Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, September 16-22

© Andrea Canter

Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that is often true in jazz where the ensemble sound and creativity transcend what any individual can bring to the stage or studio. Such is the coming week in Twin Cities jazz—perhaps more so than usual.

A much anticipated collaboration, the new Bryan Nichols Trio debuts at the Artists Quarter this weekend (9/16-17) with Nichols on piano, Anthony Cox on bass and Dave King on drums. Nichols has been on a nearly vertical trajectory over the past few years, best documented by his recent, first recording as leader, Bright Places. The alum of Betty Carter’s famed Jazz Ahead program (and otherwise without a formal jazz education), Bryan is nothing short of brilliant as a composer and improviser. Which puts him in good company with his internationally acclaimed cohorts. Modern improvisers also mark the return of the Community Pool: Deep End series at the Black Dog, this Friday night (9/16) with Erik Fratzke (guitar), Nathan Hanson (saxophones), Brian Roessler (bass), Pete Hennig and Peter Leggett (drums).

Collaboration celebrating collaboration is the theme of the opening concert in the Jazz@ St. Barney’s series at St. Barnabas Church in Plymouth Saturday night (9/17). Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé were long one of the most charming singer/composer teams. Their duets are recalled by the vocal team of Maud Hixson and Jason Richards, accompanied by Maud’s life and frequent work partner, pianist Rick Carlson. Collaborative connections all around. This is an inexpensive, casual series with an early evening start (7 pm)… which means you can easily get back to town for a late set at a Twin Cities club. St. Barney’s focus this year is on vocal jazz—Connie Evingson, Bruce Henry and more are on the season schedule.

The Dakota hosts a unique collaboration Saturday (9/17) when organist Lincoln Berry makes a rare appearance with three top voices—Debbie Duncan, Dorothy Doring and Donald Thomas. Over his career---from the Twin Cities to Denver to Dayton and back, Berry has backed the likes of Mahalia Jackson, Sonny Stitt and B.B. King. Add to his gospel and blues flavors the diverse vocal talents of Debbie, Dorothy and Donald (who also handles the drum kit)—sounds like a fun evening.

And speaking of jazz vocalists, Sunday (9/18) is the September installment of PipJazz at Landmark Center, this concert featuring Pippi Ardennia’s songs, a hot band led by Peter Schimke, and special guest, violinist Gary Schulte. Pippi has one of those voices that morphs to fit any context, be it the blues, a ballad, swing or soul. And Schulte is particularly adept at the gypsy jazz repertoire, which he often performs with Twin Cities Hot Club, Parisota Hot Club, Sidewalk Café and more. But I suspect he is no stranger to Bach. PipJazz is also an early evening venture (5 pm), perfect on a work or school night.

Midweek (9/20-21) brings one of the most talked about new ensembles, James Farm, to the Dakota. This is a true collective with Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks, Matt Penman and Eric Harland, making it almost a mini-SF Jazz collective as all but Parks have been (or continue to be) affiliated with that acclaimed ensemble. Coming together two years ago, touring and recording their first CD in the past year, James Farm features original compositions from each musician and the fine art of in-the-moment improvisation. And you won’t find four more accomplished musicians on one stage.

Another interesting collaboration is Jazz Zen, the aptly named trio of world flutes (Bobb Fantauzzo), cello (Aaron Kerr) and drums (Derrin Pinto). They bring their unique blend of Native American folkloric sounds and post bop explorations to The Nicollet Tuesday night (9/20), which has to be one of the top bargains (no cover) in local jazz. Check out their recent release, Bounce Off the Moon. The Nicollet is offering jazz every Tuesday.

Fun and swing at the Aster Café Thursday night (9/22) when Rhonda Laurie and Sidewalk Café (Reynold Philipsek, Jeff Brueske, Gary Schulte) get together. The music goes well beyond typical gypsy jazz, taking Django ahead a few decades, and delightfully so. And the Aster is a very cool venue for this music, snuggled into the bricks and riverfront of Main Street.

More Jazz!
Keep up with the Twin Cities’ jazz scene with the jazz calendar on the KBEM website. Some recommendations:

Monday, September 19: Maud Hixson and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Charmin Michelle and Rick Carlson, Musique Mystique at the Loring Pasta Bar; Trevor Haining at Jazz Central

Tuesday, September 20: Cory Wong Quartet followed by the Tuesday Night Band at the Artists Quarter; Acme Jazz Company with Arne Fogel at the Shorewood; Tuesday Salon (new music) at Studio Z; Jack Brass at the Driftwood

Wednesday, September 21: Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Wolverines Trio at Hell’s Kitchen; Chris Thomson Quartet at Café Maude; Paul Metzger and Milo Fine at the Nomad World Pub; Steve Kenny and the Bastids, followed by the Dave Karr Quartet at the Artists Quarter

Thursday, September 22: James Buckley Trio at Hell’s Kitchen ; Christine Rosholt Quartet at Honey

Coming Soon!
• September 23, Theo Blackmann at Macalester
• September 23-24, Jim Snidero at the Artists Quarter
• September 24, Dave King Trucking Company at Studio Z
• 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, Connie Evingson and the John Jorgenson Quintet at the Hopkins Center for the Arts
• 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 with Irv Williams
• October 10, Rondi Charleston with Lynne Arriale and Dave Stryker at the Dakota
• October 13, U of M Jazz Bands, Salute to Art Blakey at Ted Mann
• October 16, Soul Café at Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church
• October 20, REEL Jazz at the Trylon Cinema, films by Bob DeFlores
• 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 22, Seven Steps to Havna at Studio Z
• October 24, Dead Cat Bounce at Studio Z
• October 26, Bryan Nichols at Antonello Hall, MacPhail Center for Music
• October 28, Herbie Hancock Solo Piano at Orchestra Hall
• November 1, John Scofield Quartet at the Dakota
• November 12, Insurgent (Pat Moriarty, Ellen Lease, Phil Hey) at Studio Z
• 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) Bryan Nichols; Pippi Ardennia; Gary Schulte; Eric Harland (Photos by Andrea Canter)