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The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, January 25-31

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A week of all-star jazz begins with a birthday party at the Artists Quarter for owner Kenny Horst, continues into the week with a welcome return of the legendary Dave Holland Quintet, and a homecoming for one of the brightest lights in the vocal music sky, the eclectic/electric José James. That should be enough to warm our temps back to a comfortable level!

Highlights This Week

Friday, January 25. Self-effacing drummer and Artist Quarter owner Kenny Horst would never think to throw himself a birthday party. And undoubtedly it took some fast talking to convince him to let friends and family plan the celebration of his 70th. But the birthday party of the year honors one of the legends of the local jazz community, and the line-up of musicians and well-wishers is long and tall, requiring an earlier-than-normal start (at 8 pm) and likely going on into the wee hours. Through good times and downturns, through two relocations, the AQ has never wavered in its support of local jazz musicians, students, and curious listeners. Truly, this is now the only full-time club offering an exclusive jazz menu, cited in the February 2013 issue of Downbeat as the Twin Cities only venue on its list of the world's “150 Top Jazz Clubs."

Friday - Saturday, January 25-26. The inventive artists of Framework (Chris Olson, Chris Bates, Jay Epstein) join forces with fellow members of the Bach Society of Minnesota for a second annual night of “Baroque 'n Jazz" at Patrick's Caberet. Bassist Bates has been hinting at some altered tunings. Altered or not, the collision of bop and fugue seems to intriguing to pass up. To quote Chris Bates on Facebook, “The Framework Boys with Harpsichord, Viola da Gamba, Violin, Soprano, and drinks."

Saturday, January 26.  Warming up for her New York recording project, songbird Maud Hixsonpresents “Skyscraper Wits" as this month's installment of Jazz @St. Barneys (St. Barnabas Lutheran Church in Plymouth). With Rick Carlson and Gary Schulte providing their always-swinging accompaniment, Maud highlights the “tall" masters of Tin Pan Alley - Noel Coward, Lorenz Hart and Cole Porter. And who better than Maud—a singer who knows the lyrics inside out, no matter how silly or complicated.

Sunday-Monday, January 27-28. It's been a few years since the Dave Holland Quintet came to town. Too long to go without another dose of one of the world's finest quintets. Maybe the finest? Anything bassist Holland touches turns to gold, but his mythical stature comes largely from this ensemble and his equally impressive Big Band (the core of which, not surprising, is the quintet). Although usual tenor man Chris Potter is taking a leave to focus on some other projects, his “sub" Mark Turner unquestionably is worthy of the gig, having built his reputation with the trio Fly. Joining Holland and Turner at the Dakota are long-time collaborators, vibraphonist Steve Nelson, trombonist Robin Eubanks, and drummer Nate Smith. I'll let my friend Mario Carrington sum up the Dave Holland Quintet, from his review of the 2010 gig at the Dakota: “The musicality of their individual improvisations, which were impressive, was surpassed by their collective simultaneous improvisations that defined harmonic rapture... The manner in which Holland orchestrates his band is ultra cool and you could easily imagine him playing the part of the most interesting man in the world in those Dos Equis beer commercials—'stay musical, my friends'..."

Tuesday, January 29. Just a couple miles apart, two young talents with unlimited futures take their very different musics to very different stages. I need to clone myself. At the Cedar Cultural Center, the man many consider to be the star male vocalist of the future returns home, celebrating a much anticipated new CD, No Beginning, No End. That title might describe the career of José James, although locally we know his beginning was at South High and Fireside Pizza. His end however will surely be in the stratosphere, and impossible to predict otherwise. Working hard to shed the label “jazz singer," Jose's current efforts intentionally defy classification- “no beginning, no end." And with inspirational sources as diverse as Billie Holiday and Gil-Scot Herron, and collaborators as divergent as McCoy Tyner and Robert Glasper, the possibilities are endless.

Across campus and down Central Avenue to Jazz Central, it's the monthly engagement of the Adam Meckler Orchestra, an 18-piece ensemble headed by one of busiest and most creative jazz minds in the Twin Cities. He's not yet on the national radar but that seems just a matter of time and exposure for trumpeter/composer/bandleader Adam Meckler. Some of the most exciting young performers can be found on the bandstand tonight, and we can expect some new works as well as new arrangements. And you have not really experienced a big band until you sit with ten feet of the horn section! And no, you do not need ear plugs. This is an acoustic experience of the best kind.

And the veterans are on the scene tonight as well, with guitar wizard Dean Magraw and Friends at the Artists Quarter. Likely friends? Billy Peterson, Brandon Wozniak, Kenny Horst, Phil Aaron... who knows for sure? It will be very cool regardless. Dean can certainly mesmerize and audience all by himself.

Wednesday, January 30. It's always a good night for jazz when the Chris Lomheim Trio is on stage, and tonight they return to the Artists Quarter. Relative to area pianists, Chris is most influenced by the great Bill Evans, and his annual Evans tributes are always a treat. But his repertoire expands well beyond Evans, covering the canons of bebop, post bop and some original works as well. Come early for some energetic arrangements and playful exchanges with Steve Kenny and the Bastids.

Thursday, January 31. As happens almost monthly, the Artists Quarter tonight has a monopoly on top jazz musicians - ten of the best will be on stage (and in front of the stage) with the Pete Whitman X-Tet. Often building the sound of a big band with the finesse of a trio, the X-Tet guarantees an evening of intelligent, intriguing, glorious music.

More Jazz Every Night (and Day) Be sure to check live jazz calendars on Jazz Policeand KBEM sites. A few more gigs of note:

Friday, January 25. Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Todd Harper at the Black Dog; St. Peter Street Stompers at the Eagles Aerie Club; Ticket to Brasil at Faces Mears Park; Joel Shapira at Hell's Kitchen

Saturday, January 26. Sophia Shorai, brunch at Hell's Kitchen; Century Jazz Festival with Ed Calle and Charmin & Shapira at Century College; Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma; How Birds Work at the Artists Quarter; Pigs Eye Jass Band at the Eagles Aerie Club;  Paul Harper Trio at Loring Pasta Bar; James Buckley and Bryan Nichols, dinner set at the Icehouse; Choro Borealis followed by Rhizosphere at the Black Dog

Sunday, January 27. Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Café; Robert Everest, brunch at Maria's Café; Maurice Jacox and Thom West at Eat Street Social (1 pm); Century Jazz Festival with Ed Calle and Charmin & Shapira at Century College; Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar; Jerry O'Hagan Orchestra at Cinema Ballroom; Maurice Jacox and Friends at the Red Stag

Monday, January 28. Headspace at the Artists Quarter; JT's Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse; Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Brian Grivna at Jazz Central; Patty and the Buttons at the Red Stag

Tuesday, January 29. Milo Fine, Davu Seru and George Cartwright at the Black Dog; Cory Wong Quartet at the Artists Quarter (early show); Triose (Vinnie Rose) at Hell's Kitchen

Wednesday, January 30. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza

Thursday, January 31. Jerry O'Hagan Orchestra at Wabasha Street Caves; Rhonda Laurie and Robert Bell at Barbette.


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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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