Friday, January 20, 2012

This week's jazz picks and news

Tonight (Friday, Jan. 20), Nichola Miller and Katie Gearty share the stage at the Crooked Pint. Both are fine, grown-up, passionate singers who can raise the hair on the back of your neck. With Tanner Taylor on piano, Keith Boyles on bass, Trevor Haining on drums. 9 p.m. No cover.

On Saturday, the MacPhail Center for Music faculty celebrates George Gershwin in a program called "By George!" His music will be arranged for two pianos, accompanied by strings, winds, and voices. The concert takes place in MacPhail's Antonello Hall, one of my favorite venues. 8 p.m. $20 adults/$15 youth and seniors.

Music in a two-acre tropical garden in St. Paul in the dead of winter? Thank you, Como Park Conservatory. Its "Music Under Glass" series continues on Sunday with Rhizosphere, an improvisatory quartet that blends world music with jazz, folk, and the blues. With Bobb Fantauzzo (of JazZen) on Native American and Chinese flutes, Gabriela Sweet on slide guitar and accordion, Mike Bruns on guitar, Sean Egan on clarinet. Coming up: the Café Accordion Orchestra, the Robb Henry Trio, the Daddy Squeeze Trio, and Gnarl. 5 p.m. Free.

On Tuesday, the New York-based vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Raul Midon comes to the Dakota. He’s been here a few times before and I have always missed him. I caught about 10 minutes of his performance at last year’s Monterey Jazz Festival and vowed never to make that mistake again. Silky, soulful tenor. Wonderfully percussive guitar style. And “improvisational mouth horn”—vocal bebop trumpet solos. 7 p.m., $30.

Also on Tuesday, the live jazz continues at the Nicollet coffee house on the corner of Nicollet and Franklin. This time, it’s singer Maryann Sullivan, known to KBEM listeners as the host of "Corner Jazz" and "On the Local Corner," now heard on Monday nights. There’s a big wooden dance floor, lovely floor-to-ceiling windows, and hot coffee to enjoy along with the music. A cozy place to go on a winter’s night. 7 p.m. No cover.

On Wednesday and Thursday, singer/songwriter/pianist/ukelele player Nellie McKay returns to the Dakota with a performance the New Yorker described as "part seedy cabaret, part existential meditation, and all musical exploration ... a brilliant piece of theater." She has taken the 1958 movie I Want to Live!, about the third woman to die in the gas chamber at San Quentin, and turned it into a cabaret show. It sounds deliciously weird, thought-provoking, and puzzling. 7 p.m. $35.

Also on Wednesday, the Graydon Peterson Quartet performs at the Artists’ Quarter. This brand-new band, begun by bassist Peterson (who’s usually seen backing singers), plays all-original music by Peterson. I saw them in October at Jazz Central and liked them a lot. Read an interview here later today. 9 p.m. $5.

On Friday, Jan. 27: the inimitable, the delightful, the totally squeezeboxy Accordion-O-Rama! returns to Crossings at Carnegie in Zumbrota. I loved this when I heard it in 2010 on a balmy autumn night in October. Not so sure about heading down the highway at 90 below, but I'll be there in spirit. Crossings at Carnegie is a former Carnegie library turned gift shop and live music venue. This year's players: Dan Newton, Dee Langley, Gary Powell, and Bob Walser.  7:30 p.m. $18 advance/$20 day of show.

The headliners for this year's Twin Cities Jazz Festival have been announced: Cuban drummer Francisco Mela, the Delfeayo Marsalis Octet, and The Bad Plus with saxophonist Joshua Redman. 

Check the live jazz calendar on KBEM's website for even more jazzy goodness. Got gigs? Send an email to

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