Despite the clouds during this May week, we’ve got plenty of music to lift our spirits. I’m always pleasantly surprised at the variety of jazz, blues, and roots music here in the Twin Cities. Tonight we have an outstanding visiting jazz pianist, while the rest of the week brings us intriguing music from resident jazz artists. This weekend seems to be a big one for ska lovers with both The English Beat in town, and a festival of ska music, film, and even Jamaican food at the Parkway Theater. We’ve got some visiting artists from New Orleans and Great Britain as well, and two dance parties celebrating music from other nations. Need I say more? Get out and enjoy the richness of Twin Cities music.
Wednesday, May 11
Bill Charlap Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($27 – $35), 9pm ($20 – $25) Wow! When it comes to piano trios, it’s hard to top pianist Charlap and his band mates, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington, and no, they aren’t related. Charlap’s latest album, The Songs of Jerome Kern, has him playing while Tony Bennett sings, and the results have been lauded throughout the jazz community.
Magica Improvisada @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Bassist Chris Bates started this monthly concept with the idea of creating several new bands over the course of the year. However, the chemistry with Joe Strachan on piano and Matt Buckner on drums was so good, that they’ve jelled as a group and are committed to playing together as much as they can, performing originals from each member.
Thursday, May 12
Authentic Violet: Melody & Jon Duo @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10, $5 Student ID) That’s Melody as in vocalist Melody Mendis and Jon as in pianist Jon De Vaal. The two have lots of fun performing together
Zacc Harris Quartet @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm ($8) The Vieux continues to do a good job of booking resident talent from our jazz and roots scene. Tonight, it’s jazz, with a quartet of Twin Cities modern jazzers: Zacc Harris, guitar; Bryan Nichols, piano; Chris Bates, bass; and and JT Bates, drums.
Friday, May 13
Nathan Hanson/Doan Brian Roessler @ the Walker West Music Academy, 760 Selby Avenue, Saint Paul. 8pm ($15) Hanson and Roessler have been playing together for over twenty years, developing a rapport that helps to move music along with no seeming effort, even when completely improvising. Tonight, they’ll be previewing their soon-to-be-released album that takes a more orchestral approach to their music. Joining saxophonist Hanson and bassist Roessler are: Laura Harada, violin; Cole Pulice, tenor and baritone; and Christopher McGuire, drums. Here are Hanson & Roessler.
Todd Harper & Possibilities @ SW Craft Bar, Saint Paul. 8pm – 11pm (No Cover) Pianist Harper runs up the street to the SW Craft Bar (formerly Señor Wongs) after his Friday happy hour gig at the Black Dog to lead a quintet with Eric Coursen, drums; Bill Grenke, bass; Chris Hagedorn, tenor; and a special guest. Here he is with some of his other friends.
Saturday, May 14
Duke n’ Donuts @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 4pm ($20 Suggested Donation) A fundraiser for Hopewell Music Cooperative f North Minneapolis, the only music school in North Minneapolis. The event will include performance and presentations on Duke Ellington and the importance of music education, including performances from theHopewell Student Jazz Ensemble and Faculty Trio. Also, there will be donuts.
Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Steve Kenny Quartet, featuring the veteran horn man and a trio of young lions, opens at 7pm with: Kenny, Flumpet; Levi Schwartzberg, vibes; Ted Olsen, bass; and Rodney Ruckus, drums. At 8:30 it’s the Dave King/George Cartwright Duo, with King on drums and percussion and Cartwright on sax. Here’s a long video of them at Radio K.
Sunday, May 15
Maurice Jacox Sings Nat King Cole @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15, $40 Dinner) The R&B/jazz vocalist has sporadically performed his Nat King Cole show for a number of years. He’ll be accompanied by Reuben Ristrom, guitar; and Ron Seaman on piano. Here’s a chance to see and hear this show in a listening venue other than a theater. Here’s a promo piece for the more involved tribute that Jacox has done in the past.
Monday, May 16
Jazz Implosion @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($8) Tonight trumpeter Bill Simenson will lead a quintet featuring: Nathan Hanson, sax; Chris Bates, bass; Dave Martin, guitar; and JT Bates on drums. Simenson leads his own 17-piece big band, so it will be interesting to see what he does with this quintet.
Tuesday, May 17
Mary Louise Knutson Trio @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm – 9pm ($10, $35 Dinner) Ms Knutson returns to the quiet of the Dunsmore Room to enchant us with her piano playing. She’ll be joined by Gordon Johnson, bass; and Greg Schutte, drums. Here’s a recording of the title tune from her last album.
Michael O’Brien’s Triage @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 8pm ($5) NYC based bassist Michael O’Brien left the Twin Cities for the Big Apples some years ago, and has since toured the world with various groups and gigged around Manhattan and Brooklyn. He is back in town for a few performances, including tonight’s which features Chris Lomheim on piano and Jay Epstein on drums. Here’s O’Brien with the Kyoko Oyobe Quartet at the Kitano in NYC>
Blues, Roots, Other…
Wednesday, May 11
Don Scott & Curtis Blake on KFAI and @ the 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM0, 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) It’s a pleasure to have Don “Scotty” Scott ack in the state, as he spends his winters in warmer climes. The guitarist has found a great collaborator in harmonic wiz Curtis Blake and together they deliver fine set of acoustic blues, with Rosanne Licciardi on percussion and a few surprising covers thrown in to keep your interest high. As usual, tune in to Harold’s House Party to hear them play, then head over to the 331 Club.
Sonny & Ray & the Rotations @ Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9pm ($8) A collaboration between a couple of resident soul heavyweights: Sonny Knight and Ray Barnard. In the last few years, Sonny and his band the Lakers have headlined festivals both here and in Europe. “Course before then he was Little Sonny Knight back in 1965, and then sang with the legendary Haze. Ray led the roots/rock Copperheads for 12 years before striking out on his own, and recording two well-recieved albums. The duo will be performing soul & roots tunes, with a bit of influence from country, most of which were written by Graham Bramblett, who will joining them on a few. Here’s Sonny in an acoustic environment.
Thursday, May 12
Samba Meu @ the Reverie Cafe, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($5) Samba Meu brings roots music and social dance from various regions of Brazil to the cafe and bart at Nicollet & Franklin. If you only think of bossa novas when thinking of Brazilian music, here’s a chance to hear many regional styles, including sambas, chorus, batucadas, maracatu, and more. Here’s an example of a batucada.
Friday, May 13
Tom Hunter Band @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) You can often catch Hunter performing at Willie Murphy’s Monday night jams, but his resume is far bigger than that: playing with Big John Dickerson, touring with Mary Cutrufello as the opening act for the Allman Brothers 30th Anniversary tour, playing and recording with Bernard Allison, and putting out three of his own albums. Catch him performing with his own group in the big room at this Fridley lounge.
Radio Joe & The Jazzbos @ The 318 Cafe, Excelsior. 8pm ($10) Radio Joe Demko brings his romantic swing to the Western suburbs. This 40 seat cafe, with a varied wine and beer list, is the perfect intimate setting for hearing Joe do his Nat King Cole tribute during the first set. The second set will undoubtedly feature some of Joe’s fine originals as well as swing inspired by the Benny Goodman Quintet.
Worldwide Discoteque 4th Anniversary @ Nomad World Pub, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) The tropical dance party celebrates four years of bringing together the music of Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean in a trans-generational, trans-ethnic celebration that has even been cited in the NY Times. Since that mention a couple of years ago they’ve moved to the larger confines of the Nomad, so let the dancing begin!
Friday, Saturday, May 13, 14
The English Beat @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($40 – $45) The English Beat were one of the most popular and influential bands of the Two-Tone Ska Movement in England in the late 70s and early 80s. They released three acclaimed albums and toured with folks like David Bowie, the Clash, and the Talking Heads, among others. After calling it quits as a band, members went on to form General Public, Fine Young Cannibals, and others. They reunited in 2003 and have been enjoying a renaissance since then by continuing to play their energizing mix of ska, soul, reggae, and rock.
Cariba Fest @ The Parkway Theater, Minneapolis. 5pm – 1am Friday, 11am – 1am Saturday ($10/event or $20 all day). Six different films about Jamaica, six different bands playing ska, reggae, and steel pan, and a dozen roots deejays will be appearing, with Ska Legends Stranger Cole and Patsy Todd performing with our own Prizefighters Jerksican food will be available all weekend in Pepito’s, attached to the theater. As an added attraction there will be Brunch with Stranger Cole and Patsy Todd on Sunday, from 1am – 2pm.
Saturday, May 14
Yolande Bruce’s Birthday Concert @ Crooners, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) Bruce is an original member of Moore by Four, and has appeared in productions at the Guthrie, Penumbra Theater, and other stages around town. Tonight the R&B/jazz singer celebrates her birthday with a few friends, including: Gary Gratz. piano; Jay Young, bass; Steve Faison, drums; and others that will undoubtedly be known to her fans.
Nikki Roux & Rich Rue/Hurricane Harold’s All-Star Revue @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 6pm (Nikki & Rich – No Cover) 9pm ( Hurricane – $8) Here’s another two-fer of roots from the Vieux. Nikki & Rich form the heart of Nikki & the Rue-mates, and together, play the blues and folk-rock. Hurricane Harold Trembley is host of the House Party on KFAI, where he brings in roots artists to play every week. As a result, he has a large rolodex of musicians to choose for various incarnations of the All-Stars. Whoever he has, they will likely be A-list roots musicians, and include a couple of vocalists.
New Orleans Suspects @ The Cabooze, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10 Advance, $15 Door) Some of the finest R&B musicians to come out of New Orleans, the Suspects are: Mean Willie Green, who has drummed for the Neville Brothers since the 80s; Reggie Scanlan, who played bass with James Booker, Professor Longhair, and for 33 years, the Radiators; guitarist Jake Eckert cut his teeth with Derek Trucks before joining the Dirty Dozen; CR Gruver, on piano, is classically trained, and played with many of the city’s well known musicians as well as leading his own band, Funkifry’d; while tenor saxist Kevin Harris is a founding member of the Dirty Dozen who has also played with folks ranging from Elvis Costello, to Norah Jones. Our own Butanes open at 9:30 and the Suspects perform from 10:30 – 1am. As an added bonus, for an additional $15 you can attend a Crawfish Boil on the Joint patio next door.
All Asian Nation Dance Party @ The Bedlam Lowertown, Saint Paul. 9:30pm ($7, $10 after 11pm) Here’s a chance to experience and dance to an evening of Asian Hits, from K-Pop (Korea) to Bollywood (India), as well as several Asian musical genres you may not have heard. If the music moves you, get on the dance floor. Though there will be appearances by Drag Queen Sunny Kiriyama and Drag King Sum Yung Wang, along with multi-musician/artist/producer Miggy Smalls Slice, there is no dress code. For an example of K-pop, here’s a video that’s gotten over 100 million views on YouTube.
Sunday, Monday, May 15, 16
James Hunter Six @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35 – $45) Hunter is a fine proponent of updated soul and R&B. In fact, Mojo Music Magazine of England, declared him “UKs’ best soul singer.” In person he’s a delightful performer, backed by a great band. His latest album, “Hold On” has been released on Brooklyn’s hipster/funk label Daptone, which only adds to his pedigree. Highly recommended if you have any interest in soul music, whether its contemporary or classic.