Friday, September 5, 2014

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, September 5-11

Adam Meckler Orchestra -- 2 gigs celebrating new recording this week

© Andrea Canter

After four days at the Detroit Jazz Festival over Labor Day, I reached two firm conclusions: 1) The Detroit Jazz Festival is probably the world's best free jazz extravaganza as well as the largest; and 2) you don't need to go to a festival in Detroit (or Chicago) to hear the best jazz musicians in the world, free or otherwise -- you can just stay in the Twin Cities. For the most part our local talents don't have international recognition as do those festival musicians. But in terms of artistry and creativity, we have it all right here. In the coming week, there are numerous opportunities to sample our local treasures as well as one of those internationally recognized headliners.

Big Gigs This Week

Salsa del Soul
Friday, September 5. The Concrete and Grass Lowertown Music Festival is underway at Mears Park and boasts a wide range of music, including some hot jazz acts. Tonight, the eclectic Prairie Fire Ladies Choir is followed by Salsa del Soul, one of the most popular Latin ensembles in the region. Those tropical rhythms inspire dancing, indoors or out, and Mears Park is one of the most dance-friendly of the outdoor venues. Each musician is well-established in his or her own right, but together they will set more than a prairie on fire! The nights ends on the majestic notes of the Adam Meckler Orchestra, an 18-piece big band with the power of a symphony and the interactive spirit of a quartet. The band will preview its debut release, When the Clouds Look Like This, officially out at the end of September. (The festival continues through Saturday night; see the full line up at )

Chris Bates, Fall of House of Usher
In conjunction with Concrete and Grass, the Black Dog is hosting the unusual ensemble, Fall of the House of Usher. In the spirit of Edgar Allen Poe (perhaps), this rather spooky collaboration features Chris Cunningham on guitar, Chris Bates on bass, Greg Schutte on drums; Elliott Wachs, Nathan Hanson and Ivan Cunningham on saxes; and Adam Svec on vocals. They describe the music as "world inspired slip sync improv that gets your booty shakin’!" Over at Jazz Central, a truly dynamic and fame-worthy piano/bass duo of Peter Schimke and Anthony Cox takes the Bridge Series to peak levels.

The Dakota Combo: Musicians wanted
Saturday, September 6. A reminder to high school jazz musicians that open auditions for the Dakota Combo will be held today (12:30-4 pm) at MacPhail Center for Music. You can just show up but be sure to check out instructions at This is an amazing opportunity for students in grades 9-12 who are super serious about their jazz to learn and perform throughout the school year under the direction of acclaimed bassist/educator Adam Linz.

Steve Kenny
Trumpeter/bandleader Steve Kenny brings another outstanding quartet to the Black Dog tonight, featuring Kenny, Brandon Wozniak, Billy Peterson and Babatunde Lea. Peterson and Lea already have international cred, and Kenny and Wozniak are similarly deserving. Perhaps there is no better example this week of a band we'd pay good money to hear in New York.

Arne Fogel
Minnesota's favorite crooner gets a rare Saturday night at Hell's Kitchen as Arne Fogel brings charm and song to the stage, joined by frequent partners in swing, Phil Aaron, Matt Senjem and Mac Santiago. And back for a new season of Saturday nights in the Lobby Bar of the Saint Paul Hotel, JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske offer tastey takes on standards and contemporary fare, from Blossom Dearie to John Lennon.

Jana Nyberg
Sunday, September 7. Got to Hell for brunch! Or at least go to Hell's Kitchen for brunch with the Jana Nyberg Group. The usual suspects include husband Adam Meckler on sparkling trumpet. Vocalist Jana will likely double on flute. If you have to go to Hell, this is the band to go with. If you prefer a room with a view of the river rather than the huge hellish angel at HK, Sunday brunch with Maud Hixson at the Aster is a good option. Songbird Maud brings along a mighty fine trio with Rick Carlson, Billy Peterson and Nathan Norman.

Milo Fine
One of the local leaders of the avant garde, multi-instrumentlist/ improviser Milo Fine recently opened a studio at his home in North Minneapolis for a series of performances. At Studio Toile d'Angles, Milo gives a solo performance on drumset, piano and B-flat clarinet. More about the location and music series on Milo's website.

Rueben Ristrom
Monday, September 8. Too often flying under the radar, guitarist (and banjoist) Rueben Ristrom deservedly takes the spotlight as Featured Artist at Jazz Central. Maybe no other string player in town swings harder than Reuben, unless maybe its his cohorts for the evening, Keith Boyles and Dick Bortolussi. Son Dan Ristrom will add vocals to some tunes and maybe wife Diane will sit in as well. Call it the Swing Family Ristrom.

Mike Lewis
JT's Jazz Implosion offers a double header at the Icehouse: First set features San Francisco-based saxophonist Josh Smith mixing it up with JT and Mike Lewis (2 saxes and drums-- or perhaps Mike is picking up the bass tonight?); second set is DD7 with Lewis, Bates, Anthony Cox, Steve Kenny and Brandon Wozniak-- 3 horns, bass and drums.

Tuesday, September 9. Every second Tuesday, guitarist Chris Olson holds the stage at the Black Dog. Tonight he is joined by two more guitars-- Spencer Christesen and Tomas Simpson, in solo, duo and trio formats. Lots of strings, lots of fun music.

Evan Christopher
Wednesday, September 10. It's billed as a tribute to the great Sidney Bechet ("Remembering Song"), but Evan Christopher's return to the Dakota really is a broader event. Evan tells me that "In 2009, Bucky Pizzarelli recorded some music of mine on an Arbor's CD project called The Remembering Song. The title and program did celebrate some of Bechet's philosophy, but it also commemorated my return to New Orleans around 2008." At the time, and on til today, the virtuosic clarinetist was moving away from jazz per se to embrace the music of New Orleans. "Some think of New Orleans music as a sub-genre of jazz. I don't," says Evan. "Specifically, the clarinet is a melody instrument. Some players want to treat it the way they would the saxophone, but a great deal of nuance and tradition is often sacrificed. That's why I had Rick Carlson put together the most tasteful, swinging rhythm section he could." Joining Evan will be locals Carlson, Keith Boyles and Mac Santiago. "It's going to be more of a slow burn, every note has to mean something and the program needs to have some New Orleans humidity," explains Evan. "Haha. Maybe it's a Bechet tribute after all."

Lila Ammons
On a less traditional note, the Enormous Quartet takes the stage at Jazz Central on Chris Bates' "Magica Improvisado" series, with friends and inventive colleagues Bates, Chris Thomson, Park Evans and Joey Van Phillips trading ideas. Meanwhile astute vocalist Lila Ammons returns to the new Wednesday night jazz series at The Tangiers in the Minneapolis warehouse district.

Thursday, September 11. Twice in one week? The Adam Meckler Orchestra closed out the highly successful All Originals Jazz Series at Studio Z, performing more music from their new recording as well as some new material.

More Jazz Every Night

Keep up with the live jazz scene in the Twin Cities -- check out calendars at Jazz Police, KBEM, Rhythm and Grooves and All About Jazz, as well as here on the blog.  More jazz to tickle your ears:

Friday, September 5. Irv Williams and Steve Blons, happy hour at the Dakota; Arne Fogel at Parma 8200; Nachito Herrera at the Dakota

Saturday, September 6. Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200; Pigs Eye Jass Band at Eagle's Aerie Club

Sunday, September 7. Paul Lammers at Eagan Art House (1-5 pm); Jazz on the Prairie Big Band at Edinborough Park; Zacc Harris Trio at the Riverview Wine Bar

Charmin Michelle
Monday, September 8. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Twin Cities Hot Club at Famous Dave's (Uptown)

Tuesday, September 9. Nova Jazz Orchestra at Minnesota Music Cafe; Cafe Accordion Orchestra  at Loring Pasta Bar; Cedar Avenue Big Band at Jazz Central; Tommy and the Liebermans at the Dakota

Wednesday, September 10. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Gypsy Mania at Hell's Kitchen; Linda Peterson at School II Bistro; Pippi Ardennia All Stars, Kevin Washington Group, Cory Wong Group at Calhoun Square (Mobile Jazz Project)

Thursday, September 11. Colleen Raye at Jazz Central; Minnesota Jazz Orchestra at Wabasha Street Caves

Coming Soon!

. September 12, Dean Granros Quartet at Jazz Central

. September 13, John Raymond Trio with Gilad Hekselman and Colin Stranahan, Jazz at Studio Z

. September 13, Selby Avenue Jazz Festival featuring Harvey Mason (Selby and Milton Av, Saint Paul)

. September 15, Jacob Hansen Trio/Real Bulls (Jazz Implosion)

. September 16, Meshell Ndgeocello at the Dakota

. September 17, Nellie McKay and the Turtle Island Quartet at the Dakota

. September 19, Monk in Motian at Jazz Central

. September 20, Steven Hobert CD Release at Friends Meeting, St Paul

. September 20, Mary Louise Knutson Trio, Jazz @ St Barneys, St. Barnabas Lutheran Church

. September 20, Joel Harrison Trio at Jazz Central

. September 21, Ticket to Brasil, Adieu Summer Concert at Como Park

 .September 22, Horst/Peterson/Schimke/Whitman at the Icehouse (Jazz Implosion)

. September 24, Chick Corea and Vigil at the Dakota

. September 25, The Cookers at the Dakota

. September 25, Joan Griffith at Khyber Pass

. September 26, Pablo Ziegler Tango Project at the Dakota

. September 26, Adam Meckler Orchestra at MacPhail (Antonello Hall)

. September 26, Dave Karr Quartet at Jazz Central

. September 27, Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog begins with How Birds Work

. September 28, French 75 with Maud Hixson, Schneider Theater, Bloomington Center for the Arts (2 pm)

. September 29, Framework with Pete Whitman at the Icehouse (Jazz Implosion)

. September 30-October 1, Larry Coryell/Victor Bailey/Lenny White at the Dakota

. October 11, JazzMN Orchestra with Dave Weckl at Hopkins High School Auditorium

. October 12, Laura Caviani and JazzAX at Carleton College (3 pm)

. October 18, Chris Lomheim Trio CD release at Studio Z

. October 18-20, Herb Alpert and Lani Hall at the Dakota

. November 5-6, Hiromi Trio Project at the Dakota

. November 6, Terri Lynne Carrington's Mosaic Project (with Rachel Z and Lizz Wright) at O'Shaughnessy

. December 1, Joey DeFrancesco at the Dakota

. December 2, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and Cecile McLorin Salvant at Orchestra Hall

. December 21-22, Karrin Allyson Holiday Show at the Dakota
. December 25-28, The Bad Plus at the Dakota

. March 12, 2015, Jack DeJohnette at Walker Art Center, McGuire Theater

. March 25-26, Delfeayo Marsalis (Southern Gentleman) at the Dakota

. May 2, 2015, Jason Moran and Robert Glasper at Walker Art Center, McGuire Theater

John Raymond, bringing his Roots Trio to Studio Z on September 13