Friday, April 29, 2011

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

This week, it’s all about local artists—and by that I mean artists who happen to live here. As Jeremy Walker said at his final NOWnet performance earlier this month, “Everyone is a local jazz musician and everyone is a national jazz musician.”

Friday and Saturday: Connie Evingson at the Artists’ Quarter

Can this really be Connie’s first-ever AQ weekend? We’re talking Connie Evingson, jazz vocalist extraordinaire, Moore by Four member, “Jazz at the Jungle” star, maker of several fine CDs including Let it Be Jazz (Beatles songs), Little Did I Dream (Dave Frishberg songs), and Gypsy in My Soul (gypsy jazz).

Apparently, yes. To digress: As the Dakota has broadened its programming to include folk, rock, pop, world music, and blues, the AQ (still a straight-ahead jazz club) has opened its door to more singers. Lucia Newell and Debbie Duncan have long been welcome there, but this has not traditionally been a singers’ room. That seems to be changing. Last week, Charmin Michelle had her CD release there (for Dawning and Daylight with Joel Shapira). The night was a smashing success, with a big turnout.

More singers are scheduled: Vicky Mountain (see below), Paula Lammers in May, and I’m hearing about other possibilities as well.

Connie will be joined by Tanner Taylor on piano, Graydon Peterson on bass, Mac Santiago on drums, and Dave Karr on saxophone for two swinging, stylish evenings.

Friday and Saturday, 9 p.m., Artists’ Quarter in the basement of the Hamm Building, St. Paul. $12.

Friday and Saturday: Davina and the Vagabonds CD Release at the Dakota

The Strib's Jon Bream has already dubbed Davina’s new CD, Black Cloud, “sensational,” “the best local album of 2011,” and “one of the best in years.” 

DATV is one of the hardest-working bands I know, averaging 300 dates/year here and on the road. They've become Dakota favorites at their own shows, opening for touring shows, and getting called on stage by visiting artists who know their power to please a crowd.

Davina Sowers is a force of nature, a gale of R&B, gospel, NOLA, and soul. These CD release events will be guaranteed good times.

Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m., Dakota. $12.

Sunday: Soul Café at Hennepin Avenue Church

After a hiatus of several months, Soul Café returns for an evening of poetry and jazz called “Loving and Listening.” In the words of leader Steve Blons, it will be “a celebration of life as sending out and taking in, paying attention and offering up. This is also how good jazz is played.” 

According to Michele Jansen of KBEM, who co-hosts Jazz and the Spirit with Blons, Soul Café is a showcase for improvisation. And it all happens in a beautiful setting: the church’s art gallery. Sounds like a perfect Sunday evening. 

With Blons on guitar, Laura Caviani on piano, Brad Holden on sax, Daryl Boudreaux on drums, Lucia Newell on voice, Jay Young on bass.

Sunday, 7 p.m., Hennepin Avenue Church, I-94 at the Lyndale exit. $10 requested donation.

Wednesday: Jazz returns to Café Maude

The neighborhood bistro at 54th and Penn featured live jazz on Fridays and Saturdays for almost four years. Then owner Kevin Sheehy had to bag it for financial reasons. When he promised to bring back the music if he could, I thought—pretty to think so, but does that ever really happen?

Starting on Wednesday, May 4, it does. Sheehy has moved the music to Wednesdays, a slow night for restaurants, and an earlier time slot: 7–10 p.m. instead of 9–midnight. But he’s still booking the musicians we love to hear there. 

This Wednesday: Dean Granros on guitar, Davu Seru on drums, James Buckley on bass. (Next Wednesday: the Zacc Harris Quartet, with Harris on guitar, Bryan Nichols on keys, Chris Bates on bass, JT Bates on drums.)

Hey, welcome back.

Wednesday, 7 p.m., Café Maude. No cover, but reservations are recommended, and you might want to try the new prix fixe dinner.

Thursday: Vicky Mountain at the Artists’ Quarter

What, another singer at the AQ? So soon? (Kidding, Kenny.) Vicky Mountain, who heads the voice department at MacPhail, released a CD in 2009 with guitarist James Allen called Sincerely Yours. It’s terrific. She has a background in theater, so every song is a story. 

This will be her AQ debut as a headliner, and she’s looking forward to an evening of stretching out, digging in, and singing what she wants. She’ll be backed by the Chris Lomheim Trio. The music will be lovely, and exciting, and fun. Let’s hope she does her version of “Jitterbug Waltz,” and also “Love Potion #9.”

Come early and hear the Dakota Combo perform a free concert at 7.

Thursday, 9 p.m., Artists’ Quarter in the basement of the Hamm Building, St. Paul. $5.

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

NOTE: It looks as if the live jazz calendar will soon be available on the KBEM website. I'll let you know when that happens.

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