Friday, August 12, 2011

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

Tonight and tomorrow (Friday–Saturday, August 12–13) at the Artists’ Quarter, the Atlantis Quartet. Voted “Best Jazz Artist” by City Pages last year, Atlantis is Brandon Wozniak on saxophone, Zacc Harris on guitar, Chris Bates on bass, and Pete Hennig on drums. Modern, creative, very enjoyable music. They’ve released two CDs so far, Animal Progress and Again, Too Soon, and earlier this year they recorded a live CD at AQ, for which their fans are waiting.  Harris is hinting that "unicycles might be a part of the show, clown costumes for sure." 9 p.m. ($10)

On Saturday, the annual Freedom Jazz Festival takes place at Minnehaha Falls Park in Minneapolis. This Twin Cities tradition has a special mission: to present, preserve, and promote jazz as it relates to the Black/African American experience. This year’s lineup includes Urban Cadence, the Capri Big Band, Morris Wilson, Voice of Culture African Drum and Dance, and the Ugandan Orphans Choir. This has always been a people’s jazz festival. Read more about it in Robin James's article for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. The music starts at 1 p.m. and ends at 7, or thereabouts. Free.

Also on Saturday, jazz singer Grazyna Auguscik headlines this year’s Twin Cities Polish Festival. She’s originally from Poland, came to the States to attend Berklee College of Music, now lives in Chicago, and specializes in Brazilian-flavored jazz. She also reinterprets Chopin like a punk Swingle Singer. Read my interview with Grazyna here. 7 p.m. on the Polka Stage on Old Main Street across from Riverplace and St. Anthony Main. Free.

And on Saturday, at Studio Z in Lowertown, three groups of young musicians will show what they know. The Quentin Tschofen Quintet will start; Tschofen won scholarships in the past two Schubert Club/Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education jazz piano competitions. Next up, Famous Last Words, featuring free improvisations by Joe Strachan and Noah Oppoven-Baldwin. Joe Strachan, Cory Grindberg, and Miguel Hurtado will close with their own original music. All of these musicians are either recent college grads, still in college, or recent HS grads. 7 p.m. at Studio Z in St. Paul’s Lowertown. Snacks included. ($5)

On Sunday, the Artists’ Quarter will host a benefit for saxophonist and composer Jim Marentic. 100% of the proceeds will go to help him with recent hospital expenses. Some of the Twin Cities’ finest musicians will perform, including the Jonathan Pemberton Quintet, a McNally Smith faculty group (Marentic has been teaching there), Pete Whitman’s excellent X-Tet, Anthony Cox, and the George Avaloz Quintet. The music starts at 4 and goes until who knows. ($15 suggested donation)

On Monday at the Old Log Theater in Excelsior, the Charles Lazarus Jazz Quartet will be joined by vocalist Connie Evingson for “Fly Me to the Moon: Music from the Great American Songbook.” Lazarus also plays trumpet with the Minnesota Orchestra, and we all know Connie from her work with Moore by Four, her many solo shows, and her recordings including Little Did I Dream with Dave Frishberg. A sure thing. 7:30 at the Old Log. ($23)

On Wednesday and Thursday at the Dakota, a recent addition to their schedule: Freddy Cole, Nat’s younger brother and Natalie’s uncle. You almost have to feel sorry for someone who’s tremendously talented and gifted in his own right, but his brother is Nat King Cole. What the New York Times says: “As both pianist and singer, Freddy Cole has an impeccable sense of swing…He is, overall, the most maturely expressive male jazz singer of his generation, if not the best alive.” So if you go because you’re curious to hear Nat King Cole’s brother, chances are you’ll come away happy you’ve heard Freddy Cole. 7 p.m. (no 9:00 show), the Dakota, Wednesday and Thursday. ($25)

For the details on these events and many more, check out the Live Jazz in the Twin Cities calendar on KBEM’s website (or immediately to your right). If you’re a local artist, send information about your gigs to jazz88calendar@gmail.com.

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