Friday, February 24, 2012

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, February 24-March 1

© Andrea Canter

It’s another one of those weekends when I will just have to accept missing out on something cool in order to not miss out on something cool. There should be no bored jazz fans this weekend, or into the following week either.

Highlights, This Week

February 24-25
. He doesn’t seem to perform that much these days, so don’t miss the master of odd meters, pianist Larry McDonough, with long-time cohort Richard Terrill on sax, jazzing up the west burbs at Three Crows in Delano Friday night (2/24). A legal aid attorney by day, McDonough’s arrangements and original compositions often come from unique sources as well as his own quirky ideas, like putting Monk and Brubeck together.

One of the area’s most popular vocalists/radio personalities returns to the Artists Quarter this weekend (2/24-25). Patty Peterson and Friends (Donnie LaMarca, Bobby Vandell, Billy Franze, Jason DeLaire, Paul Peterson) covers it all, from jazz to R&B to pop, and it always feels like a party. And with some “Westside tacos” on Saturday night, there’s even party flavors.

Saturday (2/25) brings more dilemmas! Start out with an afternoon of solo guitar with the sublime Dean Magraw at Hosmer Library in south Minneapolis. This is surely the bargain of the week—no cover! Dean is most often enjoyed in the context of his Red Planet trio or a duo with Davu Seru or tablist Marcus Weiss, or an area vocalist. The opportunity to hear him with just his own imagination and guitar is rare.

By evening the choices might be overwhelming: The spicy Atlantis Quartet, barely out of the studio as they prepare for a spring CD release, performs at Studio Z in Lowertown, the February installment of Jazz at Studio Z, curated by Atlantis leader Zacc Harris. With his fellow explorers Brandon Wozniak, Chris Bates and Pete Hennig, he’ll be introducing some new material. And before the evening gig gets underway, you can observe an open rehearsal (4 pm). Jazz@St. Barney’s presents Laura Caviani and Joan Griffith with Dave Schmalenberger reprising their “Sambanova” repertoire. Even if you have heard the album or earlier concerts, this music continues to grow with each performance and is unlike any other exploration of the Brazilian jazz idiom. And if you never heard this music before, it will be a revelation.

In Roseville, St. Michael’s Church might seem to be the unlikely venue for the music of Frank Sinatra, but pianist Richard Johnson (formerly with Wynton Marsalis, Russell Malone and Bobby Watson) and his trio will turn the church into a real jazz club for one night. Johnson is making the Twin Cities his second home in 2012 with his “Jazz Alive” series of monthly gigs. And on the U of M West Bank Campus, it’s the U of M Jazz Festival all day Saturday, culminating in an evening concert with Jazz Ensemble I and the fabulous Hornheads at Ted Mann, free and open to the public. And this is another ensemble we hear much too rarely these days, a brass-only quintet featuring the best in the area (Steve Strand, Dave Jensen, Kathy Jensen, Kenni Holmen and Michael Nelson.

Still all jazzed up by late evening? The original curator of Late Night at the Dakota, Jeremy Walker initiates yet another band, this one called Boot Camp, coming in at 11 pm for the Late Night slot Saturday and into the early hour of Sunday (following the mostly monthly night with keyboard giant Nachito Herrera). Boot Camp brings together Walker, Chris Thomson, Chris Bates and Jay Epstein for a nightcap of mayhem.

February 26. Northfield is just a nice country drive south of the Twin Cities, and on Sunday afternoon (2/26), the site of Laura Caviani’s first recital at St. Olaf (in Urness Recital Hall). She’s put together a play list from her recent forays into jazz arrangements of classical works, from Bach to Gershwin.

February 27. The Latin Jazz All-Stars, led by trombone master Steve Turre, return to the Dakota on Monday, ready to warm up any remaining chill in our strange Minnesota winter. Joining Turre are Ray Vega, Chembo Corniel, Yunior Terry, Benito Gonzalez, and Diego Lopez, all well-established practitioners of everything south of the border. You can’t help but be energized by this music. If you’re at the first set, you will be able to dash over to Northeast and hear Pete Whitman’s sessions at Jazz Central. We so often hear Pete’s saxophones and flute with large ensembles, from his X-Tet to JazzMN Orchestra, but he really shines in the small group context and intimate space of this gallery setting.

February 28. Come Tuesday, it’s a return visit to The Nicollet from Three Flights Up, featuring Don Stille, Dave Graf, Doug Haining, Don Stille, Michael Gold and Nathan Norman. They might need to rent some space “three flights up” to make room for the band! Expect some hard driving mainstream jazz and a very loyal group of swing dancers.

March 1. Maud Hixson opens the regular schedule of the new jazz series at The Lexington on Thursday, with husband Rick Carlson on keys. The Lex offers a comfortable clubby setting with music in the Williamsburg Room (adjacent to the bar), a nice piano, great food and/or cocktails, and tonight and Saturday (3/3), the best in intimate vocal jazz. The series continues with jazz (mostly vocal) on Thursdays and Saturdays, curated by the one and only Arne Fogel.

And perhaps the most anticipated jazz event of 2012 thus far, seriously amazing pianist/composer Vijay Iyer starts a two-night residency at the Walker (McGuire Theater) on Thursday, with a 3-set mini-festival (Iyer solo, Iyer in duo with trumpter Wadada Leo Smith, Iyer with his trio featuring Steven Crump and Marcus Gilmore). The fun continues Friday night (3/2) with another solo set, duo with Mike Ladd, and his Tirtha Trio.

More Jazz All Week
For the full story, always check the Twin Cities Live Jazz Calendar as well as updates on Jazz Police. More recommendations:

Friday, February 24: Irv Williams and Peter Schimke, Happy Hour at the Dakota; Debbie Duncan and Dennis Spears at the Dakota; 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, CD release at Medina Ballroom; Wolff Jabbr Quartet at the Black Dog

Saturday, February 25: James Allen and Tom Pieper at First Course Bistro; Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen (Meridien/Chambers Hotel)

Sunday, February 26: Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Café; Lee Engele and Reynold Philipsek at Midtown Global Market (afternoon in the Atrium); Zacc Harris Trio at the Riverview Wine Bar

Monday, February 27: Headspace at the Artists Quarter; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza

Tuesday, February 28: Cory Wong Quartet followed by invitational jam at the Artists Quarter; Frankhouse at Hell’s Kitchen; Minnesota Youth Jazz Band at Famous Dave’s (Uptown); Sophia Shorai at the Dakota; Nova Jazz Orchestra at The Shorewood; Jack Brass at the Driftwood

Wednesday, February 29: Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Modern Time (Vinnie Rose, Graydon Peterson, Adrian Suarez) at Café Maude; Steve Kenny and the Bastids followed by Media Addicts at the Artists Quarter

Coming Soon!
• March 1-2, Vijay Iyer at the Walker Art Center (McGuire Theater)
• March 2-3, Phil Hey Quartet at the Artists Quarter
• March 3, Head of the Waters Jazz Festival (John Fedchock guest artist) at University of Minnesota/Duluth
• March 4, Nathan Hanson’s Saxophone Choir with George Cartwright, Donald Washington, Pat Moriarty and more (TCJS, Jazz From J to Z) at Roseville Area High School
• March 7, Benny Golson and Nnenna Freelon at the Dakota
• March 8, TCJS Young Artists Series, the Dakota Combo at the Artists Quarter
• March 9-10, Manhattan Transfer at the Dakota
• March 9-10, Atlantis Quartet at the Artists Quarter
• March 10, Caswell Sisters with JazzMN Orchestra at the Hopkins High School Performing Arts Center
• March 11, PipJazz Sundays with Pippi Ardennia and Jason DeLaire
• March 11, Chris Bates Quintet Open Session II at Jazz Central
• March 12, Regina Marie Williams CD Release at the Dakota
• March 13, Graydon Peterson Quartet at The Nicollet
• March 13, James Blood Ullmer at the Dakota
• March 14, Leigh Kamman, KBEM Community Ed at South High School
• March 16-17, Richard Johnson Trio at the Artists Quarter
• March 20-21, Al DiMeola and Gonzalo Rubalcaba at the Dakota
• March 23-24, Bruce Henry at the Artists Quarter
• March 25, Chris Bates Quintet Open Session III at Jazz Central
• March 25-26, Hiromi Trio Project at the Dakota
• March 29, Pete Whitman X-Tet at the Artists Quarter
• March 31, Doug Little, Music of Roberto Fonseca, Jazz at Studio Z
. April 1, Jalala (Janis Siegel, Laurel Masse, Lauren Kinhan) at the Dakota

• April 6, Irvin Mayfield Quintet at Orchestra Hall
• April 10, Cory Wong and Peña (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 21, JazzMN Orchestra with Terell Stafford at the Hopkins High School Performing Arts Center
• April 22, Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education Fund Raiser at the Dakota
• April 22, Grace Kelly 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 8-9, Poncho Sanchez at the Dakota
• May 20-21, Ramsey Lewis Trio at the Dakota
• May 26, Preservation Hall Jazz Band at Orchestra Hall
• June 28-30, Twin Cities Jazz Festival, Mears Park (headliners Bad Plus with Joshua Redman; Delfeayo Marsalis Octet; Francisco Mela’s Cuban Safari)
• July 1-2, Bill Frisell at the Dakota

Photos (top to bottom): Jeremy Walker launches Boot Camp at the Dakota; Maud Hixson and Rick Carlson at The Lexington; Vijay Iyer comes to the Walker. (Photos by Andrea Canter)