We’ve some wonderful visiting artists, and a surfeit of outstanding resident artists this week, giving us many opportunities to share a communal moment around music. Remember, the audience is as much a part of the performance as those who are on stage. We all gain energy from each other. And of course, it remains true that such an experience lifts our spirit.
Wednesday, March 8
Monty Alexander Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $40), 9pm ($30, $35) Jamaica-born pianist Monty Alexander began playing at age six, and by the time he was a teenager, had a popular band called Monty and the Cyclones. He moved to NYC in 1962 and began playing with folks like bassist Ray Brown and vibist Milt Jackson, and recorded his first album in 1964, when he was 20. With a soulful approach, some hints of Oscar Peterson, and a hard swinging style. He’s recorded over seventy albums since 64, but aside from occasionally using calypso rhythms, didn’t embrace his Jamaican heritage on record until the 90s. Since then he’s recorded a half-dozen or so albums using Jamaican musicians to record reggae, rock steady, and calypso tunes. He’ll be appearing with a trio tonight, which lately has included JJ Wiggins on bass, and Jason Brown on drums, so you can expect that he’ll be drawing on all parts of his vast repertoire.
Chris Bates’ Trio Explorations @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Hard-working bassist Chris Bates will be joined by Nathan Hanson, sax; and Pete Hennig, drums. They’ve played with each other in a number of different contexts, and now will use that experience to find new ways to express their respective musical ideas.
Thursday, March 9
Joel Shapira, Paul Renz Trio @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm (Shapira – No Cover) 9pm (Renz-$5) It’s a night of double guitar gigs at the Vieux. Joel Shapira will play acoustic guitar during the dinner hour from 6:30 – 8:30pm. Then guitarist Paul Renz and his trio take the stage. Renz graduated from Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory, where he studied with jazz greats Herb Pomeroy and George Russell. Though his Twin Cities activities revolve mainly around teaching, he’s recorded a half dozen well received, chart-topping albums and has built a fan base on the East Coast where he tours every once in a while.
Gypsy Mania @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm (Tip Jar) This is definitely Hot Club music – acoustic, swinging jazz, under the direction of bandleader and world-beat guitarist Glen Helgeson. Other members of Gypsy Mania include additional outstanding musicians: Gary Schulte, violin; Steve Pikal, bass; and Jay Epstein, drums. Be sure to sit relatively close to the stage, as the noise level can be quite high at Hell’s Kitchen.
Sarah M. Greer & Dean Magraw @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Greer is an under-appreciated vocalist who has the chops and skill to teach others, yet is not as well known as some of her contemporaries and students. Magraw, as those of you who have received this newsletter for a while know, is a versatile guitar player who is equally at home in a fusion trio, world music group, or accompanying a singer such as Ms Greer.
Thursday, Friday, March 9,10
Victor Wooten Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $42), 9pm ($25, $32) Bassist Victor Wooten has won five Grammys, and every major award given to a bass guitarist. He’s a member of the pioneering bluegrass/jazz fusion group Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, but regularly puts out his own solo recordings. For these two nights of appearances, he’ll lead a trio with Bob Franceschini on sax; and Dennis Chambers on drums.
Friday, March 10
Cannonball Collective @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Even with so many colleges featuring jazz programs, when it comes down to it, graduates of such programs should also embrace the “old school” form of learning – playing with older, established musicians. The Cannonball Collective brings several generations of Twin Cities musicians together to celebrate the music of Cannonball Adderley. The last time they performed, the group included: Mac Santiago, drums; Zack Lozier, trumpet; Joe Strachan, piano; Keith Boyles, bass; and Doug Haining, sax. This will definitely be a fun gig.
Friday, Saturday, March 10, 11
Dave King’s Vector Families @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($15) Vector Families is one of a dozen or so projects that drummer Dave King is part of, including the Bad Plus, and Dave King’s Trucking Company. For this group, he’s joined by Brandon Wozniak, sax; Dean Granros, guitar; and Anthony Cox, bass/cello. This is a group that can swing while still exploring the outer reaches of chord changes and melodies. I believe they are celebrating the release of a new album.
Saturday, March 11
Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Opening set: Post Atomic Trio, with David Hamilton, piano; John Croarkin, sax; and Derrin Pinto, drums. 8:30pm, Central Standard Time; Javi Santiago – Piano, Dave Brattain – Saxophones, Steve Kenny – FLUMPET, Ted Olsen – Bass, Eric Kamau Grávátt – Drums
Davu Seru’s No Territory Band @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 6pm Master Class, 7pm Concert ($10 Advance/$15 Door) This is another in the very excellent Jazz at Studio Z series. Tonight drummer/percussionist Davu Seru is featured, along with the band, featuring Jake Baldwin, trumpet; Pat O’Keefe, clarinets; Nathan Hanson & Scott Fultz, saxes; and Levi Schwartzberg, vibes. There will be a master class at 6pm, and two sets of music.
Kate Lynch & Her Most Excellent Fellows @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10) Bassist/Vocalist Kate Lynch always delivers a bit of history with the songs she and Her Most Excellent Fellows perform. Not so much about the song itself, but about the era in which it was popular. She says that about 1/5 of the presentation is about history, which is about right, from what I can tell. The rest is swinging, danceable music, from early to mid 20th Century.
Monday, March 13
Andrew Tomten Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Tomtem is a young saxophonist who’ll be leading a trio tonight, playing mostly his own compositions.
Tuesday, March 14
Chris Lomheim @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm (No Cover) Pianist Lomheim has been inspired by Bill Evans, but has his own sound – one that is imaginative and often contemplative, yet he can swing mightily, and serve as the foundation for larger groups. Tonight he’s by himself, providing first class music for diners.
Sam Miltich & Charmin Michelle @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($10, $35/Dinner) This is a very promising combination, one that will work well in Crooners’ listening room. Sam Miltich is an extraordinary jazz guitarist who comes from the northern woods of Minnesota. He plays gypsy jazz with the Clearwater Hot Club, but is also enamored of traditional jazz, Brazilian fork music, French Musettes and other world musics. He’ll be playing with Charmin Michelle, whose creamy dreamy voice, perfect diction, and great sense of time have made her popular both here and in Europe (especially Spain), and its jazz musicians. They’ll have added help from bassist Chris Bates, and drummer Jay Epstein.
Explosion Big Band @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Dough Haining, sax; and Scott Agster, trombone, lead this 17 piece aggregation in the classic sounds of Ellington and Basie, as well as Thad Jones, Clare Fischer, and others.
Blues, Roots, Other…
Wednesday, March 8
Rockin’ Johnny Burgin @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 7pm (Tip Jar) though Rockin’ is part of his name, don’t be fooled. Guitarist Johnny Burgin is no blues rocker, but rather an effective acolyte of traditional Chicago blues. He grew up in Mississippi and South Carolina, but got his start in Chicago playing with Taildragger, and touring with folks like Pinetop Perkins and drummer Sam Lay. He’s doing a mini-tour of the Twin Cities, playing in Holihans’ The Schooner, and Shaw’s over the next few days. Usually, he would appear on Harold’s House Party first, but the show is pre-empted today for International Women’s Day programming.
David Lindley @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($20 Advance, $25 Door) During his time as featured accompanist with Jackson Browne and leader of his own band El Ray-X, multi-instrumentalist David Lindley often drew inspiration from, and played, music from around the world. He often includes elements of African, Arabic, Asian, Turkish, and Malagasy music, and, when combined with his many stringed instruments, colorful outfits, unique sense of humor, and elfin looks, creates a wholly satisfying and enjoyable music experience for listeners.
Thursday, March 9
Jeff Ray & the Stakes @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm (Tip Jar) Ace bottleneck guitar player Jeff Ray can be depended upon to take traditional or well-known songs, and recast them, sometimes with Eastern influences, sometimes creating an old-timey song out of a rock n’ roller. The Stakes are usually Mikkel Beckman on percussion and Hurricane Harold Tremblay on harmonica. Though this video is titled as Hurricane Harold, it’s essentially Jeff & the Stakes.
Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($25 Advance, $30 door) Thanks to help from many volunteers, The Cedar Cultural Center can keep expenses low enough to bring in a wide variety of music from around the world. Tonight they are featuring the duo of Ballake Sissoko, a Malian master of the traditional 21-stringed kora, a harp-like instrument, and French cellist Vincent Segal, who has a background in trip-hop. Their collaboration results in hauntingly beautiful chamber music, which, by the way, is the name of their album.
Friday, March 10
Willie Walker @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover, $10 reserved table) Walker’s regular appearances at Crooners are always happy affairs, with a full house, and people finding space to dance amongst the tables. Walker is an original soul man, who recorded for both Goldwax in Memphis, and Chess records in Chicago. His latest recording, If Nothing Ever Changes, won a Blues Music Award as Best Blues Album of 2015 in the New Recordings/Southern Soul Category. He also won an award as Comeback Artist of the Year.
Grant Hart’s Birthday @ Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7 Advance, $10 Door) Grant Hart was a founding member of the influential post-punk band Hüsker Dü. In fact, this year marks the 30th Anniversary of their album Warehouse Songs and Stories. Hart is turning 56, and he’s celebrating at the Hook, along with his friends The Fury Things, a trio that plays fast, loud songs, much in the spirit of Hüsker Dü, and The Rank Strangers, a band that has won numerous awards over its 27 year history.
Saturday, March 11
Cajun Cats @ Como Dockside, Saint Paul. Noon – 2pm (No Cover) Get yourself some lunch from the Cajun/Creole menu at Como Dockside and listen to music from Southern Louisiana, as performed by Shawn Gidden, Gary Powell, and John Terr on violin, button accordion, and guitar.
Saturday Salon: Bach to Bruch @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley 3pm ($20) Here’s another performance in Crooner’s Saturday afternoon series of chamber music, curated and hosted by Maria Jette. Today, Mark Mazullo (piano), Tom Rosenberg (cello), Rena Kraut (clarinet), perform pieces by Bach, Schumann, Beethoven, and Max Bruch.
Hurricane Harold @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6:30pm (No Cover) Harpmaster Hurricane Harold is joined by guitarist/vocalist Doug Otto for some dinnertime blues.
SubDudes @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40, $50, $60) This New Orleans group has released ten albums over the course of 25 years, drawing on the roots of R&B, gospel, jazz, and rock n’ roll that exemplify so much of the music coming out of the Big Easy. They are led by Tommy Malone on guitar; and John Magnie on accordion; and include Steve Amendee on tambourine and Tim Cook on bass.
Malamanya @ The Uptown VFW, 2916 Lyndale Ave So. Minneapolis. 8pm ($8 Advance, $10 Door) Here’s a group that mines vintage Cuban music as well as current salsa, to create music that will have folks getting out their dancing shoes. The Uptown VFW has plenty of space to twirl and spin.
Prohibition Swing Night @ The Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10 advance/$12 Door) It’s a celebration of old time swing music, featuring the Mississippi Hot Club and the Gentlemen’s Anti-Temperance League. The Mississippi Hot Club will draw their performance from the hot club sound of the 30s, while incorporating romantic ballads, European folk music, and American jazz into their set. The Gentlemen’s Anti-Temperance League draws their inspiration from the early 20th Century, but adds a modern sensibility to their compositions. Swing era costumes are encouraged and swing dance lessons will be provided at 8:30pm.
Sunday, March 12
Charanga Tropical @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 3pm (No cover) Charanga Tropical was founded in 2006 by saxophonist/flautist Doug Little, who, in the course of a decade, studied for about a year with master musicians and musicologists in Cuba. This is a traditional Charanga group, with a vocalist, violins, flute and full Latin percussion. The play danzons, that stately dance created in Cuba when French immigrants from Louisiana and Haiti settled in Cuba. Their latest album, In Cuba, was recorded in the legendary Egram Studios in Havana. They also play salsas and other Cuban music as well, so dancers will be out in force for this Sunday matinee.
Eric Gales @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) This blues rock guitarist has been called “the best guitarist in the world today” by none other than Joe Bonamassa. Gales grew up in a musical family and released his first album to raves in 1991, when he was only 16. Three years later he played with Carlos Santana at 1994’s Woodstock. Gales has released 17 albums, and has performed as a sideman on dozens of others. Though right-handed, he was taught to play a right-handed guitar upside down by his left-handed older brother. He’s fleet-fingered, tasty, and just as likely to play something by Cream, Hendrix, or Stevie Wonder as he is to play straight blues. Here’s a song from his latest album, to be released March 24th.
Monday, Tuesday, March 12, 13
Judy Collins @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($60 – $75) The New York Times calls her a “Folk Goddess,” but folk music is only one part of her repertoire, which has included art songs since she began recording. Collin’s crystalline voice helped bring Steven Sondheims Send in the Clowns to the masses, and introduced many fans to the main song from the musical Marat/Sade. She was one of the first singers to record songs by Leonard Cohen, and had a huge hit with Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now. Her appearance at the Dakota a few years back was absolutely charming. Given that she has a new album coming out called A Love Letter to Steven Sondheim, this show has been dubbed Sondheim and Hits. Special guest Kenny White opens.