The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, March 21-27


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The weekend gets off to a jazz-busy start, from Orchestra Hall and contemporary trumpet king Chris Botti's second night to little Jazz Central's Bridge series and local jazz trumpet monster Adam Meckler, with a rare performance with his Quintet.  Some hot vocals, sizzling guitars, inventive big bands and more fill out the coming week as we welcome a stubborn spring. Forget the forecast, come out and enjoy the music.

Big Gigs This Week

Friday, March 21. Contemporary jazz star Chris Botti finishes his two-night run at Orchestra Hall with some pretty impressive sidemen, including pianist Taylor Eigsti, bassist Richie Goods and drummer Billy Kilson. A couple miles north at Jazz Central, Twin Cities-based trumpet giant Adam Meckler cuts loose with his Quintet (Kevin Gastonguay, Zacc Harris, Graydon Peterson and Greg Schutte), part of the new Friday night “Bridge" series — that invisible bridge between the late Artist Quarter and the many musicians who used to try out their new material in the safety of hard core jazz fans. And come hungry— Vanessa has branched out beyond tacos at Jazz Central.

There's more top brass tonight, as the Brad Bellows/Donald Washington Quartet fills the Black Dog with creative sounds, to go with some good beer and fresh espresso. Valve trombone, baritone sax— it's bottoms up at the Dog! But if you are really in the mood for ballads and standards, you can do no better than Rhonda Laurie, performing tonight at Parma 8200. Reservations recommended if you want to be in the bar lounge!  And no matter where you start your evening, plan to come by the Dakota for Late Night with Courageous Endeavors — one of the area's most sophisticated among bands of young lions, with Nelson Devereaux, Joe Strachan, Brian Courage and Miguel Hurtado. (If you heard Joe and Brian at Jazz Central last Monday, you know what can happen!)

Saturday, March 22. Jazz in a brewery? Not so strange, at least not in the Twin Cities. Harriet Brewing has been hosting modern jazz ensembles for the past year, and this afternoon (4-6 pm), catch two amazing string players— Mexico-based Todd Clouser and local hero Chris Bates. And of course, enjoy a craft brew.  Later, Nachito Herrera makes his monthly pilgrimage to the Dakota, bringing along some Cuban fire. Recently, this amazing pianist was named Immigrant of Distinction for 2014 by the local chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Sunday, March 23. Two alums of Prairie Home Companion team up at the Dakota for an evening of musical fun — stride piano star Butch Thompson joins folk/blues guitarist/songwriter Pat Donahue for a night as worthy of Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegone as any stage in New York. Reservations highly recommended.

Monday, March 24. Seldom in the spotlight but always spot-on, guitarist Chris Olson is the Featured Artist on this Monday night series at Jazz Central, performing tonight with pianist Tanner Taylor and drummer Adrian Suarez. And to keep the guitar theme going into the wee hours, head over to Barbette for some late night carousing with Joel Shapira and Dean Magraw. Fans of jazz guitar—this is like the Olympics.

Tuesday, March 25. Big band fans— you can't go wrong unless you can't make up your mind tonight! The Latin edge is on display at Jazz Central with the newly formed Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra, headed by Geoff Senn and Mac Santiago,  while the modern new music trends in big band composition will be on display at the Amsterdam for the monthly gig of the Adam Meckler Orchestra. The AMO will be heading into the recording studio the following weekend— this is their last public warm-up. It's hard to imagine that there's anyone left to play in town tonight between the stellar casts of these two big bands!

Wednesday, March 26. Sometimes more jazz, sometimes more folk, always great music— Claudia Schmidt returns to the Dakota with a bunch of fine friends including Dean Magraw, celebrating the release of New Whirled Order. Claudia says of her19th recording, 6th with Red House Records, “New Whirled Order is a collection of things I've been writing in the last couple years, and a collection of really amazing musicians...The result is a sparkling and powerful musical adventure. I am gleeful!" We will be gleeful as well.

Over at Jazz Central, a new ensemble headed by pianist/composer Dan Musselman focuses on improvised original music. The Dan Musselman Collective includes guitarist David Feily, bassist Andrew Bergmann, and drummer Zach Schmidt.

Thursday, March 27. It's Vocal Night at Jazz Central and a very special treat tonight as acclaimed and prolific guitarist/composer Reynold Philipsek gives us a good sampling of his vocal side, from standards to original tunes, accompanied by bassist Matt Senjem. Stick around for the second set as Maryann Sullivan adds her voice and some songs from Blossom Dearie. In St Paul, it's the monthly gig with the Talking Strings, a sublime trio with Pavel Janey, Gary Schulte and Dan Weston.

More Jazz Every Night Be sure to check live jazz calendars on Jazz Policeand KBEM sites. Also find a growing number of events on the Jazz Near You site, a service of All About Jazz. A few more gigs of note:

Friday, March 21. Irv Williamsand Peter Schimke, happy hour at the Dakota; Todd Harper, solo piano at the Black Dog; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar (Saint Paul Hotel); Vic Volare Quintet at Hell's Kitchen

Saturday, March 22. Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar (Saint Paul Hotel); Bryan Nichols and James Buckley, dinner sets at the Icehouse; Rhizosphere at the Black Dog

Sunday, March 23. Robert Everest, brunch at Maria's Cafe; The Girls Reunion at Unity Christ Church (Golden Valley); Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar; Doug Little Quartet at Eat Street Social; Jerry O'Hagan Orchestra at Cinema Ballroom

Monday, March 24. Denny Malmberg and guest at Fireside Pizza; JT's Jazz Implosion featuring the Fall of the House of Usher at the Icehouse; Sophia Shorai at the Dakota

Tuesday, March 25. Cafe Accordion at Loring Pasta Bar; Rick Carlson at Cafe Maude

Wednesday, March 26. Zacc Harris Group at Hell's Kitchen; Denny Malmberg and guest at Fireside Pizza; Twin Cities Hot Club at Barbette

Thursday, March 27. Arne Fogel at Hell's Kitchen; Swingbeat Big Band at Wabasha Street Caves; Alicia Renee and Chris Lomheim at Christo's (Union Depot)

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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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