Friday, August 26, 2011

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

Tonight and tomorrow (Friday–Saturday, August 26–27) at the Artists’ Quarter: Jeanne Arland Peterson and Cliff Brunzell will celebrate their 90th birthdays. It’s rumored that Jeanne, pianist extraordinaire and mother of the musical Peterson clan, and Cliff, the superb violinist and maestro of the Golden Strings, will be joined by Irv Williams, saxophonist supreme, a.k.a. Mr. Smooth, who has a couple of years on Jeanne and Cliff; he’s 92. Irv played with Ben Sidran at the Dakota earlier this week and I hear it was a fabulous night. 9 p.m. ($15)

Tonight (Friday) at the Black Dog in St. Paul’s Lowertown: guitarist Jef Lee Johnson with Johannas Tona and Michael Bland. A recent addition to the Black Dog’s calendar and well worth going out for. Fans of the sorely missed Minnesota Sur Seine festival will remember the amazing and adventuresome Johnson. Bassist Tona has made his mark in the Twin Cities performing with Nachito Herrera and Stokely Williams. Michael Bland has been Prince’s drummer. It will be awesome; it will likely be loud. 8 p.m. ($8 suggested door)

On Saturday, vocalist Vicky Mountain and pianist Tanner Taylor will play for the dinner crowd at the First Course Bistro in Minneapolis. It’s a small place so you’ll want to make a reservation. Vicky does a lovely “Jitterbug Waltz” (for which she has written her own lyrics); Tanner is an exquisite pianist and intuitive, gracious accompanist. 7 p.m. (no cover)

On Sunday afternoon, vocalist Maud Hixson and pianist Rick Carlson will perform an all-Strayhorn-and-Ellington program at the Church of St. Albert the Great in Minneapolis. It's part of a day-long “Grand Inaugural Ivory Tickling” in honor of St. Albert’s newly-arrived 9-foot Steinway Concert Grand. Songs will include “Solitude,” “Come Sunday,” “Mood Indigo,” “Heaven,” and “What Am I Here For?” The music starts at 1 p.m. ($15) If you like, you can go early for brunch at 11:15 in the social hall ($10), even earlier for the liturgy at 9:30.

On Monday, Connie Evingson sings a solo show at the Dakota. A little bossa nova? Some Beatles? Gypsy jazz? Peggy Lee? Songs by Dave Frishberg or Norman Gimbel? They’re all at home in the big, eclectic book of this gracious and swinging singer. With Rick Carlson on piano, Dave Karr on tenor sax, and Gordy Johnson on bass. 7 p.m. ($7)

On Thursday, pianist Amina Figarova returns to the Dakota. I’m excited to see this very fine pianist and composer again, and her terrific band: husband Bart Platteau on flutes, Ernie Hammes on trumpet, Mark Mommaas on tenor sax, Jeroen Vierdag on bass, Chris “Buckshot” Strik on drums. Born in Azerbaijan, Figarova now makes her home in the Netherlands. I had the pleasure of interviewing her in 2009. 7 p.m. ($15).

For more information on these and other events, check the live jazz calendar at the right or on jazz radio station's KBEM website. Send information about your jazz events to

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