Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, May 6-12

Bill Charlap Trio, at the Dakota on May 11

© Andrea Canter

As we get closer and closer to the Twin Cities Jazz festival (June 23-25), we seem to be revving up the jazz engines with a strong slate of gigs and concerts in coming weeks. Some outstanding visitors as well as local heroes are on the schedule for early May!


Marcus Wise
Friday, May 6. If you have never heard him live, plan to catch Tony Bennett at the State Theater this time. He's still winning Grammies! Over at Jazz Central will be the venue's first presentation of North Indian classical music, with local tabla master Marcus Wise joining forces with  one of America's top sarod artists, Bruce Hamm of San Francisco. Marcus and Bruce have performed together all over the country. Dinner sets at the Icehouse tonight will be presented by the piano/bass duo of Javi Santiago and Ted Olsen.

Nathan Hanson
Saturday, May 7. At the end of its fourth season, Jazz at Studio Z presents Phillip Greenlief. The critically acclaimed saxophonist and composer is known for his "post jazz" and experimental music innovations, and his partners at Studio Z include a home team of virtuosic improvisers-- saxophonist Nathan Hanson, bassist Chris Bates, and percussionist Davu Seru. The pre-concert master class (6 pm, free) will address compositional strategies for improvising musicians.

Steve Lehman Octet
At the Walker Art Center's McGuire Theater, the Steve Lehman Octet brings what the The New York Times described as "a blast of urban futurism at once hypnotic, kinetic and kaleidoscopic. And funky!" Lehman works across a wide range of experimental music idioms with the next generation of jazz greats-- Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet), Mark Shim (tenor sax), Tim Albright (trombone), José Davila (tuba), Charles Dingman (vibes), Drew Gress (bass) and Tyshawn Sorey (drums).

Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog opens with the River Falls-based Plus One Trio (really a quartet), with Nate Bauermeister on saxophones, Benjamin Allen on Trombone, Jason McLean on bass and Anthony Block on drums. Witch Hunt headlines in a tribute to Wayne Shorter's Speak No Evil album, featuring Joe Mayo on saxes, Steve Kenny on FLUMPET, Ted Godbout on piano, Ted Olsen on bass and Adam Nussbaum on drums-- a feisty combination of veteran and young generation artists.

Andrew Schwandt

And at Jazz Central, it's a fond farewell to saxophonist Andrew Schwandt, relocating away from the Twin Cities and the Minnesota Hard Bop Collective, which will feature Schwandt, trumpeter Ryan Nyther, pianist Javi Santiago, bassist Graydon Peterson and drummer Jessie Simon. At Crooners, vocalist Sophia Shorai brings her eclectic tastes to the Lounge.  And don't forget the regulars on Saturday nights-- Pavel Jany and Talking Strings at the Loring Pasta Bar, Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200, and JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar (til summer break) at the Saint Paul Hotel.

Ginger Commodore
Sunday, May 8. Give Mom a swinging Mother's Day brunch at the Dakota, courtesy of the Twin Cities Hot Club, led by Robert Bell. And you could just hang out for the rest of the day and catch Ginger Commodore with her offspring, drummer Brandon and daughter Ashley, and their red hot band MPLS, with guests vocalist Tonia Hughes and keyboard monster Brian Ziemniak. Or head out to Crooners, where Debbie Duncan and Rick Carlson entertain at brunch, with Dan Chouinard and Dane Stauffer in the Dunsmore Room in the evening for this installment of the May "Birthday Club."

Devin Drobka, Hanging Hearts
Sunday-Monday, May 8-9. Jazz Central hosts a rare Sunday gig with the Chicago-based Hanging Hearts, an experimental trio "dedicated to the fearless exploration of group improvisation." Featuring Chris Weller on tenor sax, Cole GeGenova on keys, and Devin Drobka on drums, the trio will jump over to the Icehouse on Monday to perform on JT's Jazz Implosion night. With Dave King heading production, the trio will record a new album next month. Their Monday set is preceded by the always edgy drum duo, Real Bulls--JT Bates and Dave King.

Dave Brattain
Monday, May 9. Two saxes are better than one! Thus it will be magical music when two tenor/soprano artists, Dave Brattain and Joe Mayo, get together for a blowing session, tonight at Jazz Central.

Monday-Tuesday, May 9-10. No matter how often pianist Davell Crawford is in town, it's a sell out. At the Dakota for the third time in about as many months, the New Orleans Delta king returns to honor Crescent City and his long-time mentor, the late Allen Toussaint.

Stu Katz (photo: Bob Fila)
Tuesday, May 10. One of the veterans of Chicago jazz, Stu Katz has over six decades of experience as a pianist and vibraphonist, performing with Gene Ammons, Kenny Burrell, Joey DeFrancesco, Dexter Gordon, Roy Haynes, Milt Jackson, James Moody, Zoot Sims, Sonny Stitt, and Phil Woods, among others.  In the Dunsmore Room, Stu will play a solo set followed by a second set with son Steve (bass and vocals) and Jay Epstein (drums).

And it's Big Band Tuesday -- the Nova Jazz Orchestra takes over the Minnesota Music Cafe, and the Cedar Ave Big Band takes over the basement in Jazz Central Studios, both monthly gigs for these ensembles.

Bill Charlap
Wednesday, May 11.  One of the most lauded pianists of his generation, the Bill Charlap  Trio with Peter Washington and Kenny Washington is often compared to the great trios of Bill Evans. Bill teamed up with Tony Bennett on the recording named (oddly) Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album at the 2016 Grammy Awards (The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern), and now the Bill Charlap Trio just received a 5-star review in Downbeat for their new release, Notes From New York). Reservations strongly recommended.

At Jazz Central, Chris Bates holds his monthly night of new music, bringing back his exciting work in progress, the Inventions and Dimensions Trio with Joe Strachan and Matt Buckner. Initially conceived as a short-term experiment, it's taking off with a life of its own "that deserves time to grow." 

Zacc Harris
Thursday, May 12. It's been a while since we have heard the Zacc Harris Group, probably because each musician has such a busy schedule-- getting these four improvisers in the same place at one time is a challenge-- Bryan Nichols (piano), Chris Bates (bass) and JT Bates (drums). Expect some new compositions!

More Jazz in Jazz Town!
You can find a lot more jazz this week! Live jazz calendar is posted on the KBEM website, and you can see more about jazz events at  Tune into the live edition of The Lead Sheet on KBEM, Jazz 88.5, every Thursday at 4:40 pm, rebroadcast on Fridays at 8:20 am. Next week, my guest will be St Olaf College Jazz Director Dave Hagedorn, reporting on the jazz band's recent tour to Cuba. Artists, get your gig on the KBEM live jazz calendar -- send your information to Kevin Barnes at

Coming Soon!
. May 13, Eight O'Clock Jump with Nathan Hanson/Doan Roessler Quintet at Walker West Music Academy
. May 13, Patty Peterson and Friends with Mick Stirling and Ricky Peterson at Bunkers
. May 14, Dave King/George Cartwright Duo and the Steve Kenny Quartet at the Black Dog
. May 14, Yolande Bruce, Birthday Bash at Crooners Lounge
. May 15, Maurice Jacox "Nat King Cole" in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. May 16, Erin Schwab with Jay Fuchs in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. May 16, Bill Simenson Quintet, JT's Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse
. May 17, Mary Louise Knutson Trio in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. May 17, Michael O'Brien's Triage Trio at Vieux Carre'  
. May 18, Judi Vinar and the Wolverines at Crooners Lounge
. May 19, Fall of the House of Usher/Halcyon Daze (Jazzink Showcase) at Reverie
. May 20, Michael O'Brien Trio at Jazz Central
. May 20, Patty Peterson and Friends at Crooners Lounge
. May 21, Kelly Rossum Quartet with Michael O'Brien/Convergence Trio with Michael O'Brien at the Black Dog
. May 22, "Great Day in St Paul" -- photo for all local jazz artists at McNally Smith
. May 22, Dakota Combo Alumni Band, Spring Concert, and fundraiser for Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education at Vieux Carre'
. May 22, Maud Hixson with Dan Chouinard, The Birthday Club in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. May 23, Freddy Cole at the Dakota
. May 23, Graydon Peterson Quartet, JT's Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse 
. May 24, Bryan Nichols solo CD release at the Dakota
. May 24-25, Bobby Lyle with Billy Peterson, Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. May 26, Lucia Sarmiento Group, Thursday Night Jazz at Reverie
. May 26, Paula Lammers at Jazz Central
. May 28, Peter Vircks Quartet/Evan Benidt Quartet at the Black Dog
. May 28, Nachito Herrera at the Dakota
. May 29, Sergio Mendes at the Dakota
. May 29, Arne Fogel with Dan Chouinard, The Birthday Club in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. May 31, Dave Karr Quartet in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. June 2, Javi Santiago Group, Thursday Night Jazz at Reverie
. June 3, Patty Peterson All-Stars with Steve Cole at the Dakota
. June 4, Bruce Henry at the Dakota
. June 5, Poncho Sanchez at the Dakota
. June 5, Joe Lovano, Tribute to Gunther Schuller, presented by Chamber Music Society of Minnesota at Sundin Hall (Hamline University)
. June 7, Teri Roiger and John Menegon in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge 
. June 8, Arturo Sandoval at the Dakota
. June 10, Jay Young & the Lyric Factory at Vieux Carre'
. June 17, David Binney Quartet at Walker West
. June 17, Tord Gustavsen Trio at Mindekirken (Norwegian Lutheran Church)
. June 18, Jazz at Studio Z, Doug Little's Tres Mundos
. June 20, JazzMN Orchestra at Chanhassen Dinner Theater
. June 21, David Hazeltine and Eric Alexander, Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. June 22, David Hazeltine/Eric Alexander Quartet, Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge
. June 23-25, Twin Cities Jazz Festival, Mears Park (Delfeayo Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis, Joey Alexander, Russell Malone, John Pizzarelli, Michael Franti & Spearhead)
. June 30, Marquis Hill Black-Tet with Makaya Craven at the Dakota
. July 1-3, Iowa City Jazz Festival (Vijay Iyer Trio, Miguel Zenon, Poncho Sanchez, Allison Miller, David Berkman, Marquis Hill, Edmer Casteneda, Akiko Tsuruga, Phil Hey Quartet)
. July 5, Chick Corea, Christian McBride and Brian Blade at the Dakota
. July 24, Rochester (MN) Jazz Festival
. August 8, Marcus Miller at the Dakota
. August 9-10, Estaire Godinez at the Dakota

Mary Louise Knutson Trio