Friday, August 5, 2011

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

Tonight (Friday, August 5) in the eclectic and never dull Music in the Zoo series, in the open-air theater just past the tigers: DMS, for Duke (George), Miller (Marcus), and Sanborn (David). This new supergroup was born when all three were playing a recent Caribbean jazz cruise. Duke (keyboards, vocals) has performed with Al Jarreau, Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, Cannonball Adderley’s band, Sonny Rollins, and on and on. Miller (bass) worked with Miles Davis, Grover Washington Jr., Bob James, and many more. Sanborn (saxophone) is a pop, R&B, jazz, and crossover star; he’s played with (to name a few) the Butterfield Blues Band, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, the Brecker Brothers—and Tim Berne. Three big guns. With Federico Pena on keys, Louis Cato on drums. The music starts at 7:30. ($39)

Marco Benevento by Michael Weintrob
In Minneapolis, at the Loring Theater, Todd Clouser’s A Love Electric opens for Marco Benevento. Clouser grew up here and now makes his home in Mexico; he’s been on tour a lot with his band and their new CD, so you might have seen him earlier at the Dakota or the Aster. The band's energetic electric jazz will be a perfect lead-in to Benevento’s blend of electronic music and traditional jazz ("post-jazz") played on a tricked-out piano: amps, guitar pick-ups, pedals, curcuit-bent toys. Ever since John Cage stuck a fork in his piano strings, I've liked the thick, buzzy, fuzzy, multilayered sound of a piano that has been messed with. Benevento is being promoted as “the future of rock piano,” but he has serious jazz chops and I hope we’ll hear some of those—a little Monk, please? One thing I won’t be surprised to hear: Benevento’s bashy, crashy cover of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.” He almost has to play it. Or maybe he has to not play it? Doors at 7, music starts at 8. ($12 advance/$15 door)

Over at the Artists’ Quarter in St. Paul, you can hear the John Moulder Quartet. Moulder has been the guitarist for drummer Paul Wertico’s trio for many years. He’s also Father John Moulder, priest at St. Gregory the Great Church in Chicago. He believes that his callings as priest and jazz musician come from the same source, and that jazz has the power to express the divine. Makes sense to me. With Dan Musselman on piano, Billy Peterson on bass, and Alex Young on drums. 9 p.m. at the AQ, one night only. ($12)

On Saturday, the AQ belongs to the Laura Caviani Trio. They'll play some standards, some originals, and (I hope) some Monk. Caviani is an elegant, eloquent pianist, always worth going out to see. With Gary Raynor on bass, Nathan Norman on drums. Starts at 9 p.m. ($10)

On Sunday, it’s the Bloomington Jazz Festival at the Normandale Lake Bandshell. Green grass, sloping lawn, lovely bandshell, food vendors. This year’s lineup: The Rum River Brass Band at noon. Vic Volare and the Volare Lounge Orchestra at 1:30. The big, bad Wolverines Big Band at 3, led by Jendeen Forberg, playing music by Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, and more. Free.

On Monday, out at the Old Log Theater in Excelsior, the Minnesota Jazz All Stars will perform. Led by violinist Cliff Brunzell, the band features legendary Twin Cities jazz musicians Jeanne Arland Peterson (who’s about to celebrate her 90th birthday), Irv Williams, Dave Karr, Reuben Ristrom, and Mac Santiago. Charmin Michelle is the featured vocalist. The music starts at 7:30 p.m. ($23)

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at the Dakota, the amazing Bettye Lavette. Lately a lot of people are comparing her to Aretha Franklin, which seems borderline sacrilege to me—nobody compares to the Queen of Soul—but Bettye is very special. She loves the Dakota, and she credits owner Lowell Pickett with kickstarting her career. She had a Top 10 R&B hit at age 16, then nada for 40 years. Now in her her 60s, she’s making hit CDs, winning awards, earning critical praise, collecting fans like Keith Richards and Elton John, and performing at presidential inaugurations. Her latest CD, Interpretations, out last year, features 13 songs from the British rock songbook: the Beatles’ “The Word,” the Stones’ “Salt of the Earth,” the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin.” She kills them. One show per night, starting at 7. ($45)

On Tuesday, a new jazz series starts at The Nicollet, a coffee house on the corner of Nicollet and Franklin where the old Acadia used to be. Vocalist Maxine Souse (aka Maryann Sullivan) will kick off the series and the night with a performance that starts at 6. If you remember the old Acadia, there’s no more center wall; it’s one big space now. Wouldn’t it be great if we packed the place? 1931 Nicollet, corner of Nicollet and Franklin. No cover but notice the tip jar.

On Wednesday, accordionist extraordinaire Patrick Harison and the inventive bassist James Buckley perform at Café Maude, the Southwest Minneapolis neighborhood bistro on 54th and Penn. And the horn-fueled jazz quintet Snowblind holds forth at the Artists’ Quarter.

Mark your calendars and save your pennies: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra comes to Orchestra Hall in early October. Herbie Hancock plays a solo show there later that month. Al Jarreau performs at the Pantages in November. I know a lot of people who have already bought their tickets to see pianist Vijay Iyer at the Walker Art Center next March.

For the details on these events and many more, check out the Live Jazz in the Twin Cities calendar on KBEM’s website. If you’re a local artist, send information about your gigs to

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