Well it’s Art Crawl Weekend in Saint Paul and Lowertown especially will be crawling with hipsters, would-be hipsters, folks looking for that perfect piece of art to match a sofa, and more. Music lovers will be hopping between the Black Dog, Studio Z, The Bedlam, PUBLIC, and The Hat Trick. There may even be a few more. That’s not to say that you won’t find plenty of music on the west side of the Mississippi, as you can tell from the ideas I’ve put forth below. Have a good week. Music lifts your spirits.
Wednesday, April 22
Danilo Perez @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm($30), 9pm ($20) Perez is one of the premier pianists of his generation, earning accolades from the likes of Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, anymore. He’s the founder and artistic director of the Panama jazz Festival in his own country,m and tours with the wonderful rhythm section of Ben Street on bass and Adam Cruz on drums. His 2014 release, Panama 500, celebrates the five hundredth anniversary of the first permanent European settlement in Panama, yet incorporates jazz and classical music, as well as folk music from throughout Latin America.
Butch Thompson, Axel Zwingenberger & Lila Ammons @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10 – $20) It’s an evening of early jazz, classic boogie boogie, and the blues, featuring our own pianist/clarinetist Butch Thompson, boogie boogie pianist Zwingenberger, and internationally acclaimed blues singer Lila Ammons, who is no slouch when it comes to jazz either. Zwingenberger and Ammons have toured Europe extensively for the last eight year.
Thursday, April 23
Fireside Five & Friends @ The Underground Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 7:30pm (Tip Jar) Five amazing musicians who you would expect to hear in a jumping’ nightclub rather than a wood-paneled coffeehouse (though beer and wine is served). Tom Ashworth, euphonium; Brian Grivna, sax; Phil Aaron, piano; Gordy Johnson, bass; and Phil Hey, drums. Plus, they bring in some very talented friends.
Rhonda Laurie & Phil Mattson @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) The always-swingin’ smoky-voiced Ms Laurie on vocals and pianoman/arranger Mr. Mattson will be exploring standards and more this evening. Here’s Rhonda with a bit different accompaniment.
Cartwright-Kinney-Lewis-Evans @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Michelle Kinney, cello; Michael Lewis, sax; George Cartwright, sax; Elaine Evans, pocket Trumpet. Adventurous improvised music from a quartet of musicians whose resumes run from Lou Reed, Alex Chilton, and Andrew Bird to Ornette Coleman and Happy Apple.
Friday, April 24
Endeavors @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10 Suggested Donation) A quintet with some great young players, including: Miguel Hurtado, drums; Nelson Devereaux, sax; Jake Baldwin, trumpet; Joe Strachan, Piano; and Ryan Hays, bass. They have coalesced into a tight, passionate unit.
James Wallace Quartet @ Nicollet Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Wallace has been playing sax in the area for a long, long time. In fact when the folks at Secret Stash Records were putting together a revue to celebrate the funk music of 40 years ago, they recruited Wallace as one of the players of the time. He’s joined by a group of slightly younger veterans: Steve Kenny, trumpet; Ron Evanuik, bass; and Alden Akeda on drums.
Dakota Combo Spring Concert @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) This octet of high school players is strong in talent, technique, and execution. A couple of them even write. Despite their age, this is no novelty act, but rather a group of young musicians whose ability transcends their age. There will be some treats afterwards.
Saturday, April 25
Katia Cardenas & Joe Strachan @ PUBLIC Kitchen & Bar, Saint Paul.7pm – 9pm (No Cover) This is part of a new effort by the folks at PUBLIC to feature weekend music in their downstairs bar & lounge. Cardenas is a vocalist who is equally at home in jazz, R&B, and pop. Strachan is a pianist who is equally at home in jazz, Afro-Cuban music, and funk. Should be a fun pairing.
Bob Mintzer w/JazzMN Orchestra @ Hopkins High School, 2400 Lindberg Drive, Minnetonka. 7:30pm ($32 – $34. Discounts for Students) As a saxophonist, MIntzer is a pretty versatile guy. He’s a composer, arranger, big band leader and a member of the storied fusion band, The Yellowjackets. His current project is an R&B big band featuring the music opt Sly Stone, the Isleys, James Brown and more. You’ll be hearing some of those tunes tonight, as well as some music from vocalist Patty Peterson.
Mancrush, with Jon Wood and Iron Chops @ Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7:00pm ($5 – $20 Suggested Donation) Wood is a guitarist celebrating a CD release at 7pm. He’ll be joined by Dave Brattain, sax; Javi Santiago, keys; Graydon Peterison, bass; and Dave Schmalenberger, drums. At 8:30 Mancrush, takes the stage, featuring Lars Erik-Larson on drums; Zacc Harris, guitar; Bryan Nichols, keys; Brandon Wozniak, sax.
Saturday, Sunday, April 25, 26
Legend Series with Irv Williams and Debbie Duncan @ The Capri Theater, Minneapolis. 7pm Saturday, 3pm Sunday ($25) Williams is 95 and still deserving of his nationally known nickname, Mr. Smooth. The sass and swing of vocalist Ms Duncan will be complemented by the romantic sound os Williams’ saxophone.
Sunday, April 26
Jazz Noir @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 5pm, 8pm ($25) Kevin Barnes at KBEM is once again bringing live radio drama to the airwaves, this time at the old Artists’ Quarter in Saint Paul, which is slowly being transformed in anticipation of a late June opening. This is the third in a series of commissioned plays about jazz in the Twin Cities. With an original music score composed and performed by Chris Bates, bass; Steven Hobert, piano; and Solomon Parham, trumpet, tonight’s play is an original called Morning Follows Night, and follows a decorated WWII hero who is an ex-con trying to find out who double-crossed him. It takes place over a ten-year period in the jazz clubs of the Near North Side. The 8pm show will be broadcast live on KBEM (88.5FM).
Monday, April 27
Doug Haining @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Haining may well be the most swinging sax/clarinet player in town. He’s played with the Wolverine, Echoes of Ellington, JazzMN Orchestra, Charmin Michelle, and his own swinging septet the TC Seven, as well as being a co-leader of the Explosion Big Band
Tuesday, April 28
Paul Renz Quartet @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 5pm (No Cover) though it’s only been open as Crooners for five months, the folks there are digging right into the local jazz scene to feature artists from the area. Tonight it’s the great guitarist Paul Renz and his group. Renz may not be a familiar name, but rest assured, he’s well known on the East Coast, where he regularly tours, and is well-respected by his many students.
Blues, Roots, Other…
Wednesday, April 22
A Night at the Opera @ The Museum of Russian Art, 5500 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis. 7pm – 8:30pm ($30) If you have any inclinations toward classical compositions and opera, this will be a treat, as Russian baritone Vladislav Sulimsky will be joined by pianist Denis Evsthin to perform popular operatic arias and art songs by Verdi, Puccini, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff. The museum itself is a lovely place with good acoustics, not to mention extraordinary art. Go to the museum’s website to register.Malamanya,
Malamanya @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 10pm ($10) Every time I see these proponents of Afro-Cuban and Latin rhythms, they get stronger and hotter. The chairs and tables will be cast aside at the Icehouse, so dancers can twirl and do their sexy thing.
Thursday, April 23
Mother Banjo @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm (No cover) The Minnesota Music Coalition is a sponsor of Foodie Nights at the Dakota and tonight is featuring Ellen Stanley and her band for an evening of indie folk/gospel music. Stanley has received accolades for her original lyrics and haunting vocals.
Friday, April 24
Schubert Club Mix @ Bedlam Theater, Saint Paul. 7:30pm – 9:30pm ($30) Tonight the Schubert Club presents pianist Stephen Prutsman in a program of Bach. Prutsman was an Artistic Partner of the SPCO in the mid-2000s, served as Artistic Director of the Cartegena International Festival of Music from 2009 – 2012, and has collaborated with the Kronos Quartet, creating over 40 arrangements and compositions for the Grammy winning chamber ensemble.
Hipshaker Dance Party @ The Kitty Cat Klub, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Rare 45s with the kind of beat that makes it easy to dance. Just ask the mostly young crowd that fills every edition of this dance night.
Hold Tight Dance Party @ Bedlam Theater, Lowertown. 10pm (No Cover) Bedlam employees will be scurrying to remove the piano from the Schubert Club program (see above) while things get set up for Hold Tight deejays Booka, Sam, and Del, who are bringing in another Deejay Crew, the guys from Wants vs Needs, for a dance night rooted in funk but likely to go anywhere.
Carnage Record Release Party @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 11:30pm ($8) Warm, personable hip-hop artist Carnage has been called “The best drummer in town” because his vocal beat box skills are so right on. He’s celebrating the release of a new CD, “Up Close and Personal.”
Saturday, April 25
James McMurty and Max Gomez @ The Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($20) McMurty is an Austin, TX songwriter/singer who mines Americana and occasional folk-rock to help him tell his stories of hard characters facing life’s myriad challenges. Village Voice critic Robert Cristgau called his 2005 protest song, “We Can’t Make It Here” the best song of the 2000s. His recently released album “Complicated Game” continues his streak of well received releases. Opening set by promising young singer/songwriter Max Gomez, of Taos.
Casablanca Orchestra @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10?) Whether performing 80s new wave, old-school funk, classic Motown, or new music like Uptown Funk or All About that bass, his ten-piece show band will have dancers out on the commodious dance floor at MMC.
PaviElle and Nooky Jones @ The Ichouse, Minneapolis. 10:30pm ($10) It’s an evening of 21st Century Soul. PaviElle French has quickly caught the ears and hearts of Twin Citizens since returning to the stage about a year ago. She sings with a bit of flavor of Sly Stone and even Bill Withers, with a band that can jam out a-la Parliament Funkadelic when the feeling arises. Nooky Jones features a fine vocalist in Cameron Kinghorn, backed by Adam Meckler, trumpet; Ryan Christianson, trombone; Kevin Gastonguay, dyes; Andrew Foreman, bass; and Reid Kennedy, drums. They are all first rate jazz musicians who create a smooth, jazz flavored danceable R&B behind Kinghorn.
Sunday, April 26
Road to Memphis Band Challenge @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 1pm ($10 Suggested Donation) It’s another event sponsored by the Minnesota Blues society to pick a band that will represent us in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis next January. Contestants include: Bludog, Sweet Tea, RAMM Band, Squishy Mud, Fattenin’ Frogs, Jimmi & the Band of Souls
Nellie McKay @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35), 9pm ($25) The quirkily delightful Ms McKay will once again bring her quit wit and often insightful satirical lyrics to the Dakota. She can skewer war and feminism with equal aplomb, and turn around and deliver a Dinah Shore ballad.
Monday, April 27
Hot Club of Cowtown @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25 – $30) This trio plays Western Swing with original compositions that reflect both Django Rheinhardt and early jazz, as well as Bob Wills. Much fun.
Tuesday, April 28
Labaja @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($22) This Nigerian Afrobeat artist differentiates himself by using traditional Yoruba drums to establish a dance floor rhythm, creating a light, though still insinuating groove. Singing in Yoruba, English, and a blend of the two, he wears a mask as an icon of man’s facelessness.
For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the MN Blues Society calendar. For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar. Dancers might want to check out the calendar for U Wanna Dance.