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The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, April 11-17


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Those rumors of spring might be true! At least in the jazz neighborhood, it will be a hot weekend with enough sizzle to keep us in melt-down mode through the week! And it is an eclectic week ahead— from CD releases from our “Minnesota Ellington" and “Magica Improvisado," an outstanding outstate gig, and an Orchestra Hall return for one of its most popular visiting bandleaders to a highly anticipated duo at the Jungle Theater and a Latin Fiesta at the Dakota, with a jazzy icing on the cake when one of the fastest rising young saxophonists heads a high school band fundraiser.  Want more? Read on.

Big Gigs This Week

Friday, April 11. Almost exactly a year ago, pianist/composer/bandleader Jeremy Walkerpremiered a concert-length choral work built around the texts of “7 Psalms." In the tradition of Ellington's sacred concerts, 7 Psalms went through a few tweaks and is now ready for release on CD. Walker and his cast of jazzers and vocalists celebrate the CD with a performance at Bethel College (Benson Great Hall) — an evening that promises to be uplifting and inspiring.

The Fairmont Opera House might seem like an unlikely venue for a gig with one of the fastest-rising vocal stars on the national scene, but that's where you have to go if you want to hear Catherine Russell, who makes swing, blues, and soul seem like one word. She's on tour celebrating Bring It Back, already on my list for top vocal recordings of 2014.

Saturday, April 12. The first and longest-running of the gypsy hot club ensembles in the Twin Cities, the Parisota Hot Club takes the stage for tonight's installment of Jazz @ St. Barneys— alsp a long running event curated by Jeff Whitmill at St Barnabas Lutheran Church in Plymouth. There's been a revolving cast over the years of the PHC, with guitarist Robb Henry at the hub. Tonight he's joined by violinist Tom Schaefer, drummer Jay Epstein and bassist Matt Senjem, playing many Django Reinhardt standards, along with selections from 1960's movie soundtracks and pop music.

With the re-opening of Orchestra Hall, we're getting reacquainted with old friends like Tonight Show alum Doc Severinsen, who leads the Minnesota Orchestra with his frequent guest vocalists, Vanessa Thomas and Joseph Wolverton. Doc has appeared at the Dakota with his own big band but this will be the first time he has directed the MO since his 2011 holiday gig (Jingle Bell Doc).

Sunday, April 13. Vocalist Connie Evingsonheats up her Jazz at the Jungle (Theater) series with special guest, pianist Jon Weber. Sharing their “Desert Island Picks," Connie and Jon take us through a diverse songlist of their favorites from Fats Waller, Irving Berlin, Peggy Lee, Dave Frishberg, the Beatles, Jobim, Sting and more. Connie and Jon have paired up before, at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival and on a European cruise for A Prairie Home Companion in 2012. They need a bassist, right? Gordy Johnson makes it a threesome.

Monday, April 14. JT's Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse tonight focuses on another Bates — Chris celebrates the CD release of the self-titled Good Vibes Trio. One of his first projects as bandleader, Bates first presented Good Vibes at the Artists Quarter about two years ago, finding a perfect vehicle for collaboration with Dave Hagedorn and Phil Hey. After recording last winter, the trio previewed the music at Jazz Central, inviting area graphic artist Tim Nyberg to paint as the music inspired him, yielding a stunning and very original cover design. There may be no more sublime combination than vibes, bass and drums, whether gliding through Mingus and Coltrane or original compositions from these three jazz giants.  Meanwhile, at Jazz Central, the Featured Artist tonight is trombone master Jeff Rinear, whom we seldom see in a leading role. A long-time member of Pete Whitman's X-Tet, Rinear makes it a quartet with Tanner Taylor, Brian Courage and Mac Santiago.

Tuesday, April 15. For a good time, call Poncho (Sanchez)!  The Grammy-winning, American-born Latin percussionist covers bebop, soul, rock and funk, all with a pervasive Latin groove that has made him one of the most popular bandleaders in all of Latin jazz. The last time Poncho came to the Dakota (2012), he included some special surprise guests and closed out his sets with dancing in the aisles, so come prepared. If your tastes run more toward American big band, head over to Jazz Central tonight for one of the best in the region— the Explosion Big Band directed by two guys who know big band— Doug Haining and Scott Agster. The best local big band artists fill the chairs (and half the club space)!

Wednesday, April 16. A couple years ago, inventive pianist Dan Musselman released Devotion, a suite of original music inspired by Biblical texts. Tonight he presents this soul-searching music with his trio (Andrew Foreman and Zach Schmidt) at the Fridley Community Center. Hats off to the local artists who are finding more and new venues to spread jazz around! Over at Cafe Maude, the Zacc Harris Trio (with Mattt Peterson and Pete Hennig) gives you some modern jazz to consider as you enjoy improvisations from the kitchen.

Thursday, April 17. After spending the day working with students in the Eden Prairie High School jazz band, up-and-coming saxophonist Christopher McBride and his quintet will present a concert at the school to help raise funds to support the school's band program. McBride was in town two years ago with another young lion, trumpeter Marquis Hill, on the 6th Street stage of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival — and I recall he and Marquis continued the fun later in a jam at the Artists Quarter. This is a great opportunity to not only enjoy a bright talent, but to help support jazz in our area high schools.

The Jazz Central Vocal Night continues with one of our area's top voices - Lucia Newell, in the fine company of Phil Aaron, salutes spring with songs of the season. Whenever Lucia sings, it's spring somewhere! And also continuing — the weekly Jazz at Christo's (Union Depot) with a winning pair— vocalist Alicia Renee and pianist Chris Lomheim. They're serenading diners every Thursday night in one of the most elegant spaces in the region.

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, April 11. Irv Williams and Peter Schimke, Happy Hour at the Dakota; Phil Aaron and Chris Bates, dinner sets at the Icehouse; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar (Saint Paul Hotel); Charmin Michelle at Parma 8200; Stockton Helbing Quartet at Jazz Central; Eastside at Hell's Kitchen

Saturday, April 12. St. Olaf Jazz Ensemble at Orchestra Hall (2 pm); Phil Aaron and Chris Bates, dinner sets, followed by Foreign Motion (Cory Wong) at the Icehouse; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar (Saint Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck at Parma 8200; Nick Haas Trio at Loring Pasta Bar; Sophia Shorai at Hell's Kitchen

Sunday, April 13. Robert Everest, brunch at Maria's; Fuzzy Math at the Black Dog (2 pm); Doug Little Quartet at Eat Street Social; Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar; Southside Big Band at Edinborough Indoor Park

Monday, April 14. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Tim Sparks at Loring Pasta Bar; Twin Cities Hot Club at Famous Dave's (Uptown); JVP Trio (Joey Van Phillips, Zacc Harris and Graydon Peterson) at Barbette

Tuesday, April 15. Cafe Accordion Orchestra at Loring Pasta Bar; River City Jazz Orchestra at Minnesota Music Cafe; Patty and the Buttons at Cafe Maude

Wednesday, April 16. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Wolverines Trio at Hell's Kitchen; Pete Whitman Presents at Jazz Central; Orquestra Aragon at the Dakota

Thursday, April 17. Orquestra Aragon at the Dakota

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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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