Friday, June 29, 2012

The Lead Sheet: Festival Weekend, June 29-30


Mears Park, Home of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival
 © Andrea Canter

Yes, there is some jazz this weekend not connected directly to the Twin Cities Jazz Festival. But the jazz festival is the epicenter of music in the area and I’m offering some suggestions quickly as I head out the door for Francisco Mela’s drum clinic at McNally Smith. (This is reposted from Jazz Police!) Full festival coverage and schedule available online.

June 29,  Free Clinics at McNally (19 E. Exchange Street)
Clinics with our headliners are provided through the sponsorship of McNally Smith with additional support from the Twin Cities Jazz Society. No registration, just come and learn! Note Jon Weber clinic originally scheduled for Friday will be held at 11 am on Saturday, June 30.

·         2:30-3:30 pm, Drum Clinic with Francisco Mela
·         4-5 pm, Clinic with Delfeayo Marsalis and Mark Gross

June 29, Mears Park Main Stage (E. 5th Street and Sibley)
Charmin Michelle and Doug Haining
4 pm, Twin Cities Seven with Charmin Michelle. One of the most popular jazz acts in the area, the Twin Cities Seven is a swinging ensemble led by multi-reedman Doug Haining, with an all-star line-up including Rick Carlson, Steve Pikal, Dick Bortolussi, Kent Saunders, Dave Graf, and Steve Wright, along with star vocalist Charmin Michelle. In the traditions of the great swing bands of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday, the TC 7 might get you up on your feet dancing in the park! What a start to a great weekend of music!

Francisco Mela
6 pm, Francisco Mela Cuban Safari. Cuban native Mela has become a go-to drummer for many of today’s top artists, including Joe Lovano (Us Five), John Scofield, Joanne Brackeen, Kenny Barron and McCoy Tyner. Mela moved to Boston in 2000, earning his degree at Berklee and immediately taking a teaching position there. Soon he was part of the two-drum artillery of Lovano’s Us Five. Mela’s current project, Cuban Safari, draws upon two of his strongest influences, Weather Report and Irakere—jazz fusion meets Latin jazz? Cuban Safari released its debut album last year, Tree of Life, featuring vocals from Esperanza Spalding. Mela was most recently in the Twin Cities with Us Five, at the 2010 festival and last year at the Dakota and  Hopkins Center for the Arts.

Delfeayo Marsalis
8:30 pm, Delfeayo Marsalis Sextet. A middle brother of the Marsalis Clan, Delfeayo largely stayed in the background through the first part of the new century, playing sideman to the late Elvin Jones and others, and concentrating on an impressive career as a Grammy-nominated record producer. Growing up in New Orleans, Delfeayo initially tried the drums before settling on trombone at age 13. After attending high school at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Marsalis went on to the Berklee College of Music to study performance and production. He received additional classical training through the Eastern Music Festival and Tanglewood Institute; and he earned an MA degree in jazz performance from the University of Louisville. Marsalis’ early touring experiences included stints with Ray Charles, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Max Roach, and Abdullah Ibrahim, as well as Elvin Jones' Jazz Machine, and he has produced over 100 recordings, but only in the past ten years has he stepped out front as a bandleader. In 2011, with father Ellis and brothers Wynton and Branford, Delfeayo received the honor of Jazz Master from the National Endowment for the Arts. His current touring sextet includes acclaimed saxophonist Victor Goines.

June 29, Sixth Street Stage (236 E. 6th Street)
5 pm, The Atlantis Quartet. One of the most creative and daring bands in the Twin Cities, the musicians of Atlantis—Zacc Harris, Brandon Wozniak, Chris Bates and Pete Hennig—are consummate composers and improvisers. Named Best Jazz Artist for 2011 by City Pages, the quartet has released three exciting recordings to date. The compositions range in style from multi-meter grooves to complex harmonic explorations; from fusionistic rhythms to free and timeless tone poems, all filled with world class improvisation that is both organic and volatile” (More Cowbell).

7:15 pm, Robert Everest Expedition. Locally acclaimed, globally appreciated guitarist/singer/songwriter Robert Everest knows no boundaries when it comes to music. His Robert Everest Expedition covers folk traditions and rhythms from Latin America to the Mediterraean, with a dose or two of great American jazz standards, a logical melding of the musical forces that are the soul of Robert Everest. Largely a self-taught musician, he has studied jazz guitar in Minneapolis, classical guitar in Portugal, flamenco in Spain, Tango in Argentina, and other styles during his journeys to Central and South America and the Caribbean; as a singer, he spent four years with the University of Minnesota Jazz Singers. He also earned a degree in linguistics from the University of Minnesota and became fluent in several Romance languages through his travels,  adds another dimension to his music.

June 29, Artists Quarter (408 St Peter Street)
Maud Hixson
9 pm, Maud Hixson with Jon Weber. It’s a Weber doubleheader, starting out with songbird Maud Hixson. The pair performed together in the past year in New York, and tonight they will reprise some of that material as well as some favorite songs. Maud is at her best in an intimate club setting with just piano, a format she fully and frequently exploits with husband/pianist Rick Carlson. Like Rick, Jon is a deep swinger in any key, at any tempo.  After an afternoon and early evening in the hot sun of Mears Park, this is the perfect way to unwind and chill out.

10 pm, Jon Weber.  The “house pianist” of the jazz festival year after year, the AQ welcomes back Jon Weber for a set of amazing solo feats, encyclopedic and entertaining trivia, and audience requests—what tune, what key, what style? The host of NPR’s new Piano Jazz: Rising Stars is the ultimate jazz entertainer. He returns tomorrow night—he never runs out of music or commentary.

June 29, Studio Z (275 E. 4th Street, 2nd floor)
7:30 pm, Todd Clouser’s A Love Electric. Minnesota native guitarist now based in Baja, Todd Clouser set the jazz world on its ear with his new ensemble, A Love Electric, bringing a 70s rock vibe to a post bop context. He’s been touring a lot lately in support of the band’s new albums,  20th Century Folk Music and Entre, and featuring local cohorts Bryan Nichols, Adam Meckler, Chris Bates and Greg Schutte.

9 pm, George Cartwright. One of the leading purveyors of improvised music, Mississippi native saxman George Cartwright has performed with Ornette Coleman, Carei Thomas, Adam Linz and more. He’s received composer grants from McKnight and the Jerome Foundation and is a past winner of City Pages’ Jazz Artist of the Year. His ensemble Gloryland Ponycat remains one of the most acclaimed of area experimental ensembles.


June 30, Free Clinics at McNally Smith (19 E. Exchange Street)
·         11 am, Jon Weber
·         2 pm, Araya Orta Latin Jazz Quartet
·         4:30 pm, The Bad Plus and Joshua Redman

June 30, Mears Park Main Stage (E. 5th Street and Sibley)
Noon, Walker West Music Academy. It’s become tradition for the young jazz artists of Walker West to perform the opening set on the final festival day at Mears. Chances are you already heard a number of Walker West alums during the festival! WWMA has been providing individual and ensemble instruction, workshops, and performance opportunities for youth as well as adults for generations. Always a high-energy kickoff to the festival finale.

Debbie Duncan
2 pm, Debbie Duncan. Vocalist and “Minnesota’s Perpetually Outstanding Performer” (Mn Music Awards) can turn any set into a special occasion, with her amazing range from ballads to blues and her always-entertaining banter. You never want to miss Debbie.

4 pm, Araya Orta Latin Jazz Quartet. One of the rising stars of Latin jazz, Araya Orta has worked with such stars as Michael Brecker, Eddie Gomez, Danilo Perez, Chick Corea, Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo Sandoval and Gloria Estafan. Two pairs of brothers form the quartet—bassist Nicky and pianist Mike Orta, and drummer Carlomongo and percussionist Ramses Araya. Based in Miami, they first met 20 years ago, officially forming the quartet in 2010. This is truly “feel good” music.

6 pm, Luca Ciarla. Italian violinist Luca Ciarla is hard to define but easy to hear—melding traditional and modern sounds, written composition and improvisation. His credentials extend from classical and folk to jazz and rock, with appearances worldwide at festivals and concert venues. Sure to be one of the most exciting and unusual artists to appear at this festival!

Joshua Redman
8:30 pm, The Bad Plus With Joshua Redman. Artistic riches of this magnitude should be illegal! Take one of the most acclaimed ensembles in modern jazz and add in one of the most acclaimed soloists/bandleaders in modern jazz and you have a quartet offering endless opportunities for merry mayhem. The Bad Plus are no strangers to the Twin Cities, playing here at least annually (holiday gig at the Dakota) and sporting two Twin Cities natives in drummer Dave King and bassist Reid Anderson; pianist Ethan Iverson grew up down the road in Menonomie. Together now for 12 years, their unique spins on pop and rock covers and insanely interesting original compositions makes them one of the most popular and accessible bands on the current international scene. Until now, however, TBP has managed without a horn. Enter tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman, whose career skyrocketed from his first release in the early 90s through his tenure as the first Artistic Director of SF Jazz and his current work with the highly regarded quartet, James Farm. Plan to arrive early at Mears Park for this blockbuster final set, or you might be listening from the other side of the river.

June 30, Sixth Street Stage (236 E. 6th Street)
1 pm. Lucia Newell (note schedule change). From Rio to Minneapolis, Lucia Newell brings a global appreciation of song and lyric, sometimes writing those lyrics herself, in English or in Portuguese. In addition to her affinity for Brazilian rhythms, Lucia has presented the music of Betty Carter, Anita O’Day and more. Today’s set includes original tunes and standards. And she has terrific band for the festival, including Dean Magraw, Dave Karr, Gordy Johnson and Phil Hey.

3 pm, Phil Hey Quartet. After Phil warms up with Lucia, he brings his own stellar quartet to the stage, reprising the music that has made him a monthly favorite at the Artists Quarter. With Phil Aaron, Tom Lewis and Dave Hagedorn, it might seem like the Modern Jazz Quartet has been revived, but the music bends more toward Coltrane and Ornette.

Marquis Hill
5 pm, Marquis Hill. Appearing at the 2011 festival with the Miguel Hurtado Sextet, we were all blown away by this young Chicago trumpeter. Now he’s back leading his own ensemble and we can expect another dose of exhilarating horn play. Only 24, Hill has already worked with such greats as Bobby Broom, Willie Pickens, Antonia Hart and Steve Turre.

7:15 pm, Koplant No. If you’ve gone down to the Iowa City Jazz Festival in recent years, you may have heard this quartet led by saxophonist Joel VanderHeyden. Or perhaps you caught their gig last year at the Artists Quarter. The musicians—VanderHeyden (saxophones), Brian Lewis Smith (trumpet, keyboards, laptop), Drew Morton (bass, keyboards) and Rob Baner (drums, loops, samples)—play original compositions, starting from a jazz foundation and adding elements of rock and electronica, reflecting influences from Michael Brecker to Radiohead and Beck. While VanderHeyden and company draw on many ploys that propel the current generation of ‘jazz meets rock’ musicians, from loops to laptops, their inventive artistry offers a compelling palette of colors and harmonies that stand out well above the crowd.

Dakota Combo
Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education Youth Stage (Prince Street at Broadway)
Again the DFJE is sponsoring a Youth Stage, near the Farmers Market on Prince Street, adjacent to the Black Dog Café. Six amazing ensembles of high school and college level musicians will convince you that the future of jazz is secure!

·         1 pm, Southwest High School Jazz Combo directed by Keith Liuzzi
·         2 pm, Roseville Area High School Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Pat Moriarty
·         3 pm, Dakota Combo Alumni Band, led by Jake Baldwin
·         4:30 pm, Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth (MITY) Jazz Band, directed by Scott Carter
·         5:30 pm, Stillwater Area High School Jazz Combo, directed by Dennis Lindsay
·         6:30 pm, Dakota Combo directed by Adam Linz

June 30: More Jazz Around St Paul
As you will see on the full schedule of activities, the last night of the festival is an exploding supernova of jazz from the small space of the Black Dog Café to the basement club of the Artists Quarter and even extending to the classy digs of The Lexington. This is must a mere sampling:

·         Artists Quarter, 9 pm, Jon Weber
·         Amsterdam, 5 pm, Peter Schimke; 6:30 pm, Patty Peterson; 8 pm, Witness Matlou; 9:30 pm, Jazz Central All-Stars & jam
·         Black Dog Café, 7:30 pm, Doug Little Quartet; 9 pm, Lee Engele; 10:30 pm, Joel Shapira
·         Hat Trick Lounge, 9 pm, Cory Wong
·         Heartland, 6 pm, Gypsy Mania
·         The Lexington, 7:30 pm, Rachel Holder and Zacc Harris
·         St Paul Hotel (Lobby Bar), 7 pm, Joanne Funk Trio
·         Minnesota Music Café, 8 pm,
·         McNally Smith faculty and more
·         Senor Wong, 7 pm, Larry McDonough and Richard Terrell
·         Studio Z, 7:30 pm, Zeitgeist with Nirmala Rajesekar; 9 pm, Pat Moriarty & Ellen Lease Quintet

Enjoy the last day and night of the festival – see festival website for complete details.

All photos by Andrea Canter.