Blossoms in the City – Music: 4.25 – 5.1

April 25, 2012

Blooming in the City

Spring has sprung. Bicyclists are everywhere, the Twins are playing ball, and trees are in bloom. Music is also in bloom. I’m always amazed at diversity of performances here in the Twin Cities. From Americana in a beautiful library, to and open rehearsal/workshop, to a bunch of musicians hanging out and playing the music they love. Spring. Music. What a combination.

Jazz

Wednesday, April 25

Patty Peterson @ Cafe Maude, Minneapolis. 7pm – 9pm. (No Cover) Patty will bring Phil Aaron on piano, and her brother Billy on bass to this neighborhood bistro. She’s a versatile singer, and tonight she has band mates to match. It will be fund to see her in this intimate, if sometimes noisy, setting. If you want dinner, get reservations and ask to be put near the music. Otherwise, try to find a place at the bar.

Thursday, April 26

Maude Hixson, Dean Magraw: The Moon Belongs to Everyone @ Como Planetarium, 780 West Wheelock Parkway, Saint Paul. 7pm ($10) Local astronomer Peter Kunkle will lead a tour of the stars while Maude Hixson and Dean magraw perform songs that evoke stellar travel. Registration required. Purchase tickets online.

The X-Tet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) It’s the last Thursday, so Pete Whitman’s X-tet is holding forth at the AQ. Just because it’s a regular thing, don’t put off seeing this group until next time. Once you see them, you’ll be loading your phone with a reminder for every month.

Friday, April 27

Rhonda Laurie & Swing Set @ The Hat Trick Lounge, Saint Paul. 9pm ($7) Laurie sings and swings with a hint of sultriness and a dash of innocence, making for a sophisticated sound. The Trick’s intimate listening room has just enough room to take your sweetie on a romantic spin on the dance floor.

Friday, Saturday, April 27, 28

Dave Karr & Brian Grivna @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10)  A couple of musical pros having a good time. Though the sax is their main tool, both Karr and Grivna excel on a variety of wind instruments. Not only that, both have the musical imagination and chops to create an evening of joyous jazz.

Saturday, April 28

Red Planet @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 4pm Workshop (Free); 7pm performance ($10) The Jazz at Studio Z series features open rehearsal/workshops in the afternoon, where you can watch a band work on its songs. Today Red Planet is the featured band, with Dean Magraw, guitar; Chris Bates, bass; and Jay Epstein, drums. You’ll see three of the most versatile players in town performing two different Coltrane Medleys and some new material.

James Allen and Tom Pieper @ First Course Bistro, Minneapolis. 7pm. (No cover). Guitar and bass, respectively, performing acoustic jazz, bossas, and sambas for your listening pleasure while dining in this small neighborhood place.

Sunday, Monday, April 29,30

Steve Tyrell @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45) 9pm ($30) With a career that spans four decades, most of which were spent producing, Tyrell has a Grammy and two Emmy nominations as a vocalist, as well as a version of “The Way You Look Tonight” that’s become a wedding dance favorite. He’s got a warm voice  with a bit of a rasp that’s well suited to jazz standards and pop tunes. His last appearance at the Dakota was a relaxed, highly enjoyable affair.

For a comprehensive listing of Jazz in the Twin Cities, check out the Bebopified Calendar, here.

For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz check out the blogs Jazz PoliceBebopified, and Jazz Ink.

Blues, Roots, Other

Wednesday, April 25

Doug Otto & the Getaways on KFAI’s House Party and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis House Party – 5pm, 331 Club – 7pm – 9pm (tip jar). You can usually catch this band at Mayslack’s on Thursday night. This week they have an extra gig so you can hear Doug’s sweet, mournful vocals performing Delta blues and early country on KFAI (90.3 and 106.7 FM) and then head to the 331 Club.

Nikki & the Rue-Mates @ The Red Stag, Minneapolis. 10pm. (no cover) If you’re up for a late night show in the middle of the week, you would have a hard time finding a more enjoyable group. They are putting the finishing touches on a new CD, featuring a wonderful mix of country blues and folk-rock.

Thursday, April 26

Charlie Parr @ The James J. Hill Library, downtown Saint Paul. 8pm ($25 – $10 for students w/ID) It’s the Real-Phonic Radio Hour, which isn’t a radio hour, but is real and very  interesting, both in its line-ups and in its setting, the beautiful library facing Rice Park in Saint Paul. Hosted by Erik Koskinen and band, the series focuses on American roots music, poetry, and conversation. Tonight it’s Charlie Parr and his basic, basic blues, with Big George Jackson.

Saturday, April 28

Firefly Forest CD Release @ Fallout Urban Arts, 2601 2nd Ave S, Minneapolis. 7:30 ($8) Steven Hobert is a young keyboard player who is equally imaginative on piano or accordion. With FireFlyForest, he uses the both to good effect. This project includes Kip Jones, violin; Ben Lester, Pedal Steel; Jeremy Boettcher, bass: Jeff Schraw, percussion; Tyler Mickelson, guitar; James Kellerman, woodwinds; and Felicia Hobert on vocals.  Hobert makes good use of these talented players, as well as snippets of taped sounds from his travels to create songs that are sometimes dreamy, sometimes whimsical, and often playful. Opening are the Hummingbirds, a female trio of acoustic musicians and harmonizers.

Saturday, Sunday, April 28, 29

Film Festival Screening: The Entertainers @ St. Anthony Main Theater, Minneapolis. 9:20PM Saturday, 3:30PM Sunday. A film about a Ragtime Piano Competition as six different performers use skill and showmanship to try to win. Think Scott Joplin’s kind of music – the first distinctly American popular music, and a foundation for much that followed. I will have the Directors on my show Saturday morning. (KFAI, 90.3 and 106.7 FM. 10:30 – Noon)

Mischief Makers

Sunday, April 29

Gang of Mischief @ Neumann’s, North Saint Paul. 4-8pm (tip jar). Papa John Kolstad, Doug Otto, Dan Schwalbe, Albert Perez, Mike Carvale and Hurricane Harold. Acoustic Blues and Swing with an occasional Gospel tune. Hangin’ out music, just right with a beverage or two, a burger, and some fries.

James Cotton Blues Band @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($15 Adv/$20 Door) “Mr Superharp” had hip-replacement surgery at the end of last year and is now back on the road, with 68 years in the business. Guitarist Slam Allen handles the vocals, since Cotton’s  voice has deteriorated. Cotton thus has more room to play, which is why you want to see him anyway. His latest CD, Giant, which brings him back to Alligator Records, has been getting good reviews.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues and roots, see the calendar of the Minnesota Blues Society.

For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar.

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Lila Ammons: Fulfilling a Musical Heritage

April 22, 2012

Twin Cities vocalist Lila Ammons has a rich musical heritage. Her grandfather was Albert Ammons, the famous boogie woogie piano player, and her uncle was Gene Ammons, whose big, soulful sound on the sax was a mainstay of 50s jazz. Lila studied classical music and performed in operas, recitals and oratorios throughout the United Staes and Europe before turning to jazz and blues. Though she’s lived in the Twin Cities for about fourteen years, she spends much time touring Europe. She and vocalists Vicky Mountain and Dorothy Doring have performed together as Sisters in Song. Recently, Ammons has begun to sing around town with a quintet, and is now getting ready to release a CD. This lightly edited interview took place during my radio show, Rhythm and Grooves, on April 7, 2012.

LE:  You grew up in Chicago and actually started out in classical music.

Lila Ammons: It was very much a big part of my family. My dad was really into oratorio singing and opera and when I was a child. He used to listen to Ezio Pinza and all these Italian tenors.  I used to plug my ears and think how could he stand this, you couldn’t even understand the words. Actually, it was all early training. I think they were trying to steer us into a different direction, because they recognized our musical abilities. The last thing they wanted was for us to follow our uncle and grandfather’s footsteps into the sinful world of jazz and blues.

LE: How long did you take classical training?

LA: Let me see, I got my undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, Masters at Manhattan School of Music, and then I spent 12 years pursuing big track opera.

LE: How does the classical training help you in singing jazz and blues?

LA: I would say from a technical standpoint, it’s given me longevity, because I know how to take care of my instrument, and that’s very key.

LE: How did you make the decision to go from classical music into other genres?

LA: (Chuckles) It was something that was secretly in the back of my mind. I had started singing R&B in Junior High School, much to my mother’s dismay. She was very unhappy about that. I was a classical pianist and violinist. Did that for 12 years. Studied in Northwestern’s Prepatory School for piano and was in the orchestra for 8 years as a violinist. I then went to college and totally got out of music for the first two years and then I was beckoned back to music. The conservatory there was stressing classical, so I got caught in the stream with the other trout. (hearty laugh)

Of course, my parents were very, very happy about that, but I still wanted to go to California and still wanted to be a studio musician, but they were like, no, no, no, got to New York, we know more people there. So I ended up at a conservatory and got caught up in it, but in the back of my mind I was very curious about this heritage that I had recently discovered. I had started in the background doing some research about my grandfather, and really discovered who he was and then located people like Barney Josephson (Ed note: Owner of Café Society in NYC) and John Hammond – just on a fluke, because I had found a book in an old used bookstore on West Broadway in NY, and I recognized the name from an album my dad had of my grandfather’s.

And from there I started making phone calls and in the back of my mind I was thinking, by age something, this, this, this. If this doesn’t go there, that’s okay because I want to look back into my heritage. And so in a way I had a master plan. I fulfilled the classical thing for my parents. My mother passed away and I felt I could do my own thing at that point.

LE:Tell us about your heritage, in case folks don’t recognize the name Ammons.

Lila's Grandfather, the boogie woogie master.

LA: My grandfather, my dad’s father, was Albert Ammons, who was a pianist, born in 1907. At the early age of 17 he began to became a noted boogie woogie player. He, along with a couple of others, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis became the Boogie Woogie Trio. They were picked up by John Hammond, the famous impresario. He discovered Billie Holiday and all kinds of people. He brought them to New York City and presented them at Carnegie Hall at the Spirituals to Swing Concert in 1938. The concert had all kinds of luminaries, including these three, and they became wildly successful, and went on to perform at Café Society. That was another very interesting place in musical, and political, and social history. That place was a hotbed of a lot of things. (Ed note: It was the first integrated nightclub in the United States.) My grandfather also had his own group, the Rhythm Kings, and then he went on to do lots of great things.

LE: He was very well known. And then one of his sons was Gene Ammons, one of my favorites. A big toned saxophone player.

Uncle Gene "Jug" Ammons.

LA: One of a kind, one of a kind. In fact, from Chicago, at 17 he was one of the lead tenors for Billy Eckstine, along with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie. That band was a hotbed of early bebop. It was the early incubator for bebop.

LE: How did you come to be touring Europe so much?

LA: I’m now involved in an international tour with a German pianist who is a specialist in boogie woogie and classic blues. Through a whole bunch of circumstances in 2007, the two of us came together. I put together a concert in celebration of my grandfather in 07, and brought together a lot of incredible early heritage players including Butch Thompson, as a matter of fact. I had this concert in Chicago commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Albert’s birthday, and after hearing me sing a tune, Axel Zwingenberger, the German expert, invited me to join his tours in Europe, so I’ve been doing that for four years now.

LE: The lead-off cut on your upcoming CD is an old Helen Humes hit, one of those songs that was blending the boundaries of jazz and blues at that time.

LA: Absolutely. Bee Baba Lee Ba. Jive Talk (chuckles)

LE: As you went about producing the CD, how did you choose who would be on it?

LA: The producer is Michael Wimberly, he’s a fantastic percussionist, travels around the world, produces documentaries on different instruments. I went to school with him years ago, and we’d wanted to do a project together. He’s worked with a lot of people. I called him up one day and said, Hey I want to do this project, and told him what kind of stuff I wanted. We talked about this for a year and he hand picked people that he knew that he thought would be perfect.

Houston Person

LE:Who’s on the CD?

LA: Well, on tenor sax was Houston Person. I’m just so honored that he was there. He comes from that Gene Ammons/Ben Webster kind of school.

LE: Smooth and big-toned.

LA: Yeah, so that worked out so perfectly. We have James Wideman on piano. He’s worked with Joe Lovano, and Kevin Mahogany and lots of folks. A gentleman named Onaje Allen Gumbs, (also on piano) whose name is maybe not as familiar to people, but he’s played with Buster Williams, Betty Carter, Nat Adderley, Kenny Burrell, Woody Shaw – lots of folks. A Sweet sweet sound. Leon Dorsey has played bass with Dizzy, and Jon Hendricks and lots of folks. Steve Williams was Shirley Horns drummer for 25 years. Another nice sweet sound. Then we have Nioka Workman on cello, that’s Reggie Workman’s daughter. She’s doing all kinds of things with India.Arie and Kanye West. We have Marvin Sewell on guitar. He plays with Cassandra Wilson, David Sanborn, and he’s got his own thing going. And Michael Wimberly does percussion.

LE: You said you had some ideas on the kind of music you wanted to record. What did that involve?

LA: I thought about tunes that I really loved. I have such a broad number of influences, from Joni Mitchell, to Pete Seeger, the Isley Brothers. I was influenced by so many different sounds. So I chose some contemporary tunes – I was really into the Jazz Fusion era – I’ve got Chick Corea’s “Spain,” and a George Duke tune, “Love Reborn,” that Flora Purim did with him, but I’m doing it in a totally different way. Then I’ve got some swing, one of which is my uncle’s tune, “Close Your Eyes.” I did some ballads, “If You Could See Me Now,” and “The Nearness of You,” one of my signature tunes, and “Nature Boy.” And then I’ve got some Brazilian, which I love. It’s in final production, packaging, and all that right now.

LE: It will be released sometime this summer?

LA: Hopefully, hopefully. Fingers crossed. (laughs) Lot of factors are involved.

LE: Who is in your working quintet when you play in the Twin Cities?

LA: Dean Brewington is on sax. He knew my uncle. Dean was my very first friend here. I moved here 14 years ago from NYC. We actually ran into each other in a parking lot. We hit our cars – ran into each other (laughs) At Groth’s music store. (more laughter) So thank you Groth. Then I’ve got Tim Zorne on drums, and a young pianist, Ted Goddbout, a fine young pianist. We have Ben Kelly on bass, who will not be with us tonight, so we’ll have Jim Chenoweth – a lot of people know him.

LE: You mentioned playing in Europe a lot. How do the audiences there react?

LA: As I said, there I’m specializing in early classic blues – Bessie Smith, Georgia White, and Helen Humes…  Europeans still have a love and appreciation for that music that goes beyond belief. They remember that and come up to me, often in tears and recount stories about the first time they heard Albert and during the war when they heard this and that, and where they were when they first heard it and how much they appreciate my being there. I’m so grateful that I’m there to receive this for him! Somehow it’s out there and transmitted to him what he’s done to touch so many people.


The Weather’s Improving and the Music is Great: 4.18 – 4.25

April 18, 2012

If you were inside listening to music, you may have missed this cold front coming in last Sunday. Lucky you. Photo from WCCO TV.

Well, the weather remains weird (see above photo), though it’s looking promising, tax day is done, and the festival season is starting. Good reasons to get out and about. Support the arts. Discover the creativity of other people, and perhaps light a spark of your own.

Jazz

Wednesday, Thursday, April 18, 19 Jana Nyberg Group on KFAI (90.3 & 106.7FM), Wednesday, 10pm – Midnight (Free) and  Jana Nyberg Group @ The Dakota, Minneapolis, Thursday 7pm ($5) A couple of appearances for Ms. Nyberg and her solid group before they head out on a Midwest tour. She’s swings with taste, holding her power in reserve, and with the help of husband/trumpeter Adam Meckler, brings new life to standards of all sorts. Note: I’ll be co-hosting the KFAI appearance.

Friday, Saturday, April 20, 21 Cory Wong CD Release @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Wong has recorded a two-CD set called Quartet/Quintet, which features him fronting two different types of aggregations. He’s a talented guitarist, using the quartet to create both straight-ahead and modern pieces and the quintet to add a rock edge to his songs. He’ll be my guest Saturday morning (the 21st) on Rhythm and Grooves (10:30AM – 90.3 and 106.7 FM)

Saturday, April 21

Photo by Jimmy Ryan from Terell Website

JazzMN Orchestra presents: Terell Stafford @ Hopkins High School, 2400 Lindberg Dr., Minnetonka. 7:30pm. ($25/$29) Stafford started his professional career playing with Bobby Watson, then played with McCoy Tyner’s Latin All Star Band. He’s also performed with Cedar Walton, Herbie Mann, the Clayton Brothers, Diana Krall and a host of others, not to mention recording a half dozen or so recordings under his own name, including Live at the Dakota in 2007. The talented members of the JazzMN Orchestra will provide more than ample backing.

Third Saturday Swing Dance featuring Nichola Miller’s Trio @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 7:30 – Midnight ($10) The Swing Dancers will be out, but no need to be intimidated. The dance floor fills with folks of all abilities, and with Nichola and her Trio playing, it will be a swingin’ night indeed. Dance lesson at 7:30. Music at 8:30

Sunday, April 22 Jazz Brunch Fundraiser @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. Noon – 3pm ($75) Yeah, the price is high, but it’s a fundraiser so the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education can continue to bring jazz artists into schools, provide summer jazz camp scholarships, support the Dakota Combo, and provide performance opportunities for young bands. 19 year old Grace Kelly, who has recorded seven albums already, will make a special presentation, and Dave Karr will perform with the Dakota Combo. More information and registration here.

Doug Haining’s Cannonball Collective @ The Artists Quarter, Saint Paul. 7pm ($10/$8TCJS members). The last in the J to Z series for the year. The Twin Cities Jazz Society has called on swingmaster Haining and his quintet’s salute to Cannonball Adderley. Opening set by Take Five, an ensemble made up of metro area HS students.

Grace Kelly @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20) Ms Kelly is only 19, yet the alto saxophonist/composer has recorded seven CDs, graduated from Berklee College of Music, teaches there, and is in demand around the world. She was last seen here a few years back at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival. Here’s her first music video, in which you can hear her fine singing as well as her playing.

For a comprehensive listing of Jazz, go to the Twin Cities Live Jazz Calendar. For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz, check out the blogs Jazz PoliceBebopified, and Jazz Ink.

Blues, Roots, Other

Wednesday, April 18

Nick Lowe & His Band @ First Avenue, Minneapolis. Doors at 7pm. Music at 9pm? ($20) Nick Lowe is known to middle-aged hipsters as the guy who produced all those great Stiff Records by Elvis Costello, the Damned, and others. I got to interview him once and he admitted he didn’t know what he was doing as a producer. By the time of his albums “Labor of Lust” and “Jesus of Cool” he knew exactly what he was doing. A terrific writer who has gotten better with age, Lowe is a keen observer of the human condition. He’s been solo last couple of times in town, but has a band with him now. What’s more, he’s got Paul Cebar, another fine composer, doing a solo turn as the opener.

Friday, April 20 Scottie Miller & Joe Cruz @ Bayport BBQ, Bayport. 8-10pm ($10) Miller’s keyboard playing can frolic a la Professor Longhair, boogie like Pete Johnson, or rock like Jerry Lee. Joe Cruz is a talented guitarist who will prove a good partner in this rare appearance together.

Greg Brown, w/Joe & Vicki Price @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm. ($45/$35) It’s Iowa night at the Cedar as Greg Brown brings his gravely voice, warm humor, and abiding love of simple things to town. A regular visitor for oh, so many years. When it comes to writing and storytelling, Brown is a master craftsman. Joe & Vicki Price bring a stripped down blues ethic to show as openers.

Saturday, April 21 SolBock Revival Party @ Harriet Brewing, 3036 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis. 2pm – 10pm. ($15) The summer festival season starts out with Harriet Brewing‘s festival for their warm weather beers. Along with the beverage you might expect are a passel of bands, including Javier Trejo, Zack Lozier’s Super Jazz Band Combo, Natty Nation, Reckless Ones, Lonesome Dan Kase, and more, inlcuding painters, food vendors, art vendors, and other entertainment. Hotpants @ The Nomad, Minneapolis. 9pm. ($5) I’ve some regular readers who always want to know about this monthy 45rpm dance event. Always fun. Always showcasing great music you’ve never heard before.

Sunday, April 22

Road to Memphis @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 1pm It’s the annual revue of Minnesota Blues Talent vying to go to the 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis next winter. Today’s bands include: Ken Valdez, Wisconsin Bryan Johnson, Jimmi & the Band of Souls, Crankshaft & the Gear Grinders, the Mark Cameron Band, the Trent Romens Band, Mike Fugazzi, Kildahl & Vonderharr, Gregg Felber and Crankshaft.

Father Time & Mama Maria @ The King and I Thai, Minneapolis. (No cover) 9pm – Midnight. It’s a generational showdown as father and daughter take vinyl to turntables. Neither knows what the other is playing. Soul? Funk? Punk? Rock? It’s all likely to spill out of the speakers at the Thai restaurant with great cocktails and food.

Tuesday, April 24 Patrick Harrison & Kip Jones @ Cafe Maude, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover) Harrison on accordion and Jones on violin say they create folk music for imaginary countries. Both are highly skilled instrumentalists with a flair for improvisation.

Tuesday, Wednesday, April 24, 25 James Hunter @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40) Though Great Britain has produced a number of singers mining the soul/r&b genre, none does it as convincingly and with as much soul as Hunter. He has a bit of grit, a lot of passion, and loads of charm. BTW, if none of that intrigues you, he’s a favorite of Van Morrison, a pretty soulful guy himself. Hear some of his music on his website.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the Minnesota Blues Society calendar. For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar.


Resident and Visiting Artists, Music Ideas for April 11 – 17

April 11, 2012

A couple of note-worthy world music dates, some fun roots music, and a plethora of jazz, including over a dozen jazz events this Saturday. (See the Bebopified Calendar, link below, for more.) We supposedly have the best music scene outside of New York, LA, and Nashville, though I’d question whether Nashville has as much jazz as the Twin Cities.

Speaking of jazz, here’s a heads up. The Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education is having a Jazz Brunch fundraiser Sunday, April 22, with guest presenter Grace Kelly, a young saxophonist who recently graduated from Berklee. Tickets are available online. Full disclosure – I’m on the board.

The above photo reminds me that life on the road isn’t easy. Whether our resident musicians are hanging at home for a while, or visiting musicians are in our town, I hope you will get out and enjoy some live music this week.

Jazz

Thursday, April 12

Zack Lozier & the Southside Aces; Louis Armstrong Tribute @ the Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm – 11pm ($5) The Southside Aces play traditional, danceable jazz. Tonight they have trumpeter-about-town Zack Lozier (Jack Brass Band, A Love Electric) to help pay tribute to the music of Louis Armstrong. A night of great music and lotsa fun.

Connie Evingson @ the Lexington, Saint Paul. 6:30 – 10:30pm (No cover) I’m stopping at the Lex with some regularity these days to hear the top-notch musicians that are playing Thursdays and Saturdays. The Williamsburg room is covered in wood, and there’s a great bar where they pay close attention to making classic cocktails. On top of that, you’ve got Connie Evingson tonight. She’s a great interpreter of the American Songbook, and can swing the the Beatles like nobody can.

Friday, April 13

Bryan Nichols & Dean Magraw @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 8pm (tip jar) Part of the always interesting Friday night series at the Dog. Nichols on keyboard, and Magraw on guitar should make for exciting interplay.

Friday, Saturday, April 13, 14

Bill Carrothers Trio @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($12). Carrothers is a sensitive piano player with a unique style. He’s a native-born Twin Citizen currently residing in Michigan’s upper penisula, and has played such prestigious venues as the Village Gate, The Knitting Factory, New Morning (Paris) and the Newport Jazz Festival. He’s played with such luminaries as Joe Beck, Curtis Fuller, Lee Konitz, and Dewey Redman. Last heard here playing with Anthony Cox and Jay Epstein.

Saturday, April 14

The Music of Kari Musil @ Sundline Music Hall, Hamline University, Saint Paul. 2pm – 4pm ($10/$5 for students and seniors). Composer/saxophonist Musil received a grant to compose a concert and CD of original jazz. This is the result, which features the Nova Jazz Orchestra, Leslee McKee on vocals, J. Otis Powell, poet, and Sue Leigh on sax.

Parker Paisley CD Release @ Jazz Central, NE Minneapolis. 9pm (Donation) Park Evans, guitar; Brandon Wozniak, sax; Adam Wozniak, bass; Pete Hennig, drums. The new CD is called “Satori for a Hungry Ghost.” Evans’ clean guitar lines adopt well to jazz, latin, reggae, and other world musics, all of which might make an appearance tonight.

Saturday, Sunday, April 14, 15

Sinatra…Nice and Easy @ The Capri Theater, Minneapolis. 8pm Saturday, 3pm Sunday. ($25) A tribute to Ol’ Blue Eyes, with the Rick Carlson Trio and Jaxon Richards on vocals.

Sunday, April 15

Pippi Ardennia w/Solomon Parham @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. 5pm. ($25/door, $20 Advance) This edition of the PipJazz monthly series features Parham on trumpet, as well a student guest Alex Grothe, a young trumpeter with a future. Using a first rate backing band, Ardennia is an enjoyable, warm singer. Today’s collaborations should be fun.

Tuesday, April 17

Rhonda Laurie and Maryann Sullivan @ The Nicollet Coffeehouse, Minneapolis. 7:30 – 9:30pm. (Tip Jar) The curators of the weekly jazz series at this fine little coffeehouse take to the stage to sing swinging standards.

Framework @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm. ($5) Chris Olson, guitar, Chris Bates, bass, and Jay Epstein, drums. Solid trio. Solid music.

For a comprehensive listing of Jazz, go to the Twin Cities Live Jazz Calendar.

For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz, check out the blogs Jazz PoliceBebopified, and Jazz Ink.

Blues, Roots, Other

Wednesday, Thursday, April 11, 12

Suzanne Vega @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40, $30) Anyone who was around in the 80s knows “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner,” Vega’s hits which helped to spark a neo-folk revival at the time. I was never a big fan, but was delighted when Vega last played the Dakota in 2009. She was charming, which always helps, but it was her well crafted, insightful songs, most of which were new, which showed why she garnered such a big audience back in the day. This time around, she’s traveling with one other musician, so expect a stripped-down version of her songs.

Thursday April 12

Hipshaker @ The Kitty Kat Club, Minneapolis. 9pm (no cover) Late night dancing to rare soul and funk 45s.

Friday, April 13

The Dollys @ The Crooked Pint Ale House, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) A female vocal trio that sings Americana and the music of Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, as well as other female country artists. Great voices, superb harmonies. Hear a couple of tunes on their MySpace page.

Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10) Big Sandy has been playing roots music for over two decades now. I suppose you could call it classic Rock n’ Roll, though it encompasses Western Swing, Rockabilly, and a bit of country. Heck, he’s even been known to thrown in some vocal group harmony stuff. This will bring out swing dancers, and anyone else who wants to cut a rug, to use a term that’s hep, not hip. Elmer and the Thunderjetts open.

Worldwide Discotheque & “Long Live Boogaloo” Record Release @ Clubhouse Jaeger, Minneapolis. 10pm. (No Cover) The Secret Stash folks are releasing a vinyl LP of rare Latin Soul and so are teaming up with WW Discotheque for an evening of funky vinyl worldbeats, with an emphasis on Boogaloo from the NY scene of the 60s. I’ll be joining Deejays, Steely Dan of Kinda Cloudy Radio and Brian Engel of Hipshaker to spin vinyl.

Saturday, April 14

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm. ($35/$30 Advance) Seun is the son of Fela, Afrobeat pioneer, and tonight he’s bringing his father’s old 16 piece band to Minneapolis. Seun builds on his father’s legacy with pulsating, urgent music, filled with brass, percussion, and improvisation. His latest release, “From Africa with Fury,” was produced by Brian Eno is funky as all get-out, and is as intense and relentless as his father’s work, but with Seun’s own voice. It’s a standing-only show, but I expect there will be lots of free-form dancing and boogieing going on.

Brass Band Throwdown & CD Release @ The Nomad, Minneapolis. 9pm ($8, $10 w/CD) Jazz, Roots, World music. It’s all here. Mama Digdown’s Brass Band is celebrating a live CD release and they’ve got the Brass Messengers to open for them. Talk about fun!

Monday, April 16

Vieux Farka Toure & Idan Raichel Quartet @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45) Two different cultures, two different music traditions. Toure is a master guitarist from Mali, following in the footsteps of his bluesman father, yet also transcending that heritage. He’s collaborated with Dave Matthews, Derek Trucks, and John Scofield. Raichel is an Israeli pianist who went triple platinum with his initial release, blending African, Latin American, and other world sounds. Promises to be a sublime evening.

Tuesday, April 17

Jeff Ray & the Stakes @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm. (No Cover) W/Nick Salisbury, bass; Mikkel Beckman, washboard & percussion; and Hurricane Harold, harp. Jeff Ray is a helluva guitar player, with his own take on blues and folk/rock sounds. The Stakes raise ’em and then some. (argh) Really, The Stakes are all well-known blues players around town.

Peter Lang @ Cafe Maude, Minneapolis. 7pm – 9pm. (No Cover) If you want some righteous fingerpickin’ with your dinner, this is the place to be, since Lang is a master the style known as American Primitivism (Leo Kottke, John Fahey). Just be sure to say you want to be near the music when you make a reservation. Of course, you can just sit at the bar and enjoy one of the Cafe’s signature cocktails.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the Minnesota Blues Society calendar.

For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar.


Jazz, Blues, and Roots, Oh My! Music: 4.4 – 4.11

April 4, 2012

This week we’ve got some unexpected combinations of musicians, as well as a stellar line-up of Twin Cities artists. Some nights feature a plethora of good choices. We’re lucky.

By the way, Big Thanks to those of you who pledged during my show on KFAI Community Radio. If you missed that opportunity, you can still go to the KFAI website and pledge. Just be sure to mention Rhythm and Grooves as the show you want to receive your pledge.

Jazz

Wednesday, April 4

Chris Thomson Quartet @ Café Maude, Minneapolis.  7pm. (No cover) The neighborhood bistro that could continues to showcase great jazz. Tonight it’s Chris Thomson, sax; Sean Carey drums; James Buckley, bass; and Patrick Harrison on accordion. If you can find a seat at the bar you can hang there. Otherwise it’s best to get a reservation and ask for a table near the music.

Thursday, April 5

Larry McDonough Quartet DVD Release @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($5) McDonough is a pianist of considerable skill and sensitivity who sometimes takes an “offbeat” approach to his music.  He and his quartet (Richard Terrill, saxes, lyrics; Craig Matarrese, bass; Chaz Draper, drums) have filmed “Live at the Music Connection” for public television. They perform poetry as well as odd-metered jazz based on melodies from children with disabilities, as well as from composers as disparate as Betthoven, Brubeck, and Spinal Tap. BTW, it’s foodie night at the Dakota.  Here’s a preview.

Friday, April 6

Todd Clouser’s A Love Electric and Tim O’Keefe’s Batucada do Norte @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10) Tim O’Keefe brings a seven piece version of the Brazilian percussion ensemble Batucade do Norte to the Studio to join with Clouser’s electric jazz group. The results should be invigorating, to say the least.

What song was Ophelia singing that shocked her parents so?

Naughty Songs for Nice Girls @ The Bryant Lake Bowl Theater, Minneapolis. 10pm – doors at 9:30pm ($12 – $10 for TCS members) Is this an attention-getting concept or what? Sassy songs, double-entendred and innocent, all expressing female views on femininity and sexuality, as sung by Rhonda Laurie and Bobbi Miller. Expect tunes from the likes of Dinah Washington (the dentist song?), Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, and others.

Friday, Saturday, April 6, 7

Eric Kamau Gravatt & Source Code @ The Artists Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($15) Don’t miss a chance to see this drum master at work. Miles Davis wanted Gravatt, but Gravatt went with Weather Report instead. He’s also played with Joe Henderson, and still tours with McCoy Tyner from time to time. Working with Gravatt is Dave Hagedorn, vibes; Ron Evaniuk, bass, and Gene Rush, piano.

Saturday, April 7

Lila Ammons Trio @ The Red Stag, NE Minneapolis. 10:30pm (No Cover) Chicago-born, Minneapolis-based Ammons has strong roots in jazz and blues. Her grandfather was boogie woogie pianist Albert Ammons, and her uncle was the monster sax player Gene Ammons. Since 2008 she’s been touring Europe alot, playing clubs and festivals throughout the continent.  She’s finishing up her debut jazz CD, so expect some previews. If you want to hear what she sounds like, tune in to my show Saturday morning on KFAI, 90.3 and 106.7FM, at 10:30AM.

Sunday, April 8

Charmin & Shapira @ The Red Stag, NE Minneapolis. 9pm (No cover) Cool jazz from Charmin Michelle on vocals and Joel Shapira on guitar. Their CD is delightful.

Monday, April 9

Dave Karr and Dave Shmalenberger @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 9pm. (Donation, BYOB) As usual, Jazz Central is featuring a couple of cool cats for its Monday night performance & jam. Karr plays just the right notes, whether he’s on tenor, baritone, or flute. Shamlenberger is a well respected drummer/percussionist who’s played with the JazzMN big band, The Fifth Dimension, Steve Turre, a number of local artists, and a host of others.

Tuesday April 10

Peña @ Southwest HS, 3414 W. 48th St., Minneapolis. 7pm. ($10/$8/$5) The Twin Cities Jazz Society presents this seven-piece ensemble that led by guitarist Cory J. Wong and cajón specialist Chico Chavez. The group emphasizes the cajón, a box-like percussion instrument that is at the center of Afro-Peruvian music. They will be playing unique song forms such as Festejos and Landos. The SW High Jazz Ensemble, led by music director Keith Liuzzi, will open the show.

McNally Smith X-Tet w/Gary Smulyan @ The Artists Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($8) X-Tet is actually a nisnomer, as Pete Whitman (who is on the faculty at McNally Smith College of Music) has put together a 17 piece jazz band. They’ll be playing with Smulyan, a NYC-based, award winning baritone sax player. Smulyan’s playing is muscular, fluid, and imaginative, as heard on his recent release “Smul’s Paradise,” a B3 organ romp.

For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz check out the blogs Jazz PoliceBebopified, and Jazz Ink.

For a comprehensive listing of Jazz in the Twin Cities, check out the Bebopified Calendar, here.

Blues, Roots, Other

Wednesday, April 4

Rena Haus on KFAI and @ the 331 Club, NE Minneapolis. 5pm on KFAI (90.3 7 106.7 FM) and 7pm at the 331 Club (Tip Jar). Haus may be the only artists that has been heard on both Prairie Home Companion and on Car Talk (for her deliciously risque Mechanic’s tune). She’s got a directness to her blues that keeps many (including me) coming back for more.

Davina & the Vagabonds @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm Davina and the guys continue to tour around the states, with the occasional European trip. They’ll be performing on the Blues stage at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, where they’ll be exposed to a whole new set of fans. They fill the Dakota on weekends, where there’s little space to dance. These monthly mid-week sojourns take care of that, what with swing dance lessons at 8pm, and a spacious dance floor.

Thursday, April 5

Kari, Lisa, friend, and instruments

Ditch Lilies @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm. (No Cover) What a nice surprise to see this talented duo appearing at the Kitchen. Lisa and Kari play all sorts of acoustic instruments and blend their voices quite well on originals, Western Swing, and old time tunes. Down home, front porch music for old friends and new ones.

Javier & the Innocent Sons w/guest Hurricane Harold @ Washington Square, White Bear Lake. 8-11pm. (No cover) Javier ramps up his rootsy, swinging music with the addition of harpmaster Harold. Washington Square isn’t particularly big, so you may have to hang at the bar until diners leave. But hey, good choices in all beverage departments.

Friday, April 6

Thomas Dolby @ Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($25) In the 80s Dolby hit it big with a couple of tunes, including “She Blinded Me With Science,” recently heard on a local TV stations weather segment. But being on top of the charts was nothing compared to his next move – creating a Silicon Valley tech company that built the ringtone synthesizer found in over 3 billion phones around the world. He’s retired, and once again returned to the world of music. His first studio album in 20 years, Floating City, has been launched coincidentally with his transmedia game of the same name. Think web, phones, I-pads all taking part in real time. Anyway, he’s back and should provide an interesting, if not eye-opening experience at the Cedar.

Yodel A Go Go @ Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 9pm The Schooner is a neighborhood hole-in-the-wall with a good beer list at 29th St and 27th Avenue South – directly east of Target. Dan Peterson’s little group plays rockabilly and danceable country. with guitarist Clay Williams providing tasteful fills and leads. Jennifer Markey used to sing with the group, and word is she’ll be dropping by for a song or two.

Saturday, April 7

Dough Bros @ Manitou Station, White Bear Lake. 9pm. (No cover) When Paul Mayasich and Andy Dee get out their resonator guitars (also known as Dobros), the results are mesmerizing. Not so mesmerizing that you won’t order another drink, or even dance a little jig, but mesmerizing nonetheless. Hear examples on their MySpace site.

Lamont Cranston @ The Narrows Blues Saloon, Navarre. 9pm (No cover) Over in the Western part of the Twin Cities area, Pat Hayes and his band will be delivering butt-rockin’ blues.

What’s Going On? @ The Cabooze, Minneapolis. 9pm. ($15) It’s the annual celebration of the music of Marvin Gaye, and what could be sweeter? Some of the musicians that will be performing include Julius Collins, Jay Bee, Lynval Jackson, Yohannes Tona, and Daryl Boudreaux, among others. As Marvin once sang, “How Sweet It iis.”

1/2 Birthday, Saturday.

Big Fat Love: John Prine’s 1/2 Birthday @ The 331 Club, NE Minneapolis. 9pm (tip jar) Well, 1/2 birthday, or Saturday, do you really need an excuse to celebrate the creativity of Mr. Prine? Tonight’s program is hosted by Mother Banjo and Art Vandalay, with guests Dan Newton, Caitlin Robertson, Jon Rodine and more.

Sunday, April 8

Willie Walker @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 4pm (No Cover)  Okay, here’s an alternative to a fancy Easter celebration. Willie Walker is a soul singer who can fill your heart and move your feet, not to mention other parts of your body. Plus, you can indulge your need for good bar food.

Zydeco Benefit for Second Harvest Heartland @ The Half Time Rec, Saint Paul. 8pm (Donation) It’s the Faux Playboys, JJ’s Zydeco Paydirt, and Dan Newton Plays Clifton, all for a good cause. You’d have to go to Louisiana to get this kind of music and fun, as folks of all ages will be dancin’ spinnin’ circlin’ and more.

Monday, April 9

Cactus Blossoms @ The Turf Club, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Fans of classic country (Hank Williams, Hank Thompson, George Jones) are discovering the brotherly harmonies and and down home appeal of this talented quintet. Their Monday night residency at the Turf is attracting dancers of all stripes, which resulted in about a 1/2 dozen couples waltzing on the Turf’s dance floor. Waltzing. Probably hasn’t happened since the heyday of the Turf as a C&W bar many moons ago.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues and roots, see the calendar of the Minnesota Blues Society.

For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar.


Crankshaft the Comic Strip and Symphony Sid

April 1, 2012

Today’s Sunday comic of Crankshaft, the curmudgeon with the soft heart, features a flashback scene of a young, hip musician entering the Royal Roost in NY in the early 50s, with Symphony Sid Torin providing the “voiceover” for a live broadcast. You can hear the recording of that broadcast on Charlie Parker: Bird at the Roost, on Savoy Jazz records.

Here’s a couple of YouTube recordings that give you an example of Symphony Sid’s announcing and Bird’s playing. The first is a commercial by Sid, in which he describes the Royal Roost much like today’s strip, before he launches into a spiel for some sort of face cream that sounds like it may have been for black women – it’s called Snow White!

The second is Parker doing Little Willie Leaps, with Sid doing the intro.


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