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The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, January 17-23

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As rumors continue to circulate as to the sale (or not) of the Artists Quarter, there is no doubt that a significant hole exists on the live jazz scene in the Twin Cities. Yet jazz continues to thrive around that hole, if in more challenging (i.e., not ideal listening) settings. Spots like Jazz Central, Black Dog, Aster Cafe, Icehouse, Cafe Maude and Studio Z keep modern jazz on their calendars; the Dakota offers some jazzy weekends and “Foodie Nights" in-between national acts; McNally Smith boasts its annual winter festival this weekend.... and more.

Big Gigs This Week

Friday, January 17. Weekend music continues at Parma 8200, with songbird Maud Hixson bringing in standards and less familiar tunes, tonight with a rather unusual partnering with pianist Adi Yeshaya and bassist Adam Linz. On the U of M West Bank, saxophonist Peter Vircks holds a CD Release Party at the Republic. Vircks, often affiliated with Nachito Herrera, Yohannes Tona and Bruce Henry, has been busy with the touring production of Feet Don't Fail Me Now, but found time to write and record a raft of new compositions that straddle jazz and funk—and achieve that rare combination of the best of both. Over at the Black Dog, the Donald Washington/Brad Bellows Quartetreturns for an almost monthly gig of low brass— baritone sax and valve trombone mix it up and turn it inside out.

Saturday, January 18. It used to be the Roseville Winter Jazz Blast, now it's the McNally Smith Winter Jazz Blast, a day of clinics and performances for high school bands, followed by an evening public concert featuring the JazzMN Orchestra, trumpeter Charles Lazarus, and McNally Smith faculty and student ensembles.

Seems the cello is getting more attention lately. Bassist Anthony Cox performed on cello only last week at the Black Dog, and now Jelloslavereturns to a Minneapolis stage with this evening at the Aster Cafe. With two cellos (Jacqueline Ultan and Michelle Kinney), drums (Greg Schutte) and tablas (Gary Waryan), this unusual quartet plays “original improvisational cello­-driven music, as well as interpreting compositions of great songwriters and composers throughout history, from Bach to Led Zeppelin."

Monday, January 20. The Fantastic Merlins were a regular feature at the Black Dog, and now they're back on the third Mondays as a trio — Nathan Hanson on sax, Brian Roessler on bass, and Pete Hennig on drums. “Both dissonant and resonant, Fantastic Merlins effortlessly weave together the dark and the light, the dangerous and innocent. Their cinematic sound coalesces organically in an exquisite tension between jazz and chamber music..."  Over at the Icehouse, even more mayhem with Drum Drum Sax Sax —Chris Thomson, Mike Lewis, Joey Van Phllips, and JT Bates come together for JT's Jazz Implosion night. Bang Bang Blow Blow!!

Tuesday, January 21. It's Big Band Night at Jazz Central, and one of the newest and most exciting is Doug Haining and Scott Agster's Explosion Big Band.

Wednesday, January 22. Some interesting trio magic tonight. At Jazz Central, Firebell takes the stage for New Music night. The trio with Park Evans, Graydon Peterson and Jay Epstein has been exploring group improvisation since 2009. Later in the evening at the Icehouse, Serbian guitarist Goran Ivanovic brings some Balkan folk traditions into his jazz trio music. Over at the Dakota, it's Foodie Night (no cover!) with Charmin (Michelle) and (Joel) Shapira and Friends, a guarantee of a swinging evening.

Thursday, January 23. A special Jazz at Studio Z tonight features London-based, Midwest native bassist Michael Janisch leading an all-star quintet —trumpeter Phil Dizack, saxophonist Patrick Cornelius, guitarist Matt Stevens and drummer Clarence Penn. There will be a pre-concert workshop. Janisch, who teaches at the Royal Academy of Music, plays acoustic and electric bass and has a long resume that includes such stars as George Garzone, Gary Burton, Shirley Horn, Kenny Wheeler and Wynton Marsalis.

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, January 17. Irv Williams and Peter Schimke, happy hour at the Dakota; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Chris Lomheim and Adam Wozniak, dinner sets followed by Foreign Motion at the Icehouse

Saturday, January 18. Charmin and Shapira at Midtown Global Market (12:30-2:30 pm); Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Joel Shapira at Ingredients Cafe

Sunday, January 19. Robert Everest, brunch at Maria's; Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar

Monday, January 20. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza

Tuesday, January 21. Jazz on the Prairie Big Band at Eden Prairie High School; River City Jazz Orchestra at the South St Paul VFW; Patty and the Buttons at Cafe Maude

Wednesday, January 22. Wolverines Trio at Hell's Kitchen; Zacc Harris Trio at Cafe Maude; Denny Malmberg and guest at Fireside Pizza; James Wallace at the Red Stag

Thursday, January 23. Joel Shapira Trio at Hell's Kitchen; Connie and Herb at The Bean


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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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