There are lots of interesting gigs this week, some of which required a long explanation, while I’ve covered others with just a few sentences. We’ve a couple of high-profile visitors and a few special events to pique our interests and bring us musical pleasure. Whatever you choose, just remember that music lifts the spirit.
Wednesday, February 15
Ambrose Akinmusire and Kool A.D. @ The Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul 7:30pm ($20) The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series commissions new projects presented in unique venues. Such is the case tonight, when young jazz trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire partners with rapper Kool A.D.to create a brand new chamber music work. Akinmusire won both the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competiton and the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition back in 2007, when he was 25. He has since put out three albums and was a sideman on about 25 albums, including CDs by Vijay Iyer, Esperanza Spalding, Roy Hargrove Big Band, Jack DeJohnette, and Steve Coleman, among others. Kool A.D. is the nom de rap of Victor Vasquez. The rapper’s work was described by Mother Jones magazine as: “a thoughtful effort to deconstruct and rearrange cultural objects in ways that challenge our deepest assumptions.” Special guests include The Mivos String Quartet along with pianist Sam Harris and drummer Justin Brown
Jeremy Walker Songtet, featuring Jason Harms @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 8pm ($6 Cash only) Pianist Jeremy Walker is a musical explorer, who delves into musical styles and creates haunting compositions. This new group is about great songs. He’s enlisted Jason Harms, who was heard in Walker’s epic 7 Psalms, to work with the Songtet interpreting great songs, whether Walker originals, or from Dylan, Ellington, or the Great American Songbook. Joining Walker and Harms are two other frequent collaborators: Jeff Brueske, bass; and Tim Zhorne, drums.
Thursday, February 16
Adam Meckler Orchestra @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10, $5 w/MMEA Badge) Meckler is a trumpeter-about-town who is a gifted composer and teacher. He’ll be doing a workshop at the MMEA conference Friday afternoon, working with the band from Spring Lake Park High School. He’s bringing his 18 piece orchestra to the Dakota to provide MMEA participants and others with a preview of his work.
Maria Schneider Orchestra @ O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($35 – $65; Discounts for students, seniors, military, MPR) Five-time Grammy winner Maria Schneider grew up in Windom, attended the U and essentially redefined the sound of a jazz orchestra. Schneider is one of the leading lights of jazz these days, and was recently on the cover of Downbeat, when her album The Thompson Fields was named the best of the year in the magazine’s Readers Poll. The evocative, gorgeous album, named for the fields near her Windom home, won the 2016 Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble. Students can get a 2-4-1 discount by using the code WWMA.
David Rempis @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Rempis is a free jazz saxophonist who isn’t afraid to do solo performances. With a background that includes studying African music in Ghana, years with Chicago’s Vandermark Sound, numerous collaborations, and as an organizer of Chicago’s indie-rock Pitchfork Festival, Rempis will be performing one set solo tonight, as well as a set with Levi Schwartzberg, vibes and piano; and Davu Seru, drums and percussion.
Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) The Ruckus Trio spent most of January touring, so tonight’s show should be quite tight, featuring Ruckus on drums; Javi Santiago on piano; and Greg Byers on bass and cello. Though this video from just a few weeks ago is dark, the sound is good.
Friday, February 17
The Jazz Bridge Project @ The Black Dog Cafe, Saint Paul. 8pm ($7 suggested donation) Here’s a relatively new project featuring the father-son team of Roger Johnson, guitar; and Rajah Johnson on flute; as well as Ron Evanuik, bass; Eric Kamau Gravatt, drums; and Abebi Stafford, keys.
Jay Young & the Lyric Factory @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:00[pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Bassist Jay Young brings his funky, jazzy R&B to the basement club, featuring music from Blondie, Tina Tuner, Steely Dan, and Bobby Brown. The band consists of Jay Young, piccolo bass; Ian Young, bass; Theo Harris, drums; Tom West, keys; Ernest Bisong, violin; Haylee Dee, vocals; and Caitlynn Daniels, vocals.
Saturday, February 18
Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) JazzINK once again presents an young opening act for this series: Liquid Vinyl, led by Nick Adams. Headliners are What Would Monk Do? with Peter Schimke, piano; Ted Olsen, bass; Steve Kenny, Flumpet; and Kenny Horst on drums.
Sunday, February 19
Kaki King @ the Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $42) It’s difficult to slot guitarist Kaki King into any genre, or even describe her music. She’s worked with bands like the Foo Fighters and Timbaland, contributed to film and TV soundtracks, and sometimes performs with a NYC-based string quartet ETHEL. She also performed a Carnegie Hall premiere of a classical pice commissioned by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang. Tonight, she’s presenting “The Neck is a Bridge to the Body” in a multi-media performance.
Patty Peterson @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15, $40 Dinner Show) Singer Patty Peterson is celebrating the anniversary of the aortic tear which almost ended her life about ten years ago. Thankfully, she’s still with us, and still sounding great, as she proved at the Winter Jazz Fest a couple of weeks ago. She’ll be performing songs that celebrate life and love. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Minneapolis Heart Institute.
Monday, February 20
MVP Quartet @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20, $30), 9pm ($25) Bobby Watson sax; Donald Brown, piano; Ray Drummond, bass; and Marvin “Smitty” Smith, drums; are the MVP Quartet. They have played together in various combinations and bands since these veterans were young. Both Watson and Brown were in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, though at different times. Drummond and Smith both have extensive resumes. Here’s Watson with a standard.
Mary Louise Knutson Trio @ Crooners Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($10, $35 Dinner Show) I suspect that I mention Mary Louise quite a bit, but she’s such a great pianist, I feel more folks should know about her. After all, she’s the first call pianist for Doc Severensen when he tours the Midwest. She’ll be joined by Chris Bates, bass; and Phil Hey, drums, in Crooners’ listening room. Here’s what she sounds like.
Tuesday, February 21
UW Eau Claire Jazz Ensemble w/Michael Davis @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Saint Paul. 7:30pm (No Cover) The Jazz Studies program at UW Eau Claire has been doing a great job of turning out musicians. Tonight they’ve invited NYC-based trombonist Michael Davis to sit in with their Jazz Ensemble. The bone-man is widely known as the trombonist for the Rolling Stones since 1994. He toured and recorded with Frank Sinatra from 1988 to 1994, released 9 solo CDs, composed over 150 works, authored 10 books and appeared on over 500 CDs and motion picture soundtracks. He’s worked with scores of high-profile musicians, including Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Aerosmith, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, Sting, Branford Marsalis, David Sanborn, Terence Blanchard and others.
MVP Quartet @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($30) After playing at the Dakota lat night (see above), this all-star quartet is moving over to the Vieux.
Tuesday, Wednesday, February 21, 22
Aaron Diehl Presents Jelly & George @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40 – $55), 9pm ($24 – $45) Pianist Aaron Diehl turns the spotlight on the music of rag time pianist Jelly Roll Morton, and popular composer George Gershwin. There is certainly plenty of wonderful material to explore, and Diehl has picked out both classic tunes as well as little-known gems for further exploration. He’ll be joined by pianist Adam Birnmaum, who has played with Al Foster, Wallace Roney, Eddie Gomez, and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra as well as young contemporary artists. Vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant is the icing on the cake, so to speak, with her ability to unearth new interpretations of standards and long-forgotten, yet worthwhile tunes.
For more listings, KBEM provides a calendar of jazz and roots music. For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz, check out the blogs, Jazz Ink, and Bebopified.
Blues, Roots, Other…
Wednesday, February 15
Joe & Vicki Price on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Joe and Vicki have such a fan base here in the Twin Cities that they could almost move here from their Decorah, Iowa home. Listen in during the 5 o’clock hour to catch their spare, but effective blues.
Masters of Hawaiian Music @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35 – $42) Here we have three masters of slack key guitar – a distinctly Hawaiian style of open tunings. George Kahumoku Jr, Kawika Kahiapo, & Nathan Aweau are masters of the instrument who have produced four Grammy-winning CDs.
Maurice Jacox @ The Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 7:30pm (Tip Jar) Here’s a chance to hear a vocal master of R&B, soul, blues, and even some crooning in the comfy confines of this “dive-ish” bar with friendly staff.
Aaron Kerr’s Dissonant Creatures @ The Black Dog Cafe, Saint Paul. 7:30pm – 9:30pm (Tip Jar) Original compositions from electric cellist Aaron Kerr along with Jeff Crandall, guitar; Toni Tinetti, cello; Justin DeLeon, drums; Matt Kanive, bass; Mike Nordgy, mandolin & percussion; and Brett Hansen, guitar.
Thursday, February 16
International Novelty Gamelan @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) A gamelan is a traditional music ensemble from Indonesia that typically uses bronze percussive instruments. The ING may not be Indonesian, but it’s six members have taken the music of that far-off land to heart, and learned to create their own songs as well. Their music is drone-like, and can be very abstract, which makes it perfect for the cauldron of progressive music presented at Khyber Pass.
Friday, February 17
Dee Miller Band @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 6pm – 10pm ($??) The Duchess of the Blues, singing and playing for your early evening dancing pleasure.
Dobet Gnahoré @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $40) 9pm ($25, $30) This singer, dancer, and percussionist from the Ivory Coast is likely to stun you with the sheer physicality of her dancing, though her singing (in a variety of African languages) and time-keeping are nothing to sneeze at. Gnahoré has a warm, powerful voice, and a commanding stage presence, sure to hold you in wonder.
Slimabration @ The Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 8pm ($20 Advance, Donation at Door) It’s been five years since Bob “Slim” Dunlap experienced the stroke that sidelined him from playing music, and racked up some significant medical expenses. Slim’s friends and family decided to mark the occasion with a celebration of Bob and his music, featuring solo and band performances from the likes of Dan Baird, of the Georgia Satellites; John Eller & Friends; Curtiss A, Frankie Lee, Whale in the Thames, and many more. There will be craft food and beverages available.
John Primer @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7, includes a free beverage) Primer served as bandleader and lead guitarist for Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Magic Slim and the Teardrops. He’s received two Grammy nominations, including a 2017 nomination as Best Traditional Blues Artist (Male). In other words, when it comes to the blues, Primer is the real deal.
Saturday, February 18
Ling-Ju Lai: The Saturday Salon @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 3pm ($20) Host Maria Jette has lined up an impressive array of artists to perform for the somewhat informal Saturday Salon series. Though Ms Jette’s commentary and quick wit keep things light, the audience is as rapt as possible in this listening room. Today features pianist Ling-Ju Lai a native of Taiwan who has gained an international reputation for her creative interpretations of Baroque music. From the venue’s description: “Highlights of the 2016-17 season include appearances in notable concert series such as the Aula de Música at the University of Alcalá in Spain, the PianoForte Foundation Salon Series in Chicago, and Brookline Library Music Association Concert Series in Massachusetts presenting The Goldberg Variations by J. S. Bach.”
Freaker’s Ball 2017 @ The Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 8pm ($12 Advance/$15 Door) Let your Freak Flag Fly as the White Iron Band, Kung Fu Hippies, and trumpeter Willie Waldman take you on a trip through various stomp-your-feet permutations of roots, jam band, psychedelic, and free form music.
Silvertones @ The Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) The Silvertones are a cover band that features rock and R&B from the sixties, for that evening when you just want to sing along and (for older folks) perhaps relive your youth.
Sunday, February 19
Bad Companions @ The Como Zoo Conservatory, Saint Paul. 4:30pm – 6:30pm (Free) Two guitars, a stand-up bass, and drums are just what is needed to play roots-rock that encompasses Rockabilly, R&B, Country, and the Blues. Al Subola (Vibro Champs), guitar; Dan Gaarder (Trailer Trash), guitar; W.E. Keefe (Vibro Champs), bass; and Hayden Grooms (Hillions) are the Bad Companions providing the sounds in the Sunken Garden of the Margorie McNeely Conservatory. Beer and wine is available and the music is piped into the North Garden and Palm Dome so you can keep up with the music as you enjoy the plants and humidity of the Conservatory. Here they are with the addition of a saxophonist.
Tuesday, February 21
Charanga Tropical @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($7) Latin sounds by the first American Group to be invited and appear at the International Danzon Festival in Havana. Leader Doug Little will have just returned from Cuba, so I imagine he will be pumped.
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.