Friday, December 28, 2012

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, December 28 - January 3



Jeanne Arland Peterson - retiring Saturday night

© Andrea Canter



As we celebrate a new year, it’s time to reflect on the many blessings of music from 2012 – and there were many. I even managed a blog (see December 26th) about what I consider the key signs that jazz is alive and well in the Twin Cities. Some of those signs, and more, are visible and audible over the coming week, with holiday visits from The Bad Plus and Pat Mallinger to keep things warm over the weekend, a list of diverse opportunities for New Year’s Eve, and some bright starts to 2013.



Big Gigs This Week

Friday, December 28.  Merciless Ghost with saxophonist George Cartwright, bassist Josh Granowski and percussionist Davu Seru returns to intrigue the ears at the Black Dog. A great way to put your music brain on full alert for the coming week!



The Bad Plus
Friday-Saturday, December 28-29. Serious homecoming gigs on both sides of the river this weekend. The Bad Plus finish their annual holiday run with two more nights at the Dakota. With continuing accolades for their new release, Made Possible, the Fab 3 reinforce their skills as composers as well as reinventors of modern pop and rock classics.



Pat Mallinger
At the Artists Quarter, Chicago-based saxman Pat Mallinger joins frequent collaborator, pianist Bill Carrothers, with whom he recorded his latest CD, Home on Richmond, celebrated a year ago at the AQ. They’re joined by Chris Bates and Kenny Horst for two hard swinging evenings of original music and arrangements. And for Pat and Chris, this is the weekend warmup to New Year’s Eve, when they join Carole Martin and Friends for the AQ’s annual bash.



The Icehouse continues to offer some of the best small ensemble jazz options in town, in a setting that has broad appeal, particularly bringing in a younger audience – which is a great way to ensure a growing audience for modern music. Weekend “dinner sets” usually find a piano duo on stage, and this weekend, pianist Bryan Nichols plays with bassist James Buckely (Friday) and saxophonist Brandon Wozniak (Saturday) – and there’s three reasons to make the Icehouse part of your “between” holiday weekend stops.



The Second Generation of Petersons
Saturday, December 29. This will be a landmark in the history of Twin Cities jazz: The Peterson Family New Year Celebration at the Hopkins Center for the Arts will also serve as the official retirement party for matriarch Jeanne Arland Peterson.  Although it seems that playing the piano with her family automatically deducts a few decades each time out, Jeanne at 92 is ready to spend less time performing and more time with a growing fourth generation of Petersons. This concert also includes a holiday celebration with buffet following the concert. It’s a special farewell to a very special contributor to the vitality of music in Minnesota.



The annual holiday treat for big band fans, Jazz @St. Barney’s Big Band Christmas double header brings in two of the area’s most popular ensembles, the Bend in the River Big Band and the Jazz on the Prairie Big Band. It’s casual, fun, and a great bargain. 

Connie Evingson
Jazz took a bit of a holiday at The Lexington but tonight, Connie Evingson makes jazz a holiday of its own. The setting couldn’t be more old school—in the best sense of the term, as Connie sings in one of the elegant dining rooms of this St Paul landmark. But Connie is hardly “old school,” putting zing into standards and her personal stamp on songs from Peggy Lee to the Beatles, from gypsy swing to Frishberg sting.



Brian Roesslear
Sunday, December 30. Do you really want to go out the night before New Year’s Eve? Why not, when the Black Dog hosts its third annual “Open Season” party with a promise to close down by 8 pm? Starting at 5, you can hear music from some of Black Dog’s regular performers – Todd Harper, Nathan Hanson, Brian Roessler, Cory Grossman and Pete Hennig. The promise for the evening: “festive, exhuberant, early, sane.” Normally those are contradictory terms.



Dawn Horst and Carole Martin
Monday, December 31. It’s New Year’s Eve. This deserves a separate heading. There’s a wide range of jazz offerings to help ring in the New Year, from the annual Artists Quarter fete with Carole Martin and Friends to a sublime evening at The Lex with Arne Fogel or at Nonna Rosa’s with Lee Engele, to a jazz-rockin’ party with Fat Kid Wednesdays at the Icehouse. Or dance the night away at the Shakopee Ballroom with Tim Patrick and his Blue-Eyed Band or Vic Volare’s Lounge Orchestra at Jax Café. Red Stag patrons can enjoy the Jon Pemberton Trio.



Dan Cavanagh
Thursday, January 3. 2013 starts in style on both sides of the metro. Charmin (Michele) and (Joel) Shapira and Friends host the first Foodie Night of the year at the Dakota, with usual cohorts Paul Harper on sax and Nathan Norman on drums, with Bruce Heine joining in on bass. At the Artists Quarter, it’s the Cavanagh/Hagedorn reunion as Dave’s former student, pianist/composer Dan is back for a visit. Their piano/vibes recording Horizon was one of my local favorites of the past few years.




More Jazz

Note that many of your favorite venues will be closed on New Year’s Day. And many have not published 2013 calendars yet. Be sure to check live jazz calendars on Jazz Police and KBEM sites. A few more gigs of note:



Friday, December 28. Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen; Mark Bloom and Andy Morantz at the 318 Café; Dolce Vita Jazz at Café Maude (Loring Park)



Saturday, December 29. Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen



Charmin Michelle
Sunday, December 30. Patty and the Buttons at the Aster Café (brunch); Zacc Harris Trio at the Riverview Wine Bar; Charmin Michelle and the Jerry O’Hagan Orchestra at Cinema Ballroom; New Standards at the Dakota



Wednesday, January 2. Steve Kenny and the Bastids followed by the Cory Wong Quartet; Café Accordion at Loring Pasta Bar; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Dolce Vita Jazz at Café Maude (Penn Av); Dan Musselman Trio at the Red Stag



Thursday, January 3. Dean Harrington and Mill City Hot Club at the Aster Café; Josh Granowski and Patrick Harison at Barbette; Sue Oattes and Tanner Taylor at Jazz Central



Coming Soon

. January 4, Koplant No at the Icehouse (11 pm)

. January 4-5, Spiral Visions at the Artists Quarter

. January 5, Kelly Rossum/Jeremy Walker Quartet at the Dakota (Late Night)

. January 7-8, Nellie McKay at the Dakota (second show just added)

. January 10, Omer Avital’s Band of the East at the Jewish Community Center (St Paul)

. January 11-12, Lulu’s Playground CD Release at the Artists Quarter

· January 12, Vicky Mountain and Friends, “Voice of Van Heusen” at the Black Box Theater, Bloomington

. January 15, Latin Jazz All-Stars (Steve Turre, Pete Escovedeo) at the Dakota

. January 18, Dorothy Doring/ Phil Mattson CD Release at the Artists Quarter

. January 19, Snowblind at the Artists Quarter

. January 20, Sing the Truth (Dianne Reeves, Angelique Kidjo, Lizz Wright) at the Mpls Convention Center

. January 20, Tony Bennett at the State Theater

. January 22, Jose Feliciano at the Dakota

. January 25, Kenny Horst’s Birthday Bash at the Artists Quarter

. January 23, How Birds Work at the Artists Quarter

. January 26, Maud Hixson, Jazz @St Barneys

· January 27-28, Dave Holland Quintet at the Dakota

. January31, Pete Whitman’s X-Tet at the Artists Quarter

. February 1-2, Lynne Arriale Trio at the Artists Quarter

. February 8-9, Bryan Nichols Quintet at the Artists Quarter

. February 10, Tuck and Patti at the Dakota

. February 12-13, Stacey Kent at the Dakota

. February 15-16, Bill Carrothers at the Artists Quarter

· February 22, Bill Frisell at Macalester (Janet Wallace Auditorium)

. February 22-23, Estaire Godinez at the Artists Quarter

. March 9, McCoy Tyner Quartet at the Hopkins Center for the Arts

. March 9, Randy Brecker with the JazzMN Orchestra at the Hopkins High School Performing Arts Center

. March 19, SF Jazz Collective at the Dakota

. April 1, Bela Fleck and Chick Corea at the Dakota

· April 6, John Zorn 60th Birthday at Walker Art Center

. April 8-9, John Scofield Hollowbody Band with Mike Stern at the Dakota

. April 12, 2 Cellos at the Dakota

· April 15-18, Doc Severinsen Big Band at the Dakota

. April 21, Red Planet at Landmark Center (TCJS Jazz From J to Z)

· April 26, Craig Taborn at Walker Art Center

. April 28, Diana Krall (Glad Ragdoll Tour) at the State Theater

. June 18-19, Reid Anderson at Music Space (SPCO), rescheduled from December









Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Jazz in 2012: Alive and Well, Locally and Beyond



Dave King: He's "Ringing Us"


© Andrea Canter



Sunday’s Strib carried its annual Twin Cities Critics Tally – a set of critics’ “best ofs” celebrating  local musicians, local songs, live acts and recordings. And as usual, jazz is barely visible, with only Chris Bates’ Red Five debut album, New Hope, carrying the banner for America’s much ignored native art form. Not that there was a better example of what’s great in local music, jazz or otherwise.



But we who actually value and support jazz had no reason to expect more notice by mainstream media, which is why we have bloggers, online sites and a few print media hold-outs. Jazz in 2012, however, was noticed by Benjamin Schwarz, the national editor of the Atlantic Monthly, in what at first seems to be a review of Ted Gioia’s The Jazz Standards, but ends up as yet another declaration that “Jazz Is Dead” (November 2012).  Not long after, Scott Timberg, in the e-zine Salon, picks up where Schwarz left off, reiterating the theory that the American songbook “killed jazz..” (I must have missed the obituary.) The gist of the observation is that because jazz repertoire holds on to the songs that made jazz popular through the mid-20th century (you know, all that old stuff from Gershwin to Rodgers and Hart, from Crosby to Sinatra, from Billie to Ella), it’s become stagnant, a “relic” to use Timberg’s term. How can such claptrap as “Summer Time” and “A Child Is Born” keep pace with the new music of the 21st century?



I wonder if the downturn in audiences and CD sales in classical music is similarly a natural consequence of the American orchestra’s reliance on Bach and Beethoven? Perhaps the current battles between musicians and management that plague SPCO and MO could be remedied by purging the 17th and 18th century “relics” of their repertoire? Surely this is a much bigger problem in the realm of classical music, where 21st century audiences continue to be pelted not only with music going back to the Renaissance, but with performances that rather tightly adhere to the original score. At least a new recording of “Body and Soul” is likely to offer new interpretations via improvisation.



Esperanza Spalding
But I digress. In the world of jazz in 2012, there are daily signs that jazz “is alive and well,” borrowing the optimism from the Strib’s roundup of musical highlights. Not just the latest accolade or honor paid (deservingly) to current icon Esperanza Spalding or even (deservingly) to one of her golden predecessors, Diana Krall. In New York, consider the body of work coming from the Brooklyn Underground. The Festival of New Trumpet. The vitality of clubs like Cornelia Street Café and Small’s, as well as the survival of legendary haunts like the Village Vanguard and Birdland. On the West Coast, consider the forward movement of institutions such as the Thelonious Monk Institute, Thornton School of Music, UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music, and the ongoing success of the Monterrey Jazz Festival. In the Midwest, consider the rise from the ashes and continuing growth of the Detroit Jazz Festival and its annual one million attendees.



Signs That Jazz Is Alive and Well in Minnesota

So let’s keep the focus on our local jazz scene. In 2012, there were many signs of the vitality of jazz, across generations, across venues. These are just my personal high points:



Tanner Taylor at Jazz Central
Jazz Central. If I had to pick out only one symbol of the present and hopefully future strength of jazz in our community, this underground (literally) studio run by a pair of musicians generally regarded as “mainstream” practitioners reflects all that is keeping Twin Cities jazz alive and well. Drummer Mac Santiago has long been associated with pureveyors of the Great American Songbook, while another generation removed, pianist Tanner Taylor similarly is known as a hard-swinging performer and arranger for small and large ensembles, and particularly vocalists. But if a conservative line-up was what we expected when they took over a basement-level studio space two years ago, we soon knew otherwise. Currently, Monday nights highlight an often-underappreciated artist, perhaps someone rarely in a leader role or someone in a new configuration. There’s no push to play the music everyone expects—no club owner or benefactor to please. Monday nights are often a golden opportunity to try out new music or new approaches to old music, to hear unique pairings of artists. About a year ago, JC added Big Band Tuesdays. And you might hear new arrangements of those great standards, but you are also likely to hear new compositions that bear little or no resemblance to the charts of Basie and Kenton. Now, JC has added a vocalists series on Thursdays, and while the voices might be familiar, often the repertoire is brand new. Again, it’s music that might raise eyebrows at established clubs where tickets and drinks sold define success. If you hear it first, you probably hear it at Jazz Central.



Fat Kid Wednesdays at the Icehouse
Icehouse. Adjacent to Vertical Endeavors in South Minneapolis, one might consider Icehouse a musical vertical endeavor. In addition to a well-executed, mostly light menu and busy bar, Icehouse sports a rather large stage and a wide ranging series of nightly music. JT Bates curates his “Implosion” series on Mondays, right out of the old Clown Lounge scene and featuring music largely drawn from the local 30+/40+ generation of improvisers, both established ensembles like Fat Kid Wednesdays and the Atlantis Quartet and new bands (Red 5, Gravatt/Linz/Wozniak). If you’re a Baby Boomer, you might notice that most of the Implosion audience is barely out of school, but talk about ensuring the future of the music! Jazz is featured during dinner sets on weekends, usually piano/bass duos with some of the area’s best (Bryan Nichols, Peter Schimke, James Buckley, Chris Bates), and other nights might bring in a monster veteran like Anthony Cox or an up-and-coming ensemble like Koplant NO (an Iowa-based quartet on the early January schedule). In some ways, this is how that Late Night series at the Dakota started out when Jeremy Walker was curator.



Babatunde Lea at Studio Z
Jazz at Studio Z.  Guitarist/impresario Zacc Harris is armed with a second MRAC grant (Metropolitan Regional Arts Council) and is in the midst of a second season of monthly events pairing a free workshop with a performance in this intimate Lowertown space.  The featured musicians range from beloved veterans like Dave Karr to nationally known area newcomers like Babatunde Lea to local innovators like Dave King, Chris Bates and Harris himself.

2012 TCJF at Mears Park

Twin Cities Jazz Festival. Producer Steve Heckler keeps finding grants, sponsors, and top jazz acts that maintain the festival in Mears Park each summer, without transforming the event into a more generic music fest or charging admission. It’s become a mini Detroit Jazz Festival, and, like Detroit, is dangerously close to outgrowing its perfect location. And you have to admire Heckler for effectively balancing local and national talents, which of course can never be done to anyone’s satisfaction, given two large stages and only 16 or so hours of schedule time. The 2012 melding of Francisco Mela, Delfeayo Marsalis and Joshua Redman/Bad Plus with the likes of  A Love Electric, Connie Evingson, Twin Cities Seven and Phil Hey, plus a Youth Stage, among many others, was as good as one can imagine for a free festival in this area, and the overflow crowds Friday and Saturday night confirmed the level of interest in jazz locally.



Zosha Warpeha and Freeman Ryan, PipJazz Youth
Pipjazz Sundays/PipJazz Youth. Vocalist Pippi Ardennia came to the Twin Cities a few years ago with a vision for bringing jazz to new audiences and creating opportunities for young musicians to learn their craft from their elders—the way Pippi learned in her native Chicago. Now after two seasons of PipJazz Sundays at Landmark Center, Pippi has collaborated with a long list of area stars and legends, from Irv Williams and Barbara Leshoure to Debbie Duncan and Dennis Spears, to rising stars Jason DeLaire and Solomon Parham. More important to the future of jazz, Pippi introduced a youth artist program that puts at least one student (college age or younger) on stage with the veteran house band at each monthly concert, and has recently added her third “Youth Artist in Residence” to that house band. The opportunity for such young artists to rehearse and perform with a pro band is unique here. And there is no doubt that jazz is alive and well for every student touched by this program, now supported by the new PipJazz Foundation.



Chris Bates
Chris Bates. 2012 was a break-out year for Bates as he jumped to the front as bandleader, finally. A lauded composer dating back to his years with the Motion Poets, Chris now has outlets for those compositions in bands of his own direction, including the Good Vibes Trio with Phil Hey and Dave Hagedorn and his stellar quintet Red 5, responsible for one of the top local recordings of the year (New Hope) – recognized well beyond the jazz community. Chris brought the magic of improvisation and composition to a wider audience, holding three “open sessions” in preparation for the Red 5 recording last spring. And as long as he holds bass duties in some of the area’s most exciting bands (Atlantis Quartet, Framework, How Birds Work, Red Planet, and the Minnesota edition of A Love Electric), we can count on a long and happy reign of forward-moving compositions and performances.



Adam Meckler
Adam Meckler. This still “under 30” trumpeter is fast becoming one of the top horn artists in town and beyond, as well as one of our most creative composers and bandleaders. He leads his quintet; he leads one of the most intriguing quartets in the area—Lulu’s Playground (trumpet, guitar, accordion and cello); his performance magic helps push wife Jana Nyberg’s “Group” far beyond most vocalist-led projects; and his Adam Meckler Orchestra, a monthly fixture at Jazz Central, offers an open palette for his composition and arranging chops. If that’s not enough to keep him busy, he also lends his horn to such popular bands as Jack Brass Band and Todd Clouser’s A Love Electric. Not sure how he manages it all (along with teaching), but as long as Adam is alive and well, so is local music.



Miguel Hurtado
Miguel Hurtado. Drummer Miguel graduated just a couple years ago from the Manhattan School of Music, but by then he was a veteran Twin Cities performer, starting out in teen bands (with Owen Nelson, Javier Santiago, Chris Smith) and progressing to utility drummer with the Twin Cities Jazz Festival before graduating from South High. Back home after MSM, Miguel in two short years has become a first call drummer, bandleader, composer and arranger, bringing ensembles to the Artists Quarter and summer jazz festival, and managing the trapset for a long list of top musicians, including homecoming visits from John Raymond and tonight’s debut with Jeremy Walker’s Boot Camp. There’s a vital legacy of jazz drumming in the Twin Cities and now there’s ample evidence it will flourish for decades to come.



Maud Hixson
Songs for All. From new releases from area veteran singers to new performance venues to keep the songs in front of live audiences, 2012 was a good year for jazz songs. Arne Fogel initiated a series to complement the traditional vibe of The Lexington, and presented a wide range of fellow vocalists; as noted above, Jazz Central started a vocalist series on Thursday nights, offering the intimacy of a cabaret experience with the open experimentation of a house party; a number of songbirds released (or prepared to release) fine recordings, from Connie Evingson's golden ninth (Sweet Happy Life) to Maryann Sullivan’s debut (Coffee Time) to Patty Peterson's long-awaited fourth (The Very Thought of You), with upcoming releases from Connie Dussl, Dorothy Doring and more. And one who always assures us that jazz, including or perhaps especially the jazz from earlier times, never loses its charm, Maud Hixson successfully launched a Kickstarter project that will take her to New York to record long-neglected and newly-discovered songs of Mickey Leonard.



Todd Clouser
Minnesota Exports. Perhaps one of the best reasons for optimism regarding the local jazz scene is the impact of Minnesotans on the larger world of music. In 2012, former resident, guitarist/composer Todd Clouser recorded three times with his A Love Electric Band. That’s one ensemble, three distinctly different projects, the first two riding on a tide of critical acclaim as he prepares to formally release the third in February. Trumpeter John Raymond, now settled in Brooklyn, continues to light up stages from Dizzy’s to Small’s, celebrating his debut full-length recording last spring, participating in the famed Festival of New Trumpet, bringing trio and quartet groups to Manhattan stages, and returning home throughout the year for gigs at the Dakota, Artists Quarter and Jazz Central. Recently back in town for a vacation gig at Jazz Central, Minnesotan Aaron Hedenstrom is working on a graduate degree at the University of North Texas. But even before classes were underway, he was named winner of the 2012 Detroit Jazz Festival's Large Ensemble Composition Award.  And vocalist Nancy Harms seems to grow by leaps and bounds, finding perfect companions in the Big Apple and bringing the music back home, including her collaboration with pianist/composer Jeremy Siskind on the remarkable Fingersongwriter project, and with bassist Steve Whipple and vocalist Emily Braden for Double Bass/Double Voice. (Yes, the world can appreciate yet another version of “Bye Bye Blackbird,” if sung with Nancy’s interpretative inventions.)



Beyond the Bad Plus

In his Salon commentary, Timberg finally gets around to noting some of the leaders in contemporary jazz who are keeping jazz alive, even when standards/pop hits enter their playlists – Brad Mehldau, Vijay Iyer, Fred Hersch, and The Bad Plus are specifically and appropriately noted. But for each of these high profile artists, there are dozens more moving in the same directions, as has been true since the early days of bebop when such jazzers as Dizzy Gillespie and Bud Powell drew critical ire for messing with “standards” – not because critics were tired of the Great American Songbook, but because they revered it. Sometimes I wonder if one thing keeping jazz alive, rather than putting it in its grave, is the fact that the music is so diverse that it draws both praise (always evolving, respecting its history) and condemnation (stuck in the past, too removed from its roots) – can an art form be dead if it keeps generating controversy?



Dave King
Maybe Dave King, the Bad Plus drummer based in the Twin Cities, deserves the “keeping jazz alive” crown for 2012. In addition to his ongoing contributions to one of the most controversial and successful jazz bands of the new millennium (one that seldom covers a “songbook standard” yet built its credentials on both original compositions and reinventions of modern pop/rock), this summer Dave released his debut trio recording, I’ve Been Ringing You. And except for the spontaneously recorded title track, the album is all standards. Working with Bill Carrothers and Billy Peterson, King makes those “relics” all the evidence I need to confirm jazz as both timeless and futuristic.



Apologies to all artists, bands, venues, presenters, commentators who contribute to the vitality of jazz in the Twin Cities, who are not mentioned here.... because the list would go on and on.


























Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, December 21-27



The Bad Plus return to their holiday home, The Dakota


© Andrea Canter



Among the younger set, visions of sugar plums (or iPods) might dance in their heads, but among the jazz cognescenti, perhaps it’s aural visions of eighth notes and blues scales? Whatever you are dreaming about for the holidays, there’s bound to be a great live soundtrack to make your spirits bright, starting with a “Hot Christmas” weekend, right through to a now-rare appearance by Moore by Four, one of the top vocal groups in the Midwest, all setting the stage for the annual holiday homecoming of the Bad Plus and a jazzy countdown to the New Year.



Hot Holiday Week

Todd Clouser
Friday, December 21. Former metro resident, guitarist Todd Clouser burns a path between Baja and the Twin Cities throughout the year, often with his A Love Electric ensemble. He’s been in town frequently this fall, closing out his latest visit tonight at Café Maude in Loring Park. If you’re into jazz, Todd leans far into rock. If you are into rock, Todd leans far into jazz. Just lean into the music and enjoy!




Ginger Commodore
And what’s not to enjoy when Debbie Duncan and Ginger Commodore trade tunes and banter at the Dakota tonight? With two of the most divine voices in the region, Debbie and Ginger will soar through some blues, standards, holiday favorites and more.



Friday/Saturday, December 21-22. He’s not exactly Santa Claus but multi-reed veteran Dave Karr will have a bag of bebop gifts on stage at the Artists Quarter this weekend, with musical elves Phil Aaron, Billy Peterson and Kenny Horst.  Dave seems ageless, and with tenor, bari, flute and clarinet at hand, he guarantees happy ears on any stage. But the AQ is “home,” and what’s better than home for the holidays?



Hot Christmas!
Lee Engele is becoming as much an impresario as vocalist, and this weekend she brings another great ensemble together for a “Hot Christmas” on the Black Box Stage of the Bloomington Art Center. With cohorts Joan Griffith (guitar and bass), Reynold Philipsek (guitar) and Gary Schulte (violin), the heat will be generated by a lot of strings as well as Engele’s swinging vocals. And you can choose Friday night or Saturday matinee, whatever fits your shopping schedule best.



Gary Schulte, Joann Funk, Jeff Brueske
Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske continue their weekend double (voice and bass) in the Lobby Bar of the St Paul Hotel, but Saturday is even more special with the addition of violinist Gary Schulte. I caught this trio earlier in the fall and it’s a stellar match-up, whether Joann is channeling Blossom Dearie or Peggy Lee, or just hamming it up with two of the area’s finest stringmen. (And the Lobby Bar is just a couple short blocks from the Artists Quarter – make an evening of music!)



John Raymond
Saturday, December 22. There’s typically a number of “homecoming” gigs around the holidays as former residents return to visit family and friends. And ever since he graduated from the UW-Eau Claire, Twin Cities native John Raymond has scheduled gigs whenever the New York-based trumpeter can squeeze in a visit.  Tonight it’s Late Night at the Dakota with a new trio, with long-time cohort  Jeremy Boettcher on bass and Adrian Suarez on drums. This might be the smallest configuration that we’ve ever heard from John, which likely means even more focus on that agile trumpet and melodic flugelhorn, and an introduction to some new compositions as well as a seasonal gem or two, like “O Come Emmanuel.” Definitely worth staying out late!



Wednesday, December 26. Back some 25 years or more, a new vocal jazz quartet began turning ears, Minnesota’s answer to the Manhattan Transfer. Now Moore by Four, like TMT, is a fixture on the music scene, but unlike their counterparts, their get-togethers are few and far between as each member has forged a busy solo career. Thus their Dakota performance promises no holiday let-down but an evening filled with charm, wit, and exceptional harmonies from Dennis Spears, Ginger Commodore, Connie Evingson and Yolande Bruce, led by Sanford Moore.



Jeremy Walker leads Boot Camp
Starting a new tradition in locally, organically grown music, Jeremy Walker’s Boot Camp was initiated less than a year ago, and makes their Artists Quarter debut tonight. With Walker on piano and handling most of the composition duties, Boot Camp also includes saxophonist Brandon Wozniak, bassist Chris Bates, and young drummer Miguel Hurtado. This is one boot camp that you’ll want to continue!



Thursday, December 27. The days between Christmas and New Year’s have long been blessed with a “home for the holidays” visit from the Bad Plus. Now a three-night run at the Dakota, the residency begins tonight and continues through Saturday. And it’s been a banner year for TBP, with high praise from all corners for their new trio recording, Made Possible, and an unforgettable set with Joshua Redman to close out the 2012 Twin Cities Jazz Festival.



MYJB All Stars at the Artists Quarter
Tonight also marks the annual AQ Holiday Party, with the locally grown Minnesota Youth Jazz Band opening the evening. MYJB, directed by David Mitchell, has performed on European stages as well as throughout the Twin Cities. As for the holiday party, the line-up was not announced yet but figure any of the monstrous musicians who frequent the stage here are likely to be on hand, and who better to play Santa than Davis Wilson?



More Jazz, Throughout the Holidays

There’s always more – check live jazz calendars on Jazz Police and KBEM sites. Suggestions to make your choices more difficult:



Friday, December 21. Brad Bellows/Donald Washington Quartet at the Black Dog; Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen (Meridien Hotel); Jim Anton Trio at the Icehouse



Saturday, December 22. Zacc Harris Trio at Loring Pasta Bar; Jim Anton Trio at the Icehouse



Sunday, December 23. Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Café; Zacc Harris Trio at the Riverview Wine Bar



Monday, December 24. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; JT’s Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse; Artists Quarter and Dakota closed!



Tuesday, December 25. Merry Christmas (most venues closed)



Wednesday, December 26. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Firebell at Café Maude (Penn Av); Steve Kenny and the Bastids, early show at the Artists Quarter; Maud Hixson with the Wolverines Trio at Hell’s Kitchen



Arne Fogel
Thursday, December 27. Donald Thomas and Rick Carlson at Jazz Central; Arne Fogel at Hell’s Kitchen



Coming Soon!

. December 27-29, Bad Plus at the Dakota

· December 28-29, Pat Mallinger at the Artists Quarter

· December 29, Peterson Family Holiday Concert at Hopkins Center for the Arts

. December 31, Carole Martin, Pat Mallinger and Friends, NY Eve Party at the Artists Quarter

. January 4, Koplant No at the Icehouse (11 pm)

. January 5, Kelly Rossum Quartet at the Dakota (Late Night)

. January 7, Nellie McKay at the Dakota

. January 10, Omer Avital’s Band of the East at the Jewish Community Center (St Paul)

. January 11-12, Lulu’s Playground CD Release at the Artists Quarter

· January 12, Vicky Mountain and Friends, “Voice of Van Heusen” at the Black Box Theater, Bloomington

. January 15, Latin Jazz All-Stars (Steve Turre, Pete Escovedeo) at the Dakota

. January 18, Dorothy Doring/ Phil Mattson CD Release at the Artists Quarter

. January 20, Sing the Truth (Dianne Reeves, Angelique Kidjo, Lizz Wright) at the Mpls Convention Center

. January 20, Tony Bennett at the State Theater

. January 22, Jose Feliciano at the Dakota

. January 26, Maud Hixson, Jazz @St Barneys

· January 27-28, Dave Holland Quintet at the Dakota

. February 1-2, Lynne Arriale Trio at the Artists Quarter

. February 12-13, Stacey Kent at the Dakota

· February 22, Bill Frisell at Macalester (Janet Wallace Auditorium)

. March 9, McCoy Tyner Quartet at the Hopkins Center for the Arts

. March 9, Randy Brecker with the JazzMN Orchestra at the Hopkins High School Performing Arts Center

. March 19, SF Jazz Collective at the Dakota

. April 1, Bela Fleck and Chick Corea at the Dakota

· April 6, John Zorn 60th Birthday at Walker Art Center

. April 8-9, John Scofield Hollowbody Band with Mike Stern at the Dakota

. April 12, 2 Cellos at the Dakota

· April 15-18, Doc Severinsen Big Band at the Dakota

. April 21, Red Planet at Landmark Center (TCJS Jazz From J to Z)

· April 26, Craig Taborn at Walker Art Center

. April 28, Diana Krall (Glad Ragdoll Tour) at the State Theater

. June 18-19, Reid Anderson at Music Space (SPCO), rescheduled from December

Kelly Rossum returns to the Dakota, January 5th (Late Night)



 All photos by Andrea Canter, except for Joan Griffith and Lee Engele images in the "Hot Christmas" collage


Friday, December 14, 2012

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, December 14-20



Laura Caviani bring her holiday spirits to the AQ this weekend



© Andrea Canter



The holidays are ever closer, the snow is deep enough to create ice dams and igloos, and the entertainment options around the Twin Cities can be mind-boggling. Here, let me help you! The jazz choices are abundant and joyful.



Some Big Gigs This Week

Erik Fratzke
Friday, December 14. In the “Deep End/Community Pool” tonight at the Black Dog, a double percussion quintet of fearless improvisers takes the bandstand, with Erik Fratzke, Peter Leggett,  Pete Hennig, Nathan Hanson and Brian Roessler. That’s a lot of hardware. That’s a lot of music.



Mary Louise Knutson
 Friday/Monday/Thursday, December 14-20. How to combine shopping and jazz: Stroll through the Galleria when sublime pianist Mary Louise Knutson is playing solo, 6-9 pm Friday and Monday, 2-5 pm on Thursday. It’s not exactly club ambience or perfect sound, but I can’t think of a more classy way to enjoy your favorite holiday music (and more), no cover. Check on the exact location (somewhere along the walkway in one of the atriums) or just follow your ears.



Lucia Newell
Friday/Saturday, December 14-15. One gig I always look forward to in December is Laura Caviani’s Holiday Show, usually at the Artists Quarter as it is this weekend. Some years ago, Laura released on of my favorite jazz holiday CDs, Angels We Haven’t Heard. Fortunately we do get to hear these angels nearly annually in one combination or another. This weekend, Laura spreads good cheer with bassist Jay Young, drummer Dave Schmalenberger, and her frequent musical partner, vocalist Lucia Newell. There might even be a jolly man in a red suit?



Saturday, December 15. Thanks to the University of Manitoba and their reciprocal agreement with the state of Minnesota, MN residents can attend the other “U of M” at resident tuition rates. But the partnership does not end there. Today, Manitoba’s Jazz Studies faculty will be in St Paul, offering a free workshop in the morning at Walker West Music Academy and a free public concert at Progressive Baptist Church in the evening. On the “bandstand” in the evening will be Manitoba faculty Steve Kirby (bass), Anna-Lisa Kirby (voice), Quincy Davis (drums), Will Bonness (piano), Laurent Roy (guitar), Derrick Gardner (trumpet) and Craig Bailey (sax).



George Maurer
Sunday, December 16. Another annual holiday bash – the George Maurer Big Band Holiday Show at the Dakota is often a sell-out. One of the area’s most successful and popular bandleaders, composers, and pianists, George brings along a top flight crew of 15+ musicians, including vocalists Anne Michaels and Rachel Holder. That’s a lot of holiday sounds tightly packed on the Dakota stage. Reserve fast.



Monday, December 17. Drummer Pete Hennig backs a long list of area innovators, from the Atlantis Quartet to the Fantastic Merlins, but we rarely get to see Pete as the center of attention, where he belongs. Tonight at Jazz Central he gets his due.



Dean Magraw and Billy Peterson
Tuesday, December 18. It’s one more Tuesday night featuring “Dean Magraw and Friends” at the Artists Quarter. The master guitarist has been holding the Tuesday slot this month with such talented friends as Billy Peterson, Brandon Wozniak, Kenny Horst, and more.  Come early for the free set featuring another guitar whiz, Cory Wong, and his quartet – all rising stars on the local jazz scene.



Down at Jazz Central, it’s big band night, this week featuring Xplosion!, headed by Doug Haining and Scott Agster and about 15 of their closest musical friends. If you have not listened to big bands –unamplified and in the intimate space of this small studio, you have not yet really experienced a big band!



Todd Clouser
Wednesday, December 19. Two ex-pat Minnesotan are in town with some red hot music. Guitarist Todd Clouser and his A Love Electric ensemble preview some of his patented “jazz rock” at the Clown Lounge – yes, a night reviving the music experiments in the basement club. And over at Jazz Central, saxophonist Aaron Hedenstrom takes a break from graduate studies at North Texas to show off some of the compositional skills that earned him the top Composition Award at the 2012 Detroit Jazz Festival.



Maud Hixson and French 75
Thursday, December 20. They don’t get together often these days but whenever Maud Hixson and French 75 are on stage, it’s a trans-Atlantic songfest of the most sophisticated sort. Catch them at the Dakota tonight as musicians Tony Balluff, Gus Sanberg, Robert Bell et al give songbird Maud just the right rhythms and harmonies to put some French swing into standards associated with the Continent.



And speaking of bands that don’t get together often – the Illicit Sextet had about a decade hiatus before reuniting a couple years ago, and now they are preparing for the release of their second CD – following one of the great recordings of the 90s – Chapter One, with, what else, Chapter Eleven. They give us a taste at the Artists Quarter, early show tonight, followed by a band that never seems to take a break from their inventive arrangements and originals, the Phil Hey Quartet.



More Jazz Every Night

There’s always more – check live jazz calendars on Jazz Police and KBEM sites. Suggestions to make your choices more difficult:



Nichola Miller
Friday, December 14. Nichola Miller at Hell’s Kitchen; Hamline University Big Band/Combos Holiday Concert at Anne Simley Theater (Hamline); Charmin Michelle and the TC Jazz Imports at House of Pizza (Sartell, MN); Chastity Brown and Sophia Shorai at the Dakota; Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Pau Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen (Meridien Hotel); Patrick Harrison and Kip Jones at Café Maude (Loring Park); Steve Hobert and Josh Granowski, dinner sets at the Icehouse



Saturday, December 15. Maurice Jacox and Bobby Eckstrand at Eat Street Social (1 pm); Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Pau Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at D’Amico Kitchen (Meridien Hotel); Nachito Herrera at the Dakota; Patrick Harrison and Josh Granwoski, followed by Jef Lee Johnson, Yohannes Tona and Michael Bland at the Icehouse; Steve Kenny and the Twin Cities Cultural Project at the Red Stag



Sunday, December 16. Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Café; Connie Evingson and Mary Louise Knutson holiday show at the Como Lake B&B; KBEM Holiday Party with Trioso at Café Maude/Loring Park (sold out); Charmin Michelle and the Jerry O’Hagan Orchestra at Cinema Ballroom; Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar



Monday, December 17. Maryann Sullivan and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Headspace at the Artists Quarter; Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse



Steve Kenny
Wednesday, December 19. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Steve Kenny and the Bastids followed by Billy Graczyk at the Artists Quarter



Thursday, December 20. Maryann Sullivan at Jazz Central; Rhonda Laurie at Barbette; Gypsy Mania at Hell’s Kitchen;
Mira and Tom Kehoe and Friends, “Jazz on the Line” at Mai Village (St Paul)



Coming Soon!

. December 21, Todd Clouser at Café Maude (Loring Park)

. December 21-22, A Hot Christmas (Lee Engele, Joan Griffith, Reynold Philipsek, Gary Schulte), Bloomington Center for the Arts Black Box Theater

. December 21-22, Dave Karr Quartet at the Artists Quarter

. December 26, Moore by Four at the Dakota

. December 26, Boot Camp (Jeremy Walker) at the Artists Quarter

· December 27-29, Bad Plus at the Dakota

· December 28-29, Pat Mallinger at the Artists Quarte

· December 29, Peterson Family Holiday Concert at Hopkins Center for the Arts

. December 31, Carole Martin, Pat Mallinger and Friends, NY Eve Party at the Artists Quarter

. January 4, Koplant No at the Icehouse (11 pm)

. January 5, Kelly Rossum Quartet at the Dakota (Late Night)

. January 7, Nellie McKay at the Dakota

. January 11-12, Lulu’s Playground CD Release at the Artists Quarter

· January 12, Vicky Mountain,“Voice of Van Heusen” at the Black Box Theater, Bloomington

. January 15, Latin Jazz All-Stars (Steve Turre, Pete Escovedeo) at the Dakota

. January 18, Dorothy Doring/ Phil Mattson CD Release at the Artists Quarter

. January 20, Sing the Truth (Dianne Reeves, Angelique Kidjo, Lizz Wright) at the Mpls Convention Center

. January 22, Jose Feliciano at the Dakota

. January 26, Maud Hixson, Jazz @St Barneys

· January 27-28, Dave Holland Quintet at the Dakota

. February 12-13, Stacey Kent at the Dakota

· February 22, Bill Frisell at Macalester (Janet Wallace Auditorium)

. March 9, McCoy Tyner Quartet at the Hopkins Center for the Arts

. March 9, Randy Brecker with the JazzMN Orchestra at the Hopkins High School Performing Arts Center

. March 19, SF Jazz Collective at the Dakota

. April 1, Bela Fleck and Chick Corea at the Dakota

· April 6, John Zorn 60th Birthday at Walker Art Center

. April 8-9, John Scofield Hollowbody Band with Mike Stern at the Dakota

. April 12, 2 Cellos at the Dakota

· April 15-18, Doc Severinsen Big Band at the Dakota

. April 21, Red Planet at Landmark Center (TCJS Jazz From J to Z)

· April 26, Craig Taborn at Walker Art Center

. June 18-19, Reid Anderson at Music Space (SPCO), rescheduled from December

Boot Camp - coming to the Artists Quarter, December 26th