Thursday, August 7, 2008

Red Planet with Bill Carrothers

When: Friday, August 1, 2008 • Where: DakotaWho: Dean Magraw, guitar; Chris Bates, bass; Jay Epstein, drums; Bill Carrothers, piano

Warming up for his next European tour, pianist extraordinaire Bill Carrothers is playing three gigs in the Cities this week: at the AQ on Wednesday, at the Dakota on Thursday (a solo show), and again at the Dakota on Friday as part of the late-night series. I’d see all three if I could but we can only make the late-night show.

The longer they play, the happier Magraw becomes. I learn later that this is the first time his trio has played with Carrothers, and Magraw loves every minute. (Toward the end of the evening, he sits behind Carrothers, points at him, looks out at the audience, smiles from ear to ear, and says “Bill Carrothers! That f****** guy!”)

The music is amazing. Playful, creative, tuneful. Blues, standards, Monk’s “Let’s Cool One.” Improvisations during which Epstein plays the edges of his cymbals with knitting needles, or something close to knitting needles. Magraw and Carrothers negotiate with each other about what to play, and no matter what they decide, Bates anchors it and holds it steady.

As the evening progresses—this is after all the late-night show, this is Minneapolis—the audience becomes smaller and more devout. An exquisite solo from Carrothers ends it all. That guy.

Photos by John Whiting.

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