Friday, June 26, 2015

Twin Cities Jazz Festival: Scenes and Sounds, Thursday (June 25)

Pippi Ardennia and PipJazz Band, Music at Mears

© Andrea Canter

·         Incredibly fine weather for a jazz festival, big puffy clouds, cooling breeze, perfect low 80s temperatures and plenty of sunshine. No excuses!

Music at Mears special festival Thursday night presented one of the brightest entertainers in the Twin Cities, Pippi Ardennia and her cast of PipJazz Youth. Her house band is something quite special as well -- with Peter Schimke on piano, Richard Johnson on keyboards, Jay Young on bass, Glenn Swanson on drums.  That's a New York-ready ensemble! First set treat-- young violinist Zosha Warpeha, home briefly from studies in New York at the New School.

Tim Kliphuis
·         Swinging at Heartland: Dutch violinist Tim Kliphuis joined forces with guitar ace Sam Miltich and the Clearwater Hot Club. There was some dancing in the aisles, probably a first at Heartland.

Dancing in Rice Park
Dancing in Rice Park was a given, with Salsa del Soul on stage and hundreds crowded on to the "dance floor" -- and you could hear the energy and the rhythms at least two blocks away.

Park Evans
With two regular members of Firebell fulfilling other obligations, guitarist Park Evans was the only member of the core band to play at the Black Dog, but the "subs" were up to the task-- Cody McKinney on bass and Greg Schutte on drums. This might be the start of a new band! Some of the region's finest modern jazz bands will be filling the schedule at the Black Dog all weekend. (And their iced chai is the most refreshing non-alcoholic drink in Lowertown.)

Francisco Mela
Next, a preview of the renovated space once occupied by the Artists Quarter in the Hamm Building, now run by the Dakota as Vieux Carré. Ready enough for some hot piano trio music hosted by Jon Weber, with Billy Peterson on bass and Francisco Mela on drums. That's as hot as any piano trio anywhere-- "Blue Moon," "Well You Needn't" and more.  Open jam session scheduled for later in the evening.

Sisters in song--Yolande, Patty and Debbie
Patty Peterson and Friends were cooking at the Amsterdam, and near the end of the last set, Yolande Bruce and Debbie Duncan were called to the stage. They had just finished a duet set at Arnellia's. Spontaneous combustion. Patty closed out the night with stellar "Shadow of Your Smile." Caught some of the live KBEM broadcast from The Bedlam as I drove away from downtown.

Maud, Arne and the Wolverines Trio
Personal tradition--end Jazz Night Out at Mancini's with Arne Fogel and Maud Hixson, with the Wolverines Trio (Rick Carlson, Steve Pikal, Jendeen Forberg). And what a way to end my night-- a spontaneous duet on "My Funny Valentine" in response to a request. Had never heard the verse but of course Maud knows it. The back and forth of the two voices was stunning.

 So much music, so little time. Missed a lot more than I heard. Good crowds everywhere I 
went. Looking forward to tough choices today and tonight with so much divese music.

Oops, gotta run, Nicholas Payton clinic at McNally Smith starts at 3!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, Festival Edition! June 19-27

The 17th Annual Twin Cities Jazz Festival, June 25-27

 © Andrea Canter
 It's here! The 2015 Twin Cities Jazz Festival gets underway in phases, officially opening on June 25 but preliminary events began a few days ago with Jazz at the Library gigs in St. Paul and some "Music on the Move" sets this weekend. Format for the Lead Sheet will be a little different for this week, and this edition will run through the festival finale on June 27. Of course there's a lot of other music around town as well.

Twin Cities Jazz Festival: The Big (and Free) Gigs
Swinging with the TC7!
Saturday-Sunday, June 20-21. "Music on the Move" includes gigs along the Green Line Stops of University Avenue, some serving as festival previews. Episcopal Homes at Iris Park will host two bands on Saturday and two bands on Sunday. Kicking off Saturday at 1:30 pm will be the Adam Meckler Quintet. A prolific composer and performer, trumpeter Adam also leads the popular Adam Meckler Orchestra and Lulu's Playground. His cohorts include Nelson Devereaux, Zacc Harris, Chris Bates and Greg Schutte. Following at 6 pm will be Doug Haining and the Twin Cities 7, swinging through Basie, Ellington and more as they have done for the past 15 years.  Come Sunday, enjoy the St. Peter Street Stompers at 1:30 pm, performing traditional New Orleans jazz under the leadership of Chuck DeVore. The weekend winds up at 6 pm with the Southside Aces, a "true authentic" New Orleans dance hall-style band with Tony Balluff, Robert Bell and pals.

Francisco Mela
Sunday, June 21. The final Jazz at the Library concert takes place this afternoon at the Saint Paul Central Library, featuring Festival Artistic Director Francisco Mela . A charismatic drummer favored by luminaries from McCoy Tyner to Kenny Barron to Joe Lovano, Cuban native Mela has appeared locally at Jazz Fest, the Dakota, Hopkins Center for the Arts and MacPhail. For this Jazz at the Library finale, Mela will be joined by local favorites, Mary Louise Knutson on piano and Graydon Peterson on bass. (Catch Mela again Saturday night, June 27.)

Lila Ammons
Tuesday, June 23. The final "pre-fest" gig belongs to the Lila Ammons Quartet, performing in Highland on the Langford Chiropractic Outdoor Stage.  With a legacy like Uncle Gene Ammons and Grandfather Albert Ammons, vocalist Lila was destined for jazz stardom. She sings ballads, standards, blues and boogie woogie throughout Europe and the Twin Cities. Her talented cohorts include pianist Thom West, bassist Jay Young and drummer Jay Epstein.

Francisco Mela workshop
Also this evening at Walker West, Francisco Mela and perennial fest pianist Jon Weber hold a master class open to the public. This is a great opportunity for student musicians as well as fans of all ages to get some new insights and, very likely, a highly entertaining experience.

Pippi Ardennia
Thursday, June 25. Once again, Music at Mears, held on Thursday nights throughout the summer, sponsors the Twin Cities Jazz Festival's opening night (June 25), launching the annual Club Crawl. On the Mears Park stage again as music host will be singer/songwriter and PipJazz Foundation leader Pippi Ardennia. Along with the young artists who have served as PipJazz Youth, Pippi will present three hours of what she calls "pipjazz," or "music that makes you feel good." Most of the clubs and venues open during the festival will host music tonight, from salsa lessons and dance music from Salsa del Soul at Rice Park to the annual duo night with Arne Fogel and Maud Hixson at Mancini's, from Patty Peterson and Friends at the Amsterdam to Firebell and the Illicit Sextet at the Black Dog.

Among the more esoteric offerings on this first festival night, Tim Kliphuis joins Sam Miltich and the Clearwater Hot Club at Heartland.   Award-winning Dutch violinist Kliphuis blends classical, gypsy and folks styles. Add in Django Reinhardt devotee, guitarist Sam Miltich, and the swinging Clearwater Hot Club, featuring Gary Schulte (violin), Mike Miller (drums) and Matthew Miltich (bass), and you have something very swinging and very special. 

Cameron Kinghorn
Another stylistic mashup at The Bedlam finds two young trumpeters leading the BDP 5-Tet, Cameron Kinghorn and Jake Baldwin. With this ensemble, Kinghorn adds vocals while Baldwin adds some trombone, and with Ted Godbout (keys), Andrew Foreman (bass) and Andres Crovetti (drums), they cut across jazz, R&B and a little pop.

Jon Weber
Pianist and host Jon Weber starts his three-night run at the soon-to-open Vieux Carré in the old Artists Quarter space in the Hamm Building. Each night Weber performs with a trio for about an hour, followed by an open jam, usually featuring some of the night's headliners. Note start times of 8, 8:30 and 9 pm respectively on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Solomon Parham
Also starting a three-night run, trumpeter Solomon Parham will play a set with his "Group" followed by a "Smooth and Groove" Jam Session, at the Bedlam starting each night at 9 pm.

Laura Caviani
Friday, June 26. Start your festival afternoon with an open clinic at McNally Smith College and trumpet star Nicholas Payton, then move on to Mears Park where pianist Laura Caviani will be on the Main Stage (4 pm), making her first-ever festival appearance in a leading role. Laura has assembled a special trio, with Kansas City bassist Bob Bowman and McNally Smith professor of percussion, Dave Schmalenberger. Tunes from Bowman's new album as well as some Caviani originals will be on the set list.

Araya brothers (Araya Orta)
The "headline" sets this evening will draw big, so come early! At 6 pm, welcome the return festival engagement of the Araya-Orta Quartet with their special guest, steel pan artist Othello Molineaux. The two pairs of brothers (Araya and Orta) were here in 2012 and wowed the crowd with their exciting Latin rhythms. This time, with former Jaco Pastorius cohort Molineaux, they will pay tribute to Jaco. 

Chris Potter
And wrapping up an amazing Friday at Mears, the final set (8:30 pm) features a new collaborative quartet of Chris Potter, Dave Holland, Lionel Loueke and Eric Harland. Each of these artists is a headliner in his own right. The night air will simply crackle with this quartet. Normally we don't have fireworks at this festival. This night, the display will be non-stop.

There's a lot more on Friday, from the Latin-tinged Iowa ensemble Laranja (Jefferson Lines 6th Street Stage) to the beloved JazzMn Orchestra with Patty Peterson (Rayette Lofts Stage at Union Depot North Plaza) to a Jazz Central Studios "all-star" night at The Bedlam with Joe Mayo and Adam Meckler and What Would Monk Do closing the night at the Black Dog. On the Green Line, an impressive line-up at Ngon Bistro (Green Line) includes a trio with Phil Aaron, Steve Pikal and Phil Hey, a vocal double set with Lee Engele and Vicky Mountain, and a new trio of Davu Seru, Dean Granros and Chris Bates.

Jazz Around Mpls ensemble (photo Kelle Green)
Saturday, June 27. Students and other learners have two choices (at the same time) for clinics this morning -- with Chris Potter at McNally Smith and with local drum hero Kevin Washington at The Bedlam. The latter is a master class format focusing on two high school ensembles, the local Dakota Combo and the visiting City Six from Iowa City. More student activity fills the North Plaza at Union Depot with the annual Youth Showcase sponsored by the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education. The showcase, from noon to 5 pm, displays the talents of five bands, including middle school and high school jazz camp ensembles and the all-star Dakota Combo and City Six.

Jack Brass Band
The most highly publicized event of course is Dr. John and the Nite Trippers (3:30 pm) in the new CHS Field, with the New Orleans sounds of our Jack Brass Band opening (2:15 pm). With 4000 (free and VIP) tickets reserved in advance, anyone without a reserved ticket should arrive early to get in line for the remaining seats. This will be the first concert ever presented at CHS. And the largest ever presented at a Twin Cities Jazz Festival. But there's a lot more on Saturday. At Union Depot, enjoy the Atlantis Quartet before they head down to the Iowa City Jazz Festival (5:30 pm) and stay to hear the European elegance of the Cloudmakers Trio ( 7 pm), based in London and featuring Wisconsin-raised bassist Michael Janisch. Bands of young artists are celebrated on the AARP Main Stage at Mears Park with the Walker West Jazz Ensembles (2:30 pm),  recent University of Northern Colorado graduate Ted Olsen and his quintet (4 pm), and 2014 Monk Trumpet Competition winner Marquis Hill and his Blacktet (6 pm).

Davu Seru
Catch the best of modern chamber jazz at the Black Dog, starting at 7 pm with Davu Seru's Clicksong, followed by the six-month old Bottomless Pit (Joel Shapira, Pete Whitman, Tom Lewis, Eric Gravatt) and ending the night with Steve Kenny's Group 47, on hiatus this past year while young pianist Will Kjeer spent a year at Interlochen. Better catch the band tonight before Will heads off to Cal Arts!

Debbie Duncan
Vocalists are not as prevalent at this year's festival as in the past, but you'll find Yolande Bruce at Arnellia's (5 pm) and Debbie Duncan on the 6th Street Stage (7:15 pm).

Francisco Mela
And the grand finale? Francisco Mela brings in his new Crash Trio with special guest Nicholas Payton (8:30 pm, AARP Main Stage). It's not Mela's first time on our main stage--in the past five years he has appeared with Joe Lovano's Us Five, his own Cuban Safari, and --moved to the Amsterdam when Mears Park washed out--with Melissa Aldana's trio last year. Why does he call it Crash Trio? He's a drummer. You'll get it.

This is nowhere near a complete summary of the music and venues that make up the 17th annual Twin Cities Jazz Festival. Full information including downloadable schedules, artist bios, sponsor lists and more can be found on the fest website at; see updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Big Gigs, Before and After
There actually is a lot of jazz in the coming week aside from the jazz festival. Or perhaps because of the jazz festival? Your ears should not want for any break in the action!

Bill Frisell
Friday, June 19. Once again, guitar legend Bill Frisell comes to town with a different configuration than the last, or the one before that.... This edition of the Bill Frisell Trio features long-time associate Tony Scherr on bass and recent cohort (Beautiful Dreamers, Big Sur) Rudy Royston on drums. They're at the Dakota for just one night, two sets at 7 and 9 pm, and it will surely be magical.

Jon Pemberton
Jazz Central offers an intriguing double header tonight, with veteran trumpeter/pianist Jon Pemberton on keys with bassist Matt Peterson and drummer Cory Healey on "The Bridge" series (7 pm). "Originals, bebop, hard bop, and standards, with tunes by yours truly, Tom Harrell, Sam Rivers, Bobby Peterson, Wayne Shorter, and Monk," promises Pemberton. The late set brings together "Two Steves Swinging Like Hell," Steven Hobert on piano and Steve Pikal on bass. And as Hobert says, it's going to be "mighty fun."

Dakota Combo
South of downtown Minneapolis sits one of the best kept jazz secrets in town -- Friday Night Jazz at the Nicollet. The weekly cast features some of the most inventive cats around, and sometimes a surprising new ensemble as well. Tonight is a rare double-header, starting out (7 pm) with the last club gig of the 2014-2015 edition of the Dakota Combo, the metro-wide high school ensemble directed by Adam Linz. Six just graduated from high school and are heading on to study jazz and/or other things in college programs. This is their warmup for final gigs at the Twin Cities Jazz Fest and Iowa City Jazz Fest. And they should heat up the stage to a warm sizzle for Dean Granros' Tall Tales (9 pm), riding high after their CD release at the Icehouse a few weeks ago. Dean and Zacc Harris make it a double guitar quartet with Chris Bates and Jay Epstein.

Maud Hixson and Rick Carlson
In the burbs, enjoy a nearly monthly show with Maud Hixson at Parma 8200, with Rick Carlson on piano and Gordy Johnson on bass. The only thing predictable about the set list is that it will feature Maud's intimate stylings and at least a song or two you didn't know were out there.

Lars-Erik Larson
Saturday, June 20. Lowertown is having a little festival of its own, between the Black Dog and Studio Z. Good thing the venues are a block apart. Zacc Harris' Jazz at Studio Z finishes its season with its second annual NextGen showcase, tonight featuring the Lars-Erik Larson Trio and Charlie Lincoln Group. Larson has only been in town a couple years and already is proving to be one of the most creative bandleaders, with Mancrush and Ramtrak. Tonight's trio features guitarist Thomas Nordlund and bassist Andrew Foreman. The Charlie Lincoln Group has been heard at the Black Dog and Jazz Central in the past year. Led by new South High grad Charlie on bass, the rest of the crew are equally precocious--Aidan Sponheim, Peter Goggin, Joey Hayes, Levi Schwartzberg and Sam Stroup.

Phil Hey
At the Black Dog, two bands of veterans play back-to-back. Up first, the John Penny/Jay Epstein Duo, with composer/guitarist John offering sublime harmonies offset by drummer Jay's playful rhythms. This is a reprise of their first collaboration at the 2014 festival. The second half of the evening features one of the longest-running quartets from the days of the Artists Quarter, the Phil Hey Quartet. A 21st century Modern Jazz Quartet with emphasis on "modern," the PHQ boasts local legends Phil Aaron, Tom Lewis, Dave Hagedorn and of course Phil Hey behind the trapset. They're saluting the late Ornette Coleman as well as other muses.

Patty Peterson
Sunday, June 21. It's Father's Day and wouldn't Dad enjoy hearing one or two of the top area vocalists? Take him to brunch at the Icehouse for a change of pace, not your usual Sunday restaurant but savvy food and savvy music. And brunch is served with the Patty Peterson Trio -- Patty with nephew Jason Peterson DeLaire and pal Billy Franze.

Back in 2009, Connie Evingson put together a program in tribute to Peggy Lee for her new Jazz at the Jungle series at the Jungle Theater. Six years and six seasons later, Connie continues Jazz at the Jungle, and now reprises Happy With the Blues, featuring her recent collaborator Jon Weber on piano, Dave Karr on sax and Gordy Johnson on bass.  Hear favorites like "Fever", "He's A Tramp", "Johnny Guitar" and more from the Peggy Lee Songbook. There's two shows, 4:00 and 7:30 pm.

Kurt Elling
Monday, June 22. Kurt Elling seems to get to the Dakota annually, and often it's with a new recording.  Now he's just released Passion World (Concord Jazz, 2015), a wide-reaching exploration of passion and desire interpreted through the lens of diverse world cultures. Since each of Elling's previous ten albums received a Grammy nomination, we can expect the same here. He's coming with Gary Verace on piano, John McLean on guitar, Clarke Sommers on bass, and Christian Euman on drums. One night, two sets at 7 and 9 pm. (See Pamela Espeland's review of Passion World in Minn Post)

JT's Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse features a new quartet headed by acrobatic percussionist Davu Seru, with Jake Baldwin (trumpet), Park Evans (guitar) and Josh Granowski (bass). Inventive soundmasters, all around.

Cecile McLorin Salvant
Tuesday-Wednesday, June 23-24. Kurt Elling last night and now Cecile McLorin Salvant for two nights, at the Dakota? If this is an embarrassment of riches, we can stand the embarrassment just fine. Winner of the 2010 Monk Vocal Competition, Grammy nominee with her first commercial release (Woman Child), Downbeat New Artist and Top Female Vocalist in 2013, and recently on tour with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, seems there are no mountains Cecile can't climb.... and she's only 26. Imagine Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Carter and Abbey Lincoln melted together... Cecile seems to exude the entire history of vocal jazz. And really, she is just beginning.

Ted Olsen
Wednesday, June 24. Bassist Ted Olsen wasted no time lining up gigs after spring graduation from the University of Northern Colorado. The St Paul native warms up for his main stage gig at JazzFest with a performance tonight at Jazz Central. His usual cohorts include Jake Baldwin, Javi Santiago and Miguel Hurtado, making it a Young Lions blowout.

Thursday, June 25. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band returns to the Dakota, bringing with it a trail of New Orleans music and collaboration going back 40 years.

Linda Peterson
Friday, June 26. If you really can't get out of Minneapolis for Jazz Fest, there's Jay Young's Lyric Factory at the Icehouse tonight, doing a tribute to Herbie Hancock that will surely rock your socks.
Friday-Saturday, June 26-27. Back in the Cities for the summer, vocalist/pianist Linda Peterson entertains anyone in the burbs who is not at Jazz Fest! Friday night she's at Parma 8200 in Bloomington (7:30 pm); Saturday night catch her at Crooners in Fridley (7:30 pm).

More Jazz Near You!
Keep up with the live jazz scene in the Twin Cities. The most comprehensive jazz calendar can be found at Jazz Police, but you will also find jazz listings at KBEM, Rhythm and Grooves and Jazz Near You. Jazz Police also posts monthly calendars for jazz at The Dakota, The Nicollet, Jazz Central and the Black Dog, and these and other venues maintain calendars on their websites. KBEM and KFAI radio also host jazz programs regularly and provide daily notices of jazz gigs and concerts. (KBEM will broadcast live from the TC Jazz Festival each evening.) Venues and artists are reminded to send information to online and print calendars.

Coming Soon!
More listings on the online sites above. Among the great gigs coming your way:

. June 27-July 1, Twin Cities Bass Camp with Francois Rabbath and Cloudmakers Trio at Bethel University
. June 28, John Pizzarelli Quartet at the Dakota
. June 29, Becca Stevens at the Dakota
. June 30, Francois Rabbath at Bethel University
. 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, Dakota Combo)
. July 5, Vinicius Cantauria at the Dakota
. July 9, James Buckley Trio, All Originals at Studio Z
. July 12, Edina Jazz Fest at Centennial Lakes Park
. July 16, Red Planet, All Originals at Studio Z
. July 18, PipJazz at The Bedlam
. July 19, Midtown Global Market Music Festival
. July 23, John Raymond Quartet at the Dakota
. July 23, Nichols/Bates/Bates, All Originals at Studio Z
. July 24, Jon Pemberton's Tribute to Lee Morgan at The Nicollet
. July 30, dā-kə-bro̵̅o̅-dā, All Originals at Studio Z
. August 6, George Brooks with Larry Coryell and Bombay Jazz at the Dakota
. August 8, PipJazz at The Bedlam
. August 31, Terence Blanchard and E-Collective at the Dakota
. September 7-8, Victor Wooten at the Dakota
. September 22-23, Lizz Wright at the Dakota

Charles Lloyd, coming to the Dakota June 30-July 1

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Ornette Coleman: 1930-2015

Ornette Coleman (Wikimedia-Commons)

© Andrea Canter

“Coleman was dancing in our heads—harsh yet jubilant, alienated yet benevolent…True, he challenged every pre-conception of Western music…but that was secondary to his magnanimous spirit, his blinding unison of purpose.” –Gary Giddens, Visions of Jazz

“Most people think of me only as a saxophonist and as a jazz artist, but I want to be considered as a composer who could cross over all the borders.” – Ornette Coleman

The father of "free jazz" and one of the most revolutionary musicians of all time, Pulitzer prize-winning saxophonist Ornette Coleman died on June 11 of cardiac arrest. In addition to the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for his recording, Sound Grammar, Coleman was also honored as an NEA Jazz Master in 1984 and with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Born into the blues tradition of his native Texas, Ornette Coleman is most known as a saxophonist but taught himself other instruments, including trumpet and violin. He took up the alto saxophone in high school, switching to tenor to play R&B before discovering bop and developing a unique style that would influence the next four generations of jazz artists. But during his early career, Coleman’s experimental sounds were greeted with anything but acclaim and respect. Sometimes paid to not play, this off-beat innovator struggled to find an audience and compatible collaborators, finally meeting some kindred spirits (Don Cherry and Billy Higgins, later Ed Blackwell, Paul Bley, and Charlie Haden) while living in Los Angeles.

In the late 50s and early 60s, Ornette found artistic if not commercial success, notably through the release of The Shape of Jazz to Come and a legendary gig at the Five Spot in 1959, and the release of three more pivotal recordings in 1960-- his double quartet project Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation and two quartet recordings, Change of the Century and This Is Our Music. Ornette received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1967—the first ever awarded specifically for jazz composition. The following year, he released New York Is Now and Love Call, with Coleman doubling on trumpet with tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones.

As the 70s began, Coleman experienced more commercial success, appearing at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1971 and on tour with the Newport musicians in Europe. Always experimenting, Coleman electrified his band in the mid 70s, initially a septet but later evolving into a smaller ensemble, Prime Time. Most significant collaborations during the 1980s included Pat Metheny (Song X) and the Grateful Dead, both of which extended his audience and led to his formation of the Harmolodic label and affiliation with Polygram France.

Over his sixty-year career, Coleman worked in diverse configuration, from duet to symphony orchestra. Recognition came late but significantly—a 1994 MacArthur Foundation  “Genius” Award,  induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an honorary doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, the American Music Center Letter of Distinction, and the New York State Governor Arts Award. In 1997, Coleman was recognized through Lincoln Center’s four-night Civilization series at Avery Fisher Hall, with Coleman and Prime Time sharing the stage with the New York Philharmonic and the first performance of the original quartet in 20 years.

Noted Gary Giddens (Visions of Jazz), Coleman “resisted the laws of harmony, melody, rhythm, and pitch, all of which he ultimately revised in the abracadabra of harmolodic”—a concept that he first presented in his “Skies of America” symphony, which premiered in New York and performed in Paris in 1972. He abandoned chord changes and the conventional 32-bar AABA song form, and promoted interactive improvisation among the members of his quartet and trio, generating reactions ranging from highest praise to dismay to shock from musicians, critics, and listeners. Further, Coleman developed a “human” sound, described by Howard Mandel as “more than imitative vocalization, but rather an audible equivalent to the hum of one's internal monologue, whether it's a roar of pleasure, a cry of pain, a whisper of tenderness or a question to the cosmos.”

Dancing In Your Head, featuring the Master Musicians of Jajouka, introduced Coleman’s electric Prime Time band in 1977, and evolved into the 1982 free-jazz album Of Human Feelings, fueled by the dynamic electric bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma.  Also in the 1980s, Coleman collaborated  with guitarist Pat Metheny, yielding1986’s Song X, and 1988’s Virgin Beauty, which featured a guest appearance by Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia.  In the ’90s, Coleman's recordings included 1995’s Tone Dialing and 1996’s simultaneous releases, Sound Museum: Hidden Man and Sound Museum: Three Women.

Sound Grammar
Sound Grammar, recorded live in Germany in 2005, was Coleman’s first release of all-new material in nearly a decade, with six new compositions and new interpretations of his classics “Song X” and “Turnaround.” His quartet then featured two bassists (Greg Cohen’s plucking and Tony Falanga’s bowing) along with Ornette’s son Denardo Coleman on drums.

The only time I saw Coleman was when he last appeared in the Twin Cities in 2005, with a celebration of his 75th birthday and the release of Sound Grammar. The newly renovated Walker Art Center presented a three-day “Dancing in Your Head” festival, with a series of locally-based performers from Anthony Cox to the Bad Plus to Happy Apple and a performance by Coleman himself with his working quartet, as part of the Northrop Auditorium Jazz Series, co-sponsored by the Walker Art Center and held at Ted Mann Concert Hall. Finally, the spirit of Coleman was celebrated with the Dancing in Your Head Marathon, a 4 pm-midnight nonstop music bazaar featuring a host of Twin Cities musicians with Happy Apple, The Bad Plus, and the Bang-On-A-Can All-Stars, who premiered a new Ornette Coleman commission.

It took me years to appreciate the genius of Ornette Coleman. My first Ornette album was "Shape of Jazz to Come." I didn't get it. I put it aside. Something drew me to attend his concert at Ted Mann in 2005. Maybe seeing as well as hearing helped. In the years since, I have heard a lot of Ornette's music, courtesy of local bands like the Phil Hey Quartet, Good Vibes Trio, and particularly the young student musicians in the Dakota Combo. 
Coleman's last public performance came at a celebration of his 84th birthday in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. But we will be hearing his music, and his influence, for generations to come.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

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

Pete Whitman -- X-Tet and Quartet at Jazz Central
© Andrea Canter

Unofficially, the Twin Cities Jazz Festival gets underway in the coming week with the 5th annual Jazz in the Library series of pre-fest gigs in three Saint Paul community libraries. Both Saint Paul and Minneapolis turn up the heat a notch across assorted venues offering a broad array of  that hard-to-define genre we call jazz. Surely that will put us in a festive mood, come rain or come shine. 

The Lead Sheet will try something a little different this week-- with recent improvements in the Jazz Police online calendar, I'm trying out an expanded Big Gigs but eliminating the long list of additional gigs under More Jazz, instead providing the link to the Jazz Police calendar as well as several other sites listing area music. Seems redundant to spend the time collating another list that already exists. (Artists-- you can help ensure the Jazz Police calendar has your gig listed-- send info to  I will continue to list Coming Soon but without any intent to be exhaustive -- again, see the Jazz Police calendar for upcoming events.

Big Gigs This Week
Atlantis Quartet
Friday, June 12. Three ongoing jazz series offer diverse options tonight: At Jazz Central (The Bridge Series), the venerable ensemble Atlantis Quartet is back in action just a week after their high-spirited Black Dog gig. They're building up a head of steam for upcoming festival gigs-- on June 27 at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival (Union Depot stage) and on July 4 at the Iowa City Jazz Festival (Main Stage). Of course when the band includes Zacc Harris, Brandon Wozniak, Chris Bates and Pete Hennig, you always have a good head of steam!

For Friday Night Jazz at The Nicollet, Steve Kenny presents (and joins) the Tommy Bentz Quartet. An eclectic musician who grew up in small-town Wisconsin and graduated from UW-Eau Claire, Tommy has played violin, oboe, saxophone, guitar, and bass. His original music--intense yet accessible-- blends southern jam style rock and acoustic singer-songwriter flair while reflecting his experience with jazz and classical performance. Tommy's quartet includes guitarist Jason McLean and drummer Alex Burgess, along with series curator, Steve on his custom-built flumpet™.

Tommy Bruce
In Bloomington, Parma 8200 typically reserves Friday nights for vocal jazz, and tonight's show features the undersung Thomas (Tommy) Bruce. Tommy comes by his vocal chops honestly, brother of the late Roberta Davis and uncle of Yolande Bruce (Moore by Four), but he's gone his own way. Backed by Rick Carlson and Gordy Johnson, Tommy will put you in a relaxed frame of mind with great standards, "clean and sophisticated. Smooth, but exciting is our goal, to keep you entertained for a night out." Can't be that on a Friday night!

Steve Roehm, New Standards
At the Dakota, the popular New Standards celebrates a decade of great pop and rock filtered through the acoustic jazz tradition. Chan Polling (keys), John Munson (bass and vocals) and Steve Roehm (vibes) always pack the house, and tonight there are two ticketed shows.

Irv Williams
Happy Hours and dinner sets bring more great music with no covers. Irv Williams and Steve Blons continue happy hour on the patio (weather permitting) at the Dakota; Todd Harper continues his Piano Fridays at the Black Dog, tonight with electric cello artist Aaron Kerr; and the Icehouse hosts piano/bass duo Bryan Nichols and James Buckley over the dinner sets. Nichols and Buckley repeat tomorrow night.

Charmin Michelle
Saturday, June 13. There's a community festival this weekend at 38th Street and Chicago in south Minneapolis, featuring all sorts of music, arts and food entertainment. At 11:30 am, Charmin Michelle sings out with help from frequent partners Joel Shapira, Bruce Heine and Doug Hill. 

Graydon Peterson
Saturday Night at the Black Dog features a young quartet headed by high school senior Will Schmid (guitar), with cohorts from Minnetonka, Eden Prairie and Southwest high schools. They're followed by relative oldsters in the Graydon Peterson Quartet, with Peterson on bass and Adrian Suarez on drums, and 20-somethings Joe Strachan on piano and Jake Baldwin on trumpet (filling in for usual trumpeter Adam Meckler). A lot of original music will be flowing along with the espresso, beer and wine tonight!

Doug Little, Charanga Tropical
The Northern Spark Festival fills the usual nighttime entertainment void with a wide range of music and other entertainments throughout the city after dark and past dawn. At the Walker Art Center (10 pm), you can hear Doug Little's Charanga Tropical as they warm up for their historic journey to Havana for the Danson Festival, the first American band to play the event. It's billed as a  "dance party" so dress your feet accordingly.

At the Dakota, the British contemporary jazz demons, Acoustic Alchemy, mix their magic potions over two sets: Greg Carmichael on nylon string guitar, Miles Gilderdale on steel string acoustic and electric guitars, Fred White on keyboards, and the powerhouse rhythm section of Greg Grainger on drums and brother Gary Grainger on bass.

Maud Hixson and Rick Carlson
Sunday, June 14. There's always jazzy brunch options around town-- Robert Everest for some Brazilian jazz with your Mexican eggs at Maria's, swing with Patty and the Buttons at the Aster, and the jazz brunch and jam at Crooner's Lounge.  There's a special treat this afternoon at St. Albert the Great Church in south Minneapolis -- Maud Hixson with Rick Carlson will celebrate Judy Garland's birthday month with "What Judy Means to Jazz." They draw songs from Judy's classic MGM film musicals, such as: "Get Happy," "The Man That Got Away," "The Boy Next Door," "You Made Me Love You," and of course, "Over the Rainbow."

Andrew Schwandt
The Star Tribune named Fuzzy Math the runner-up in its Best of MN 2012 list for "Best jazz act for people bored with jazz."  At the Black Dog at 4 pm for their monthly gig, the band is led by pianist/composer Mark Vandermyde, with Andrew Schwandt on sax, Matt Peterson on bass, and Haralds Bondaris on drums. 

Monday, June 15. They might swing you to death but you will sure have fun along the way! The Travis Anderson Trio is back for a Foodie Night at the Dakota. Oscar Peterson influenced pianist Travis Anderson keeps the party rolling with like-minded bassist Steve Pikal and drummer Nathan Norman, and typically a guest or two will show up before the evening ends.

Trombone master and jazz educator Jeff Rinear is in the spotlight at Jazz Central tonight. Jeff's long list of credits includes the Pete Whitman's Departure Point and X-Tet, JazzMN Big Band and The Butanes.

Bryan Nichols
At the Icehouse, JT's Jazz Implosion brings "an insanely rare show" from Bryan Nichols' large ensemble, We Are Many. "Many" is nine including Jeremy Ylvisaker, Brandon Wozniak, Nelson Devereaux, Dave Graf, Adam Linz, James Buckley, and JT Bates. A second set "live from New York" features Jonah Parzen-Johnson on baritone saxophone and analog synthesizer. Just the description makes you shake your ears: "Imagine the raw energy of an Appalachian choir, balanced by a fearlessly exposed saxophone voice, resting on a strikingly unique combination of analog synthesizer components sitting on the floor... as Jonah uses his feet to weave square and sawtooth waves into a surging base for folk-inspired saxophone melodies, overblown multi phonics, vocalizations, and patiently developed circular breathing passages. Every element is performed and recorded at the same time, by one person, without any looping, overdubbing or recorded samples."

Pavel Jany, Ticket to Brasil
Tuesday, June 16. In the first of the three Jazz in the Library concerts, the smoldering Ticket to Brasil led by Pavel Jany brings samba and bossa to the Sun Ray Library east of downtown St Paul. Guitarist Jany has directed this seasoned ensemble for a long time, and they are among the most popular Latin groups in the metro. These library gigs are free, cosponsored by the Twin Cities Jazz Festival and St Paul library system. For once you might be able to dance in the library.

Freddy Cole
The Dakota welcomes back Freddy Cole, Nat's younger brother who has made his own name with his own talents, garnering a Grammy nomination in 2010 and accumulating accolades from jazz giants: John Hendricks dubbed him a “real Prince of Song, upholding a noble tradition as only he can.” Others noted, “His talent and music are like a fine, rare wine” (Benny Golson); “he sounds wonderful” (Betty Carter); “Freddy bears a standard and is an inspiration to those of us who love the music. It's reassuring to hear the magic he brings…” (Abbey Lincoln); “one of my very favorite singers” (Milt Jackson); and “one of few true great ones” (Jimmy Scott).

Pete Whitman directs X-Tet
Jazz Central's "Big Band Tuesdays" typically presents an area big band, but tonight they shrink the stage area a bit for the Pete Whitman X-Tet, a rare appearance from the ensemble that used to hit monthly at the Artists Quarter. Whitman has never wavered in his inclusion of the best talents in the region, from 80-something Dave Karr to younger lions like Adam Meckler and tonight's pianist, 20-something Joe Strachan (sitting in for Laura Caviani). The repertoire is largely original works from band members. And the sound is so big, you might forget it's merely and X-Tet!

Dave Hagedorn, Good Vibes
Wednesday, June 17. The second Jazz in the Library brings Chris Bates' Good Vibes Trio to St. Paul's Hamline-Midway Library. Hot off a big night at the Icehouse last Monday, the guys are in sizzling form and ready to introduce the Midway community to some of the most engaging and original modern jazz on the planet. With Bates on bass, Dave Hagedorn on vibes and Phil Hey on drums, this will be a festival highlight--even before the festival gets underway.  

Apparently it is Pete Whitman Week at Jazz Central, as the saxophonist returns with his quartet. And what a quartet-- Chris Lomheim on piano, Gary Raynor on bass and Dave Schmalenberger on drums. If you count the members of the X-Tet, Pete will have brought 13 different and outstanding artists into Jazz Central within 24 hours.

Bobb Fantauzzo
An interesting evening for fans of music and poetry at the Black Dog: The inventive group Rhizosphere meets poets Hawona Sullivan Janzen, Kathryn Kysar, and Lynette Reini-Grandell. Rhizosphere has been in action about three years, a collaboration among multi-flautist Bobb Fantauzzo, Gabriella Sweet on slide guitar and accordion, Mike Bruns on guitar, Jonathon Townsend on drums and percussion, and Sean Egan on clarinet.

Thursday, June 18.  Last night it was poets, tonight Bobb Fantauzzo and his flute collection accompany young vocalist Katia Cardenas as part of the first-ever Kingfield Porch Fest, a multi-site evening of entertainment in the Kingfield neighborhood of South Minneapolis. Bobb and Katia will be on the porch at 4515 First Ave South.  Meanwhile, veteran songstress Debbie Duncan captivates in Hell -- at Hell's Kitchen.

Noveau Flamenco guitarist Ottmar Liebert and his Luna Negra ensemble return to the Dakota, with ample documentation of their rise to the top of instrumental music charts and record sales.

More Jazz Near You!
Keep up with the live jazz scene in the Twin Cities. The most comprehensive jazz calendar can be found at Jazz Police, but you will also find jazz listings at KBEM, Rhythm and Grooves and Jazz Near You. Jazz Police also posts monthly calendars for jazz at The Dakota, The Nicollet, Jazz Central and the Black Dog, and these and other venues maintain calendars on their websites. KBEM and KFAI radio also host jazz programs regularly and provide daily notices of jazz gigs and concerts. Venues and artists are reminded to send information to online and print calendars.

Coming Soon!
More listings on the online sites above. Among the great gigs coming your way:
. June 19, The Dakota Combo followed by Dean Granros' Tall Tales at The Nicollet
. June 19, Bill Frisell Trio with Tony Scherr and Rudy Royston at the Dakota
. June 20, John Penny/Jay Epstein Duo followed by the Phil Hey Quartet at the Black Dog
. June 20, Adam Meckler Quintet; Doug Haining's Twin Cities 7 at Episcopal Homes/Iris Park (Twin Cities Jazz Fest - PreFest)
. June 21, Francisco Mela Trio with Mary Louise Knutson and Graydon Peterson, Jazz in the Library at St Paul Central Library
. June 21, St Peter Street Stompers; Southside Aces at Episcopal Homes/Iris Park (Twin Cities Jazz Festival Pre-Fest)
. June 22, Kurt Elling at the Dakota
. June 23, Master Class (free) with Francisco Mela and Jon Weber at Walker West
. June 23, Lila Ammons Quartet, Langford Chiropractic Outdoor Stage (Twin Cities Jazz Festival Pre-Fest)
. 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; see  
. June 27-July 1, Twin Cities Bass Camp with Francois Rabbath and Cloudmakers Trio at Bethel University
. June 28, John Pizzarelli Quartet at the Dakota
. June 29, Becca Stevens at the Dakota
. June 30, Francois Rabbath at Bethel University
. 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, 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 at the Dakota
. August 6, George Brooks with Larry Coryell and Bombay Jazz at the Dakota
. August 8, PipJazz at The Bedlam
. August 31, Terence Blanchard and E-Collective at the Dakota
. September 7-8, Victor Wooten at the Dakota
. September 22-23, Lizz Wright at the Dakota

Francisco Mela, Artistic Director of the 2015 Twin Cities Jazz Festival