Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Year in Jazz: Twin Cities 2014



Good Vibes Trio, live at Creation Audio

© Andrea Canter



I could join others and come up with a top ten recordings list, or a top ten gig list-- although it seems that, save Pamela Espeland, I would probably be alone in the local media in naming a best of anything in jazz for 2014. Instead, I am going to try to recap what I think are the year's jazz highlights more generally.



Despite starting on the very down note of the closing of the Artists Quarter, on balance, 2014 was really a bright year for the local jazz scene:



Jazz Heroes

Although we lost the Artists Quarter, the only fulltime "jazz club" in the area, a handful of local entrepreneurial artists were largely responsible for maintaining, even increasing, the number of jazz performances, as well as opportunities for building audiences and supporting student musicians:

·        
Jeremy Walker, 7 Pslams
Jeremy Walker. Jeremy has long earned the title of Jazz Impresario, since founding Brilliant Corners more than a decade ago, followed by Jazz Is Now. In addition to composing music and releasing the recording for his 7 Psalms this past spring, Jeremy successfully proposed a jazz concert series at Orchestra Hall, in the Target Atrium, which got underway in early December and continues through spring 2015.






Zacc Harrus
·         Zacc Harris. The versatile guitarist and busy bandleader is into a fourth season curating Jazz at Studio Z, putting on a nearly monthly concert and accompanying master class with the top artists and ensembles in the region and sometimes well beyond. Early in 2014, he presented England-based bassist Michael Janisch and his all-star ensemble. Watch for Bill Carrothers and his Irish trio on January 10th.



·        
JT Bates
JT Bates. After a hiatus as a curator (since the closing of the Clown Lounge), JT picked up where he left off when the Icehouse opened in 2013, and his Monday night Jazz Implosion series keeps the avant garde end of the local jazz scene front and center.  And he occasionally brings in artists from the international scene as well, like Tom Rainey and Ingrid Laubrock.




·        
Steve Kenny
Steve Kenny. Trumpeter and bandleader Steve Kenny brought new jazz programming to two venues in 2014: With a state arts board grant, he presided over a ten-week "All Originals" concert series at Studio Z, bringing a different band every Thursday night to perform original compositions. And starting in late September, Steve launched a weekly Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog series that is on the calendar for every Saturday in 2015. In many ways this series recreates the weekend gigs at the Artists Quarter, featuring many of the same ensembles and same artists who defined the AQ's music. The space is small and the jazz crowds overflowing, but watch for expansion (of both!) in 2015. (Sara Remke, owner of the Black Dog, has increased jazz programming in general -- add her to our hero list!) Another contribution from Steve is his support of young up-and-comers. As he did for five years with his Bastids at the AQ, Steve pulls in young talents and nurtures them a la Art Blakey, currently via his Group 47 ensemble which includes three college students. He is also booking young and new ensembles for many of the opening sets on the Black Dog series. And if all the above was not enough, a few weeks ago Steve and Illicit Productions released the Twin Cities Jazz Sampler, highlighting thirteen recordings from thirteen bands from the past few years. There's no better documentation of the vitality of the Twin Cities Jazz Scene. And Steve calls it Volume One.



Mac Santiago


.   Mac Santiago. Mac and Tanner Taylor opened Jazz Central Studios about four years ago, and for a couple years struggled to find an audience and a rhythm to the nonprofit space's programming. The space is relatively small, the sightlines relatively poor, and parking challenging. But over the past year things seem to have fallen into place, even as Mac took over sole management with Tanner relocating to Iowa. Jazz Central can now claim to be the only full-time jazz space in the metro, with live music at least five nights per week, and with programming that covers pretty much the full range of jazz, from mainstream featured artists to big bands to improvising ensembles to vocal jazz. And Friday nights offer the Bridge Series, "bridging the gap" left by the closing of the Artists Quarter. Many of the Friday night artists were regular performers at the AQ. Often these Bridge gigs are followed by high school and college student jams.  Visiting artists often perform at JC on Saturdays, and the space is used for workshops during off-hours. Mac is like a Jazz Santa with a crew of super elves who curate Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights-- Anthony Cox, Pete Whitman, Chris Bates and Graydon Peterson (Wednesday New Music), Maryann Sullivan (Thursday Vocal Jazz), and Zacc Harris (Friday Bridge Series).



Steve Heckler
·         Steve Heckler. Producer of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival since its inception, Steve has greatly expanded the opportunities for local and national artists to perform, adding venues throughout the general downtown Saint Paul area and beyond. The 2014 festival had more bands and venues than ever before, and even more is promised for 2015. A few months ago, Steve announced that the festival was awarded the largest of the Knight Foundation grants to support festivals in 2015 and 2016, and named drummer Francisco Mela as the festival's first Artistic Director.



·        
Pippi Ardennia
Pippi Ardennia. There are a lot of jazz artists devoting part of their careers to educating the next generation but few, if any, have taken the approach of PipJazz Youth. Vocalist Pippi Ardennia doesn't just invite young artists to perform. She puts them into her concerts as guest artists with her house band. They are paid for the gig, expected to rehearse with the band, solo with the band, and otherwise function like professionals while receiving on-the-job mentoring from seasoned veterans like Billy Peterson and Glenn Swanson.  And once a student musician has appeared with Pippi, there's a strong probability that he or she will be invited back and receive more performance and mentoring opportunities over time.



Jeff Whitmill
·         Jeff Whitmill. Jeff directs the arts programs at St. Barnabas Lutheran Church in Plymouth, and for the past ten years or so, has curated a monthly "Jazz @St. Barney's" concert series that brings the best of mainstream jazz to the west suburbs. Jeff's guest artists form an extensive "who's who" in metro vocal and instrumental jazz, including the likes of Connie Evingson, Maud Hixson, Rick Carlson, Travis Anderson, Phil Mattson, Butch Thompson, Rhonda Laurie, Mary Louise Knutson and an annual holiday blast "Big Band Christmas." The west metro maintains an active, high quality jazz presence thanks to Jeff.



·         Jazz Musicians. This is really not a cop out. Anyone who performs and/or teaches this music is not in it for fame or money, but to support the art form. For those of us who take a more passive role in the jazz community, you are our heroes every night.



Jazz Recordings

Can't talk about jazz highlights without mentioning the music that went onto CD or vinyl in the past year. And the easiest way to cover the most music is to point to the Twin Cities Jazz Sampler, produced by Steve Kenny (see above). Of the included tracks recorded in the past year, we enjoyed debut releases from the Adam Meckler Orchestra (When the Clouds Look Like This), Good Vibes Trio, Courageous Endeavors (Prototype), and Group 47 (Straight to Vinyl), as well as the first release from the Chris Lomheim Trio in 20 years (Timeline). But there were more worthy recordings in 2014, including the long-awaited debut from Firebell (Impossible Vacation); the just-last-week December release of Aaron Hedenstrom's A Moment of Clarity; a duo guitar release from local veteran Joel Shapira and New York partner Jack DeSalvo (Inherence); another duo guitar release from local artist David Martin and his Portland, OR cohort Mike Doolin (Tough Commute); a mythical duo of Eric Kamau Gravatt and Dean Magraw (Fire on the Nile); the broadly appealing release from Peter Vircks (What You Believe Is True); a fun-for-all swingfest from Patty (Patrick Harison) and the Buttons (Mercury Blues); an intriguing assemblage of improvisation and original composition from Steven Hobert (Ocean Eyes); the original epic work from Jeremy Walker, 7 Psalms; and a stunning vocal/piano release from Barbara Meyer and Phil Mattson (Down and Up With Love). Although he now lives in Chicago, Bruce Henry's Live and Natural was recorded while he was a Twin Citian, and we have every reason to claim it. And perhaps most remarkable of all, 95-year-old Irv Williams gave us one more, Then Was Then and Now Is Now. In jazz, in the Twin Cities, Now Is Now.



Jazz Events

Every year we are blessed with diverse events, gigs, and moments in jazz that linger long after the final notes. 2014 was no exception. In chronological order, and hardly exhaustive, some highlights of the year:

Adam Linz, Fat Kid Wednesdays at Studio Z
·         Studio Z Winter Jazz Fest (February 15). Another Zacc Harris brainstorm, this night of nonstop jazz included sets from five of our best modern ensembles-- Atlantis Quartet, Zacc Harris Group, Fat Kid Wednesdays, Bryan Nichols Quintet and Graydon Peterson Quartet.



·        
Cecile McLorin Salvant
Dakota's "Vocal Showcase" (February-March). During a four-week stretch, the Dakota presented three of the hottest voices in modern jazz-- Kurt Elling (February 13), Gregory Porter (February 16) and Cecile McLorin Salvant (March 9). Any one of these artists makes for a memorable night, but hearing veteran Elling and then two of the most lauded newcomers within such a short period of time was inspirational and jaw-dropping.



·        
Chris Bates Good Vibes Trio
Good Vibes Trio, CD Celebration at Creation Audio (April 6). One of the landmark band debuts of the past couple years was the launch of Chris Bates' Good Vibes Trio (with Dave Hagedorn and Phil Hey), a modern Modern Jazz Quartet minus piano. The trio released its first recording this spring, starting with a small celebration at Creation Audio where the recording was made. It's an intimate space run by Steve Weise, and the interaction among musicians and audience was the one thing that could not be captured on the recording. 



·        
Matt Slocum
Matt Slocum and Friends at Landmark Center (April 9-10). Twin Cities native drummer Matt Slocum returned with his trio (Sam Yahel and Massimo Biolcati) for two nights at Landmark Center, celebrating his acclaimed CD, Black Elk's Dream. But this was not just a Slocum showcase, as each night included not only Slocum's trio but also sets from local pals. Both nights included a drum duel between Matt and mentor Phil Hey; the Phil Hey Quartet appeared on the first night, with a solo set from Bryan Nichols and another from the Dave Karr Quartet on the second night. It was two nights of pure pleasure .



·        
Rez Abbasi and Rudresh Mahanthappa
Ragmala Dance with Rudresh Mahanthappa at Walker Art Center (May 15-18). Jazz often finds its way into multi-media productions, perhaps because it is a relatively elastic art form that can be interpreted to fit diverse contexts. The acclaimed Ragmala Dance company collaborated with Rudresh Mahanthappa (sax) along with guitarist Rez Abbasi for a spectacular run of Carnatic movement and music, Song of the Jasmine. Then they took it on the road.



Jazz Central All-Stars
·         Jazz Central All-Stars (May-September). A new addition to the Twin Cities Jazz Festival was this ensemble of six musicians connected to Jazz Central Studios. Their mission was to take jazz on tour throughout small towns in Minnesota, to build an outstate audience for jazz and to provide some educational experiences for young musicians as well.  Wherever they went (including Sauk Center, Luverne, Montivideo, Fairbault), the all-stars were well received; for many in the audiences this was a rare opportunity to hear live jazz.



Melissa Aldana
·         Twin Cities Jazz Festival (June). With Steve Heckler leading the way (see above), the Twin Cities Jazz Festival is becoming more widely known and more widely attended. The fest continued its Jazz in the Library collaboration with St Paul Public Libraries, whetting jazz appetites with popular performers gigging in the weeks leading up to the festival itself. There were four outdoor stages this year, each with its own corporate sponsor; there were more than 20 small indoor venue throughout downtown St Paul and, for the first time, along the "Green Line" LRT corridor of University Avenue. Final night rains caused some chaos but all headliners found other venues and the sets with Melissa Aldana, Joe Krown and Dianne Reeves took place in smaller, indoor settings. It was a textbook study of flexible logistics.



·        
Pat O'Keefe, Steve Kenny premiere new work
Zeitgeist Composers at the Festival (June 26-28). A new feature of the jazz festival was a two-night series of Zeitgeist's commissions, granted to four local jazz composers for new works that were presented during the festival. These composers included Zacc Harris, Chris Bates, Steve Kenny and Davu Seru.




·        
Sylvan Rabbath
Francois and Sylvan Rabbath (July). Noted bassist and educator Francois Rabbath was in town for the Twin Cities Bass Camp at McNally Smith, and gave a magical performance at the History Theater. A couple nights later, his son, pianist Sylvan Rabbath, gathered some local heavyweights for a gig at The Icehouse. The French Connection was stunning in both settings.



·          
     
Davu Seru
.   Jazz Night at Khyber Pass Cafe (Thursdays).
Jazz keeps popping up in unlikely spaces, and one of the most unlikely would have to be the dining room of Khyber Pass Cafe- -a relatively small Afghani spot near the Macalester campus. At 9 pm on Thursdays, tables are pushed out of the way and some of the most experimental creators take the "stage" in solo or small ensemble configurations. Music is jointly curated by Adam Linz, Davu Seru, Milo Fine and Paul Metzger; the cover is only $5; and you can order an exotic small plate to accompany solo Mike Lewis, a new band led by Adam Linz (Le Percheron) and more. Some of the area's youngest innovators have appeared with the well-established avant garders.



·        
Irv Williams
Irv Williams 95th Birthday (July 26, August 17). Taking a break from his weekly happy hour gig at the Dakota, the elder statesman of Twin Cities jazz celebrated his 95th birthday twice this summer: In late July, he released That Was Then, This Is Now with a party at the Russian Museum of Art and with live music from his trio (with Steve Blons and Billy Peterson). A few weeks later, Irv held a birthday party at the Dakota with a lot of surprise guests, including Bobby Lyle. We should all have so much energy in our 60s and 70s let alone 90s.



Chris Lomheim Trio



·         Chris Lomheim Trio, CD release at Studio Z (October 18). There were a lot of CD release gigs in 2014 but this one was special in many ways. First, the Chris Lomheim Trio had not recorded an album in nearly two decades. Second, Lomheim himself had done very little composing in nearly two decades. Armed with a state arts board grant, Chris set to work on a set of compositions, gathered old pals Gordy Johnson and Jay Epstein, and spent a few sessions at Wild Sound Studios, yielding Timelines. The celebration took place at Studio Z where it sold out in advance. More chairs were squeezed in and the overflow crowd was treated to an night of gorgeous compositions from a threesome that can stand up to any contemporary comparison.


·         Jazz in the Target Atrium, series launch (December 2).  Jeremy Walker's new series began as a late set following the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra concert with Cecile McLorin Salvant. So it was already a great evening. Walker played with his "Atrium Jazz Ensemble" (Anthony Cox and JT Bates), alongside three JALCO horns (Marcus Printup, Ted Nash and Vincent Gardner), standards and original Walker tunes. With an audience of about 100 and surrounded by windows opening to Peavy Plaza, it felt a little like Dizzy's at JALC.



·        
Dean Granros
Dean Granros live! Once a busy performer in the area, over the past few years, guitar master Granros has been seldom heard, typically with How Birds Work. But in the past year, we have seen a lot more of Dean, in particular in duo with Joel Shapira (CD coming next week!) and heading his own double guitar quartet with Zacc Harris, Chris Bates and Jay Epstein, at the Black Dog and Jazz Central. Keep the magic coming, Dean!



·        
Kenny Horst
Kenny Horst, unretired. Although he is certainly playing less than when he owned the Artists Quarter, any fears that Kenny would retire from the trapset were unfounded. We've had the pleasure of hearing Kenny over the past year at Jazz Central, The Nicollet and the Black Dog, with his own quartet and with Steve Kenny's What Would Monk Do. He's keeping his sticks sharp and there is no more joyful drummer in town.



·       
Leigh Kamman
 
Leigh Kamman (1922-2014). The passing of Leigh Kamman gave us a chance to remember his lengthy list of contributions to both the local and national jazz scenes through his extensive interviews and broadcasts. We'll start 2015 with a tribute to Leigh and The Jazz Image at the Saint Paul Hotel (January 25).



Coming in 2015

Based on where we left off in 2014, we can expect another banner year in local jazz, including:



     

.     Opening of the new club in the old AQ space (Vieux Carre') with some local jazz programming

·         More Jazz in the Target Atrium (three more concerts scheduled through May)

·         More top-notch recordings, including a release from Joel Shapira and Dean Granros in January and from the Atlantis Quartet later in the year

·         More expansion of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, including shows in the new Saints Stadium

·         Great gigs from touring jazzers, including Chris Potter, Dianne Reeves, Jack DeJohnette, Tierney Sutton,  Jason Moran and Robert Glasper, Delfeayo and Ellis Marsalis

·         More opportunities for performers and listeners at the Black Dog (every Saturday and more), Jazz Central (at least five nights per week), Studio Z, Dakota, Walker Art Center, and Orchestra Hall



Happy New Year!


















Friday, December 26, 2014

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, December 26- January 1



Fat Kid Wednesdays, at the Black Dog December 27

©Andrea Canter

If the survival of jazz in the Twin Cities depended on newspaper coverage, I could stop writing this! Fortunately there's too much good music this week to spend the time pondering the Strib's near total neglect of the genre in its "best of" lists. (Only Pamela Espeland took note of jazz at all, highlighting the merits of the new Twin Cities Jazz Sampler). This weekend, we have the final performances of the Bad Plus, a too-rare performance from Fat Kid Wednesdays, Aaron Hedenstrom's much anticipated CD release, a new holiday show from Connie Evingson, a joyful evening with the Good Vibes Trio, a nearly annual duo gig with Dan Cavanaugh and Dave Hagedorn, a special duo evening with Bob Bowman and Laura Caviani... that's just the weekend.



Big Gigs This Week

The Bad Plus
Friday-Sunday, December 26-28. Three more nights with the Bad Plus at the Dakota, two shows per night. This is a long-running holiday homecoming for three of the most revered jazzers of the 21st century (Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson, Dave King). Lucky for us they still consider the Midwest "home."  The innovative trio is performing tunes from their new Inevitable Western, but as always, they will bring back some favorites as well as never-recorded new compositions.



Dave Hagedorn, Good Vibes
Friday, December 26. After their short set last weekend celebrating the Twin Cities Jazz Sampler, the Good Vibes Trio is back at Jazz Central for a full gig. Bassist Chris Bates leads the charge, sort of a cross between the Modern Jazz Quartet and Bill Evans Trio updated for the 21st century. And with Dave Hagedorn on vibes and Phil Hey on drums, there's no finer way to appreciate trio jazz.  But don't leave after their Bridge Series set ends -- enjoy the nightcap as the young lions of Sound Skirmish come next. This college student ensemble reunites young artists who have played together since high school... which wasn't that long ago.



Aaron Hedenstrom
Saturday, December 27. This is one of those days that transforms the Minneapple into the Big Apple, as far as jazz gigs are concerned. Take your pick(s) and you can't be disappointed. At Studio Z, Zacc Harris' Jazz at Studio Z series features Twin Cities' native saxophonist/composer Aaron Hedenstrom in the official celebration of his new CD, A Moment of Clarity. Actually there are many moments of clarity here, as the album contains six new compositions that form a suite of works that celebrate the range of human emotion. For the Studio Z performance, Aaron had no trouble finding artists who would do justice to the composer's intent-- Zacc Harris, Bryan Nichols, Graydon Peterson and former UW-EC cohort Brian Claxton. Concert preceded by a master class in composition and arranging.

Mike Lewis, Fat Kid Wednesdays

Continuing the new Saturday Night at the Black Dog series curated by Steve Kenny is another revered trio -- and contemporaries of The Bad Plus. Their profile is lower but their music similarly iconic and the accolades --particularly from European critics and audiences--equally superlative. Fat Kid Wednesdays has most often been scheduled at the Icehouse in the past year, but their Black Dog appearance tonight should bring fans from the far corners of the Metro. Mike Lewis, Adam Linz and JT Bates will ignite all remaining holiday spirits. Arrive early-- first you will be assured table seating for Fat Kids; second, you will be treated to another fine trio (at 7 pm) which is no opening act-- The Steve Kenny Trio with Graydon Peterson and Miguel Hurtado.


There's a couple outstanding duos today, starting mid-afternoon at Schmitt Music in Edina with long-time partners Dan Cavanagh (piano) and Dave Hagedorn (vibes). They've been pairing up since Dan was a student of Dave's at St Olaf, and the partnership yielded an outstanding album a few years ago.   

Bob Bowman
In the evening, a special gig at Jazz Central brings together Kansas City bassist Bob Bowman and local piano star Laura Caviani. Both have been part of Karrin Allyson's touring band for many years, and have appeared on each others' recordings. They will be highlighting music from Bob's new CD, Songs for Sandra.



Sunday, December 28. Don't fall into that lull between Christmas and New Year's-- spend the interim "Holiday on Golden Pond" at the Jungle Theater with vocalist Connie Evingson and frequent cohorts Dave Karr, Tanner Taylor and Gordy Johnson.  They're doing two shows to fit your Sunday plans!



Rhonda Laurie
Monday, December 29. There's always something hot at the Icehouse, especially Monday's Jazz Implosion. Tonight is no exception as Brandon Wozniak, Bryan Nichols and JT Bates take the stage. The lights will be colorful, the food and drink among the best on Eat Street, and music will keep you on full alert. If your late night leanings are more toward swinging vocals, Barbette hosts Rhonda Laurie and Robert Bell, covering great standards from the 30s and 40s and more contemporary tunes, perfectly matched to a setting known for its lively late menu.



Vicky Mountain
Tuesday, December 30. Swinging vocals is on the menu at The Nicollet as Vicky Mountain joins Jim Chenoweth and Dave Martin for some trio magic. We don't hear Vicky often enough so don't pass up this opportunity. And The Nicollet has been revamped since its last incarnation -- now with beer and wine to go with a fine bar/coffee shop menu.



Wednesday, December 31. New Year's Eve! If you want some music, you don't have to look very far. Jazz Central hosts its first "Jazz Awards" night, a festive evening with awards given based on Jazz Central's own poll conducted via its website. In the Lobby Bar at the Saint Paul Hotel, JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske hold a special salute to Frank Sinatra, with guests Steven Marking and Nathan Norman. At Landmark Center, jazzy/bluesy vocalist Pippi Ardennia with Patty Lacy and Judi Gronseth will make it an unforgettable New Year's Eve. And at Parma 8200, two regulars team up-- the Benny Weinbeck Trio and vocalist Maud Hixson. Best of both, a great way to welcome a new year.

And for the curious who have been asking about the Dakota's plan for the old AQ space, you can get a preview on NY Eve. Dubbing the evening (or the space?) as a Room With a Vieux, the Dakota is putting on a New Orleans party with the Southside Aces. (The name, or so I've been told, is going to be Vieux Carre' or "old quarter" as in French Quarter.... perhaps Room With a Vieux will help correct pronunciation. Or maybe this is in fact going to be the club name? Stay tuned. Formal opening date has not been announced.



Davu Seru
Thursday, January 1. Not many venues open today, but come over to St. Paul and the Khyber Pass Cafe tonight for the weekly jazz night-- with Davu Seru, Nathan Hanson and Doan Brian Roessler kicking of 2015 in unique improvising fashion.



More Jazz This Week!

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



Friday, December 26. Irv Williams and Steve Blons, happy hour at the Dakota; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar, Saint Paul Hotel; Joel Shapira at Hell's Kitchen; Jake Baldwin Quartet, Late Night at the Dakota



Saturday, December 27. JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar, Saint Paul Hotel; Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200; Douglas Ewart and Quasar at the Eastside Freedom Library (Saint Paul); Big Band Christmas, Jazz @ St Barneys at St Barnabas Lutheran Church; James Wallace at Ngon Bistro

Sunday, December 28. Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster; Robert Everest, brunch at Maria's; Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar.

Monday, December 29. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Dave Strong at Jazz Central.

Tuesday, December 30. New Standards at the Dakota; KCGO Big Band at Jazz Central; Cafe Accordion at Loring Pasta Bar

Wednesday, December 31. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Tim Sparks and Friends, dinner sets at the Icehouse' Jerry O'Hagan Orchestra with Charmin Michelle at the Shakopee Ballroom

Thursday, January 1. Jason Weisman Trio at Hell's Kitchen ; Moonlight Serenaders at Wabasha Street Caves





Coming Soon!

. January 3, Group 47 at the Black Dog
. January 4, Parisota Hot Club at the Como Park Conservatory 
. January 5, Charmin and Shapira and Friends at the Dakota

. January 5, Casey O'Brien Trio CD Release/Chris Thomson at the Icehouse

. January 8, Le Percheron at Khyber Pass Cafe

. January 9, Joel Shapira/Dean Granros CD Release at the Black Dog

. January 10, Bill Carrothers Trio, Jazz at Studio Z
. January 10, Mancrush at the Black Dog

. 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 26, 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

Steve Kenny's Group 47, at the Black Dog January 3rd








Friday, December 19, 2014

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



The Bad Plus return to the Dakota for four nights, Christmas Day

© Andrea Canter

For likely the first time ever, the Twin Cities jazz scene will be broadly represented in the release of a CD sampling 13 working bands on Saturday night. It's wedged into an otherwise busy jazz week -- Debbie Duncan at Parma, Donald Washington at the Black Dog, Dean Granros at Jazz Central, Doc Severinsen at Orchestra Hall, the annual Peterson Family holiday party at the Dakota, Karrin Allyson's annual holiday visit to the Dakota, Anthony Cox with Mike Lewis and JT Bates at the Icehouse, and the start of a four-night residency with The Bad Plus at the Dakota...... we will need a holiday come Thursday! (But that doesn't mean the clubs are all closed on Christmas Day!)



Big Gigs This Week

Debbie Duncan
Friday, December 19. You can start the weekend with a relaxed and entertaining evening of song with Debbie Duncan at Parma 8200. Debbie's combination of balladry, blues and sass pairs perfectly with the calamari, antipasto and pasta, and of course the wine list. In Wayzata, enjoy a distinctive pairing, vocalist Barbara Meyer and pianist Phil Mattson, reprising diverse tunes from their new CD, Up and Down With Love, at the 318 Cafe.



Dean Granros
More edgy fare: Guitar master Dean Granros formed a stellar, double guitar quartet recently and the guys are back at it on the Bridge Series at Jazz Central. Dean mixed it up on fresh revisions of jazz standards and originals with Zacc Harris, Chris Bates and Jay Epstein.  Stick around for a late set with Jazz Crew-- area high school and college musicians.



The Black Dog's Community Pool/Deep End series hosts multi-reed veteran Donald Washington, in a trio with Brian Roessler and Davu Seru. That's a lot of adventurous improvising on one small stage.



Jingle Bell Doc
For big band holiday fun, Doc Severinsen is in town for Jingle Bell Doc, pitting is trumpet against the backdrop of one of the nation's top symphony orchestras... at Orchestra Hall.  They repeat the program on Sunday afternoon so there's no excuse for missing it.



Patty Peterson
Saturday, December 20. It would not be the holidays without the Petersons, and this year they present "The Jam Before Christmas" at the Dakota (two shows). The full complement of Peterson siblings will be on hand-- Linda, Billy, Patty, Ricky and Paul; nephew Jason DeLaire, and a few more friends and relatives. Hot off their gig at Catalina's in Los Angeles, the Petersons will fill the club with holiday joy and soaring music.



Steve Kenny
The first Twin Cities Jazz Sampler (Volume One) will be celebrated at Jazz Central, featuring three of thirteen bands that make up this survey of local modern jazz. Our own jazz impresario Steve Kenny managed this project which is a well-crafted documentation of the strength of our jazz scene. Bands on stage tonight include the Atlantis Quartet (just back from their debut gig at Chicago's Jazz Showcase), Chris Bates' Good Vibes Trio, and Kenny's Group 47--its first performance since pianist Will Kjeer headed out to Interlochen's post high school program.



JoAnn Funk
JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske celebrate the season in the Lobby Bar of the Saint Paul Hotel with special guests--Gary Schulte (violin) and Steven Marking (baritone). "Deck the Halls" was so popular last year, there had to be a reprise. Notes JoAnn, "We move merrily from classic Christmas carols to swing favorites. A soaring violin, stunning baritone voice, gorgeous bass playing, me and my piano will all serenade you in the elegantly decorated Saint Paul Hotel."



Sunday, December 21. In addition to the second (matinee) performance of "Jingle Bell Doc" (see Friday), this Sunday brings guitarist Joel Shapira to the Black Dog for a solo set or two, a late afternoon respite or reward after last minute shopping.



Karrin Allyson
Sunday-Monday, December 21-22. Grammy-nominated vocalist Karrin Allyson returns to one of her former homes, bringing back to the Dakota songs from her 2013 Yuletide Holiday and a preview of new compositions for release in early 2015.  In the busy world of vocal jazz, Karrin stands out for her easily identifiable alto and creative interpretations of standards and modern tunes.



Javi Santiago
Monday, December 22. It's the season for homecomings and a happy one will be held at Jazz Central tonight. Pianist Javier Santiago was a veteran of the local jazz scene before he graduated from high school, having performed in the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, at the Artists Quarter and Dakota, and other venues since middle school. He was selected for the first Dakota Combo while attending South High, went on to the Brubeck Institute for two years, and finished his degree at the New School in Manhattan where he is now making his way through the New York jazz scene. Home to visit family, Javi will be the featured artist, with dad Mac Santiago on drums.



Anthony Cox
JT's Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse tonight features a trio that would be at least equally welcomed in New York or Amsterdam or Paris. The Regional Jazz Trio is led by internationally renowned bassist Anthony Cox, with in-demand saxophonist Mike Lewis and similarly busy drummer JT Bates. They may refer to themselves as "Regional" but these guys are truly intergalactic!



Maud Hixson
Tuesday, December 23. Maud at Maude! It seems to be a monthly gig now, with songbird Maud Hixson joining piano-wielding husband Rick Carlson for a night of familiar and unfamiliar tunes at Cafe Maude. And tonight, some holiday songs will undoubtedly sneak into the gig. But don't expect the same old, same old. Maud is known for her ability to find amazing tunes that have remained out of the standard set list.



Bob Bowman
Wednesday, December 24. Hopefully you can take a break from Christmas Eve preparations and come down to Jazz Central for a rare opportunity to hear the music of one of the Midwest's reigning bass monsters, Bob Bowman from Kansas City. Bob is in town for a gig with Laura Caviani (December 27) but tonight he joins forces with Brandon Wozniak, Doan Brian Roessler and Pete Hennig for a double bass quartet that is sure to be more interesting than another round of holiday carols. Notes Bob, "We'll play our original music with a few special surprises thrown in. Come celebrate the dark beauty of this season with some beautiful bass playing and improvising."



The Bad Plus
Thursday-Sunday, December 25-28. Possibly one of the longest running gigs in American jazz, The Bad Plus return to the Dakota for their annual holiday residency, now four nights long, and as usual, a prelude to their New Year's Eve week gig at the Village Vanguard. The trio (former Menonomie resident Ethan Iverson, former Twin Citian Reid Anderson, and still-resident Dave King) has had a buys year, releasing their version of The Rite of Spring and then their new, all-originals album, Inevitable Western. This gig might be titled "Inevitable Creativity" -- we've come to expect every TBP gig to be filled with a combination of reimagined pop, rock and even classical covers as well as the always clever original works from all three musicians. It's our Rite of December.



More Jazz This Week!

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




Friday, December 19. Irv Williams and Steve Blons, happy hour at the Dakota; Todd Harper, solo piano (happy hour) at the Black Dog; Tim Sparks and Marcus Wise, dinner sets at the Icehouse; Rachel Holder Hennig at Mattie's on Main; James Wallace at Royal Bankok; Vic Volare at Hell's Kitchen; Larry McDonough at Junior's Bar (River Falls)



Saturday, December 20. Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200; Parisota Hot Club at Loring Pasta Bar; Maurice Jacox Trio at the Normandy Kitchen; Chris Lomheim and Jeremy Boettcher, dinner sets at the Icehouse



Sunday, December 21. Emily Davis and Robert Bell, brunch at Mattie's on Main; Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Cafe; Robert Everest, brunch at Maria's; Zacc Harris Trio at the Riverview Wine Bar



Monday, December 22. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza
Denny Malmberg



Tuesday, December 23. Dirty Shorts Brass Band at Minnesota Music Cafe; Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra at Jazz Central; Fred Montana at School II



Wednesday, December 24. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Jazz at the Tangiers; Wolverines at Hell's Kitchen



Thursday, December 25. Connie and Herb at The Bean; Swingbeat Big Band at Wabasha Street Caves



Coming Soon!

. December 26-28, 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 29, Wozniak/Nichols/JT Bates at the Icehouse

. December 30, Vicky Mountain at The Nicollet

. December 31, Jazz Awards Night at Jazz Central

. January 3, Group 47 at the Black Dog

. January 5, Casey O'Brien Trio CD Release/Chris Thomson at the Icehouse

. January 8, Le Percheron at Khyber Pass Cafe

. 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 17, Rondi Charleston at the Sheldon Theater (Red Wing, MN)

. 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 26, 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

Fat Kid Wednesdays -- at the Black Dog, December 27