Sunday, February 27, 2011

Concert review: Alisa Weilerstein and Gabriel Kahane at the Southern

When: Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011 • Where: Southern TheaterWho: Alisa Weilerstein, cello; Gabriel Kahane, piano, guitar, voice

Gabriel Kahane by Jen Snow
For years I never went to the Southern Theater in Minneapolis, and now I can’t stay away. Their programming—a mix of music, dance, and theater—is fresh and intriguing. I’m especially drawn to the music, where I’m being schooled in contemporary classical, indie pop, folk, electronica, and what happens, for instance, when hip-hop artists take on jazz seriously and thoughtfully. I might not always love it, but I often do, and even when I don’t, I come away feeling I’ve learned and/or heard something new.

Saturday’s concert by Gabriel Kahane and Alisa Weilerstein lured me in because Kahane, a young composer/performer, had written music for a poem called “Little Sleep’s Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight” by the great American poet Galway Kinnell. A big, craggy man with a resonant voice, Kinnell had come to Carleton College in Northfield when I was a student there and read that poem aloud. Framed by the actions of a father comforting his baby daughter (“You cry, waking from a nightmare…. Back you go, into your crib”), it’s a meditation on parenthood, mortality, love, yearning, life, death, memory, family, grief, and joy. I remember being moved to tears at Kinnell’s reading.

Kahane’s “Little Sleep’s Head” ended the program. A lot happened before. Cellist Weilerstein, also very young, came out first alone and played Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major. I think she was halfway through the Sarabande before I sat back in my chair, and I might have been holding my breath. Weilerstein played the old familiar piece as if it had been written yesterday, with passion, power, absolute confidence, and a pure, hot stream of emotion. In the resonant acoustic of the Southern, you could hear her bow on the strings, and the singing of the wood. It was exhilarating.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Live jazz in Minneapolis-St. Paul: This week's picks

Are you in your car or near a radio at 8:30 CST on Friday mornings? Tune to KBEM to hear me and Mr. Jones—Jazz 88 "Morning Show" host Ed Jones—talk about these events and more. 88.5 FM in the Twin Cities, streaming live on the Web

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) recently submitted its 2012 budget (“appropriations request”) to Congress. It’s no surprise that cuts will be made, but it is surprising (at least to some people) that the NEA has proposed eliminating its Jazz Masters program.

Since 1982, 119 artists and groups have received Jazz Masters fellowships, the highest honor our nation bestows on jazz artists. Fellows are awarded grants (currently $25,000) and are invited to an annual awards ceremony and concert. You can read an alphabetical list of NEA Jazz Masters here. Or, if you prefer, a year-by-year list. Click on any name to learn more about a musician and his or her accomplishments.

Among jazz musicians and fans, being selected as a Jazz Master is a serious thing, our equivalent to being named a Living National Treasure in Japan. Once a Master, always a Master. Several Masters have come through the Twin Cities in recent months and years: Kenny Barron, Ramsey Lewis, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, Dave Brubeck, Ahmad Jamal, Roy Haynes. In 2011, in a rather controversial decision, the Marsalis family (father Ellis and sons Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo, and Jason) was collectively dubbed Jazz Master(s), and on Sunday, both Branford and Jason will perform in Minneapolis.

The question some people are asking is: Does it matter if the Jazz Masters award goes away? I’d like to know what you think. If you care to comment, please do so below.

Friday: Pat O’Keefe, Viv Corringham, Nathan Hanson, and Brian Roessler at the Black Dog

Viv Corringham by John Whiting
Now that the Clown Lounge has closed and Café Maude is winding down its live music on the weekends (this is the last weekend you can see live jazz at Maude, and only on Friday), the Black Dog in St. Paul is the only place that regularly features improvised music.

Hats off and thumbs up to owner Sara Remke for continuing to make space for the music, and to Nathan Hanson for programming (and playing) it.

I can predict that this night will be unpredictable, with Zeitgeist’s Pat O’Keefe on clarinets, Viv Corringham on voice, Hanson on saxophone, and Brian Roessler on bass. Corringham is a British vocalist and sound artist who treats her voice like a wind instrument. I promise you’ve never heard anything like it.

8-ish p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, Black Dog (corner of 4th and Broadway in St. Paul’s Lowertown). No cover, but show some love to the tip jar. 651-228-9274.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Willard Jenkins weighs in on the Jazz Masters

When I wrote last week about the likely demise of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters program, I mentioned wanting to hear what Willard Jenkins had to say. Jenkins is a journalist, arts consultant, presenter, and coordinator of the NEA Jazz Masters Live program, which each year sends Jazz Masters to perform and teach in communities across the nation. 

This topic is being discussed at the Jazz Journalists Association member site, and I have permission from Willard to excerpt from his comments:
NEA Jazz Masters ""Live" supports NEAJM performances at select sites around the country. And lest anyone get the false impression that those NEAJM "Live" performances only occur in major metropolitan areas, I am on my way to Moscow, Idaho to conduct a site visit on one such funded NEA Jazz Master residency with the great Jimmy Heath.  I doubt Jimmy Heath would be performing and educating in Moscow, Idaho were it not for the NEAJM "Live" grant.  And let's not overlook the jazz audience development potential of such funded engagements. 
Forthcoming NEA Jazz Masters "Live" supported performances are scheduled throughout this year in such places as Albuquerque, New Mexico; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Hartford, Connecticut; and sites across the country. 

Jaleel Shaw's Hat

The first time I saw the fine young saxophonist Jaleel Shaw was in January 2006, when he performed at the Artists' Quarter in St. Paul with Roy Haynes' Fountain of Youth. I've made it a point ever since to catch him when I can, whether at the AQ as leader, or on the Ted Mann or Monterey Jazz Festival stage with Haynes. His playing is full of energy and integrity, intelligence and warmth. (Here's an interview from 2008.)

Jaleel is part of my ongoing Hats for Cats project. (I make hats for jazz musicians whose music I enjoy, and for others associated with jazz whose efforts I appreciate.) At my request, he gamely got out of bed one morning, pulled on his hat, snapped a picture, and sent it to me. Thanks, Leel. XOXO

Here's the current list of cats with hats:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

More on The Bad Plus plus Stravinsky

Jason Rabin has interviewed Ethan Iverson about this mighty project. Read here.

News about e.s.t.

From B.H. Hopper Management in London:

This week Magnus Öström´s debut album "Thread of Life" (ACT) will be released in Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Eastern Europe. Other territories will follow in the next few weeks. At the bottom of this mail you can find the full list of release dates.

Also this week will see the premier show for Magnus´ new band! On February 23 the world premier will take place in Stockholm´s “Hornstull Strand”, and then on March 12 they will perform a semi-private late-night show at London´s Pizza Express Jazz Club - one of Magnus´ favourite venues - before they embark on a European tour in late April 2011. Please check Magnus´ website for tour-dates.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Live jazz in Minneapolis-St. Paul: This week’s picks

Are you in your car or near a radio at 8:30 CST on Friday mornings? Tune to KBEM to hear me and Mr. Jones—Jazz 88 "Morning Show" host Ed Jones—talk about these events and more. 88.5 FM in the Twin Cities, streaming live on the WebNote: This Friday (Feb. 18), the lovely Maryann Sullivan, host of KBEM’s “Corner Jazz,” will sit in for Ed.

It’s not a big week in terms of national jazz acts coming through (with one exception), but it’s a good week in terms of area artists (and an expat) offering variety and excellence—in other words, business as usual for our jazz-rich towns. Think of this as a good time to explore some venues that may be new to you and won’t cost you a bundle.

Friday: Erik Fratzke, Carnage, Nathan Hanson, and Brian Roessler at the Black Dog

Carnage the Executioner
What was once called the “Fantastic Fridays” music series at the Black Dog is now “Community Pool: Deep End” to distinguish it from Fantastic Merlins, the jazz group. But it’s still curated by the wide-eared Nathan Hanson and features some of the cities’ most interesting musicians. Tonight, the core duo of Hanson on saxophones and Roessler on acoustic bass will be joined by two friends: the mighty Eric Fratzke on electric guitar and bass, and emcee/beatboxer/hip-hop artist/rapper Carnage the Executioner. Carnage’s solo debut CD, Worth the Wait, is just out (he celebrated with a release party last night at the Cabooze). Listen here

8-ish p.m. Friday, Feb. 18, Black Dog (corner of 4th and Broadway in St. Paul's Lowertown). No cover, but honor the tip jar. 651-228-9274.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

NEA Jazz Masters Award gets the axe in new budget proposal

I'd heard rumors but hoped they weren't true. The National Endowment for the Arts plans to eliminate its Jazz Masters award.

2012 will be the 30th and final year of this prestigious award, the nation's highest honor for jazz, often called the only American art form. Since 1982, 119 artists and groups have received the Jazz Masters fellowship, which includes a relatively modest $25,000 grant and opportunities to participate in educational programs across the country.

I'm guessing that when the Jazz Masters award goes away, so will the rest of the NEA's jazz initiative, including NEA Jazz in the Schools, NEA Jazz Masters Live, and the Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Project. NEA Jazz Masters Live is administered by Arts Midwest, one of six regional arts organizations in the United States, with offices in downtown Minneapolis. Late last year, I worked with Arts Midwest to award the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters Live Grants, which will send several Jazz Masters to communities across the nation to perform, teach, and spread the jazz message.

The Jazz Masters awards (and also specific folk, opera, and other honorifics) will be replaced by something called the NEA American Artists of the Year awards. These will be given to "individuals who have advanced artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities." Awards will be made in two categories: Performing Arts (dance/music/opera/musical theater/theater) and Visual Arts (design/media arts/museums/visual arts, including crafts). Eligible individuals will include not only those who have devoted a lifetime to their art, but also those who have made an "extraordinary contribution" at mid-career.  (Quotes and information from the National Endowment for the Arts Appropriations Request for Fiscal Year 2012. You can read the whole thing here.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Concert review: Kurt Elling at the Dakota, second night, both sets

Who: Kurt Elling, voice; Laurence Hobgood, piano; Harish Raghavan, bass; Ulysses Owens Jr., drums; John McLean, guitar • Where: Dakota • When: Thursday, February 10, 2011

I didn't anticipate that Kurt Elling and his quartet would perform essentially the same sets on the second night of their Dakota stay as on their first. But they probably didn't anticipate that some people would attend all four sets. Elling gave me the heads-up about the setlists before the night began, when he passed by my table after greeting his former classmates from Gustavus Adolphus, whom I happened to sit down beside. "We'll play different notes, but not that different sets," he said. "Hope that's okay with you." 

Of course it was. It's jazz, so even identical sets are never the same.

Owens, Raghavan, Elling, Hobgood


"Moonlight Serenade"

"Steppin' Out." Elling tells the crowd that the title of his new CD, The Gate, is a reference to "swings like a gate." (Is he quoting "Papa Loves Mambo"?) Partway through his piano solo, Hobgood quotes "More" ("More than the greatest love the world has known/This is the love I give to you alone"). At least, I think he does. I'm very surprised.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Jazz at Orchestra Hall 2011-12 lineup announced

Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis has featured jazz as part of its regular annual programming since 2007–08, soon after Lilly Schwartz became director of Pops and Special Projects in 2006. 

Schwartz, who came to the Minnesota Orchestra after a tenure at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, believes that jazz belongs at Orchestra Hall. Her debut jazz series in 2007–08 featured a tribute to Louis Armstrong with Delfeayo Marsalis, an all-star program hosted by trumpeter Sean Jones, and a "Jazz at the Movies" event featuring the Terence Blanchard Quintet.

Irvin Mayfield
In 2008, New Orleans trumpeter Irvin Mayfield was named artistic director of jazz at Orchestra Hall. At the time, Schwartz told me, "We have an artistic director for Sommerfest, Andrew Litton, and Osmo Vänskä for the orchestra," Schwartz says. "I thought it was important to have an artistic director for jazz." That year, the series grew from three concerts to five. 

Now a frequent visitor to the Twin Cities and a popular presence at Orchestra Hall, both onstage (performing and encouraging people to subscribe to the series) and in the lobby (greeting fans), Mayfield has remained artistic director of jazz and will continue in that post for the 2011–12 season. 

Fiscal realities have brought the number of concerts in the jazz series back down to three, but if you browse the Orchestra's coming pops season, you'll find a number of events that walk like jazz, talk like jazz, and swing like jazz: Chris Botti, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Doc Severinsen, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

The 2011–12 jazz series was announced today. All concerts will take place in Orchestra Hall, which will close soon after for a $43 million renovation.

Sunday, October 2, 2011, 7 p.m.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

Saturday, February 18, 2012, 8 p.m.
Lizz Wright and Kurt Elling: Be My Valentine
Wright and Elling will each perform separately, then come together as a duo to celebrate the romance of the season.

Friday, April 6, 20912, 8 p.m.
A Love Letter to New Orleans
with Irvin Mayfield, hosted by Soledad O'Brien
This concert will celebrate the release of Mayfield's new book and CD, A Love Letter to New Orleans, for which O'Brien wrote the foreword. I've heard hints that special guest artists may appear.

Live jazz in Minneapolis-St. Paul: This week’s picks

Are you in your car or near a radio at 8:30 CST on Friday mornings? Tune to KBEM to hear me and Mr. Jones—Jazz 88 "Morning Show" host Ed Jones—talk about these events and more. 88.5 FM in the Twin Cities, streaming live on the Web.

Soon after the 501 Club and the Turf Club closed (the Turf being the upstairs neighbor of the Clown Lounge, former home of Fat Kid Wednesdays), MPR’s Chris Roberts speculated on whether there are just too many music venues in the Twin Cities.

I try to keep current on venues where jazz is featured often or occasionally. Whenever I update the live jazz calendar, I’m surprised by how many places we can go to hear jazz, from clubs to coffee houses, festivals, art centers, churches, parks, and private homes. This week’s picks take you all around town. Are there too many jazz venues? Not if people show up.

Friday–Sunday: The Ends of Love at the Southern Theater

The Ends of Love
I’m out on a limb here, because I don’t know anything about this beyond what the Southern’s website says about these performances by the Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater Company: “Set in an imagistic world of emotional movement and intimate dialogues, The Ends of Love muses on love, lust and loss from youth to old age, referencing works from Plato’s Symposium to Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love.” What caught my eye was this: “Original music by Michelle Kinney, performed by cellists Michelle Kinney and Jacqueline Ultan of Jelloslave and guitarist Park Evans.” I love Jelloslave, a group that also includes Gary Waryan on tablas and Greg Schutte on drums. Their music embraces jazz and many other genres. I also really enjoy guitarist Park Evans whenever I see him. So I guess this event falls into the category of “Take a chance, see what happens.” Art isn’t always a sure thing and I hope it never is.

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 11–12, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13, Southern Theater ($24/$22). 612-340-1725.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Concert review: Kurt Elling at the Dakota, first night, both sets

Kurt Elling
Who: Kurt Elling, voice;  Laurence Hobgood, piano; Harish Raghavan, bass; Ulysses Owens Jr., drums; John McLean, guitar • Where: DakotaWhen: Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A blow-by-blow for Kurt Elling fans and others who plan to catch the band on their latest tour. (By “others,” I mean those who haven’t yet seen Elling live, because once you do, you’re a fan.) This tour is mostly about The Gate, the new CD produced by Don Was and the successor to Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman, for which Elling won his long-overdue first Grammy in 2010. But it’s not just about The Gate. Here are the setlists and remarks along the way.


“Moonlight Serenade” (from Flirting with Twilight, 2001). Elling wrote the lyrics to the version of the Glenn Miller/Mitchell Parish song recorded by Charlie Haden and Quartet West on Haunted Heart (1991). A romantic showcase for his voice, which only gets better. Everyone in the house feels all warm and cozy at the end, when suddenly he turns around, snaps his fingers, and the band moves immediately into…

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Bad Plus plus Stravinsky

Dave King mentioned this Duke commission when we spoke at the Dakota after The Bad Plus performed there at Christmas. I love the whole idea, plus it seems like a perfectly logical move for a band that has always defied convention but appears to be turning more toward chamber jazz. 

Their second-to-last release, For All I Care, includes their interpretations of works by Gyorgy Ligeti, Milton Babbitt, and Stravinsky. Their latest, Never Stop, their first CD of all originals and no covers, features the gorgeous and lyrical "People Like You." (Here's a review of the CD.)

During the two Christmas shows I attended, there was a lot less tall-tale-telling than in past performances, more serious music-making—not that they haven't been serious before, but there's something about their recent music that feels more serious.

Two new compositions by Reid Anderson, "In Stitches" and "Mint," were breathtaking and suite-like. All three members of the band—Anderson, Ethan Iverson, and Dave King—are writing interesting, complex compositions. The wit is still there in the tunes and the titles ("My Friend Metatron," "Bill Hickman at Home"), but the group as a whole seems more grown-up and down to business. Like, once the Beatles were the mop-topped, boyish, antics-prone Fab Four, and then they were the Beatles.

L to R: Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson, Dave King. Photo by John Whiting.

Here's the press release from the publicists at Big Hassle Media:

World Premiere of The Bad Plus's "On Sacred Ground: 
Stravinsky's Rite of Spring"

Commissioned by Duke Performances, the work debuts on Saturday, 
March 26, at Reynolds Theater, Duke University

February 8, 2011, Durham, NC - The Bad Plus has been commissioned by Duke Performances to create a reappraisal and rearrangement of Igor Stravinsky's iconic Rite of Spring

Icons Among Us: The whole thing, please?

Icons Among Us, the feature-length documentary film about contemporary jazz artists, has been hailed as the answer to Ken Burns's Jazz. (Ben Ratliff called it "a retort...starkly anti-Burnsian.")

I saw it in Minneapolis on October 2, 2009, at the Oak Street Cinema in Minneapolis, where it was part of the 10th annual Sound Unseen films-about-music festival, and thought it was pretty good. Dave King was in the house with his wife and kids; they had probably come expecting to see performance clips and interviews featuring The Bad Plus, of which King is a member. But TBP appeared only in the opening credits (or closing, I can't remember which) of the film, which tells just part of the story.

The 93-minute feature was carved out of a 4-part documentary that has run on cable and satellite TV and at jazz festivals. Having seen the feature film a year and a half ago, I'd love to see the documentary. I would buy the documentary--if I could afford it. Priced for the educational market, it costs $495.

V-Day shopping opp, with jazz CDs by area artists

The Farmers Market Annex in Minneapolis is having a Valentine's Day event that supports area jazz artists. CDs by Connie Evingson, Maud Hixson, Charmin Michelle, Christine Rosholt, Arne Fogel, and George Avaloz will be available for sale, with all proceeds going directly to the artists. You can also buy roses (a dozen for $25) and other flowers, jewelry by Robyne Robinson and Bonnie Rubinstein, and chocolates from Sweet Olivia's. It's a one-stop V-Day shopping destination. Friday through Monday, Feb. 11–14, 9 am to 6 pm daily, 200 E. Lyndale Ave. N. (north of the Basilica). Free parking on grounds and under I-94 bridge. Click here FMI. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Branford Marsalis talks about his new drummer, jazz families, classical music and more

Originally published at, February 25, 2011

Branford Marsalis
by Palma Kolansky
The eldest son in a famous clan of jazz musicians, saxophonist/composer/educator Branford Marsalis is enjoying a robust and variegated career. Known mainly as a jazz artist, he is equally at home with classical music and contemporary pop. He spent two years as musical director of “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and another two performing and recording with Sting (“Dream of the Blue Turtles,” “Nothing Like the Sun”). He still performs with Sting on occasion.

On Sunday evening, February 27, Marsalis will perform at Orchestra Hall with his formidable quartet. (This is not a star-saxophonist-plus-rhythm-section quartet, but an ongoing, provocative, stimulating four-way conversation.) He’ll share the bill with another famous New Orleans native, trumpeter Terence Blanchard, who will bring his quintet to the big stage.

Marsalis has acted in movies (“Throw Mama from the Train”) and scored them (“Mo’ Better Blues”), hosted a radio show for NPR, and performed as featured soloist with orchestras around the world. He has made nearly two dozen highly influential recordings, won three Grammys, and founded his own record label, Marsalis Music, now home to artists including Harry Connick Jr., singer Claudia Acuña, and 2008 MacArthur fellow Miguel Zenón.

Once dubbed a “young lion,” Marsalis was recently named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, along with the rest of his family. (Note: The NEA’s new budget, proposed by current director Rocco Landesman, does away with the Jazz Masters program, founded in 1982. For anyone who thinks jazz matters, this is a crying shame. Learn more.)

In the thick of touring and traveling, Marsalis made time to answer questions by email.

MinnPost: After 10 years of playing as a quartet with Jeff “Tain” Watts, you have a new drummer, Justin Faulkner. Can you tell us something about him? How did you find him? I’ve heard he’s very young. Stepping into your quartet is no small thing. What makes him right for it? 

Branford Marsalis: My cousin, Rodney Mack, is a classical trumpet player in the Philadelphia area, and he asked me to play a concert with him. In addition to the concert, there was a master class for high-school music students. Most of the students were unimpressive, except for Justin. He seemed like he had a lot of technique, yet was satisfied to keep ‘time’ on a slow blues, and not try to use the music as a vehicle to call attention to himself. It’s hard to find musicians 10 years his senior who are willing to do that. His growing up playing swing-based music – gospel and non-machine-driven R and B being the original swing-based musics – made his transition to jazz an easy one. And, his ears are amazing, so he can actually hear the song forms melodically, as opposed to harmonic or counting the bars.

MinnPost: Will you mostly feature your new album, “Metamorphosen,” at your Orchestra Hall date, or will you dip into earlier recordings? Are you playing brand-new compositions? Is Justin composing?

Marsalis: We don’t use pop culture models as a basis for what we do; so, touring, for us, is not primarily about record promotion. We tour all the time, not just after the release of a recording. As far as what we play, that’s up in the air. We have new songs, we play old songs, and songs by other composers.

MinnPost: I have always wondered this about your family: Did each of you get to choose the instrument(s) you wanted to play? (Because you were the oldest brother, did you get first choice?)

Marsalis: I started on the piano, and never really liked it. Once Wynton got a trumpet, and intended to join the school band, that was my way off the piano (no pianos in the school band). Because my dad was playing with Al Hirt’s band – a very popular musician at that time – he was able to get a trumpet from Mr. Hirt, and his clarinetist, Pee Wee Spitelera, was able to get me a clarinet for free. That settled it.

MinnPost: Have the Marsalises been inspired or influenced in any way by other famous families of jazz – the Adderley Brothers, or the Brubecks, or the Breckers, or the Heath Brothers, or the Jones Brothers? 

Marsalis: My parents were never into the national obsession with families playing music, or joining the circus, or any of that stuff. There are a number of families in New Orleans – the Paulins, the Breauds, the Picous, the Frenches, the Barbarins, the Andrews, to name a few – where there have been musicians in the family for four generations. My dad was the first in our direct family. My mom’s side of the family had a number of famous musicians. My appreciation for musicians is always based on their skill, not their pedigree.

MinnPost: Are there Marsalis children growing up today who will one day be jazz musicians? 

Marsalis: I have no idea. It was never anyone’s intent for us to be jazz musicians. During my teenage years, I was an R and B sax player, and knew nothing about jazz. Circumstance, and an advancing intellect, changed my course. It would be premature for me to predict the outcomes of my kids or my nieces and nephews.

MinnPost: “Romances for Saxophone” (Sony, 1986) is one of my favorite CDs. You still perform and record classical music. You have also played pop/rock and hip-hop/jazz with your group Buckshot LeFonque. Do you prefer one genre over another, or is it all music to you? Do you think it’s important for musicians to play different kinds of music? 

Marsalis: I think it’s important for musicians to learn how to play different types of music; that will certainly make you better. But, virtually every musician I know in pop/rock can’t play anything else, and it is not expected of them to do so. It doesn’t make their music bad. But, personally, I have enjoyed all of my forays into different sounds, and appreciate what they have done for me. By far, classical music is the hardest thing I’ve done. That, and learning how to play jazz, were tough; but classical music continues to be an awesome, intimidating experience. That’s why I do it.

MinnPost: Is there any chance that Buckshot LeFonque will return someday? 

Marsalis: I hope so.

MinnPost: You’ve won a few Grammys of your own. What did you think of this year’s Grammys? 

Marsalis: I haven’t watched the Grammys in over a decade. They aren’t for people like me. It’s a pop culture event.


An Evening with Branford Marsalis and Terence Blanchard, 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27, Orchestra Hall ($25-$60/$75 VIP). Tickets online or call 612-371-5656.

The Branford Marsalis Quartet features Marsalis on saxophone, Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass, and Justin Faulkner on drums. The Terence Blanchard Quintet is Blanchard on trumpet, Fabiani Almazan on piano, Brice Winston on saxophone, Joshua Crumbly on bass, and Kendrick Scott on drums. The Minnesota Orchestra does not perform on this program.

On Sunday morning, Feb. 28, Marsalis will be the featured speaker at the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education 2011 fundraising brunch, talking about his early influences and the importance of jazz education. The event will be held at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant from noon to 3 p.m. Tickets are $75 each and include performances by Irv Williams, Ginger Commodore, and the Dakota Combo, fresh from winning the Mingus Spirit Award at the National Mingus Competition in New York City. Learn more and register online.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Live jazz in Minneapolis-St. Paul: This week's picks

Are you in your car or near a radio at 8:30 CST on Friday mornings? Tune to KBEM to hear me and Mr. Jones—Jazz 88 "Morning Show" host Ed Jones—talk about these events and more. 88.5 FM in the Twin Cities, streaming live on the Web.

This is an exceptional weekend for jazz in the Twin Cities. Next week, the great vocalist Kurt Elling comes to town for two nights. Later this month, Branford Marsalis and Terence Blanchard bring their quintets to Orchestra Hall. Meanwhile, I’m keeping a gimlet eye on a local venue that has presented live jazz regularly but is now “making changes.” You'll know more when I do.

Friday: John Scofield at the Dakota

When asked to name the three greatest living jazz guitarists, most jazz fans will say Pat MethenyBill Frisell, and John Scofield. Diverse, eclectic, and innovative, Scofield’s music ranges from post-bop to R&B and funk-edged jazz. His resume includes stints and recordings with Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker, Charles Mingus, Gary Burton, Miles Davis, Charlie Haden, Brad Mehldau, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, and many more. In January, he toured with Joe Lovano; he brings his own trio to the Dakota for one night only. 

7 and 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4, Dakota ($40/$30). 612-332-5299.