Friday, December 12, 2014

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

Roberta Gambarini with Justin Robinson at the Dakota, returning December 15-16

© Andrea Canter
As we get closer to the holidays, the options for live music keep growing. This week, for instance, you can hear one of the finest jazz quintets on the local scene in a too-rare live gig; welcome home (if briefly) one of our most popular, swinging pianists; enjoy productions of holiday brass and holiday songs from top local talents; hear two nights from an internationally acclaimed vocalist dubbed by legends as the "next big thing;" hear in an intimate space one of the region's most exciting big bands; and in an even more intimate space, hear improvised soloing from one of our most exciting purveyors of modern saxophone.

Big Gigs This Week
Tanner Taylor
Friday, December 12. Local vocalists and instrumentalists as well as jazz fans were disappointed when pianist Tanner Taylor relocated to his native Iowa a few months ago, we've all been eagerly awaiting a return visit. Tonight Taylor reunites with pals Graydon Peterson and Mac Santiago at his old stomping grounds, Jazz Central, for a night of swinging hijinks. Let's hope he makes these reunions a habit.

At the Black Dog, a new ensemble headed by JT Bates makes its debut. Basalt might sound like a great name for a rock band, but expect some hard-core improvising from drummer Bates, guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker and bassist James Anton.

Connie Evingson
For a relaxing evening of music, wine and Italian fare, check out Parma 8200 tonight as Connie Evingson takes the bandstand with the enviable trio of Rick Carlson, Gary Raynor and Dave Karr.

Chris Bates
Saturday, December 13. Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog welcomes Chris Bates' Red 5, a high-energy ensemble performing original music, and not often enough. Since Bates launched Red 5 two years ago, the band has released one of the region's top recordings (New Hope) and played only a handful of gigs, perhaps due to the heavy schedules of these intrepid musicians-- Bates, brother JT, Brandon Wozniak, Chris Thomson and Zack Lozier. That's Double Bates + 3 Horns = Red 5. Come early, to get a table and to hear the opening band of young lions, Dark Blue, hot off their Jazz Central debut. (And why not go from Dark Blue to Red 5?)

Charlie Lincoln
Vocalist Pippi Ardennia not only knows how to sell a song (pretty much any song), she knows how to nurture young talent and put youth together with veterans to create a very entertaining show. The last concert of the PipJazz season features 17-year-old bassist Charlie Lincoln, a South High senior who lately has been heard around the Twin Cities with his own bands as well as with Eric Kamau Gravatt's Source Code. The concert will also celebrate the holidays as Pippi and her PipJazz Experience band joyfully fills the air at the Maplewood Community Center Theater.

Maud Hixson and Rick Carlson
Sunday, December 14. Maud Hixson and Rick Carlson have long contributed to the holiday tradition at the Heights Theater --screenings of White Christmas. Now they are creating another tradition, celebrating holiday music in conjunction with screenings of classic film clips from the library of Bob DeFlores, dubbed Let It Snow. Last year, with Dave Karr and the Wolverines Trio, they debuted the show in Bloomington; today the show travels north to the Capri Theater for a family-winning matinee.

Charles Lazarus
If you missed last Thursday's Merry and Bright, Charles Lazarus' "brassy Christmas" show at the Wayzata Community Church, you have another opportunity tonight. With Lazarus' jazz ensemble, horns from the Minnesota Orchestra, and special guests Bruce Henry and Tonia Hughes, this is another can't-miss holiday tradition for anyone who finds joy in horns and voice.

John Scofield
At First Avenue, Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood bring together not only an iconic funk/jazz trio and one of the most revered guitarists in jazz, but also a unique blend of the rhythms of Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean, taking off from their recent album Juice.  Notes
Scofield, "This is our version of different African-based forms...Or, at least, that’s what we started with…eventually we said, ‘This is the outline, but we can do whatever the hell we want.’”

And if you happen to be in the LA area this weekend, Minnesota's own songbird/radio personality Patty Peterson, with family and friends, debuts at Catalina's tonight.

Monday, December 15. In the midst of the McNally Smith College of Music Emerging Artsts' week, tonight features the talented jazz students at The Amsterdam. Starting off at 8 pm and running the rest of the night, students pay tribute to the Hornheads, followed by sets from Jazz II, Afro-Latin Jazz, X-Tet and Advanced Jazz ensembles. (And it's all free.)

Kevin Gastonguay
At Jazz Central, outstanding young keyboardist Kevin Gastonguay is the featured artist for a B-3 evening, with saxophonist Clay Pufahl adding to the fun.

And for the night owls, JT's Jazz Implosion tonight at the Icehouse features Pal, a quartet headed by saxophonist George Cartwright, with turntablist/multi-instrumentalist Andrew Broder, bassist Josh Granowski and JT Bates himself on drums.

Jimmy Cobb
Monday-Tuesday, December 15-16. For the second time in 2014, internationally acclaimed vocalist Roberta Gambarini takes the stage at the Dakota, and she's bringing along some pretty impressive sidemen-- bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Jimmy Cobb, along with Roy Hargrove asssociates Justin Robinson on saxes and Sullivan Fortner on piano. The late Hank Jones partnered with Gambarini on a few projects before his death, and he proclaimed her the best vocalist to come along in fifty years. That might be an arguable statement, but Gambarini is certainly among the very best in jazz at the moment.

Adam Meckler Orchestra
Tuesday, December 16. When they started out at Jazz Central with a monthly gig, the Adam Meckler Orchestra started drawing so well that they had to find another, larger venue. So they moved to a monthly slot at the Artists Quarter, again drawing audiences that filled the room. When the AQ closed, they moved to the much larger Amsterdam, but missed the jazz club feel. Tonight they return to Jazz Central, filling the slot normally occupied by the Explosion Big Band, as EBB takes a break while key members play with holiday productions. The AMO, in its relatively short history, has won over new fans of big band music while also appealing to long-time fans of the Big Band era. They released their first recording, When Clouds Look Like This, a few months ago, and it stands as one of the top local releases of the year. Better arrive early-- Jazz Central has not expanded, but the appeal of the AMO reaches far and wide.

Charmin Michelle
Wednesday, December 17. We often take for granted the bands and musicians who have regular gigs, especially weekly hangs -- we know we can go next week and the next, and end up not getting there at all. Don't let that happen! Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg have been holding a duo gig twice weekly (Monday and Wednesday) at Fireside Pizza for the last five years or more, and if you have not been there lately, it's time! And it is probably the most unlikely venue for such swinging, elegant music from two of the metro's most skilled jazzers, Charmin with her command of the Great American Songbook and beyond, Denny with his unique talents on accordion and (occasionally) keyboards. And you never know when a special guest will drop in. Aside from the music, which is crammed into a corner of the restaurant below neon beer signs, wine bottles and a wide television screen, Fireside offers one of the best thin-crust pizzas in town and a family-friendly ambience of a neighborhood pizza joint. Which it is. Go back tonight and wonder why you don't go more often. (Tonight special guest-- Reuben Ristrom on guitar!)

Miguel Hurtado
At Jazz Central, a reunion of sorts and surely one of the best opportunities to enjoy young talents with roots in the Twin Cities. Drummer Miguel Hurtado  pulls together friends and former bandmates for an unforgettable night - -with Javier Santiago on piano, Ted Olson on bass, Jake Baldwin on trumpet, Nelson Devereaux on sax. Miguel and Javi were bandmates going back to middle school and South High days and both have played with Ted over the past few years.  And locally, Miguel, Jake and Nelson often find themselves together on Jazz Central and Dakota Late Night gigs.

Michael Lewis
Thursday, December 18. The Vocal Jazz showcase at Jazz Central heats up tonight with Five by Design vocalist Sheridan Zuther accompanied by Delfeayo Marsalis' pianist, Richard Johnson. On what might be the opposite end of the jazz spectrum in 2014, saxophonist/bassist/improviser Michael Lewis (Happy Apple, Fat Kid Wednesdays) goes solo in the little performance space of Khyber Pass.

More Jazz All Week!
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, December 12. Irv Williams and Steve Blons, happy hour, followed by the Ginger Commodore Quartet at the Dakota; Todd Harper, solo piano at the Black Dog; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar, Saint Paul Hotel; Charmin Michelle and the Twin Cities Jazz Imports at House of Pizza (Sartell, MM); Debbie Duncan at Mattie's on Main; College Night (North Central University Jazz Workshop), late set at Jazz Central

Saturday, December 13. Charmin and Shapira, noon at Midtown Global Market; Jon Pemberton Trio at Loring Pasta Bar; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar, Saint Paul Hotel; Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200; Maryann Sullivan and Joel Shapira at SW Craft Bar (formerly Senor Wong); Kiss of Fire Cabaret and Holiday Burlesque Show at Mattie's on Main

Sunday, December 14. Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Cafe; Robert Everest, brunch at Maria's; Fuzzy Math at the Black Dog; Zacc Harris Trio at the Riverview Wine Bar; Jerry O'Hagan Orchestra with Charmin Michelle at Cinema Ballroom

Monday, December 15. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Larry McDonough, early evening sets at the Icehouse
Larry McDonough

Tuesday, December 16. Patty and the Buttons at Cafe Maude; Cafe Accordion at Loring Pasta Bar; Vic Volare with Charmin Michelle, holiday show at Jax Cafe;

Wednesday, December 17. Zacc Harris Trio at Cafe Maude; Arne Fogel and the Wolverines Trio at Hell's Kitchen; George Maurer Holiday Show at the Dakota; River City Jazz Orchestra at Minnesota Music Cafe; Open Mic Jazz Night at the Imperial Room; Sound Atlas (original compositions from Byron Johnson-Blanchard, Brent Wallace, David Hirsch and Wes Ruelle) at the Black Dog; Parisota Hot Club at The Tangiers

Thursday, December 18.  Fuzzy Math at Hell's Kitchen; Lee Engele and Reynold Philipsek at the Mason Jar

Coming Soon!
. December 19, Barbara Meyer and Phil Mattson at the 318 Cafe
. December 19, Dean Granros Quartet at Jazz Central
. December 19 & 21, Doc Severinsen with the Minnesota Orchestra at Orchestra Hall
. December 20, Twin Cities Jazz Sampler at Jazz Central (Good Vibes Trio, Group 47, Atlantis Quartet)
. December 20, Peterson Family "Jam Before Christmas" at the Dakota
. December 21-22, Karrin Allyson Holiday Show at the Dakota
. December 22, Javier Santiago at Jazz Central
. December 23, Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra at Jazz Central
. December 25-28, The Bad Plus at the Dakota
. December 26, Good Vibes Trio at Jazz Central
. December 26, Jake Baldwin Quartet, Late Night at the Dakota
. December 27, Big Band Christmas, Jazz @ St Barneys at St Barnabas Lutheran Church
. December 27, Fat Kid Wednesdays at the Black Dog
. December 27, Aaron Hedenstrom CD Release, Jazz at Studio Z
. December 27, Laura Caviani and Bob Bowman at Jazz Central
. December 30, Vicky Mountain at The Nicollet
. December 31, Jazz Awards Night at Jazz Central
. January 3, Group 47 at the Black Dog
. January 9, Joel Shapira/Dean Granros CD Release at the Black Dog
. January 10, Bill Carrothers Trio, Jazz at Studio Z
. January 13, Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education Fundraiser at the Dakota
. January 17, Joan Griffith and Reuben Ristrom at Hosmer Library
. January 17, Bottomless Pit at the Black Dog
. January 20-21, Jose James at the Dakota
. January 22, David Berkman at Orchestra Hall (Target Atrium)
. January 23, Maryann Sullivan's Corner Jazz at the Black Dog
. January 24, Illicit Sextet at the Black Dog
. January 25, Leigh Kamman Memorial Tribute at the Saint Paul Hotel (Ballroom)
. January 25, Chris Potter Quartet at the Dakota
. January 27-28, Dianne Reeves at the Dakota
. January 31, Dave Brattain Quartet, Dean Granros Quartet at the Black Dog
. February 13, The Assad Brothers with Romero Lubambo at the Dakota
. March 9, David Sanchez Quartet at the Dakota
. March 12, Jack DeJohnette at Walker Art Center, McGuire Theater
. March 15, Jazz Mn Orchestra with Pete Christlieb at Hopkins High School Auditorium
. March 25-26, Delfeayo Marsalis (Southern Gentleman) at the Dakota
. March 29, Tierney Sutton and Mark Summer at the Dakota
. April 16, Anthony Cox and Jeremy Walker, "Rage of Achilles" at Orchestra Hall (Target Atrium)
. April 25, JazzMN Orchestra with Bob Mintzer at Hopkins High School Auditorium

Karrin Allyson returns to the Dakota, December 21-22