Monday, April 21, 2014

Take Five

Adam Linz and the Dakota Combo at Chippewa Middle School (Mounds View)
© Andrea Canter
Five cool things in jazz last week:

Good Vibes Trio
Good Vibes Trio CD release at the Icehouse (April 14). A week after a private gathering to preview his latest recording project, Chris Bates brought his Good Vibes Trio (with Dave Hagedorn and Phil Hey) into the often-raucous Icehouse for the official celebration. And what a joy to be in a venue with a room full of listeners as serious as the musicians on stage. The lighting was more punk rock but the music was post bop magic, drawn from the album as well as the out-takes, originals from band members and elegant arrangements of Mingus, Coleman, Coltrane and more. Good vibes, indeed.

Levi Schwartzberg, Dakota Combo
The Dakota Combo Annual School Tour (April 17). Every year since 2007, the all-star high school ensemble, the Dakota Combo, has taken a day to visit 2-3 metro-area schools to perform and inform. The touring day was initiated by Kelly Rossum during his tenure as Jazz Coordinator and combo director at MacPhail Center for Music. Since 2009, the Combo has been guided by Adam Linz. By all accounts, the 2014 tour was the best yet, in terms of audience and young artist enthusiasm as well as logistical comfort. Many in the three school audiences were only marginally acquainted with jazz, but asked great questions about the music, the instruments, practicing, etc. It was a good day selling jazz!

Christopher McBride
Eden Prairie High School Band Fundraiser (April 17). It takes a village.... or at least supportive parents! The jazz program, as well as the entire music department, got a boost with a day of student clinics and an evening of performance featuring the five musicians of the Christopher McBride Quintet. Sponsored by parents, the evening was a fund-raiser for the EPHS band program, and featured three student jazz ensembles as well as two sets from McBride's band. McBride (alto saxophonist) himself is a good ambassador for jazz-- his enthusiasm is contagious and his music is joyful.  Hats off to band director Mike Whipkey, parents, and student musicians.

Ragamala ensemble
Ragamala Dance and Rudresh Mahanthappa, Rehearsal for "Song of the Jasmine." The only thing more cool than rehearsal will be the performances May 15-18 at the Walker Art Center. Walker co-commissioned this collaboration between locally based Ragamala Dance and world renowned saxophonist/composer Rudresh Mahanthappa, now in rehearsal for the world premiere performances. Traditional South India dance melds with jazz improvisation and traditional Carnatic music. My sneak preview is high on my list of cool things-- for the year. Tickets still available.

Bobby McFerrin's spirityouall at Orchestra Hall (April 19). One-time resident Creative Director for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, McFerrin now is only rarely on stage in the Twin Cities, but whenever he's in town, it's like we've been hit with a lightning rod of invention. McFerrin has found unusual and satisfying ways to manipulate the human voice -- aptly demonstrated by his multi-voiced solo rendition of the National Anthem and his delightful duet with local protegé Judi (Donaghy) Vinar.