A Week in Summer: 8.3 – 8.9

August 3, 2016
A summer tradition: Movies and Music in the Park. Photo: fasthorseinc.com

A summer tradition: Movies and Music in the Park. Photo: fasthorseinc.com

Holy Shamoley, have we got a week filled with outdoor fun, from a metal pour to a guitar festival, Afrobeat in a museum patio, a couple of block parties, and movies and music at Loring Park. Is summer in the Twin Cities great, or what! There is plenty of indoor entertainment as well, notably during the week, including some visiting Jazz artists, local veterans of many music genres, and a fairly indescribable group from the Ukraine. Music lifts your spirit.


Wednesday, August 3

Wolverines Jazz Trio @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm (No Cover) It seems the Wolverines show up often in these newsletters, either in their own right, or accompanying some of the outstanding vocalists of the area. Rick Carlson, piano; Steve Pikal, bass; and Jendeen Forberg, drums; are the ultimate pros in this area, able to hold the attention of the noisy, and sometimes rowdy crowd (Bachelorette parties anyone?) of Hell’s Kitchen, no matter what the occasion.

Sasha Masakowski @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($17 – $22) In 2009, vocalist Masakowski earned the Best Emerging Artist Award of the Big Easy Association. The daughter of Steve Masakowski, guitarist for New Orlean’s fabled Astral Project, she has played all around the nation and abroad. She’s earned kudos from both Vanity Fair and Downbeat, and currently leads three bands, performing music that  ranges from traditional New Orleans jazz, to contemporary jazz, world music, and experimental art-rock. Here she is with Irvin Mayfield’s Big Band.

Reuben Ristrom & Dan Ristrom @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley, 7pm (No Cover) Guitarist/banjo player Reuben Ristrom has been contributing his talents to swinging aggregations for five decades now. Tonight he and son Dan  who is a fine vocalist and bassist, will  be playing for folks in the lounge at Crooners.

Thursday, August 4

Sheridan Zuther & Jordan Anderson @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Vocalist Zuther has an engaging way with songs and with her audiences. Expect songs from the Great American Songbook as well as some favorites of Zuther from her youth on the Central Plains of North Dakota. She’ll be accompanied by the talented young pianist Jordan Anderson, who has been active with a number of young combos as well as with some veterans, and will be heading off to college this Fall. Here’s Sheridan with a quartet.

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) It’s Steve Kenny’s Group 47 tonight, wherein veteran trumpet and Flumpet player Steve Kenny surrounds himself with some young musicians: Will Kjeer, piano; Thomas Strommen, sax; Adam Tucker, bass; and Alex Burgess, drums. Under Kenny’s aegis, they contribute tunes, energy, and imagination. Here’s a number by Will Kjeer that shows some hard bop influence.

Katia Cardenas @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm ($6) The talented Ms Cardenas returns to the Vieux, where her excellent pipes, as well as her excellent band, continues to gain fans for both her and the club.

Friday, August 5

Joel Shapira @ Parma 8200, Bloomington. 7:30pm – 10:30pm There’s no cover at Parma 8200’s lounge, but you’re sure to be tempted by their drinks and their Italian menu. Guitarist Joel Shapira will be supplying tasty licks and more to entertain you while you sit at the bar or on the comfy couches.

Eric Kamau Gravatt and Sourcode @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Gravatt certainly deserves wider attention here in town. The drummer is an alumni of Weather Report as well as the bands of McCoy Tyner, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard and others. This band features a cross-generational mix of musicians: Solomon Parham, trumpet; Lucia Sarmiento, sax; Dean Magraw, guitar; and Ron Evniuk, bass. This. Is. Jazz. Here is Gravatt with a slightly different configuration of the group.

Saturday, August 6

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Trap Tube opens as part of JazzINK’s Youth Jazz Showcase: Gerhardt Robinson, saxes; Jordan Anderson, piano; Alma Engebretson, bass; and Simon Petrick on drums. 9pm: John Raymond Group: Trumpeter Raymond visits his hometown from NYC once again, and is joined by Bryan Nichols, piano; and Cory Healey, drums. Here’s Raymond with his New York group.

Monday, August 8

Marcus Miller @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40 – $47), 9pm ($35 – $42) Though he’s a multi-instrumentalist, adept on keyboards and clarinet, he’s primarily known as an electric bassist, and genial stage presence. Miller is a two time Grammy winner, and composer/producer of ten albums. He also has over 500 recording credits as a sideman for folks such as Eric Clapton, George Benson, Wayne Shorter, Roberta Flack, Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, Snoop Dogg, and many, many more. Here’s a bass workout of Miller’s from the North Sea Jazz Festival last year.

Tuesday, August 9

Tim Patrick & His Blue Eyes Band @ Minnesota History Center, Saint Paul. 6:30pm – 8:30pm (Free) Crooner Tim Patrick didn’t start singing in public until late in life, but over the last decade has certainly made up for that. He’s bringing the songs of Sinatra, Dean Martin, et al; to the Center’s outdoor patio, where a dance floor will undoubtedly be filled, as happens when he appears at the Eagles, Club, the Medina Ballroom, and other ballrooms in the area. Dance instruction from 6:30 – 7pm, and performance afterwards. Bring a picnic or buy food and beverages from a limited menu on the patio. In case it rains, the performance moves indoors, where seating is somewhat limited.

Sam Miltich @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($10, $35 Dinner) Militich is a guitarist born and raised in the North Woods of Minnesota and currently lives in Grand Rapids. After seeing Woody Allen’s movie “Sweet and Lowdown” he was inspired to study and perform the music of Django Rheinhardt. Over the last decade or so Militich has built a well-earned reputation as an excellent interpreter of Gypsy Jazz, Brazilian Choro, French Musettes and other traditional music, both with his band The Clearwater Hot Club, and in other groups with some of the area’s best musicians.

Tuesday, Wednesday, August 9, 10

Estaire Godinez & Friends @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20) Percussionist/vocalist Ms Godinez has played with Prince, Coke Escovedo, The Brothers Johnson, and George Benson. She brings her Latin rhythms to town for two nights and brings out all the folks who played with her while she lived here some years ago, including: Peter Schimke, piano; Eric Leeds, sax; Mike Scott, guitar; Stokely Williams, drums; and Serge Akou, bass. There will be a couple of special guests as well: JD Steele on vocals, and Enrique Toussaint on bass.

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 3

Acoustic Big Wu on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 and 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) An acoustic version of the band  hose influences include the Grateful Dead, The Band, Bob Marley, Pink Floyd, and Otis Redding. Expect lots of flowing improvisation and vocal harmonies. Their Annual Family Reunion is coming up and will feature folks like Leon Russell, Dean Magraw, and Peter Rowan, among others.

Black Market Brass @ the Mill City Museum, Minneapolis. 6pm ($5) Our very own purveyors of Afrobeat  will be laying down searing rhythms and exhilarating horn lines in the courtyard of the Mill City Museum. The ticket includes admission to the museum before and after the show. Food and drink will be available.

Thursday, August 4

Maurice Jacox @ Dusty’s, NE Minneapolis. 8:30pm (Tip Jar) This classic NE bar, home of a sausage with a name that was an ethnic pejorative where I grew up, once again hosts the talented vocalist Maurice Jacox, this time with cohorts Bobby E, unsung guitar whiz of the Twin Cities, and Tom Cravens, another guitarist worth watching. Jacox is equally at home with the Blues, R&B, Soul, Jazz, and Gospel music, so the set list for the evening could be full of surprises.

Bettye Lavette @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($42 – $47) Nowadays, it takes a strong personality to be an interpreter of other people’s songs.  Bettye Lavette is such a person. She not only makes a song her own, but she gets so inside a song that she can make grown men cry, whether doing a song by British rockers, female composers, or a classic from the Great American Soul Book. To prove the point, here she is doing a Who song.

Friday, August 5

Klezmerica w/Robayat @ Rice Park, Saint Paul. 6pm – 9pm (Free) It’s an evening of dance music with Middle Eastern origins. Klezmerica specializes in highly infectious klezmer music as well as the music of Jewish composers, including Gershwin and beboppers, with aplomb and energy. Their energy and skill entice folks, no matter what their religion, to dance. Robayat performs the indigenous music of Persia, Turkey and Central Asia.

Willie Murphy & the Angel Headed Hipsters @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) Rock n’ Roll, and Rhythm and Blues, served up with the kind of fierce energy that will have the TGIF drinkers gettin’ down on the small dance floor in the lounge.

Charlie Parr @ The Viking Bar, Minneapolis. 8pm ($8 Advance/$10 Door) It doesn’t get much better, or much more rootsy than guitarist/singer Parr, who creates his Delta style blues up North, but nevertheless has garnered enough attention to support tours throughout the United States and Europe. As an added bonus, Nikki Roux and Rich Rue open.

Friday, Saturday, August 5,6

Dakhabraka @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($45) It’s quite difficult to accurately describe this highly original Ukranian group  which comes off as part Folk, part rebellious rock, and always unexpected. Their music is based on Ukrainian folk melodies, but from there goes into a number of directions and tangents, using Indian, Arabic, Africa, Russian and Australian instruments, as well as vocal harmonies that at times, bring to mind Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, among others.

Saturday, August 6

Hot Metal Pour & Savage Aural Hotbed @ Franconia Scultpure Park, 29836 Saint Croix Trail, Franconia. Noon – 8pm ($5 parking) No, Hot Metal Pour is not the name of a heavy metal band, it’s an actual art event, in which recycled iron is heated to 2700° F, and poured into molds created by both experienced artists and community members. The results are cast iron sculpture. Sand molds are available for purchase and there’’s a public workshop from 10am – 2pm for those who want to learn about the process and create their own artwork. Savage Aural Hotbed, the found-object percussion group, will provide the soundtrack for the day. For more information, go to: http://www.franconia.org

Pizza Luce Block Party@ Pizza Luce, 119 N 4th St,  Minneapolis. Noon –  (Free) Featuring the School of Rock; Marah in the Mainsail; Megan Hamilton; everybody’s favorite bluesman Charlie Parr; Sean Anonymous; young garage punks Bruise Violet; Are You Local? champs Holidae; psych-rock faves from the 80s and 90s, Run Westy Run; Carnage the Executioner; and the exploding young star Lizzo. Also: Pizza, beer, and ice-cream from Izzy’s.

Lowertown Guitar Festival @ 7th Place West, Saint Paul. 1pm – 11pm (Free) At Vieux Carre, Wild Tymes, and Outdoor Palace Stage. Guitars, guitars, guitars, from different genres, and different styles. With Bo Ramsey, David Grier (bluegrass), Siama Matuzungidi (Soukous from Africa), Peter Lang, Molly Maher, and Zacc Harris’ American Reverie Trio

Blues, Brews n’ BBQs @ Mt Olivet Lutheran Church, 12235 Old Rockford Road, Plymouth . 4pm – 10pm ($12 – $18) Benefit for PRISM and Twin Cities Habitat, featuring live music from the Jimmys, Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys, Lisa Wenger, and Cole Allen, with food, drinks, and family events

Front Porch Swingin’ Liquor Pigs @ The Viking Bar, Minneapolis. 8pm ($5) Here’s a gig that’s been a long time coming. For the first time in years and years, the full Front Port Swingning’ Liquor Pigs will be playing at full force. They’re back at the Viking, where up until the closure ten years ago, they held down the Friday evening spot for years. Songs about drinking, rock n’ roll, and carrying on. Welcome back!

Sunday, August 7 

Borough Block Party @ Borough, 730 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis. Noon – 8pm DJ Steez; Dig DeepPrivate OatesViva Knievel; The International Reggae All-Stars; and headliners  Chase and Ovation, billed as the world’s premier Prince tribute band.

Mosquito Bluegrass Jam @ Roseville Central Park, Roseville. 3pm – 8pm (Free) Start off with a beginner’s jam hosted by Bill Cagley at 3pm, followed by Porcupine Creek at 5pm and Sarah Mae and the Birkeland Boys at 6:30pm.

Ticket to Brasil @ Lake Harriet Bandshell, Minneapolis. 5:30pm (Free) Bring a picnic or grab something from the food stand and listen to the swaying, infectious sounds of Ticket to Brasil  while the sounds of children frolicking in the lake and nearby provide additional ambience. You may be tempted to dance.

Allison Scott @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley 7pm ($15) Vocalist/pianist Scott has gained a large following over the last eleven years as an independent artist, eschewing any attempt to reach hipsters old or young, and simply singing. She has released six albums, sells out the Dakota, and fills 500 seat auditoriums. The secret is her soulful voice and her personal music. The Pioneer Press likened her to Dusty Springfield circa Dusty in Memphis. Here’s a chance to hear her in a small room.

Monday, August 8

The Pines and Hairspray @ Loring Park, Minneapolis. 7pm (Free) Stark Americana/Roots music from the nationally recognized Pines  along with John Water’s classic film that brought Riki Lake into the public’s eye. Hairspray is about a “pleasantly plump” teenager in 1962, who fights for integration when she lands a spot on a local TV dance show. It features Sonny Bono, Ruth Brown, Debby Harry, and of course, Divine. The Los Angels Times called it “A film that combines nostalgic spoof with a social consciousness that’s as unexpected as it is smashingly effective.”

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.

George Duke

August 9, 2011

A Genial Talent


From the George Duke Website

George Duke is a genial, talented multi-instrumentalist who specializes in keyboards. He made a name for himself playing jazz fusion with Jean-Luc Ponty, and went on to play with Cannonball Adderley and Frank Zappa before going solo in the mid-seventies. He has practiced his talents across a variety of genres, finding success in R&B, Jazz, and pop, collaborated with a who’s who of recording artists, including  Stanley Clarke, with whom he had a number one single (“Sweet Baby”), and has had his work sampled by Hip-Hop artists. He’s scored TV and films, including The Five Heartbeats, and produced and composed two tracks for Miles Davis. Duke has collaborated with Brazilian artists such as Milton Nascimento, Flora Purim, and Airto Moreira and has also been a musical director for a number of specials and tribute shows.

Duke played at the Minnesota Zoo music series with Marcus Miller and David Sanborn on August 5th, 2011.  During their funk filled performance, Duke used his humor to good effect. Singing a ballad about losing his baby, he pretended to cry, which the audience lapped up, and Duke milked for all it was worth. Then, for a closer, his voice was electronically altered to achieve a Darth Vader effect, as he introduced the George Clinton-esque “Dukey Stick” and walked through the crowd with his portable keyboard (a key-tar?). I talked with Duke by phone the morning of July 30, 2011 during my radio show. This is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation.

LE:  Good Morning, Mr. Duke, are you there?

GD: Absolutely, I’m here.

 LE:  Terrific. Glad to have you. We’re looking forward to this Friday’s show, which features you, and Marcus Miller, and David Sanborn. I’m just amazed at all you do, and the energy you have and what you’ve been able to accomplish since, what is it, about 1967 or 68 when you first started.

GD: Well, you’re trying to date me now. (laughs)

LE:  Well, I can remember that era myself

GD: I go back a little bit. Yeah, you’re definitely in the right area.

LE:  What was your first musical memory?

GD: Oh my God. Well, actually the first was probably the strongest. My mom took me to see Duke Ellington, and that kind of messed me up. Long and short of it is I never heard any music like that. I’d never seen anyone like that. I never heard a band that sounded like that. And I was only four years old.

LE:  Wow.

GD: Yeah, it was a mess. (chuckles)

LE:  So you took up piano, and played some in church and eventually had your own little group. What intrigued me as I’ve learned about your career is that apparently you heard a recording of Jean-Luc Ponty, and he was coming to town and you decided you were the only guy worthwhile playing with him. What was it about his music that intrigued you?

GD: First of all, it was very experimental for the time, and there was a station called KJAZZ in the Bay area – I grew up in San Francisco Bay area – that used to play his records all the time, and so I got a chance to experience that and I was like, Man! When this guy was coming to town, I just instinctively knew that I was the right person to play with him, because I understood what he was trying to do musically. And so I, well, there wasn’t e-mail at that time, so I sent a reel-to-reel tape – not even a cassette, they weren’t around – I sent a tape down to this producer (Note: Dick Bock of World Pacific Records) on the off-chance that he might give me a shot, and he did. He didn’t have to, because I was an unknown quantity at that time.

LE:  And so you had somewhat of a groundbreaking album with him. What did you learn from Jean-Luc Ponty?

GD: Well, basically it was a real shared kind of thing, because we were trying to do progressive music – as simple as that. What I learned was that it was possible to be your self and make a living. I wasn’t sure at that time whether I could make a living doing music. I was playing at a club in San Francisco and had been there for about three years, starting about 1965. I was playing at a place called the Half-Note Club with Al Jarreau, neither one of us knowing whether we could make a living doing that. When I got the gig, somebody who didn’t know who I was kind of called me up and said, “I’m going to give you a shot at playing in my band and we’re going to go to Europe and blah blah blah,” and Wow, maybe I can make a living doing this.

LE:  And you certainly have. I’m just amazed at all the projects you’ve been involved with, and the number of people you’ve been involved with – everybody from Barry Manilow, to Diane Reeves, to your current compatriots Dave Sanborn and Marcus Miller and the music direction you’ve done. One of the other things that intrigues me was that after being with Jean-Luc Ponty you were with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.  How did that come about?

GD: Actually, through Jean-Luc. Jean-Luc’s producer had an idea, and to make a long story short, we ended up playing a rock club. We did an album there, a place called Thee Experience in Los Angeles. It’s no longer there. And because Jean-Luc was playing a unique, electric violin thing, all the musicians came, because he had made his name, and there weren’t a lot of progressive violinists at the time. Matter of fact I don’t think there were any. He was probably it, and was playing modern jazz. He played music that was kind of close to what Miles Davis was doing at the time. And so Frank Zappa came, Quincy Jones was there, a lot of people. And so I just happened to be there and we did a record called King Kong, an album came out of that. So that’s how I got with Frank Zappa. He heard me playing on that album and eventually called my mom looking for me and found me.

LE:  That must have been a somewhat unique experience in your life.

GD: Oh yeah. That was definitely a turning point in my life and in my career. Frank brought out a lot of things in me that might not have ever been brought out. In terms of humor… in terms of playing electronic instruments… singing. All of that. He just told me basically I needed to loosen up and allow my talent to go wherever it will.

LE:  What a great thing to hear. Let’s fast forward through all the things you’ve done, production, solo work, Grammy nominations. Now, you’re touring with Marcus Miller and David Sanborn. What are you doing with this group that you haven’t done with anybody else?

GD: First of all, the simple answer is we’ve never done this before. This is something which came about in January. A very new idea. I was kind of brought into it late because David and Marcus had already decided they were going to do a tour, and wanted to add a third element. I was hanging around and the word got to me and I said sure, I’m interested and they said great. That sounds like an interesting package. I think the thing that’s interesting is that the more we play together, the more we’re gonna become a band and sound like we create our own thing. We thought about the idea of doing an album, before we did this tour. This is like the third leg of the tour, that we’re embarking on next week. So we’ve already been playing and we’re beginning to develop a band sound, which is really interesting. I would love to see where we go when we do make an album. I think this can continue.

LE:  What have you discovered about playing together so far?

It's all happening at the zoo.

GD: Interestingly enough, I’m not playing as much keyboards where I’m sitting down as I normally do, because there’s a second keyboard player, and there’s no guitarist. So I wind up playing, many times, guitar parts, and I’m wearing the instrument I wear around my neck. I kind of walk around the stage, and I’m having a good time. That’s one thing. It allows me a different focus, because normally I just play a couple of tunes on this thing, not like when I was thirty years old and playing this instrument all the time. I kind of stopped doing that and only do it once a night. Now I’m back on stage playing it half the show.

LE:  Okay.

GD: That’s one thing that’s different. And playing Marcus’s music and David’s music, it’s just interesting because we sound different playing together than they do with their own bands or me with my band. It’s a different level of intensity because you have three musicians on stage who are of equal level of competence and we challenge each other in a good way, so the music reaches another level. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.

LE:  You mention there’s a second keyboard player. I assume there’s a drummer as well?

GD: Absolutely. Absolutely.

LE:  Anybody else with you? Vocalists or anybody?

GD: Nope. I’m the only one singing right now.

LE:  Well you’ve a long history of singing and it’s turned out well for you. In coming together did you say, “we want to do a particular kind of music” or is there a philosophy behind this, or is the philosophy “let’s get together and have some fun.”

GD: That’s part of it. The latter. First of all, we didn’t know what this was going to be. Until we actually got on stage and played we didn’t know what this was going to be. There were really no preconceived notions, though we did talk about it. We thought we’d let the experience dictate where we should go. Right now, we’re not really doing any new music. We’re doing music from our catalogs, our respective catalogs. But we’re doing different arrangements on them because of the personnel involved. So it is different because the three of us are out there headlining it. Obviously we can’t play the greatest hits of all of us because we’ve all been around too long.

LE:  Not enough time.

GD: Not enough time to do it all and do it justice. But we hit all the major points that we can, and we’re just having a good time. It’s something that may not ever happen again, but hopefully it will.

LE:  Before I let you go, I do want to go back to your early career. Early on you were a sideman for a couple of Flora Purim and Airto Moreira albums, and you did a Brazilian album. Do you still play Brazilian influenced music?

GD: Oh, absolutely. Even in this show. I bring a couple of my tunes which are more oriented that way. Yeah, that’s played a big part in my career and in my musical world, the Brazilian sound. And of course Cannonball Adderley was a big part of that because I was in his band for a few years. He encouraged me to do that and was actually the first one to take me to Brazil, as part of his band. So yeah, Flora Purim and Airto are good friends of mine. As a matter of fact, my son is in a band with their kid.

LE:  Wow.

GD: Yeah, it continues.

LE:  The circle is complete.

GD:  Yeah, (laughs)

LE:  Well, thank you so very much.

GD: Bye bye.


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