Friday, January 13, 2012

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, January 13-19

© Andrea Canter

There’s a “Winter Jazz Blast” in Roseville Saturday but the weekend as a whole could be classified as a “jazz blast”—an explosion of diverse and high-flying artists from near and far descending upon clubs throughout the metro, with a heavy concentration in St. Paul. Meanwhile, just up on Cathedral Hill, the congestion of the International Red Bull Ice Crash might challenge some driving and parking, but just allow extra time, as the music will be well worth the effort.

Highlights This Week
Friday night (1/13) at the Artists Quarter, we welcome the return of a favorite “adopted” son, jazz festival “house pianist” and always-entertaining host, Jon Weber. For years, Weber has been a stalwart accompanist, soloist and “Stride Night” participant around the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, but he usually gets back to town at least once a year for his own gig at the AQ. Hosted tonight by festival director Steve Heckler, the trio (with Billy Peterson and Kenny Horst) will no doubt run through diverse sets from boogie-woogie to post bop, while Jon will engage the audience in a fruitless effort to stump the piano giant by suggesting odd keys, odd time signatures and various styles, getting heavy doses of jazz trivia along the way. (Easy to imagine him taking over for Marian McPartland as host of NPR's Piano Jazz this season!) And don’t be surprised if Heckler provides a preview of what will surely be the most exciting TC Jazz Festival ever (June 28-30).

All day Saturday (1/14), it’s the annual Roseville Winter Jazz Blast held at Northwestern College. Throughout the day, 18 middle and high school bands will perform and attend clinics, building up to a concert finale in the evening with the JazzMN Orchestra and special guest, guitar whiz Mike Stern. Stern performed with JazzMN during their 2010 concert season and his interact with the band was truly exciting. The festival is open to the public at no charge, and the evening concert (7:30 pm) is very reasonable. A good way to enjoy a cold winter day—inside with nonstop jazz!

An interesting alternative on Saturday night: Bach and Jazz at St. Paul’s Celtic Junction, sponsored by the Bach Society of Minnesota. I’ve often been struck by the underlying baroque of some approaches to jazz improvisation, and tonight the connection will be more overt when the jazz trio Framework (Chris Olson, Chris Bates, Jay Epstein) join some Bach aficionados (Jin Kim, baroque violin; Julie Elhard, viola da gamba; Paul Boehnke, harpsichord) to pay homage to Johann Sebastian and play some Bach-inspired jazz. Dan Gilliam of MPR will lead a discussion between Boehnke (Bach) and Olson (Jazz).

Come back to the AQ Saturday and Sunday! Saturday night (1/14) will be the St Paul solo debut of a rising star pianist, Richard Johnson. So who is Richard Johnson? One-time pianist with the Wynton Marsalis Septet and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Johnson has continued his charge with the likes of Russell Malone and Bobby Watson. He last appeared in St Paul at the TC Jazz Festival in 2010, with Watson’s quartet. Tonight he highlights the music of West Side Story, supported by our local heroes, Graydon Peterson on bass and Reid Kennedy on drums.

And come Sunday (1/15), it’s the Twin Cities Jazz Society’s Jazz From J to Z concert featuring inventive pianist Bryan Nichols and his “Quintet + 1” exploring the music of Keith Jarrett’s American Quartet of the 1970s. This is a new program from Bryan, who is joined by saxophonists Mike Lewis and Brandon Wozniak, bassist James Buckley, drummer JT Bates, and special guest, percussionist Jay Epstein. The early evening start (7 pm) features a short opening set from a trio of high school free jazzers, Respective Sound Convergence Summit (Sam Wildenauer, Henry Misa, Will Nelson). This ensemble drew praise from the master of free improv, Milo Fine, when they played at last summer’s Midtown Global Jazz Fest.

Thursday night (1/19), the Atlantis Quartet makes a too-rare appearance at the Dakota, and tonight it’s also KBEM’s Jazz 88 Restaurant Tour, meaning a special menu package for those who sign up on KBEM’ site (if reservations remain). But it’s otherwise an open night to come down, order off the menu or just enjoy a glass of wine or a plate of fries with one of the best modern jazz ensembles in town, headed by guitar ace Zacc Harris with fellow improvisers Brandon Wozniak, Chris Bates and Pete Hennig.

Thursday night (1/19) is the annual South High School Singer Showcase, this year featuring guest Connie Evingson with the acclaimed South Jazz Ensemble and a “showcase” of young vocalists from the South Pops Singers. This year the singers have received special coaching in the art of jazz singing from local singer/educator Rhonda Laurie, with support from the Jazz Artists in the Schools (Midwest Regional Arts Council) grant to the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education. And you never know, one of the alums of the Pops Singers is Jose James, one of the brightest new stars on the jazz planet. You might be hearing a star of the future as well as one of the brightest local stars of the present. An unfortunate conflict, on the same night farther south at Roosevelt High School, the jazz band led by Tom Wells will perform with guest artist/clinician Amber Woodhouse. Saxophonist Amber, a graduate of St Paul Central High School and the Berklee College of Music, was herself a young teen star and member of the first Dakota Combo. Also supported by the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education via its MRAC grant, Amber has been working with the new Roosevelt jazz program this winter.

More Jazz!
For updates and more gigs, check out the jazz calendar on the KBEM website! Some additional recommendations for the coming week:

Friday, January 13: Irv Williams and Peter Schimke, Happy Hour at the Dakota; Sophia Shorai at Hell’s Kitchen; Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen (Meridien/Chambers Hotel); Charmin Michelle and the Jerry O’Hagan Orchestra at the Medina Ballroom; Vic Volare’s Fabulous Fridays at Mediterranean Cruise

Saturday, January 14: Charmin & Shapira, Midtown Global Market (12:30 pm); Karen Quiroz Brazilian Music at Hosmer Library (2:30 pm); Reynold Philipsek Trio with Doug Haining at Hell’s Kitchen; Joel Shapira at Ingredients Café; Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen (Meridien/Chambers Hotel); Jon Pemberton Trio at the Loring Pasta Bar

Sunday, January 15: Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Café; Martin Luther King concert at Ted Mann (4 pm, with Larry Long, Tonia Hughes, Billly Peterson, Billy Steele); Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar

Monday, January 16: Headspace at the Artists Quarter; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Scott Agster at Jazz Central

Tuesday, January 17: Barbara Bjork and Kristin Sponcia at The Nicollet; Cory Wong Quartet at the Artists Quarter (early set); Jack Brass Band at the Driftwood; Acme Jazz Company at the Shorewood

Wednesday, January 18: Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Steve Kenny and the Bastids followed by the Dan Musselman Trio at the Artists Quarter; Jana Nyberg at Hell’s Kitchen; Parker Paisley at Café Maude (Park Evans, Brandon Wozniak, Adam Wozniak, Pete Hennig); Nomad World Pub Jazz Series with Tanner Taylor, James Buckley and Phil Hey

Thursday, January 19: Dan and Reuben Ristrom at Sawatdee (Maple Grove); Snowblind at the Artists Quarter; Sophia Shorai and Bryan Nichols at Barbette

Coming Soon!
• January 21, Paula Lammers and Mary Louise Knutson, Jazz @ St. Barney’s

. January 21, MacPhail Faculty celebrate George Gershwin at Antonello Hall
• January 22-23, M’Shell Ndgeocello at the Dakota
• January 23, Snowblind at Jazz Central
• January 24, Maryann Sullivan at The Nicollet
• January 25, Babatunde Lea with Adam Linz and Zacc Harris at Café Maude
• January 25-26, Nellie McKay at the Dakota
• January 27, The Bad Plus, Paramount Theater (St Cloud)
• January 27-28, Bryan Nichols Quintet at the Artists Quarter
• January 28, Monk in Motian Tribute to Paul Motian (with 3 drummers), Jazz at Studio Z
• January 28, Ginger Commodore and Dennis Spears at the Dakota
• January 28-29, Great Guitars (Joan Griffith, Sam Miltich) with Connie Evingson at the Bloomington Center for the Arts (Jazz From J to Z)
• January 28-29, Century College Jazz Festival with Roger Ingram, Joel Shapira Quartet
• January 30, U of M Jazz I with Roger Ingram at the Stillwater Area High School Jazz Festival
• February 3, Matt Haimovitz at Macalester (Weyerhauser Chapel)
• February 4, Resurrection (Ellen Lease, Pat Moriarty, Noah Ophoven-Baldwin, Evan Clark) at Studio Z
• February 8-9, Jeff Lorber Fusion (with Randy Brecker) at the Dakota
• February 10-11, Bobby Peterson Memorial Piano Showcase at the Artists Quarter
• February 15-16, Hugh Masekela at the Dakota
• February 17, A Love Electric at the Artists Quarter
• February 17, Bruce Henry at the Dakota
• February 18, Kurt Elling and Lizz Wright at Orchestra Hall
• February 19, Laura Caviani and Joan Griffith, “Sambanova” at Carlton College Concert Hall (Northfield)
• February 22-23, Doc Severinsen Big Band at the Dakota
• February 25, Laura Caviani, Jazz@St. Barneys
• February 25, Atlantis Quartet, Jazz at Studio Z,
• March 1-2, Vijay Iyer at the Walker Art Center (McGuire Theater)
• March 9-10, Manhattan Transfer at the Dakota
• March 10, Caswell Sisters with JazzMN Orchestra at the Hopkins High School Performing Arts Center
• March 11, PipJazz Sundays with Pippi Ardennia and guests
• March 20, Toots Thielmans and Kenny Werner at the Dakota
• March 21-22, Al DiMeolo and Gonzalo Rubalcaba at the Dakota
• March 31, Doug Little, Music of Roberto Fonseca, Jazz at Studio Z
• April 22, Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education Fund Raiser at the Dakota
• April 29-30, Steve Tyrell at the Dakota
• May 20-21, Ramsey Lewis Trio at the Dakota
• June 28-30, Twin Cities Jazz Festival, Mears Park

Photos (top to bottom): Jon Weber; Mike Stern; Richard Johnson; Connie Evingson (all photos by Andrea Canter)