Friday, January 31, 2014

Faces of the Artists Quarter #48


Steve Kenny (2012)

© Andrea Canter

Some veteran musicians would think it beneath their dignity to be an opening act. Trumpeter Steve Kenny recognized the opportunity to develop a band, hone a body of music, build an audience and mentor young talent with a weekly opening act at a world-class jazz club. For the past few years, Wednesdays at 7 pm belonged to Steve Kenny and the Bastids, yielding midway through 2013 to a new configuration known as Steve Kenny's Group 47. (Why 47? That's Steve's position on the iconic 1999 poster that greeted patrons entering the AQ in the lower level of the Hamm Building--sort of an indoor version Art Kane's famed jazz photo, "A Great Day in Harlem.")

Steve Kenny and his flumpet (2012)
Steve was a young lion himself back in the day -- in the early 90s when he was a founding member of the Illicit Sextet, then one of the most popular jazz ensembles in the Twin Cities. That band recorded Chapter One... and soon disappeared. As did Steve himself, and he is often quick to explain his absence and time spent doing time for some bad choices. But that was then. Steve's paid it back in more ways than one. The Illicit Sextet resurfaced about four years ago, and soon went into Chapter Eleven-- their long-awaited second recording and an intermittent series of gigs at the AQ, Jazz Central, the Twin Cities Jazz Festival and beyond. And there's still more to come.

But Steve Kenny's living legacy is that series of Wednesday nights at the AQ, putting the spotlight on some young guys just breaking into the jazz scene like pianist Jesse Mueller, bassist Adam Tucker, drummer Aaron Rupar, saxophonist Dejen Tesfagiorgis, and somehow fitting that description that always ran on the AQ website -- "part jam session, part stand-up comedy, and part game show."  Steve and the band could be as entertaining as they were musical. And it was an open set -- it was part jam session, with invited guests each week as well as the opportunity to sit in. High school pianist Will Kjeer sat in -- and when Steve reorganized the band as Group 47, Will signed on. UW-River Falls saxophonist Thomas Strommen sat in early with Group 47 and now is part of the band. Their first recording, Straight to Vinyl, is in the can.

Wednesday nights are dark at the AQ and so far there is no weekly replacement gig for Steve Kenny, but I suspect it won't be long. There's too much music, too much energy, and too many young talents who need that "jam session, stand-up comedy and game show" opportunity. And too many of us who miss it. As for the Illicit Sextet, they will come together somewhere soon - and maybe record Chapter 47?

Steve Kenny's Group 47 (2013)


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Faces of the Artists Quarter #47



Will Kjeer (2013)

© Andrea Canter



At just 17, Will Kjeer has already been an AQ regular -- holding down the piano bench for Steve Kenny's Group 47 for it six-month run as the early night gig every Wednesday during the latter part of 2013 before the club closed. And this wasn't even Will's first appearance with a veteran pro. He's been on the bandstand in the past year with saxophonist Dave Brattain, sat in with the Jana Nyberg Group, and serves as the Young Artist in Residence for the PipJazz Experience band -- sometimes filling in on keys for veteran Peter Schimke and otherwise working with such luminaries as Billy Peterson, Dean Magraw and Glenn Swanson.



And then of course he has had some workouts with uncle Kenny Horst, including some time on stage during the AQ farewell weekend. With his own band, Blue Haven, Will has opened at the AQ for the summer jazz festival jam sessions, performed at Jazz Central... and is in a second year with the high school ensemble Dakota Combo.



It would be easy to say that Will got some unusual opportunities early on because his uncle owned the Artists Quarter. Certainly Will was well known to Kenny Horst, more so than the typical teen prodigy! But Kenny never handed over the keys to his Yamaha without good evidence that there would be excellent, crowd-pleasing musicianship, whether the artist was 17 or 75.



With the closing of the AQ, Group 47 is booking gigs elsewhere around town, this week at both Jazz Central and the Black Dog. And Will is booking gigs of his own-- in between completing those college applications and wondering where the next few years will take him. Wherever he goes, it will not be his youth that will guarantee an audience. We'll have to blame it on his talent.

Uncle and nephew finish the final set at the Artists Quarter (New Year's Eve, 2013)

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, January 31-February 6



 
Joel Shapira release "Inherence" with help from Dean Granros on Wednesday
© Andrea Canter



While the loss of the Artists Quarter still leaves many fans wondering where to get their jazz fix, the sheer number of venues help generate a good range of options most any day of the week. Some local veterans keep us on the "sunny side of the street" despite the windchills this week.



Big Gigs This Week

Irv Williams and Peter Schimke
Friday, January 31. If you have not had a recent opportunity to hear the cross-generation duo of Irv Williams and Peter Schimke at their happy hour gig at the Dakota, check it out tonight! Sometimes joined by Billy Peterson, there is no local duo with as much empathy and mutual admiration than Irv and Peter, as their recording Duo testifies. And when he is taking a weekend away from studies at Luther College, young saxman Joshua Jones is often on hand to sit-in -- like tonight. That makes this ensemble at least 3 generations wide.



Tommy Bruce
Tommy Bruce came to his calling as a jazz singer later than most, but he's made up for lost time. Not only does he claim a prime time gig at Parma tonight, the bar/lounge tables were reserved weeks ago. But come on the early side-- the bar seating is open and you can order off the very reasonable menu and have a good vantage point to see and hear Tommy take off on ballads and swinging standards in the general mode of Chet Baker.  With Rick Carlson and Gordy Johnson, no less.

Friday-Saturday, January 31-February 1. Always hosting something new and exciting, Studio Z presents the annual Keys Please concert this weekend. Now in its 12th season, pianist composers Carei Thomas, Todd Harper and Paul Cantrell bring new and old compositions to the stage, this time with special guest, flautist Julie Johnson who is know to defy all rules relevant to her instrument. Flue with loop pedals and beatboxing? Only at Studio Z.  



Dave Karr
Monday, February 3. JT's Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse is always worthwhile, but the first Mondays gig is unique meeting of bebop vet Dave Karr and avant garde acolytes Adam Linz and host JT Bates. There's no mismatch here -- saxman Dave more than holds his own with the "youngsters."


Dean Magraw
Tuesday, February 4. Top-notch big band, the Bill Simonsen Orchestra, holds its monthly gig at Jazz Central, where the big ensembles can be observed and enjoyed up-close and personal (that is intimate, not loud!); across town at the Black Dog, in another intimate space, enjoy the first Tuesday offering from guitarist Dean Magraw and special guest, drummer Eric Kamau Gravatt, an inventive duo if there ever was one.


Dean Granros
Wednesday, February 5. Hard to imagine putting together a more vibrant pair of guitars than Joel Shapira and Dean Granros. Dean steps in to help Joel celebrate the release of Inherence, recorded with guitarist Jack Desalvo in New Jersey and paying homage to Wayne Shorter, along with a couple other covers and some new tunes from Desalvo and some spontaneous works with Shapira. Jack couldn't get to Minnesota for this celebration but try to imagine a better "sub" than Dean Granros? At the Black Dog where intimacy is the rule.


Mac Santiago
Thursday, February 6. A few weeks ago, The Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra launched a monthly series of open rehearsals for this new large ensemble headed by Geoff Senn and Mac Santiago. Hard to imagine a better space for experimentation and audience involvement than Jazz Central!

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, January 31. Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Patrick Harison and Keith Boyles, dinner sets at the Icehouse; Jerry O'Hagan Orchestra with Charmin Michelle at the Medina Ballroom; Dennis Spears at the Dakota; Eastside at Hell's Kitchen; Gypsy Mania at the Red Stag
 
Saturday, February 1. Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200; Nick Haas Trio at Loring Pasta Bar
 
Sunday, February 2. Robert Everest, brunch at Maria's Cafe; Jerry O'Hagan Orchestra with Charmin Michelle at Cinema Ballroom; Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Winebar; Doug Little Quartet at Eat Street Social


Monday, February 3. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Southside Aces at Famous Dave's (Uptown); Joe Mayo at Jazz Central



Tuesday, February 4. "Live at 5" with Scott Agster and faculty, student ensembles at McNally Smith; Cafe Accordion at Loring Pasta Bar; Beasley's Big Band at O'Gara's



Wednesday, February 5. Seven Half Trio at Tangiers; Charmin Michelle with Laura Caviani and Tom Lewis at the Dakota; Denny Malmberg and Paula Lammers at Fireside Pizza; Anthony Cox (improv night) at Jazz Central; Wolverines Trio at Hell's Kitchen; Patrick Harison at Cafe Maude; Gypsy Mania at Barbette



Thursday, February 6. Moonlight Serenaders with Lee Engele at Wabasha Street Caves



Coming Soon!

. February 7, Jazz Police Young Artists Showcase at Jazz Central (Southside Jazz Combo)

. February 7, Twin Cities Jazz Festival "Winter Jazz Break" at the St Paul Hotel (JoAnn Funk, Jon Weber)

. February 13, Kurt Elling at the Dakota

. February 15, Shifting Paradigm Records Launch Party at Studio Z (Fat Kid Wednesdays, Atlantis Quartet, Bryan Nichols Quintet, Zacc Harris Quartet, Graydon Peterson Quartet)

. February 15, Koplant No at the Icehouse

. February 16, Gregory Porter at the Dakota

. February 17, Illicit Sextet at the Icehouse

. February 18, Benje Danemann Quartet/Jana Nyberg Group at the Dakota

. February 19-20, "Guitars of Passion" (Romero Lubambo, Stanley Jordan and Sharon Isbin) at the Dakota

. February 22, Connie Evingson, Jazz @ St. Barneys

. February 22, "The Envelope Please" with Arne Fogel and Maud Hixson, Bloomington Center for the Arts

. February 22-23, "Girl Talk" (Pippi Ardennia, Charmin Michelle) at the Capri Theater

. February 24-25, Terence Blanchard Quintet at the Dakota

. February 26, Bobby Watson and Horizon at the Dakota

. February 28, Jack Brass Band Mardi Gras at Schneider Theater, Bloomington Center for Arts

. March 2, Dave King Trucking Company at Antonello Hall, MacPhail Center for Music

. March 8, Jazz at Studio Z (TBA)

. March 9, Cecile McLorin Salvant at the Dakota

. March 16, JazzMN Orchestra with New York Voices (matinee) at Hopkins High School Auditorium

. March 16, Pat Metheny Unity Group at the Fitzgerald Theater

. April 5-6, Charmin and Shapira and Friends, Black Box Theater (Bloomington)

. April 8, Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau at the Walker

. April 9, Brad Mehldau Trio at the Walker

. April 9-10, Matt Slocum Trio CD release at Weyerhaeuser Auditorium of Landmark Center

. April 10, Delfeayo Marsalis at the Dakota

. April 19, Jazz at Studio Z (TBA)

. April 26, Miguel Zenon with the JazzMN Orchestra, Hopkins High School

. April 27, Jazz Noir with John Penny, live broadcast on KBEM from the Dakota

. April 27, Earth Day Concert, Dave Milne Octet at Lake Harriet Spiritual Community

. April 28, Joe Lovano Us Five at the Dakota

. May 3, PipJazz "Women in Jazz" workshop and concert at Maplewood Community Center

. May 10, Jazz at Studio Z (TBA)

. May 15, Jazz Thursdays with the Dakota Combo at MacPhail Center for Music

. May 15-17, Ragamala Dance Company and Rudresh Mahanthappa at the Walker

. June 26-28, Twin Cities Jazz Festival, Mears Park (St Paul)



South High students "Southside Quintet" coming to Jazz Central, Feb 7




















Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Faces of the Artists Quarter #46



Kelly Rossum at the Artists Quarter (2008)
© Andrea Canter

Professor Kelly Rossum (2013)
Perhaps the title should be "Hairstyles of the Artists Quarter" -- surely trumpeter Kelly Rossum was as known for his mohawk (and subsequent loss of same) as for his inventive compositions and improvisations. I first heard Kelly, sans mohawk, in the early 2000s when he was part of the first incarnation of Jeremy Walker's Jazz Is Now! ensemble. Named the first Jazz Coordinator for the MacPhail Center for Music, Kelly quickly became a popular performer across jazz and classical settings, but particularly in the loose circles of modern jazz and improvised music, often in the company of Ellen Lease and Pat Moriarty, Bryan Nichols, the brothers Bates, Adam Linz, Phil Hey, Nachito Herrera.... the list goes on. At the AQ in the 00s, Kelly was often heard with his ear-blowing quartet (Nichols, Bates and Bates) and the Erick Dolphy-inspired Out to Lunch Quintet. 

Kelly Rossum, AQ farewell (2009)
When Kelly made the move to New York in 2009, and then to academia (first in Alabama, now in Virginia), he still kept himself lightly tethered to the Twin Cities, returning now and then for gigs at MacPhail, the AQ, and the Dakota, first sporting a crew cut, now a more professorial 'do that looks like it would merely take a handful of gel to recreate that mohawk.



While his hair brought a lot of attention to Kelly and his music, it was his intriguing menagerie of sounds and artistic collaborations that sustained his reputation as one of the most creative musicians in the Twin Cities. And now the world.

CD release (2008)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Faces of the Artists Quarter #45


Peter Schimke at the AQ (2011)


© Andrea Canter

I don't recall when I first heard pianist Peter Schimke but likely it was with the quartet How Birds Work at the Artists Quarter, back when Billy Peterson was handling the bass, along with guitar guru Dean Granros and drummer/AQ owner Kenny Horst. That band had a unique sound  and was one of the most experimental projects that I heard involving Peter. I did hear Peter with a long list of musicians over the past decade or more, including vocalist Bruce Henry, percussionist Estaire Godinez, visiting artists at the AQ, and a long parade of local veterans. But the gigs I remember best are the duos with sax legend, now 94-year-old Irv Williams -- two generations of mutual respect, swing and elegance. Peter and Irv recorded Duos a few years ago, celebrating the release at, of course, the Artists Quarter, and since about that time have taken their partnership to Friday happy hours at the Dakota. It's a mutual admiration, mutual motivation society.

And the audience digs it, too. 

Peter accompanying Irv Williams, one New Year's Eve at the AQ

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, January 24-30



Steve Kenny -- this week at Jazz Central and the Black Dog

© Andrea Canter



You can find jazz in all sorts of venues this week, from classic club settings to hotel lounges to the tiniest gallery space.  And you can also find some jazz memorabilia to reinforce your memories of perhaps the most beloved venue of all.



Big Gigs This Week

Patty Peterson
Friday, January 24. Whenever Patty Peterson is on stage, it is a "big gig," and tonight, this savvy singer "and friends" take over the Dakota. And it's truly more friends than family this time, as nephew Jason Peterson DeLaire joins Aunt Patty and Donnie LeMarca, Bobby Vandell, Tony Axtel and Geoff Bouchier.



Katie Gearty
Parma 8200 offers a chance to hear chanteuse Katie Gearty in a relaxed setting with strings--guitarist Zacc Harris and bassist Matt Peterson. You might want to make a reservation --the bar/lounge can fill up fast, and Katie has a broad following given her talents crossing jazz, blues and R&B.



Arne Fogel
One of the biggest names in one of the smallest spaces -- crooner Arne Fogel, with pianist Chris Lomheim, makes his debut at the Even Break Gallery across the street from Broder's in southwest Minneapolis. The second floor gallery -- probably smaller than your living room--has been trying out music on Saturday mornings, but this is their first evening gig. It's cozy and owners Gretchen and Patches will make you feel like you really are in your living room with some talented friends providing the music.



Michael Janisch
Saturday, January 25. The annual LaCrosse Jazz Festival gives you good reason to head to Wisconsin today. Clinics and performances abound throughout the day, with the evening concert featuring guest clinician and all-star bassist Michael Janisch and his touring quintet, featuring some of the hottest artists on the international scene -- Patrick Cornelius, Matt Stevens, Philip Dizek, and Clarence Penn. The quintet blew us away last Thursday at Studio Z.



A somewhat rare pairing of pianist Phil Aaron and bassist Steve Pikal should make for a fun and swinging evening at the Icehouse, as the duo performs the dinner sets at this south Minneapolis hotspot. It can be noisy but if you get a table between the bar and stage, you should be able to enjoy the music as well as some interesting and tasty fare from the kitchen. Save room for dessert.



Charmin & Shapira
Saturday-Sunday, January 25-26. Another jazz festival this weekend: In White Bear, Century College hosts famed drummer Butch Miles for Saturday night and Sunday afternoon concerts, with the Century College Jazz Ensemble; voice/guitar duo Charmin and Shapira perform at the opening night reception on Saturday.



Sunday, January 26. Miss the Artists Quarter? Want a piece of it? Sale at the empty club this afternoon (1-4 pm) of CDs from visiting artists and live recordings; posters; photos plus David Wilson's private book collection.




Fat Kids at the Icehouse
Monday, January 27.  In the past few years, you could always find trumpeter Steve Kenny at the Artists Quarter -- every Wednesday he led the Bastids, and more recently, Group 47. And less often, you could find him with the revived Illicit Sextet. Tonight is a great opportunity to hear Steve as he takes the spotlight at Jazz Central. It's anyone's guess what will happen when Steve cuts loose, but for sure it will be a sonic feast.  At the Icehouse, the always surprising Fat Kid Wednesdays -- Mike Lewis, Adam Linz, JT Bates-- is back on their home stage. Never a dull moment.



Rick Carlson
Tuesday, January 28. An early Mardi Gras at the Dakota tonight as New Orleans pianist Tom McDermott shares the bill with the Twin Cities' Patty and the Buttons, headed by accordion monster Patrick Harison and featuring clarinetist Tony Balluf, guitarist Mark Kreitzer and bassist Keith Boyles.  Cafe Maude tonight hosts Minnesota's answer to Count Basie, pianist Rick Carlson. Dinner and swing -- what could be better for a midweek break? Over in St. Paul, Zacc Harris and Friends will bring a more experimental bent to the intimate space at the Black Dog.



Wednesday, January 29. Connected through Century College, the CC Septet has been engaging audiences with their special blend of brass and rhythm since 2006. They have three CDs to their credit, and as Big Band guru Jerry Swanberg notes, the band "swings like crazy and performs with enormous energy."  Catch them tonight at Jazz Central.



Steve Kenny's Group 47

Thursday, January 30. Twice in one week? Yes, if you missed Steve Kenny at Jazz Central, tonight he brings his Group 47 to the Black Dog. Inaugurated about six months ago as the Wednesday Night early gig at the Artists Quarter, Kenny's latest ensemble puts him in the role of elder statesman and mentor for bassist Adam Tucker, college students drummer Alex Burgess and saxophonist Thomas Strommen, and still-in-high-school pianist Will Kjeer. But close your eyes and you will hear a much more experienced band at work, one that just laid down tracks for its debut recording.



Debbie Duncan
In Minneapolis, you can't help but have fun with Debbie Duncan at Hell's Kitchen. She can bring you to tears with a ballad, and the next minute have you in stitches with banter and blues.



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, January 24. Irv Williams and Peter Schimke, happy hour at the Dakota; Todd Harper, solo piano at the Black Dog; Paula Lammers and the Nightingale Jazz Combo at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio (Eagan); Mississippi Hot Club at the Red Stag



Saturday, January 25. JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200; Dean Brewington Trio at Loring Pasta Bar; Epstein/Harris/Bates at Merlin's Rest



Sunday, January 26. Robert Everest (brunch) at Maria's Cafe; Patty and the Buttons (brunch) at the Aster CafĂ©;  Doug Little Quartet with Chris Lomheim at Eat Street Social; Jerry O'Hagan Orchestra with Charmin Michelle at Cinema Ballroom; Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar; T-Collective at the Icehouse; Off the Cuff (experimental music series) at the Aster Cafe'



Monday, January 27. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza



Tuesday, January 28. Rick Carlson at Cafe Maude; Nova Jazz Orchestra at Jazz Central; Cafe Accordion at Loring Pasta Bar; Jason Weisman at Hell's Kitchen



Wednesday, January 29. Andrew Foreman and Friends at the Black Dog; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza

Thursday, January 30. Adam Levy's Rose Room at the Dakota; Vinnie Rose at Adagio Pizza Factory



Coming Soon!

. January 31, Thomas Bruce at Parma 8200

. January 31, East Side at Hell's Kitchen

. February 3, Dave Karr and Adam Linz Trio at the Icehouse (Jazz Implosion)

. February 5, Joel Shapira CD Release with Dean Granros at the Black Dog

. February 7, Jazz Police Young Artists Showcase at Jazz Central (Southside Jazz Combo)

. February 7, Twin Cities Jazz Festival "Winter Jazz Break" at the St Paul Hotel (JoAnn Funk, Jon Weber)

. February 13, Kurt Elling at the Dakota

. February 15, Koplant No at the Icehouse

. February 16, Gregory Porter at the Dakota

. February 19-20, "Guitars of Passion" (Romero Lubambo, Stanley Jordan and Sharon Isbin) at the Dakota

. February 22, Connie Evingson, Jazz @ St. Barneys

. February 22, "The Envelope Please" with Arne Fogel and Maud Hixson, Bloomington Center for the Arts

. February 22-23, "Girl Talk" (Pippi Ardennia, Charmin Michelle) at the Capri Theater

. February 24-25, Terence Blanchard Quintet at the Dakota

. February 26, Bobby Watson and Horizon at the Dakota

. February 28, Jack Brass Band Mardi Gras at Schneider Theater, Bloomington Center for Arts

. March 2, Dave King Trucking Company at Antonello Hall, MacPhail Center for Music

. March 9, Cecile McLorin Salvant at the Dakota

. March 16, JazzMN Orchestra with New York Voices (matinee) at Hopkins High School Auditorium

. March 16, Pat Metheny Unity Group at the Fitzgerald Theater

. April 8, Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau at the Walker

. April 9, Brad Mehldau Trio at the Walker

. April 9-10, Matt Slocum Trio CD release at Weyerhaeuser Auditorium of Landmark Center

. April 10, Delfeayo Marsalis at the Dakota

. April 27, Jazz Noir with John Penny, live broadcast on KBEM from the Dakota

. April 28, Joe Lovano Us Five at the Dakota

. May 15-17, Ragamala Dance Company and Rudresh Mahanthappa at the Walker

. June 26-28, Twin Cities Jazz Festival, Mears Park (St Paul)

Joel Shapira, CD release February 5 at the Black Dog with Dean Granros



















Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Faces of the Artists Quarter #44



Andres Prado at the AQ (2013)

© Andrea Canter



For a few years, Lima native guitarist/composer Andres Prado augmented the Twin Cities jazz and global music scene, becoming a favorite performer around town but particularly at the Artists Quarter. There he a number of gigs with his dynamic quintet of Twin Cities’ all-stars, including Pete Whitman (sax), Kevin Washington (drums), Jeff Bailey (bass) and Peter Schimke (piano), playing music ranging from Coltrane to Peruvian folk themes to his sweeping original compositions, all with a post bop sense of invention. In 2008, after a few years performing and teaching at McNally Smith College of Music, Andres returned to his home country, taking much of the sounds of Peru with him. He did leave behind three recordings on the Minnesota-based RPM Records label—Chinchano (classical Peruvian folk music), Jazz Imagery (a collaboration with Peruvian master bassist and composer Enrique Luna), and Live at the Artists Quarter. And he was featured at the Lima International Jazz Festival with Minnesota compatriots Jeff Bailey and Kevin Washington.



Andres Prado (2006)
In winter 2011, Prado returned for a ten-day residency in St. Paul, presenting lectures, performances and clinics at McNally Smith, culminating in two nights at the AQ with his Minnesota-based quintet. It was a too-short but full-throttle reunion.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Faces of the Artists Quarter #43



Chris Lomheim (2011)
© Andrea Canter

Back in the early-mid 90s, I used to listen to a young, skinny, scraggly-haired pianist who had the most elegant touch on the keys. I most often heard him at the old Dakota in Bandana Square, but lost track of him by the late 90s. Whatever happened to Chris Lomheim, I wondered.



One night around 2002 I was at the Artists Quarter listening to a trio or quartet. I arrived late and missed any introductions, but was fascinated by the pianist, a somewhat pudgy, short-haired fellow whom I did not recognize. New in town perhaps? "So who is that guy on piano who plays like Chris Lomheim?" Lomheim, of course, older, heavier, far more conventional looking than that young man I remembered from nearly a decade ago. But I never forgot that sound. Bill Evans with a touch of Jarrett and maybe a dash of Bud Powell.



Chris Lomheim (2005)
 Fortunately the Artists Quarter became a home base for Chris Lomheim in the new Millennium as he regularly played with his trio and with veterans Dave Karr, Gary Berg, Brian Grivna, Billy Peterson, Herbie Lewis, Gordy Johnson, Anthony Cox, Phil Hey and more; was a first call when the AQ hosted visitors like Eric Alexander, Jim Rotondi, Greg Tardy and Curtis Fuller; accompanied vocalists like Vicky Mountain, and was part of the revival of the Illicit Sextet. Most memorably, Chris paid tribute to his muse, Bill Evans, nearly every year around Evans' birthday.  "The audiences during these concerts were unlike any I’ve ever experienced anywhere," Chris told Bebopified recently. "You could hear a pin drop during ballads, they were so respectful and engaged in the music – truly an artist’s dream audience to perform for."



And truly, Chris Lomheim has been an audience's dream to listen to. About a year ago at the AQ, a now-again trim Lomheim played a trio gig with Billy Peterson and Kenny Horst during which Chris and Billy began to duel on "I Hear a Rhapsody."  Forget Bill Evans. I still hear that rhapsody.

With the Illicit Sextet at the 2013 Twin Cities Jazz Festival









Friday, January 17, 2014

Faces of the Artists Quarter #42



Brad Bellows, Valve Meets Slide (2011)
© Andrea Canter

What's that funny brass instrument that has valves like a trumpet but has the tubing and look of a trombone? It's the valve trombone, famously played by Bob Brookmeyer and half of Valve Meets Slide, a popular ensemble at the Artists Quarter over the past five years. And credit Brad Bellows with making the valve trombone a familiar sight at Twin Cities jazz haunts, dating back to his leadership of Locally Damaging Winds, a jazzy choir of trombones and staple of the AQ schedule in its first years in the Hamm Building.



Brad studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, collaborated for many years with the late bebop legend Eddie Berger, and released a duo project with guitar guru Dean Granros (Bear's Delight), on which Brad plays euphonium. He's also become a regular at the Black Dog as co-leader of the Donald Washington/Brad Bellows Quartet.



Brad and Dave, Valve Meets Slide (2012)
But in recent years, it's been Valve Meets Slide that punctuated the AQ's music schedule as Brad faced off with slide trombone master Dave Graf in a playful quintet. Hopefully there will be many more meetings of these master bones.




"Brad has quietly helped so many fellow musicians behind the scenes without getting credit. He was a great friend to Eddie Berger for many years, and gave a lot of help to his caretaking in the later years when Eddie was ill. A true mensch." --Dave Graf


The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, January 17-23



Brian Roessler of the Fantastic Merlins (at the Black Dog January 20)
© Andrea Canter



As rumors continue to circulate as to the sale (or not) of the Artists Quarter, there is no doubt that a significant hole exists on the live jazz scene in the Twin Cities. Yet jazz continues to thrive around that hole, if in more challenging (i.e., not ideal listening) settings. Spots like Jazz Central, Black Dog, Aster Cafe, Icehouse, Cafe Maude and Studio Z keep modern jazz on their calendars; the Dakota offers some jazzy weekends and "Foodie Nights" in-between national acts; McNally Smith boasts its annual winter festival this weekend.... and more.



Big Gigs This Week

Maud Hixson
Friday, January 17. Weekend music continues at Parma 8200, with songbird Maud Hixson bringing in standards and less familiar tunes, tonight with a rather unusual partnering with pianist Adi Yeshaya and bassist Adam Linz. On the U of M West Bank, saxophonist Peter Vircks holds a CD Release Party at the Republic. Vircks, often affiliated with Nachito Herrera, Yohannes Tona and Bruce Henry, has been busy with the touring production of Feet Don't Fail Me Now, but found time to write and record a raft of new compositions that straddle jazz and funk--and achieve that rare combination of the best of both. Over at the Black Dog, the Donald Washington/Brad Bellows Quartet returns for an almost monthly gig of low brass-- bari sax and valve trombone mix it up and turn it inside out. And there's a new venue in Excelsior, The Celler, with a new trio Three Loud kicking off tonight (Tyler Anderson, Jeremy Boettcher and Adrian Suarez).



Charles Lazarus
Saturday, January 18. It used to be the Roseville Winter Jazz Blast, now it's the McNally Smith Winter Jazz Blast, a day of clinics and performances for high school bands, followed by an evening public concert featuring the JazzMN Orchestra, trumpeter Charles Lazarus, and McNally Smith faculty and student ensembles.



Seems the cello is getting more attention lately. Bassist Anthony Cox performed on cello only last week at the Black Dog, and now Jelloslave returns to a Minneapolis stage with this evening at the Aster Cafe. With two cellos (Jacqueline Ultan and Michelle Kinney), drums (Greg Schutte) and tablas (Gary Waryan), this unusual quartet plays "original improvisational cello­-driven music, as well as interpreting compositions of great songwriters and composers throughout history, from Bach to Led Zeppelin."
Greg Schutte (Jelloslave)



Monday, January 20. The Fantastic Merlins were a regular feature at the Black Dog, and now they're back on the third Mondays as a trio -- Nathan Hanson on sax, Brian Roessler on bass, and Pete Hennig on drums. "Both dissonant and resonant, Fantastic Merlins effortlessly weave together the dark and the light, the dangerous and innocent. Their cinematic sound coalesces organically in an exquisite tension between jazz and chamber music..."  Over at the Icehouse, even more mayhem with Drum Drum Sax Sax --Chris Thomson, Mike Lewis, Joey Van Phllips, and JT Bates come together for JT's Jazz Implosion night. Bang Bang Blow Blow!!



Tuesday, January 21. It's Big Band Night at Jazz Central, and one of the newest and most exciting is Doug Haining and Scott Agster's Explosion Big Band.



Graydon Peterson
Wednesday, January 22. Some interesting trio magic tonight. At Jazz Central, Firebell takes the stage for New Music night. The trio with Park Evans, Graydon Peterson and Jay Epstein has been exploring group improvisation since 2009. Later in the evening at the Icehouse, Serbian guitarist Goran Ivanovic brings some Balkan folk traditions into his jazz trio music. Over at the Dakota, it's Foodie Night (no cover!) with Charmin (Michelle) and (Joel) Shapira and Friends, a guarantee of a swinging evening.

So if Charmin is at the Dakota, who is at Fireside Pizza tonight? Denny Malmberg and his accordion will have the rare pleasure of pairing with Denny's brother David, guitarist/vocalist. So come out and hear Denny and David and enjoy a slice!



Thursday, January 23. A special Jazz at Studio Z tonight features London-based, Midwest native bassist Michael Janisch leading an all-star quintet --trumpeter Phil Dizack, saxophonist Patrick Cornelius, guitarist Matt Stevens and drummer Clarence Penn. There will be a pre-concert workshop. Janisch, who teaches at the Royal Academy of Music, plays acoustic and electric bass and has a long resume that includes such stars as George Garzone, Gary Burton, Shirley Horn, Kenny Wheeler and Wynton Marsalis.



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, January 17. Irv Williams and Peter Schimke, happy hour at the Dakota; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Chris Lomheim and Adam Wozniak, dinner sets followed by Foreign Motion at the Icehouse



Joel Shapira
Saturday, January 18. Charmin and Shapira at Midtown Global Market (12:30-2:30 pm); Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Joel Shapira at Ingredients Cafe



Sunday, January 19. Robert Everest, brunch at Maria's; Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar; T-Collective (Mike Lewis, James Buckley, Tim Glenn, JT Bates ) at the Icehouse



Monday, January 20. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza



Tuesday, January 21. Jazz on the Prairie Big Band at Eden Prairie High School; River City Jazz Orchestra at the South St Paul VFW; Patty and the Buttons at Cafe Maude



Wednesday, January 22. Wolverines Trio at Hell's Kitchen; Zacc Harris Trio at Cafe Maude; James Wallace at the Red Stag



Thursday, January 23. Joel Shapira Trio at Hell's Kitchen; Connie and Herb at The Bean



Coming Soon!

. January 24, Katie Gearty at Parma 8200

. January 27, Fat Kid Wednesdays at the Icehouse

. January 28, Nova Jazz Orchestra at Jazz Central

. January 28, Rick Carlson at Cafe Maude

. January 31, Thomas Bruce at Parma 8200

. January 31, East Side at Hell's Kitchen
. February 5, Joel Shapira CD release at the Black Dog
. February 7, Jon Weber, Fundraiser for the Twin Cities Jazz Festival at the St Paul Hotel

. February 13, Kurt Elling at the Dakota

. February 15, Koplant No at the Icehouse

. February 16, Gregory Porter at the Dakota

. February 19-20, "Guitars of Passion" (Romero Lubambo, Stanley Jordan and Sharon Isbin) at the Dakota

. February 22, Connie Evingson, Jazz @ St. Barneys

. February 22, "The Envelope Please" with Arne Fogel and Maud Hixson, Bloomington Center for the Arts

. February 22-23, "Girl Talk" (Pippi Ardennia, Charmin Michelle) at the Capri Theater

. February 25-26, Terence Blanchard Quintet at the Dakota

. February 28, Jack Brass Band Mardi Gras at Schneider Theater, Bloomington Center for Arts

. March 9, Cecile McLorin Salvant at the Dakota

. March 16, JazzMN Orchestra with New York Voices (matinee) at Hopkins High School Auditorium

. March 16, Pat Metheny Unity Group at the Fitzgerald Theater

. April 8, Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau at the Walker

. April 9, Brad Mehldau Trio at the Walker

. April 10, Delfeayo Marsalis at the Dakota

. April 27, Jazz Noir, live broadcast on KBEM from the Dakota

. April 28, Joe Lovano Us Five at the Dakota

. May 15-17, Ragamala Dance Company and Rudresh Mahanthappa at the Walker

. June 26-28, Twin Cities Jazz Festival, Mears Park (St Paul)


Rick Carlson, coming to Cafe Maude on January 28th