Friday, October 5, 2012

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, October 5-11



Babatunde Lea, at the Artists Quarter October 5-6


© Andrea Canter

Turn on the furnace, here comes fall weather. Or just go out an hear some live jazz this week, that’s another sure way to keep warm. This weekend is the first in a series of drum-led ensembles scheduled at the Artists Quarter in October, as well as the first concert of the JazzMN Orchestra season.

Big Gigs This Week

Debbie Duncan
October 5.  What could be better than hearing either Debbie Duncan or Ginger Commodore at the Dakota? Hearing Debbie and Ginger together at the Dakota! Tonight’s the night as two of our most entertaining and talented vocalists get together with veteran musicians Lee Blaske, Jay Young and Bobby Commodore for a few hours of ballads, blues, standards and a lot of fun.


October 5-6. Throughout October weekends, the Artists Quarter is presenting ensembles headed by drummers. And given owner Kenny Horst is a drummer, perhaps it is surprising this concept has not been scheduled before. First up, recent transplant from the Bay Area, renowned percussionist and educator Babatunde Lea, who brings together a stunning quartet, with pianist Richard Johnson, bassist Chris Bates, and guitarist Zacc Harris. Lea has been heard around town, often with Harris, at Café Maude among other venues, and put in a guest appearance last spring with Poncho Sanchez at the Dakota. He’s worked with Oscar Brown, Jr., Leon Thomas and Pharoah Sanders among others. (Check the AQ schedule for upcoming weekend shows with Ari Hoenig, Dave King and Eric Kamau Gravatt.)


October 6. One of the most accomplished large jazz ensembles is right here in the Twin Cities. The JazzMN Orchestra starts its 14th season with special guests, trumpeter Wayne Bergeron and vocalist Connie Evingson, heading up a program devoted to the music of Hollywood. All JazzMN concerts take place in the very pleasant Hopkins High School Performing Arts Center. Bergeron is a veteran of big bands, film and television soundtracks, and an acclaimed arranger and educator to boot.


Steve Hobert
October 8. I first saw young lion Steve Hobert with the oddball but very talented Lulu’s Playground a few weeks ago. In that ensemble, Hobert plays a wicked accordion, but he is also gaining a reputation around town for his keyboard chops. Possibly both will be on display at Jazz Central.


October 10. Two savvy guitar trios on either side of town tonight: In Minneapolis at Café Maude, Joel Shapira leads two more veterans, bassist Bruce Heine and drummer Eric Kamau Gravatt. We most often hear Shapira in solo or duo contexts (often with vocalist Charmin Michelle), so it’s always a treat to hear his post-bop interactions with fellow explorers. (Note Joel brings a quartet to Hell’s Kitchen the next night.) In St Paul, the long-standing partnership of Red Planet (Dean Magraw, Chris Bates and Jay Epstein) returns to the Artists Quarter, scene of many inter-planetary voyages for these explorers of Coltrane, Coleman and their own inventions. 


Zacc Harris
October 11. A rare Thursday night double-header at the Artists Quarter kicksoff with a free, early set from the Illicit Sextet, followed in prime time by the Zacc Harris Quartet. In sum, that’s ten of the area’s brightest performers on a single $5 bill. One of the top jazz ensembles of the 90s, the Illicit Sextet has finally returned to the studio after more than a decade of silence, after reuniting a couple years ago. Their gigging is still infrequent but they have two early shows at the AQ this month. One of the newer ensembles in the area, the Zacc Harris Quartet released its first recording earlier this year (The Garden) and show no signs of letting up!


Tonight is also the first concert of the season for the U of M Jazz Ensemble I. Celebrating “New Works for Big Band,” Dean Sorenson leads his young crew through a number of compositions written by current and former bandmembers, some of whom are already familiar for their extracurricular activities around town—undergrads pianist Joe Strachan, trumpeter Noah Ophoven-Baldwin, and saxophonist Cameron Kinghorn, and newly minted Masters Degree trumpeter Adam Meckler. This is a free concert at Ted Mann.


More Jazz, All Week

Jazz is really not hard to find in the Twin Cities—there’s something cooking every night. Check the KBEM and Jazz Police live calendars online; listen to KBEM and KFAI radio; check the Friday edition of the Strib. And be sure you are on the email list for your favorite performers and clubs. More suggestions:

·         Friday, October 5.  Zacc Harris Trio at Hell’s Kitchen; Soul Rumination at the Black Dog; Zeitgeist New Music Harvest at Studio Z; Chris Thomson’s Art Trio at Café Maude/Loring Park; Firebell at the Aster Café

·         Saturday, October 6. Sidewalk Café at Midtown Global Market (12:30 pm); Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Lucia Newell with Laura Caviani and Jeff Bailey at Parma; Arne Fogel at The Lexington; Sam Miltich Quartet with Charmin Michelle at the Edge Center for the Arts (Big Fork, MN); Michael Johnson with Maud Hixson, CD Release at the Hopkins Center for the Arts; Zeitgeist New Music Harvest at Studio Z; Chenoweth/Rochon/Pemberton at the Icehouse

·         Sunday, October 7. Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Café; Chenoweth/Rochon/Pemberton at the Icehouse (11 am); Zacc Harris Trio at the Riverview Wine Bar; Jerry O’Hagan Orchestra with Charmin Michelle at ERV Dance Studios (Hopkins)

·         Monday, October 8. Headspace at the Artists Quarter; Southside Aces at the Dakota; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse

·         Tuesday, October 9. Cory Wong Quartet followed by the Kristin Sponcia Quartet at the Artists Quarter; Cedar Avenue Big Band at Jazz Central

·         Wednesday, October 10. Steve Kenny and the Bastids at the Artists Quarter (7 pm); Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; James Buckley Trio at the Red Stage; Minnesota Jazz Orchestra at Wabasha Street Caves

·         Thursday, October 11. Todd Clouser at the Aster Café;  Rhonda Laurie at Barbette; St Peter Street Stompers at the Red Stag; Joel Shapira Quartet at Hell’s Kitchen

Coming Soon!

·         October 12-13, Ari Hoenig Trio with Bill Carrothers at the Artists Quarter

·         October 13, Connie Evingson, Jazz @St. Barney’s (St. Barnabas Arts Center, Plymouth)

·         October 13, Atlantis Quartet, Jazz at Studio Z

·         October 14, Steve Faison, PipJazz Sundays at Landmark Center

·         October 14-15, Cassandra Wilson at the Dakota

·         October 17, Bela Fleck and Marcus Roberts at the Dakota

·         October 18, Todd Clouser Quartet at the Artists Quarter

·         October 19, Reynold Philipsek CD Release at the 318 Café

·         October 19, Patty Peterson and Bobby Lyle, Double CD Release at the Dakota

·         October 19-20, Dave King Trio CD Release at the Artists Quarter

·         October 23, Kurt Elling at the Dakota

·         October 26-27, Eric Kamau Gravatt and Source Code at the Artists Quarter

·         October 30-31, Maria Schneider Orchestra at the Dakota

·         November 4, Spiral Visions (Milne, Hagedorn, Aaron, Lewis, Hey) at Landmark Center (TCJS Jazz From J to Z)

·         November 5, Charlie Hunter at the Dakota

·         November 11, PipJazz Sundays Youth Showcase at Landmark Center

·         November 12-13, Bettye LaVette at the Dakota

·         November 26-27, Karrin Allyson at the Dakota

·         December 7-8, Manhattan Transfer at the Dakota

·         December 12-13, John Pizzarelli at the Dakota

·         December 14-15, Reid Anderson, Jeff Ballard, SPCO, Liquid Music at SPCO Music Room

·         December 27-29, Bad Plus at the Dakota

Dave King brings a new trio and new CD to the Artists Quarter, October 19-20