The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, November 15-21


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Is jazz dead? Just check the listings for Saturday (November 16) alone, and you can easily answer that question for yourself. On one night, you can hear a tribute to one of the greatest pianists in jazz history (Oscar Peterson) presented by two of the most talented pianists in our midst (Tanner Taylor and Richard Johnson); you can hear yet another area piano titan (Laura Caviani) paired with an outstanding saxophonist (Pete Whitman) pay tribute to Monk and Ellington as well as presenting original works; you can hear world-renowned saxophonist/flautist Lew Tabackin; you can hear the best of “smooth jazz" as Steve Cole celebrates a new CD with the Petersons. And that's just part of the list for one night. And Saturday is just one night of seven for live jazz of all bents.

Big Gigs This Week

Friday, November 15. Doug Little's long-running Seven Steps to Havana returns to the Dakota, bringing along wide-ranging tropical rhythms and an ensemble that by itself could serve as global ambassadors. A native Californian who has spent significant time in Cuba and Brazil, saxophonist/flautist Little is an effective bandleader and composer, so any night with one of his bands is sure to keep your ears (and feet) happy.  Another saxman from an older generation, Donald Washington holds the stage at the Black Dog tonight, featuring a quartet with son Kevin on drums, Brian Roesslar on bass, and Eric Jacobson on tuba. Yes, tuba.

Friday- Saturday, November 15-16.News that owner Kenny Horst plans to close the Artists Quarter at the end of the year has prompted a lot of hand wringing and high anxiety, but it has also prompted contacts with many of the national artists who helped build the club's reputation. One is tenor saxophonist/flautist Lew Tabackin, who returns to the AQ this weekend after a 6-7 year absence. Aside from his reputation as one of the more aggressive tenormen, Tabackin is held in high esteem for his gorgeous, ethereal flute.

Saturday, November 17. Oscar Peterson, who passed away about six years ago, was one of the true legends of his time, one of the most influential jazz pianists of the 20th century who continues to influence the music today. Two of his legacies are on top of the Twin Cities Jazz scene today, and will play back to back trio sets in Peterson's honor tonight as part of the Jazz at Studio Z series curated by Zacc Harris. Richard Johnson and Tanner Taylor also join forces to present a free workshop before the concert.

Another piano ace brings the Monk and Ellington songbooks to Jazz @ St Barneys at the St. Barnabas Lutheran Church in Plymouth. This monthly series just gets better every season, thanks to Jeff Whitmill's success in bringing the area's best chamber jazz artists to the burbs. Tonight hear Laura Caviani with saxophonist Pete Whitman as they present works of two of the genre's greatest composers along with some original compositions.

Over at the Dakota, it's contemporary jazz heaven as saxophonist Steve Cole meets up with long-time pals, The Petersons. They're celebrating Cole's new release, Pulse, described as “a 10-song set mixing R&B, contemporary jazz, gospel, blues and pop that he produced with fellow saxman David Mann. The new collection surveying Cole's musical passions showcases the artist's affinity for infectious melodies, a wall of horns, and soulful grooves." And adding to those grooves—Patty, Ricky and Paul Peterson, along with Bill Steinway, Bobby Vandell and Billy Franze.

Sunday, November 17. A personal favorite since I first heard the original trio at least 8 years ago, Soul Cafe makes few appearances these days, maybe twice per year, including this “Change of Season" gig at their home base, Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church. The core of this “jazz meets poetry" concept has been Laura Caviani, Brad Holden and Steve Blons (piano, alto sax, guitar) with frequent guest appearances from Lucia Newell, Pete Whitman and Daryl Boudreaux. For this performance, instrumentation has taken an interesting twist with trombonist Dave Graf replacing Caviani. Boudreaux will also be on hand to give the ensemble a more distinct pulse as the poetry readings reinforce the theme of change.

Monday, November 18. Mike Lewis is hanging around his old stomping grounds this week, and Fat Kid Wednesdays will make fat sounds on Monday as this week's installment of JT's Jazz Implosion. Adam Linz and JT Bates round out one of the most inventive ensembles in the region. But catch them when you can as Lewis is now based in North Carolina.

Tuesday, November 19. Led by Doug Haining and Scott Agster, the Explosion Big Band will, indeed, explode as Big Band Tuesday's featured ensemble at Jazz Central. Doug and Scott round up a who's who of Twin Cities jazz and cut loose on a wide-ranging playlist.

Wednesday, November 20.It's maybe close to 20 years since I first was mezmerized by Chris Lomheim'selegant piano— and he just gets more and more engaging. With his trio, Chris will take over Jazz Central tonight. Over at Cafe Maude in Southwest Minneapolis, the Zacc Harris Trio entertains diners and bar patrons. Original music typically dominates. And the kitchen brings out food that complements the originality of the music. Thursday, November 21. If the AQ closes, even for a short time, will we be able to hear the Pete Whitman X-Tet? Somewhere, for sure, but more reason to get to the Artists Quarter tonight! The cast rotates to some degree but we can predict with high certainty that the ensemble led by Pete nearly monthly at the AQ will be unsurpassed by any other. Here or elsewhere. The Phil Mattson Singers, with some shifts in personnel, hold an infrequent gathering tonight at Jazz Central. Phil is a nationally acclaimed arranger for vocal ensembles, and you'll hear why.

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, November 15. Irv Williams and Peter Schimke, happy hour at the Dakota; Phil Aaron and James Buckley, dinner sets at the Icehouse; vocal night at Parma 8200; Lee Engele and Reynold Philipsek at the Wine Market (Mendota Heights)

Saturday, November 16. Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200; Joann Funk and Jeff Brueske at the Lobby Bar (St Paul Hotel); East Side at Hell's Kitchen; John Devine at the Red Stag

Sunday, November 17. Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Cafe; Robert Everest, brunch at Maria's; Jerry O'Hagan Orchestra with Charmin Michelle at Cinema Ballroom; Cate Fierro CD release at the Dakota

Monday, November 18. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Headspace at the Artists Quarter; Tom Krochock and Shilad Sen at Jazz Central

Tuesday, November 19. Cory Wong Quartet followed by the Dave Brattain Quartet at the Artists Quarter

Wednesday, November 20. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Steve Kenny Group 47 followed by Miguel Hurtado and Friends at the Artists Quarter; Wolverines Trio at Hell's Kitchen; Robert Bell and Maud Hixson at Barbette

Thursday, November 21. Jazzland Wonderland at the Red Stag; Beasley's Big Band at Wabasha Street Caves

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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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