mark Summer of the Turtle Island Quartet; Chris Lomheim (all photos by Andrea Canter)