Jazz does not take a holiday - but music makes the holiday weekend a real celebration. Labor Day typically marks the end of summer, return to school and cooler nights, but no reason to expect a cool-down of jazz offerings in the Twin Cities. Some special shows this weekend lead up to one of Saint Paul's favorite festivals, the Lowertown Concrete and Grass Music Festival at Mears Park, Thursday through Saturday, including a couple jazz acts as well as music to appeal to a wide range of tastes.
For those heading out of town, or looking for an excuse, keep in mind two of the world's largest free jazz festival (meaning no tickets!) are held in the Midwest this weekend: Chicago, August 28-31 and Detroit, August 29-September 1. Visit festival websites for schedules.
Big Gigs This Week
Friday, August 29. Parma 8200 in Bloomington offers a perfect way to end the work week or start the holiday weekend, with intimate jazz in the bar/lounge and a tasty and reasonable menu. Tonight, songbird Maud Hixson returns with Rick Carlson and Gordy Johnson surely one of the most elegant vocal trios around. And one of the most appealing things about a Maud Hixson gigaside from her voice, she always finds something new to introduce to her audience, be it an obscure songwriter or an unfamiliar tune from one of the great composers.
One of the area's most prolific composers and performers, guitarist Reynold Philipsek is on stage at one of his favorite haunts, the 318 Cafe in Wayzata. Tonight is a little different as Reynold, bassist Matt Senjem and percussionist Michael Bissonnette are filming material for a documentary as well as introducing some new compositions. The $10 cover includes one of Reynold's CDs.
Jazz at the Fair tonight hear the Explosion Big Band (led by Doug Haining and Scott Agster) on the AFL-CIO stage at the fairgrounds.
Saturday, August 30. If you missed one of last week's CD release events for David Martin and Mike Doolin's new Tough Commute, you have more opportunities! This afternoon, Mike leads a guitar-making workshop at Jazz Central. Anyone interested in woodworking and instrument building will be fascinated by Mike's demonstration and discussion of the work of the luthier, and he brought along a small arsenal of guitars for demonstration. A few hours later, Mike and Dave, with Chris Bates and Peter Hennig, perform the music of the new recording and beyond in the Jazz Central Studio's intimate performance space. If it's anything like the music performed at the Icehouse and Black Dog last week, it will be one of the highlights of your week. Or month.
At first this might seem like an odd combination the young hipsters of Foreign Motion (Cory Wong, Yohannes Tona, Kevin Gastonguay, Petar Janjic) with veteran, award-winning vocalist Patty Peterson, at the Icehouse. But Patty's tastes are broad and her own music spans jazz, R&B, pop and funk, so this could be one of the best match-ups of the summer. For sure it is going to be a lot of fun with a lot of energy.
Sunday, August 31. Back in June, Connie Evingson and Jon Weber teamed up to present their favorite tunes from the Ella Fitzgerald Songbooks at Jungle Theater. The show was a big hit and Connie and Jon indicated some frustration in selecting just one show's worth of Ella tunes. Now they return, again with bassist Gordy Johnson, to present another selection of Ella favorites with a matinee and evening performance at the Jungle.
Monday, September 1. Celebrate the holiday with a jazz brunch at Hell's Kitchen! This also serves as yet another CD release for Dave Martin and Mike Doolin, in quartet format with Chris Bates and Peter Hennig.
Tuesday, September 2. First Tuesdays at the Black Dog mean a collaborative adventure with Dean Magraw and Davu Seru, and perhaps a guest. These two clever improvisers give modern music some new twists.
Wednesday, September 3. The Mobile Jazz Project comes to Uptown with a rare evening performance. Typically bringing live jazz into Minneapolis parks in afternoon hours, this night at Calhoun Square features Mississippi (Pete Whitman, Peter Schimke, Jeff Bailey and Kevin Washington), the Cory Wong Group, and long-running reggae band Les Exodus.
Thursday, September 4. Another installment of the All Originals Jazz Series, the brainchild of Steve Kenny with help from a state Arts Board grant: This week, three frequent co-conspirators and among the most inventive musicians (of any genre) in the region, come together at Studio Z for some exciting new works Bryan Nichols, Chris Bates and JT Bates. Each is a composer and bandleader in addition to consummate performer and improviser. Some of these new works are likely to be spontaneous executions.
Thursday-Saturday, September 4-6. The 8th annual Concrete and Grass Lowertown Music Festival takes over Mears Park for three nights of music for every taste, from rock and pop to classical to salsa and jazz. In addition to such acts as the SPCO Septet, Minnesota Resident Artists, and Joey Molland's Badfinger, you can hear Salsa del Soul revving up the salsa rhythms and the Adam Meckler Orchestra previewing their debut recording, both on Friday evening. Thursday hear the SPCO ensemble tackle Beethoven's Septet in E-Flat and singer-songwriter Martin Devany. The festival closes Saturday with acclaimed jazz saxophonist David Milne joining three other saxophones in a more classical vein with the Ancia Saxphone Quartet and a young brash brass ensemble (Breaking Brass) from McNally Smith in addition to voices of the Minnesota Opera and Badfinger.
More Jazz All Week! Keep up with the live jazz scene in the Twin Cities check out calendars at Jazz Police, KBEM, Rhythm and Grooves and Jazz Near You, as well as here on the blog. More jazz to tickle your ears: Friday, August 29. Irv Williams and Steve Blons, Happy Hour at the Dakota; Todd Harper and Larry Sims, happy hour at the Black Dog; Eric Gravatt and Source Code at Jazz Central; Kronick Quartet at the Black Dog; Bryan Nichols and James Buckley, dinner sets at the Icehouse
Saturday, August 30.Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200
Sunday, August 31. Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Cafe; T-Collective at the Icehouse
Monday, September 1. Note that many of your favorite venues are closed for Labor Day!
Tuesday, September 2. Bill Simenson Orchestra at Jazz Central; Annie Lawler Jazz on the Patio at Burger Mo's; Cafe Accordion at Loring Pasta Bar; Three Loud Trio at Cafe Maude
Wednesday, September 3. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; new music night at Jazz Central (TBA); Wolverines Trio at Hell's Kitchen; Patrick Harison at Cafe Maude; Charlie Christenson Standards Trio at the Black Dog
Thursday, September 4. Joel Shapira at Hell's Kitchen; Jack Brass Band at the Dakota; Moonlight Serenaders at Wabasha Street Caves; Vocal Jazz Night at Jazz Central (TBA)
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