Friday, December 4, 2015

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, December 4-10

Atlantis Quartet -- at The Nicollet and Black Dog!
© Andrea Canter

Interesting dialogue on Facebook regarding the nature of "music" venues (crowd, volume, expectations) and the potential to attract new audiences to jazz. As you venture out this week-- and there's plenty to hear--consider your surroundings and how they do or do not contribute to your enjoyment of the music and its survival.... as well as the survival of the venue. And check out back-to-back gigs from the Atlantis Quartet; Charles Lazarus with a new "Merry and Bright" at Orchestra Hall; new talents (Jamison Ross) and living legends (Ramsey Lewis) at the Dakota; local legends Butch Thompson and Dean Magraw at Crooners,  the return of the Adam Meckler Orchestra at Vieux Carré... and the beat goes on!

Big Gigs This Week
Friday, December 4. A six-part reunion at the Dakota ushers in the holidays as The Girls reunite--all six of the vocalists who at one time or another performed with the beloved quartet over the past decade-plus. The original core--Lori Dokken, Judi Donaghy Vinar, Erin Schwab and Debbie Duncan were augmented over the years by Patty Peterson and Rachel Holder-Hennig, and now the full sextet brings us "Harmony and Humor" -- and you can count on plenty of both.

The very successful Eight O'Clock Jump concert series at Walker West Music Academy finishes the 2015 season with St Paul native pianist and producer Anthony Walker taking a break from duties as Music Director for Ledisi. He'll be joined by a local ensemble headed by drum titan Kevin Washington. Stay tuned for the announcement of the 2016 season!

Jordan Anderson
Pianists takes the spotlight at Jazz Central, where Ted Godbout leads a trio with bassist Matt Peterson and drummer Peter James Johnson, followed by an all-star youth quartet headed by pianist Jordan Anderson; and in St. Paul, Jeremy Walker starts off the evening at Vieux Carré.

Charles Lazarus
Trumpeter Charles Lazarus brings his "Merry and Bright" to Orchestra Hall, featuring vocalists Tonia Hughes and Bruce Henry. From Latin to lounge, groove to gospel, the set list moves from "Christmas Time Is Here" to "Frosty the Snowman," NOLA style. The Lazarus Brass (Minnesota Orchestra brass experts) and his jazz rhythm team of Tommy Barbarella, Jeff Bailey and Dave Schmalenberger will be on hand to add to the holiday cheer.

At The Bedlam, percussion ensemble Matra plays their last gig til spring, featuring Andres Crovetti on vibes, Matthew Solace on drumset, Krissy Bergmark on tablas and Jenny Klukken on marimba.

Steven Hobert and Dean Magraw
A relatively new pairing, guitarist Dean Magraw and pianist Steven Hobert are in perfect alignment, tonight performing at the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church off Loring Park.

Chris Bates
 Friday-Saturday, December 4-5. On annual local "Jazz Artists of the Year" lists and ready to head to New York for a studio recording session, the Atlantis Quartet took a short vacation this fall, and are now back and blowing up stages all over town. This weekend, they go back-to-back, from Minneapolis to St Paul, appearing on Steve Kenny's series at both the Nicollet (Friday Night Jazz) and Black Dog (Saturday Night Jazz). Zacc Harris, Brandon Wozniak, Chris Bates and Pete Hennig are each a force of nature on the Twin Cities jazz scene, and together they can seem like a force of the supernatural! At the Black Dog Saturday, they will be preceded by an opening set from saxophonist Tommy Bentz and his quartet with Steve Kenny, Jason McLean and Alex Burgess.

JoAnn Funk
Jazz in the Lobby Bar of the Saint Paul Hotel continues the weekend holiday tradition with JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske covering both Friday and Saturday.

Saturday, December 5. Jazz at St Barneys holds two concerts this month, the first tonight with perennial favorite Connie Evingson, singing with great support from Mary Louise Knutson and Dave Karr. 

Pippi Ardennia
In Lowertown, the Bedlam hosts the season-closing PipJazz show, with Pippi Ardennia leading a band of young upstarts, from McNally Smith, the U of M and beyond, with special guest, guitarist John Penny. Proceeds support the PipJazz Foundation (which promotes opportunities for young musicians) and the Bedlam.

Patty Peterson
At Crooners, Patty Peterson and Friends return, with Phil Aaron, Mark Weisburg and Bobby Vandell joining Patty for a night of song and fun. And speaking of crooners, Arne Fogel joins a satanic trio (Steven Hobert, Matt Peterson and Dick Bortolussi) for "December in Hell" -- that's at Hell's Kitchen.

Joan Griffith
The Minnesota Guitar Society's annual Acoustic Jazz Guitar-a-Thon takes place at Sundin Hall at Hamline University, featuring the best of Twin Cities' jazz guitarists--Robert Bell and Gary Schulte Duo, Dean Granros, Joan Griffith, Chris Olson, Liz DeYoe, Tomas Simpson and Soren Schendeman.

At the Icehouse, young lion pianist Javi Santiago joins bassist James Buckley for dinner hour sets.

Zacc Harris
Sunday, December 6. Jazz Brunch is always a fun addition to the weekend-- check out the Aster for Patty and the Buttons and Maria's for Robert Everest. This afternoon, the Century Jazz Ensemble holds its holiday concert at Century College; and the Capri Big Band performs at the Capri Theater. In the evening, hear the MacJazz band under the direction of Joan Griffith at Mairs Concert Hall in the Janet Wallace Fine Arts complex at Macalester. The Zacc Harris Trio holds its weekly seance at the Riverview Wine Bar.

Laura Caviani
Monday, December 7. A special evening at the Dakota is sponsored by Lawrence University, home to one of the top music conservatories in the Midwest. The LU Jazz Faculty Quartet perform with special guests, Lawrence alums Adam Meckler, Laura Caviani and Mary Louise Knutson. Note tickets are sold by Lawrence and not the Dakota.

As so often the case, Monday night at Jazz Central introduces a new band of area veterans, tonight led by guitarist Park Evans. His cohorts are each well accomplished in his own right--saxophonist Brandon Wozniak, trumpeter Zack Lozier, bassist Cody McKinney and drummer Greg Schutte. 

Bryan Nichols
At the Icehouse, JT's Jazz implosion will play home to the first annual Rhodes Summit. Bryan Nichols, John C. S. Keston, DeVon Russel Gray and Martin Dosh will play two sets of music on four Rhodes pianos. "Hopefully the stage won't collapse. Some songs, some improv. Mucho Rhodes."

The Acme Jazz Company takes the stage at Crooners, filling the lounge and bar with a raft of original charts.

Butch Thompson
Tuesday, December 8. Tuesday Instrumental Music night at Crooners features a pair of crowd favorites, pianist Butch Thompson and guitarist Dean Magraw, mixing it up with trademark skill and humor.

The inventive Nova Jazz Orchestra is back at the Minnesota Music Cafe for their monthly gig, with special guest, vocalist Tony Demarco. And every Tuesday is Big Band night at Jazz Central, tonight featuring the Cedar Avenue Big Band.

Chris Olson
At the Black Dog, second Tuesdays mean the Chris Olson Project, and the project expands greatly tonight to a septet with Zoe Berman (vocals), Andrew Godell (vocals, violin), Jemma Heigis (keyboard), Kristoph Krabbenhoft (drums), Megan Mahoney (bass), Julian Manzara (guitar), and of course Olson on guitar as well as some dance moves.

There's more guitar at Vieux Carré where Joel Shapira and Dave Martin match wits with drummer Pete Hennig in a trio dubbed The Growlers. Chris Lomheim's sublime solo piano kicks off the evening.

At the Dakota, 2012 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drum Competition winner Jamison Ross makes his club debut, not only showcasing his drumming and composing, but also his skills as a vocalist, as featured on his new album, Jamison.

Wednesday, December 9. At Jazz Central, new music night presents Framework, one of the most creatively ambitious string trios around, with Chris Olson on guitar, Chris Bates on bass and Jay Epstein on drums.

At Crooners, the Debbie Duncan Quartet will make you forget the cold and damp.

Ramsey Lewis
Wednesday-Thursday, December 9-10. Keyboard icon Ramsey Lewis has appeared at the Dakota several times over the past few years, and now returns with his special holiday dazzle and his acoustic band-- featuring Henry Johnson on guitar, Joshua Ramos on bass, and Charles Heath on drums. Two nights, four sets. Hang on, Santa!

Vicky Mountain
Thursday, December 10. Vocalist and vocal instructor Vicky Mountain gets out of class early enough for a gig at Jazz Central tonight with trio-mates Chris Lomheim and Jim Chenoweth, while at The Nicollet, it's vocalist Karen Quiroz and Samba Meu, exploring acoustic Brazilian roots and pop with noted jazz artists Dave Martin (guitar), Tim O'Keefe (percussion) and special guest, Pat O'Keefe, on clarinet.

Adam Meckler
Vieux Carré welcomes back the Adam Meckler Orchestra, 18 of the finest young jazz artists in the region playing original charts from bandleader and trumpeter Adam. Come early for a duo of similarly fine young jazzers, pianist Joe Strachan and bassist Ted Olsen.

In St. Paul, The Yeggs take the floor at Khyber Pass, with Adam Linz and Paul Metzger weaving their respective strings, followed by a solo set from young trumpeter Noah Ophoven-Baldwin.

More Jazz!
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. On December 10, special guest will be Zacc Harris, talking about the new Jazz at Studio Z season. Venues and artists are reminded to send information to online and print calendars (e.g.

Coming Soon!
A special heads up! In order to create a more listener-friendly music space, Crooners will launch its new Larry Dunsmore Room with a "pre-opening" featuring the Laura Caviani Holiday Show on December 17. Using one of the dining rooms revamped with stage, sound system and a 9-foot Bosendorfer grand piano, the Dunsmore Room will operate as a 80-90 seat jazz club 2-3 nights per week, featuring the Tuesday Night Instrumental Jazz series, the new "In the Crook" vocal/piano duo series on the first Sunday of the month, a new Sunday series hosted by Dan Chouinard, and beyond, with local and occasionally national talents. The Dave King Trio will perform for the Grand Opening in the Dunsmore Room on December 22, with Bill Carrothers on the Bosendorfer. The no 'cover' policy will continue but there will be a drink/food minimum, $10-$15 for local artists. Watch Crooners' website and the Lead Sheet for more information.

. December 11, Laura Caviani Holiday Show at Vieux Carré
. December 11, JazzINK Youth Showcase with the Mac Wilms Quartet/Bill Simenson Quintet at The Nicollet
. December 11, Arne Fogel at Parma 8200
. December 12, Fletcher/King/Woods CD release at the Black Dog
. December 12, JT Bates "Grain", Jazz at Studio Z
. December 12, Peter Kogan Quartet at Vieux Carré
. December 13, Fuzzy Math CD Release at the Icehouse
. December 14, George Cartwright's PAL at the Icehouse
. December 14-15, New York Voices Holiday show at the Dakota
. December 15, Jazz 88 Holiday Party with Mary Louise Knutson and Katia Cardenas at Vieux Carré
. December 15, Phil Aaron Trio at Crooners Lounge
. December 17, Larry McDonald Holiday Show at the Dakota
. December 17, Laura Caviani Holiday Show and grand opening of the Larry Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. December 18 & 20, "Jingle Bell Doc," Doc Severinsen and the MN Orchestra at Orchestra Hall
. December 18, Peter Vircks Quartet at The Nicollet
. December 18, Maud Hixson Trio at Parma 8200
. December 19, Ginger Commodore Holiday Show at Vieux Carré
. December 19, Headspace/Tall Tales at the Black Dog
. December 20, Peterson Family Christmas at the Dakota
. December 21, Phil Cook with Mike Lewis and JT Bates at the Icehouse
. December 21-22, Nachito Herrera and the Universals at the Dakota
. December 22, Connie Evingson "Hot Jazz" at Vieux Carré
. December 22, Dave King Trio (with Bill Carrothers and Billy Peterson) at in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. 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 29, Jake Baldwin Quartet in the Dunsmore Room, Crooners Lounge
. December 30, Connie Evingson Eve of New Year's Eve in the Dunsmore Room, Crooners Lounge
. 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 on the Bosendorfer, Dunsmore Room of Crooners Lounge
. January 7, Rachel Holder-Hennig and Rick Carlson "In the Crook," Dunsmore Room of Crooners Lounge
. January 9, Andrew Walesch at Jazz @St Barneys
. January 10, Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues at the Dakota
. January 12, Peter Kogan Quartet, Dunsmore Room of Crooners Lounge
. January 17, John Penny CD release at the Icehouse
. January 19, Mary Louise Knutson Trio, Dunsmore Room of 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 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 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 with Gillian Margot in the Dunsmore Room, Crooners Lounge
. 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

JT Bates --"Grain" (organ trio) at Studio Z, December 12; CD Release at the Icehouse, December 28

*Photos by Andrea Canter except "The Girls" (press photo)