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The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, April 19-25

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Like good jazz, Minnesota's weather is unpredictable, and forces us all to become good improvisers. Spring might not be swinging yet, but the birds are churning out some pleasing melodies, and a slow but sure warming trend will make club-hopping and gig-going a bit easier.  So watch out for patches of ice but do get out and hear a wide range of cool music over the coming week. And think of ways to celebrate Record Store Day on Saturday, April 20th. (Spending money at your favorite independent music store would be appropriate!)

Big Gigs This Week

Friday, April 19. You may have missed Maud Hixson lately. She's been recovering from an icy mishap that left her with a broken ankle. But tonight she takes a break from cabin fever, and with footstool in place, will enliven the scene at Parma in Bloomington, one of the latest music hotspots. Fortunately Maud completed recording (in New York) for her soon-to-be released CD of the songs of Michael Leonard, Don't Let a Good Thing Get Away. It's officially out May 1, and a local release party will likely be announced soon. The cast includes a bunch of stellar New Yorkers named Tex Arnold, Steve LaSpina, Warren Vaché and Gene Bertoncini, but the star is “ours," Maud at her charming and intimate best, singing the few Leonard tunes to reach near-familiar levels ("Why Did I Choose You?" and “I'm All Smiles") as well as some never-before recorded  ("Old World Charm," “The Spider and the Fly"). Beg... and maybe she will provide a preview tonight. (Yes, a review is coming. Very soon.)

Friday-Saturday, April 19-20. An Artist Quarter favorite, pianist David Hazeltine is noted for adventurous arrangements, rhythms, and harmonies, as well as swinging, melodic original compositions. Dave brings both a reverence for tradition and a unique inventive spirit to the bandstand this weekend in trio format, with Kenny Horst on drums both nights, and the bass duties split between hot-fingered young lion Brian Courage (Friday) and ever-eloquent veteran Billy Peterson (Saturday). Dave cut his teeth in the Midwest (Milwaukee) but has been a New York stalwart for a couple decades, most notably with One for All.

Saturday, April 20. Drummer Francisco Mela might be from Cuba, and he might be a resident of New York, but he ought to be an honorary citizen of the Twin Cities. Especially after this weekend. Mela first visited with Joe Lovano's Us Five during the 2011 Twin Cities Jazz Festival, returning the following year leading his Cuban Safari. In March, he was on tour with McCoy Tyner during their stop at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Jazz patron Alden Drew wasted no time finding a way to bring Mela back to town - in partnerships with McNally Smith, MacPhail, Twin Cities Jazz Society and Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education.  Earlier this week, Mela held school clinics and a public workshop at Jazz Central, master classes at McNally Smith, and today performs in concert in Antonello Hall at MacPhail, in the finest of local company (Brandon Wozniak, Tanner Taylor, Graydon Peterson). His wit and charm are only exceeded by his percussion skills, and the first meeting of this quartet (at Jazz Central) was clearly a gathering of sympathetic souls.

The monthly Riverview Showcase features the Zacc Harris Group tonight. While Zacc and his trio are regulars at the Riverview Wine Bar, it's been a long time since his “Group" performed. And that's a shame - Harris, Bryan Nichols, Chris Bates and JT Bates make one heckuva sound!

Sunday, April 21. One of the more popular acts at the Artists Quarter, Red Planet finally performs in a true concert hall as part of the Twin Cities Jazz Society's Jazz From J to Z series, in Weyerhaeuser Auditorium at the Landmark Center. These free-wheeling virtuosos - Dean Magraw (guitar), Chris Bates (bass) and  Jay Epstein (drums)—have a special affinity for all things Coltrane, and this show will be solely dedicated to Coltrane's music. They might even make you forget there's no saxophone.

Soul Café has only occasionally performed over the past few years so it is a special occasion whenever they come together.  The core trio of Laura Caviani, Steve Blons and Brad Holden will be joined by frequent vocal partner Lucia Newell, as they return to their “home stage" at Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church. Their theme this evening is “odd meters," music inspired by Dave Brubeck and poems from quirky Billy Collins.

Monday, April 22. Fan favorites tonight - Charmin and Shapira and Friends  are on stage at the Dakota, plying patrons with their signature takes on standards, sambas and more, while veteran wiseacre saxman Dave Karr bops with pals at Jazz Central.  (He turns up again at the Artists Quarter tomorrow night!) And another popular band of improvisers, Fat Kid Wednesdays, turns up at a favorite stage, the Icehouse. Rumors of a special guest are in the air....but Mike Lewis, Adam Linz and JT Bates can do it all alone.

Tuesday, April 23. The Adam Meckler Orchestra gathers for their monthly blast at Jazz Central, with leader Adam fresh off a stint in New Orleans with Jack Brass Band. So don't be surprised if you hear a little delta or bayou vibe in the orchestra's playbook tonight.  For something a bit farther out, George Cartwright returns to the Black Dog tonight with his Merciless Ghost ensemble.  Josh Granowski (bass) and Davu Seru (drums) round out the trio, dedicated to improvisation “and the sometimes agonizing struggle to speak using one's own voice." There's ecstacy in that agony.         

Wednesday, April 24. It was a long time coming but finally Denny Malmberg has gathered long-time cohorts, Doug Haining, Steve Pikal, Nathan Norman and semi-weekly partner Charmin Michelle for a recording session, and tonight they celebrate Struttin' Outat Fireside Pizza. Where else? It's in the tiny corner of this neighborhood favorite that much of the music evolved.   

The local jazz scene has taken on a more youthful sound lately, and one of the reasons is drummer Miguel Hurtado. In addition to appearing with veterans like Jeremy Walker and Kelly Rossum, Hurtado has proven to be a strong bandleader himself, and returns to the Artists Quarter tonight with “friends" - and his friends are pretty awesome,  most likely to include bassist Brian Courage, pianist Joe Strachan, and/or some of the hottest horn players in town.

Thursday, April 25. Most months end at the Artists Quarter with the Pete Whitman X-Tet, and tonight's the night for April. It's hard to gather a group of ten busy jazz artists every month, but fortunately Pete has more than ten on speed dial and there's never a gap or weak link in this ensemble. Yeah, the band takes up a couple rows of tables, but that just means you have to get down to the AQ early.

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, April 19. Irv Williams and Peter Schimke, Happy Hour at the Dakota; Chris Bates and Phil Aaron, dinner set at the Icehouse; Gypsy Mania at Hell's Kitchen; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Northwestern College Jazz Ensemble at Maranatha Hall; Brad Bellows/Donald Washington Quartet at the Black Dog

Saturday, April 20. Francisco Mela, Master Class at McNally Smith (11 am); Charmin and Shapira at Midtown Global Market (12:30 pm); Dave King Trucking Company, Record Store Day gig at Electric Fetus (2 pm); Jon Pemberton Trio at Loring Pasta Bar; Josh Granowski and Patrick Harison, dinner set at the Icehouse; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma; Ted Olsen and Joe Strachan at Angelina's Kitchen; Nachito Herrera at the Dakota; Thomasina Petrus in “Etta.. Tell Mama" at the Capri Theater

Sunday, April 21. Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Café; Robert Everest, brunch at Maria's Café; Thomasina Petrus in “Etta... Tell Mama" at the Capri Theater (3 pm);  JoAnn Funk with The Roseville Strings at Concordia Academy (3 pm);Twin Cities Mobile Jazz Project Fundraiser at the Dakota (4 pm); Gwen Matthews Fundraiser at the Dakota; Jerry O'Hagan Orchestra with Charmin Michele at Cinema Ballroom

Monday April 22. JT's Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse; Headspace at the Artists Quarter; Denny Malmberg and guest at Fireside Pizza

Tuesday, April 23. Zeitgeist Salon at Studio Z; Cory Wong Quartet followed by the Dave Karr Quartet at the Artists Quarter; Molly Ringwald Quartet at the Dakota

Wednesday, April 24. Steve Kenny and the Bastids, early show at the Artists Quarter

Thursday, April 25. Leisure Valley at Barbette


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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved.

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