Friday, April 27, 2012

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, April 27 - May 3




© Andrea Canter

There’s a lot in the air – the scent of lilacs, chirping birds, spring pollen, and a lot of jazz riffs! Around the metro, you can hear some great bop saxophone rising from the Artists Quarter, the songs of Marvin Gaye as interpreted by some of our favorite jazz voices, great post bop, original musings and an open rehearsal from the cosmonauts from the Red Planet; a reunion of the jazz/poetry collusion Soul Café, heartfelt tunes from one of the best of modern-day crooners…. And more. Spring is here. Don’t let it hang you up—go out and hear some live jazz!

Highlights, This Week
In addition to local jazz, you might want to check out live streaming of events for International Jazz Day. The “day” is April 30th but festive concerts from Paris to New Orleans to New York start on the 27th. Visit Jazz Police for information about the events and how you can connect to live streamlining of the headline concerts around the world.

April 27-28. Dave Karr and Brian Grivna have been teaming up in this dueling saxophone quintet for a few years, and it’s a bopfest every time. Between the two, who each cover all the reeds, there’s nearly a century of experience. At the Artists Quarter this weekend, you can count on endless displays of inventive improvising. (Westside tacos add to the festivities on Saturday night.)

April 28. It’s St. Paul Art Crawl weekend, and while you are crawling around the Lowertown galleries, pace yourself to end the afternoon at Studio Z, where the always creative Red Planet will hold an open rehearsal (4 pm) in preparation for their evening performance, part of the Jazz at Studio Z monthly concert series curated by Zacc Harris. From eclectic guitar wizard Dean Magraw to the sublimely creative bassist Chris Bates to the ever-elegant drummer Jay Epstein, Red Planet covers some of the best from Coltrane and Coleman to their own compositions. The rehearsal is free and allows an unusual opportunity to see collaboration in the raw.

For something completely different….. Bruce Henry is back in town and this time he has a brand new show to share at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. The baritone bard turns his attention to the music of Marvin Gaye, and brings along onstage three more winning voices—Yolande Bruce (Moore by Four), Aaron Keith Stewart (Sounds of Blackness), and the always starbright Debbie Duncan. So, “What’s Goin’ On?”  And if a little R&B mixed with your jazz and some great ensemble chemistry sounds appealing for a Saturday night, Patty Peterson and Friends will keep things hot and steamy at the Dakota. 

April 29. It’s been at least 8 years since Soul Café launched its unique blend of jazz and poetry at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, a secular if highly spirited series of performances that typically are theme-based. The core trio of Steve Blons (guitar), alto sax (Brad Holden) and piano (Laura Caviani) performs only a few times per year now, often with vocalist Lucia Newell and a variety of guest instrumentalists. This Sunday night, in the Art Gallery of the church off Loring Park, the theme is “Breaking Free” and the trio expands to four with percussionist Darryl Boudreaux.

April 29-30. Grammy Award-winning, Emmy-nominated vocalist, producer, songwriter, music supervisor, and more, Steve Tyrell hit the big time with “Father of the Bride” and “Father of the Bride II.” While producing hits for artists ranging from Dionne Warwick to Rod Stewart, Steve himself has sold hundreds of thousands of albums and gained a passionate following all over the world for his accessible, joyful takes on jazz and pop classics. His hits, “The Way You Look Tonight,” “A Kiss To Build A Dream On,” and “The Sunny Side of The Street,” have launched thousands of weddings and millions of romances, giving Steve a devoted following on Adult Contemporary Radio. He returns to the Dakota for two intimate evenings, perfect for spring proposals.

April 30 (International Jazz Day!). The U of M’s very fine Jazz Ensemble I locks horns (and more) with the U’s Symphonic Band in a free performance of “Meet in the Middle: Crossover Works for Jazz and Concert Bands” at Ted Mann Concert Hall. Joined by one of the area’s great crossover artists, the Minnesota Orchestra’s trumpeter Charles Lazarus, the student ensembles will premiere new works from Lazarus and director Dean Sorenson, as well as tenorman John DeHaan. Not far away (and starting later so you can really make both gigs), pianist Peter Schimke has a rare night in the spotlight at Jazz Central.

May 1. It’s First Tuesday at the Black Dog, and tonight guitarist Dean Magraw and drummer Davu Seru welcome special guest, saxman Brandon Wozniak. You will be hard pressed to find a more inventive trio. The space is pretty small but the sounds will be mighty big.

May 2. Come early and stay late at the Artists Quartet tonight. Start things off with the weekly bop jam known as Steve Kenny and the Bastids, veteran trumpeter Steve pushing the envelope with young cohorts in the rhythm section and a surprise guest or two on the front line. And hang out for the AQ debut of the Michael Gold Quintet (Three Flights Up) featuring Gold on bass, Don Stille on piano, Nathan Norman on drums, Dave Graf on trombone and Doug Haining on sax.  Can’t beat this double feature for mainstream jazz!

May 3. An unusual band for the intimate space of Jazz Central, the Keith Karns Big Band makes a stop here on its CD release tour. Based in Indiana, trumpeter/bandleader/ composer Karns will introduce the Twin Cities to “compositions and arrangements[that] represent the leading edge of contemporary big band music. He is a fan of Stan Kenton, Jim McNeely and Minnesotan Maria Schneider” (Jerry Swanberg of Big Band Scene). In St  Paul, a double-header at the Artists Quarter kicks off with the young talents of the award-winning Roseville Area High School Jazz Band, followed by the “Good Vibes” of Chris Bates’ new trio.

More Jazz, Every Night
Keep up with local live music with calendars on Bebopfied and Jazz Police. More suggestions:

Friday, April 27: Nichola Miller and Tanner Taylor at Hell’s Kitchen; Kristin Sponcia at The Marsh; Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen; Nachito Herrera at the Dakota; Patty Peterson and Friends at School II Bistro; St. Olaf College Jazz Band I at Buntrock Commons (Northfield); Rhonda Laurie and The Swingset at the Hatrick Lounge; Chris Bates/Vinnie Rose/Adrian Suarez at Shanghai Bistro (Hudson)

Saturday, April 28: Mark Bloom and Kavanescence at Loring Pasta Bar; Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen; Parisota Hot Club at the Black Dog; Arne Fogel at The Lexington; Lee Engele and Reynold Philipsek at the Red Stag; Babatunde Lea guests with the UW River Falls Jazz Ensemble's RADD concert appearance on campus, Abbott Concert Hall.

Sunday, April 29: Milo Fine Assemblage at Homewood Studios; St Olaf College Jazz Band II at Buntrock Commons (Northfield); Zacc Harris Trio at the Riverview Wine Bar

Monday, April 30: Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Headspace at the Artists Quarter; Patty and the Buttons at the Red Stag

Tuesday, May 1: Cory Wong Quartet followed by Zacc Harris/Jason Craft/Kenny Horst at the Artists Quarter ; Jack Brass Band at the Driftwood Charbar; Sophia Shorai with Bryan Nichols, James Buckley and Greg Schutte at the Dakota

Wednesday, May 2: Wolverines Trio at Hell’s Kitchen; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza

Thursday, May 3: Sophia Shorai at Hell’s Kitchen; Robb Henry Trio at Barbette

Coming Soon!
·         May 4, Tortoise and Twin Cities Jazz All-Stars at the Walker Art Center
·         May 4-5, Magraw/Nichols/Peterson/Horst at the Artists Quarter
·         May 6, Poncho Sanchez at the Dakota
·         May 10, Dakota Combo at MacPhail (Antonello Hall)
·         May 10, Phil Mattson Singers at the Artists Quarter
·         May 11, Evan Christopher, free public workshop at MacPhail (4 pm)
·         May 11-12, Zacc Harris Group CD Release at the Artists Quarter
·         May 12, Evan Christopher with Lee Engele & Trad All-Stars at the Hopkins Center for the Arts
·         May 13, Jeanne and Patty Peterson, Mothers’ Day Brunch at the Dakota
·         May 13, Debbie Duncan with PipJazz Sundays at Landmark Center
·         May 13, Nancy Harms at the Dakota
·         May 17, Snowblind at the Artists Quarter
·         May 19, Rhonda Laurie at Jazz@ St Barneys (St Barnabus Center for the Arts)
·         May 19, Reynold Philipsek CD release at the Aster Café
·         May 20-21, Ramsey Lewis Electric Band at the Dakota
·         May 26, Preservation Hall Jazz Band/New Orleans Jazz Orchestra at Orchestra Hall
·         May 26-27, Eric Alexander at the Artists Quarter
·         May 29, Vicky Mountain at the Artists Quarter
·         June 3, Sophie Millman at the Dakota
·         June 18-19, Stanley Clarke and George Duke at the Dakota
·         June 22, A Love Electric/Adam Meckler Orchestra at the Ritz Theater
·         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
·         September 4-5, Pat Metheny Unity Band at the Dakota
·         September 26-27, Chick Corea and Gary Burton at the Dakota
·         October 30-31, Maria Schneider Orchestra at the Dakota

Photos (top to bottom): Red Planet (composite) at the Artists Quarter; Brian Grivna; Bruce Henry; Steve Tyrell; Steve Kenny; Arne Fogel at The Lexington (All photos by Andrea Canter)


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Two Pianists, Two Awards


© Andrea Canter

When you look at Critics Polls for jazz piano, two names that consistently rise to the top these days are Craig Taborn and Vijay Iyer. The two have a lot in common—around the same age; known for their inventive, on-the-spot improvisations in solo and ensemble contexts; leaders of acclaimed groups and recording projects; and favorites among cutting-edge musicians. And among their projects is their own duo, yet to be recorded, but cross your fingers.

In the past week or so, Iyer and Taborn have each received word of a prestigious (and well deserverd) award.

Vijay Iyer, Doris Duke Performing Artist Award


Vijay Iyer is among five jazz artists named as the first group of Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) Artists. Iyer joins Don Byron, Bill Frisell, John Hollenbeck and Nicole Mitchell among a total of 21 performing artists (contemporary dance, jazz, theatre, and multidisciplinary work) in a first class of three to be named annually to receive unrestricted, multi-year grants totaling $225,000 each, along with up to $50,000 for retirement funding and audience development.  Creative Capital, DDCF’s primary partner in the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards, will provide awardees with professional development activities, financial and legal counseling, and grantee gatherings to help maximize the awards.

Over the next decade, DDCF will offer at least 200 artists the greatly expanded freedom to create, through an initiative that makes available the largest allocation of unrestricted cash grants ever given to individuals in contemporary dance, jazz, theatre, and related fields. Provided to honorees through a rigorous, anonymous process of peer review—no applications are accepted—the grants are not tied to any specific project but are presented as investments in the artists’ personal and professional development and future work. “To qualify for consideration by the review panels, all of the Doris Duke Artists must have won grants, prizes or awards on a national level for at least three different projects over the past ten years, with at least one project having received support from a DDCF-funded program. The first class of artists were chosen based on demonstrated evidence of exceptional creativity, ongoing self-challenge and the continuing potential to make significant contributions to their fields in the future.”
Recently named director of the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music and recipient of the $30,000 Greenfield Prize by the Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Greenfield Foundation, Vijay Iyer has accumulated a number of prestigious awards and commissions during his career. He was recently in the spotlight at the Walker Art Center during a mini-festival of his music (“The Sound of Surprise”), presenting, over two nights, compositions and arrangements in various solo, duo and trio contexts.

Craig Taborn, Paul Acket Award

Every year, the North Sea Jazz Festival presents its Paul Acket Award to “an artist deserving wider recognition for their extraordinary musicianship.” Minnesota native Craig Taborn, long a “talent deserving wider recognition,” will receive the Acket Award at the 2012 festival. Some comments from the awards jurors sum it up well:

Ken Pickering (Vancouver International Jazz Festival) explains that “Craig Taborn is unquestionably one of the most important pianists of his generation. In great demand, Taborn improves every band he plays in, whether he's on piano or keyboards. He is a complete musician and a great talent.” Frank van Berkel  (Jazz International Rotterdam) adds,  “With his music, Taborn creates a link from jazz to contemporary music. Naturally, there have been more artists doing this, but Taborn finds a way of shining in adventurous traditionalism together with James Carter, but also in full concert halls and released on the label ECM.” And Jean Jacques Goron, Vice President of the Foundation BNP Paribas which supports the award, notes that “Besides being a piano, organ, and Moog synthesizer player, primarily in jazz, Craig Taborn is also a great composer and talented improviser. His last album, Avenging Angel, released in 2011, is a distinguished contribution to the great solo piano tradition and shows a very personal approach to his instrument. We wish him all the best.”

The Paul Acket Award recognizes artists already known within the jazz scene, but not yet recognized by a wider audience.  In addition to a trophy, the Paul Acket Award winners also receive a cheque of 5000 euro to help further their careers. Past winners include Arve Hendriksen (2011), Christian Scott (2010), Stefano Bollani (2009), Adam Rogers (2008), Gianluca Petrella (2007), Conrad Herwig (2006), and Ben Allison (2005). The award will be presented at this year’s North Sea Jazz Festival on July 7, when Taborn will perform with PRISM, featuring Dave Holland, Kevin Eubanks and Eric Harland.




Friday, April 20, 2012

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, April 20-26




© Andrea Canter

So are you doing something special to mark Jazz Appreciation Month? Of course there is something special going on in the jazz community here most any day of the week. This weekend and following week are no exception. Just try to decide.

Highlights This Week
The weekend boasts quite an array of jazz – a young guitar whiz hosts a CD release party, an acclaimed veteran trumpeter guests with the JazzMN Orchestra, a local sax hero honors the music of Cannonball Adderley, and another young phenom makes her first Dakota appearance as an adult (but don’t offer her a drink yet!).

April 20-21. Cory Wong has already proven himself to be both skillful and versatile, a guitarist who seems as comfortable with Afro Peruvian grooves as with post bop ensembles and more rock-driven fusion. His quartet is a regular fixture on the Tuesday schedule at the Artists Quarter, holding down the early evening slot. With Pena, he explores the music of Peru’s African traditions, particularly centered on the cajon. For his latest release, he has taken two sides of his musical personality in Quartet and Quintet variations, making it a double album and doubly delightful. This weekend’s celebration at the AQ pares down the personnel from the recording to a core quartet of Wong, Dan Musselman, Andy Schuster and Zach Schmidt.

April 21. I first heard trumpeter Terell Stafford some years ago at the Iowa City Jazz Festival, and soon again with Matt Wilson’s Arts and Crafts and his own quintet at the Dakota. Since the mid 00s, he’s been back in town a couple times with each of those bands, including a live recording session at the Dakota released on MaxJazz. Saturday night, he’s the special guest with the JazzMN Orchestra for their season finale at the Hopkins High School Performing Arts Center, and he’s bringing some original charts. As mellow as fine brandy on flugelhorn and an assertive yet highly melodic player on trumpet, Stafford’s latest recording beautifully covers This Side of Strayhorn.

April 22. Early in the day, you can support jazz education at the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education fundraiser brunch at the Dakota Jazz Club and enjoy a cross-generational experience with sax veteran Dave Karr and the high school ensemble, Dakota Combo. (A few tickets can still be purchased at the door at 11:30 am.) Come back in the evening when the benefit’s keynote speaker turns headline performer on the Dakota stage. When she was about 15, alto saxophonist/vocalist Grace Kelly blew us away at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, and later in the evening when she joined legends Frank Morgan and Irv Williams on the club stage. Now she is all of 19 and a recent graduate of Berklee College of Music as well as an alum of seven recordings as leader. Some of finest local talents provide the rhythm section. But this is not the only sax gig in town tonight.

Across the river at the Artists Quarter, Doug Haining pays homage to the great Cannonball Adderley in the season finale of TCJ’s Jazz From J to Z concert series. He’s bringing along some great pals—Tanner Taylor, Keith Boyles and Mac Santiago.

And in between, for the most mellow evening, the Riverview Wine Bar hosts a guitarist for all seasons, Dean Magraw, in a solo performance. I heard Dean go solo a couple months ago at a little library gig in south Minneapolis, and it was as magical as it gets, a showcase of Dean’s many musical personalities, from bop to fusion to global encounters of the best kind.

April 23. You’ve probably heard him on any given Wednesday night at the Artists Quarter, opening the evening early with his Bebop Bastids, a core of young lions and frequent guests. Or maybe you just take for granted that you can “always” hear trumpeter Steve Kenny, cuz he is at the AQ every week. Whatever, Monday night brings an opportunity to hear one of the area’s trumpet kings in a more intimate, more free-wheeling session with veteran saxman Jimmy Wallace at Jazz Central. If nothing else, you’ll realize you need to start more Wednesday evenings at the AQ.

An unusual pairing of film and music across two venues? Remember a couple years ago when Walker hosted Dave King for Two Days? It was a two-night whirl-wind “tour” through the music of Dave King, bringing to town The Bad Plus, Happy Apple, Buffalo Collision, Golden Valley Is Now and the newly formed Dave King Trucking Company. It was all captured on film with interviews and more, to be screened at St Anthony Main tonight (part of the Minneapolis-St Paul Film Festival) and followed by the DKTC at the Aster Café across the street. No cover if you bring your movie stub.

April 24. When the 15-year run of the Tuesday Night Band ended at the Artists Quarter in January, we figured Tuesday nights would just never be the same. For one night, we can relive the funky joy of B-3 Organ Night, with B-3 master “Downtown” Bill Brown, guitarist and chief jokester Billy Franze, and AQ owner/drummer Kenny Horst. Another popular (and ongoing) feature of Tuesday nights, Westside Tacos, makes it a complete reunion. (Save room for cake! At $5 cover, $2/taco and $1/cake chunk, this is the world’s cheapest night on the town… and one of the best.)

April 25. Patty Peterson sings everywhere and often, but it’s not easy to find her fronting a small rhythm section. As one of a flock of Petersons and many talented friends, Patty mostly appears with a hip group of horns and keyboards. So consider this a rare opportunity when Patty joins brother Billy on bass and pal Phil Aaron on keys at Café Maude.

April 26. Take two musicians who individually belong in intimate surroundings, and fly them to the moon for an evening. That’s the gist of  “The Moon Belongs to Everyone,” a night at the Como Park Planetarium with other-worldly music from Maud Hixson and Dean Magraw. This “journey in space and song” will feature popular songs associated in some way with the moon. And there will be plenty of “moonglow” as Maud and Dean turn the planetarium into a very special cabaret.

More Jazz Every Night
Not just during Jazz Appreciation Month, you can hear the best of this music everyday. Check listings for your favorite musicians and venues on the Twin Cities Live Jazz Calendar at Bebopified or Jazz Police. And tune in to KBEM (88.5) and KFAI (90.3) for interviews with this week’s performers (and of course, great radio). Some more recommendations for the week:

·         Friday, April 20:  Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen; Zacc Harris Group at Hell’s Kitchen; Rob Henry Trio at Shanghai Bistro (Stillwater); JazZen at Riverview Wine Bar; LP release for Selenographia (Nathan Hansen, Brian Roessler, Paul Metzger) at the Black Dog.

·         Saturday, April 21: Charmin & Shapira at Midtown Global Market (12:30 pm); Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen; Zach Lozier Super Band at Harriet Brewing (Sol Bock Revival); Judi Donaghy at Jazz@ St Barney’s; Lee Engele and Reynold Philipsek at Pardon My French; Joel Shapira Trio at Loring Pasta Bar; Cabaret Night at Jazz Central

·         Sunday, April 22: Patty and the Buttons at the Aster Café; Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar; Charmin Michelle and Jerry O’Hagan Orchestra at Cinema Ballroom; Milo Fine Assemblage at Homewood Studios; JT Bates at Barbette

·         Monday, April 23: Headspace at the Artists Quarter; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza

·         Tuesday, April 24: Cory Wong Quartet, early show at the Artists Quarter; John Penny and Rey Rivera at The Nicollet; Arne Fogel at Hell’s Kitchen; Patrick Harrison and Kip Jones at Café Maude; Jack Brass at the Driftwood Charbar

·         Wednesday, April 25: Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Steve Kenny & the Bebop Bastids followed by the Galactic Soul Arkestra at the Artists Quarter; Jim Anton/Tommy Barbarella/Eric Gravatt at the Nomad World Pub

·         Thursday, April 26: Pete Whitman’s X-Tet at the Artists Quarter; Arne Fogel at The Lexington

Coming Soon
·         April 27-28, Dave Karr & Brian Grivna at the Artists Quarter
. April 27-28, Parisota Hot Club at the Black Dog
·         April 28, Bruce Henry “Tribute to Marvin Gaye” at the Hopkins Center for the Arts
·         April 29, Soul Café at Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church, Art Gallery
·         April 29-30, Steve Tyrell at the Dakota
·         May 4, Tortoise and Twin Cities Jazz All-Stars at the Walker Art Center
·         May 4-5, Magraw/Nichols/Peterson/Horst at the Artists Quarter
·         May 8-9, Poncho Sanchez at the Dakota
·         May 10, Dakota Combo at MacPhail (Antonello Hall)
·         May 11, Evan Christopher, free public workshop at MacPhail (4 pm)
·         May 11-12, Zacc Harris Group CD Release at the Artists Quarter
·         May 12, Evan Christopher with Lee Engele & Trad All-Stars at the Hopkins Center for the Arts
·         May 13, Jeanne and Patty Peterson, Mothers’ Day Brunch at the Dakota
·         May 13, Debbie Duncan with PipJazz Sundays at Landmark Center
·         May 13, Nancy Harms at the Dakota
·         May 20-21, Ramsey Lewis Trio at the Dakota
·         May 25-27, Eric Alexander at the Artists Quarter
·         May 26, Preservation Hall Jazz Band at Orchestra Hall
·         June 3, Sophie Millman at the Dakota
·         June 18-19, Stanley Clarke and George Duke at the Dakota
·         June 22, A Love Electric/Adam Meckler Orchestra at the Ritz Theater
·         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
·         September 4-5, Pat Metheny Unity Band at the Dakota
·         September 26-27, Chick Corea and Gary Burton at the Dakota
·         October 30-31, Maria Schneider Orchestra at the Dakota

Photos (top to bottom): Terell Stafford; Cory Wong and Andy Schuster; Dean Magraw; the Tuesday Night Band; Maud Hixson (all photos by Andrea Canter)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

In Appreciation of Jazz Educators




 © Andrea Canter

 [This article is posted as part of the Jazz Journalists Association Blogathon honoring Jazz Appreciation Month.]

All of April is celebrated as Jazz Appreciation Month, which this year also includes a Jazz Day (April 13) and an International Jazz Day (April 30th). I’m not sure if within the month there is a day particularly set aside to honor jazz educators, but there should be. So I will declare my own “JazzINK Jazz Educator Appreciation Day.” A day is hardly enough. How could we sustain a month-long celebration without those individuals dedicated to passing on the tradition and stimulating the future of the music? How could we sustain the music at all?

I am not using a narrow definition of “jazz educator” here. Indeed, there’s a growing corps of individuals who have degrees not only in jazz performance but in pedagogy as well, who serve on college and conservatory faculties or in the trenches of public and private schools as jazz band directors, who teach privately or through community programs. But there are the many jazz musicians out there who “pass it on” on the bandstand, offering experience and wisdom “on the job.” The jazz academies of the streets were of course the primary centers of jazz education for much of the last century. Some of those academies, run by the likes of Joe Oliver, Art Blakey and Dizzy Gillespie, granted “degrees” to the most acclaimed performers in jazz history.  And that in vivo schooling continues today, with such deans as Roy Haynes and Charles Lloyd.

Within the past few days I have had the opportunity to observe a wide swath of the jazz education available to middle and high school students in our local community…and somewhat beyond. On Saturday, jazz band students from three St. Paul schools gathered for their second annual “St Paul Schools Jazz Festival,” held at Ramsey Junior High under the leadership of Ramsey’s jazz director, Diane Sollenberger. For a few hours, about 60 middle and senior high students attended two rounds of clinics with six of the area’s finest performing clinicians. First round, each school jazz band played for, and was critiqued by, a pair of clinicians, spending the majority of time trying out some new ideas to refine their sound, their interactions. The school band directors served both as co-teachers and learners.

Second round, students across schools participated in one of six clinics for like-instruments: saxophones (led by Amber Woodhouse), trumpets (Adam Meckler), trombones (Dave Graf), pianos (Laura Caviani), drums (Peter Leggett) and strings (Chris Bates). Each clinician had his or her own approach, own message to deliver through interactions and demonstration, ranging from learning tunes via listening and singing back; using different scales to create different moods; mastering different chord patterns; strategies for note selection, etc. These clinics were more hands-on with no more than a dozen students in each section.  The final hour of the day was a mini-concert for family and friends as each school band came back together to perform two tunes. The clinicians, each of whom has career as a performer, came together as well to form a swinging sextet—they had played one tune to kick off the festival and then another to close it out. It was hard to tell who was more enthused by day’s end, the students or their teachers… or their families. There was a lot of learning and a lot of fun, always a formula for success. And mixing middle and senior high students similarly seemed to be a boon to all.

A day later, MacPhail Center for Music held its first-ever “Combo Festival,” an invitational gathering for high school-based small ensembles. The area boasts a lot of opportunities for big bands, particularly large festival events each winter in Roseville, Duluth, LaCrosse and Eau Claire, and to some extent these events also provide opportunities for smaller combos. But MacPhail wanted to host an event specifically focused on combos, which tend to get lost in the shuffle of limited band schedules and resources. In the end, some scheduling conflicts yielded a smaller pool of combos, but for the three ensembles who participated, the afternoon sessions provided some unique learning opportunities, again bringing well known performers into the “classrooms.” Each combo played a couple tunes for alternating pairs of adjudicators, drawn from the MacPhail Jazz Faculty (event coordinator Adam Linz, Chris Thomson, Greg Keel, Bryan Nichols, Phil Hey, JT Bates) and special guest artist, saxophonist Adam Niewood. Following their combo’s performance, students received immediate feedback and suggestions from the clinicians, along with demonstrations and opportunities to try out new ideas. While one combo attended the critique session, students in the other combos attended a series of clinics addressing technique, repertoire, interaction, practice and more.

Perhaps the most intriguing moments of jazz instruction came, appropriately enough, during the MacPhail Music Matters Luncheon yesterday, an annual event drawing nearly 1000 current and potential donors. In addition to performances by various MacPhail student ensembles (from jazz to gospel to Suzuki) and presentations about the school’s activities to bring music into the daily lives of thousands, one segment of the program addressed MacPhail’s new distance learning program.  As we finished our lunch, saxophone instructor Greg Keel (visible via large screens at each corner of the ballroom) listened to and consulted with the jazz band at Kerkoven High School in central Minnesota – some hundred or more miles away, connected via Skype and internet. This year, Keel has been their guest clinician, collaborating with Kerkoven’s band teacher to develop a strong jazz ensemble. Yesterday, the topic was listening to phrases and singing them back to help internalize the melodic and rhythmic patterns. And everyone in Convention Center Ballroom A got to hear the results…. And the students got to hear the applause.

From Minneapolis to Kerkoven, jazz artists are passing it on in real time. On Sunday (April 22nd), at the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education fundraiser at the Dakota Jazz Club, one of these devoted musicians will be honored as the Jane Matteson Outstanding Jazz Educator. We’ll salute Keith Liuzzi, long-time jazz band director at Southwest High School. Tickets for the event, which will include performances by veteran sax man Dave Karr and the student ensemble, the Dakota Combo,  as well as some inspiring words from young pro saxophonist Grace Kelly, are still available (www.dfje.org).  The benefit will raise funds to support the Dakota Combo, summer jazz festival Youth Stages, scholarships to jazz camps, and a variety of projects that bring jazz artists into area schools…. to pass it on.
 
So happy JazzINK Jazz Educator Day. Month. All year. To everyone who keeps the music alive by nurturing the next generation. On the bandstand, in the classroom,  at a fund raiser. Or via Skype.

Clinicians for the St Paul Jazz Festival and MacPhail Combo Festival were supported in part through the Jazz Artists in the Schools project of the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education via a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) which is funded, in part, by the Minnesota Legacy and Heritage Fund.

 Photos (top to bottom): Dave Graf worked with the Ramsey Junior High trombone section  during St Paul Schools Jazz Festival; Peter Leggett directed a percussion clinic at Ramsey; the jazz combo from Eden Prairie High School performed for a judges panel at the MacPhail Combo Festival;  Adam Niewood and Adam Linz talked about ensemble interaction at MacPhail; Keith Liuzzi tried out the cajon at Southwest High School. (All photos by Andrea Canter)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Happy Jazz Day!




© Andrea Canter

You would never know it by reading this morning’s Star Tribune, but there are a lot of great ways to celebrate Jazz Day (April 13), and Jazz Appreciation Month (April), in the Twin Cities. While the Strib only mentioned one jazz item in its weekly Big Gigs column (Kari Musil’s unveiling of new compositions with the Nova Jazz Orchestra at Sundin Hall, April 14), you need only look at the online Twin Cities Live Jazz Calendar or the Jazz Police website (or today’s Lead Sheet, right here on the blog) to find whatever floats your jazz boat.

Among your choices, just for Jazz Day!
·         Internationally acclaimed pianist Bill Carrothers at the Artists Quarter (Friday and Saturday). Omitting this infrequent appearance by one of the most critically praised artists of modern jazz (and a Twin Cities native, at that) merely reinforces the criticism jazz fans hurl at the Strib every week.  $12 cover at 9 pm.

·         Pianist Bryan Nichols and guitarist Dean Magraw at the Black Dog. No one does a better job of bringing cutting edge jazz and experimental music to appreciative audiences than Nathan Hanson and Brian Roessler, who curate the biweekly Community Pool/Deep End series at the Black Dog. 8 pm. With no cover (please feed the tip jar!) this may be the nation’s best jazz bargain.

·         Vocalists Rhonda Laurie and Bobbi Miller reprising their “Naughty Songs for Nice Girls” revue at Bryant Lake Bowl Theater (Friday).  Jazz, standards, pop, burlesque, two fine voices will give you a lot of laughs and second thoughts. $10, 10 pm.

·         Pianist/bandleader George Maurer returns to the Dakota tonight with his infectious little big band, vocalists, and swinging good fun. 8 pm, $10. Go early and hear 92-year-old local sax titan Irv Williams with Peter Schimke and Billy Peterson reminding you that bebop still thrives, during Happy Hour.

·         Dynamic duo Joann Funk (piano and voice) and Jeff Brueske (bass) in their weekly (Friday and Saturday) serenade in the Lobby Bar of the St Paul Hotel. You can’t get much classier with no cover, and Joann will enliven your early evening with classics from Blosssom Dearie and Gershwin, and her own twists on more contemporary fare. 

·         Sublime swing, bop and more from the elegant Benny Weinbeck Trio in the lower level dining space of D’Amico’s Kitchen, inside Le Meridien/Chambers Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. Pianist Benny and his usual cohorts, Gordy Johnson on bass and Phil Hey on drums, keep a steady beat every Friday and Saturday night. No cover, 7:30-11:30 pm.

·         Becoming one of the most popular duos in town, vocalist Lee Engele and guitarist Reynold Philipsek chill out at the Wine Market in Mendota Heights. Songs from the Great American Songbook and others that should be, Lee’s engaging vocals and Reynold’s finger-popping guitar entertain in this inviting suburban hang. 5:30-7:30 pm, no cover.

·         A bit to the east, the Graydon Peterson Quartet at Shanghai Bistro in Hudson, WI. Long a coveted sideman, bassist Graydon assembled this band about six months ago and offers a welcome creative alternative to the pop and standards most often on restaurant and bar schedules. With Adam Meckler on trumpet, Vinnie Rose on guitar, and Adrian Suarez on drums. 6:30-9:30 pm, no cover.

And if you decide to just stay home and celebrate jazz in your own sweet way, take some time to read the “jazz day” blogs, celebrating local communities, on the Jazz Journalists Association “Blogathon” site!


Photos (top to bottom): Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar of the St Paul Hotel; Bryan Nichols; Graydon Peterson (all photos by Andrea Canter)


The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, April 13-19



© Andrea Canter

It’s Friday the 13th! But it’s really a lucky day. While all of April has been designated Jazz Appreciation Month, April 13th is particularly singled out as Jazz Day in the U.S. (Stay tuned to April 30th as International Jazz Day, thanks to UNESCO!)  While I like to think every day is Jazz Day, maybe we can all do something extra special for the music today. And there’s no shortage of jazz to enjoy, today or this weekend or throughout the coming week. So dust off your horn and blow a riff; come out to hear music at a favorite or a new venue; tell a friend about some very cool jazz in the neighborhood; check out all the jazz blogs posted today and throughout the month, courtesy of the Jazz Journalists Association first “blogathon.” And give the musicians who keep the music alive some… and some more.

Highlights This Week
April 13 (Jazz Day!) Some months ago I heard pianist Bryan Nichols and guitarist Dean Magraw play a duo gig at Café Maude. Now they’re sharing the similarly intimate space at the Black Dog, but probably for a more serious audience where the focus is really on the music. On their respective instruments and beyond, you won’t find two more creative improvisers. Hats off to curators Nathan Hanson and Brian Roessler for continuing to bring such interesting collaborations to their Community Pool – Deep End series at this Lowertown diamond-in-the-rough.

Last Friday night I enjoyed a “girls night out” at the opening of “Naughty Songs for Nice Girls,” a delightful revue assembled and performed by local singers Rhonda Laurie and Bobbi Miller with perfect backing from guitarist Robert Bell and bassist Josh Granowski. Bryant Lake Bowl can be a challenging venue—walking through the din of the diner and the vibrations of the bowling alley to reach the theater door, but once inside, it seems like a great fit for a bit of burlesque with your cappuccino or draft. The songs are either just a bit naughty or a big bit suggestive. Depends on your own degree of naughtiness, I think. The voices are well suited for a bit of flirtation. This second and final show is a great end to the week at 10 pm.

April 13-14. It’s always a holiday when Bill Carrothers comes “home” to the Artists Quarter. When he’s not on tour in Europe he is most likely at home in the wilds of Michigan’s U.P. or maybe at Chicago’s Green Mill, so we need to get out and enjoy every note when we can. After two sensational recordings last year –the solo Excelsior and the trio Live at the Village Vanguard, Bill is set to release another solo set, this time mostly composed in the studio, and as personal a project as anything he has ever done. Dubbed Family Life, the recording (out next week) brings us along on Bill’s own journeys and his musings about his family and rural surroundings, giving us some of his most elegant music yet. The Artists Quarter gig is a trio with Billy Peterson and Kenny Horst, but maybe we can catch some of the new solo pieces as well?

April 14. French bass innovator Francois Rabbath—who can not be pigeon-holed as a jazz, classical or world music artist but merely all of the above—has been in town for a couple days, hosting master classes and clinics at McNally Smith and MacPhail. Tonight he performs solo in Antonello Hall (MacPhail Center for Music). I expect this to be one of those rare evenings that defies description before or after the fact. If you like the acoustic bass, this will be an adventure unlike any other. He wraps up the weekend Sunday with another master class and reception at McNally Smith.

Strings of another sort are on display at Jazz Central when Parker Paisley, a modern jazz quartet led by guitarist Park Evans, holds its CD release Party. With ample support from Brandon Wozniak, Adam Wozniak and Pete Hennig, Evans’ new recording features all original compositions and covers a diversity of moods; this is a sophisticated ensemble that we don’t hear often enough in good listening environments.

April 15. Better get your taxes done early in the day.  Action on both sides of the river tonight! At Landmark Center, PipJazz Sundays continues with boss vocalist Pippi Ardennia mixing it up with trumpeter Solomon Parham and student guest trumpeter Alex Grothe. Parham is somewhat under the radar but hopefully not for long. PipJazz, now a foundation to promote jazz opportunities for youth, is seeking sponsors in order to give away tickets for 12-18 year-olds. Let’s hope they fill up the auditorium! Also tonight, New York-based saxophonist (and mouthpiece renovator) Adam Niewood comes back to join old friend Adam Linz as guest artist in MacPhail’s latest Spotlight Series concert, tonight featuring the Dakota Combo student ensemble in a set with Niewood, followed by the MacPhail Jazz Faculty ensemble, also featuring Niewood. Early in the day, both Adams will be on hand for the MacPhail Combo Festival.

April 16 & 18. Accordionist Denny Malmberg is in New Orleans and Charmin Michelle had no trouble finding a “sub” at Fireside Pizza—she tapped frequent partner Joel Shapira, so we have two nights of pizza, pasta and Charmin & Shapira. Voice and guitar, as good as it gets. So is the flat crust. (The pair turn up on Thursday at Hell’s Kitchen.)

April 19. Great voices tonight that we don’t hear enough with good sound systems. At the Dakota, it’s the Jana Nyberg Group, headed by music educator/jazz/pop/blues singer Jana and a songbook that runs the gamut from Peggy Lee to Bonnie Raitt. In St. Paul, Tommy Bruce holds attention at The Lexington as the twice weekly jazz nights continue. Tommy came into his vocal talents relatively late, but as a result he has plenty of life experience to back up his rich tenor. And if you just feel like sitting back and watching a good move, REEL Jazz closes out its season at the Trylon Microcinema with footage of Louis Armstrong and more, courtesy of our local jazz film czar, Bob DeFlores. (Details on the KBEM website.)

More Jazz in Town!
The Jazz Journalists Association is pushing the theme of “community” for Jazz Appreciation Month, meaning get out and support jazz close to home. And in the Twin Cities, it’s easy to find, every night. Just check Pamela’s Live Jazz calendar or view it on Jazz Police.

·         Friday, April 13: Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen (Le Meridien/Chambers Hotel); Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); John Cage Festival at Studio Z (through Sunday); Irv Williams Trio, Happy Hour, followed by the George Maurer Group at the Dakota; Lee Engele and Reynold Philipsek at the Wine Market (Mendota Heights)

·         Saturday, April 14: Lee Engele and Reynold Philipsek, midday at Midtown Global Market; Music of Kari Musil at Sundin Hall (Hamline, 2 pm); Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen (Le Meridien/Chambers Hotel); Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Sue Oatts (Tucker) at The Lexington; “Sinatra Nice and Easy” with Jason Richards and the Rick Carlson Trio at the Capri; “The Crosby-Clooney Story” with Arne Fogel and Maud Hixson at the Richard Hardy Performing Arts Center (Cambridge, MN); Le Jazz Cool All-Stars at Vincent’s

·         Sunday, April 15: Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Café; “Sinatra Nice and Easy” with Jason Richards and the Rick Carlson Trio at the Capri; Zacc Harris Trio at the Riverview Wine Bar

·         Monday, April 16: Headspace at the Artists Quarter; Firebell at Jazz Central

·         Tuesday, April 17: Cory Wong Quartet followed by Framework at the Artists Quarter; Rhonda Laurie and Maryann Sullivan at The Nicollet; Jack Brass Band at the Driftwood CharBar; Milo Fine/Joe Smith/Davu Seru at the Black Dog (Note big band series at the Shorewood canceled til further notice)

·         Wednesday, April 18: Steve Kenny and the Bebop Bastids, followed by the Galactic Soul Arkestra at the Artists Quarter; Wolverines Trio at Hell’s Kitchen; Jim Anton/Donny Lemarca/Eric Gravatt at the Nomad World Pub

·         Thursday, April 19: Charmin & Shapira at Hell’s Kitchen; Lee Engele and Reynold Philipsek at Nonna Rosa’s;  Secret Architecture at the Artists Quarter





Coming Soon
·         April 20, Dafnis Prieto at McNally Smith College (noon)
·         April 20-21, Cory Wong, CD Release at the Artists Quarter
·         April 21, JazzMN Orchestra with Terell Stafford at the Hopkins High School Performing Arts Center
·         April 21, Judi Donaghy, Jazz@ St Barney’s
·         April 22, Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education Fundraiser Brunch (with Dave Karr) at the Dakota
·         April 22, Grace Kelly at the Dakota
·         April 22, Doug Haining Quintet, Tribute to Cannonball Adderley (TCJS Jazz From J to Z) at the Artists Quarter
·         April 26, Maud Hixson and Dean Magraw at Como Planetarium
·         April 28, Bruce Henry “Tribute to Marvin Gaye” at the Hopkins Center for the Arts
·         April 29, Soul Café at Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church, Art Gallery
·         April 29-30, Steve Tyrell at the Dakota
·         May 4, Tortoise and Twin Cities Jazz All-Stars at the Walker Art Center
·         May 4-5, Magraw/Nichols/Peterson/Horst at the Artists Quarter
·         May 8-9, Poncho Sanchez at the Dakota
·         May 10, Dakota Combo at MacPhail (Antonello Hall)
·         May 11, Evan Christopher, free public workshop at MacPhail (4 pm)
·         May 11-12, Zacc Harris Group CD Release at the Artists Quarter
·         May 12, Evan Christopher with Lee Engele at the Hopkins Center for the Arts
·         May 13, Debbie Duncan with PipJazz Sundays at Landmark Center
·         May 13, Nancy Harms at the Dakota
·         May 20-21, Ramsey Lewis Trio at the Dakota
·         May 25-27, Eric Alexander at the Artists Quarter
·         May 26, Preservation Hall Jazz Band at Orchestra Hall
·         June 3, Sophie Millman at the Dakota
·         June 18-19, Stanley Clarke and George Duke at the Dakota
·         June 22, A Love Electric/Adam Meckler Orchestra at the Ritz Theater
·         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
·         September 4-5, Pat Metheny Unity Band at the Dakota
·         September 26-27, Chick Corea and Gary Burton at the Dakota
·         October 30-31, Maria Schneider Orchestra at the Dakota

Photos (top to bottom)Bill Carrothers; Dean Magraw; Park Evans; Solomon Parham; Tommy Bruce; Maud Hixson & Arne Fogel; Charmin & Shapira (all photos by Andrea Canter)