Thursday, August 18, 2011

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

Tonight and tomorrow (Friday–Saturday, August 19–20) at the Artists' Quarter: the Miguel Hurtado Group. Miguel is an exciting young drummer and a recent graduate of the Manhattan School of Music. His band will include Marquis Hill on trumpet and Christopher McBride on saxophone, both Miguel’s friends from Chicago, and Twin Cities musicians Zacc Harris (guitar), James Buckley (bass), and Joe Strachan (piano; Friday only). Everyone will contribute original compositions. Playing the AQ is a big deal for any young jazz musician—a weekend especially so. 9 p.m. ($12)

On Saturday at Hell’s Kitchen, the Jana Nyberg Group is having their CD release for Fever. I like how Jana sings a song—she’s not at all shy about it, she just steps up and grabs it. And I like how her husband, Adam Meckler, plays the trumpet. The combination of voice and trumpet is one of many reasons to hear this new CD.  Meckler’s arrangement of the title track gives an evergreen a good shake, and Jana's sassy run at “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” tickles and swings. Hell’s Kitchen, 6 p.m. Saturday. No cover.

On Saturday at the Dakota, the George Maurer Group is having their CD release for Twisted. Maurer is an extremely skilled and versatile composer; he’s currently writing an opera. His group has been together for years, and it shows in their tightness and camaraderie. They work hard, but they clearly have a good time, and so does their audience. Twisted is the 20th release on Maurer’s label, Pine Curtain Records, founded 25 years ago. Maurer was doing the whole put-out-your-own-record thing long before most people even thought of it. This will be a fun show, and it will sell out, so if you want to go, make a reservation pronto. 8 p.m. ($12)

Also on Saturday, at the Hat Trick in St. Paul, the group JazZEN is having their CD release (three on one night!) for Bounce Off the Moon. This very interesting group plays jazz on unusual instrumentation: wooden flutes, electric cello, and drums. Bounce off the Moon shows their versatility as musicians and their respect for jazz greats, with tunes by Wayne Shorter, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis. I especially enjoy their version of Shorter’s “Footprints.” Deep, rhythmic, and loamy. No cover.

On Sunday, the Peterson family and their many friends will gather at the Old Log Theater in Excelsior to celebrate the 90th birthday of family matriarch and Minnesota jazz legend Jeanne Arland Peterson. Her 90th birthday, and her 70-year career in music—as the organist for the MN Twins, for 22 years on WCCO Radio, as a solo and ensemble artist, as a member of the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame. And as head of three generations (so far) of talented musicians—Billy, Patty, Linda, Ricky, Paul, Jason Peterson DeLaire, and more, many of whom we can expect to see on Sunday. It all happens at the Old Log Theater in Excelsior, where the music starts at 6:30. Go a bit early and sit by the shores of Lake Minnetonka. ($23)

On Monday at the Dakota, it’s Ben Sidran meets Mr. Smooth—our own Irv Williams, who recently turned 92. Is there something in Twin Cities water that mixes with jazz to produce nonagenarians? Sidran is a Steve Miller Band alum (and writer of “Space Cowboy”), former host of NPR’s jazz series “Jazz Alive,” composer, singer, producer, pianist, author, and Ph.D. with more than a passing musical resemblance to Mose Allison. Williams is simply one of the finest, most tender and eloquent tenor saxophonists you’ll ever hear. 7 p.m. ($25)

On Wednesday at the Orpheum, Dweezil Zappa opens for Return to Forever IV, the latest incarnation of the fusion supergroup. Jean-Luc Ponty and Frank Gambale join Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White for music that’s likely to blow your head off. Expect RTF classics, highlights from each member's solo repertoire, and new compositions. A lot of people are very excited about this show. 7:30 p.m. ($53.50-$63.50)

Dweezil Zappa makes me think of Zowie Bowie, another celebrity child with a singular name that also contains the letter Z. I’m googling like mad as I type this, learning that both Dweezil and Zowie were nicknames given them by their fathers, Frank and David. But while Dweezil stuck with his (it’s now his legal name), Zowie, apparently, couldn’t take it, switching to Joey (really? Like Joey Bowie is better than Zowie?) at around age 12, then Joe, then reverting to his birth name, Duncan Jones, at 18. Why not Duncan Bowie?

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