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