Friday, January 20, 2012

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, January 20-26

© Andrea Canter

Sometimes the coldest nights of the year bring out the biggest crows. Well, of course, we all know music can warm the heart and soul! There will be some warm-hearted and heat-heavy moments this weekend and should carry us into next week.

Highlights This Week

Tonight (Friday, 1/20), two high-energy performers join forces supported by a swinging trio at one of our newest music venues. At the Crooked Pint Alehouse, singers Katie Gearty and Nichola Miller will offer enough heat to melt Winter Carnival ice sculptures, while the Tanner Taylor Trio will more than keep up the pace. Katie is often heard with Vital Organ and can move from jazz to blues to R&B with a flick of an eyelash; Nichola simply swings til the rafters shake. Monster pianist Tanner Taylor gets plenty of support from bassist Keith Boyles and one of the youngest additions to our jazz scene, drummer Trevor Haining. Across and around the bend from MacPhail on a busy Washington Avenue corner, the Crooked Pint has been hosting a diverse schedule of music since it opened last fall.

If a little more gentility is your preference for Friday or Saturday nights, grab the couch or nearby table at D’Amico Kitchen (lower level of Meridien/Chambers Hotel) and enjoy the mainstream pleasures of the Benny Weinbeck Trio (Gordy Johnson on bass, Phil Hey on drums). Pianist Benny has a golden touch, and with long-time collaborators Gordy and Phil, offers such jazz classics as “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise” and “Take 5.” Gentle enough to help you chill out after a long week, but with enough edge to keep you comfortably alert. And it’s all in a very comfy atmosphere, perfect for that glass of wine, appetizer, even dinner. Or just a night cap. There’s a similar warmth and calm across town at the Lobby Bar of the St. Paul Hotel where Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske have been the weekend entertainment for the past few years. On vocals and piano, Joann channels her inner Blossom Dearie with swinging support from bassist Jeff. Stay for the evening or make it a prelude to an evening at Ordway or the AQ… or an after-theater stop.

Jazz@ St. Barney’s is a long-running, monthly series of chamber jazz at the St. Barnabus Center for the Arts in Plymouth. This Saturday night (1/21) features vocalist Paula Lammers and the sublime Mary Louise Knutson Trio. Trained in opera, Paula moved in a more swinging direction with a long tenure on the Minnesota Zephyr, heads her own 9-piece swinging ensemble, Cloud Nine, performs in duo with vocalist Reeves Cary, and is now the lead vocalist for the Phil Mattson Singers. Her latest recording, Deep Purple Dreams, draws from folk, pop, cabaret and theater; from songbook kings Duke Ellington, Cole Porter and Johnny Mandel to pop icon Billy Joel to local jazz diva Judi Donaghy; from Bill Evans and Michel Legrand to Stephen Sondheim and Henry Mancini, and beyond. In other words, Paula Lammers goes far and wide to find songs that we don’t necessarily hear at every gig. And her instrumental support could not be any finer, with the ever-effervescent lyricism of pianist Mary Louise Knutson, with bassist Jason McLean and drummer Nathan Norman. The Jazz @ St Barney’s setting is informal—you can even get treats and a beverage to enjoy with the music.

They just played to a strong crowd at the Artists Quarter on a subzero night, so you know Snowblind can raise the temperature! This brass quintet has been together now for 7 years, and their book is stuffed full with original compositions and heady arrangements from Shilad Sen, Adam Rossmiller, Scott Agster, Graydon Peterson and Reid Kennedy. They fill the performance “stage” at Jazz Central on Monday night (1/23).

Once a fixture in the Bay Area, drummer/percussionist Babatunde Lea has relocated to Wisconsin and crawls over the border now and then to mix it up with local string men, guitarist Zacc Harris and bassist Adam Linz. They take no prisoners on Wednesday (1/25) at Café Maude. Be sure to make a reservation so you can see them at work. It’s only one of several hot acts on the same night, with the Artists Quarter hosting Steve Kenny and the Bastids, boppin’ their way through hot charts, followed by the Graydon Peterson Quartet gathering momentum (Adam Meckler, Vinnie Rose and Adrian Suarez); and on the West Bank, it’s the T Collective (James Buckley, Michael Lewis, Martin Dosh and Tim Glenn) exploding at the Nomad World Pub. That’s a fair share of the top improvising jazzers all working the same night. Hard to choose. Good for music!

More good strings at Hells’ Kitchen on Thursday (1/26) when the Joel Shapira Quartet take the stage. In addition to the boppish finery of Shapira’s guitar, the ensemble features the always volcanic saxman Pete Whitman, dynamic bassist Tom Lewis, and versatile drummer Dave Schmalenberger. Their Open Lines was one of the top local releases of 2011.

More Jazz!
It’s cold (finally) and January tends to be relatively slow in many respects, but you can always find good jazz and good company at the many venues around town. And more are coming—watch for the opening of a new jazz series at the Lexington in St Paul with preview gigs in February. Meanwhile, updates are always available at the KBEM website, jazz calendar. A few more recommendations for the coming week:

Friday, January 20: Irv Williams and Peter Schimke, Happy Hour at the Dakota; Erin Schwab at Hell’s Kitchen; AQ closed for private event

Saturday, January 21: “By George! A Celebration of George Gershwin,” MacPhail Center for Music Spotlight Series (“sold out” but call for cancelations); Kenny Lewis and the Barflyz at the Artists Quarter; Jana Nyberg Group, Late Night at the Dakota

Sunday, January 22: Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Café; No Time for Squares, Benefit for Ann Cirelli at the Artists Quarter; Rhizosphere (Bobb Fantauzzo, Gabriella Sweet, Mike Bruns, Sean Egan) in “Music Under Glass” at the Como Park Conservatory; Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar; Meshell Ndegeocello at the Dakota

Monday, January 23: Headspace at the Artists Quarter; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Meshell Ngdeocello at the Dakota

Tuesday, January 24: Cory Wong Quartet at the Artists Quarter (early show); Raul Midon at the Dakota; Maryann Sullivan at The Nicollet; Jack Brass Band at the Driftwood; Nova Jazz Orchestra at the Shorewood.

Wednesday, January 25: Wolverines Trio at Hell’s Kitchen; Nellie McKay at the Dakota; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza

Thursday, January 26: Media Addicts at the Artists Quarter; Nellie McKay at the Dakota; Robert Everest Trio at the Black Dog

Coming Soon!
• 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 2, TCJS Young Artists Series, Stillwater Area High School Combos at the Artists Quarter
• February 3, Matt Haimovitz at Macalester (Weyerhauser Chapel)
• February 3-4, Dave King Trucking Company at the Artists Quarter
• February 4, Resurrection (Ellen Lease, Pat Moriarty, Noah Ophoven-Baldwin, Evan Clark) at Studio Z
• February 4, Head of the Waters Jazz Festival (John Fedchock guest artist) at University of Minnesota/Duluth
• 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, Bruce Henry at the Dakota
• February 17-18, Todd Clouser’s A Love Electric at the Artists Quarter
• 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 4, Nathan Hanson’s Saxophone Choir (TCJS, Jazz From J to Z) at Roseville Area High School
• March 8, TCJS Young Artists Series, the Dakota Combo at the Artists Quarter
• 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 10, Cory Wong and Pena (TCJS Jazz From J to Z) at Minneapolis Southwest High School
• April 15, MacPhail Center for Music Combo Festival and Spotlight Concert featuring Adam Niewood, the Dakota Combo, and MacPhail Jazz Faculty
• April 22, Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education Fund Raiser at the Dakota
• April 22, Doug Haining Quintet, Tribute to Cannonball Adderley (TCJS Jazz From J to Z) at the Artists Quarter
• 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 (headliners Bad Plus with Joshua Redman, Delfeayo Marsalis Octet; Francisco Mela’s Cuban Safari)

Photos (top to bottom): Katie Gearty; Paula Lammers; Graydon Peterson; Mike Lewis and James Buckley (T Collective) (Photos by Andrea Canter)