The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, October 12-18
Surely one of the biggest gigs of the year at the Artists Quarter (Ari Hoenig Trio with Bill Carrothers and Chris Bates) and I will be in Chicago this weekend? And Saturday is the opening of a new season of Jazz at Studio Z? What was I thinking when I booked this trip? Fortunately I will be back in time for Cassandra Wilson and Bela Fleck with Marcus Roberts at the Dakota, Chris Bates' Good Vibe Trio and the Todd Clouser Quartet at the AQ, the opening of the Third Floor, and more. You do not need to leave town to find great jazz. So stick around.
Big Gigs This Week
October 12-13. The first time I saw Ari Hoenig (with Jean-Michel Pilc) I was struck by his acrobatic flailings at the trapset as much as by the sounds he coaxed from the kit. This will be his third visit to the Artists Quarter in the past five or six years, most recently in 2009 with a trio featuring guitarist Gilad Hekselman and local bassist Adam Linz. Hoenig returns now to the AQ, driving the engine of a trio that could top charts anywhere in the world—with Bill Carrothers on drums and Chris Bates on bass. Come with open ears and open eyes!
October 13. Guitarist Zacc Harris is one of those musicians who leads a lot more than jazz ensembles. He's also proven to be an effective curator and grant writer. Saturday he launches his second season of Jazz at Studio Z, a monthly series (through spring) that will feature a stellar ensemble performing in the evening, following a free public workshop in late afternoon. The series is supported by a grant to Harris from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC). Harris's Atlantis Quartet is in the leadoff spot, and their workshop (5 pm) will focus on Collective Improvisation and Collaborative Composition, taking the audience through the phases of composition, from improvised fragments through refinement and ending in a complete work. Attend the workshop and you get a $2 discount on the evening's gig with one of the metro's most exciting bands.
October 14-15. One of the most lauded singers of her generation, Cassandra Wilson is unlike anyone else in modern jazz, blending blues, folk and country with a jazz resume that includes Steve Coleman's M-Base and Wynton Marsalis's Blood on the Fields. She's accumulated two Grammies (so far) and numerous other honors, boasting one of the most eclectic discographies among jazz vocalists. Either this is her Dakota debut or her first visit in years.
October 15. Zack Lozier is, by himself, a Festival of Trumpet, playing it all from New Orleans trad to 21st century rad, from Southside Aces to Chris Bates' Red 5. It's time to see him in the spotlight at Jazz Central, where he probably will mix it up with Tanner Taylor and Mac Santiago, the owners and hosts of this underground studio.
October 16. Chris Bates' Good Vibes Trio is only in its first year but this should be a long-lasting partnership. The good vibes" belong to Dave Hagedorn, and there's no one better among current mallet virtuosi. Phil Hey manages the drumkit, and of course he is along-time collaborator with Hagedorn from their years together with Phil's quartet and the Pete Whitman X-Tet. Put bass master Bates in the middle and the vibes have to be good! (And the tacos too -it's Tuesday, so this must be $2 taco night!)
October 17. Last weekend I had the great honor to hear Babatunde Lea and his quartet at the Artists Quarter. Lea is a broadly gifted percussionist whose work cuts across global and American music. Tonight he will be joined by Zacc Harris and Adam Linz at Café Maude (the original in southwest Minneapolis). String and things that go bump in the night!!
October 17-18. Bela Fleck and the Marcus Roberts Trio at the Dakota? Is it a stretch to conceive of these artists as collaborators? Fleck of course is the legendary banjoist, leader of The Flecktones, and known for other not-so-obvious collaborations such as his 2007 project with Chick Corea (The Enchantment). Roberts makes mainstream" jazz an ultimate compliment, one of the finest purveyors of modern swing and interpreters of standard repertoire from Gershwin to Ellington. Their collaboration began at the Savannah Music Festival a couple years ago, when Fleck stayed late to listen to Roberts' jam session, adding his unique voice to the trio, featuring Rodney Jordan on bass and Jason Marsalis on drums. Their collaboration continued with the release of Across the Divide last spring, but that divide seems pretty easy for each artist to cross.
October 18. When Jeremy Konecny closed The Nicollet earlier this year due to insufficient revenues, he vowed to find another way to bring jazz to the people in an affordable package. Today he officially opens the Third Floor, 2 flights above the Chocolate Chateau in the old Vintage mansion on Selby in St Paul. Maryann Sullivan is on hand to cut the ribbon (at least figuratively) and will welcome a host of friends, surely including husband Doug Haining. It's a unique setting—Victorian St Paul—with a menu sure to please—micro beers, wine, chocolate, and jazz. $5 cover gives you a $2 drink credit.
Another nice thing about the Third Floor—early jazz hours. The shows will run 7:30 -9:30 pm, meaning you can make most of the first set at the Artists Quarter, just a short ride downtown. Tonight, Todd Clouser brings a new quartet to the AQ, part of his two-week residency in the Twin Cities with varying combinations of friends. Tonight he joins forces with Park Evans, Brian Courage and Jay Epstein—that's a double guitar quartet!!
What's going on in the Twin Cities? Never wonder about live jazz- check out live jazz calendars on Jazz Police and KBEM sites. Some more suggestions:
Friday, October 12. Steven Hobert and Jim Chenoweth, dinner show at the Icehouse; Fathom Lane CD Release at the Icehouse (late show) with Todd Clouser; Patrick Harrison Duo at Café Maude Loring Park; Lee Engele and Reynold Philipsek at Pardon My French
Saturday, October 13. Connie Evinsgon, Jazz @ St Barneys (St Barnabus Church); Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Arne Fogel with Kristin Sponcia at The Lexington; New Standards at the Dakota; Joel Shapira Trio at Café Maude Loring Park; Jon Pemberton Trio at Loring Pasta Bar
Sunday, October 14. Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar; PipJazz Sundays with Steve Faison at Landmark Center
Monday, October 15. Headspace at the Artists Quarter; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse
Tuesday, October 16. Frankhouse at Hell's Kitchen; Cory Wong Quartet (7 pm) at the Artists Quarter; Doug Haining/Scott Agster Big Band at Jazz Central
Wednesday, October 17. Wolverines at Hell's Kitchen; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Steve Kenny and the Bastids followed by the Dave Karr Quartet at the Artists Quarter; Robb Henry Trio at the Red Stag; James Buckley at Barbette
Thursday, October 18. Illicit Sextet at the Artists Quarter (7 pm)