|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.
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.)
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.
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.
|Araya brothers (Araya Orta)|
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)|
|Jack Brass Band|
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 www.hotsummerjazz.com; 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!
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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|