Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Lead Sheet: Twin Citites Live Jazz, February 19-25

Rez Abassi, at Walker Art Center, February 25

Seems the Winter Jazz Festival on January 31st was merely a launching pad for a month of stellar music from one end of the metro to the other. The jazzy journey continues this weekend and through the coming week, closing out on Thursday with a night that begs for the implementation of cloning.

Graydon Peterson
Friday, February 19. Originally scheduled as the Graydon Peterson Quartet, it's now the Peterson-Olson-Epstein trio or POE at Jazz Central, with guitarist Chris and drummer Jay joining the versatile bassist at Jazz Central, followed by the student late night set with the Julian Manzara Quartet.

At Reverie (the rebranding of The Nicollet), it is also a night highlighting young artists, as the monthly JazzINK Youth Showcase features two combos from Southwest High School, directed by Cory Needleman. They split the set at 7 pm, followed by a veteran crew led by saxophonist Paul Harper, dubbed the Bardo Quartet. A new project, Bardo includes pianist Chris Lomheim, bassist Tom Pieper and drummer Nathan Norman-- all colleagues in the long-running Illicit Sextet.

Bruce Henry

Sometimes it seems that Bruce Henry never really left the Twin Cities, although he has now been in Chicago for the past six years. He returns often, and tonight he's singing his heart out at Crooners Lounge. Another singer who wears his heart on his sleeve (or is it his hat?), Arne Fogel returns to Parma 8200 with Rick Carlson, Keith Boyles, "and a big box of wonderful songs."

Swinging tradition is on the menu at Vieux Carré, where the acclaimed Southside Aces take the stage. And there isn't anything traditional about the music of Rare Medium, or the venue for their gig tonight-- Tuttles Eat Bowl PLay in Hopkins -- yep, jazz at a bowling alley!

Matt Wilson

Friday-Saturday, February 19-20. Every year, the University of Wisconsin River Falls jazz program holds the RADD Jazz Series weekend with performances faculty and students with a nationally acclaimed guest artist. This weekend, that artist is the great and very entertaining drummer Matt Wilson. Wilson appears Friday night with a faculty ensemble headed by saxophonist David Milne (in the University Center's Falcons Nest), and on Saturday with the UWRF Jazz Ensemble in William Abbott Concert Hall. Both concerts are free!

Still on their winter two-night schedule, JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske match wits in the Lobby Bar of the Saint Paul Hotel.

Retro Swing Sister

Saturday, February 20. Two songbirds who love to swing as much as they love to cook bring their two passions together when Retro Swing Sister presents "Swing a la Carte" on the Jazz @ St Barneys concert series at the St. Barnabas Center for the Arts in Plymouth. Maryann Sullivan and Rhonda Laurie have been teaming up at Retro Swing Sister for a few years now, often at venues well known on the swing dance circuit. Tonight, with able help from Robert Bell, Matt Peterson and Gus Sandberg, the ladies take listeners on a gourmet journey through a menu of food songs -- fare such as "Black Coffee," "My Sugar," "Spinach Song,” and  “Jambalaya." You can come hungry-- St. Barneys always has snacks and beverages.

Solomon Parham and Rodney Ruckus
Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog presents a relative unknown ensemble, Yo Jimbo (led by drummer Jimbo Robson) as the lead-off, followed by Solomon Parham with Steve Kenny - a quintet that played its debut at the Winter Jazz Festival, featuring a double trumpet front line. In addition to Parham and Kenny, the band includes veteran keyboard giant Peter Schimke and the significantly younger pacesetting team of Ted Olsen on bass and Rodney Ruckus on drums.

Bill Frisell
And providing a fifth major jazz night this month (following Charles Lloyd with Bill Frisell, John Scofield/Joe Lovano, Mack Avenue SuperBand, and the encore of Davell Crawford), the Dakota brings back guitar legend Bill Frisell, this time with his When You Wish Upon a Star ensemble, featuring the talents from his Grammy-nominated self-named album-- vocalist Petra Haden, bassist Thomas Morgan and violist Eyvind Kang, along with long-time Frisell cohort Kenny Wollesen in place of the usual drummer Rudy Royston. Both the album and the touring show focus on songs from film and television, including themes from Bonanza, The Godfather, Dick Van Dyke Show and more.  It seems Frisell can make just about anything work!

At Sundin Music Hall on the Hamline campus, a special night of guitar from the Minnesota Guitar Society-- acoustic, jazz and blues from Crescent City guitarist John Rankin and banjoist/guitarist Don Vappie.

Sunday, February 21. In a few weeks, the St. Olaf Jazz Band will tour Cuba with director Dave Hagedorn, so a fundraiser is definitely in order. Hosted by Crooners Lounge, the St. Olaf band will give patrons a taste of the music they will bring to a short tour in Havana and environs -- a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon and for a good cause. There's no cover-- donations of any size will be appreciated!   

Dan Chouinard
And might as well make it a full day of music while you are in Fridley -- early evening brings the almost weekly "Birthday Club" in the Dunsmore Room with host/pianist Dan Chouinard and tonight's guest vocalist, Gwen Matthews, the voice of Synergy and the old Rupert's Orchestra, founding member of Women Who Cook, and surely one of the living legends of Minnesota jazz and R&B. (Reservations recommended.)

Fans of avant garde improvisational music will enjoy the Ars Electroacoustica 5 with cellist Jacqueline Ultan joining laptop artists Ted Moore and Scott Miller, at Honey in Minneapolis.

Dave Karr

Monday, February 22. Last week, Jazz Central shined the spotlight on 96-year-old saxman Irv Williams. This week, at a mere 86, saxman Dave Karr takes the stage for another great night of bebop from someone who really lived through it.

Lori Dokken
At Crooners, the Dunsmore Room hosts a fun night with "The Best Broads of Broadway," with pianist Lori Dokken and singer Jen Burleigh-Bentz. Jen has appeared on all of the major local stages from The Ordway and The Guthrie to The History Theatre as well as spending two years on Broadway in Mamma Mia.  This well-matched pair take full advantage of this prime listening space in presenting songs made famous by Broadway legends such as Ethel Merman and Julie Andrews. More songs -- a rare weeknight gig for Dennis Spears ("and friends") at the Dakota.

A special presentation at the Southern Theater, A Fiddlers Tale showcases music by Wynton Marsalis and text by controversial jazz critic Stanley Crouch, 2 shows this evening, presented by the Minneapolis Music Company.

Ches Smith
JT's Jazz Implosion usually features top local artists but now and then he brings in a band that is on the international circuit of cutting-edge improvisational music. Appearing last year with Tim Berne, drummer Ches Smith returns to the Icehouse with his working trio, featuring violist Matt Manieri and hometown hero, pianist Craig Taborn. Their new ECM release, The Bell, is getting raves as an elegant collection of compositions that showcase the delicate beauty of 21st century chamber ensembles.

Steven Hobert and Dean Magraw

Tuesday, February 23. Head back to the Dunsmore Room at Crooners where Tuesday Instrumental Jazz features pianist Steven Hobert at the Bosendorfer with guitarist Dean Magraw close by. This is a relatively new partnership, and what a fascinating one, a meeting of musical minds that are among those most eclectic in the area. Steven is an accomplished composer as well as keyboardist (and accordionist!); Dean plays just about anything that can fit six strings (and perhaps many things that otherwise would never be in the guitar repertoire). The duo will shine in this space.

Connie Evingson

At Vieux Carré, it's a monthly "hot jazz" night with vocalist Connie Evingson and her band of swingers-- Patrick Harison (accordion), Dean Harrington and Mike Cramer (guitars), and Josh Granowski (bass), following exquisite solo piano from Mary Louise Knutson. It's a different sort of swing when the Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra holds its monthly rumba at Jazz Central.

McNally Smith's "Live at 5" features pianist/composer Dan Musselman. Student ensembles first followed by Dan in solo, in duo with Cory Wong, and other combinations.

Casey O'Brien

Wednesday, February 24. Bassist Casey O'Brien is the latest curator for Jazz Central's Wednesday night "new music" series -- every fourth week he'll bring in an improvising ensemble. Tonight he joins Ted Godbout on piano and Pete Hennig on drums, playing Casey's compositions that "hopefully envision the struggle to answer adversity with something unexpected and transforming."

On their Rivendell series of "new music", Macalester presents soloists of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) at Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center. The renowned ICE includes a revolving cast of about 35 top purveyors of new music; in St. Paul the soloists of ICE include Ross Karre, percussion; Alice Teyssier, flute and voice; and Jacob Greenberg, piano.

Two of the TC's best -- vocalist Maud Hixson and pianist Mary Louise Knutson perform tonight at The Marsh! It will be an aural spa, for sure.


Rudresh Mahanthappa

Thursday, February 25. It's a star-studded night. Walker Art Center presents Rez Abbasi's Invocation, a new ensemble featuring the Pakistani modern jazz/fusion guitarist in collaboration with saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, pianist Vijay Iyer, bassist Johannes Weidenmueller, drummer Dan Weiss, and cellist Elizabeth Means. As if that is not enough, the show opens with Rudresh's Indo-Pak Coalition (with Abbasi and Weiss). This will be a night of global music fused with American jazz from artists who define the merger.

Bryan Nichols


Another collaboration of locally heroic proportions takes place at Orchestra Hall, where Jeremy Walker presents the winter edition of Jazz in the Target Atrium. Tonight's program is dubbed "The Idiosyncrats: Parker, Ornette and the AJE," exploring the connections among Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman and the Minnesota jazz scene. That scene is filtered through the Atrium Jazz Ensemble, expanded tonight under the leadership of pianist Bryan Nichols, with cohorts Brandon Wozniak (saxophone), Jake Baldwin (trumpet), Jeff Bailey (bass) and JT Bates (drums). 


Larry McDonough

And yet another special event, Larry McDonough and his quartet celebrate the recordings of Tony Bennett and Bill Evans at Jazz Central. Evans rarely performed with singers, thus the twice-in-a-lifetime glory of The Tony Bennett Album (1975) and Together Again (1977). Larry will take on the challenging roles of both Evans and Bennett to educate younger listeners about these great artists and to remind seasoned listeners of this pair, who never recorded together again. The 2016 Grammy win for Bennett and Bill Charlap should create new interest in the Bennett/Evans pairing.

More Jazz!  

Keep up with the live jazz scene in the Twin Cities. The most comprehensive jazz calendar can be found at KBEM, with more listings at Rhythm and Grooves and Jazz Near You, and of course, here on the Lead Sheet. KBEM and KFAI radio host jazz programs regularly and provide daily notices of jazz gigs and concerts; you can find promos of area jazz on the Jazz Police website and Facebook page. The live edition of The Lead Sheet can be heard at 4:40 pm on Thursdays on KBEM, rebroadcast at 8:20 am on Fridays (note later time), and recent broadcasts archived at KBEM on Demand. Special guest on February 25 will be Zacc Harris, curator of the Jazz at Studio Z Winter Jazz Festival, talking about the 2016 fest on February 27. Venues and artists are reminded to send gig information to KBEM ( and print media calendars.


Coming Soon!

Adam Meckler Quintet, Winter Jazz Fest at Studio Z, February 27

. February 26, Patty Peterson and Friends at Crooners Lounge
. February 26, Davu Seru Group, Friday Night Jazz at Reverie
. February 26, Augsburg College Jazz Ensemble with Bria Skonberg, Foss Center, Augsburg College
. February 26, Jay Young and the Lyric Factory at Vieux-Carré
. February 27, Shifting Paradigm's Winter Jazz Fest at Studio Z, featuring Red Planet, Bryan Nichols Solo, Adam Meckler Quintet, JT Bates Solo, and Dean Granros’ Tall Tales
. February 27, Falls Five/Eric Gravatt & Source Code, Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog
. February 28, Dan Chouinard's Birthday Club with Judi Vinar, Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. February 29, "In the Crook," Rick Carlson with Dennis Spears, Dunsmore Room at Crooner's Lounge
. March 1, Tommy O'Donnell Tribute to Erroll Garner, Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. March 2-3, Brian Blade Fellowship at the Dakota
. March 4, Larry McDonough Quartet Tribute to Chet Baker, Friday Night Jazz at Reverie
. March 5, Pete Whitman X-Tet at Hopkins Center for the Arts
. March 5, Larry McDonough Quartet, Jazz @St Barneys (St Barnabas Church)
. March 5, Sidewalk Cafe at the 318 Cafe'
. March 5, Davis Wilson Birthday Celebration, Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog
. March 6, Andrew Walesch Trio, Songs from the Great American Songbook, Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. March 7, Lisa Fischer at the Dakota
. March 7, Acme Jazz Company with Arne Fogel at Crooners Lounge
. March 8, Butch Thompson and Pat Donahue, Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. March 9, Steven Anderson, solo piano in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. March 11, Stokely Williams at Walker West Music Academy
. March 11, MacPhail Jazz Ensemble/Steven Hobert and Dean Magraw, Friday Night Jazz at Reverie
. March 12, Bottomless Pit, Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog
. March 13, JazzMN Orchestra with Tierney Sutton at the Hopkins High School Auditorium
. March 13, Dan Chouinard's Birthday Club with Ann Reed, Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. March 17, Adam Meckler Orchestra at Vieux Carré
. March 18, Really Big Shoe, Friday Night Jazz at Reverie
. March 18, Mancrush Quartet CD release at Vieux Carré
. March 19, Zakir Hussain at Pantages Theater
. March 19, Ellen Lease/Pat Moriarty Quartet, Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog
. March 20, Dan Chouinard's Birthday Club with Prudence Johnson, Dunmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. March 21, Patty Peterson Presents Tribute to Jeanne Arland Peterson, Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. March 23, Geoffrey Keezer with Gillian Margo, Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. March 24, Cory Healey's Beautiful Sunshine Band CD release at Vieux Carré
. March 25, Jeremy Walker's Boot Camp at Vieux Carré
. March 25, King/Fletcher/Woods, Friday Night Jazz at Reverie
. March 26, Steve Kenny Quartet, Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog
. March 27, Dan Chouinard's Birthday Club with Maria Jette, Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. March 28, In the Crook with Erin Schwab and Jay Fuchs, Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. March 29, Billy Peterson and special guest, Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. March 30, Connie Evingson, Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. April 1-2, Dave King Trio with Bill Carrothers and Billy Peterson at Vieux Carré
. April 3-4, SF Jazz Collective at the Dakota
. April 10-11, David Sanborn at the Dakota
. April 10, Joyce Lyons
. April 12, Andres Prado with Mississippi, Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. April 15, Atlantis Quartet at Walker West Music Academy
. April 18, Chick Corea and Bela Fleck at the Guthrie Theater
. April 19, Lizz Wright at the Dakota
. April 20, Peter Bernstein/Larry Goldings/Bill Stewart Organ Trio at the Dakota
. April 23, JazzMN Orchestra with Bob McChesney and Andy Martin at Hopkins High School Auditorium
. April 25, Nancy Harms with Jeremy Siskind, CD Release, Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. April 26, John Raymond Quartet, Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. April 28, Jazz in the Target Atrium at Orchestra Hall
. April 29, Guitar Night with Julian Lage Trio at the Dakota
. April 30, International Jazz Day Festival with Brian Lynch at Jazz Central
. May 4, Tim Kliphuis and Sam Miltich at the Dakota
. May 6, Tony Bennett at the State Theater
. May 7, Steve Lehman Octet at the Walker Art Center
. June 5, Poncho Sanchez at the Dakota
. June 23-25, Twin Cities Jazz Festival, Mears Park
. July 1-3, Iowa City Jazz Festival

Hear the Lead Sheet live every Thursday at 4:40 pm (again Friday at 8:20 am) on KBEM 88.5 FM.