Friday, December 17, 2010

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, December 17-23

© Andrea Canter

Highlight, Last Week
The snowstorm that hit the area from late Friday through Saturday nearly upstaged the music in the Twin Cities, and eliminated pretty much all live jazz on Saturday night. I said “nearly” because even Old Man Winter couldn’t outshine the Bryan Nichols Quintet, fortunately scheduled for two nights at the Artists Quarter. We only got Friday night, but that was enough to carry the weekend. Not only were we treated to new compositions from Nichols, but also to a sax duel between two of the most impressive horns in the region—Mike Lewis (on soprano, alto and tenor) and Brandon Wozniak (on tenor). Throw in Erik Fratzke and JT Bates, and you have magic. There was a good crowd despite the forecast, and everyone will get another chance when Nichols and company return January 1st.

Andrea’s Picks
Jazz tickets make great holiday gifts, and there’s good reason to start early: One of the most accomplished jazz vocalists of our time, Dee Dee Bridgewater, comes to Orchestra Hall tonight (12/17) to celebrate “Yuletide Jazz,” along with Orchestra Hall’s Artistic Director for Jazz, New Orleans’ trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, and his quartet, all backed by the Minnesota Orchestra under the baton of Sarah Hicks. Bridgewater, host of NPR’s Jazz Set and multi-Grammy nominee, has a long history of eclectic projects ranging from French love songs to Ella to the traditional music of Mali, and earlier this year released an acclaimed tribute to Billie Holiday. Whether it’s Holiday or The Holiday, it will be pure Dee Dee. There will be tunes from Mayfield, tunes from Bridgewater, and some collaborations as well.

One of the most anticipated reunions, Red Planet takes over the Artists Quarter Friday and Saturday nights (12/17-18). On hiatus while leader Dean Magraw recovered from a bone marrow transplant, this other-worldly trio (with Chris Bates and Jay Epstein) was sorely missed on the local scene. Magraw has been regaining strength with smaller gigs, and it will be a celestial “homecoming” when he takes the stage at the AQ.

For a night cap, check out Café Maude Saturday night (12/18) when local jazz experimenters Zacc Harris and Adam Linz host Bay Area-based, globally renowned percussion master Babatunde Lea. The setting may not seem conducive to virtuosic avant garde and improvised music, but Café Maude routinely books some of the most adventurous acts in town. An artist of Lea’s stature and history (he’s played with Leon Thomas, McCoy Tyner, Joe Henderson and more) alongside two clever modernists like Harris and Linz should put Maude on everyone’s jazz map.

More Jazz Throughout the Week
See Pamela Espeland’s new formatting for her live jazz calendar ( so I won’t try to be a completist here. Some particular treats:

Friday (12/17): Joanne Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar of the St Paul Hotel (and again Saturday); Fantastic Fridays at the Black Dog; Peter Schimke at Café Maude

Saturday (12/18):
Charmin (Michelle) and (Joel) Shapira midday at Midtown Global Market; Nachito Herrera’s holiday show at the Dakota; Twin Cities Hot Club at Hell’s Kitchen.

Sunday (12/19): Doc Severinsen at Orchestra Hall; Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar.

Monday (12/20): Maud Hixson with Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza (Richfield); Charmin Michelle and Rick Carlson, Musique Mystique at Loring Pasta Bar; Fat Kid Wednesdays at the Clown Lounge

Tuesday (12/21): Cory Wong Quartet followed by the Tuesday Night Band at the Artists Quarter; Robert Everest’s World Quartet at the Dakota; Charmin Michelle and Holiday Strings annual dinner show at Jax Café (also Wednesday).

Wednesday (12/22):
Maxine Souse with Doug Haining and Reynold Philipsek at Fireside Pizza (Richfield); George Maurer Big Band at the Dakota; Park Evans at the Aster Café.

Thursday (12/23): Vital Organ at Hell’s Kitchen; Maud Hixson with Voodoo Patsy at the Aster Café; What Would Monk Do (quartet) at the Artists Quarter; Rob Fletcher Trio at Jazz Central (with Javier Santiago and Daniel Duke).

Coming Soon!
• December 25-27, Bad Plus at the Dakota
• December 26, Connie Evingson’s Holiday Show at the Jungle Theater
• December 28, Paris Strother Quartet at the Dakota
• December 29, Dave Hagedorn and Dan Cavanagh CD Release at the Artists Quarter
• December 30, Lucia Newell Quartet at the Artists Quarter
• December 31, New Year’s Eve with Carole Martin at the Artists Quarter
• January 17-18, Ramsey Lewis Trio at the Dakota
• January 24-25, Dave Holland Quintet at the Dakota
• February 4, John Scofield at the Dakota
• February 9-10, Kurt Elling at the Dakota

Photos: Dee Dee Bridgewater (at the 2009 Detroit Jazz Festival); Red Planet's three aces (Dean Magraw, Chris Bates, Jay Epstein). (Photos by Andrea Canter)