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The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, December 27 - January 2

SOURCE: Published: 2013-12-27
Year-end celebrations dominate jazz this week, but one is certainly bittersweet as the Artists Quarter closes out its St. Paul run, at least for now. But the AQ will exit on a chorus of high notes, with a weekend “Jam" of surprise guests and a sold-out New Year's Eve finale. Add in a four-night residency with the Bad Plus at the Dakota, some former Minnesotans in solo sets at Jazz Central, and a list of jazzy New Year's Eve gigs and 2013 will go out like a lion.

Big Gigs This Week

Friday, December 27. Last Happy Hour of the year with Irv Williams typically joined by pianist Peter Schimke and sometimes another artist; tonight young saxophonist Joshua Jones makes it a multi-generational gig. Stay for an hour and then come down the block to Hell's Kitchen another no-cover gig, tonight with sassy songbird Nichola Miller. In Bloomington, the vocal night at Parma 8200 presents favorite crooner Arne Fogel. Enjoy with a hot toddy or a flatbread and wine. The Parma lounge and bar provides a relaxing atmosphere, and always a top voice with backing duo or trio.

Friday-Sunday, December 27-29. After their Thursday night start, The Bad Plus fill out their schedule at the Dakota, playing two sets each night. Thursday- Saturday is the usual holiday homecoming series of gigs, playing unique arrangements of popular (and sometimes classical) fare and original compositions; Sunday is a special reprise of their 2011 performance of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. Still honoring Stravinsky's original and controversial score, The Bad Plus also gives it a makeover that would make Igor blush.

Adjacent to the Artists Quarter, Park Square Theatre's Words By...Ira Gershwin and the Great American Songwriters puts T. Mychal Rambo, Jennifer Grimm and Ari Hoptman to work on over 2 dozen tunes with Ira's lyrics, backed by the outstanding rhythm team of Chris Olson, Chris Bates, Jay Epstein and music director Joseph Vass. Last chance to see it this weekend... and on Friday and Saturday, the show is over in plenty of time for the latter part of the AQ Jam.

Friday-Saturday, December 27-28. The long-awaited long goodbye at the Artists Quarter starts with two nights of gala jamming. Phil Aaron (Friday) and Bryan Nichols (Saturday) lead the rhythm section (which surely includes drummer Kenny Horst) along with a parade of AQ favorites. May the music never end.

Saturday, December 28. Yet another homecoming featuring Twin Cities natives who are now based in New York. At Jazz Central, this rare Saturday night gig offers exciting solo piano back-to-back. Classically trained, Mary Prescott undertook a year-long improvisation project in 2012, recording an improvised work each day. She's debuting some these pieces in public tonight. Following Mary is a solo jazz recital by UW-EC grad Jesse Stacken, who has impressed critics and fellow musicians over his decade in the Big Apple, leading his own trio and now recording and touring with saxophonist Tony Malaby among others.

Sunday, December 29. Andrew Foreman's final Off the Cuff for 2013 offers a bass-heavy double header at the Aster Cafe. Start the evening with double bass/double drum (double sibling?) set with Chris Bates and Casey O'Brien on bass matching wits with JT Bates and Graham O'Brien on drums. Second set features two drums again — Zach Schmidt and Alex Young, joining Foreman on bass, Trent Jacob on guitar and Dan Musselman on keyboards. The focus as always is on improvisation, in the moment, off the cuff.

Monday, December 30. Countdown to New Year's with JT's Jazz Implosion, filling the Icehouse tonight with The Mother of Masks (Anthony Cox, Davu Seru, Mankwe Ndosi and more) for the first set, followed by Chris Bates' Red 5 (Chris and JT Bates, Chris Thomson, Brandon Wozniak and Zack Lozier) for the late set. So we're talking 8+ of the most creative artists in town, one stage, one cover.

Over at Jazz Central, they're hosting a New Year's Eve Eve Musicians' Hang, with a jam featuring many of Jazz Central's performers and anyone who wants to join in.

Tuesday, December 31, New Year's Eve! Every tradition has its end game. Tonight, Carole Martin and Friends take the stage at the Artists Quarter for the final downbeat. The party is sold out, although perhaps if you come by in the wee hours you will be able to pay your respects to Kenny and Dawn Horst, Davis, Carole, and the AQ crew who have served our jazz community so well, and for so little, for so long. You can be sure the joint will be rockin' til last call. And maybe for a while after that. For a list of jazzy New Year's Eve gigs, see below.

Wednesday, January 1. A special night at Fireside Pizza — welcome the New Year or take a break from the umpteenth bowl game with Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg. They guarantee a swinging start to 2014 and some of the area's best flat crust.

More Jazz Every Night Be sure to check live jazz calendars on Jazz Policeand KBEM sites. Also find a growing number of events on the Jazz Near You site, a service of All About Jazz. A few more gigs of note:

Friday, December 27. Todd Harper, solo piano at the Black Dog (5 pm); JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel)

Saturday, December 28. Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200; Lee Engele with Uptown Maxx at Sawatdee (Eden Prairie); Ticket to Brasil at Loring Pasta Bar; James Wallace at the Red Stag

Sunday, December 29. Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar; Doug Little Quartet at Eat Street Social Club; Charmin Michelle and Jerry O'Hagan Orchestra at Cinema Ballroom; New Standards at the Dakota

Monday, December 30. Bookhouse Trio at Barbette

Tuesday, December 31, New Year's Eve Gigs: Maud Hixson at Parma 8200; JoAnn Funk Trio at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel);  Tim Patrick and his Blue Eyed Band at the Shakopee Ballroom; Charmin Michelle and Vic Volare at the Crooked Pint; Davina and the Vagabonds at the Dakota; Open Season, early NY Eve at thje Black Dog (Todd Harper, Nathan Hanson, Brian Roessler, Pete Hennig); Cafe Accordion at Loring Pasta Bar

Wednesday, January 1. Debbie Duncan at Hell's Kitchen

Thursday, January 2. Moonlight Serenaders at Wabasha Street Caves; vocal night at Jazz Central

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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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