Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, September 9-15

© Andrea Canter

After four days of multi-staged music in Detroit, I have to get back to reality. But it’s a pleasing reality in the Twin Cities, from violin virtuoso Christian Howes to local favorites Joel Shapira, Maud Hixson, Phil Hey and more. And it’s another festival weekend, with the annual Selby Av Jazz Festival on Saturday and the Lowertown Concrete and Grass Festival all weekend.

The Selby Avenue Jazz Festival (9/10) is held every September at the intersection of Milton and Selby Avenues in the heart of St. Paul. This is a true family-oriented community event, featuring not only music drawn primarily from the talents in the area, but activities to attract the attention of the youngest (and oldest!). Dick and Jane’s Brass Band kicks off the afternoon with a bit of Second Line fun, and the line-up includes faculty from Walker West Music Academy, a showcase of vocalists bringing to life the music and times of such legends as Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole, the infectious rhythms of Salsa del Soul, and this year’s headliner, the funky dazzle of saxophonist Gerald Albright.

In Lowertown, from Friday through Sunday (9/9-11), it’s an eclectic salute to metro music via the annual Concrete and Music Grass Festival at Mears Park. Jazz is represented on Saturday afternoon with the teens of Bomba de Luz (billed as “rock/jazz”) and the veterans of Brazilian music, Alma Brasiliera (Joan Griffith, Clea Galhano, Lucia Newell). The remaining line-up covers it all, from rock to pop to classical.

Christian Howes played one glorious night at the Artists Quarter last fall, so it’s a treat to have the violinist (and bassist) return for the weekend (9/9-10). His latest album, Out of the Blue, covers Chick Corea, Fats Domino, Carla Bley, and Ornette Coleman, at times sounding like 21st century improvisation, at other times sounding like backcountry fiddling.

Modern improvisation hits a high mark Saturday night (9/10) with Merciless Ghost (George Cartwright on saxophones, Josh Granowski on bass and Davu Seru on drums and percussion) at the Black Dog. Grab one of the microbrews, a Cuban sandwich, and a small table by the stage and sit back for a rewarding evening.

The Musique Mystique series continues on Mondays at the Loring Pasta Bar, with Maud Hixson and Rick Carlson (9/12) in the intimate space of the second floor “Chambre Rouge.” And Maud of course can bring authenticity to anything French, having worked as a French interpreter in another life. But whatever the language, Maud brings her own interpretation to great songs from any era. And Rick? I swear he can pull sound from the piano without even touching a key.

A few years ago, KBEM Jazz 88 initiated the REEL Jazz film series, bringing a variety of indie films on jazz subjects to the Bryant Lake Bowl Theater, and more recently, to the Trylon “micro cinema” in east Minneapolis. The fall 2011 season opens at the Trylon on Thursday (9/15) with Life After Django Reinhardt, featuring commentary from guitarists influenced by Django as they assemble for a 100th anniversary tour honoring the father of gypsy jazz. Tickets available online from KBEM. The film should end in plenty of time to catch the Phil Hey Quartet at the Artists Quarter. It’s easy to take this band for granted given their almost monthly booking at the AQ, but don’t—this is some of the most sophisticated and cool jazz played in this area by four veterans who manage to keep the music fresh and frisky at all times.

Check out the jazz calendar on the KBEM website for more jazz opportunities. Some recommendations:
Friday, September 9: Debbie Duncan with Adi Yeshaya at Hell’s Kitchen; Joel Shapira Trio at Shanghai Bistro (Stillwater); Arne Fogel and Kristin Sponcia at Ingredients Café (White Bear Lake); Lee Engele and Joan Griffith at Mendoberri’s (Mendota Heights)

Saturday, September 10: Charmin Michelle and Joel Shapira at Midtown Global Market (12:30 pm); Mary Louise Knutson, happy hour at The Marsh; Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar, St Paul Hotel; Petersons (Patty, Ricky, Paul and Jason) at School II Bistro (Chanhassan).

Sunday, September 11: Mindfulness Meditations in Schools Project with a seven-hour performance by percussionist Marc Anderson and a number of guests, including Dean Magraw, J.D. Steele, Michelle Kinney, Dan Newton, JT Bates, Erik Fratzke and more (1-8 pm); Arne Fogel and Jennifer Eckes at Honey with special guests Rick Carlson and Rhonda Laurie

Monday, September 12: Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Improvised Music with Milo Fine, Scott Newell, Davu Seru and Charles Gillette at Homewood Studios; Patrick Harrison and Kip Jones at Barbette

Tuesday, September 13: Cory Wong Quartet followed by the Tuesday Night Band at the Artists Quarter; Sophia Shorai at the Dakota; John Penny at The Nicollet; Jack Brass at the Driftwood

Wednesday, September 14: Steve Kenny and the Bastids followed by Media Addicts at the Artists Quarter; Nomad World Pub Jazz Series with the Jeremy Boettcher Eau Claire Quartet; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza

Thursday, September 15: Lee Engele and Reynold Philipsek at Nonna Rosa’s (Robbinsdale); Sophia Shorai at Barbette; Christine Rosholt fronts Beasley’s Big Band at the Wabasha Street Caves; Dean Magraw with Michael Bissonnette and Bruce Kurnow at the 318 Cafe' (Excelsior)

Coming Soon!
• September 16-17, Bryan Nichols Trio with Anthony Cox and Dave King at the Artists Quarter
• September 18, PipJazz at Landmark Center with special guest Gary Schulte
• September 20-21, James Farm (with Joshua Redman) at the Dakota
• September 23, Theo Blackmann at Macalester
• September 23-24, Jim Snidero at the Artists Quarter
• September 25, Peterson Family “Our Love Is Here to Stay” at the Bloomington Center for the Arts
• September 26, Christine Rosholt, “Songs of the Bard” at Jungle Theater
• September 26-27, Lionel Hampton Tribute with Jason Marsalis, Dianne Schurr at the Dakota
• September 28, Jane Monheit at the Dakota
• September 29-October 1, Minnesota Orchestra Season Opener with Fat Kid Wednesdays
• September 30, Nancy Harms at the Artists Quarter
• October 1, Dave King Trucking Company at the Artists Quarter
• October 1, JazzMN Orchestra with John Clayton at the Hopkins High School Arts Center
• October 2, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis at Orchestra Hall
• October 4, Esperanza Spalding’s Chamber Music Society at O’Shaughnessy
• October 7-8, Red Planet at the Artists Quarter
• October 9, PipJazz at Landmark Center
• October 10, Rondi Charleston with Lynne Arriale at the Dakota
• October 16, Soul Café at Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church
• October 21-22, Matt Slocum Trio at the Artists Quarter
• October 22, Joe Lovano and Us Five at the Hopkins Center for the Arts
• October 28, Herbie Hancock Solo Piano at Orchestra Hall
• November 1, John Scofield Quartet at the Dakota
• November 16, Al Jarreau at the Pantages Theater
• December 25-27, The Bad Plus at the Dakota
• March 1-2, Vijay Iyer at the Walker Art Center (McGuire Theater)

Photos: (top to bottom) Christian Howes; Gerald Albright; Maud Hixson and Rick Carlson; Phil Hey (all photos by Andrea Canter)