The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, December 2017


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Our spring-like weather will probably fade into winter— after all, it is winter in Minnesota! But falling temperatures (and perhaps the white stuff too) will be countered by rising heat from both local and visiting jazz artists as we count down 2017. This month we welcome such touring talents as Earl Klugh, Brad Mehldau, Benny Green, Joey DeFrancesco, Bobby Lyle, Chris Speed, John Raymond, and of course, ending the year as well as the original configuration, The Bad Plus. From our local scene, Brandon Wozniak kicks off the month in a leading role; traditions like White Christmas at the Heights with Maud and Rick and the Peterson Family “Jam Before Christmas" return; Arne Fogel and Maud Hixson again reprise their “Crosby-Clooney Story"; Laura Caviani releases her second recording in two months; Andrew Walesch celebrates Sinatra; JazzMN swings in the holidays; and a long list of young guns do their best to make winter break a “Jazz Futures" blowout.

Friday, December 1. Everyone's favorite collaborator and sideman, we never see saxophonist Brandon Wozniak stepping out in front. So no surprise that when he leads a trio, it will be at one of the most cherished jazz venues in the Metro (the Dunsmore Room at Crooners) in the company of internationally acclaimed cohorts—bassist Anthony Cox and drummer JT Bates.

Young bassist Jax Ravel has been building his cred around town, leading a revolving cast of his “Gang" which plays on the Illicit Jazz Workshop schedule tonight at Jazz Central. His cohorts include some of our brightest young jazzers—Nelson Devereaux on saxophones, Joe Strachan on piano, and Miguel Hurtado on drums.

Saturday , December 2. Another new jazz venue—the Chilkoot Cafe and Cycle Shop in Stillwater is offering some of the area's top artists on Saturday nights, tonight featuring JT Bates, Mike Lewis and Thomas Nordlund. The menu also features some of the most creative cuisine in the region so make it a dinner/jazz night.

Saturday Night at the Black Dog features former Minnesota Orchestra tympanist Peter Kogan and his “Monsterful Wonder Band," a hard boppin' septet that highlights Kogan's drum chops along with Geoff Senn, Pete Whitman and Scott Agster on horns, Chris Olson on guitar, Joe Strachan on piano, and Jeff Bailey on bass. The night opens with Le Voyage—Matt Trice and Donald Washington on sax, Dick Studer on bass, and Steve Hirsh on drums. Jazz at St Barneys offers a trio of swingers— Butch Thompson, Tony Balluff, and Steve Pikal.

Sunday, December 3. Patty Peterson brings the holiday spirit to the Dunsmore Room with “A Season of Love," and you will love her supporting cast— Sean Turner on keys and Tony Axtell on bass. No doubt there will be surprise guests!

Sunday-Monday, December 3-4. There are few artists working today who have generated as much comment and praise as pianist Brad Mehldau. Performing solo and in interesting duo combinations over the past decade, it was “art of the trio" that first brought him international acclaim in the mid-late 90s, and generate a strong fistful of albums that set his career on star trajectory. The trio format is again Mehldau's most generative format, and with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard, he's back for two nights, four sets of trio magic at the Dakota.

Tuesday, December 5. Count on Maryann Sullivan to brighten your holidays with swinging favorites. She's at Vieux Carre' with her Moneymakers; pianist Steven Hobert plays the opening sets. In the Dunsmore Room again, songsters Arne Fogel and Maud Hixson are back with another performance of The Crosby Clooney Story. Hear it for the first time or enjoy this partnership again.

Wednesday, December 6. B-3 master Joey DeFrancesco is typically heard in trio format but he is touring with a quartet dubbed The People (with sax, bass and drums), and his 2017 recording, Project Freedom, just named a Grammy nominee in the Best Instrumental Jazz category. He's at the Dakota for one night, two sets.

About six weeks ago, Laura Caviani and her trio (Chris Bates, Dave Schmalenberger) celebrated the release of her Mysterious Thelonious tribute to Monk. Now Laura has a second album to celebrate, this one of original music dubbed Confluence, and the release party takes place tonight in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners.

Thursday, December 7. Khyber Pass might be pretty small as a music venue, but the music palette spreads far and wide. Tonight it's Music Formerly Known as Jazz: A Continuing Conversation with J. Otis Powell ?!, performed by Douglas Ewart, Pat O'Keefe and Steve Hirsh.

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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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