Friday, October 21, 2011

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, October 21-27

© Andrea Canter

After a week without jazz, I am in recovery. Fortunately there’s plenty of opportunities to help me get back on track.

Young drummer and Twin Cities native Matt Slocum has been making as much of an impression on the national jazz scene as a composer as he has with his trapset. One listen to his second recording, After the Storm, should be ample evidence. With long-time bassist Massimo Biolcati and acclaimed pianist Sam Yahel, Slocum brings his trio into the Artists Quarter for the weekend (10/21-22), sticking around for an ensemble workshop on Sunday (12:30-2 pm) at the AQ, free and open to all, particularly aimed at high school and college ensemble musicians. If you are expecting bombast and high volume, forget it. This is one drummer who, like our own Phil Hey, treats the drum kit as a melodic chamber ensemble partner.

If sublime drumming isn’t enough to keep you awake on a Friday night, you can really rev your motor with Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue at First Avenue. On both trombone and trumpet, there are few artists who can excite a crowd quite like Shorty (Troy Andrews).

Saturday night (10/22) brings Joe Lovano and his Us Five band back to the Twin Cities for the third time in about 18 months. With pianist James Weidman, bassist Esperanza Spalding, and two drummers (Francisco Mela and Otis Brown III), the quintet headlined the 2010 Twin Cities Jazz Festival, and returned (sans Spalding) to the Dakota last spring. Spalding is expected on this tour which lands at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. From festival stage to jazz club and now in a concert hall, there’s no finer ensemble working today. Lovano alone is worth the ticket, as one of the most inventive, always-listenable interpreters of Parker and beyond, as well as a formidable composer. But add in the rest and you’ve got magic.

Unfortunate competition on Saturday night, but that just creates that Big Apple feeling: Zacc Harris’s series, Jazz at Studio Z, continues with Seven Steps to Havana, Doug Little’s septet that puts Cuban flavors in a postbop mélange. They start out early afternoon with an open rehearsal/workshop (free at Z), leading into the evening performance.

It might sound like an odd pairing but Butch Thompson and Spider John Koerner have done it before, just not recently or at the Artists Quarter. Sunday night, with cameras rolling for a segment of “St. Paul Live,” the two duke it out to everyone’s delight.

Come Monday night (10/24) at Studio Z, you have to be intrigued by a band dubbed Dead Cat Bounce! Before cat lovers get riled up, the name comes from a Wall Street term for a sudden rise in a falling stock. In other words, expect the unexpected in a good way. DCB was founded by saxophonist/composer Matt Steckler with pals at the New England Conservatory in Boston about 15 years ago, and they have been making merry mayhem ever since, with a frontline of four saxophones buoyed by bass and drums. Sort of a World Saxophone Quartet with rhythm. The original repertoire (from Steckler) suggests the larger ensembles of Mingus, the most experimental works of Ellington, the harmonic excitement of Schneider, all encased in unexpected suggestions from Latin and Eastern cultures. A free preview will be provided at 4:30 pm at Walker West Music Academy. (There’s an amusing interview with Matt Steckler on JazzINK.)

Charmin Michelle comes back to the Dakota on Tuesday night (10/25) in the fine company of pianist Phil Mattson, bassist Gordy Johnson and drummer Dave Schmalenberger. Plus it’s a “Foodie Night”—spend $25 on dinner and no cover. You can also catch Charmin in her usual Wednesday night haunt, Fireside Pizza, with Denny Malmberg on accordion (10/26).

Wednesday (10/26) brings a rare solo performance from pianist Bryan Nichols, one of the brightest lights on the otherwise bright Twin Cities jazz scene. Performing in the beautiful Antonello Hall of MacPhail, Bryan will offer his interpretations of standards as well as original compositions and “a few surprises.” As one who generally uses surprise elements in his arrangements, Bryan could be up to just about anything. This concert starts early (7 pm), which means it would be pretty easy to take in Bryan before heading across town to hear one of the infrequent shows of the Illicit Sextet at the Artists Quarter. One of the premiere jazz bands of the late 80s-mid 90s, the band reunited a couple years ago and discovered they still have the chops and the audience to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Or if you really want more Bryan, head to the Nomad World Pub for the late night jazz series, tonight featuring Gang Font with Dave King, Erik Fratzke, Greg Norton… and Bryan Nichols.

Thursday (10/27) features another live recording for St. Paul Live, this time with the Pete Whitman X-Tet at the Artists Quarter. The band plays nearly monthly, featuring ten of the best of the metro headed of course by veteran saxman/bandleader Pete Whitman. It’s our hometown little big band with the sound of New York’s best. Let ‘em keep the Vanguard Orchestra and Mingus Dynasty. We have the X-Tet.

More Jazz!
So much more this week, take your pick, your ears will win. See a pretty complete schedule on the KBEM website.

Friday, October 21: Todd Harper’s Full Moon Rabbit at the Black Dog; Patty Peterson and Friends at School II Bistro; Nachito Herrera at the Dakota

Saturday, October 22: Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Nachito Herrera at the Dakota

Sunday, October 23: Milo Fine’s L'Editions Lagnaippe at Homewood Studios (with Paul Metzger and Elaine Evans); James Wallace at the Red Stag

Monday, October 24: Maryann Sullivan and Joel Shapira at Fireside Pizza; Nichola Miller and Rick Carlson at the Loring Pasta Bar’s Musique Mystique; Dennis Spears at the Dakota; Clay Pufahl at Jazz Central

Tuesday, October 25: Cory Wong Quartet followed by the Tuesday Night Band at the Artists Quarter; Big Band Tuesdays with the Nova Contemporary Jazz Orchestra at the Shorewood; Graydon Peterson Quartet at Jazz Central; John Penny and Rey Rivera at The Nicollet; Jack Brass at the Driftwood

Wednesday, October 26: Steve Kenny and the Bastids, early set at the Artists Quarter; Todd Clouser, Dean Magraw and Jay Epstein at Café Maude

Thursday, October 27: Gypsy Mania at Hell’s Kitchen; Jana Nyberg Group at Aux1 (The Republic)

Coming Soon!
• October 28, Herbie Hancock Solo Piano at Orchestra Hall
. October 28-29, Atlantis Quartet CD Release and Halloween Party at the Artists Quarter

• November 1, John Scofield Quartet at the Dakota
• November 3-6, Zeitgeist New Music Festival at Studio Z
• November 7, Michael Kaesehammer at the Dakota
• November 9, CD Release, Doug Haining Quintet at the Artists Quarter
• November 10, Jazz Thursdays at MacPhail (MacPhail Faculty)
• November 11-12, Sue Orfield with the Tuesday Night Band at the Artists Quarter
• November 12, Insurgent (Pat Moriarty, Ellen Lease, Phil Hey) at Studio Z (Jazz From J to Z)
• November 13, PipJazz Sundays at Landmark Center (TCJS Student Showcase)
• November 16, Al Jarreau at the Pantages Theater
• November 17, REEL Jazz at the Trylon Theater
• November 19, JazzMN Orchestra, Tribute to Miles Davis at the Hopkins High School Performing Arts Center
• November 19, Zacc Harris Quartet at Studio Z
• November 25-26, Pat Mallinger at the Artists Quarter
• December 1, Christine Rosholt and Kevin Hall, CD Release at The Loring Theater
• December 1, Nova Jazz Orchestra and the Minnetonka High School Jazz Band at Minnetonka HS (Jazz From J to Z)
• December 16, Todd Clouser’s Love Electric at Studio Z
• December 17, Bryan Nichols’ We Are Many at Studio Z
• December 23, 25-26, The Bad Plus at the Dakota
• March 1-2, Vijay Iyer at the Walker Art Center (McGuire Theater)

Photos: (top to bottom) Matt Slocum; Joe Lovano; Charmin Michelle; Bryan Nichols (all photos by Andrea Canter)