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


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It feels cold again but really it just normal February in Minnesota! Our options in jazz are perhaps even warmer than normal this week, which might cause some frustration as we can't be in two venues at once. We have some amazing talents visiting (Ben Allison Trio, Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane, Matthew Garrison, Bruce Barth) as well as our always-great array of local artists, including the too-rarely heard Phil Hey Quartet.

Big Gigs This Week

Friday, February 3. Cellist Greg Byers brings his quartet Ashen Fir to Jazz Central, featuring Jack Barrett on keys, Charlie Bruber on bass and Pete Quirsfeld on drums. The music reflects the eclectic musical backgrounds of the artists, particularly leaning toward the best of classical and jazz blends.

Jana Nyberg's recent quintet project comes to Vieux Carre' on the heels of their LP recording sessions at Wild Sound. Referring to this band as her most “jazz" anchored ensemble, vocalist Jana features husband Adam Meckler on trumpet, Sean Turner on piano, Graydon Peterson on bass and Rodney Ruckus on drums. Watch out for a late spring LP release.

Joel Shapira works some guitar magic at Hell's Kitchen, while Zacc Harris joins James Buckley for some string sorcery at the Icehouse; the Southside Acesbring swing to Bistro LaRoux.

Friday-Saturday, February 3-4. Called the Prince of New Orleans, Big Easy keyboard star Davell Crawford is back at the Dakota for two nights, two different shows: his B-3 organ trio Friday, and his “Deep in the Heart of New Orleans" (on the grand piano) on Saturday night. Displaced after Katrina, Crawford rebuilt his career in New York and is again on the top of the NOLA keyboard heap. He's been coming to the Dakota at least annually.

Another two-night stand, pianist Todd Harper, usually heard at the Black Dog, celebrates his original compositions and the works of pianist/composer Carei Thomas at Studio Z. He has a quartet Friday, and Saturday is split between a trio and a Harper CD release with Thomas and Paul Cantrell joining on piano.

Saturday, February 4. Here's where you want to have a stunt double. The great bassist Ben Allison is in town with his trio—guitarist Steve Cardenas and drummer Allison Miller. Allison is not only known for his performance and composing artistry, but for his general advocacy for musicians and leadership of such organizations as the Jazz Composers Collective. He's also a dedicated educator, starting the afternoon at McNally Smith College of Music with a public workshop featuring his trio, then they head over to the Black Dog where they play the headline sets on the Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog series, thanks to cosponsorship from Jazz at Studio Z. And the opening set features a band that usually headlines— the Atlantis Quartet (Zacc Harris, Brandon Wozniak, Chris Bates and Pete Hennig). Reserve a table if you can.

Across the metro at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, it's living legend drummer Jack Dejohnettewith legends in the making—saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and bassist Matthew Garrison. After five decades performing with a cast that runs from Miles and Coltrane to Monk and Rollins, DeJohnette could play with anyone, but he's particularly committed to this trio that he founded 20 years ago and is reviving to honor the Coltrane and Garrison lineages. The Talking Strings are in their usual Saturday night slot at Loring Pasta Bar; Jazz at St Barneys in Plymouth welcomes vocalist Kim Fragodt with Benny Weinbeck on keys, while pianist Joe Strachan teams up with bassist James Buckley at the Icehouse.

Sunday, February 5. New on the metro jazz brunch schedule, the Black Dog presents vocalist Charlie Christenson and his quartet—-Adam Meckler (trumpet), Graydon Peterson (bass) and Matt Edlund (drums).

Nothing beats a cold Sunday afternoon at the movies, and there's a new installment of Bob DeFlores' Legends of Jazz film clips at Chanhassan Dinner Theater. Dan Chouinard's Birthday Club in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners features talented vocalist Ann Reed, followed by the weekly Sunday night with Jennifer Grimm; and as they have for more than a decade, the Zacc Harris Trio keeps the music alive at the Riverview Wine Bar.

Monday, February 6. The Dunsmore Room welcomes acclaimed pianist Bruce Barth, a Tony Bennett favorite and cohort of Terell Stafford, Terence Blanchard, Karrin Allyson and more. He's been in the Twin Cities with Stafford and vocalist Rhondi Charleston, and now returns with his trio, including Dave Baron on bass and Montez Coleman on drums.

JT's Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse is featuring House of Dosh, a six-week residency of drummer/keyboardist/electronics wizard Martin Dosh and friends. Tonight is the third installment of six. And from Nashville, gypsy jazz purveyors, the Moonshine Rhythm Club, takes the stage at the Black Dog.

Charmin and Shapira and Friends are back at the Dakota, and they have a special guest, young vocalist Katia Cardenas, along with usual friends Paul Harper, Tom Lewis and Nathan Norman.

Usually on the Sunday organ jam schedule, guitarist Cole Mahlum takes the Monday spotlight at Jazz Central.

Tuesday, February 7. Today through the rest of the month marks the return run of Nina Simone- Four Women at Park Square Theater, a theatrical look at the life of one of the most memorable—and political—jazz vocalists. Imagine her work today?

First Tuesdays bring the Bill Simenson Orchestra to Jazz Central. And it's First Tuesdayat the Black Dog which means another exciting round with Dean Magraw and Davu Seru. Zacc Harris brings his guitar for the early sets at Vieux Carre', and at Crooners, Andrew Walesch sings and plays the piano.

Wednesday, February 8. Dean Magraw turns up again in the Dunsmore Room with old pal, vocalist Claudia Schmidt and pianist Bryan Nichols for what will be a very entertaining trio night.

Chris Bates holds his monthly new music seance at Jazz Central, this time with guitarist Thomas Nordlund, trombonist JC Sanford, and a rumored appearance by brother JT Bates.

Thursday, February 9. More than ten years ago, the Phil Hey Quartet recorded a session live at the Artists Quarter that was released as Subduction,earning top local jazz recording of the year honors and still sounding fresh today. Phil's band—with Dave Hagedorn on vibes, Phil Aaron on piano and Tom Lewis on bass—has played less often over the past few years but every time out, they show why classic post-bop from the likes of Coltrane, Coleman, Shorter and more is timeless. They're on stage for Thursday Night Jazz at Reverie.

Joel Shapira opens on solo guitar, followed by the Steven Hobert 4 at Vieux Carre'. Pianist and composer Hobert has a fire-breathing cast with Pete Whitman on sax, Yohannes Tona on bass and Arthur “LA" Buckner on drums.

Katia Cardenas fills the vocal jazz chair at Jazz Central, while Rachel Holder Hennigtakes on the Wolverines Trio in Crooners Lounge.

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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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