The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, August 26-September 1


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The State Fair is underway in St Paul, but if you prefer music without corndogs, you won't have any trouble finding great jazz this week, as we have some very special talents on stages around the metro, from a rare appearance by Chicago's Nicole Mitchell to a two-night stand by Bill Carrothers, from a multi-Peterson salute to their mom's favorite songs to back-to-back gigs at the Dakota from two generations of top jazz vocalists. And like the endless fun at the State Fair, there's so much more jazz to hear this week.


Friday, August 26. Jazz Central hosts a fine double-header, starting with U of M Duluth bass professor Adam Booker and his Hip-Gnosis ensemble, with Aaron Hedenstrom on sax, Levi Schwartzberg on piano (or vibes), and Ben Ophoven-Baldwin on drums. Then stay put for Boo-Boo's Last Birthday—that's the biweekly trio of Levi Schwartzberg, Charlie Lincoln and leader Edmund Catlin in their final show of the summer, again playing an entire Monk album. Although there's no piano, Monk would surely have enjoyed the arrangements here for vibes, bass and drums. Walker West presents two sets celebrating William Duncan's CD release; Minnesota's favorite crooner Arne Fogel heads back to Hell— Hell's Kitchen with the Wolverines Trio; Patrick Harison serenades diners at the Icehouse on solo accordion; Joel Shapira and his trio (with Dave Martin and Byron Johnson-Blanchard) carry on late in the evening at Public Kitchen; and Jeremy Walker's sublime piano opens the night at Vieux Carré, followed by the swinging New Orleans vibe of the Southside Aces.

Saturday, August 27. Lowertown is the metro's jazz epicenter today! Start with brunch at Golden's Deli with the scat singers of Jazz Alley(Maryann Sullivan, Sarah M. Greer, and guest today Vicky Mountain). Charmin and Shapira (Charmin Michelle and Joel Shapira) are on stage in the atrium of Midtown Global Market for some early afternoon swing.

Later, enjoy the creative energy of internationally renowned flautist Nicole Mitchell, heading the season's final Jazz at Studio Z. The one-time head of Chicago's AACM and frequent Downbeat poll-topper as Flute Player of the Year, Mitchell will lead a local quartet with Bryan Nichols, Jeff Bailey and Davu Seru.

And just down the block, Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog holds its weekly double header, starting out with the Amethyst 3 led by drummer Byron Johnson Blanchard with guitarist Park Evans and bassist Josh Granowski, followed by a young lions quartet dubbed No Exit— the band is led by drummer Luke Peterson (Northwestern University), with friends Peter Goggin (University of Michigan) on sax, Charlie Lincoln (Berklee College of Music) on bass and—once again—Levi Schwartzberg (U of M) on vibes.

There's jazz in other areas of the metro, of course, with Crooners Lounge hosting the Charmin Michelle Quartet (with Rick Carlson, Steve Pikal and Nathan Norman); Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200; Talking Strings at the Loring Pasta Bar; the dazzling vocal duo of Ginger Commodore and Dennis Spears at The Dakota;

Sunday, August 28. On her Jazz at the Jungle series, songbird Connie Evingson brings back the Best of the Ella Fitzgerald Songbooks with special guest and former resident Tanner Tayloron piano, along with Dave Karr and Gordy Johnson; that's two shows at the Jungle Theater, with the evening show the best bet for tickets. In the Dunsmore Room at Crooners, a very special night with the Peterson Family as the “kids" honor “The Songs Our Mother Loved." Matriarch of Minnesota's First Family of Music, Jeanne Arland Peterson would have been 95 this summer, and her family (Patty, Linda and Billy Peterson, Jason Peterson DeLaire) pays tribute with a night full of Jeanne's favorites.

Joel Shapira plays solo guitar at Harriet Brewing; the Zacc Harris Trio has their weekly gig at the Riverview Wine Bar; Cole Mahlum hosts the weekly B-3 Organ Jam at Jazz Central.

Monday, August 29. Attorney, pianist and vocalist Larry McDonoughhas been assembling intriguing shows lately, and it seems each one is so popular that he has to repeat a few times. Tonight at the Dakota, he reprises his “Born to be Kind of Blue" show, with his septet honoring Chet Baker and Miles Davis.

In the Dunsmore Roomat Crooners, the first of two nights with the great pianist Bill Carrothers starts out with Bill in duo with Icelandic vocalist Anna Mjoll, a protege' of Billy Peterson. Bill, who lives in the upper peninsula of Michigan and teaches at Lawrence Conservatory, has been heard more often in the Metro since the opening of the Dunsmore Room! And come early, as pianist/vocalist Andrew Walesch steps out of his curator role just long enough to cover happy hours at Crooners, every day this week in the lounge.

It's a percussion extravaganza on JT's Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse. JT and Phil Hey start things with a drum duel, followed by a mash-up of Chris Bates' Good Vibes Trio and Low Blows, with Dave Hagedorn, Chris, Phil, and JT—yes, 2 drummers. No worries about staying awake for these sets!

Tuesday, August 30. Bill Carrothers is back at the piano in the Dunsmore Room, this time with frequent cohort, Chicago saxophonist and St Paul native Pat Mallinger. Pat was an annual draw at the old Artists Quarter, and most recently was in St Paul at Vieux Carré last winter. Despite their many quartet outings, this will be Pat and Bill's first-ever duo performance.

Around town, Aaron Hedenstrom's Big Band plays at Jazz Central; JT Bates Grain Trio (with Kevin Gastonguay on B-3 and Zacc Harris on guitar) is on stage at Vieux Carre' following opening solo sets from pianist Chris Lomheim.

Tuesday-Wednesday, August 30-31.Two relatively young artists with years of experience separately headlining clubs and festivals, vocalist Jane Monheit and trumpeter Nicholas Paytonteam up for two nights at the Dakota, celebrating Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. That alone is a tall order, but these musicians have never shied away from challenges and have the chops to pull it off.

Wednesday, August 31. Even before he graduated from Edina High School, pianist Patrick Adkins was organizing jazz ensembles (Sound Skirmish) and performing with such metro-wide all-star bands as the Dakota Combo and Minnesota Youth Jazz Band. Now entering his junior year at Lawrence Conservatory, Patrick puts his talents in the spotlight at Jazz Central, playing a solo set and then engaging in duos with pals, saxophonist Thomas Strommen (Group 47) and trumpeter Aidan Sponheim (Lawrence Conservatory).

At Vieux Carré, yet another edition of the Steve Kenny Quartet, this time with Jabari Powell on sax, Ted Olsen on bass and Rodney Ruckus on drums, delving deep into Monk and original works by the master composer and trumpeter. In the Dunsmore Room at Crooners, vocalist Dr. Wendy Zaro and pianist Lori Dokkenshowcase some of the greatest music from the twentieth century, “From Art Song to Ella." Expect to hear a medley of some of Gershwin's most well known songs, paired with a few surprises. “Follow up with a bossa nova, a tender ballad, a spectacle of a musical theatre piece, and perhaps top it off with some swinging scat."

Thursday, September 1. Jazz returns on the Thursday Night Jazz at Reverie series after a week off with Tall Tales, a double guitar quartet led by local legend Dean Granros. Zacc Harris handles the second guitar, and Chris Bates and Jay Epstein handle the beat.

There's bossas and more for Vocal Jazz Night at Jazz Central with the duo Tempestad— Maria Vejdani and Tomas Simpson, while Sophia Shorai sings at Vieux Carré.

Thursday-Friday, September 1-2. Things continue to heat up at the Dakota with the long-awaited return of swinging vocalist Barbara Morrison with sax legend Houston Person. Person appears on Morrison's 2004 recording, Live at the Dakota, and now they are live again! Morrison has long been a Dakota favorite and also headlined at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival about ten years ago. She curtailed touring for a while but is back at it—swinging, sassy, and totally engaging, perfectly supported by the swinging soulful sax of Houston Person.

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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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