Friday, January 13, 2012

This week's jazz picks and news

Tonight (Friday, Jan. 13), pianist Jon Weber returns to the Artists' Quarter. Formerly of Chicago, now based in NYC, he's a regular at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, and before his performance, the headliners for the 2012 festival will be announced. I've seen Weber play several times and it's always new--new songs, new quotes within songs, new composers whose birthdays he knows, new versions of old favorites, played in any key. (Famously, he often asks the audience, "How would you like me to play this? With one flat, two flats, five flats?") After subbing now and then for Marian McPartland on her iconic NPR program "Piano Jazz," he was recently tapped to head a new series for NPR called "Piano Jazz Rising Stars." It airs locally on KBEM at 10 p.m. on Saturdays. Listen to Neal Conan's interview with Weber here. AQ, 9 p.m., $10.

Tomorrow night:

--The JazzMN Orchestra performs at the Roseville Winter Jazz Blast with special guest Mike Stern, a guitarist whose career includes time with Blood, Sweat and Tears and Miles Davis. Northwestern College's Maranatha Hall, 7:30 p.m., $17/$15 TCJS members/$7 students. 
--Bach meets jazz when Framework (Chris Olson on guitar, Chris Bates on bass, Jay Epstein on drums) goes mano-a-mano with a Baroque ensemble (viola, viola da Gamba, harpsichord) led by Bach Society artistic director Paul Boehnke. Bach's music will be played in both traditional and nontraditional ways. Could be a mash-up. Celtic Junction, 8 p.m.,  $20/$15 seniors/$5 students.
--Pianist Richard Johnson plays the music of Bernstein's West Side Story. Johnson is an alum of the Wynton Marsalis Septet and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. He'll be joined by Graydon Peterson on bass, Reid Kennedy on drums. AQ, 9 p.m., $12. 

BTW, Weber and Johnson are the only touring jazz artists we'll see in the Twin Cities until Jan. 24, when Raul Midon comes to the Dakota. Lucky for us, many fine jazz musicians live and work here. But we need the touring artists, too. 

Might as well call next week Scott Agster Week. The trombonist/educator/composer headlines Monday night at Jazz Central. 8:30, no cover. On Tuesday, you can hear him with the NOLA-style Jack Brass Band at the Driftwood Char Bar. Their regular weekly gig starts at 9-ish, no cover. And on Thursday, he's with Snowblind at the Artist's Quarter. Snowblind is a band with a shiny front line: Shilad Sen on tenor sax, Adam Rosmiller on trumpet, Agster on bone. 9 p.m., $5.

Wednesday night (Jan. 18) was originally scheduled as a CD release for Parker Paisley, guitarist Park Evans’s band with Brandon Wozniak, Adam Wozniak, and Pete Hennig. The CD release has been postponed, probably until next month, but the band will play at Café Maude starting at 7 p.m. No cover.

A modest proposal for those going to Maude on nights with live music: If you want to listen, ask to be seated near the music and they will be happy to accommodate you. If you want to talk, ask to be seated away from the music. Most non-concert-hall venues (bars, cafés, restaurants, coffee shops, clubs) have places to sit if what you want is background music for a social evening. 

Thursday night (Jan. 19), the Atlantis Quartet performs at the Dakota. Their latest CD, Lines in the Sand, was one of my Top 10 picks for 2011. Atlantis is Zacc Harris on guitar, Brandon Wozniak on saxophone, Chris Bates on bass, and newlywed Pete Hennig on drums. 8 p.m., $5.

I’m very pleased to say that saxophonist John Devine is back and, in his words, “giggin’ again.” He’s at the First Course Bistro Friday starting at 7 p.m. No cover, reservations recommended (small room).

On Saturday, vocalist Paula Lammers is the featured artist in the Jazz @ St. Barney’s series in Plymouth at St. Barnabas Center for the Arts. She’ll perform with Mary Louise Knutson on piano, Jason McLean on bass, and Nathan Norman on drums. The music starts at 7 p.m., and this is a family-friendly show. $10 adults/$7 TCJS members/$5 students.

Also on Saturday, members of the MacPhail faculty will celebrate the music of George Gershwin in a program called “By George.” That starts at 8 p.m., and for more information, visit MacPhail's website or the live jazz calendar.

You’ll find the live jazz calendar on KBEM’s website. Go to the home page, look for Live Music Calendars, and click on Jazz. If you’re a jazz musician who wants your gigs listed there, send an email to

One more thing: Next week, I start a new gig for MinnPost. I'll be writing more about all the arts, less about jazz specifically. But I'll be an arts writer who believes that jazz is worth covering, not treating as a narrow niche interest. The live jazz calendar will continue, as will this blog and the radio bits. 

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