The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, July 17-23


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Happy to report there is now another venue with significant jazz bookings to include in the Lead Sheet— Vieux Carré opened earlier this week; the websiteis up and running, and the club calendar is pretty much filled for July with music five nights per week, jazz at least two of those nights and often more. Add those gigs to the regularly scheduled action at the Dakota, Jazz Central, The Nicollet, Black Dog, Parma 8200, Icehouse, The Tangiers, Crooners Lounge, Normandy Kitchen, and more, and it's hard to understand anyone asking, “How can I find jazz in the Twin Cities?" But I still get that question now and then.... so because not everyone gets their jazz news online, KBEM asked me to start bringing a few tips from The Lead Sheet into the studio every Thursday afternoon, around 4:40 pm for 5-10 minutes, starting Thursday, July 23. Some excerpts will be rebroadcast on Friday mornings.  Radio is still a viable means of communicating jazz news! Tune into KBEM (88.5 fm) every day; tune into KFAI (90.3 fm) often as well for daily music and a few jazz shows throughout the week. (Hear my friend Larry Englund's “Rhythm and Blues" every Saturday morning.) 

Of course I can mention more jazz right here. This week we can enjoy two generations of jazz artistry with young pianist Will Kjeer joining forces with his uncle, Kenny Horst, at The Nicollet; a new dazzling duo of Dean Magraw and Steven Hobert at Jazz Central; two nights with Nachito Herrera and a new collaboration at the Dakota; and a homecoming for trumpeter John Raymond, performing at the Dakota (Thursday) and hanging around til at least the following Monday (Icehouse).

Big Gigs This Week

Friday, July 17. Before he closed the Artists Quarter at the end of 2013, owner/drummer Kenny Horst had welcomed nephew Will Kjeer to the stage more than a few times, now and then with his trio and weekly for about six months as pianist for Steve Kenny's Group 47— all while Will was still in high school. Now, after a post high school year at Interlochen and a couple months before he starts college studies at Cal Arts, Will has organized a “Summer Band" at The Nicollet with Uncle Kenny on drums. Keeping the cross-generational theme, Will's band also includes veteran saxman Dave Brattain and 18-year-old bassist Charlie Lincoln, himself heading to jazz studies in September, on the other coast at Berklee.

At Jazz Central, a relatively new partnership is on display with guitarist Dean Magraw and pianist Steven Hobert. The pairing debuted a few months ago, showcasing two of the area's most imaginative musicians. Dean and Steven are capable of magical mayhem in any context.

Parma 8200 continues its Friday nights of top area vocalists, and tonight it's crooner (and historian) Arne Fogel withfrequent collaborators Steve Pikal and Rick Carlson,while other dinner music options tonight include a sublime duo of Dave Karr (sax) and Bryan Nichols(piano) at the Icehouse and the string half of the Atlantis Quartet, Zacc Harris (guitar) and Chris Bates (bass) at Vieux Carré.

Jazz at the Black Dog is not limited to Saturdays! As usual, Todd Harper hosts Piano Fridays during happy hours, tonight with saxophonist Chris Hagedorn, paving the way for the always surprising Donald Washington Trio (with Yohannes Tona and Mick LaBriola) later in the evening.

The Dakota hosts another night with Jay Young and the Lyric Factory, and tonight's theme is “Bandwith: A Tribute to 50 Years of Top Ten Hits." Bassist Jay and ensemble promise arrangements of classic to current hits by Miles Davis, Marvin Gaye, Pink Floyd, Chaka Khan, Prince, The Beatles, Sting, Aretha Franklin, Simply Red, Cheryl Lynn, Lizz Wright, and many more.

Saturday, July 18. If it's a summer weekend, there must be a music festival somewhere! This afternoon and evening, Midtown Global Market hosts its annual Music Festival, and you can hear some favorite jazz performers, including the vocals and guitar of the long-time duo Charmin Michelle and Joel Shapira and the youthful antics of the Levi Schwartzberg Quintet.

Saturday Night at the Black Dog presents a saxophonic evening! Leading off will be a free jazz duo of saxophonists John Devine and Bill Lang. These veterans are followed by a much younger gaggle of improvisers led by saxophonist Joe Mayoand his quartet—with Zacc Harris, Andrew Foreman and Lars-Erik Larson.  Wouldn't it be cool if Devine and Lang sat in?

Crooner's Lounge features pianist/vocalist Linda Peterson, who now makes her primary home in Minnesota after building her career in southern California. Sister of Patty, Billy, Paul and Ricky, there's likely to be at least one other Peterson on the bandstand.

Dinner sets at Vieux Carré tonight feature the Peter Schimke Duo... meaning there is another musician. A mystery at the moment. But as long as you can hear Peter's keyboards, you have a great band experience awaiting.

Sunday, July 19. Swinging jazz with brunch? At least two venues will oblige on Sundays. At the Aster Cafe, hear Patty and the Buttons, aka accordionist Patrick Harison and his swinging cronies (usually Tony Balluff, Keith Boyles, and Mark Kretizer). At Crooners Lounge, there's a weekly brunch, this week featuring Maud Hixson and the Wolverines Trio (Rick Carlson, Steve Pikal, Jendeen Forberg). Swing those eggs and screwdrivers!

St. Albert the Great Church in south Minneapolis has hosted a series of Sunday afternoon jazz concerts this summer, and today's offering is Charmin Michelle, singing with support from saxophonist Kenni Holmen, pianist Bill Duna, bassist Kent Saunders and drummer Jay Epstein.

Monday, July 20. He doesn't take the spotlight often, but it's always a treat to hear saxophonist Brian Grivna, and tonight he is the featured artist at Jazz Central. Take advantage of the opportunity— between gigs with JazzMN, touring pit orchestras and theaters, it's not every night we can hear Brian in a jazz club setting!

Fans of vocal jazz will enjoy tonight at Crooners, with the Rhonda Laurie Trio. Rhonda has a special fondness for the songs of the 30s and 40s, but also finds obscure gems from other eras to keep a listener on full alert. Her cohorts tonight are Rick Carlson and Steve Pikal, so you know the night will swing.

 JT's Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse is always worth the late night, but tonight's show is among the most unusual of the series in recent memory. Featuring vocalist/spoken word artist Mankwe Ndosi, cellist Tomeka Reid, and percussionist Davu Seru, Body mEmOri“works in both structured and free improvisation to open imagination spaces and build interconnection with wisdoms of ancestry and the forces of nature...  the worlds of string, text, percussion and voice transport us through time and universes both cosmic and intimate."

Monday-Tuesday, July 20-21.  Hearing Nachito Herrera at the Dakota is nothing new — the Cuban pianist has been burning down the stage for more than a decade. But for these two nights, celebrating the re-establishment of US-Cuba diplomatic relations, Herrera brings an all-star ensemble to his home venue, dubbed The Universals. The band features eclectic violinist Karen Briggs, Cuban drum star Raul Pineda, New York-based saxophonist Mike Phillips, and Senagalese bassist Cheikh Ndoye, pledging to take us “around the world in two nights."

Tuesday, July 21. Vieux Carré starts its second week with pianist/composer Jeremy Walker and his trio—sure to include two of the area's best on bass and drums. In Lowertown, imaginative guitarist Park Evans takes the bandstand at the Black Dog.

Two of the area's finest big bands are on call tonight, with the combustible Explosion Big Band, led by Doug Haining and Scott Agster, filling the chairs at Jazz Central, while “up north," the adventurous Acme Jazz Company is on the bandstand at Crooners Lounge.

Wednesday, July 22. It's always a treat, and an increasingly rare one, to hear Steve Kenny's Group 47. With pianist Will Kjeer at Interlochen most of the past year, and now heading to Cal Arts in September, the gigs will continue to be intermittent. The band reconvened to play one of the last sets of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival last month, and now they make their debut at Vieux Carré tonight: leader/flumpeter Steve Kenny, young lion tenor saxophonist Thomas Strommen, pianist Kjeer, bassist Adam Tucker, and drummer Alex Burgess. The repertoire is largely original music, including tunes from their 2014 LP, Straight to Vinyl.

Thursday, July 23. When Twin Cities native trumpeter John Raymond released Foreign Territory this spring, he made a quantum leap forward in his already-burgeoning career. In part it was the company he kept—pianist Dan Tepfer, bassist Joe Martin and titanic drummer Billy Hart. In part it was his fresh approach to composition—using jazz masters and masterpieces as points of inspiration, not imitation. John is as excited to bring this project home to the Dakota as we are to hear it. For his Midwest tour, he has Tepfer (a monster in his own right) on piano, Chris Tordini on bass (recently here with Becca Stevens), and young drummer Jay Sawyer who accompanied John to Eden Prairie High School last April. John notes that Chris and Jay “bring equally as much to the music as Joe and Billy did on the album."  (Note that John will also perform at the Chateau St. Croix Winery jazz fest Saturday, July 25, and with local pals (and visiting bassist Brian Courage) at the Icehouse on Monday, July 27.)

Not all the fun takes place tonight in Minneapolis. Tonight's installment of the All Originals series at Studio Z features an awe-inspiring trio of Bryan Nichols, Chris Bates and JT Bates (aka Nichols/Bates/Bates). Put Nichols at Studio Z's sparkling Steinway, add the playfully inventive Bates brothers, and you're set for an evening that defines “all originals."

There's an enviable double header at Vieux Carré tonight, starting dinner hour with the swinging Zack Lozier Three in the unusual configuration of trumpet, bass and either guitar or piano; hang around for more traditional but no less playful or swinging, the Travis Anderson Trio.

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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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