Friday, April 1, 2011

This week's jazz picks for Minneapolis-St. Paul

Are you in your car or near a radio at 8:30 CST on Friday mornings? Tune to KBEM to hear me and station manager Michele Jansen talk about these events and more. 88.5 FM in the Twin Cities, streaming live on the Web.

Saturday: JoAnn Funk CD Release at the Lobby Bar. Pianist/singer/arranger JoAnn Funk's new CD (her third) is called Pick Yourself Up, and I like it a lot. Here's a reviewJoAnn and bassist Jeff Brueske perform every weekend at the classy Lobby Bar in the Saint Paul Hotel; for the CD release on Saturday, they'll be joined by drummer Nathan Norman. 
7 p.m., Lobby Bar at the Saint Paul Hotel (no cover).

Saturday: George Cartwright's Merciless Ghost at the Black Dog. Saxophonist/composer George Cartwright is an improvising monster in our midst. He spent several years in NYC, playing with his band Curlew at the Knitting Factory. He moved to Minneapolis for love in 1999 (his wife's family lives here) and formed a band called GloryLand PonyCat with Adam Linz and Alden Ikeda. Merciless Ghost is his brand-new band, with Josh Granowski on bass and Davu Seru on drums and percussion. Get a sneak preview here. (Check out the "Art of This Madame" tracks, recorded during a Tuesday Series performance at Madame of the Arts.) I once asked George to define improvisation, and he replied, "I would say it was somebody who was trying to make the very best music they can at that moment." You can read an interview with George here. All three members of Merciless Ghost are powerful players. I would describe their music as fresh, immediate, deeply engaging, and also (if this makes sense--it does to me) open-hearted and generous. 
8 p.m., Black Dog (no cover, but respect the tip jar).

Friday and Saturday: The Dave King Trucking Company at the Artists' Quarter. Nationally and internationally, Dave King is best known as the drummer for The Bad Plus. But here in the Twin Cities, where he lives, he's kind of the Johnny Appleseed of bands. A short list of Dave King joints, present and past, includes Happy Apple; Halloween, Alaska; The Gang Font; Buffalo Collision; Golden Valley Is Now; 12 Rods; F*K*G; and Siamese Fighting Fish. One of his latest ventures, the Trucking Co. features Eric Fratzke on guitar, Adam Linz on bass, and Brandon Wozniak on saxophones. Expect surrealistic stories, dry jokes, and big, beautiful music. 
9 p.m., Artists' Quarter ($12).

Sunday: French 75 with Maud Hixson at the Artists' Quarter. Jazz in the afternoon? Sounds like a plan, especially on a school night. The cool and lovely Maud Hixson and French 75 (named for a cocktail popular during WWI) will perform a program titled "Beyond the Sea: Jazz from the Continent," featuring jazz standards that came to the States from Europe (and some from here). With Tony Balluff on clarinet, Gus Sandberg on saxophone, Robert Bell on guitar, Steve Pikal on bass, and Nathan Norman on drums. Continental jazz extraordinaire, sponsored by the Twin Cities Jazz Society.
4 p.m., Artists' Quarter ($15). 

Monday and Tuesday: Joe Lovano and Us Five at the Dakota. No matter where you are on the jazz fan spectrum, from rabid to mildly curious or willing-to-be-dragged-to-a-show, don't miss Grammy-winning saxophonist and composer Joe Lovano, (If you can afford the ticket price. I understand the pain of coughing up $40 or more for a seat at the Dakota. Tip: The later shows are almost always more affordable.) Lovano is one of the great jazz artists of our time, a master on the tenor sax who has played with other luminaries including Herbie Hancock, Charlie Haden, Dave Holland, McCoy Tyner, Ornette Coleman, and many more. Bird Songs, his latest CD (and his 22nd for Blue Note), explores the music of Charlie Parker. Lovano will be here with his ensemble Us Five. Esperanza Spalding (named Best New Artist at this year's Grammys) is their usual bass player; she's in France on tour, so we'll hear Tetar Slavoe on bass, along with James Weidman on piano, Otis Brown III on drums, and Francesco Mela on drums. You read that right--two drummers.
7 p.m. and 9 p.m., Dakota ($40/$25).

Monday: Lori Dokken's Singer Showcase at Camp Bar. Remember Monday and Tuesday nights at the old Times Bar & Cafe, when area singers took the stage? Piano bar entertainer/cabaret singer Lori Dokken is bringing that feeling and spirit back to Camp Bar with her Singer Showcase, This week's co-host is Aaron Keith Stewart. Guests include Doug Anderson, Christina With, and Wendy Zaro-Mullins, who recently released a CD with Laura Caviani.  
7:30 p.m., Camp Bar ($5).

Check the live jazz calendar at the right or here for many more events.

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