© Andrea CanterThe weather of the moment seems much like the Twin Cities jazz scene-- a mix of everything! From big band and trad to swinging vocals, "chamber jazz" to avant garde, and from holiday magic to CD release, there's no shortage of jazzy entertainment this week. Actually the scene is much better than the weather!
Big Gigs This Week
Friday, December 18. About a year ago, saxophone giant Dave Brattain and fleet-fingered guitarist Kevin Daley started a quartet dubbed the Daley Brattain Report, but soon rebranded with the impossible-to-spell da-ke-brōō-da, taking a couple letters--or sounds--from each musician's first name (Dave Brattain, Kevin Daley, Bruce Heine and Dave Stanoch). While I can't guarantee the spelling here, there is no doubt regarding the effectiveness of this collaboration, coming together again at Jazz Central.
In 2014, the Peter Vircks Quartet released a well-received album, What You Believe Is True, a favorite at MPR and elsewhere. The band returns to The Nicollet tonight (Friday Night Jazz at The Nicollet series), featuring leader Vircks on sax, Brian Ziemniak on keys, Ron Evaniuk on bass and Kevin Washington on drums.
|Doc Severinsen & Vanessa Thomas|
It's an almost annual holiday celebration at Orchestra Hall, as Doc Severinsen returns as "Jingle Bell Doc," conducting the Minnesota Orchestra along with our own Mary Louise Knutson on piano, Vanessa Thomas on vocals, the Minnesota Chorale and Twin Cities Bronze (handbell ensemble). It might be predictable, but it's always fun and Doc can still blow a great horn. The concert repeats on Sunday afternoon.
Happy Hour just seems happier during the holidays. At 96, Irv Williams is still at it, with pal Steve Blons for Friday Happy Hour at the Dakota. At Crooners' Lounge, vocalist/pianist Andrew Walesch raps up his week-long Happy Hour run, while songbird Maud Hixson (with Rick Carlson and Gordy Johnson) returns to the lounge at Parma 8200 for a "happy evening," still flying high after her gig at the famed St. Peter's Church in Manhattan last month.
Pianist Todd Harper and his quartet open the evening at the Black Dog, followed by the inventive Donald Washington Group, with Washington on saxes, wife Faye on cello and flute, son Kevin on drums, and Dick Studer on bass.
Want a little piano with your dinner? Bryan Nichols teams with bassist Jeremy Boettcher at the Icehouse, while Jeremy Walker starts the evening at Vieux Carré. And JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske calm holiday nerves in the Lobby Bar at the Saint Paul Hotel, back again tomorrow (see below) as their two-night weekend gig continues through the holidays.
Saturday, December 19. Another favorite songbird, Ginger Commodore brings her holiday show with her GCQ Quartet to Vieux Carré Saturday night-- with her core band of Lee Blaske, Mark Weisberg and Bobby Commodore, with Rich Manik on sax and some extra percussion from Daryl Boudreaux. Ginger's gospel-tinged, bluesy vocals are particularly well suited to holiday fare. (Catch her in the act again at Crooners on Wednesday!)
|Dean Granros, Chris Bates (Tall Tales)|
Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog brings back two crowd favorites: Long-time Monday night band at the Artists Quarter, Headspace opens the evening (Rob Dewy, Matt Senjem, Adam Ropar) with curator Steve Kenny adding some brass; the headline band will be Dean Granros' Tall Tales -- a double guitar quartet with Zacc Harris, Chris Bates and Jay Epstein spinning "tall tales," of course, and nearly spinning out of orbit.
JoAnn Funk's Lobby Bar gig at the Saint Paul Hotel transforms into her annual "Deck the Halls" night, adding the baritone voice of Steve Marking and violinist Gary Schulte to Jeff Brueske's basslines and of course JoAnn's piano and vocals. And at the Normandy Kitchen, keyboard mayhem prevails with the Travis Anderson Trio (with Steve Pikal and Nathan Norman).
Sunday, December 20. Singer, pianist and bandleader Andrew Walesch does double duty at Crooners today, leading his trio (Gordy Johnson, Jay Epstein) during the weekly jazz brunch, then coming back with the trio at 5 pm in the new (not officially opened!) Dunsmore Room for a couple hours of his favorite holiday tunes, played on the Bösendorfer.
The Nova Jazz Orchestra makes it their fourth annual holiday concert lat afternoon at St James Lutheran Church in St Paul.
|Patty Peterson and Jason DeLaire|
And another very long-running tradition, the Peterson Family Holiday Show will be presented twice at the Dakota. Now headed by the five siblings--Linda, Patty, Ricky, Billy and Paul Peterson with Linda's son Jason Peterson DeLaire, the show has been a seasonal favorite for more than 25 years. Seating is very limited... if any seat remains!
Monday, December 21. Young guitar sensation Jon Wood takes the spotlight and heads the following jam session at Jazz Central, while the avant garde holds a meltdown at the Icehouse tonight -- guitarist Phil Wood tangles with saxman Mike Lewis and Implosion series host JT Bates.
|Maryann Sullivan and Doug Haining|
Taking a more traditional view, the popular Twin Cities Seven led by Doug Haining returns to its regular rotation at Crooners, with vocalist Maryann Sullivan guaranteeing the music will swing all night.
Monday-Tuesday, December 21-22. It's not unusual for Cuban pianist Nachito Herrera to play at the Dakota, as he is on stage there nearly monthly. But this two-night stand is different-- Nachito Herrera and the Universals features a collaboration of cultures and musics. In addition to the volcanic technique and firestorm energy of Nachito, the band features violinist Karen Briggs (Yanni, Stanley Clarke, David Grusin), saxophonist Mike Phillips (Stevie Wonder, Prince), Senagalese bassist Cheikh Ndoye (Eric Marienthal, Russell Ferante), and drummer Raul Pineda (Chucho Valdes).
|Pat O'Keefe, Cherry Spoon|
At the Black Dog, it's another installment of the Cherry Spoon Collective, surely one of the most intriguing ensembles of new music devotees. Performing new commissions and improvisational new music, the leaders include Michelle Kinney (cello), Nick Guadette (bass) and Patrick O’Keefe (sax), with a cast of the area's top experimenters. Funding comes from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the American Composers Forum.
Tuesday, December 22. Tonight marks the official opening of the Dunsmore Room at Crooners, the converted Lakeside Dining Room now a full service jazz club two-three nights per week, with the centerpiece a 9-foot Bösendorfer on a newly built stage, with new sound system. And what better way to celebrate than with the Dave King Trio? King launched this trio a few years ago with the acclaimed recording, I've Been Ringing You (Sunnyside, 2012), featuring piano wizard Bill Carrothers and eclectic bass genius Billy Peterson. Consistent with all music at Crooners, there's no cover, but shows in the Dunsmore Room will have a set minimum food and drink purchase. And they will make that easy with some special items. But most important, the quiet setting and policies of the Dunsmore Room should ensure a perfect listening environment for one of the most inventive jazz trios on the scene, anywhere.
|The Dunsmore Room piano|
The master of odd time signatures, pianist Larry McDonough brings his quartet and holiday show to Lowertown at The Bedlam. Larry's vocals and piano will warm the most surly Scrooge, and his band-- Richard Terrill on sax, Greg Stinson on bass, Dean White on drums, and daughter Rosie McDonough on African percussion--will add modern twists to some familiar holiday carols.
At Vieux Carré, two sure things: Solo piano from Chris Lomheim to start the evening, followed by vocalist Connie Evingson. They're just so predictable-- predictably at the top of the game. And on Big Band Night at Jazz Central, the music moves south for the Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra, led by Geoff Senn and Mac Santiago.
|Retro Swing Sister|
Wednesday, December 23. The Ginger Commodore Quartet reprises their holiday show, now moving north to Crooners Lounge. And if your feet want more exercise than tapping, try a swing dance at the Eagles Club with music from Retro Swing Sister--Maryann Sullivan and Rhonda Laurie.
Yet another annual holiday show is back-- the George Maurer Group returns to the Dakota with rearrangements of seasonal favorites from his ensemble of the area's top instrumentalists and smoldering vocals.
At Jazz Central, Pete Whitman presents a new project -- Cold Fusion, and the name seems misleading as this is a volcanic ensemble: Pete on saxes, Steve Kenny on FLUMPET™, Chris Olson on guitars, Ron Evaniuk on bass and Reid Kennedy on drums.
Thursday, December 24. T'is the night before Christmas and some venues are closed, but you can enjoy Joel Shapira at Hell's Kitchen or Benny Weinbeck at Parma 8200.
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. KBEM and KFAI radio host jazz programs regularly and provide daily notices of jazz gigs and concerts. The live edition of The Lead Sheet can be heard at 4:40 pm on Thursdays on KBEM, excerpts rebroadcast at 7:20 am on Fridays. We broadcast a day early next week, on December 23 (repeated on the 24th), with special guest JT Bates to talk about his new solo recording and the Jazz Implosion Series at the Icehouse. Venues and artists are reminded to send information to online and print calendars (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org).
. December 26, Iron Chops/Framework at the Black Dog
. December 27, Big Band Christmas at Jazz@ St Barneys
. December 25-28, The Bad Plus at the Dakota
. December 28, JT Bates "Open Relationships" CD release at the Icehouse
. December 31, Artists Quarter New Year's Eve with Carole Martin at Hell's Kitchen
. December 31, New Year's Eve Dinner Show with Jazzland Wonderband at Vieux Carré
. December 31, Thomas Bruce/Maud Hixson/Benny Weinbeck Quartet, New Year's Eve Party at Parma 8200
. December 31, New Year's Eve Benefit for Feed My Starving Children with The Niskas at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church (Burnsville)
. January 5, Butch Thompson in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. January 7, Rachel Holder-Hennig "In the Crook" with Rick Carlson in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. January 8, Denny Malmberg Trio with Charmin Michelle at Parma 8200
. January 9, Andrew Walesch at Jazz @St Barneys
. January 10, Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues at the Dakota
. January 10, Dan Chouinard's "Birthday Club" series launches in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. January 12, Peter Kogan Quartet in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. January 17, John Penny CD release at the Icehouse
. January 19, Mary Louise Knutson Trio in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. January 22, Happy Apple at the Icehouse
. January 23, Jeremy Walker's Seven Psalms at Orchestra Hall
. January 23, Rick Carlson and Steve Pikal at Jazz @St. Barneys
. January 29, Maud Hixson at Parma 8200
. January 31, Winter Jazz Festival at the Saint Paul Hotel, featuring the Cyrus Chestnut Trio
. February 2, Charles Lloyd Trio with Bill Frisell at the Dakota
. February 8-9, John Scofield and Joe Lovano at the Dakota
. February 10-11, Mack Avenue Super Band at the Dakota
. February 20, Swing Sister (Maryann Sullivan and Rhonda Laurie) at Jazz @ St Barneys
. February 20, Bill Frisell at the Dakota
. February 22, Ches Smith Trio with Craig Taborn at the Icehouse
. February 25, Rez Abassi with Rudresh Mahanthappa at Walker Art Center
. February 25, Jazz in the Target Atrium, Atrium Jazz Ensemble with Bryan Nichols at Orchestra Hall
. March 2-3, Brian Blade Fellowship at the Dakota
. March 5, Pete Whitman X-Tet at Hopkins Center for the Arts
. March 13, JazzMN Orchestra with Tierney Sutton at the Hopkins High School Auditorium
. March 23, Geoffrey Keezer in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners
. April 23, JazzMN Orchestra with Bob McChesney and Andy Martin at Hopkins High School Auditorium
. April 28, Jazz in the Target Atrium at Orchestra Hall
. May 7, Steve Lehman Octet at the Walker Art Center
|The Bad Plus Return to the Dakota, December 25-28|