Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, June 8-14

Connie's new CD-- Celebration at the Jungle on June 10th!
 © Andrea Canter

I’ll be in California for the coming week, and as is true whenever I travel, I have some misgivings about the music I am missing back home. This weekend in particular is gig-heavy among jazz and other music venues. The advantage of being gone this weekend is I can avoid picking and choosing among competing options—but it is surely a win-win dilemma. And if any one is in northern California this weekend, be sure to check out the Healdsburg Jazz Festival—especially Kenny Burrell at the Raven Theater Saturday night, and the grand finale at Rodney Strong Winery Sunday afternoon-evening, with Vijay Iyer, Sheila Jordan, and Roy Haynes’ Fountain of Youth.

Highlights This Week

Steve Pikal, Rick Carlson and Maud Hixson
June 8. Tonight is the second of two evenings with the amazing Rachelle Ferrell at the Dakota. Two years ago she made her first visit and left many of us in a dizzying state of disbelief – not just regarding that six-octave range (which she uses in full) but also for her emotional range. Hard to describe, you just have to see and hear Rachelle yourself.  Music continues at The Lexington on a somewhat irregular schedule, with a Friday night interlude in the Williamsburg Room with Maud Hixson and her frequent cohorts, Rick Carlson and Steve Pikal. There’s something very old fashioned (in a good way) about the laid-back elegance of the Lex and its supper clubby menu, and Maud’s penchant for intimate songs from the 30s and 40s falls into perfect alignment.

June 9. Once again, the Artists Quarter hosts a newly formed ensemble that prompts the question, “Why haven’t these guys played together before?” This time the special ingredients are saxophonist Brandon Wozniak, bassist Adam Linz, and drummer Eric Kamau Gravatt. Each is frequently on stage at the AQ and other venues, Brandon often with Atlantis Quartet, Bryan Nichols and Zacc Harris; Adam with Fat Kid Wednsdays, Bryan Nichols, and Dave King; and Eric with his Source Code when he is not busy touring with McCoy Tyner. Bless Kenny Horst for pulling this threesome together for an unforgettable night of inventive mayhem.   Across town, the Dakota hosts Ginger Commodore and her quintet (Adi Yeshaya, Kathy Jensen, Mark Weissburg, Bobby Commodore, Darryl Boudreaux). Coming off her run at Chanhassan in Hairspray, Ginger has undoubtedly been storing up some of the swinging blues and gospel-tinted songs that make her an area favorite, with Moore by Four or heading her own band.

Dakota Combo
Looking for some late night madness? The Northern Spark Festival is underway, and if you can figure out what is going on from their website, you are doing better than I am. But one thing I can suggest is a late set from the Dakota Combo outside MacPhail Center for Music, starting at 10:30 pm. With four seniors still celebrating graduation and 3 younger cohorts looking ahead to their “upperclassmen” years, the Combo is in top form and looking at a very busy summer, starting tonight. Under the guidance of Adam Linz, the group will be polishing up their repertoire for a recording session at Wild Sound next week.

June 10. I would dread making a decision today if I were in town. Connie Evingson at least offers two performances to help ease the dilemma. At the Jungle Theater (4:30 and 7:30 shows), Connie celebrates her eagerly anticipated 9th recording, Sweet Happy Life. Apparently the first vocalist to devote an entire album to the song lyrics of Normal Gimbel, Connie previewed some of her tunes last summer under the title Summer Samba. Now the project is completed, sixteen songs from Brazilian composers (Jobim, Bonfa), film composers (Michel Legrand) and more. You may not be familiar with Norman Gimbel, but you are familiar with many of his songs, including jazz standards “Bluesette” and “Canadian Sunset” and Roberta Flack’s pot hit, “Killing Me Softly With His Song.” Connie’s band at the Jungle includes Laura Caviani, Joan Griffith, and Dave Karr. (See CD review!)

PipJazz student guest Joe Suihkonen
The Minnesota Jazz on the Prairie Festival will be held at the Staring Lake Amphitheater in Eden Prairie, a gold mine for fans of area big bands. On the schedule this year will be Good News Big Band; Just Friends Big Band; Acme Jazz Company; Bend in the River Big Band; River City Jazz Orchestra; and the Jazz on the Prairie Big Band. At Landmark Center, enjoy the monthly edition of PipJazz Sundays, as host and talented vocalist Pippi Ardennia welcomes blues singer Barbara Leshoure and student artist, trumpeter Joe Suihkonen. Barbara sang with the best in Chicago but has been seldom heard recently as a Minnesota resident. Joe, hot off his graduation from South High, is heading for Oberlin on scholarship this fall, but not before he gets his fill of summer gigs, starting with PipJazz and including several appearances with the Dakota Combo.

An unusual opportunity to hear an unusual musician: Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, recently in town as part of the Vijay Iyer festival at the Walker, returns to Minnesota for an evening at Macalester College (Weyerhauser Chapel), in collaboaration with Stephen Goldstein (electronics) and Douglas R. Ewart (dulzaina, didjeridoo, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, electronics and percussion).

Roy Hargrove at the Dakota
June 10-11. And speaking of trumpet, more mainstream brass will be the focus when Roy Hargrove and his hard-hitting quintet return to the Dakota, as they do almost annually.  In a direct line of inheritance from Louis Armstrong through Dizzy, Roy plays every gig as if it is his last, or his first. And his long-standing quintet runs like family—Justin Robinson on sax, Sullivan Fortner on piano, Akeem Saleem on bass, and Montez Coleman on drums.

June 11. The long-awaited opening of music at the Ice House in south Minneapolis (2528 Nicollet) is here! Mondays will be curated by JT Bates, which means we can expect regular appearances by Fat Kid Wednesdays and programming we’ve missed since the demise of the Clown Lounge. After a couple preview gigs last week, the series (9:30 pm) launches with the Dave King Trucking Company (King with Brandon Wozniak, Adam Linz, Eric Fratzke). The next few weeks offer Red Planet and Fat Kids. Stay tuned for more music, with James Buckley curating weekends.

June 12. The Nicollet continues its Tuesday nights of jazz under the leadership of vocalists Maryann Sullivan and Rhonda Laurie, who team up for their own evening of great standards and more obscure fare. It’s a nice early evening get-away in a relaxed setting with a wide range of teas, coffees and pizzas… and often a large gathering of swing dancers. And it’s all over in time to head to St. Paul for a reunion of the Tuesday Night Band (Downtown Bill Brown, Billy Franze, Kenny Horst) at the Artists Quarter. It’s like old times for this one night of hard boppin’ B-3 organ and West Side Tacos will be on the menu dirt cheap.

Dean Brewington
June 13. The Twin Cities Jazz Festival officially kicks off on the evening of June 28th with the annual Jazz Night Out round of club gigs in St. Paul. But like last year, there’s a festival prelude, bringing top local artists into St. Paul public libraries, this year in four settings starting today in the Rondo Library with an early evening performance by Dean Brewington’s Old School ensemble. Dean has been a fixture on the local jazz scene for a few decades, a particularly familiar face at the TC Jazz Festival and Freedom Jazz Festival. He’s a monster on alto and soprano sax, and has typically surrounded himself with some much younger talents. Old School suggests he might be bringing together a group of like-minded veterans. This is a freebie, like the rest of the festival.

More Jazz Every Night!
There’s always more. Keep it all straight with the live jazz calendar on Bebopified and cross posted on Jazz Police; also hear calendar announcements on KBEM and KFAI radio. More suggestions:

Friday, June 8.  Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen (Chambers/Meridien Hotel); Lee Engele and Reynold Philipsek at the Wine Market (Mendota Heights); Paula Lammers at JoJo’s Rise and Wine Bar; Sophia Shorai at Hell’s Kitchen

Saturday, June 9. Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen (Chambers/Meridien Hotel); Joel Shapira solo guitar at Ingredients Café
Sunday, June 10. “Copa!” with Russ Peterson’s Big Band and visiting vocalists including Camilla Formica at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center; Zacc Harris Trio, Riverview Wine Bar; Firebell at Barbette

Monday, June 11. Headspace at the Artists Quarter; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza;  Vincent Rose and Steve Hobert at Jazz Central

Jack Brass Band
Tuesday, June 12. Cory Wong Quartet, early show at the Artists Quarter; Cedar Avenue Big Band at Jazz Central; Jack Brass Band at Driftwood Char Bar

Wednesday, June 13. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Wolverines Trio at Hell’s Kitchen;  Steve Kenny and the Bastids followed by the Dave Karr Quartet at the Artists Quarter; Nexus Ensemble at Nomad World Pub

Thursday, June 14. Lee Engele with Reynold Philipsek and Matt Senjem at Becker Performing Arts Center Amphitheater (Crystal); Frankhouse at Hell’s Kitchen; Peterson Family at the Edina Performing Arts Center at Edina High School (benefit for the Edina Historical Society); Dave Brattain Quartet at the Artists Quarter; Kavanessence at Barbette

Coming Soon!
·         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 20, Phil Hey Quartet at the Artists Quarter
·         June 21, X-Tet at the Artists Quarter
·         June 22, A Love Electric/Adam Meckler Orchestra at the Ritz Theater
·         June 22-23, Nachito Herrera at the Dakota
·         June 22-23, Dave King Trucking Company at the Artists Quarter
·         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 13-14, John Raymond Project at the Artists Quarter
·         July 20-21, Pete Whitman & Laura Caviani at the Artists Quarter
·         July 28, Dakota StreetFest on Nicollet Mall
·         July 29, James Carter Organ Trio at the Dakota
·         August 1-2, Tribute to Jimmy Smith with Joey D’Francesco, Larry Coryell & Jimmy Cobb at the Dakota
·         August 3, Pat Mallinger at the Artists Quarter
·         August 9, Tribute to Blossom Dearie with Joann Funk at the Artists Quarter
·         September 4-5, Pat Metheny Unity Band at the Dakota
·         September 18, John Scofield Trio at the Dakota
·         September 26-27, Chick Corea and Gary Burton at the Dakota
·         September 30, Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Society at the State Theater
·         October 30-31, Maria Schneider Orchestra at the Dakota

Photo note: All photos except Connie Evingson CD cover art by Andrea Canter