Big Gigs This Week.
Friday, September 13. It's a jazzy weekend at the Black Dog, and things kick off tonight with the return of Merciless Ghost, with George Cartwright, Josh Gronowski and Davu Seru. This is one of the most creative of free jazz ensembles, and they don't come together that often. Part of the Community Pool/Deep End series. A unique and worthy collaboration, vocalist Lila Ammons teams up with guitarist Joan Griffith and pianist Phil Mattsonin the bar/lounge at Parma 8200. Lila is seldom seen locally outside of Honey, and Joan is simply not seen enough, period. Add in the accompanist to the stars, Phil, and you have a lovely evening in a most relaxing venue.
Friday-Saturday, September 13-14.Once in a while, some of the area's top trombonists get together with a rhythm section to create Locally Damaging Winds. The bones at the Artists Quarter this weekend belong to Dave Graf, Brad Bellows, Pete Enblom and Wade Clark, with Bryan Nichols, Tom Pieper and Mac Santiago providing ample backing. Note Enblom turns up again as featured artist at Jazz Central on Monday night.
Saturday, September 14. The city mouse and country mouse each have jazz festivals in their environs: The annual Selby Avenue Jazz Festival takes place at the intersection of Selby and Milton in St Paul, with contemporary jazz stars headlining the final sets raging saxophonist Damon Brown and keyboard monster Marcus Johnson. The also annual Heritage Showcase, Dick and Jane's Big Brass Band, Walker West Legends ensemble, the Lex-Ham Big Band, and Yohannes Tona Band round out the line-up of this neighborhood and family-friendly, free event. Out toward Taylor's Falls at Franconia Sculpture Park, it's the final Music @Franconia event of the season, a free jazz festival boasting Trio Pika (Adam Linz, Bryan Nichols, Phil Hey), the Atlantis Quartet, Sophia Shorai, Lucia Newell and Debbie Duncan.
After all that outdoor activity, you might enjoy some indoor jazz. Tonight is the opening of the third Jazz at Studio Z season, curated by Zacc Harris. The subject is Tito Puente, and the teacher is percussionist Rey Rivera, who will present a short workshop on Puente and then bring his ensemble to the Studio Z stage for some live demonstrations. Should be over in plenty of time to get to action at the Artists Quarter or Black Dog.
Monday, September 16. His term on the Tonight Show is long gone but Doc Severinsen continues to lead a big band on national tours. Over the past few years he has used the Dakota to launch his Midwest Tour, typically taking a few of our local heroes with him Mary Louise Knutson on piano, and often Michael Nelson on trombone, Adam Rossmiller on trumpet, and perhaps more. Catch the always-energetic Doc and company tonight, two sets.
Tuesday, September 17. Triosé is one of the newer and more exciting small jazz bands around the Cities. With Vinnie Rose, Jeremy Boettcher and Adrian Suarez, the trio takes charge on Foodie Night at the Dakota. Meanwhile, the ever-sublime pianist Phil Aaron bring his trio into the Artists Quarter for an evening of bop standards and some originals are also likely to make it on the set list.
Wednesday, September 18. Young Will Kjeer will be so busy tonight he might miss curfew. The 17-year-old piano whiz starts the evening at the Artists Quarter with Steve Kenny's Group 47for the early show (this is a reconfiguration of the old Bastids); and he stays on the bench for the Dave Brattain Quartet in prime time.
Across town, the Dakota hosts a special fundraising gig for the JazzMN Orchestra's Educational Outreach Fund, which allows the band to visit area schools and provide performance and learning opportunities for student ensembles. It;s always a bit tight when a big band takes over at the Dakota, but it's also one of the most enjoyable ways to hear a big ensemble.
Thursday, September 19. It's been a few years since Ravi Coltrane came to town, and about 8 years since he appeared at the Dakota. He's back with his touring quartet, featuring Luis Perdamo on piano, Drew Gress on bass and E.J. Strickland on drums, a collaboration spanning about a decade and several hot recordings.
Tonight is the opening of Belmont Hotel, the latest collaboration between vocalist Katie Gearty and the CoLLide Dance Theater at the Southern Theater. Gearty is evolving into the jazz theater diva, and is joined by a band including bassist Graydon Peterson along with one of the area's most inventive dance companies.
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, September 13. Irv Williams and Peter Schimke, Happy Hour at the Dakota; Retro Swing Sisters at the Village (Mendota Heights); Classic Big Band at the Bloomington Knights of Columbus Hall; Sophia Shorai at Hell's Kitchen
Saturday, September 14. Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); Mary Louise Knutson at Spirit United Methodist Church; Phil Aaron and Brian Courage, dinner sets at the Icehouse
Sunday, September 15. Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Café; Robert Everest, brunch at Maria's; Patty and the Buttons at the Dakota
Monday, September 16. Headspace at the Artists Quarter; JT's Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse; Pete Enblom at Jazz Central Tuesday, September 17. Cory Wong Quartet, early set at the Artists Quarter; Agster/Haining Explosion at Jazz Central; Greg Beyer (solo cello) at the 331 Club
Wednesday, September 18. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Wolverines Trio with Maud Hixson at Hell's Kitchen; Chris Lomheim Trio at Jazz Central
Thursday, September 19. Lee Engele and Reynold Philipsek at Farmers Market, Centennial Lakes (4 pm); Dave Karr Quartet at the Artists Quarter; Jazz Central Vocal Night