Youth Jazz, Art, Blues, and Worldbeats: 5.18 – 5.24

13048116_858343110943744_3629080614244096720_oPlease indulge me for a moment as I tell you about an event that means much to me. It’s Celebrate Youth Jazz!, a fundraiser for the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education (DFJE) to be held this Sunday at Vieux Carré. DFJE is a non-profit organization that creates and supports quality jazz education for students and young musicians. Last year we served over 650 students by sending 24 area musicians into 14 public schools. We also sponsor the Dakota Combo, an open-audition group that studies with bassist Adam Linz throughout the school year and performs at public venues as well as public schools. This year marks the 10th edition of the Combo, and to celebrate, the current Combo, as well as a big band of Combo Alumni directed by Kelly Rossum, will perform. If you have any interest in jazz and/or music education, you can support DFJE by attending on Sunday. More information can be found below, as well as at

Now, onto this week’s music.


Wednesday, May 18

Stephane Wrembel Band @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($30, $35) French guitarist/composer Wrembel learned his craft among Roma campfires in the French countryside, has performed during the Oscar telecast, and was recruited to score the theme to Woody Allen’s film Midnight in Paris. Now based in Brooklyn, Wrembel’s latest album, Origins, explores his roots, touching upon everything from the blues to flamenco.

Nathan Hanson Group @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10) Here’s a trio that is conversant in straight ahead jazz as well as more adventurous treatments of music. Besides Hanson, on sax, the group includes Michael O’Brien, bass; and Cory Healey, drums.

Thursday, May 19

Sundae + Mr. Goessl @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) This Seattle based duo of husband and wife perform vintage jazz from composers such as Ellington, Porter, and the Gershwins. Ms Sundae is the vocalist of the two, though she also plays a cheap, but pink melody, while Mr. Goessl accompanying on an Epiphone Swingster guitar.

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 7pm (Tip Jar) With the return of jazz to the Reverie, we also get a return of the JazzINK Youth Showcase which tonight features Halcyon Daze at 7pm: George Adzick, alto & flute; Ivan Cunningham, alto & tenor; Yonci Jameson, bass clarinet; Nicholas Christenson, bass; and Sam Stroup, drums. The multi-generational Fall Of The House Of Usher headlines, with: Chris Cunningham, guitars; Ivan Cunningham, saxes; Chris Bates, bass; Greg Schutte, drums; Cole Pulice, saxes; Noah Ophoven-Baldwin, trumpet; Adam Svec, vocals. With special guest Michelle Kinney on cello.

Jeremy Ylvisaker & Michael Lewis @ The Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Ylvisaker (from Alpha Caonsume, and the Cloak Ox, among others), teams up with saxophonist and bassist Michael Lewis (of Happy Apple and Fat Kid Wednesdays, among others) for an evening of adventurous improvisation.

Friday, May 20

Michael O’Brien & the Latin Jazz Quartet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/student ID) Bassist Michael O’Brien has been quite busy since he relocated from the Twin Cities to New York City. He’s performed and/or composed with such notable performers as Harry Connick Jr, Ruben Blades, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Steve Wilson, Wayne Escoffery, Dave King, Matt Wilson, Sachal Vasandani, and Ted Nash, among others – phew! He is back in town and is busy with a number of gigs, including this one featuring Joe Strachan, piano; Geoff Senn, trumpet; Babatunde Lea, congas; and Mac Santiago, drums, all of whom are well versed in Latin Jazz. Here’s O’Brien showing that he has the chops for other worldbeats as well.

Saturday, May 21

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) The Black Dog is undergoing some construction as they prepare to add another room and kitchen while opening up the original room and adding a bar so more people can see musicians performing. Just walk past the construction into the new, though somewhat unfinished room where music is temporarily being presented. Opening at 7pm is The Convergence Trio: Joel Shapira guitar; Michael O’Brien,m bass; and Eric Kamau Gravatt, drums. Then it’s the Kelly Rossum Quartet: Michael O’Brien and Eric Kamau Gravatt return to the stage on bass and drums respectively; to join Dave Hagedorn, vibes; and Rossum on trumpet. Rossum, who is director of Jazz Studies at Christopher University in Virginia, will be directing the Dakota Combo Alumni Big Band tomorrow. Here’s a video from Rossum’s brand new album.

Kate Lynch & Her Most Excellent Fellows @ the Uptown VFW, Lake & Lyndale, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm (No Cover) Ms Lynch is a singer/bassist who mines pop & jazz from the 30s to the 50s to create dance-friendly tunes for fox trotters and swing dancers. The Uptown VFW has been remodeled and has a new, large dance floor. She will be joined by Chris Beaty guitar, Ken Chastaine drums, Greg Lewis trumpet, Peter VIrcks Sax, Pete Enblom, bone, each of whom does a fine job of bringing improvisation and swing to the dance floor.

Sunday, May 22

Celebrate Youth Jazz! @ The Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 4:30pm – 5:30: social hour, 5:30 – 8:30pm program ($45, $50  [$35 is tax deductible]) Kelly Rossum is returning to town to direct a Dakota Combo Alumni Big Band, which includes alumni working in the Twin Cities and elsewhere. There will be silent auction items including a double magnum of wine, a framed poster from the 1986 New Orleans Jazz Festival, a Meet and Greet (and tickets) with Chick Corea and Christian McBride, and more. We’ll also have a raffle with the first prize a “Wall of Wine, (two cases), and a second prize of a 9 CD set of Miles Davis Mono recordings. Tickets are available by calling the Dakota Box Office (612-332-5299) or going to their website  Tickets will also be available at the door. Thanks to the fine folks at the Vieux, your ticket will include a welcome drink from Prairie Distillery. Here is this year’s combo.

Dan Chouinard & Maud Hixson @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($10, $35 Dinner) It’s another edition of Chouinard’s Birthday Club, celebrating the music of composers born in May. This time around his partner is the cool yet warm vocalist Maud Hixson.

Monday, May 23

Freddy Cole @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30 – $45) Cole  the younger brother of Nat King Cole is a star in his own right, a masterful pianist and singer, with a vocal that’s slightly darker and rougher than his brother, but nevertheless shares the same tonal quality. He has his own elegant, sophisticated style. The NY Times noted his “impeccable sense of swing,” and called him “the most expressive jazz singer of his generation, if not the best alive.”   Here’s a sampling of his performance.

Graydon Peterson Quartet @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($8) Bassist Peterson is one of the first call players for singers around town. He also plays in a variety of other groups besides this one, which performs his original music. After spending time in Cuba last year with the Charanga Tropical, Peterson penned some new songs, for which he’ll add percussionist Andrew Gillespie to the proceedings. Regular members of the quartet include Adrian Suarez, drums; Adam Meckler, trumpet; and Joe Strachan, piano.  Peterson and band-mate Adam Meckler are featured in this video.

Tuesday, May 24

Mary Louise Knutson/Hot Jazz with Connie Evingson @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm (No Cover), 8pm ($8) It’s another jazz double at the Vieux, with Mary Louise Knutson playing piano during the dinner hour, followed at 8pm by Connie Evingson  who so effortlessly sings acoustic swing, aka Gypsy Jazz. Joining her will be Patrick Harrison, accordion; Dean Harrington, guitar; Mike Cramer, guitar; and Josh Granowski, bass. Here’s Connie working with the Hot Club of Sweden.

Bryan Nichols Album Release @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($7) Nichols is a pianist-about-town who leads a number of groups: a trio, a quartet, and a quintet, in addition to playing with any number of other musicians. He’s got a new CD, and will be celebrating its release at the Dakota. Tune in to my show Saturday morning (10:30am – Noon) to hear him talk about it and play a couple of tunes from it. Here he is in a trio setting.

Tuesday, Wednesday, May 24, 25

Bobby Lyle w/Billy Peterson @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($25, $50 Dinner), 9pm ($20) The Minneapolis native started playing piano in clubs at the age of 15, and hit the road as a full time musician after two years at Macalester. In the more than three decades since then he’s acquired a well-deserved impressive resume , recording for Capitol, Atlantic, Three Keys, and Heads Up, and serving as musical director for Al Jarreau, Anita Baker, and Bette Midler. His 2005 album Straight and Smooth appeared on both the Smooth Jazz and Traditional Jazz charts for Billboard. He’ll be joined by bassist Billy Peterson, whose own musical career also knows few boundaries, having worked with Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Les Paul, and Steve Miller, among others.

Early Notice!!

Sunday, June 5

Joe Lovano’s Tribute to Gunther Schuller @ Sundlin Hall, 1531 Hewitt Avenue, Saint Paul. 4pm ($25, $25 Senior [62+], $15 Student ID) Note: One K-12 Student is admitted free with each paid adult. With Anthony Cox, bass; Young-Nan Kim, violin; Timothy Lovelace, piano; and Fred Harris, drums. With guest composer Peter Child.

For more listings, KBEM provides a calendar of jazz and roots music.   For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz, check out the blogs, Jazz PoliceJazz Ink, and Bebopified.

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, May 18

Chemistry Set on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) This three-piece band has been around for a number of years, playing power pop with alt-country leanings. I recall seeing them at the Hat Trick lounge at least six years ago, and they were impressive then. Members are Chris Thompson, guitar and lead vocals; Steve Smith, percussion and backing vocals, and Jackie Crosby, bass.

Corpse Reviver Album Release @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($15) This is the second release for Corpse Reviver  though the first Vinyl release. Volume Two: Dry Bones continues the Reviver bent for songs from Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music. The trio of Adam Kiesling, Mikkel Beckmen, and Jillian Rae have been performing together for six years, putting their own spin on the music while maintaining respect for songs that were first compiled and released in 1952 by Smith. They’ll be joined by resident choir MPLS (impulse) during their set, and will have the legendary Spider John Koerner as an opening act. Wouldn’t be surprised if Koerner, who’s a font of knowledge about traditional folks songs, joins the trio for a song or two.

World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band @ Schooner’s Tavern, Minneapolis. 7:30pm (Tip Jar) Well, Nye’s may be no more, but you can still enjoy the sounds of the World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band at least once a month. The dance floor is a bit larger than Nye’s, so you don’t have an excuse for staying off it.

Thursday, May 19

Big George Jackson @ Hollihans’ Pub, White Bear Lake. 8pm (Tip Jar) The big voice of Big George can rumble so low you’ll expect the floor to move. You’ll find yourself moving, however, even if Hollihan’s is packed.

Orkestar Bez Ime @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. (Tip Jar) Raucous dance music from Eastern Europe. There’s a bit more room in the expanded, if not yet finished new room at the Black Dog. All the better for moving chairs and tables out of the way and joining the fun fray.

Friday, May 20

Charles Walker Band @ Harriet Brewing Tap Room, Minneapolis. 7pm ($5) This Milwaukee funk n’ soul quintet with gospel influences and a tight sound. They’ve been nominated for the Wisconsin Music Award (WAMI) as the best soul/r&b act four times, winning in 2013.

Friday, Saturday, May 20, 21

Vinyl Voices play Art-A-Whirl @ the Northrup King Building, Minneapolis. 5:30 – 10pm Friday, Noon – 8pm Saturday (No Cover) There’s lots going on throughout NE Mpls, what with gallery openings and music at bars, brew tap rooms and elsewhere. You can get a complete listing of music here. An artist directory and maps can be found at: Anyway, I and other KFAI deejays will be spinning in the Third Floor Art Gallery #332 at the Northrup King Building. I’ll be there from 7:45 – 10pm on Friday.

Saturday, May 21


Shannon Mac Band @ Schooner’s Tavern, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) the guys in the Mystic Order of Reverb and Twang (M.O.R.T) were looking to kickstart their sound when the met Shannon McDonough  a singer predisposed to 50s rockabilly, blues, and a bit of doowop. They clicked, and the Shannon Mac Band is the result. High energy music, delivered with verve and panache.

Michael Monroe @ The 318 Cafe, Excelsior. 8pm ($20) Monroe is a charming singer/songwriter who has been performing for forty years. He’s a self-taught musician who plays guitar, ukelele, and glass bamboo flutes who certainly knows how to connect with an audience.

Sunday, May 22

Alma Afrobeat Ensemble @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($15 Advance, $20 Door) This Barcelona, Spain band actually got started in Chicago, but it wasn’t until founder Aaron Feder moved to Spain 10 years ago and met some Nigerian musicians that it began to gel and take off. This is actually their first proper American tour. Afropop Worldwide has called the band’s sound “as dark and intensely danceable as any African musical experience can be.” It has helped that the band has given some of their tracks to DJs to reimagine and take in a new direction. This is a standing show, but I expect there will be much dancing, freestyle and otherwise. Jaedyn James & the Hunger, the opening act, is a 10-piece funk n’ soul band out of South Minneapolis.

Monday, May 23

New Riverside Ramblers @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($8) High energy dance music, usually found around the bayous of South Louisiana. Thanks to the Ramblers and a few other bands around here, fans of the music can dance their hearts out in the dance halls of the Eagles Club. Members of the Ramblers include: Eric Mohring, fiddle; AJ Srubas, fiddle & Steel Guitar; John Terr, accordion; Doug Lohman, bass; Karen Kleinspehn, guitar; Paul Loughridge, drums.

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. .

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