Summer’s End: 8.31 – 9.6

August 31, 2016

STATE_FAIR_MUSICWell, as we approach the Labor Day weekend, I’ve learned that the AFL-CIO booth at the Fair seems to have lots of jazz. You can find out the schedule, as well as what’s on other stages, here. .The Minnesota Blues Society has kindly put together a list of blues and some roots performances on a daily basis, which you can find here. If you aren’t heading to the Fair, there is plenty of other music around to help you bring the summer to an end, whether you’re looking for visiting artists or some of our own resident artists. Thanks to Tim Nyberg for his reworking of a photo of mine from a past fair. Have fun, music lifts your spirit.


Wednesday, August 31

Jane Monheit and Nicholas Payton @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7-m ($35, $45), 9pm ($25, $35) Vocalist Monheit and trumpeter Payton are calling this show Ella and Louis revisited. Since her beautiful voice vaulted her to stardom in 1998’s Thelonious Monk competition, Monheit has released nine albums and has guested on a number of others. The 39 year old still has a terrific voice, as exemplified in her latest release, The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald. It was produced by New Orleans native and fantastic trumpeter Nicholas Payton, so I guess it seemed natural that they collaborate on this project. If they can have half as much fun as Ella and Louis Armstrong, it will be a great show.

Patrick Adkins @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/student ID) This Edina HS grad is currently studying piano at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. The former member of the Dakota Combo will play a solo set and then be joined by Thomas Strommen, sax; and Aidan Sponheim, trumpet, for the second set.

Steve Kenny Quartet @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 8pm ($5) Veteran Steve Kenny once again surrounds himself with some outstanding 20-ish musicians: Jabari Powell, saxophones; Ted Olsen, bass; and Rodney Ruckus, drums. Kenny will be playing his signature Flumpet, and combination fluegelhorn/trumpet.

Thursday, September 1

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) It’s a guitar-lovers evening at the Reverie as Tall Tales, which includes two of the Twin Cities most adventurous guitarists takes the stage. Zacc Harris & Dean Granros, guitars; with the outstanding support of Chris Bates, bass; Jay Epstein, drums. Here’s an example of what they sound like.

Thursday, Friday, September 1,2

Barbara Morrison w/Houston Person @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30 – $40) No one else can perform jazz and blues with the verve and innate talent of Morrison, who has recorded with the Crusaders, the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra, Ray Charles, Johnny Otis, Kenny Burrell and Doc Severinson. She’s recorded 20 of her own albums and has been nominated for Grammys. Back in 2004 she appeared at the Dakota and recorded a fine album with Houston Person, that big-toned, soulful sax player who can caress a ballad or put grit on a blues. The two of them are back, for a show that will surely be enjoyable.  Here’s Person.

Friday, September 2

Jon Pemberton/Peter Kogan Quintet @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 6pm (Pemberton – no cover), 9pm (Kogan – $10) Enjoy the music of pianist/trumpeter Jon Pemberton, who may have a musical partner, from 6 to 8pm, then stick around for Kogan’s quintet, playing his original music: Kogan, drums; Pete Whitman, just back from China, sax; Phil Aaron, piano; Anthony Cox, bass.

Jason and the Q @ Hells Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm (No Cover) Jason Weismann is a saxophonist and crooner whose vocals and sound harken back to the 50s, though his playing is certainly modern. Bonus: he always has stellar musicians in the Q.

Saturday, September 3

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) After two years of shows, this series has settled into a groove. The opening act is generally a young, or newer band, to give the audience a chance to discover new talent, while the headlining band is generally, but not always, a well established group of veterans who play two sets. Tonight’s opener at 7pm Lars-Erik Larson Trio: Larson, drums; Kam Markworth, bass; Aaron Hedenstrom sax; with special guest Steve Kenny, flumpet. Headlining at 8:30pm is the Paul Harper Bardo Band: Harper, saxes; Phil Aaron, piano; Tom Lewis bass; Nathan Norman, drums.

Sunday, September 4

Jazz Brunch w/James Buckley Trio @ The Turf Club, Saint Paul. 10am (No Cover) It’s Sunday brunch. It’s jazz. What else do you need to know? Oh yes, Buckley, bass; Nelson Devereaux, sax; JT Bates, drums

Sunday Jam Session w/Cole Mahlum @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 2pm – 4pm (Tip Jar??) Spontaneous collaboration is the essence of jazz. Todays session is hosted by guitarist Cole Mahlum, and focuses on the soul jazz sound of the Hammond B3, played by Abebi Stafford, with drumming by Jesse Simon, leader of the MN Hard Bop Collective.

Davell Crawford @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30 – $40) Pianist Crawford is often called the Prince of New Orleans. He certainly comes from a royal musical background, as his grandfather was guitarist Sugarboy Crawford, the first artist to record Jock-A-Mo (Iko Iko), and is the godson of Roberta Flack. At ten years old, he was accompanying gospel choirs in New Orleans, giving him a foundation for everything he currently plays, which can range from classic R&B to B3 Soul Jazz to jazz and ballads.

Monday, September 5

LaValle Jazz Cats Little Big Band @ Como Dockside, Saint Paul. 7pm (Free) This ten-piece little big band does music by Basie, Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Miles, Sonny Rollins, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, and some contemporary artists like Michael Buble, Chick Corea, and Harry Connick Jr.

Tuesday, September 6

Todd Clouser’s Future Dance @ Crooners’ Lounge and Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm – 10pm (No Cover) Guitarist Clouser has earned rave reviews in the national press for his guitar playing, which is heavily based in jazz but, as a relatively young musician, also includes influences from funk and rock. With this new trio, Clouser; Greg Schutte, drums; and from Paris, Warren Walker, sax; form a groove heavy trio performing a collection of original music and de-arrangements of artists from the Motown era to create danceable jazz. After all, jazz was originally played for dancing. Here’s Clouser with his other project, A Love Electric, showing his funk influence.

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, August 31

House Party’s 10 Year Anniversary, with the RAMM Band on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Can it really be ten years since Harold Tremblay began the House Party? The Blues and Roots show features live artists every week, followed by an appearance at the 331 Club. To Celebrate, Harold is bringing in the RAMM Band. It’s Real American Made Music, filled with classic Motown, funk, and rock n’ roll, performed by three very fine musicians: Paul Mayasich, guitar; John Iden, bass; and Donald “Hye Pockets” Robertson.

Maurice Jacox Band @ The Mill City Museum, Minneapolis. 6pm – 8pm ($5, free for museum members) Is this a cool gig or what? The courtyard of the Mill City Museum lets you be outdoors, yet surrounded by some very old stone walls. Plus, vocalist Jacox has a quartet to back him, rather than a duo, or even trio, which will make for some fine ballads, blues, jazz, and R&B. They are: Thomas West, keys; John Della Selva, guitar; Charles Fletcher, bass; and Rob Stupka on drums. Plus, your $5 ticket gets you into the museum between 4pm and 9pm.

Kari Arnett & Laney Jones and the Spirits @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10) An evening of Americana at the Aster. Arnett is a guitarist and singer/songwriter who, much like Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, or Emilylou Harris, draws her inspiration from older forms of country and folk music. Her 2105 EP Midwestern Skyline has drawn praise from around the country. She’ll be accompanied by a four-piece band. Laney Jones is a 24 year old multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter who was raised in rural Florida, and began songwriting while in college. She then went to Berklee, where she majored in Songwriting. Since then, she’s been featured on PBS, and named as one of Ten Country Artists You Need to Know by Rolling Stone. In March she released a self-titiled album which leans a bit more towards pop, with the dance-happy Allson as her first single, and has been touring the nation since then backed by her band The Spirits.

Thursday, September 1

Nikki Roux & Rich Rue @ Golden’s Lowertown, 275 East 4th Street, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar?) Golden’s, the little restaurant with the walk-up window across from Saint Paul’s Farmer’s Market, has a stage and small room dedicated to music, much of which covers folk/Americana, though the occasional jazz group turns up. Tonight they have the folk-rock/blues of Nikki Roux and Rich Rue, who’ve been gathering Saint Paul fans with regular appearances at the Vieux Carre.

Swamp Poppas @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 7:30pm – 11pm ($5??) The dance floor at the Eagles Club will be filled as the Poppas perform their blend of Southern Louisiana music: R&B, Swamp Pop, and a bit of Cajun/Zydeco.

Paul Barry & The Ace Tones w/Lila Ammons @ Famous Daves, Minneapolis. 7pm – 10pm (No cover) Some west coast and jump blues from harpist Paul Barry, along with Jon Pederson, guitar; Vince Hyman, piano & vibes; Scott Soule, bass; and Doug Hill, drums. They’ll be joined by special guest Lila Ammons, who can sing the blues with verve and style.

Friday, September 2

The Pluto Trio @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 8pm (Tip Jar) The Pluto Trio is bassist Paul Kammeyer, percussionist Josh Smith, and keyboardist John Kammeyer. They describe their music as mostly original compositions, is in the vein of Booker T and the MGs, Medeski, Martin, and Wood, or Tortoise, with a dash of new wave and electronica for good measure.

An Evening with Charlie Parr, w/Lianne Smith Opening @ the Hook & Ladder, Minneapolis. 9pm ($8 Advance, $10 Door) Freewheelin’ First Fridays moves to the new Hook & Ladder Lounge in the space formerly occupied by Patrick’s Cabaret. Doors open at 8pm and Lianne Smith opens. Some may remember Smith from the late 80s band Safety Last, which featured Gary Louris and Rusty Jones, among others. Nowadays she lives in Brooklyn and writes about making decisions, adventurous bicycle riding, and saying goodbye to Summer, for which this gig is highly appropriate. Duluth bluesman Charlie Parr is the star, and will undoubtedly pack the place, as he plays his stripped down Delta style blues with the conviction (and experience) of a man who can do nothing but be on the road and sing songs.

Willie Walker & the We R Band @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10?) Just returned from Brazil, our own original soul man and his band take over the MMC stage on a Friday night for your dancing pleasure. A good way to kick off the Labor Day Weekend.

Saturday, September 3

Dee Miller Band @ Schooner’s Tavern, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Ms Miller and her band will be belting out the blues in this south side neighborhood joint. The small dance floor will undoubtedly be filled, thanks to Ms Miller’s choice of material and vibrant voice.

Joe Cruz & Jennifer Grimm @ Washington Square, White Bear Lake. 9pm (Tip jar?) Vocalist/songwriter Grimm had Manitou Station hopping on Sunday nights for years, until the Station, as it’s now called, decided to stop featuring music. You can catch her tonight in a slightly more intimate duo set with well-respected guitarist Joe Cruz.

Willie Murphy & the Angel Headed Hipsters @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) Murphy is one of three charter members of the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, along with Dylan and Prince, and he delivers rousing rock n’ roll and R&B. Though the dance floor is much smaller than many places Murphy has played, the energy is still full-on fun.

Sunday, September 4

Porktoberfest II @ Dayblock Brewing, Minneapolis. Noon – 2am ($5 advance/$10door) Music and pork products galore, including Pork Shanks, Beer Brats, Pork Belly sliders, and bacon, bacon, bacon! Music starts at 2pm, and includes Private Oates, Rolling Stoners, Marah in the Mainsail, Brass and Bodyworks, and the School of Rock. Pretzels, veggie sandwiches, and corn on the cob will also be available at this family-friendly, but no pets allowed, event.

Katy Vernon Band @ Lake Harriet Bandshell, Minneapolis. 5:30pm – 7pm (Free)  The London-raised, Minnesota-based Vernon is a singer/songwriter who creates charming folk-pop. Though her lyrics may speak of sad and melancholy topics, she surrounds them with light-hearted music, thanks in part to her use of the ukelele, as well as her ace band. Bring a picnic and a blanket, or stake out a space on the benches in front of the bandshell and get some food from the The Bread and Pickle restaurant next to the bandshell, and listen while kids frolic at the nearby beach, sailboats cross the lake, and airplanes fly overhead. A glorious way to spend part of the Labor Day Weekend.

Monday, September 5

Jose Feliciano @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40 – $55), 9pm ($35 – $45) Eight Grammys, over forty-five gold and platinum records, Feliciano is a virtuosic guitarist with a musical imagination that can rework  all kinds of songs into a blend of Latin, jazz, pop, rock, and even a nod or two to classical music. His last appearance at the Dakota a few years back was a delightful evening of mixed media, storytelling, and great music.

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 eve

More Than Just The Drummer in the Band: An Interview with Chip White

February 23, 2015

Chip-White-300x246On one hand drummer Alan “Chip” White is the epitome of a sideman, performing and recording with dozens of artists, yet he is a composer whose songs are more than vehicles for his drumming, he writes lyrics, and he has published a book of poems about jazz musicians whom he admires. White has performed and/or recorded with a wide variety of artists, from Chet Baker, Claudio Roditi, and Jimmy McGriff, to Savion Glover, Irene Reid, Tom Waits, Etta Jones and Houston Person, who he’s been with since the early 90s. He’s also released five albums as a leader since 1994, with artists such as Robin Eubanks, Geri Allen, Randy Brecker, Wycliffe Gordon, and Renee Rosnes playing his original tunes.

His latest CD, Family Dedications and More, is another album of strong, melodic compositions coupled with a CD of poetry. White has written each song in honor of a musician or family member, and then uses the song as a background for the short poem he’s written for that person.

I first met Chip when he appeared with Houston Person at the Dakota in Minneapolis a few years ago. Since then he’s sent me copies of the albums in his Dedication series, featuring songs and poetry. Recently, I met him on The Jazz Cruise, where he appears each year with tenor sax player Houston Person. We sat down for a few minutes in one of the ship’s bars as he talked about his background, meeting Houston Person, his poetry, and his music.

How long have you been drumming?

Well I got started when I was a kid. I was born in Manhattan (1946), uptown in Harlem, and my parents moved to Peekskill when I was small. My father was a marching band drummer. He worked in a hospital but was very much into rudiments. His brother, my uncle, was one of the best snare drum champions in New York. As a kid I started following them, and when I was nine years old, my dad asked “Do you wanna play with us? If you do you have to practice an hour every day. I’ll be your teacher and when I’m your teacher I’m not your father.” I said okay, and it took me about two, two and a half years, where I got to the point I was playing well enough to start playing parades with them. I made $15 a parade, and we were doing three or four a weekend, and the next thing I had a bank account, and I was eleven years old. I said this is a good start.

How did you get into jazz?

I wasn’t into jazz yet. I’d heard some Miles, and I heard a little Coltrane and thought wow. I didn’t not like it, or like it, it was just different. I was into R&B. I came up with Little Richard, James Brown and Motown. I loved that, but the more I listened to jazz, the more I got deeper and deeper into it. The other music was nice but just seemed to stay there. This kind of grew.

An early discovery in Chip White's jazz education

An early discovery in Chip White’s jazz education

I had a great music teacher in high school. We had a big band and he turned me on to Clifford Brown. I said “How come I never heard of Clifford Brown?” and he told me he died in a car accident. Then he gave me a copy of Monk’s Dream, so I started getting into Monk, I was a senior in high school and he took us to hear the Basie Band at the World’s Fair in 1964. That was the band with Frank Wess, Frank Foster and Thad Jones. Later I played with Benny Powell, and Frank Wess, and I studied composition with Frank Foster, which was one of the things that helped me.

Then we had a band in high school under the direction of our music teacher, and we had to join the union, which was funny cause we were 15. We started playing all these union places and the union man came around. He said, “You guys sound good but you have to be in the union,” so we joined, which was even better for us. I was playing with my music teacher and his father, and then started getting calls from the union guy.

Did you study jazz drumming in particular?

It’s a completely different style of drumming than parade drumming. I was good at parade drumming, and almost didn’t want to give it up but realized if I wanted to play jazz I needed to study. After my father taught me all he could, there was a local guy who was a real good jazz drummer. He was an excellent teacher and I studied with him for a number of years.

Then I went to Ithaca College for a year and realized I didn’t want to be a classical musician. It was good, though because I had to study piano. Then somebody told me about the Berklee School of Music, where I studied with Alan Dawson. In the meantime I had heard Coltrane with Elvin and McCoy for the first time when I was a senior in high school. At that time I was really getting into it. I was fortunate to hear Miles and Monk, and Bill Evans. The good thing about living in New York is you don’t have an excuse if you don’t know what’s happening.

When did you start playing with Houston? How did that come about?

Kim & Marion. Working with them proved provident.

Kim & Marion. Working with them proved provident.

I met Houston somewhere in the early 90s. I had a rehearsal studio at the time. The lady I was with was a choreographer and we did a musical together. I wrote all the music and the libretto. We put in on in the East Village for about a week, but didn’t have the 250 grand to go off, off, off (Broadway). After working for a year on this show, directing the band and everything I thought, “Man, I’d like to be a sideman.” A friend of mine, Cecile Brooks, said, “Houston’s looking for a drummer.” It just so happens the next day some friends of mine, singers Kim Kalesti and Marian Cowings were working with Bill Charlap who wasn’t well known at that time. We did some school concerts together and Houston was on those concerts. So I said, I got your address yesterday and here we are on this gig, and he said, “Okay, well I’ll call you sometime.”

Really, about a week later he called me. His drummer got sick at the last minute. I had just gone up to visit my mom. They always say if you want a gig, leave town (laughs). I had gone to visit my mom and we spent the evening having dinner. The next morning I got the call, so it was only an hour (to NYC) so I got in the car and that’s how I met Houston and Etta Jones. Houston was playing brunches at the Blue Note, so that was the first thing I did. That was about 92 or 93. I started playing with them, and Etta Liked my playing and Houston too, so I joined the band.

Here’s a video of Chip with Houston Person back in 1993


Tell us about this series of albums you’ve released – the Dedication Series.

Chip's book, available as ann e-book or from Chip's website

Chip’s book, available as ann e-book or from Chip’s website

The way I got the idea was initially, I started writing lyrics to my own original music. One night I heard some words to my music. I went to the piano and put some words to it. They seemed to fit, so I knew a few good singers and they came over and liked it.  So I started writing the lyrics to my own music. Then I went to Japan for a gig at a private club for two months and started working on a book. I wrote a poem for Duke Ellington, and then Miles, and Bird and Trane. It took me about four or five years, but I’ve put this book together with poems for all these musicians. (Takes out book – I’m Just The Drummer in the Band)

Once I got the book, I was getting ready to do some recordings. I had an album in ’94 called Harlem Sunset, which was critic’s choice in Billboard when it came out. I was trying labels but nothing worked, so I saved up a little money to record. I thought, I have a composition for Duke, and I have a composition for Trane, why don’t I do series of compositions for them on one disc, and the poetry under the music on another. No one is doing that, I far as I know. So that’s when I came up with the first one, Double Dedication. I used an all-star band, Kenny Barron, Ray Drummond, Randy Brecker, Steve Wilson. I found out that if you have good music and have great musicians, you’re gonna have a good result.

Then I did More Dedications with Mulgrew (Miller). Unfortunately he passed away after that. I had Steve Nelson, who was on my first, Duane Eubanks. We did compositions for Eric Dolphy, Booker Little, Bobby Hutcherson, Clifford Brown, also Milt Jackson. Milt Jackson was on one of the jazz Cruises, and I gave him his poem. About a month later he shows up at our gig – just a little club in New Jersey. I thought there’s a guy that looks like Milt Jackson, and it was him! He said, “I really like that poem,” and I told him it’s part of a book, so he said, “I’d like to buy that book.” So he got one of the first copies of the book and he asked me to sign it for him. I said to myself, “Well, I think I’m headed in the right direction.”

And the latest one, that you just released.

Yeah, I’m really fortunate, that came in at number 5 and now it’s number 4 this week. I hired a very good radio publicity guy. He does the same thing that a record company guy would do. You need that kind of guy.

Who are the tunes dedicated to on this release?

Chip's latest release, Family Dedications and More.

Chip’s latest release, Family Dedications and More.

It starts off with a tune for Houston, Blue Person. Then there’s a tune for myself – CW’s High Hat, and a tune called The Dance Spot. That was one of the pieces in the musical that I did, going way back. Some of the pieces are brand new, and some I’ve had forever waiting for the right circumstance to record them. There’s a tune Jobim and a tune for Elvin, who I heard with Coltrane. The rest are for my brother, Raymond’s Happy Waltz, and my father, and my mother, so it’s kind of historic. I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to do this stuff, and I just spend as much time as I’m able at the piano and at the vibraphone.

Do you have more to write?

Well, the book is finished. My wife is an editor, and she edited it for me.

Have you done compositions for every poem in the book?

No, because there’s a hundred pieces. I do have more than 50 compositions that I’ve recorded on my CDs. I figure if I don’t play my own music, who else will. When people hear the tunes, they’re really hearing me.

You mentioned that you’re putting together your own group to perform.

I’ve been working around New York. I was fortunate to work at Dizzy’s a couple of years ago. I had five nights opposite Bobby Hutcherson, so I wrote a piece for Bobby. I might do something for Benny, I’m just kind of open, and trying to survive. I’m a New Yorker who is from New York. There are a lot people who come to New York, but there are a lot of musicians who came from New York – Max Roach, Stan Getz, Monk was from NY too. Benny Carter.

Well, this has been great. Thank you for taking the time to talk.

Thank you, Larry. I appreciate it.

For more information: www.chipwhite

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