Friday, September 16, 2011

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

Tonight (Friday, Sept. 16) at the Black Dog in St. Paul: High Dive into the Deep End. The excellent Community Pool: Deep End series of improvised music performances resumes at its welcoming home in Lowertown. Curated by Nathan Hanson and Brian Roessler of Fantastic Merlins fame, this series has for me been one ear-opener after another. Tonight: Eric Fratzke on guitar, Hanson on saxophone, Roessler on bass, and two drummers: Pete Hennig (of the Merlins, Atlantis Quartet, the Zacc Harris Trio, and more) and Peter Leggett (Heiruspecs). Together they have recorded a not-yet-released collection of tracks called Fort Knox Nostalgia; check out "Morgan's Raid" on Soundcloud. Here's an interview with Roessler about the series. 8 p.m. No cover.

Tonight and tomorrow (Friday–Saturday, Sept. 16–17) at the Artists' Quarter in St. Paul: Bryan Nichols, Anthony Cox, Dave King. This newly-minted trio has already been dubbed a "supergroup" and who's to argue?  McKnight artist Nichols is, to me, the most consistently interesting, surprising, and satisfying pianist in the Twin Cities, whether leading his own groups small and large or playing well with others (Gang Font, James Buckley Trio, Zacc Harris Quartet). His quintet's debut recording, Bright Places, released earlier this year, features all original compositions. Both bassist Cox (who has played with Geri Allen, Joe Lovano, ad infinitum) and drummer King (The Bad Plus, The Dave King Trucking Co., etc. etc.) are beasts. 9 p.m. both nights. ($9) You can reserve online and I would if I were you.

Beloved by many, the Khyber Pass Cafe in St. Paul has had a rough summer. Tomorrow night (Saturday, Sept. 17) begins a series of music-fueled fundraisers we all hope will keep the doors open. Donations will be accepted at the door; beer, tea, wine, and small plates will be available for purchase. Here's the schedule so far; all events run from 9–11 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 17: XIBABA (Brazilian music)
  • Friday, Sept. 23: Davu Seru and Dean Magraw
  • Saturday, Sept. 24: George Cartwright
  • Sunday, Sept. 25: Milo Fine
  • Friday, Sept. 30: Dave King Trucking Company
Watch the website for more. Help if you can.

Tuesday and Wednesday (Sept. 20–21) at the Dakota: James Farm. Saxophonist Joshua Redman's acoustic quartet plays the Monterey Jazz Festival tomorrow (Redman is this year's artist-in-residence), then flies to Minneapolis for two nights at the Dakota. It's not really Redman's quartet; the J in James stands for Joshua, the A for pianist Aaron Parks, the M for bassist Matt Penman, the E for drummer Eric Harland, signifying the group's collaborative intent and nature. All four members are virtuoso instrumentalists and imaginative composers. Their self-titled debut release has won raves, and their live sets generate a lot of excitement, whether at the Jazz Standard in NYC or the Newport Jazz Festival earlier this summer. 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. ($40/$30)

Heads up:
  • Friday, Sept. 23: Theo Bleckmann at Macalester-Plymouth United Church
  • Thursday, Sept. 29–Saturday, Sept. 31: The Minnesota Orchestra's season opener features the world premiere of a new commission: Stephen Paulus's TimePiece for jazz soloists and orchestra featuring Bryan Nichols, Greg Paulus, Mike Lewis, JT Bates, Adam Linz, and the Minnesota Orchestra.
  • Sunday, Oct. 1: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra returns to Orchestra Hall to celebrate Wynton Marsalis's 50th birthday.

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