Thursday, July 14, 2011

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

Tonight (Friday, July 15) and tomorrow at the Artists’ Quarter in St. Paul at 9 p.m., a foursome I don’t think has played together publicly before: Brandon Wozniak on saxophones, Dean Magraw on guitar, James Buckley on bass, Kenny Horst on drums. An example of how the Twin Cities are mix-it-up jazz towns; people form bands, but they also play with each other in various configurations (which often leads to forming even more bands). These are four interesting, inventive, creative players. Worth going out to hear. $10.

Tomorrow, all day Saturday, July 16: The second annual Dakota Street Fest in downtown Minneapolis. Last year’s was a blast, with Charmaine Neville and Glen David Andrews doing the honors as headliners. Sudden storms drove everyone indoors, where Andrews gave a terrific show and crowd-surfed around the club. This year’s lineup is impressive. You can see the whole thing at the website,, but here’s a tease: Debbie Duncan, Paul Metsa (whose autobiography comes out this fall from the U of M press, by the way), Seven Steps to Havana, the Maud Hixson Quartet, Todd Clouser's A Love Electric, the George Maurer Group, Bobby Lyle with Irv Williams, Cedric Burnside, the Dave King Trucking Company, Sophia Shorai, and more. The music starts at noon on three outdoor stages, at 5 p.m. indoors on the Dakota’s stage, and continues until the Dakota closes at one-ish. During the day, from noon to 6, there are kids’ activities outdoors, including a parade with the Heart of the Beast puppets. Free.

Also all day Saturday—and I have to mention this because it will include some jazz, but also because for people who are into this sort of thing, there’s nothing like it—there’s a giant Drum and Bugle Corps competition at the TCF Bank Stadium at the U of M. Seven hours of music and marching field competition featuring more than 1,500 young performers in 24 drum corps ensembles from across the US and Canada. Tickets start at $30. FMI, click here.

On Saturday night at 9 p.m. at the Aster Café, the astonishingly prolific guitarist/composer Reynold Philipsek will celebrate the release of his latest CD, Tales from the North Woods. Many people know Reynold as an excellent gypsy jazz guitarist. More recently, he’s been exploring his Czech and Polish heritage and the Slavic folk music he heard growing up. He’s a player who continually evolves and changes. The Aster is small, so you’ll want to make a reservation. The $12 cover charge also gets you a CD.

Wednesday, July 20, is piano night, with Rahjta Ren at Café Maude in SW Minneapolis starting at 7 (no cover) and the Chris Lomheim Trio at the Artists’ Quarter in St. Paul beginning at 9 ($5). Often, when I'm working and my piano playlist is in the background, if a certain piece of music makes me stop and listen, it's something by Chris Lomheim. 

At the Dakota, singer/pianist Karrin Allyson will play two sets each on Wednesday and Thursday, at 7 and 9 p.m. She built her career here, her mom still lives here, and we think she still belongs to us. So even though she now lives in NYC, the Dakota feels like a homecoming. She’s on tour with a new CD called ’Round Midnight. Critics have been effusive, using words like “wistful,” “darkly beautiful,” and “melancholic.” This is definitely not “O Barquinho (My Little Boat)” or “O Pato (The Duck)” (quack quack quack). It’s “Send in the Clowns” and “The Shadow of Your Smile" and "I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” and “Born to Be Blue.” And the saddest “Smile” I’ve ever heard. Emotion, expression, a beautiful and unusual voice, and effortless control. This is Allyson's 13th CD for Concord. Lucky 13. $40/$25.

New and noteworthy: The JazzMN Orchestra has a winner of a revamped website. Slide shows on the home page, photo galleries, profiles of the musicians who play in the orchestra, and features called “backstage passes” where you can learn more about them. (Mary Louise Knutson, I did not know that you are a maple syrup fanatic.) Check it out and consider subscribing to their upcoming season.

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. Send news about your jazz events to

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