Friday, September 9, 2011

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

Tonight and tomorrow (Friday–Saturday, Sept. 9–10) at the Artists’ Quarter in St. Paul: violinist Christian Howes. Jazz violin will never be as big as jazz piano or saxophone, but it seems there are more jazz violinists these days. Regina Carter is the world ambassador for her instrument; she’s deeply involved in her “Reverse Thread” project and just last weekend played the Detroit Jazz Festival. In the Twin Cities, we can hear Gary Schulte, Randy Sabien (who teaches at McNally-Smith but doesn’t play out as much as I wish he would), and, more recently, Kip Jones. Christian Howes is not from around here, but he will be in residence at the AQ this weekend. The Jazz Journalists Association recently nominated him for jazz violinist of the year, and he just won the Downbeat Critics’ Poll for rising stars/jazz violin. This will be a treat. 9 p.m. ($15)

All day Saturday starting at 11 a.m., it’s the Selby Avenue Jazz Festival. Now in its 10th year, held at the intersection of Selby Avenue and Milton St. North in St. Paul outside the Golden Thymes Coffee Café, it’s a full day of neighborhood, regional, national, and international jazz, plus State Fair food with a soul food twist. Gerald Albright is the headliner; other artists include Dick and Jane’s Big Brass Band, Walker West and the Urban Legends of Jazz, Salsa Del Soul, and Public Nuisance. Pippi Ardenia will MC the second half, and Larry Englund will record the Walker West/Urban Legends show for his forthcoming radio series on KBEM, Saint Paul Live! The festival is free.

After a summer break, Jazz at the Lobby Bar is back at the Saint Paul Hotel. JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske play their signature blend of standards in the spacious and lovely lobby of the Twin Cities’ grandest old hotel. The music starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday. No cover.

On Saturday night at the Black Dog in St. Paul: Merciless Ghost. Group improvisation with George Cartwright on saxophone, Josh Granowski on bass (Josh! Get a website!), Davu Seru on drums. I love this group. It's music that feeds your head and your heart. Starts at 8-ish p.m. No cover.

On Monday, lifelong iconoclast Milo Fine presents one of his bimonthly Improvised Music at Homewood Studios programs. These are evenings of spontaneous composition by some of the Twin Cities’ most adventurous and fearless musicians. Monday’s lineup features Milo on electronic piano, B-flat and alto clarinets, Scott Newell on tenor sax and voice, Davu Seru on drumset, and Charles Gillett on guitar. Concerts begin promptly at 7 p.m.—Milo time, not jazz time. ($5)

The Jack Brass Band is now the regular house band at the Driftwood Char Bar in Minneapolis on Tuesday nights. Party music, New Orleans-style. The music starts at 8 p.m..

On Tuesday, the new Jazz at the Nicollet coffee house series continues with guitarist John Penny, who will play from 7 p.m. until 9. This is a big, open, sunny room with old hardwood floors and a very nice vibe. Corner of Franklin and Nicollet, former home of the Acadia. No cover.

On Wednesday, the Nomad Jazz Series at the Nomad World Pub features the Jeremy Boettcher Quartet. (Jeremy! Get a website!) This series re-launched in June after a few years’ hiatus, and curator James Buckley is making some interesting plans for the future we can’t talk about quite yet. The first set starts at 10:30 p.m., the second at midnight. It’s the Clown Lounge reborn in a new space above ground, without the fake fireplace. No cover.

On Thursday, the REEL Jazz series begins its new season at the Trylon Microcinema. Curated by KBEM’s Kevin Barnes, REEL Jazz features films about jazz—the kind you won’t see at the gigaplex movie houses. The season starts with Life After Django, a film about the great Roma/Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and his immense musical legacy. 7:30 p.m. ($10) Tickets at the KBEM website.

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