Friday, July 8, 2011

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

A lot of people from the Twin Cities traveled to the Iowa City Jazz Festival last weekend, including Janis Lane-Ewart and Larry Englund from our sister station KFAI, vibes master Dave Hagedorn (who plays at the AQ next Wednesday), Don Berryman and Andrea Canter of the Jazz Police website, and some of the usual suspects we see at jazz shows around town, like Raymond Hayes, whose Top 10 Jazz CDs of 2010 post is one of the best-read on this blog. The fireflies winked, the rain didn’t fall, I learned how to pronounce Ambrose Akinmusire (ah-kin-MOOS-eh-ree), and Randy Weston was superb.

This week in jazz:

Tonight (Friday, July 8) at 7:30, vocalist Maxine Sousé performs with guitarist Reynold Philipsek at the Mendoberri Café and Wine Bar in Mendota Heights, formerly the Sage Wine Bar. My experience with Maxine, whom I’ve heard at Fireside Pizza (and where she also sings on Monday night), is that she chooses songs off the beaten path—unexpected delights. I hear she’s working on her first CD. Reynold, of course, is one of our finest guitarists. Maxine promises special guests tonight: Denny Malmberg on acoustic bass (not keyboards or accordion), Doug Haining on saxophone. No cover.

Also tonight, at 8 p.m., Brad Bellows, Donald Washington, Peter A. Hennig, and Brian Roessler take the stage at the Black Dog Café in St. Paul’s Lowertown. They’re performing as part of the excellent Community Pool: Deep End music series curated by Roessler and Nathan Hanson, currently the only reliable weekly improvised music series in the Twin Cities. Brad on valve trombone, Donald on saxophone, Peter on drums, Brian on bass. If you go, please go to listen. No cover.

And tonight as well, at 9 p.m. at the Artists' Quarter in St. Paul, “Beyond Category: A Tribute to Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.” For those who might not know this, Billy Strayhorn wrote many of Ellington’s most famous tunes, including “Take the A Train.” At the AQ, Lucia Newell and Maud Hixson will sing a well-curated selection, accompanied by the Rick Carlson Trio. This is a reprise of a show they did in Bloomington a few years back, only with a smaller cast. It will definitely be worth hearing these two fine singers perform these songs. Lucia recorded a Strayhorn CD in 2004, Steeped in Strayhorn, that’s very lush. $12.

Summer is made for road trips, and I want to mention something a little out of the way but worth traveling for. On Saturday, July 9, in a town called Terrace in west central Minnesota, at a place called Pope Art—a converted Lutheran church—Connie Evingson and Mary Louise Knutson will perform. Terrace is about two hours from Minneapolis, about 38 min. south of Alexandria. Visit the website FMI and directions. The concert starts at 7:30. $15.

I noted a moment ago that the Black Dog currently hosts the only reliable weekly improvised music series in the Twin Cities. Something new is starting on Sunday, July 10. Over at the Eagles Club in Minneapolis, about the least likely place you can imagine as a setting for improvised music, that’s exactly what you’ll hear this Sunday night. First set: Paul Metzger, Adam Linz, and JT Bates. Adam and JT are members of Fat Kid Wednesdays; Metzger plays electrified banjo. Banjo as you’ve never heard it before. Second set: Wailing Ships, a group with Luke Polipnick on guitar, Josh Granowski on bass, and Davu Seru on drums. Verrrry interesting. Also rather fascinating: the first set starts at 10 on a Sunday night. They may be modeling their late-night hours after the Clown Lounge in St. Paul. 9 p.m. or even 8 might be a better starting time, I'm just saying. $5 cover.

On Tuesday, July 12, at 7 p.m., the Charles Lazarus Quartet will perform at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis. Lazarus plays trumpet for the Minnesota Orchestra and also leads his own lounge/exotica and funk-fired jazz group. This is a free concert in the sanctuary.

Also on Tuesday, at 7 and 9 p.m., vocalist René Marie returns to the Dakota. She sings as if she has nothing to lose, with passion and conviction. Her personal story is fascinating: she didn’t start singing professionally until her 40s. She makes us think about what it means to be a jazz singer, what it means to be African-American, even what it means to be American. If all of that sounds cryptic, go hear for yourself. I’ve seen her live several times and she has never let me down. $25/$15.

I mentioned Dave Hagedorn earlier. He’s at the AQ on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. with Texas pianist Dan Cavanagh, with whom he recorded the excellent duo CD, Horizon, released late last year. $5.

That takes us up to Thursday, when, if you tune into Maryann Sullivan's On the Local Corner on KBEM at 7 p.m., you’ll hear more calendar news from yours truly.

Tune to jazz radio station 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. 88.5 FM in the Twin Cities, streaming live on the Web. Come back to KBEM on Saturday night for Maryann Sullivan’s “Corner Jazz” and on Thursday for “On the Local Corner,” both with calendar news. Check the live jazz calendar at the right or on KBEM's website for many more events.

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