Friday, December 3, 2010

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, December 3-9

© Andrea Canter

Highlights, Last Week
I didn’t get out as much as usual this past week – in hibernation mode, but thoroughly enjoyed seeing my first Musique Mystique evening at the Loring Pasta Bar with the ever-elegant duo of Maud Hixson and Rick Carlson (11/29). Just when you think you know Maud’s songbook, she adds to it—Strayhorn’s “Something to Live For,” Johnny Mercer’s “Dreamin,” and maybe the genre’s slowest version of “Love for Sale.” Sold! And then came Jenny… Jenny Scheinman’s Mischief and Mayhem generated a lot of both at the Walker. And personally I preferred the mischief (playful lines of bluegrassy violin bashing notes with rockin’ guitar, bass and percussion) to the mayhem (although just watching Nels Cline clash and bash and pulverize was a year’s worth of visual as well as auditory fireworks). Even Scheinman was out of breath. I had to come home listen to Rick and Maud to lower my heart rate and regain equilibrium.

This Week, the Big Gigs
The week ahead oozes big city heat – and makes jazz the number one art’s attraction in town. In my opinion. The Dakota launches its official “25th anniversary week” on Sunday with gospel prince Robert Robinson, but there’s a great prelude starting this weekend. First, LA-based percussionist/vocalist and former TC resident Estaire Godinez plays two nights at the Dakota (12/3-4). And on Saturday (12/4), the long opening set features the young lions (and a lioness) of the Dakota Combo in consort with guest artist Johnathan Blake. Blake is a fast-rising drum star, currently touring with Kenny Barron, Tom Harrell and Russell Malone, and an alum of the Mingus Big Band. Which is more than appropriate given the repertoire of this year’s Dakota Combo under the direction of Adam Linz, himself a Mingus scholar. Blake will lead a student clinic earlier in the day, after rehearsing with the Combo Friday afternoon. The early show will be a separate cover charge of $10 starting at 6 pm; stay for Estaire for another $15.

Across the river, the weekend brings a CD release party to the Artists Quarter, putting the spotlight on the piano talents of Jon Pemberton and his trio. Known best for his trumpet chops and as leader of the Pembertones, Jon unleashes his keyboard magic with Gary Raynor and Jay Epstein on his new On the Edge. Which it is. (See review at Tonight, Billy Peterson fills the bass chair, which is only fitting as cousin Bobby Peterson was Pemberton’s mentor and penned two of the tunes on the CD.

And for a night cap (12/4), I can’t imagine a more sublime pairing than Dean Magraw and Bryan Nichols, together at Café Maude. Just seeing Dean back on stage is reason enough to drop by (less noisy the later you go!), but the artful guitarist in tandem with the master of piano invention? That should be enough reason for all bar talk to cease!

The Dakota’s anniversary party gets into full swing with the Ravi Coltrane Quartet starting the week (December 6-7). Few saxophonists of his generation can boast the imagination, compositions, bandleading dexterity and business acumen of Coltrane, who has set aside comparisons to his father as he has forged his own identity, his own sound. And he has long worked with three of the best in modern jazz—Luis Perdamo, Drew Gress and E.J. Strickland. Enjoy, take a breath, and go back to the Dakota December 8-9 for the crowning gig of anniversary week, the McCoy Tyner Quartet with Gary Bartz. Tyner added a horn voice to his famed trio some years ago, and Bartz has been one of his most consistent partners. And it was in 1988 that McCoy Tyner became the first national artist to perform at the Dakota, then in Bandana Square and solely dedicated to the performances of local musicians. But a lot of cajoling and a previous connection between Tyner and Dakota owner Lowell Pickett eventually succeeded in opening the national door, now the club’s bread and butter. Or make that fries and béarnaise. Bassist Gerald Cannon and Twin Cities-based drummer Eric Gravatt round out this sublime quartet. (Call for availability of tickets—rumors of a sell out abound!)

It’s hard for a young drummer to compete with all that hoopla but Jason Price will do just that as he celebrates the release of his first recording, Collaborations, at the Artists Quarter on December 9th with recording partners Dan Musselman, Matt Peterson, Greg Keel and more—the recording features several different combinations of musicians from the Twin Cities and beyond. (This is an early show, starting at 7…. You can catch him on either side of Tyner’s Dakota sets!) See CD review at:

More Jazz Every Night
Friday, 12/3: Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar, St Paul Hotel (and again Saturday); Debbie Duncan’s Christmas Show (with Adi Yeshaya) at the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community; Fantastic Fridays at the Black Dog; Sophia Shorai at Honey; Milo Fine Free Jazz Ensemble at West Bank School of Music; Zacc Harris Quartet at the Dakota (Late Night)

Saturday, 12/4: Brunch dates--Zacc Harris at Hell’s Kitchen, Rahjta Ren at the Black Dog; Vicky Mountain and James Allen at First Course Bistro; Jana Nyberg Group at Honey.
Sunday, 12/5: Brunch with Daddy Squeeze at the Astor Café; matinee with the New Standards Trio’s Holiday Show at the Fitzgerald; Patty Peterson’s holiday show at Mt. Olivet; Zacc Harris Trio at the Riverview Wine Bar; Charmin Michelle at Cinema Ballroom

Monday, 12/6: U of M Jazz Ensembles at Ted Mann; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza (Richfield); Musique Mystique at Loring Pasta Bar; Headspace at the Artists’ Quarter; Jazz Implosion at the Clown Lounge.

Tuesday, 12/7: Café Accordion at the Loring Pasta Bar; Cory Wong Quartet followed by the Tuesday Night Band at the Artists’ Quarter

Wednesday, 12/8: Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza (Richfield); TEFSA Jam followed by the Dave Karr Quartet at the Artists’ Quarter; the Wolverines at Hell’s Kitchen

Thursday, 12/9: Vital Organ with Debbie Duncan at Hell’s Kitchen; Gregg Marquardt with the Minnesota Jazz Orchestra at Wabasha Street Caves

Coming Soon!
• December 10-11, Bryan Nichols Quintet at the Artists Quarter
• December 14, Christine Rosholt at the Dakota
• December 16, Todd Clouser at Astor Café
• December 17, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Irvin Mayfield at Orchestra Hall
• December 17-18, Red Planet at the Artists Quarter
• December 21, Robert Everest’s World Quartet at the Dakota
• December 22, Snowblind at the Artists Quarter
• December 22, George Mauer’s Christmas at the Dakota
• December 25-27, Bad Plus at the Dakota
• December 26, Connie Evingson’s Holiday Show at the Jungle Theater
• December 29, Dave Hagedorn and Dan Cavanagh CD Release at the Artists Quarter
• December 31, New Year’s Eve with Carole Martin at the Artists Quarter
• 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: Dakota Combo; Jon Pemberton's new CD; Ravi Coltrane with Drew Gress (2008 TC Jazz Festival); McCoy Tyner. (Dakota Combo, Coltrane photos by Andrea Canter; Tyner courtesy of his website press kit)