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The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, September 20-26


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Diane Witherspoon returns for a rare hometown gig; Katie Gearty, a jazz band and dance ensemble collaborate on Belmont Hotel; the “galician bagpipe diva" brings improvisation and a wide swath of music to the Dakota where the Great Lady of Soul (Bettye Lavette) returns a night later; Fat Kid Wednesdays is featured on the upcoming two Mondays of JT's Jazz Implosion; the Golden Strings celebrate 50 years; and the Artists Quarter hosts its largest regular ensembles, the Adam Meckler Orchestra and Pete Whitman X-Tet. It's a wild week in Twin Cities jazz and improvisational music.

Friday, September 20. Refreshed and still ecstatic from her New York CD release a couple weeks ago, songbird Maud Hixson is back home and ready to sing for her local audience, tonight at Parma 8200 with Rick Carlson and Gordy Johnson. She's got some great stories from her big night at the Cafe at Broadway — just ask! And maybe she will work in a few of her sparkling Mickey Leonard tunes. Downtown Minneapolis at the Dakota, Ginger Commodore and Debbie Duncanare back on stage, surely one of the hottest vocal duos in the region. Standards, blues, soul and a thick sprinkle of sass and wit will keep Ginger's long-running band on its toes.

Friday-Saturday, September 20-21.Native Twin Citian, vocalist Diane Witherspoon makes a rare stop home for a gig this weekend, with two nights at the Artists Quarter. Sister of the late Shirley Witherspoon and a second cousin to bluesman Jimmy Witherspoon, Diane has been performing and recording on the West Coast and abroad for the past 30 years. Her local support team this weekend is worthy of it own gig — Laura Caviani, Billy Peterson and Kenny Horst.

Friday, September 20 - Sunday, September 29. After opening last night, COLLIDE Theatrical Dance Company's new production of The Belmont Hotel continues through next weekend with Thursday-Sunday performances at the Southern Theater. The music is jazz from the Prohibition Era, with vocals from Katie Gearty and Cameron Wright and instrumental backing from a combo including jazz fans' favorite Graydon Peterson; the dancers of COLLIDE are led by choreographer Regina Peluso; and the story is right out of Broadway, filled with the dark drama of the Roaring Twenties.

Saturday, September 21. Motherhood has not made a dent in Nichola Miller'svocal talent; if anything there's even more swing and conviction in her delivery, and she hasn't lost an ounce of sass. Filling in for originally scheduled partner Tanner Taylor, Nichola will swing to the tips of the high beams at the St. Barnabas Arts Center as the opening concert in the Jazz @ St Barney's series. By the way, this is one of the best deals around, a monthly series of the best of area jazz, an early evening at 7 pm, snacks and beverages included in your $10

Sunday, September 22. Rooted in improvisation  but covering “the waterfront" of modern music, Cristina Pato plays piano, sings, and most famously plays the Galician bagpipe. A member of Yo-Yo Ma's renowned Silk Road project, Pato has performed world, jazz, classical and experimental music with the Chicago Symphony, The Chieftains, Arturo O'Farril, and Paquito D'Rivera, among others, and her latest release on Sunnyside, Migration,is getting kudos from all over. She's at the Dakota tonight.

Monday, September 23. Once in a while I find out who is on stage at the Icehouse for JT's weekly Jazz Implosion! So make note — tonight and next Monday, Fat Kid Wednesdays and Embezzler go back to back. FKW is one of the most inventive of the experimental ensembles here, and with saxophonist Mike Lewis in town less and less often, it is more and more a treat to here these guys (with Adam Linz and JT Bates), and the ambience and wild lighting at the Icehouse make it a perfect home venue. The newer trio, Embezzler, puts Bates and Linz into collaboration with guitar hero Paul Metzger.

Jazz Central continues its Monday night “Featured Artist" series with young upstart saxophonist Tyler Anderson. Tyler's been studying in a Masters' program with Branford Marsalis in North Carolina, so we're likely to see some new directions in his already exciting music.

Monday - Tuesday, September 23-24.No matter how you classify her, jazz audiences love Bettye Lavette, aka The Great Lady of Soul. And no matter how high her albums chart, Bettye Lavette loves the Dakota, one of the first clubs to book her when she launched a comeback nearly a decade ago. There is no other performer in my experience who can put so much raw emotion into a performance and retain her art so skillfully.

Tuesday, September 24. It's Big Band Night on both sides of the metro. The Adam Meckler Orchestrafills their monthly slot at the Artists Quarter, boasting a cool sampling of the area's top young jazzers and always some new arrangements and compositions from Adam. At Jazz Central, the weekly Big Band schedule presents the Nova Jazz Orchestra, also known for original charts and compositions.  Get your big band fix — you can make it to both gigs if you start at Jazz Central; no problem getting to the AQ for the second set!

Wednesday, September 25. Fireside Pizza usually presents Charmin Michelle with Denny Malmberg, but tonight Paula Lammers takes over on vocals, giving southside jazz fans a not-too-common opportunity to enjoy her lus interpretations of standards and more... and of course there's that great thin-crust pizza.  Meanwhile Graydon Peterson, still glowing from his recent CD release, takes his music into Jazz Central.

A special celebration takes place at the American Swedish Institute— the 50th anniversary of the Golden Strings, whose strolling violin show debuted at the old Minneapolis Radisson Hotel´s Flame Room on Valentine´s Day 1963. Violin virtuoso Cliff Brunzell has led the band ever since. Special guests Connie Evingson and Charmin Michelle join the Golden Strings in an evening including cocktails, dessert and coffee.  

Thursday, September 26. Used to be that the Pete Whitman X-Tet was the biggest ensemble to squeeze into the Artists Quarter, but the Adam Meckler Orchestra and recent JazzMN gig prove the X-Tet was just the beginning. But you won't find a band with a bigger sound or bigger following than the X-Tet, back at the AQ for their almost monthly blowout.

Jazz Central's Vocal Night tonight features veteran singer Sue [Tucker] Oattes with frequent piano partner Tanner Taylor. This is sort of a family affair, as Sue's dad Jack Oattes was Tanner's first mentor and employer in their native Iowa. Sue was a favorite among Twin Cities jazz vocal fans, dropped out for a while and has recently returned to the stage with her trademark swinging energy.

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, September 20. Irv Williams and Peter Schimke, happy hour at the Dakota;Phil Aaron and Adam Wozniak at the Icehouse (dinner sets); Todd Harper followed by the Donald Washington Quartet with Brad Bellows at the Black Dog; Maurice Jacox and Friends at the Red Stag

Saturday, September 21. Charmin & Shapira at Midtown Global Market (12:30 pm);JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar, St Paul Hotel; Bryan Nichols and Brandon Wozniak at the Icehouse (dinner sets); Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200

Sunday, September 22. Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Cafe; Robert Everest, brunch at Maria's Cafe; Jerry O'Hagan Orchestra with Charmin Michelle at Cinema Ballroom

Monday, September 23. Charmin Michelle and Denny Malmberg at Fireside Pizza; Head Space at the Artists Quarter

Tuesday, September 24. Joel Shapira at Hell's Kitchen; Cory Wong Quartet, early set at the Artists Quarter

Wednesday, September 25. Nick Haas at Hell's Kitchen; Steve Kenny's Group 47, early show at the Artists Quarter; James Wallace at Barbette

Thursday, September 26. St Peter Street Stompers at the Red Stag; Connie and Herb at The Bean (Andover)

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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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