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The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, April 3-9

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Seems that the Star Tribune only intermittently recognizes music beyond Pop these days, but rest assured, jazz is alive and well, if mostly in small venues in the Twin Cities. Intimate spaces have considerable merit for this music! Take this weekend for example — Maud Hixson singing at Parma, Dean Magraw and Steven Hobert dueling at Jazz Central, Mancrush at The Nicollet, Steve Kenny Quartet at the Black Dog, Connie Evingson and Jon Weber at The Jungle, and Easter Brunch/Easter Night shows at the Dakota.

Big Gigs This Week

Friday, April 3. Back from her London cabaret debut, songbird Maud Hixsonjoins Rick Carlson and Gordy Johnson for a night of relaxing in the burbs at Parma 8200. Pasta, wine, and Maud Hixson— a perfect way to end the week.

A new duo takes the stage at Jazz Central as guitar hero Dean Magrawmixed it up with pianist/accordionist Steven Hobert. They're a generation apart but of similar eclectic, inventive bents which should ensure an evening of unpredictable delights. Stick around for the late show with the U of M Jazz Combofeaturing amazing young vibraphonist Levi Schwartzberg, who has become a common sight at Jazz Central in the past year. Over at The Nicollet, Mancrush takes the Friday Night Jazz at The Nicollet slot, featuring a quartet of hip improvisers led by drummer Lars-Erik Larson, with Brandon Wozniak, Bryan Nichols and Zacc Harris.

Saturday, April 4.  If you have not yet checked out the new Crooners Lounge, tonight offers a great opportunity to enjoy a great dining experience while being entertained by the one and only Debbie Duncan. Crooners took over the old Shorewood in Fridley and is offering music every night, Sunday Brunch, and every happy hour. Debbie of course offers her trademark swing, scat, sass and anything else musical and soulful. (She's back there on Wednesday!)

Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog continues full blast: The opening set features saxophonist Pete Snell backed by Phil Aaron and Jim Chenoweth; the prime time set brings back the Steve Kenny Quartet, featuring renowned percussionist Babatunde Lea, along with Brandon Wozniak and Chris Bates. Good thing the Black Dog has high ceilings! Come early, tables go fast.

Sunday, April 5. It's a holiday but that only means festive music all day! At the Dakota, you can enjoy brunch with the swinging Twin Cities Hot Club, or dinner or dessert with the magnificent voice of Robert Robinson. And you have two chances to enjoy the interaction between vocalist Connie Evingson and pianist Jon Weber at the Jungle (late afternoon and evening shows). Minneapolis-based Connie and New York-based Jon first collaborated about three years ago and ever since, keep finding new reasons to get together and explore the Great American Songbook and beyond.

Monday, April 6. JT's Jazz Implosion brings amazing improvised music to the Icehouse every Monday. Tonight features the collaborative inventions of Davu Seru, Brandon Wozniak and Chris Bates. Think of this as our slice of the New York improv scene. Just as late with a better chance at a parking space. Over at Jazz Central, saxophonist Andrew Schwandt makes his debut on the Featured Artist series. The Minnesota native started his career in show bands on cruise ships. His current activities include Story City, Steeling Dan, Kolaberate, Big Walter Smith, and Fuzzy Math.

Tuesday, April 7. It's the first Tuesday which means Dean Magraw and Davu Seru are entertaining at the Black Dog, and anything can happen! The swing is more predictable but the entertainment just as fun at The Nicollet when Maryann Sullivan and Corner Jazz take the stage. Expect at least a few swing dancers to whirl around while Maryann and company take you back with some golden jazz oldies.

Wednesday, April 8. Last winter, Chris Bates organized a Bass Summit at Jazz Central, just a handful of bassists and a handful of drummers, usually at least two or three of each simultaneously. It was so much fun that Bates is bringing it back tonight as a Spring Cleaning Bass Bash with Cody McKinney, Charles Fletcher, Casey O'Brien, and Doan Brian Roessler joining Chris on the bass line, and drummers Cory Healey, Greg Schutte and Martin Dosh behind the drum set(s).

If you missed Maud Hixson at Parma, try tonight at the Dakota when she reunites with guitarist Dave Singley and bassist Keith Boyles. These cats can swing, and you never know what new gem Maud has unearthed from the back pages of the Great American Songbook.

Thursday, April 9. Ace pianist and vocalist Larry McDonough put on a tribute to Chet Baker last fall at Jazz Central, packing the space beyond code. So tonight he brings it all back to the larger Dakota, still boasting his quartet (Richard Terrill, Greg Stinson, Dean White) augmented by trumpeter Steve Kenny. The show title says it all, “Chet - The Beautiful Music and Tragic Life of Singing Trumpeter Chet Baker."

Another vocal jazz night with a different vibe, singer/songwriter Barbara Meyer and pianist/vocal coach/arranger Phil Mattson pair up at Jazz Central for a reprise of their recent CD release honoring the music of Harold Arlen. And yet another duo, Charmin Michelle and Joel Shapira bring Charmin and Shapira to the Black Dog for a swinging night of intimate song.

More Jazz Everywhere!Keep up with the live jazz scene in the Twin Cities—check out calendars at Jazz Police, KBEM, Rhythm and Grooves and Jazz Near You, as well as here on the blog.  More jazz to tickle your ears:

Friday, April 3. Irv Williams and Steve Blons, Happy Hour at the Dakota; Jason Weisman, Happy Hour at Crooners Lounge; Todd Harper, Happy Hour at the Black Dog; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar (Saint Paul Hotel); Tim Sparks and James Buckley, dinner sets at the Icehouse; Wayne Krantz at the Dakota; Larry Dunsmore Trio at Crooners' Lounge; Tim Patrick and his Blue Eyed Band at the Eagles Aerie Club

Saturday, April 4. Jason Weisman, Happy Hour at Crooners Lounge; Talking Strings at Loring Pasta Bar; Pig's Eye Jass Band at Eagles Aerie Club; Sophia Shorai at Hell's Kitchen; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar (Saint Paul Hotel); Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200; Robert Everest at Cine Global Party at St. Anthony Main

Sunday, April 5. Patty and the Buttons, Swing Brunch at the Aster Cafe; Jazz Jam and Brunch at Crooners Lounge; Mill City Hot Club, brunch at Hell's Kitchen; Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar

Tuesday, April 7. Cafe Accordion at Loring Pasta Bar; Bill Simonsen Orchestra at Jazz Central

Wednesday, April 8. Debbie Duncan at Crooners Lounge; Bossa Jazz Quartet at The Tangiers; Acme Jazz Company with Arne Fogel at Crooners Lounge; MATRA at the Black Dog

Thursday, April 9.  Minnesota Jazz Orchestra at Wabasha Street Caves; Jason and the Q at Hell's Kitchen; Southside Aces at Eagles Aerie Club

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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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