|Firebell (Park Evans, Graydon Peterson and Jay Epstein) -- Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog|
© Andrea Canter
Seems we were just shivering and complaining about our cool spring, and here it is, Memorial Day Weekend and (finally) some warm sunshine. New challenges await, of course, like getting the garden planted, summer vacation reservations confirmed, and-- figuring out how to contend with parking and crowds as the Saints new ballpark opens in Lowertown -- scene of some of the area's most inventive jazz in recent months. This weekend will be the first big test of "baseball meets improvised music", with a Saints home game getting underway Saturday at the same time as gigs at the Black Dog and Studio Z; a new, late night improvised music series at Public Kitchen on Friday might actually benefit as an after-game destination--for those already in the area. Plan accordingly!
Big Gigs This Week
Friday, May 22. At The Nicollet, the Chris Lomheim Trio debuts on the Friday Night Jazz series. Any fan of piano jazz should be familiar with the elegant Mr. Lomheim, whose Evanescent touch graces whatever he's playing, be it original compositions from his recent Timelines recording or standards from bebop and beyond. With Gordy Johnson and bass and Reid Kennedy on drums, Chris promises an evening of joyful jazz.
Piano trio jazz is also on the menu at Parma 8200, where the Travis Anderson Trio (Steve Pikal, Nathan Norman) swings through a rare instrumental Friday night. And I mean swing.
Tonight at Jazz Central, former McNally Smith faculty Kristin Sponcia plays her first of two gigs within a week, while on break from graduate studies at the University of Illinois (Champaign). On the Bridge Series, it's the quartet with Kristin on piano and vocals, backed by Mike Krajewski (guitar), Graydon Peterson (bass) and Dave Schmalenberger (drums). (See Thursday below for Kristin's gig on the Vocal Jazz series.)
Following at 9:30, Jazz Central hosts a fundraising concert to support communities damaged by earthquakes in Nepal. Music will be provided by an explosive young trio featuring Javi Santiago on piano, Miguel Hurtado on drums, and visiting Milwaukee-born saxophonist Pawan Benjamin. Pawan first met Javi and Miguel in New York where he can Miguel were classmates at the Manhattan School of Music; this is not Pawan's first visit to Jazz Central, where he hopes to raise funds to help his family's village, among others.
A new addition to music in Lowertown is Public Kitchen & Bar, just off Mears Park and offering a 10 pm show of improvised music on Fridays in the lower level lounge. Tonight, Gastonguay (Kevin) + Markworth (Kameron) + Schmidt (Zach) ), a new piano/bass/drum trio, do the honors.
|Jay Epstein, Firebell|
Saturday, May 23. Lowertown jazz and improvised music will test the impact of baseball tonight. At the Black Dog--which could be jammed earlier with pre-game traffic, the Saturday Night Jazz series continues with the usual double-header: Opening will be the cross-generation antics of Central Standard Time, featuring teen bass master Charlie Lincoln with Steve Kenny, Sten Johnson, Dave Roos and Dennis Glaus. At 8:30, catch a couple sets with Firebell-- a veteran guitar trio with Park Evans, Graydon Peterson and Jay Epstein. Expect a lot of original material from their new CD, Impossible Vacation.
At Studio Z, the Twin Cities epicenter for new music, it's a rare double piano trio configuration with Chris Granias and Carei Thomas on the grands. Billed as "new improvisations for two pianos and assorted instruments," there is no one better to handle "assorted instruments" than Douglas Ewart, playing multiple reeds and percussion, including is home-made instruments.
You can avoid parking dilemmas and head for the Aster at St. Anthony Main where songbird Connie Evingson will swing for the rafters with Patty and the Buttons. Notes Connie, "I always have a great time singing with Patty & the Buttons, and the bohemian vibe of the Aster Cafe makes it especially fun!" Patty (aka Patrick Harison) and his "buttons" (accordion)--with Tony Balluff, Mark Kreitzer and Keith Boyles -- swing and sway in a mix of New Orleans, hot club, and 1920s beats.
Monday, May 25. End your holiday weekend with some virtuosic guitar from David Martin, in the spotlight at Jazz Central. He's joined by bassist Jim Chenoweth and drummer Joel Arpin.
Tuesday, May 26. Guitarist/composer David Torn returns to the Twin Cities for a solo show at The Cedar. Known for his melding of acoustic and electronic elements and particularly his use of loops, Torn was here at the Walker back in 2007 with his Presenz ensemble. Now he's touring in support of his new solo effort on ECM, Only Sky.
Larry McDonough and friends reprise their Chet Baker tribute, first heard at Jazz Central last winter and now an encore at the Dakota. McDonough handles the singing Chet (as well as piano), while Steve Kenny takes on the trumpet role, with superb backing from Paul Peterson on saxes, Greg Stinson on Bass, Dean White on drums, and former WCCO anchor Don Shelby reading poetry about Baker and Bill Evans, written by regular McDonough cohort and saxophonist, Richard Terrill.
Wednesday-Thursday, May 27-28. “The songwriter translates emotion into words. The singer's job is to translate the words back into emotion." So said vocalist Rachelle Ferrell, and she lives these words whenever she's on stage. Returning to the Dakota for two nights, Ferrell is a singular force. She has a six-octave range and can sing in “whistle register” like Minnie Riperton; studied voice, piano and violin in her youth and attended the Berklee College of Music; sang back up to Lou Rawls, Patti LaBelle, Vanessa Wiliams and George Duke. While her popularity has ebbed and flowed, she was largely beneath the jazz scene’s radar until recently. Dakota owner Lowell Pickett mentioned that there were no words to describe her. Maybe that’s true. Or maybe all words describe her.
Thursday, May 28. The second of Kristin Sponcia's Jazz Central gigs in the past week (see Friday), tonight the spotlight is on her skills as a vocalist, with Phil Mattson handling the piano duties. Which is only fitting as Kristin was a member of the Phil Mattson Singers when she was a Twin Cities resident.
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, May 22. Irv Williams and Steve Blons, happy hour at the Dakota; Todd Harper Piano Fridays at the Black Dog; Debbie Duncan at Hell's Kitchen; Bryan Nichols and James Buckley, dinner sets at the Icehouse; Dave Ziffer at Ingredients Cafe; Optimum Trajectory at Underground Music Cafe; BZ3 Organ Trio at the Black Dog; Jello Slave at the Aster
Saturday, May 23. Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200; Sophia Shorai at Hell's Kitchen; Talking Strings at Loring Pasta Bar; Debbie Duncan Quartet at Crooners' Lounge; Zacc Harris Trio at Merlin's Rest Pub
Sunday, May 24. Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster; Robert Everest, brunch at Maria's; Jazz Brunch at Crooners' Lounge; Joel Shapira, solo guitar at the Black Dog (4 pm); Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar; T Collective at the Icehouse
Monday, May 25. JT's Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse
Tuesday, May 26. Cafe Accordion Orchestra at Loring Pasta Bar; Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra at Jazz Central; Maud Hixson with the Wolverines Trio at Hell's Kitchen
Wednesday, May 27. Charmin Michelle at The Marsh; Retro Swing Sister at Eagles Aerie Club; Debbie Duncan Quartet at Crooners Lounge; Pat Kuehn Trio at Jazz Central; Lila Ammons Trio at The Tangiers
Thursday, May 28. Wes Ruelle Trio at Hell's Kitchen; Dave Ziffer at the Underground Music Cafe
. May 29, Bottomless Pit at The Nicollet
. May 29, Connie Evingson at Parma 8200
. May 30, Dave Martin Trio followed by the Atlantis Quartet at the Black Dog
. June 1, Dean Granros' Tall Tales, CD Release at the Icehouse
. June 2, Tim Reis Rolling Stones Project at the Dakota
. June 3, Steve Smith and Vital Information, NYC Edition at the Dakota
. June 4, Phil Mattson Group at Jazz Central
. June 5, Paul Harper's Show and Tell at The Nicollet
. June 6, Lulu's Playground followed by The Five at the Black Dog
. June 12, Tommy Bentz Quartet at The Nicollet
. June 13, Will Schmid Trio followed by the Graydon Peterson Quartet
. June 16, Ticket to Brazil, Jazz in the Library at Sun Ray Library (St Paul)
. June 17, Chris Bates' Good Vibes Trio, Jazz in the Library at Hamline Library (St Paul)
. June 19, The Dakota Combo followed by Dean Granros' Tall Tales at The Nicollet
. June 19, Bill Frisell at the Dakota
. June 20, John Penny/Jay Epstein Duo followed by the Phil Hey Quartet at the Black Dog
. June 21, Francisco Mela Trio, Jazz in the Library at St Paul Central Library
. June 22, Kurt Elling at the Dakota
. June 23-24, Cecile McLorin Salvant at the Dakota
. June 25-27, Twin Cities Jazz Festival, Mears Park and beyond (Dr John, Potter/Holland/Louke/Harland Quartet, Francisco Mela with Nicholas Payton, Araya-Orta Quartet, Marquis Hill Blacktet)
. June 28, John Pizzarelli at the Dakota
. June 29, Becca Stevens at the Dakota
. June 30-July 1, Charles Lloyd Quartet at the Dakota
. July 2-4, Iowa City Jazz Festival (Charles Lloyd, Dave Douglas, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Julian Lage, Brian Charette, Atlantis Quartet, Becca Stevens, COLOSSUS, Dakota Combo)
. July 5, Vinicius Cantauria at the Dakota
. July 12, Edina Jazz Fest at Centennial Lakes Park
. July 18, PipJazz at The Bedlam
. July 19, Midtown Global Market Music Festival
. July 23, John Raymond Quartet with Billy Hart at the Dakota
. August 6, George Brooks with Larry Coryell and Bombay Jazz at the Dakota
. September 7-8, Victor Wooten at the Dakota