© Andrea Canter
Memorial Day Weekend in Minnesota typically is cool and rainy. And while the weather can interfere with holiday activities, neither rain nor wind, neither heat nor chill can put a damper on the hot and steamy jazz coming our way! This weekend, you can hear “Young Lions” at Studio Z and the Dakota; veteran standouts at the Lexington, Dakota, Artists Quarter and Orchestra Hall; the opening rounds of of summer music in the parks and more; and look ahead to some of our favorite performers during the week ahead.
Highlights, This Week
May 25: The KBEM riverboat cruise (with Trio Bossa Nova) is sold out, but there’s a lot more around town tonight. Sassy swinging vocalist Nichola Miller and monster pianist Tanner Taylor hold the stage at Hell’s Kitchen, while the “Dean” of jazz guitar, Dean Granros, makes an all-too-rare appearance at the Artists Quarter, with Billy Peterson and Kenny Horst. Short on experience but long on talent and energy, the Javier Santiago Trio, with pianist Javi’s former teen cohorts Chris Smith and Miguel Hurtado, turn musical somersaults on the Dakota stage in the Late Night slot. We first heard these guys in the teen band, The Eggz, and now they are working musicians, Javi and Chris in New York where they graduated from the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, Miguel in the Twin Cities after completing studies at the Manhattan School of Music. They were in the groove last night at the AQ!
May 25-26. Recently announced as winner of the American Heritage Award from the American Immigration Council, Cuban dynamo pianist Nachito Herrera keeps things afire at the Dakota, be it some traditional son, rhumba or cha-cha, Ellington, or even Rachmaninoff.
May 26. Zacc Harris closes his Jazz at Studio Z season by presenting a Young Lion’s Showcase with three outstanding ensembles. First up, the Miguel Hurtado Group, featuring old South High pals Javi Santiago and Chris Smith (fresh off their AQ and Dakota gigs), along with guitarist Zacc and saxophonist Nelson Devereaux. It’s the best blend of young talents from New York and the Twin Cities. MHG will be followed by the Adam Meckler Quintet. Trumpet star Adam has already proven to be a creative bandleader, leading both large ensemble (the Adam Meckler Orchestra, on Jazz Central’s Big Band Tuesday schedule on 5/29) and quintet, which includes another list of “young lions”—Harris, Brandon Wozniak, Graydon Peterson and Zach Schmidt. The evening closes with the Max Corcoran Project, featuring saxman Max, bassist Andrew Foreman, and again, drummer Zach Schmidt. All in all, there’s eleven of a new generation of jazz stars on the Z stage tonight! That’s not even $1 per artist for your $10 cover.
The Preservation Hall Jazz Band has been a hit with Twin Cities audiences over the past few years, appearing at Orchestra Hall and the Dakota. Tonight they join forces with Irvin Mayfield and his New Orleans Jazz Orchestra to launch the renovation of Peavy Plaza and the Orchestra Hall lobby, which will shut down the facility for a year. Naturally there will be a Second Line March out of the concert hall following an evening of red hot New Orleans brass.
May 26-27. It’s become a tradition to bring Eric Alexander to the Artists Quarter for Memorial Day Weekend. The Midwest native now based in New York, Alexander is considered one of the leading voices on tenor sax in modern jazz, a prolific recording artist and composer, and leader of his acclaimed quartet and One for All. Last visit, Eric literally ran into a dog with open jaws, seriously lacerating a finger before his night at the AQ. Despite the bandage, he played with joyous abandon. Even that dog would have been mesmerized. We should be able to enjoy Eric with ten good digits this weekend! Two sets each night, be sure to check the AQ website for set times.
May 28. The Lake Harriet Bandshell opens its summer music season in style with Maud Hixson and Rick Carlson. Bring a picnic or come over after the barbecue, and just relax as Maud sings songs that you thought you knew well, and some that you maybe have not yet heard at all. And when she steps back for the piano solo, husband Rick conjures the likes of Art Tatum, Fats Waller, and Basie himself. If it looks like rain, bring an umbrella! Maud will have you “singing in the rain.”
Remember, the Dakota, Artists Quarter, and many other venues are closed for the holiday!
May 29. Two amazing, long-popular songbirds grace stages on either end of the Cities tonight. Connie Olson has been brightening bands since her teens, from rock and pop to jazz, and most recently in tribute to Doris Day. She has not been doing that many public gigs lately so this night at The Nicollet is extra special. She’s fronting a group known as Toyz in the Attic, including keyboardist Fred Flowerday, bass guitarist Jonathan Thomas, saxophonist Andrew Schwandt, and percussionist C Harris. Their repertoire includes sambas, originals, and melodic jazz rhythms.
You can catch Connie in Minneapolis and still make it to the Artists Quarter in time to hear all or most of the Vicky Mountain Quartet. Vicky is also a long-time presence on the Twin Cities music scene, doing rock, pop and R&B back in the 70s before moving more firmly into jazz. Head of Voice at MacPhail, Vicky infuses her music with bits of Ella and Sarah and whole lot of Vicky.
May 31. It’s always a special night at the Artists Quarter when the Pete Whitman X-Tet is on stage. Not quite a combo, not quite a big band, Pete makes it the best of both worlds, including a A-List of Twin Cities musicians playing original and inventive arrangements of jazz covers.
More Music Every Night
I hear, too often, “How do you know what’s going on?” If you are reading this blog, you are internet-savvy enough to check the listings on Bebopified and Jazz Police! Or tune into KBEM radio (88.5 FM). Some more suggestions:
· Friday, May 25: Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen; Patty Peterson and Friends at Bunkers
· Saturday, May 26: Ticket to Brasil at Loring Pasta Bar; Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen; Maud Hixson with Tanner Taylor and Keith Boyles at The Lexington; Blue Camel (Viv Corringham, Tim O’Keefe, Pat O’Keefe) at the Black Dog; Southside Aces at the Dakota (Late Night)
· Sunday, May 27: Patty and the Buttons at the Aster Café; Mouldy Figs at Shamrocks; Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar; Charmin Michelle and Jerry O’Hagan Orchestra at Cinema Ballroom; Paul Renz Quintet at Brit's Pub; Cellar (James Buckley, Bryan Nichols, Joey Van Phillips) at Barbette
· Monday, May 28: Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Scott Agster at Jazz Central (AQ, Dakota closed for holiday)
· Tuesday, May 29: Cory Wong Quartet, early show at the Artists Quarter; Jack Brass Band at the Driftwood Char Bar
· Wednesday, May 30: Steve Kenny and the Bastids followed by the Galactic Soul Arkestra at the Artists Quarter; Wolverines Trio at Hell’s Kitchen; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Dan and Reuben Ristrom at Schoolhouse II Bistro
· Thursday, May 31: Gypsy Mania at Hell’s Kitchen; Arne Fogel at The Lexington; Mark Bloom with Sim Glaser and Darryl Boudreaux at the 318 Cafe; Josh Granowski and Patrick Harrison at Barbette
· June 1-2, Red Planet at the Artists Quarter
· June 2, Bruce Henry at the Dakota
· June 3, Sophie Millman at the Dakota
· June 4, Russ Peterson Big Band at the Old Log Theater
· June 5, Dean Magraw and Davu Seru with guest Brandon Wozniak at the Black Dog
· June 5, Bill Simensen Big Band at Jazz Central
· 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 10, Jazz on the Prairie Festival at Staring Lake Park Amphitheater
· June 10, Wadda Leo Smith with Douglas Ewart at Weyerhauser Memorial Chapel, Macalester College
· June 10-11, Roy Hargrove Quintet at the Dakota
· June 12, Cedar Avenue Big Band at Jazz Central
· June 12, Maryann Sullivan and Rhonda Laurie at The Nicollet
· June 13, Dean Brewington, Rondo Outreach Library (St Paul), Twin Cities Jazz Festival
· June 14, Peterson Family at Edina Performing Arts Center, Edina High School
· 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, Laura Caviani at Jazz Central
· 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 5, Dean Magraw & Marcus Wise, PipJazz Sundays at Landmark Center
· July 9-10, Victor Wooten at the Dakota
· July 28, Dakota StreetFest on Nicollet Mall
· August 1-2, Tribute to Jimmy Smith with Joey D’Francesco, Larry Coryell & Jimmy Cobb at the Dakota
· 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): Eric Alexander, wounded but undaunted at the AQ in 2011; Javi Santiago, Chris Smith and Miguel Hurtado (composite); Adam Meckler; Irvin Mayfield with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the Dakota; Maud Hixson and Rick Carlson; Vicky Mountain; Bill Frisell. (All photos by Andrea Canter)