Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, July 6-12

Jack Brass Band in front of the St Paul Central Library
 © Andrea Canter

I’m still recovering (happily) from the Twin Cities Jazz Festival. Fortunately there is no reason for sudden withdrawl symptoms as there is still plenty of great music around the metro every night. Holiday vacations mean a few venues (notably the Artists Quarter) are dark for a few days, but that just makes it a bit easier to decide where to go next.

Highlights This Week
Friday, July 6.  If you want a swinging start to the weekend, look no farther than vocalist Nichola Miller, giving early diners a kick in the ears at Hell’s Kitchen, most likely in the company of frequent partner Tanner Taylor. In the southeast metro, Vocalist Rhonda Laurie, just off a festival gig at the Black Dog, returns to the Wine Market (Mendota Heights) with ace guitarist Joel Shapira for an intimate evening of uncommon and beloved standards. You can count on Rhonda to introduce you to something you either never heard before or remind you of a great tune you rarely hear now. 

Brad Bellows
Speaking of the Black Dog, two special guests with boundless imaginations lead a quartet as part of the Community Pool/Deep End music series—valve trombone master Brad Bellows and bari/tenor sax wizard Donald Washington with a stellar rhythm team of Brian Roessler (bass) and Pete Hennig (drums).

Friday-Saturday, July 6-7. There’s just a few more weekends to enjoy the sublime Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen before the music takes its summer hiatus. With usual cohorts Gordy Johnson and Phil Hey (aka, Stacy Kent’s North American rhythm team), pianist Benny offers a relaxing end to the week with jazz classics and less familiar tunes that highlight all three musicians’ artful talents. Also sublime if in a different way, Bryan Nichols and James Buckley offer exquisite duets for the dinner crowds at the new Ice House in South Minneapolis.

Debbie Duncan
Saturday, July 7. Music continues, usually twice per week, at The Lexington, and tonight it’s Debbie Duncan, bringing some blues, some sass, and some classic standards to the very respectable environs of  The Lex’s Williamsburg Room.

Irv Williams
Sunday, July 8. Wasn't Irv Williams’ retirement party just a couple months ago? Sure enough, even at the time, Irv promised a "comeback," but it seems he never left. The 92-year-old tenor sax legend is still blowing sweet and fine, bringing his Quartet to the Dakota for a “Foodie Night” (no cover). He’s usually heard with Peter Schimke on keys and most likely Billy Peterson on bass. A bit earlier, it’s the July installment of PipJazz Sundays at Landmark Center’s Weyerhauser Auditorium. This month, star vocalist Pippi Ardennia (selected as one of the Minnesota’s Ten Most Loved Musicians by Minnesota Monthly) welcomes the amazing musical team of guitarist Dean Magraw and tabla player Marcus Wise, along with student guest artist, pianist and Hill Murray High School student John Blanda. We’ve already seen Dean go head to head with Pippi on the Mears Park Stage during last week’s Jazz Nigh Out, and it’s a dazzling pairing.

Monday, July 9. Guitarist Dave Singley plays a lot –with the JazzMN Orchestra and often in the company of area vocalists. But we seldom get to enjoy Dave in a small ensemble as leader. One of the charms of Jazz Central is their frequent presentation of such artists—great talents seldom in the spotlight. Catch Dave in such a setting tonight.

Monday/Tuesday, July 9-10. Bassist with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Victor Wooten has amassed five Grammy awards as well as most other major awards on his instrument, including three Bassist of the Year honors from Bass Player Magazine --the only person to have won the award more than once. Beyond his solo and ensemble exploits, Wooten is a dedicated educator offering clinics, camps, and instructional DVDs, and recently published his first novel, The Music Lesson. He brings his band into the Dakota for two exciting nights. For more traditional fun, the Old Log Theater presents the Barbary Coast Dixieland Band. There’s seven musicians covering what seems like 20 instruments, half of them clarinet, and no matter what they play, it comes out fun and fabulous.

Adam Meckler (Jazz Brass, Lulu's Playground)
Tuesday, July 10. There’s nothing more fun that a brass band blowing and singing on a warm summer day on an urban plaza. Jack Brass Band performed at the final library concert for a noon-time audience a few hours before Jazz Night Out kicked off the festival last week. And no matter where they play, JBB brings the hip sounds of New Orleans second line bands tweaked for the 21st century and featuring some of the hottest young talents in town. They take the stage every Tuesday night in south Minneapolis at the Driftwood CharBar. Across town, a very different ensemble performs at the Artists Quarter. With a unique configuration—trumpet (Adam Meckler), cello (Cory Grossman), accordion (Steve Hobert), and guitar (Evan Montgomery)—Lulu’s Playground traces its origins to Lawrence University’s Music Conservatory. Eclectic in many ways, the band has worked in jazz, salsa, orchestra, improvisation and hallway jam contexts, continuing their own brand of mayhem in the Twin Cities, and tonight at the AQ.

Wednesday, July 11. Pianist/vocalist/educator Kristin Sponcia makes a rare club appearance with her quartet tonight at the AQ. Often heard playing dinner sets solo at The Nicollet Island Inn, Kristin puts her own spin on familiar and not so familiar material. Her usual cohorts include McNally Smith colleagues Chris Olson (guitar) and Dave Stanoch (drums), along with McNally student Greg Byers (bass).

Arne Fogel
Thursday, July 12. Arne Fogel, who curates the jazz series at The Lex, gives himself  a night, setting off a hat trick of jazz (Charmin Michelle will perform both nights of the weekend). His usual backing comes from Wolverines partners Rick Carlson and Steve Pikal. There aren’t many sophisticated crooners in the Twin Cities, and Arne is the poster boy of the genre.

More Music Every Night
For the past couple years, Pamela Espeland has been keeping us all informed through her online local jazz calendar. Unfortunately she will be discontinuing this resource as of August 1, but fear not, the Jazz Police have vowed to take on the task. Stay tuned! Meanwhile, for a few weeks you can still find updated gig listings on the Bebopified site as well as announcements via KBEM and KFAI radio, Jazz Police (Twin Cities page) and the weekend Strib.  Some further recommendations:

·         Friday, July 6: Todd Harper, early set at the Black Dog.
·         Saturday, July 7: Charmin & Shapira, early afternoon sets at Midtown Global Market; Lee Engele at Club Saratoga (Duluth); Martha Alkins and David Martin at Butter Bakery; Vicky Mountain and James Allen at First Course Bistro
·         Sunday, July 8: Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Café; Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar; Charmin Michelle with the Jerry O’Hagan Orchestra at Cineam Ballroom
·         Monday, July 9: Headspace at the Artists Quarter; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Jazz on the Prairie Big Band at the Lake Harriet Bandshell; Milo Fine Free Jazz Ensemble at Homewood Studios; Lee Engele and Reynold Philipsek at the Red Stag; Paul Metzger/Adam Linz/JT Bates at the Icehouse
·         Tuesday, July 10: Cory Wong Quartet, early set at the Artists Quarter; Cedar Avenue Big Band at Jazz Central
·         Wednesday, July 11. Lee Engele and Reynold Philipsek, noon at Landmark Center; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Liminal Phase at Café Maude; Wolverines Trio at Hell’s Kitchen; Steve Kenny and the Bastids, early show at the Artists Quarter; Illicit Sextet at the Nomad World Pub
Dave Karr
·         Thursday, July 12. Dave Karr Quartet at the Artists Quarter; Lee Engele and Reynold Philipsek at Nonna Rosa’s

Coming Soon
·         July 13-14, John Raymond Project at the Artists Quarter
·         July 13-14, Charmin Michelle at The Lexington
·         July 15, Tribute to Elliot Fine at the Artists Quarter
·         July 16, Geoff Senn at Jazz Central
·         July 18, Jana Nyberg Group at the Dakota
·         July 19, Dan Cavanagh and Dave Hagedorn at the Artists Quarter
·         July 20, Matt Turner at the Black Dog
·         July 20-21, Pete Whitman & Laura Caviani at the Artists Quarter
·         July 21, Nancy Harms and Jeremy Siskind at Jazz Central
·         July 23, Minnesota Jazz All-Stars at the Old Log Theater (led by Cliff Brunzell, Jeanne Arland Peterson)
·         July 23, Michael Nelson at Jazz Central
·         July 26, Pete Whitman X-Tet at the Artists Quarter
·         July 27-28, Jay Young & the Lyric Factory at the Artists Quarter
·         July 29, James Carter Organ Trio at the Dakota
·         July 30, Brandon Wozniak at Jazz Central
·         July 31, Adam Meckler Orchestra at Jazz Central
·         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 9, Dakota Combo Auditions at MacPhail Center for Music
·         September 14-15, Chris Bates Quintet CD Release at the Artists Quarter
·         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

All photos by Andrea Canter