The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, March 8-14

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Outside of the Jazz Festival weekend in June, it is hard to imagine a more jazz-packed, star-studded weekend than March 8-11. And what is really cool about this weekend is that the jazz events are spread out all over the Metro area. Maybe not too convenient if you want to hit it all, but evidence that jazz is alive and well and not dependent on just one or two venues. The Minni-apple is growing! Within a few days, you can make multiple picks from a list that includes McCoy Tyner, Randy Brecker, Charles Lloyd, the Dave King Trio (with Bill Carrothers), Bruce Henry, Fat Kid Wednesdays, Ginger and Bobby Commodore.... 

Big Gigs.

Friday, March 8. In early March we've come to expect a birthday bash for Ginger and Bobby Commodore at the Dakota, but this time it's extra special. It's Bobby's 60th, and the Ginger Commodore Quartet will have some special guests, guitarist Deevo and saxophonist Kathy Jensen. Then stick around as another generation of Commodores takes over for Late Night—Brandon (drums) and Ashley (vocals) hit the stage with the funk ensemble, Boombox.

At Studio Z, cellist Greg Byers presents an unusual show as his McNally Smith Master's Degree recital - three sets with varying combinations of cohorts, starting with a look at 20thcentury Argentine composers with pianist Andrew Fleser; the second set  heads to Brazil with the bossa and samba vocals of Lucia Newell; and the closing set features Byers original works and combinations of acoustic and electronic elements. Supporting musicians include Kristen Sponcia, Chris Olson, Chris Bates and Dave Stanoch.

Friday-Saturday, March 8-9. Dave King leads or plays in so many bands it's hard to keep track. But his latest ensemble, the Dave King Trio, might be his most surprising. With the stellar company of Bill Carrothers and Billy Peterson, Dave recorded a set of -would you believe—standards, releases on Sunnyside last summer as I've Been Ringing You. Of course these three improvisers reinvented each tune, and there's no telling what they will come up with at the Artists Quarter this weekend. Be ready to be surprised, and charmed.

Saturday, March 9. The lineup from Hopkins to St Paul is simply ridiculous tonight. In addition to the second night of the Dave King Trio at the AQ, two accomplished veteran jazz stars face off a few miles apart in Hopkins in one of the most unfortunate scheduling conflicts in local jazz history. The Hopkins Center for the Arts welcomes piano legend McCoy Tyner and his quartet with special guest, sax titan Gary Bartz. Tyner, now in his mid-70s, might look a bit frail, but when he sits at the piano, those thundering chords and orchestral harmonies are unmistakably Tyner. His bassist (Gerald Cannon) and drummer (Francisco Mela) are hardly “sidemen," and Grammy winner Bartz (on alto and soprano) has been touring with Tyner for several years so they have a special connection on stage.

Not far away, at the same time, the JazzMN Orchestra features trumpet icon Randy Brecker, along with local vocal heroine Judi Donaghy Vinar. Brecker is one of the genre's most versatile artists, with a resume covering Stanley Turrentine, Billy Cobham, Horace Silver, Clark Terry, the Mel Lewis-Thad Jones Orchestra, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, Jaco Pastorius, Frank Zappa, Spyro Gyra, Bruce Springsteen, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Frank Sinatra, David Sanborn, and more.

Across the metro in St Paul's Lowertown, the Jazz at Studio Z series continues with Fat Kid Wednesdays, one of the longest-running trios in the region and one well-traveled, with appearances from the East Coast to Europe. With Michael Lewis, Adam Linz and JT Bates, FKW proves to be particularly fond of Ornette Coleman, and will preface their 7pm show with an hour-long workshop session on Coleman's music.

Sunday, March 10.  Remember to push your clocks ahead — Daylight Time begins today. Don't be late for the gig! There was some sense of music panic when Bruce Henry announced he would move back to his childhood home of Chicago five years ago. But he has maintained his Twin Cities connections and audience, and on Sunday will appear as guest artist on the PipJazz Sundays concert in Landmark Center.  As inventive in his presentation as he is eclectic in his song choices, Bruce can bring down the house with Charlie Parker, George Gershwin or Marvin Gaye. And with host Pippi Ardennia, look for some terrific duets. Also on the stage will be the young wizkids of the Dakota Combo.

Sunday-Monday, March 10-11. Saxophonist/flautist Charles Lloyd is one of the mystics of American jazz, dating back to the early Keith Jarrett quartets, collaborations with the late Billy Higgins, and recent quartet outings with the likes of Geri Allen and Jason Moran. At the Dakota,  his Sky Trio, with quartet rhythm partners Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland, gets some added fire from young pianist Gerald Clayton, just in time to help Lloyd celebrate his 75th later in the week.

Tuesday, March 12. Some really fine guitars get together at the Black Dog - the Chris Olson Project features Olson and Park Evans bending notes on six strings, and they couldn't ask for better support than Matt Peterson on bass and Pete Hennig on drums.

Wednesday, March 13. Former student and teacher, now two of the area's premier bassists, Anthony Cox joins his one-time pupil Chris Bates at Jazz Central for improv night.  Across town at the Artists Quarter, the unique Lulu's Playground brings together Steve Hobert (accordion),  Cory Grossman (cello), Evan Montgomery (guitar) and Adam Meckler (trumpet). Be it in Minneapolis or St Paul, if you are seeking some highly inventive music, you can't go wrong on either side of the river.

Thursday, March 14. Taking a break from the vocal series, Jazz Central tonight hosts visiting saxophonist Dan Meinhardt with a quintet assembled by former Lawrence University cohort Adam Meckler. Meinhardt went from Lawrence to the U of Oregon, earning his master's degree this past spring and cutting his teeth with top Northwest performers. Now living in Chicago, Meinhardt is coming to town for a Lawrence reunion of sorts, with 2012 Lawrence grad Brian Courage handling the bass, and Adam's frequent partners in music, Evan Montgomery and Zach Schmidt, filling out the band.

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

Friday, March 8. Irv Williams Trio at the Dakota (Happy Hour);Mary Ann Sullivan and David Martin at the Wine Market; Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Charmin Michelle at the House of Pizza (Sartell); Ticket to Brasil at Faces Mears Park

Saturday, March 9. Charmin & Shapira at Midtown Global Market (12:30 pm); Women in Jazz Workshop (free) at Landmark Center (2-4 pm); Semi-Conductor Orchestra at Hamline-Midway Library (1:30 pm); Ted Olsen and Joe Strachan at Angelina's Kitchen (Woodbury); James Buckley Trio, dinner set at the Icehouse; Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma; Robb Henry Trio at Loring Pasta Bar; Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Seven Steps to Havana at the Dakota

Sunday, March 10. Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Café; Robert Everest, brunch at Maria's Café; Jerry O'Hagan Orchestra with Charmin Michelle at Cinema Ballroom; Zacc Harris Trio at the Riverview Wine Bar

Monday, March 11. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Headspace at the Artists Quarter; JT's Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse; Andrew Foreman at Barbette; Bare Bones at Jazz Central.

Tuesday, March 12. Cedar Avenue Big Band at Jazz Central; Cory Wong Quartet followed by What Would Monk Do at the Artists Quarter; Jack Brass Band at the Amsterdam Bar

Wednesday, March 13. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Steve Kenny and the Bastids at the Artists Quarter (early show); John Devine and Friends at the Loring Pasta Bar; James Buckley at Café Maude; Marcus Wise/Mike Salovich/Larry McDonough at the Icehouse

Thursday, March 14. Acme Jazz Company at the Shorewood (Fridley); Phil Hey Quartet at the Artists Quarter; Connie and Herb at the Bean Coffee (Andover); Minnesota Jazz Orchestra at the Wabasha Street Caves; Patrick Harison at the Icehouse

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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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