Friday, November 12, 2010

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, November 12-18

©Andrea Canter

Highlights of last week: The world premier of Highway Rider (see blog, 11/7); the Fall New Music Cabaret at Studio Z (see blog, 11/9); Maud Hixson with French 75 at the Dakota.

Highlights this week: Some of my favorite performers headline the coming week, starting with the weekend. Not that I am in town for all of it….

Tonight (11/12), two of the area’s most popular singers present a unique show modeled after the format of the faculty performances at the Yale Cabaret Conference. Lee Engele and Maud Hixson go back to back in the Chanteuse Diaries, using songs to tell their personal “back stories”—the not-so-straighline journeys of their paths to careers in music. Lee includes such tunes as Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cockeyed Optimist,” Frank Loesser’s “Rumble Rumble Rumble,” Francesca Blumenthal’s “The Lies of Handsome Men,” and Charles DeForest’s “When Do the Bells Ring for Me?” while Maud’s set list includes Noel Coward's "Chase Me Charlie", DeSylva, Brown and Henderson's "It All Depends On You", and Irving Berlin's "No Strings." And, as Maud adds, “selections you'll never hear us sing in a usual set of jazz for a club date.” The fun takes place in the Black Box Theater of the Burnsville Performing Arts Center.

This weekend (11/12-13) also features a reprise of Laura Caviani’s highly praised salute to Mary Lou Williams at the Artists Quarter, backed again by Jay Young and Phil Hey. I saw the premiere of this one earlier in the year, and can think of no one better to present and interpret Williams’ work than Laura. And 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of Williams’ birth. You won’t just hear great works from one of the key jazz composers and arrangers of the 20th century, but Laura makes sure we learn a lot about Williams along the way.

Two events on Sunday (11/14) that I hate to miss: Soul Café returns for one of its too-rare evenings of jazz and poetry at the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church gallery space off Loring Park. To the long-standing core trio of Laura Caviani, Steve Blons and Brad Holden, they add Lucia Newell, Jay Young and Darryl Boudreaux for a dynamic sextet paired with readers of modern poets. This edition brings together the music of Miles Davis, the Great American Songbook and folk fare, in tandem with poetry from David Whyte, Pablo Neruda and Billy Collins. On the other side of downtown, MacPhail Center for Music presents a double quintet evening as part of its Spotlight Series, taking off from classical and jazz charts into the unpredictable world of improvisation: The Copper Street Brass Quintet (Allison Hall, trumpet; Corbin Dillon, trumpet; Timothy Bradley, French horn; Alex Wolff, trombone; Stefan Kac, tuba) interpret Brubeck, Thad Jones, Pat Metheny and Bela Fleck as well as some original Kac; the Bryan Nichols Quintet (Bryan Nichols, piano; Sean Carey, drums; Brandon Wozniak, saxophones; Mike Lewis, saxophones; James Buckley, bass) will focus on Nichols’ compositions.

The early week gem is the Kenny Barron Quartet at the Dakota (11/15-16), featuring volcanic saxman David Sanchez. I have seen Barron a number of times, never here at home. There is no more elegant pianist working in jazz today; he can swing hard and he can spin silver lace; his wordless stories are spellbinding. Sanchez has established himself as one of the kingpins of his generation of horn players. Also on the bandstand – Kiyoshi Kitagawa on bass, long a partner with Barron, and Kim Thompson on drums. Remember Kim? She’s often heard with Tia Fuller as well as Beyonce’s all-gal band. Kim was her with Tia in summer 2009, and in my opinion one of the most explosive drummers on the scene. I’ll see this band in Iowa City a couple nights before they hit the Dakota. No chance of an overdose.

One of our veteran jazz singers finally releases her own recording on Wednesday (11/17) – Rhonda Laurie joins up with Sidewalk Café (Reynold Philipsek, Jeff Brueske, Gary Schulte) at the Aster Café. So even if there’s “No Moon at All,” it will be bright (and very swinging) night!

Closing out the week on Thursday (11/18), MacPhail presents its second Jazz Thursdays event, and the second installment of its Mingus project, Meditations and Reflections. The first round last month was a trio; this time it’s a quintet –Greg and Mike Lewis, Bryan Nichols, Adam Linz and JT Bates. The title tune of this concert is “So Long Eric,” and the rest of the evening will bring us more of the exciting works of Mingus. Don’t miss the Q & A an hour before the concert, both in Antonello Hall.

More jazz all week!
Friday, 11/12: Mary Louise Knutson and Gordy Johnson play at noon for the Galleria Holiday Open House (and again on Saturday); Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico’s in the Chambers Hotel (also Saturday); Paul Renz & Co at Honey; Fantastic Fridays at the Black Dog; Erin Schwab at Hell’s Kitchen; Enormous Quartet at Café Maude (again on Saturday)

Saturday, 11/13: Nachito Herrera at the Dakota; Joanne Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar at the St Paul Hotel; Teresa Manzella at the Sail Away Cafe

Sunday, 11/14: Alicia Wiley for brunch at Hell’s Kitchen; Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar; Second Sunday with Arne Fogel and Jennifer Eckes at Honey; Charmin Michelle at Cinema Ballroom; Adam Levy and assorted guests salute jazz at The Southern Theater

Monday, 11/15: Charmin Michelle and Rick Carlson at Loring Pasta Bar; Headspace at the Artists Quarter; Fat Kid Wednesdays at the Clown Lounge

Tuesday, 11/16: Cory Wong Quartet and Tuesday Night Band at the Artists Quarter; Arne Fogel at Hell’s Kitchen; Adam Meckler Quintet and Zacc Harris Quartet at the Clown Lounge; Jack Brass at Favor Café

Wednesday, 11/17: Wolverines at Hell’s Kitchen; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza (Richfield); TEFSA Jam followed by the Zacc Harris Quartet at the Artists Quarter; KBEM’s Community Education class at Minneapolis Northeast Middle School, “Jazz and the Spirit” with Michelle Janson and Steve Blons.

Thursday, 11/18: Gary Berg Quartet at the Artists Quarter; Charmin Michelle at the Medina Ballroom; Paula Cole at the Dakota

Coming Soon!
• November 19, Doug Little’s Seven Steps to Havana at Studio Z
• November 19-20, Carole Martin at the Artists Quarter
• November 20, JazzMN Orchestra and Stephanie Nakasian (Kenton salute) at the Hopkins High School Performing Arts Center
• November 20, Ann Hampton Calloway at Orchestra Hall
• November 21, “Something (Vo) Cool” with Rhonda Laurie, Connie Olson and Tommy Bruce at the Woman’s Club (Minneapolis)
• November 26-27, Ricky Peterson and the Brothers with Patty Peterson at the Artists Quarter
• December 2, Jenny Scheinman at Walker Art Center
• December 6-7, Ravi Coltrane Quartet at the Dakota
• December 8-9, McCoy Tyner at the Dakota
• December 17-18, Red Planet at the Artists Quarter
• December 25-27, Bad Plus at the Dakota

Photos: (top to bottom) Maud Hixson (L) and Lee Engele (R) star in Chanteuse Diaries; Soul Cafe reunites (Brad Holden, Laura Caviani, Steve Blons); Kenny Barron (at the 2010 Detroit Jazz Festival); Rhonda Laurie in the recording studio (All photos by Andrea Canter)