Friday, April 26, 2013

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, April 26 - May 2



Craig Taborn -- "Heroic Frenzies" at the Walker 

© Andrea Canter



Rumors of spring weather and certainties of hot jazz give us plenty to anticipate in the coming week. Certainly the weekend boasts one of the most eagerly awaited “homecomings” for fans of modern improvised music with Craig Taborn’s night at the Walker; JazzMN closes out its season; Insurgent returns in trio format at Studio Z; Diana Krall’s Glad Ragdoll Tour stops at the State Theater; and Bill Frisell’s Beautiful Dreamers returns to the Dakota.



Big Gigs

Craig Taborn
Friday, April 26. Keyboard monster Craig Taborn has been busy composing, touring, and adding his chops to a long list of others’ stellar projects, from Dave Holland’s Prism to Chris Potter’s Underground to Roscoe Mitchell’s and Michael Formanek’s ensembles. He likes to keep a low profile, although that is getting increasingly difficult as more and more of the jazz community--from musicians to critics to fans of modern improvisation—discover his unique, challenging, and ultimately engaging music. So it’s a welcome if rare event for Taborn to return to his native land, bringing three projects—solo piano, the Craig Taborn Trio, and Junk Magic-- to the Walker Art Center under the title “Heroic Frenzies.” All this comes on the heels of the release of the trio’s first recording on ECM (Chants), in the midst of a spring tour of Europe and the U.S., and in advance of the release of the second album from Junk Magic. There just might be an isolated seat left here and there.



Serge Akou
Friday, April 26-27. Dubbed the African Jazz Trio, the Akou Brothers –guitarist Loba and bassist Serge—join forces with Detroit native trapset powerhouse Kevin Washington at the Artists Quarter. The Akous grew up in the Ivory Coast and were heavily influenced by African folk traditions as well as American jazz and rock. Ultimately they landed in Detroit, and eventually here in the Twin Cities where they meld tradition and innovation, modern instruments with African roots.



Ellen Lease
Saturday, April 27.  Ellen Lease (piano) and Pat Moriarty (sax) have long been atop the improvised music scene locally, and Insurgent is an outgrowth of their acclaimed Quintet of the 80s and 90s. There have been several editions of the band, but tonight it’s strictly a trio gig, with drummer Phil Hey joining Ellen and Pat for some serious mayhem at Studio Z.



Popular and down-to-earth jazz will be soaring from the stage of the Hopkins High School Performing Arts Center when the JazzMN Orchestra closes out its season with special guest, contemporary jazz saxophonist Eric Marienthal. Big bands don’t get any better than this one.



Sunday, April 28. Diana Krall has not been to the Twin Cities in years, so the fact that she is stopping for the night at the State Theater, part of her Glad Ragdoll tour, is welcome. Hopefully the Canadian chanteuse will go beyond the music of Glad Ragdoll and include some of her interpretations of old standards that separate her from her peers. Will this be a jazz night or a pop night?



It’s radio night at the Artists Quarter as KBEM unveils the first installment of Jazz Noir (“Charles and Avon”) before a live audience (8 pm show broadcast live, 5 pm show just live at the AQ). The band includes George Maurer, Solomon Parham, Chris Bates and Pete Hennig; limited tickets.



Nelson Devereaux
Monday, April 29. The Icehouse  hosts a double header tonight, bringing young improvisers from Chicago  and the Twin Cities together. The local contribution is Courageous Endeavors, an ensemble lead by bassist Brian Courage and drummer Miguel Hurtado, with pianist Joe Strachan and saxophonist Nelson Devereaux. Like-minded young pals from Chicago—Laurenzi/Ernst/Green—come to town to play Monday night and then again on their own at Jazz Central on Wednesday. That’s a lucky seven talents deserving wider recognition.



Tuesday, April 30. The almost-monthly installment of the Adam Meckler Orchestra tackles new music at Jazz Central, while diva supreme Jessye Norman tackles the Great American Songbook and other American songs at Ordway. No, hard to imagine Ms. Norman swinging or scatting, but also hard to imagine she won’t sound magnificent.



Jeremy Walker
Wednesday, May 1. Just a couple weeks ago, Jeremy Walker premiered his first full-length choral work, Seven Psalms. Now he’s back at the Artists Quarter with one of his small jazz ensembles, Boot Camp. Still-young veterans Walker (piano) and Brandon Wozniak (sax) mix it up with young lions Brian Courage (bass) and Miguel Hurtado (drums).



Eyvind Kang and Bill Frisell
Wednesday-Thursday, May 1-2. Bill Frisell was just here in February, performing solo at Macalester for a crowd twice the theater’s capacity. Now he’s back, a return visit with his Beautiful Dreamers Trio at the Dakota. He’ll weave some magic with violist Eyvind Kang and drummer Rudy Royston. One of the true geniuses of the genre at the top of his many games.



Thursday, May 2. It’s about time for vocalist Connie Evingson to make her Jazz Central debut, and a duo with pianist Phil Mattson seems like a good place to start. There’s only room for about 50 in this intimate space and chances are you will be out in the hallway if you arrive after 8!



More Jazz Every Night

Be sure to check live jazz calendars on Jazz Police and KBEM sites. Also find a growing number of events on the Jazz Near You site, a service of All About Jazz. A few more gigs of note:



Connie Olson
Friday, April 26. Peter Schimke and Irv Williams, Happy Hour at the Dakota; Connie Olson at Parma; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Harper/Leggett/Foreman at the Black Dog; New Standards at the Dakota; Tom Krochock at Jazz Central; Gordy Johnson and Phil Aaron, dinner set at the Icenouse



Saturday, April 27. JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma; Ted Olsen and Joe Strachan at Angelina’s Kitchen; Tom Krochock at Jazz Central; Bryan Nichols and Jeremy Boettcher, dinner set at the Icehouse



Sunday, April 28. Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Café; Zacc Harris Trio at the Riverview Wine Bar; “Off the Cuff” improv series at the Aster Café; Jerry O’Hagan Orchestra with Charmin Michelle at Cinema Ballroom



Monday, April 29. Headspace at the Artists Quarter; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza



Tuesday, April 30. Cory Wong Quartet followed by Dean Magraw and Friends at the Artists Quarter; Acme Jazz Company at the Shorewood; Joel Shapira at Café Maude(Penn Av); Triosé at Hell’s Kitchen; Jack Brass Band at the Amsterdam Bar



Wednesday, May 1. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Steve Kenny and the Bastids, early show at the Artists Quarter



Thomas Strommen
Thursday, May 2. TCJS Young Artists Series presents the Strommen/Burgess/Crawford/Nelson Quartet followed by Valves Meet Slide at the Artists Quarter



Coming Soon!

. May 3-4, Bill Carrothers at the Artists Quarter

. May 10, Vicky Mountain at Parma

. May 10-11, Jerry Weldon at the Artists Quarter

. May 11, Zacc Harris at Studio Z

. May 12, PipJazz Sundays with the Women in Jazz Ensemble

. May 12-13, Fourplay at the Dakota

. May 15, Michael O’Brien at the Artists Quarter

. May 15-16, Jane Monheit at the Dakota

. May 16, Dakota Combo at Antonello Hall (MacPhail Center for Music)

. May 18, Mary Louise Knutson Trio, Jazz @St. Barneys (St Barnabas Church)

. May 19, Illicit Sextet at Jazz Central (TCJS Jazz From J to Z)

. May 19, Martin Taylor and Lawrence Juber at the Dakota

. May 24, Joe Krowne Trio at the Dakota

. May 24-25, Bryan Nichols Quintet at the Artists Quarter

. May 25, Patty Peterson and Friends at the Dakota

. May 31, Talking Strings at the Black Dog

. May 31- June 1, Happy Apple at the Artists Quarter

. June 7, Reynold Philipsek CD Release at the 318 Café

. June 9, PipJazz Sundays with John Penny, Will Kjeer

. June 16, Sidewalk Café’ (Jazz in the Library), St Paul Central Library

. June 18-19, Reid Anderson at 408 (SPCO)

. June 19-20, Ramsey Lewis Trio with Dee Dee Bridgewater at the Dakota

. June 23-24, David Murray Infinity Quartet with Macy Gray at the Dakota

. June 27-29, Twin Cities Jazz Festival with Cyrus Chestnut, Kenny Werner, Matt Slocum, Ariel Pocock, JazzMN Big Band, Jon Weber and more

. July 5-7, Iowa City Jazz Festival with Pharoah Sanders, Fred Hersch, Charlie Hunter, Lonnie Smith and more


Bill Carrothers, coming to the AQ May 3-4



Thursday, April 25, 2013

Jazz Face: All Smiles From Francisco Mela


Francisco Mela at MacPhail, Antonello Hall

© Andrea Canter

Hang out with drummer Francisco Mela for even a few minutes, and your mood will brighten. You can’t help but smile. Watch him perform for a few minutes, and you will understand the inner joy that music brings to those who live with in 24/7.  And, at least for the duration of that drum solo, that conversation, you will be transformed.

Mela at Jazz Central
Thanks to the efforts Alden Drew, support from Jazz Central, and funding from McNally Smith, MacPhail Twin Cities Jazz Society and Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education, Mela spent a few days in the Twin Cities last week, bouncing from one clinic to another until he landed on Antonello Hall stage with three brand new collaborators for a performance finale Saturday night. Most of us were introduced to Mela when he performed with Joe Lovana’s Us Five at the 2010 Twin Cities Jazz Festival. And during those moments when eyes were not fixed on Esperanza Spalding, one had to notice Mela, one of two drummers with Us Five. Mela was the one who never stopped smiling.

He came back to the Twin Cities a few more times, with Lovano’s Us Five at the Dakota and Hopkins Center for the Arts, with McCoy Tyner just a few months ago in Hopkins, and with his own Cuban Safari at the 2012 Jazz Fest. And ever that big smile. I also caught Mela at McNally Smith when he did a clinic prior to his band’s performance. It was a rather formal setting but he talked to his audience as if we were gathered around the congas in his living room.

Francisco Mela worked with the Dakota Combo
This past week, I sat in on his workshop at Jazz Central, where for the first time he met Tanner Taylor, Graydon Peterson and Brandon Wozniak, who would be his quartet partners for the evening and at MacPhail Saturday night. Their instant rapport was one of the week’s musical wonders.  But most inspiring was his clinic with the student octet, the Dakota Combo, squeezed in between a McNally reception and the MacPhail concert. If Mela felt rushed or drained, you couldn’t tell. For two hours, he gave the ensemble as well as each individual student his undivided attention, his encouragement, and his warmly delivered criticism. He sat at the drumset, he offered some hands-on guidance, he stood and listened intently to each phrase, he praised and explained, he demonstrated, he applauded.  After two hours, the Combo had a new ending to Macho Woman, a better grasp of swing feel, some tips on finding your own voice on your own tune. And mostly they had a dose of Mela joy.

Mela with his MN quartet
That joy spread throughout the band and the audience Saturday night when Francisco and his new collaborators sailed through a set as if they had been playing together for years. And it was easy to tell that each musician hoped this evening was just the beginning.

Sometimes that joy of creating and collaborating comes through only in the music. Sometimes, maybe far less often, that joy comes through from every pore. And that glistening smile.


Friday, April 19, 2013

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, April 19-25



Francisco Mela ends a busy residency with a quartet gig at MacPhail on April 20th

© Andrea Canter



Like good jazz, Minnesota’s weather is unpredictable, and forces us all to become good improvisers. Spring might not be swinging yet, but the birds are churning out some pleasing melodies, and a slow but sure warming trend will make club-hopping and gig-going a bit easier.  So watch out for patches of ice but do get out and hear a wide range of cool music over the coming week. And think of ways to celebrate Record Store Day on Saturday, April 20th. (Spending money at your favorite independent music store would be appropriate!)



Big Gigs This Week

Maud Hixson
Friday, April 19. You may have missed Maud Hixson lately. She’s been recovering from an icy mishap that left her with a broken ankle. But tonight she takes a break from cabin fever, and with footstool in place, will enliven the scene at Parma in Bloomington, one of the latest music hotspots. Fortunately Maud completed recording (in New York) for her soon-to-be released CD of the songs of Michael Leonard, Don’t Let a Good Thing Get Away. It’s officially out May 1, and a local release party will likely be announced soon. The cast includes a bunch of stellar New Yorkers named Tex Arnold, Steve LaSpina, Warren Vaché and Gene Bertoncini, but the star is “ours,” Maud at her charming and intimate best, singing the few Leonard tunes to reach near-familiar levels (“Why Did I Choose You?” and “I’m All Smiles”) as well as some never-before recorded  (“Old World Charm,” “The Spider and the Fly”). Beg… and maybe she will provide a preview tonight. (Yes, a review is coming. Very soon.)



David Hazeltine
Friday-Saturday, April 19-20. An Artist Quarter favorite, pianist David Hazeltine is noted for adventurous arrangements, rhythms, and harmonies, as well as swinging, melodic original compositions. Dave brings both a reverence for tradition and a unique inventive spirit to the bandstand this weekend in trio format, with Kenny Horst on drums both nights, and the bass duties split between hot-fingered young lion Brian Courage (Friday) and ever-eloquent veteran Billy Peterson (Saturday). Dave cut his teeth in the Midwest (Milwaukee) but has been a New York stalwart for a couple decades, most notably with One for All.



Francisco Mela at Jazz Central
Saturday, April 20. Drummer Francisco Mela might be from Cuba, and he might be a resident of New York, but he ought to be an honorary citizen of the Twin Cities. Especially after this weekend. Mela first visited with Joe Lovano’s Us Five during the 2011 Twin Cities Jazz Festival, returning the following year leading his Cuban Safari. In March, he was on tour with McCoy Tyner during their stop at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Jazz patron Alden Drew wasted no time finding a way to bring Mela back to town – in partnerships with McNally Smith, MacPhail, Twin Cities Jazz Society and Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education.  Earlier this week, Mela held school clinics and a public workshop at Jazz Central, master classes at McNally Smith, and today performs in concert in Antonello Hall at MacPhail, in the finest of local company (Brandon Wozniak, Tanner Taylor, Graydon Peterson). His wit and charm are only exceeded by his percussion skills, and the first meeting of this quartet (at Jazz Central) was clearly a gathering of sympathetic souls.



Zacc Harris
The monthly Riverview Showcase features the Zacc Harris Group tonight. While Zacc and his trio are regulars at the Riverview Wine Bar, it’s been a long time since his “Group” performed. And that’s a shame – Harris, Bryan Nichols, Chris Bates and JT Bates make one heckuva sound!



Sunday, April 21. One of the more popular acts at the Artists Quarter, Red Planet finally performs in a true concert hall as part of the Twin Cities Jazz Society’s Jazz From J to Z series, in Weyerhaeuser Auditorium at the Landmark Center. These free-wheeling virtuosos – Dean Magraw (guitar), Chris Bates (bass) and  Jay Epstein (drums)—have a special affinity for all things Coltrane, and this show will be solely dedicated to Coltrane’s music. They might even make you forget there’s no saxophone.



Soul Cafe
Soul Café has only occasionally performed over the past few years so it is a special occasion whenever they come together.  The core trio of Laura Caviani, Steve Blons and Brad Holden will be joined by frequent vocal partner Lucia Newell, as they return to their “home stage” at Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church. Their theme this evening is “odd meters,” music inspired by Dave Brubeck and poems from quirky Billy Collins.



Monday, April 22. Fan favorites tonight – Charmin and Shapira and Friends  are on stage at the Dakota, plying patrons with their signature takes on standards, sambas and more, while veteran wiseacre saxman Dave Karr bops with pals at Jazz Central.  (He turns up again at the Artists Quarter tomorrow night!) And another popular band of improvisers, Fat Kid Wednesdays, turns up at a favorite stage, the Icehouse. Rumors of a special guest are in the air....but Mike Lewis, Adam Linz and JT Bates can do it all alone.



George Cartwright
Tuesday, April 23. The Adam Meckler Orchestra gathers for their monthly blast at Jazz Central, with leader Adam fresh off a stint in New Orleans with Jack Brass Band. So don’t be surprised if you hear a little delta or bayou vibe in the orchestra’s playbook tonight.  For something a bit farther out, George Cartwright returns to the Black Dog tonight with his Merciless Ghost ensemble.  Josh Granowski (bass) and Davu Seru (drums) round out the trio, dedicated to improvisation “and the sometimes agonizing struggle to speak using one’s own voice.” There’s ecstacy in that agony.         



Wednesday, April 24. It was a long time coming but finally Denny Malmberg has gathered long-time cohorts, Doug Haining, Steve Pikal, Nathan Norman and semi-weekly partner Charmin Michelle for a recording session, and tonight they celebrate Struttin’ Out at Fireside Pizza. Where else? It’s in the tiny corner of this neighborhood favorite that much of the music evolved.   



Miguel Hurtado
The local jazz scene has taken on a more youthful sound lately, and one of the reasons is drummer Miguel Hurtado. In addition to appearing with veterans like Jeremy Walker and Kelly Rossum, Hurtado has proven to be a strong bandleader himself, and returns to the Artists Quarter tonight with “friends” – and his friends are pretty awesome,  most likely to include bassist Brian Courage, pianist Joe Strachan, and/or some of the hottest horn players in town.


Thursday, April 25. Most months end at the Artists Quarter with the Pete Whitman X-Tet, and tonight’s the night for April. It’s hard to gather a group of ten busy jazz artists every month, but fortunately Pete has more than ten on speed dial and there’s never a gap or weak link in this ensemble. Yeah, the band takes up a couple rows of tables, but that just means you have to get down to the AQ early.



More Jazz Every Night

Be sure to check live jazz calendars on Jazz Police and KBEM sites. Also find a growing number of events on the Jazz Near You site, a service of All About Jazz. A few more gigs of note:



Friday, April 19. Irv Williams and Peter Schimke, Happy Hour at the Dakota; Chris Bates and Phil Aaron, dinner set at the Icehouse; Gypsy Mania at Hell’s Kitchen; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Northwestern College Jazz Ensemble at Maranatha Hall; Brad Bellows/Donald Washington Quartet at the Black Dog



Saturday, April 20. Francisco Mela, Master Class at McNally Smith (11 am); Charmin and Shapira at Midtown Global Market (12:30 pm); Dave King Trucking Company, Record Store Day gig at Electric Fetus (2 pm); Jon Pemberton Trio at Loring Pasta Bar; Josh Granowski and Patrick Harison, dinner set at the Icehouse; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma; Ted Olsen and Joe Strachan at Angelina’s Kitchen; Nachito Herrera at the Dakota; Thomasina Petrus in “Etta.. Tell Mama” at the Capri Theater



JoAnn Funk
Sunday, April 21. Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Café; Robert Everest, brunch at Maria’s Café; Thomasina Petrus in “Etta… Tell Mama” at the Capri Theater (3 pm);  JoAnn Funk with The Roseville Strings at Concordia Academy (3 pm); Twin Cities Mobile Jazz Project Fundraiser at the Dakota (4 pm); Gwen Matthews Fundraiser at the Dakota; Jerry O’Hagan Orchestra with Charmin Michele at Cinema Ballroom



Monday April 22. JT’s Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse; Headspace at the Artists Quarter; Denny Malmberg and guest at Fireside Pizza


Tuesday, April 23. Zeitgeist Salon at Studio Z; Cory Wong Quartet followed by the Dave Karr Quartet at the Artists Quarter; Molly Ringwald Quartet at the Dakota



Wednesday, April 24. Steve Kenny and the Bastids, early show at the Artists Quarter



Thursday, April 25. Leisure Valley at Barbette



Coming Soon!

. April 26, Craig Taborn at Walker Art Center

. April 27, Insurgent at Studio Z

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

. May 1-2, Bill Frisell’s Beautiful Dreamers Trio at the Dakota

. May 3-4, Bill Carrothers at the Artists Quarter

. May 11, Zacc Harris at Studio Z

. May 12, PipJazz Sundays with the Women in Jazz Ensemble

. May 12-13, Fourplay at the Dakota

. May 15, Michael O’Brien at the Artists Quarter

. May 15-16, Jane Monheit at the Dakota

. May 16, Dakota Combo at Antonello Hall (MacPhail Center for Music)

. May 18, Mary Louise Knutson Trio, Jazz @St. Barneys (St Barnabas Church)

. May 19, Illicit Sextet at Jazz Central (TCJS Jazz From J to Z)

. May 19, Martin Taylor and Lawrence Juber at the Dakota

. May 24, Joe Krowne Trio at the Dakota

. May 24-25, Bryan Nichols Quintet at the Artists Quarter

. May 25, Patty Peterson and Friends at the Dakota

. June 7, Reynold Philipsek CD Release at the 318 Café

. June 9, PipJazz Sundays with John Penny, Will Kjeer

. June 16, Sidewalk Café’ (Jazz in the Library), St Paul Central Library

. June 19-20, Ramsey Lewis Trio with Dee Dee Bridgewater at the Dakota

. June 23-24, David Murray Infinity Quartet with Macy Gray at the Dakota

. June 27-29, Twin Cities Jazz Festival with Cyrus Chestnut, Kenny Werner, Matt Slocum, Ariel Pocock, JazzMN Big Band, Jon Weber and more

. July 5-7, Iowa City Jazz Festival with Pharoah Sanders, Fred Hersch, Charlie Hunter, Lonnie Smith and more

Craig Taborn -- solo, trio and Junk Magic at the Walker, April 26th















Friday, April 12, 2013

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, April 12-18



Doc Severinsen Big Band returns to the Dakota this week


© Andrea Canter



Seems that every so often, we have a weekend that is so jammed packed with music, you can only hope to clone yourself or hope it’s all captured on You-Tube. Here comes another such weekend.  No matter what you choose to do, you’re going to miss something special. But no matter what you choose to do, you’re going to enjoy something special.  Just be sure to get out! The weather has to improve, right?



The Big Gigs

Eric Kamau Gravatt
Friday-Saturday, April 12-13. Eric Kamau Gravatt is one of those national jazz treasurers here in our own backyard.  Drummer for Weather Report and off-and-on collaborator with McCoy Tyner, Gravatt spent a lot of years off the grid as a guard at Lino Lakes. Once he retired, he was back touring with Tyner and playing (mostly at the Artists Quarter) with his band, Source Code. This weekend, he brings one of his most incendiary editions of Source Code to the AQ, with Dave Graf, Solomon Parham, Dean Magraw, Bryan Nichols and Ron Evaniuk. This is a sextet that can really blow.



Jeremy Walker
Saturday, April 13. Three very different shows in different corners of the metro tonight: Jeremy Walker (Jazz Is Now!, Box Car, Boot Camp) has been working for the past 18 months on a concert-length work using the text of  “Seven Psalms,” with original music for jazz quartet, voice, and choir. The debut takes place as a free concert at Bethel (in the Benson Great Hall), making it easily the bargain jazz event of the week. Or month. Jeremy’s pals Brandon Wozniak, Jeff Brueske and Tim Zhorne, with Jason Harms handling the vocals, add to the excitement of this premiere. (See Pamela Espeland’s piece in the Thursday Strib!)



Arne Fogel
Arne Fogel is at it again, this time saluting the relationship between singers and pianists with “We Love Our Pianos,” at the Hopkins Center for the Arts with the sterling voices of Connie Evingson and ex-Twin Citian, now Big Apple vocalist Nancy Harms, along with keyboard monsters Rick Carlson and Tanner Taylor. Surely we love those pianos!



In Lowertown St Paul, Zacc Harris’ Jazz at Studio Z takes a tropical turn as Doug Little and Charanga Tropicale fill the April concert slot. The band is still hot from its recent tour of Cuba, and the ensemble of strings and flutepresents a sound that is harmonically rich and infectiously rhythmic, inspiring visions mojitos and Caribbean sunsets,” to quote Little. Come early (5 pm) for a free informative “workshop” before the evening concert.



Rhonda Laurie
Saturday-Sunday, April 13-14. Two years ago, singer Rhonda Laurie was awarded a grant via Legacy Funding to bring a musical revue – “Happy Days Are Here Again”—to libraries and other small town venues throughout Eastern Minnesota. Soon Rhonda’s songs from the 30s and 40s were featured in theaters, old opera houses and other spaces outstate, usually with a guitar trio. Finally Rhonda will debut this show in a metro concert space, in the Black Box Theater of the Bloomington Center for the Arts, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. And it’s sort of a revival, as Rhonda is now booked in September to take the show back on the road, from Brainerd to Bemidji.  We could use some happy days!



Zosha Warpeha
Sunday, April 14. I’m glad the 2013 season of PipJazz Sundays moved up to 4 pm. Makes it easier to do a double header. At Landmark Center, the April installment of PipJazz is a double pleasure as virtuoso violinist Gary Schulte (Twin Cities Hot Club, Gypsy Mania, Sidewalk Café) teams up with young jazz violinist Zosha Warpeha (Perpich Center for Arts Education, Dakota Combo). Also on hand, Central High senior trombonist Aiden Kronmiller and of course the always exciting PipJazz band.



Paquito D'Rivera
Two shows tonight at the Dakota feature the master clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera with world-renowned guitar duo the Assad Brothers. “Dances From the New World” is the name of their show and the name of their upcoming CD release, showcasing original compositions and arrangements that bridge classical, jazz and New World influences. Wrote Don Heckman in the LA Times, "Call it one of the most engaging musical presentations of the season. Better yet, call it a stunning display of the music of the Western Hemisphere, performed by three of that region's (and the world's) finest artists."  



Doc Severinsen
Monday-Tuesday, April 15-16. The Dakota welcomes back the indefatigable Doc Severinsen and his Big Band. The gig last spring was loads of fun as well as an opportunity to enjoy Doc’s enduring trumpet and some of our local heroes as well. Once again, pianist Mary Louise Knutson will handle the keyboards (here and on tour), and we likely will see some familiar faces in the horn section.



Thursday, April 18. Cuban drummer extraordinaire Francisco Mela was here recently with McCoy Tyner, and a year ago with Joe Lovano. Now he’s back alone, conducting workshops and master classes in  area schools, building up to a concert with local cohorts at MacPhail on April 20th. Tonight there’s a free, all-comers drum clinic at Jazz Central. All percussion students are invited! Check the McNally Smith website for information about public clinics this weekend, and the MacPhail site for information on the Antonello Hall concert Saturday night.



Gary Schulte
At the Artists Quarter, a relatively new trio, Talking Strings, takes the stage. Featuring guitarist Pavel Jany, bassist Andrew Foreman and violinist Gary Schulte, the music reaches global proportions as these musicians meld classical, jazz and international traditions.



More Jazz, Every Night

Be sure to check live jazz calendars on Jazz Police and KBEM sites. Also find a growing number of events on the Jazz Near You site, a service of All About Jazz. A few more gigs of note:



Todd Clouser
Friday, April 12. Irv Williams and Peter Schimke, Happy Hour at the Dakota; Todd Harper (early set) followed by Darryl Holter with special guest Ben Wendel at the Black Dog; Todd Clouser and Chris Bates, dinner set at the Icehouse; Nick Haas Trio at Hell’s Kitchen; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Classic Big Band at the KC Hall (Bloomington); Todd Clouser and A Love Electric (Midnight Show) at the Amsterdam Bar



Saturday, April 13. Ted Olsen and Joe Strachan at Angelina’s Kitchen (Woodbury); JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma; Dave Karr and Bryan Nichols, dinner set at the Icehouse; Sophia Shorai at Hell’s Kitchen



Sunday, April 14. Patty and the Buttons (brunch) at the Aster Café; Robert Everest (brunch) at Maria’s Café; Jerry O’Hagan Orchestra with Charmin Michelle at Cinema Ballroom; Maurice Jacox and Thom West at Eat Street Social; Bend in the River Big Band at Edinborough Indoor Park; Zacc Harris at Riverview Wine Bar



Monday, April 15. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Headspace at the Artists Quarter; JT’s Jazz Implosion with Anthony Cox at the Icehouse; John Kazilarmut at Jazz Central



Tuesday, April 16. Cory Wong Quartet followed by Zacc Harris/Bill Brown/Kenny Horst at the Artists Quarter; Doug Haining’s Twin Cities 7 at Jazz Central; East Side at Hell’s Kitchen



Wednesday, April 17. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Seteve Kenny and the Bastids followed by the Graydon Peterson Quartet at the Artists Quarter; Pete Whitman Group at Jazz Central; Sister Swing (Maryann Sullivan and Rhonda Laurie) at the Eagles Club; Wolverines Trio at Hell’s Kitchen



Debbie Duncan
Thursday, April 18. Patrick Harison at the Icehouse; Debbie Duncan at Hell’s Kitchen; Beasley’s Big Band at Wabasha Street Caves



Coming Soon!

. April 19-20, David Hazeltine at the Artists Quarter

. April 20, Francisco Mela at Antonello Hall (MacPhail Center for Music)

. April 20, Nachito Herrera at the Dakota

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

. April 21, Soul Café at Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church

. April 22, Charmin & Shapira and Friends at the Dakota

. April 23, Molly Ringwald Quartet at the Dakota

. April 24, MacPhail Center for Music Annual Music Matters Luncheon (fundraiser) at Minneapolis Convention Center

. April 24, Denny Malmberg Quartet with Charmin Michelle, CD release at Fireside Pizza

· April 26, Craig Taborn at Walker Art Center

. April 27, Insurgent at Studio Z

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

. May 1-2, Bill Frisell’s Beautiful Dreamers Trio at the Dakota

. May 3-4, Bill Carrothers at the Artists Quarter
. May 10-11, Jerry Weldon at the Artists Quarter

. May 11, Zacc Harris at Studio Z

. May 12, PipJazz Sundays with the Women in Jazz Ensemble

. May 12-13, Fourplay at the Dakota

. May 15, Michael O’Brien at the Artists Quarter

. May 15-16, Jane Monheit at the Dakota

. May 16, Dakota Combo at Antonello Hall (MacPhail Center for Music)
. May 17-18, Phil Hey @60 Celebration at the Artists Quarter

. May 18, Mary Louise Knutson Trio, Jazz @St. Barneys (St Barnabas Church)

. May 19, Illicit Sextet at Jazz Central (TCJS Jazz From J to Z)

. May 19, Martin Taylor and Lawrence Juber at the Dakota

. May 24, Joe Krowne Trio at the Dakota

. May 24-25, Bryan Nichols Quintet at the Artists Quarter

. May 25, Patty Peterson and Friends at the Dakota

. June 7, Reynold Philipsek CD Release at the 318 Café

. June 9, PipJazz Sundays with John Penny, Will Kjeer

. June 16, Sidewalk Café’ (Jazz in the Library), St Paul Central Library

. June 19-20, Ramsey Lewis Trio with Dee Dee Bridgewater at the Dakota

. June 23-24, David Murray Infinity Quartet with Macy Gray at the Dakota

. June 27-29, Twin Cities Jazz Festival with Cyrus Chestnut, Kenny Werner, Matt Slocum, Ariel Pocock, JazzMN Big Band, Jon Weber and more

. July 5-7, Iowa City Jazz Festival with Pharoah Sanders, Fred Hersch, Charlie Hunter, Lonnie Smith and more


Francisco Mela performs at MacPhail on April 20th





Monday, April 8, 2013

Jazz Appreciation Month: From the Sublimated to the Ridiculous, All in Good Music





© Andrea Canter

April is Jazz Appreciation Month across the country, and special events can be found from small town theaters to major city venues. We’re fortunate to live in an area that not only sports a couple of those major venues, but a wide range of jazz across predictable and unlikely settings.  And it’s hard to imagine more disparate renderings of “jazz” than the past weekend in Minneapolis, with a 3-concert, multi-ensemble marathon celebrating John Zorn at the Walker Art Center (Saturday) and what might be described as an evening of “Berlin Vaudeville mit Kabarett” (pardon my German) at the Dakota (Sunday).  While the specifics of the music seemed worlds apart, both shows shared a significant element – uncommonly virtuosic musicians performing jazz as theater under the leadership of pure genius.



John Zorn (press photo)
John Zorn @60 at the Walker

One of the guiding lights of the nouveau jazz avant garde, Zorn is taking a broad spectrum of his career on the road in 2013 in celebration of his upcoming 60th birthday on September 2nd. At the Walker, he presented three sequential concerts separated by approximately 90-minute breaks, essentially a non-chronological overview of his most and least accessible compositions as well as a diverse set of recent works, featuring some of his long-standing cohorts as well as a handful of like-minded local artists. Pre- and post-concert events including the kick-off “interview” with curator Philip Bither and the evening’s “coda” – a free midnight solo organ performance across the street at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral. Admittedly I did not hang in there for the organ finale. But from the auspicious “interview” in Walker Cinema through the blaring, free improv encore in McGuire Theater, Zorn was the center of an entertainment cyclone, sometimes a sonic ruckas, sometimes a lyrical hoedown, always riveting.



Joey Baron
Philip Bither may have asked a question or two, but the “interview” with Zorn was better described as John’s Soapbox and Comedy Hour, during which time we learned less about Zorn’s music and more about Zorn’s persona and cultural politics. And he’s in charge. Throughout the evening he did not “perform” often but he directed every note. Or every screech and scrape, every crash and crescendo, every slide and sigh. Even when, in solo, guitarist Marc Ribot mashed the strings or popped a balloon, Zorn was nearby, seemingly the telepathic conductor (Program I, Game Pieces, “The Book of Heads”). His presence was more direct squealing whistles and batting small percussion tools with Erik Friedlander and Kenny Wolleson (Game Pieces, “Hockey”) or squawking the daylights out of his reed when he finally picked up the saxophone on the Program III finale, complete with dark stage and subliminally interactive video projection. Yet his presence as conductor/director/coach during ensemble performances (“Cobra” in Program I; Masada String Trio and the larger Bar Kokhba in Program II;  “Nova Express” and “The Concealed” in Program III) was equally central to the music.  It was quite cool to see the energetic performances of Ribot, drummer Joey Baron, percussionist Cyro Baptista, keyboardist John Medeski, cellists Erik Friedlander and local heroine Michelle Kinney, violinist Mark Feldman, bassist Greg Cohen and more. But with or without an instrument, this was John Zorn’s show. After all, it was his party. And it was a grand spectacle, for both eyes and ears.



Max Rabbe and the Palaster Orchester at the Dakota

Perhaps it is the limits of translation but there are no English words to adequately describe Max Raabe and the Palaster Orchester. “Slick, nostalgic, and unmistakably modern, their performances are executed with uncanny precision, drama, and humor” was the hype on the Dakota website, but that hardly does justice to what must be referred to as an “event.” Originally scheduled at Orchestra Hall, that season’s loss was definitely the Dakota’s –and the audience’s—gain; while the performance would surely have been a hit in the big hall, it was a total immersion experience in the club setting.


Max Raabe  and Pallaster Orchester (press photo)
Max Raabe is a Wagernian baritone turned cabaret crooner devoted to the music and styles of Berlin in the Weimer era, surrounding himself with an exceptionally talented 12-piece orchestra that is never quite what it seems. Even the staging was unique, with a “loft” above the grand piano holding a one-man percussion section. The lighting and sound –as good as it’s ever been at the Dakota—replicated a 30s talkie or radio broadcast; Raabe was decked out in black tux and tails with his slicked-back gray hair and pale complexion only adding to the wry humor of his stead-fast dead-pan affect that never wavered; and that baritone stretched well into high tenor on such standards as “I Only Have Eyes for You” and “Night and Day.”  Raabe’s commentary between the set’s 20+ songs sometimes offered a bullet-translation of the German lyrics (about one-third of the repertoire was sung in German), adding considerable humor with nary a twitch in his delivery.

In sharp (and humorous) contrast to their leader, the orchestra musicians were lively, animated, well choreographed and multi-talented. Most of the horn players doubled or tripled; the bassist alternately played the sousaphone (which looked more than a little ridiculous in the formal staging of the orchestra); the guitarist traded off on banjo and violin. And in one of the most clever sleight-of-hands I’ve seen on an orchestra stage, on the tango translated (by Raabe) as “You’re not the first one but you can be the last,” no less than nine musicians suddenly became a violin choir for the final verse. And they weren’t done, transforming themselves into a spot-on-bell choir for the following waltz, which Raabe described as “not as elegant as a Viennese waltz but much louder.”



Bela Fleck and Chick Corea
These are but two highlights of the local April jazz calendar thus far – a month that began with a night of Chick Corea and Bela Fleck, then two nights of Madeleine Peyroux at the Dakota, followed by an evening of reinvented and new music from trumpet/voice teams  at Jazz Central (Adam Meckler/Jana Nyberg and Benje and Ashley Daneman), and the long-awaited return of organ “legend” Billy Holloman at the Artists Quarter. How can one not appreciate the broad genre of jazz –or at least one piece of it—when it covers more than a century of magic from ragtime to out-of-time, from crooners and banjos to string stranglers and balloon poppers, from Max Raabe to John Zorn?