Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, May 18-24

 © Andrea Canter

This weekend, northeast Minneapolis hosts the nation’s largest art gallery crawl, Art-a-Whirl. And it seems as if the jazz community is holding its own “jazz-a-whirl,” although the orbit is much wider than Nordeast! Even global as one of our top area high school jazz programs presents music that likely has not been played anywhere in the U.S. in this century. One of our local songbirds presents “uncommon standards,” Ramsey Lewis returns with a rare club date with his Electric Band, and a contingent of local stars musically considers “What Would Monk Do?” in the 21st century.

Highlights, This Week
May 18. Roseville Area High School is fortunately to have not only a renowned jazz musician leading its jazz program, but one with the diligence and artistic vision of Pat Moriarty. Pat spent the better part of the past year gathering charts and pieces of charts from recordings made in the early 90s by the Dedication Orchestra, a group assembled to honor expatriate South African musicians from the days of the Blue Notes and Brotherhood of Breath. Tonight the award-winning RAHS Jazz Ensemble performs six of these reconstituted charts at the band’s spring concert in the high school auditorium. This is music you haven’t likely heard live, at least not in the past 20 years.

Minnesota’s First Lady of Song, Debbie Duncan has a one-night stand at the Artists Quarter, which means lots of laughs, ballads, blues and swing, and she is equally talented at all. And she wasn’t named “Perpetually Outstanding Performer” by the Minnesota Music Awards for nothing! (She moves on to the Dakota Saturday night, joining forces with the Lincoln Berry Trio.)

May 19. I had an opportunity recently to hear a private presentation of “Uncommon Standards” by singer Rhonda Laurie and pianist/arranger Phil Mattson. Now they go public as the closing concert of the Jazz @St. Barney’s season at St. Barnabus Lutheran Church’s Art Center. For the most part, the songwriters are some of our favorites of all time (Ellington, Gershwin, Arlen, Monk, Mandel, Mercer, Gillespie, Wilder, Lins, Blossom Dearie), but the tunes are seldom performed by vocalists despite the existence of lyrics. Rhonda and Phil make an artful team, perfectly aligned to present uncommon music.

Guitarist/composer Reynold Philipsek has done it again---he released another CD, which has become an annual (or more often!) event over his 30+ year career. This time he has (mostly) looked back to his own catalog of compositions and reworked and rearranged for new configurations and instrumentation, expanding his own arsenal to include bass, percussion and voice, as well as inserting East Side cohorts Michael Bissonnette (percussion), Matt Senjem (bass) and Clint Hoover (harmonica); there are also some arrangements with violins and horns. The recording (Last Summer) will be celebrated with Senjem and Gary Schulte at the Aster Café, and the $10 cover comes with a shiny new CD.

Trumpeter Zack Lozier is a rapidly rising star in the metro area, tackling jazz from its beginnings (Southside Aces, Jack Brass Band) through the most modern context (Chris Bates Quintet). He also fronts his own quintet which takes the bandstand at the Artist Quarter for a hot Saturday night. His cohorts add to the fire—Brandon Wozniak on sax, Bryan Nichols on piano, Billy Peterson on bass and Kenny Horst on drums.

May 20-21. Often playing electric piano, Chicago native, Grammy winner and NEA Jazz Master Ramsey Lewis attracted a wide following in the 50s and 60s, crossing genres with big hits like “The In Crowd,” “Hang On Sloopy,” and “Wade in the Water.” Moving farther away from acoustic formats, Lewis became a star of 70s R&B fusion and funk, also gaining popularity through his radio broadcasts, particularly Legends of Jazz, which evolved into the 13-segment PBS series of the same name.  The latest edition of the Ramsey Lewis Electric Band lands at the Dakota for two nights, with Lewis on piano and Fender Rhodes, Tim Gant on keyboards, Henry Johnson on guitar, Joshua Ramos on bass, and Charles Heath on drums.

May 21. The weekly show and jam at Jazz Central continues to present some of the best-known sidemen in lesser known leading roles. Tonight drummer Greg Schutte steps out to front a band featuring Brandon Wozniak, Zack Lozier, Tanner Taylor and Chris Bates. Sounds like a new star ensemble is born!

May 22. “What Would Monk Do” if he were still playing and composing in 2012?  A couple years ago, a quartet of Twin Cities standouts asked that question and the result was delightful mayhem. They reconvene about once a year—Steve Kenny, Peter Schimke, Billy Peterson and Kenny Horst. Making it more festive, this is Tuesday night, with the Cory Wong Quartet playing the opening set and West End Tacos available for a ridiculous $2 each. (These are the real deal, and stuffed to the hilt!)

May 23. Sure, you can hear sax legend Dave Karr nearly every month with his quartet at the AQ and at other times with the JazzMN Orchestra, Pete Whitman X-Tet or backing one of our fabulous vocalists. So what’s so special about tonight? Dave Karr. Whenever you get the chance. Come early and hear the hot bop of Steve Kenny and the Bastids.

If you missed their recent CD release party at the AQ, you have another chance to hear the Zacc Harris Group, tonight at the Nomad World Pub as part of the weekly series curated by James Buckley. With Brandon Wozniak, Bryan Nichols and the Brothers Bates, this is surely one of the most exciting bands in town these days, playing mostly Zacc Harris originals and an occasional cover turned inside-out.

May 24. St Paul hosts musicians as diverse as the music. Veteran songstress Connie Evingson swings and sambas at The Lexington as part of the new series in the classic Williamsburg Room. Most likely she will preview some of the Norman Gimbel songs that appear on her upcoming CD.

Downtown at the Artists Quarter, young upstarts Javier Santiago, Chris Smith and Miguel Hurtado give us a hip dose of Big Apple Meets Mini-Apple. All alums of Minneapolis South High and educated in Manhattan, Javi and Chris are working in New York; Miguel is making his way into the heart of the Twin Cities Jazz Scene. Already this trio has performed together for more years than most veteran ensembles. (They hit the Dakota stage tomorrow night in the Late Night slot.)

More Jazz Every Night
Keep up with live jazz happenings with Bebopified’s online calendar, also posted on Jazz Police. Tune into KBEM (88.5) and KFAI (90.3) radio, and see the tiny print in the Friday edition of the Star Tribune. More suggestions:

·         Friday, May 18: Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen; Kristin Sponcia at The Marsh; Erik Fratzke/Nathan Hanson/Brian Roessler/Pete Hennig/Peter Leggett at the Black Dog; Nachito Herrera at the Dakota; Larry McDonough at the Art Preserve (White Bear Lake); Spiral IV, Zeitgeist at Studio Z

·         Saturday, May 19: Jon Pemberton Trio at Loring Pasta Bar; Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen; Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Spiral IV, Zeitgeist at Studio Z

·         Sunday, May 20: Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Café; Spiral IV, Zeigeist at Studio Z (2 pm); Charmin Michelle and the Jerry O’Hagan Orchestra at Cinema Ballroom; Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar; Jon Pemberton at the Red Stag

·         Monday, May 21: Head Space at the Artists Quarter; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Jimmy Wallace at Barbette
·         Tuesday, May 22: Dan Newton’s Café Accordion at Loring Pasta Bar; Joel Shapira and Mark Asche at The Nicollet; Jack Brass Band at Driftwood Char Bar

·         Wednesday, May 23: Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Dan and Reuben Ristrom at School II Bistro

·         Thursday, May 24: Arne Fogel at Hell’s Kitchen; Trio Bossa Nova at the Red Stag

Coming Soon!
·         May 25, Nichola Miller at Hell’s Kitchen
·         May 25, Javier Santiago Trio at the Dakota (Late Night)
·         May 26, Young Lions Project (Adam Meckler Quintet, Miguel Hurtado Group, Max Corcoran Project) at Studio Z
·         May 26, Preservation Hall Jazz Band/New Orleans Jazz Orchestra at Orchestra Hall
·         May 26-27, Eric Alexander at the Artists Quarter
·         May 28, Scott Agster at Jazz Central
·         May 29, Connie Olson at The Nicollet
·         May 29, Vicky Mountain at the Artists Quarter
·         May 31, Pete Whitman’s X-Tet at the Artists Quarter
·         June 1-2, Red Planet at the Artists Quarter
·         June 3, Sophie Millman at the Dakota
·         June 7, Rachelle Ferrell at the Dakota
·         June 10, Connie Evingson, CD Release at The Jungle Theater
·         June 10, Barbara Leshoure, Pippi Ardennia, PipJazz Sundays at Landmark Center
·         June 13, Dean Brewington, Rondo Outreach Library (St Paul), Twin Cities Jazz Festival
·         June 15-16, Paul Bollenback at the Artists Quarter
·         June 16, Jana Nyberg Group at Hayden Heights Library (St Paul), Twin Cities Jazz Festival (2 pm)
·         June 16, Barbary Coast 45th Anniversary at the Black Box, Bloomington Center for the Arts
·         June 18-19, Stanley Clarke and George Duke at the Dakota
·         June 20, St Peter Street Stompers, St Anthony Park Library (St Paul), Twin Cities Jazz Festival
·         June 22, A Love Electric/Adam Meckler Orchestra at the Ritz Theater
·         June 28, Jack Brass Band at St Paul Central Library (11:30 am), Twin Cities Jazz Festival
·         June 28-30, Twin Cities Jazz Festival, Mears Park (headliners Bad Plus with Joshua Redman; Delfeayo Marsalis; Francisco Mela’s Cuban Safari)
·         July 1-2, Bill Frisell at the Dakota
·         July 8, Dean Magraw and Marcus Wise, PipJazz Sundays at Landmark Center
·         July 28, Dakota StreetFest on Nicollet Mall
·         September 4-5, Pat Metheny Unity Band at the Dakota
·         September 26-27, Chick Corea and Gary Burton at the Dakota
·         September 30, John Scofield Trio at the Dakota
·         October 30-31, Maria Schneider Orchestra at the Dakota

Photos: (Top to bottom) Ramsey Lewis; Pat Moriarty (RAHS); Phil Mattson; Reynold Philipsek; Dave Karr; Joel Shapira