Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, November 4-10









© Andrea Canter

Hints of the holidays are getting stronger every day, but there’s also a festive air throughout the area music venues. Jazz is no exception.

Highlights This Week
Studio Z holds its annual New Music Cabaret, hosted by the experimental music ensemble Zeitgeist and covering a wide range of new music over four nights, November 3-6. Not all falls under a modern jazz umbrella but each band considers improvisation a basic staple. Zeitgeist performs each night, along with the Ataria Quartet and Illicit Sextet on Thursday (11/3), Renegade Ensemble, Nirmala Rajasekar and Ill Chemistry on Friday (11/4), Mississippi Peace and Douglas Ewart & Quasar on Saturday (11/5), and Anti-Gravity and Julie Johnson & the No Accounts on Sunday (11/6).

It’s not exactly a listening room, but the ambience of the Aster Café along Main Street seems perfect for nights of chamber jazz and sultry song. Having performed there with the swing trio Sidewalk Café, vocalist Rhonda Laurie now returns for a more intimate duo evening with pianist Rick Carlson to kick off the weekend on Friday night (11/4).

I hope this is more than coincidence, but it seems Lucia Newell has become a monthly gig at the Artists Quarter, which until now has not boasted a vocalist in regular rotation. Lucia returns for a weekend (11/4-5) with the dream trio of Phil Aaron, Adam Linz and Kenny Horst. Lucia promises favorites and new songs, and on Saturday night, Larry Englund will be on hand for the taping of a St. Paul live segment with KBEM radio.

Another of our top songbirds, Connie Evingson continues her Jazz at the Jungle series on Sunday (11/6, 4 and 7:30 pm) with a look at jazz across three, or maybe four generations. Dubbed Jazz 3G, this should have wider appeal than Verizon 4G, with a band that includes saxman Dave Karr, bassist Gordy Johnson, pianist Tanner Taylor, and drummer Trevor Haining—that’s a range from 81 to 23! And bringing a taste of the next generation, the Dakota Combo will perform a song or two at each show. So we really are talking about an age range of 15-81! Music that has inspired artists across generations will be the heart of the show, while the Combo will perform a tune written by high school senior/trumpeter Joe Suihkonen.

Monday (11/7) at the Dakota will be my personal introduction to pianist/vocalist Michael Kaeshammer, but just reading about him has me drooling. Sometimes compared to Harry Connick (and he does inject some Crescent City beats into his music), the German born, Canadian schooled Kaeshammer has won awards and fans around the globe, and garnered a bunch more on his last visit to the Dakota.

Two CD celebrations this week: On Tuesday (11/8), trumpter John Raymond, who recently completed his master’s degree at SUNY-Purchase, is back for a visit in his home town and doing some fund raising to support the promotion of his new recording, to be officially released in early 2012. It’s a very special project, produced by John’s mentor Jon Faddis and recorded at the famed (and now departed) Bennett Studios, featuring Twin Cities native pianist Javier Santiago and acclaimed Israeli guitarist Gilad Hekselman. This preview gig will be held at Jazz Central, and anyone attending will get their own pre-release copy of the CD. Given John’s successes with previous projects, I anticipate a really fine recording. Joining him in Minnesota (and in Wisconsin) will be cohorts from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, plus young lion drummer Miguel Hurtado. Then on Wednesday (11/9) at the Artists Quarter, veteran saxophonist Doug Haining celebrates his new quintet release, Last Man Swinging. With long-time cohorts Dave Graf, Rick Carlson, Steve Pikal and Dick Bortolussi, and tunes from Gershwin, Mancini, Hefti, Ellington, Waller, Berlin and more, the CD simply swings from the rafters. Expect even more in live performance.

One of the bargain jazz series in the metro, MacPhail’s Jazz Thursdays returns for a new season (11/10), this opening concert in Antonello Hall featuring varying combinations of MacPhail jazz faculty in duo and trio settings, as well as a larger ensemble that ties it all together. Directed by bassist Adam Linz, the MacPhail jazz program boasts such artists as pianists Bryan Nichols and Greg Thiesen, saxophonists Chris Thomson and Greg Keel, trumpeter Adam Rossmiller, drummer JT Bates, vocalist Vicky Mountain and more.

More Jazz!
KBEM radio’s website posts the area’s most complete listing of jazz events. A few more recommendations:

Friday, November 4. Brian Rosselear and Nathan Hanson with painter Stephane Catteneo at the Black Dog; Estaire Godinez at the Dakota
Saturday, November 5: Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); JazZen at The Nicollet; Lee Ritenour at the Hopkins Center for the Arts; Vicky Mountain and James Allen at First Course Bistro
Sunday, November 6: Century Jazz Ensemble Fall Fling at Century College
Monday, November 7: Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza (Richfield)
Tuesday, November 8: Cory Wong Quartet followed by the Tuesday Night Band at the Artists Quarter; Charmin Michelle at the Dakota; Phil Mattson Singers at The Nicollet; Jack Brass Band at the Driftwood
Wednesday, November 9: Paul Renz Quartet at the Dakota; Steve Kenny and the Bastids, early show at the Artists Quarter; Merciless Ghost at the Black Dog and later at Nomad World Pub; Leisure Valley at Café Maude
Thursday, November 10: Dave Karr Quartet at the Artists Quarter

Coming Soon!
• November 11, Galactic Cowboy Orchestra at the Loring Theater
• 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 22, Vanessa Trouble at the Dakota
• November 23, Mary Louise Knutson Trio, CD release at the Artists Quarter
• November 25-26, Pat Mallinger CD Release 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 5, Catherine Russell at the Dakota
• December 10, The Crosby/Clooney Story, Arne Fogel and Maud Hixson at the Bloomington Center for the Arts
• 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
• February 15-16, Hugh Masekela at the Dakota
• March 1-2, Vijay Iyer at the Walker Art Center (McGuire Theater)

Photos: (Top to bottom) Rhonda Laurie at the Aster Cafe; the Dakota Combo; John Raymond; Doug Haining (all photos by Andrea Canter)