Friday, May 20, 2011

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

Tune to KBEM every Friday morning at 8:30 to hear me and Mr. Jones—Jazz 88 "Morning Show" host Ed Jones—talk about the week's jazz picks and more. 88.5 FM in the Twin Cities, streaming live on the Web. On Saturday night, come back to KBEM for Maryann Sullivan's "Corner Jazz" and my Corner Calendar, which airs just before 9 p.m.

Thanks to KBEM for last night’s May Fest jazz party at the Loring Theater. Lots of KBEM fans and friends turned out to celebrate two new Legacy Funded radio programs (Maryann Sullivan’s “Minnesota Moments,” Arne Fogel’s “Minnesota’s Voices: Certain Standards”) and hear live music by the Bryan Nichols Trio, Patrick Harison, Chris Lomheim, Arne Fogel, Debbie Duncan, Connie Evingson, and Maud Hixson, who, by the way, looked ravishing in polkadots.

Now please take a moment to strap on your jazz jetpack; you’ll need it for the next several days.

Friday and Saturday: The Bad Plus play Stravinsky at the Loring Theater

How did The Bad Plus (Ethan Iverson, piano; Reid Anderson, bass; Dave King, drums) reduce a score written for full orchestra (100+ instruments) to a piece for jazz trio? Come hear for yourself. They play the whole thing, and it is very, very exciting. Read an interview with Iverson here and here.

8 p.m. Friday–Saturday, May 20–21, Loring Theater ($25 advance/$30 door/$50 VIP). Free parking at Emerson School a block to the west.

Friday and Saturday: Bryan Nichols Quintet CD Release at the Artists’ Quarter

The new CD is called Bright Places, and it’s all that and more. Nine fine original compositions by pianist Nichols, played by his band of musical brothers: bassist James Buckley, drummer JT Bates, and saxophonists Michael Lewis and Brandon Wozniak, with five saxes between them. Bluesy, jazzy, melodic, deeply interesting music full of tricky rhythms and surprises. It makes me happy to hear it.

9 p.m. Friday–Saturday, May 20–21, Artists’ Quarter ($12).

Friday and Sunday: Expansions: Music for Improviser and Orchestra at the Northern Warehouse

Virtuoso jazz (and classical) tubist Stefan Kac leads his Symphonic Transients Orchestra (“a large instrumental ensemble of flexible instrumentation”) in music by Kac and Scott Newell, featuring Milo Fine on piano. Just thinking about the possibilities makes my head threaten to explode.

8 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Sunday, May 20 and 22, Northern Warehouse Artists’ Co-op in St. Paul’s Lowertown, 308 Prince St., St. Paul, room 613 ($5–$10 as able).

Saturday: Ellen Lease, Pat Moriarty, Phil Hey, and Michael Attias: “Insurgent: Threat Level Orange”

An evening of free improvisation on piano, drums, and saxophones. I’ve heard Ellen, Pat, and Phil several times, and if you enjoy free improvisation, or you think you might enjoy it, or you’re even mildly curious about it, this is for you.

8 p.m. Saturday, May 21, Studio Z ($10 adults/$5 students).

Sunday: Maceo Parker and Christian McBride in “Foundations of Funk” at Orchestra Hall

Maceo Parker was James Brown’s saxophonist for many years. Bassist Christian McBride knew the Godfather of Soul well enough that he’s writing a book about him. Each will bring his own band, each will play a set, and if we’re lucky they’ll share the stage for a number or two. McBride currently leads three bands; this one is the Situation, with Patrice Rushen on keyboards and two deejays on turntables. Read an interview with McBride on MinnPost, with more to follow in this space.

7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 22, Orchestra Hall ($22–$50, $60 VIP).

Tuesday and Wednesday: Four Generations of Miles at the Dakota

A tribute band with a twist: All four players were Miles Davis sidemen. Drummer Jimmy Cobb played on Kind of Blue. Saxophonist Sonny Fortune was with Miles in the 1970s, bassist Buster Williams in the 1960s. Guitarist Mike Stern stepped in during the 1980s fusion era. All four have performed with long lists of other jazz greats.

7 p.m. and 9 p.m., Tuesday–Wednesday, May 24–25, Dakota ($35/$25).

Tuesday–Saturday: Public concerts and jams during the International Trumpet Guild Annual Convention

Not just for jazz nerds. Many of the world’s great trumpet players attend this annual event, which this year comes to the Hilton Hotel in Minneapolis. They’ll do their conference business during the days, then let loose at night in a series of concerts (two each night) that are open to the public. Scheduled to perform: Lew Soloff, Sean Jones, Wayne Bergeron, Marcus Printup, Charles Lazarus, Kelly Rossum, the Hornheads, the Steve Wright Big Band, and more. Jam sessions at the Dakota will follow (Wednesday's session features Kelly Rossum).

7:15 Tuesday–Saturday, Hilton Minneapolis ($30 for 2 concerts/night).  Go here FMI and to purchase tickets.
11-ish Tuesday–Saturday, Dakota ($5).

Thursday: Prudence Johnson CD Release at the Dakota

Original music inspired by the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay, Prudence Johnson’s A Girl Named Vincent is one of the finest, most satisfying and engaging new recordings I’ve heard this year. Read a review. With Laura Caviani, Michelle Kinney, Joan Griffith, Marc Anderson, and Joe Savage on pedal steel and harmonica.

7 p.m. and 9 p.m., Thursday, May 26, Dakota ($30/$20).

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

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