Winter jazz is heating up, thanks in part to the weekend's jump start of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival — a night of music at the Saint Paul Hotel sponsored by the festival as a casual fundraiser. A new weekly series gets underway at Jazz Central where there's also a memorial for its senior founder, Luis Santiago. Kurt Elling returns to the Dakota at the end of the week, and there's a lot more in-between.
Big Gigs This Week
Friday, February 7. For the past few winters, the Artists Quarter has hosted a night with pianist Jon Weber as a fundraiser for the Twin Cities Jazz Festival. The venue has changed and the program expanded as the TCJF invites jazz fans to take a winter break" at the iconic Saint Paul Hotel. You can enjoy JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar where they have a long-running weekend gig filled with songbook standards and less standard fare from the likes of Blossom Dearie and Peggy Lee; and for a mere $5 cover you can be entertained by the Jon Weber Trio (with AQ stalwarts Billy Peterson and Kenny Horst) in the Promenade Ballroom, with cash bar and an opportunity to make a donation to support the festival. With Weber, of course, you get more than the music— test his ability to play any song in any key in any style!
At Jazz Central, a new series launches to Bridge the Gap left by the closing of the Artists Quarter, as some of the younger AQ regulars offer early evening sets. Tonight hear Brandon Wozniak, Zacc Harris, Jeremy Boettcher and Cory Healey starting at 6. Following around 8:30, it's the first installment of the Jazz Police Young Artists Showcase, displaced from the AQ and now taking up residence at Jazz Central approximately every other month. Tonight here a tight quintet from South High, the Southside Combo. And another young lions ensemble, Courageous Endeavors, takes over Late Night at the Dakota, with Nelson Devereaux, Joe Strachan, Brian Courage and Miguel Hurtado.
Friday-Saturday, February 7-8.Among the artists I most miss from the AQ roster is pianist Bryan Nichols. Fortunately he is often on stage for the weekend dinner sets at the Icehouse, and this weekend pairs up with a favorite cohort, bassist James Buckley. If you want to hearthese guys—and you do!—ask for a table near the stage as dinner chatter can be intense on weekends.
Sunday, February 9. When musicians Tanner Taylor and Mac Santiago found a vacant studio space on Central Av SE a few years ago, they considered the pros and cons of opening a performance and teaching space that would help support the local jazz community and expand the audience for live jazz. Mac's dad Luis Santiago jumped right in, offering his financial as well as artistic support for the venture, and Jazz Central was born. Two weeks ago, Luis passed away at age 88, but his spirit and musical talents (Latin percussion) will be remembered today at a memorial event at Jazz Central (2-6 pm). The beat goes on.
Monday, February 10. Veterans have a field day tonight! At Jazz Central, the Monday featured artist" is pianist Phil Aaron, reuniting with former trio mates Terry Burns and Mac Santiago. Phil is so often associated with his elegant backing of vocalists that we might forget about those sterling post bop chops in instrumental settings. And we don't see enough of bassist Terry Burns on public gigs these days. At the Icehouse, JT's Jazz Implosion brings back the Regional Jazz Trio of Anthony Cox, Mike Lewis and JT Bates. If that doesn't keep your ears open, nothing will.
Wednesday, February 12. Know more as a soul and pop vocalist, Dionne Farristeams up with noveau jazz trumpeter Russell Gunn who's re-arranged the Farris songbook into a vibrant and jazzy set, at the Dakota. At Jazz Central, Chris Bates'monthly (second Wednesdays) improvisation night brings in a team of young lions with trumpeter Jake Baldwin, pianist Joe Strachan, and drummer Cory Healey. This is a perfect snapshot of the direction of local jazz.
Thursday, February 13. There is only one Kurt Elling, and fortunately the perennial Grammy nominee keeps the Dakota on his touring schedule nearly every year. The band will have a new look as vocalist Elling has parted ways with long-time pianist/arranger Laurence Hobgood, putting versatile Gary Versace on keys. He's working on a new recording of ballads, but primarily is promoting his 2012 release, 1619 Broadway.
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, February 7. Debbie Duncan at Parma 8200; Todd Harper followed by the Kronick Quartet at the Black Dog
Saturday, February 8. JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200; JP Jazz Trio (John Paulson) at Michael's (Red Wing)
Sunday, February 9. Robert Everest, brunch at Maria's Cafe; Fuzzy Math at the Black Dog (4 pm); Jerry O'Hagan Orchestra with Charmin Michelle at Cinema Ballroom; Zacc Harris Trio at the Riverview Wine Bar; Doug Little Quartet at Eat Street Social
Monday, February 10. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Benefit for the Southdale YMCA with Patty Peterson and Friends at the Dakota; Paul Renz Trio at Barbette
Tuesday, February 11. Cedar Avenue Big Band at Jazz Central; Nova Jazz Orchestra at the Minnesota Music Cafe
Wednesday, February 12. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Capri Big Band at Golden's Deli; Jazzband Wonderband at Barbette; Joey Van Phillips Trio at Cafe Maude
Thursday, February 13. Retro Swing Sister at Jazz Central; Gypsy Mania at Hell's Kitchen
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