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The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, July 31-August 6

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The “Young Lions" and “Old Tigers" are at it again, gigging with and beside each other in another jazz-filled week. Two more opportunities to hear visiting bassist Brian Courage before he heads back to New York, including a reunion of Courageous Endeavors; even younger bassist Charlie Lincoln plays one of his last gigs before starting college studies in California; veteran percussionist/educator Babatunde Lea make a too-rare appearance leading his quartet; guitarist and fusion pioneer Larry Coryell returns to the Dakota with frequent collaborator George Brooks.

Big Gigs This Week

Friday, July 31. Triple bill at Jazz Central tonight, starting with the ensemble President Flow, led by young saxophonist Joe Mayo, Gen Xers Park Evans on guitar and Josh Granowski on bass, and veteran drummer Rick Nair on the 2-piece drum kit. As a lead in to the usual Jazz Crew jam, bassist Charlie Lincoln leads his quintet for one set, showing off the talents of recent high school grads— Lincoln, saxophonist Peter Goggin, trumpeter Aiden Sponheim, keyboardist Levi Schwartzberg and drummer Joey Hays.

At The Nicollet, Rare Medium makes its series debut, featuring Jaim Zuber on guitar, Jesse Mueller on keys, Aaron McCabe on trumpet, Joan Hutton on sax, Joshua Stallings on bass and Ryan Johnson on drums. The band cites such divergent influences as Herbie Hancock, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Miles Davis and The Meters.

Whatever you do earlier, make a point of hitting Orchestra Hall at 10 pm (following the orchestra concert) for Peter Kogan's CD release in the Target Atrium. Principal timpanist for the orchestra, Kogan is also a jazz artist who has rounded up a top-flight ensemble for the recording and performance —Chuck Lazarus (trumpet), Scott Agster (trombone), Pete Whitman (sax), Sean Turner (piano), Cory Wong (guitar), and Brian Courage (bass). Lazarus, of course, is also a fellow member of the Minnesota Orchestra. At Vieux-Carré, start the evening early with the Jeremy Walker Duo —the entrepreneurial pianist and composer teaming up with another artist of substance, and stay on for the swinging fun of the Parisota Hot Club.

Friday-Saturday, July 31-August 1. In the last decade, one of the most popular vocal teams was The Girls, which at one time or another included Debbie Duncan, Lori Dokken, Erin Schwab, Judy Donaghy (Vinar), Patty Peterson and Rachel Holder. This weekend they reunite for two shows—"A Diva Tribute"—at Chanhassan Dinner Theater. These are not simply great voices, these are great entertainers. Saturday, August 1. No ball game in Lowertown tonight, but fireworks prevail nevertheless. Saturday Night at the Black Dog leads off with veteran band led by saxophonist Joe Smith, with Dick Studer on bass and Kenny Horst on drums, followed by the series debut of the Babatunde Lea Quintet. Lea, who built his reputation playing with the likes of Stan Getz and Leon Thomas, spent several decades in the Bay Area before relocating to the Midwest, now in St. Paul.  A teacher and mentor as well as performer and composer, Lea has introduced local audiences to the “troponga"— a kit melding African percussion and American jazz drum set. His cohorts tonight include Nelson Devereaux on sax, Zacc Harris on guitar, Phil Aaron on piano, and Chris Bates on bass.

A lot of bands are making their Vieux Carré debuts, and tonight its Choro Borealis, a trio led by 7-string guitar and global music specialist Robert Everest, with the O'Keefe brothers— Pat on clarinet and bass clarinet, and Tim on mandolin and percussion. This is Brazilian music that goes beyond samba and bossa to the more complex and soaring rhythms of choro and more.

Sunday, August 2. Jazz brunch options—Patty and the Buttons bring swing to your mimosa at the Aster Cafe; Robert Everest puts some samba in your salsa at Maria's; and Maud Hixsonwill make the bubbles rise from your champagne at Crooners Lounge.  At the Dakota, smooth and soulful saxman Boney James plays two sets to cap off the weekend.

Monday, August 3. Young and versatile trombonist Nick Syman takes the spotlight at Jazz Central. Later in the evening, young and versatile also describes the musicians of Courageous Endeavors, reuniting briefly with a gig at the Icehouse—part of JT's Jazz Implosion series. Co-founder Brian Courage takes his rightful spot on bass, with the rest of the original band— Nelson Devereaux, Joe Strachan and Miguel Hurtado. After Brian moved east, the band became Endeavors, but this is a now rare opportunity to hear the original group.

Tuesday, August 4. Officially this is National Night Out. Unofficially it's Twin Cities Big Band Night, with three of the area's veteran bands on three stages. At Crooners, enjoy dinner or lounge at the bar with the exciting charts of the Acme Jazz Company and Mr. Crooner himself, Arne Fogel. At Jazz Central, it's the monthly residency of the inventive Bill Simenson Orchestra, loaded with a who's who in metro jazz. And in St Paul, O'Gara's hosts the long-running monthly performance of Beasley's Big Band.

Wednesday, August 5. A perfect start to the evening? Songbird Connie Evingson, pianist Sanford Moore and saxophonist Dave Karr in the lounge at the Minneapolis Woman's Club. Sanford and Dave are both long-term cohorts of Connie, Sanford of course from the beginning of Moore by Four, Dave her frequent partner in the Jazz at the Jungle (Theater) series.

Over at Jazz Central, a new band with the intriguing name Elephant Crossing makes its debut, led by relative newcomer, pianist Ari Nahum. In his spare time, Ari is a resident in internal medicine at the U of M and a potter. His partners include Adam Meckler, Gus Sandberg, Ryan Hayes and Zach Schmidt.

Thursday, August 6.  A dazzling piano/guitar duo open the evening at Vieux Carré — Dan Musselman and David Feily will be providing a lot more than background music for the dinner sets. And the singer who officially opened Vieux Carré a couple weeks ago, Katia Cardenas takes the spotlight at Jazz Central for vocal night.

At the Dakota, guitar hero Larry Coryell returns with his Bombay Jazz project, featuring saxophonist George Brooks. East meets West, jazz meets traditional East Indian music. At Studio Z, the All Originals summer series continues with the Graydon Peterson Quartet— with Adam Meckler, Joe Strachan and Adrian Suarez and a sheaf of original works.

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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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