Musical Traditions: 11.22 – 11.28

November 22, 2017

Greetings Fellow Music Fans;

Taken from their Christmas album

Well the Holiday season is upon us, often bringing families together in a variety of traditions, some of which are long standing, some of which are from the various cultures that make up our country, and some of which are new. Here in the Twin Cities there are a number of music traditions taking place, such as annual Thanksgiving Eve shows, and the return of musicians who grew up here but are now residing elsewhere. Like Tony Bennett and the Count Basie Band, music brings us together, and though there may be few shows on Thanksgiving, we’re blessed with an active music scene with musicians who support one another and through their music, Lift Our Spirits. Whatever traditions you follow, have a good Thanksgiving



Wednesday, Nov 22

Acme Jazz Company, Feat: Arne Fogel @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) Solid big band music with the Twin Cities preeminent male jazz vocalist.

Stu Katz Quartet @ Vieux Carré  Saint Paul. 8pm ($10) Katz is one of the last original proponents of bebop piano, having been a working musician on both piano and vibes for more than 55 years. He’s performed with folks like Gene Ammons, Kenny Burell, Dextor Gordon, and numerous other bright lights in the jazz world. He has been a long time collaborator with Ira Sullivan, with whom he released a live recording in 2011. Besides Katz on vibes/piano, he’ll be accompanied by some of our own bright lights in jazz; Chris Bates, bass; Dean Magraw, guitar; and Jay Epstein, drums, aka Red Planet. Here is Katz back in 1985, playing with Doc Cheatham.

Thursday, Nov 23

No jazz tonight, as far as I can tell, though there are a couple of jazzy blues events (see listing in Blues & Roots, below)

Friday, Nov 24

Hoaxer @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 9pm ($12) One tradition of the holiday season is that young musicians return to town from college and perform for a few days. Tonight we’ll hear from the collective quartet known as Hoaxer. Their influences include jazz of course, as well as avant-garde, rock, and electronic music. They released their well-received debut album last summer. The group includes Will Kjeer, piano; Charlie Lincoln, bass; and Peter Goggin, sax; and Edmund Caitlin on drums.

Fall of the House of Usher @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5w/valid Student ID) Founder/guitarist Chris Cunningham has gathered a bunch of like-minded musicians for this project, including: Ivan Cunningham, Saxophones; Michelle Kinney, Cello; Greg Schutte, Drums; Chris Bates, Bass; Adam Svec, Vocals; Noah Ophoven Baldwin, Trumpet; Jared Jarvis, Saxophones; and Riley Swain, Baritone Saxophone. Cunningham has played with John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards, the Contortions, The Golden Palaminos, Rich Havens, Marshall Crenshaw, and a host of NYC’s adventurous musicians.He and his fellow musicians mine the world’s deepest grooves from East, West, and North African, 80’s No Wave skronk, early 70’s Miles, Sun Ra, and New Orleans Funk.

Also: Swingbeat Big Band @ Wabasha Caves, Saint Paul. 7pm ($8) Swing Night is moved to Friday this week

Saturday, Nov 25

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar)  7:00 Opening Set: Luke Peterson Trio Plays Ornette Coleman – Peter Goggin,sax; Charlie Lincoln, bass; Luke Peterson, drums.- three college students (and former members of the Dakota Combo) who only get better as they progress in their studies.   At 8:30, it’s Central Standard Time: Steve Kenny, FLUMPET; Dave Brattain, Saxophones; Will Kjeer, Piano; Ron Evaniuk, Bass; Eric Kamau Grávátt, Drums.

Pat Mallinger Quartet @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($12 Advance/$15 Door) Another tradition of late is that the Saint Paul born and raised saxophonist returns for the holidays, and we’re the luckier for it. He’s the co-leader of Sabertooth, the mainstay band at Chicago’s Green Mill since 1992! He’s also an educator and mentor for Ramsey Lewis’ Ravinia Jazz Mentor Program, and the Louis Armstrong Legacy Project.

Valve Meets Slide @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10, $5w/valid student ID) Brad Bellows, valve trombone; and Dave Graf, slide trombone, and their band-mates play originals as well as the music of Bob Brookmyer. You’ll also get to hear an interview that Leigh Kamman did with Brookmeyer back in 1981.

Also: Omar Abdulkarim Trio @ The Lexington’s Williamburg Room, Saint Paul. 7 – 11:30pm (No Cover)

Sunday, Nov 26

25 Years of Jazz Originals @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 3pm – 6pm ($10 Advance/$15 Door) After 25 Years, pianist/clarinetist/music historian Butch Thompson is stepping down from producing his KBEM radio show, Jazz Originals, though he will still perform here and around the world. Jazz Originals delightfully celebrated vintage jazz and the musicians that made it, with thoughtful, though not overly scholarly, analysis and comments from Thompson. The Southside Aces will be performing original jazz, and will have some special surprise guests.

Monday, Nov 27

Fat Kid Wednesdays @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($16) This is a rare appearance by Adam Linz, bass; Michael Lewis, sax; and JT Bates, drums; who have been playing together since they were teenagers about 25 years ago. They started the Jazz Implosion at The Turf’s old Clown Lounge and managed to create an “underground” jazz scene here. Then they toured internationally, appeared on the cover of France’s jazz magazine, and generally blew people away ever since. Richard Brody, of The New Yorker, wrote, “their exhilarating performance revealed both the depth of their individual artistry and the symbiotic wonder of their interplay.”

Tuesday, Nov 28

Karrin Allyson @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($50) This is a benefit for The Leigh Kamman Legacy Project, which preserves and shares the vast archive of audio, visual, and written resources, including hundreds of recorded interviews of legendary broadcaster Leigh Kamman. Allyson, who lived here for a while early in her career, will be accompanied by a great rhythm section: pianist Laura Caviani; bassist Gordy Johnson, and drummer Phil Hey.

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, Nov 22

Nikki & the Ruemates Annual Thanksgiving Eve Show on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Nikki & the Ruemates will give you plenty to be thankful for, as they play their original folk/rock & blues, along with their versions of songs by other artists. If you’ve never heard Nikki & the Ruemates, tune in the KFAI at 5pm when they’ll play live in the studio before heading to the 331Club. Here’s Nikki playin with band-mate Rich Rue.

Thursday, Nov 23

Deano & The Dinosaurs @ Merlin’s Rest, Minneapolis. 8pm – 11pm (Tip Jar) So, maybe you’ve stuffed yourself, or maybe you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in a traditional manner, or you’ve watched all the football you want, but have a hankering for something more. Well, guitarist Dean Mikkelson is leading a group of musicians that can help. He and his merry band of musicians – Dean Harrington, guitar, Tom Lewis, bass; and Del Gallagher on percussion — will deliver jazzy, bluesy tunes for your pleasure. You’ll need an ID for adult beverages.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Nov 23, 24, 25

Davina & The Vagabonds @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20, Thurs, $25 Fri, Sat) If Davina’s combination of jazz, blues, and New Orleans R&B doesn’t wake you from the mythical triyptophan slumber, nothing will. Whether you attend Thanksgiving night, or one of the weekend gigs, you’ll walk away smiling.

Friday, Nov 24

Erik Koskinen EP Release @ The Hook & Ladder, Minneapolis. 8pm ($20 reserved seats, $15 Standing Room) Koskinen has rightfully been called the best country singer in Minnesota, thanks to his keen eye for observing rural life and a plain-spoken approach to writing. His fine guitar playing adds another layer of texture to his old-school approach to country music. This is a release party for Cruising Paradise, a six-song EP.  Opening is Dana Thompson a “Girl from the North Country.”

Also: Johnny Rawls @ Shaws, NE Minneapolis. 9pm (No Cover) Real deal Chicago blues from a journeyman professional.

Saturday, Nov 25

Ace-Box Blues Band @ The Dubliner Pub & Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm (Tip Jar) A new band, consisting of veteran blues players led by multiple Blues Award winners Curtis Blake, harp, vocals; and Greg Schuck on drums.

Hurricane Harold’s All Star Blues Revue @ The Basement Bar, Minneapolis. 9:30pm (No Cover) There’s a new music venue in town. The Basement Bar is located under the newly launched NOLO Restaurant in the North Loop. Live blues and roots music is presented a couple of nights each week. It has a food-truck style offerings, a silent arcade area, and a stage, where well-connected harpmeister Hurricane Harold will bring along some talented friends to entertain you. Here he is with one version of the All Stars.

Also: High & Mighty @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($?) Horn driven, R&B dance band.

Sunday, Monday, Nov 26, 27

Melissa Manchester @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 6pm, 8pm (Sunday), 7pm (Monday) ($35, $40, $45) Pop vocalist Manchester worked as a backup singer for Bette Midler and Barry Manilow before finding success in a solo career, hitting the charts in the mid-70s with hits like Midnight Blue, Don’t Cry Out Loud, and You Should Hear How She Talks About You. She has continued to achieve success in songwriting, composing for films, and theater work. After forty years in the business, she still draws well, as demonstrated by the fact she’s doing three shows.  Here’s a song she did for Ice Castles, the 1978 film shot here in the Twin Cities, with scenes shot at Mariucci Arena. (I recall being in the audience for this shooting.

Also: Charanga Tropical @ The Icehouse, 5pm – 7pm ($5) A matinee performance for those who like Latin dancing but have to go to work Monday morning.

Big George Jackson & Jeremy Johnson @ The Dubliner Pub, Saint Paul. 5pm (Tip Jar) It sounds like down home Delta Blues, but these two are Twin Citizens.

Monday, Nov 27

JJ’s Zydeco Paydirt @ Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($8) They’ve been filling dance floors by playing Zydeco music since the turn of this century.

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.

Happy New Year! 12.28 – 1.3

December 28, 2016

unknownIt’s time to put this year behind us. Though some of us have experienced triumphs and celebrations during the year, many would agree that it’s been a year filled with fear, loathing, and sadness. There is plenty of music to send 2016 on its way, from talented resident artists of many genres to a couple of visiting artists. There are, of course, many other options than those I’ve listed, for NYE, but be sure to check with venues, as some of the NYE events I’ve listed may be sold out by the end of the week. Have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.


Wednesday, December 28

Rio Nido @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35), 9pm ($25) A beloved trio, Rio Nido came out of the West Bank music scene of the late 70s, with their unique blend of voices and a repertoire of songs from the 30s and 40s. After a decades long hiatus, they started returning to performing a year or so ago, welcomed so much that a third show was added for this gig. Prudence JohnsonTom Lieberman  and Tim Sparks are successful performers in their own right:, Johnson as a singer with more than a dozen recordings to her credit, as well as extended appearances on Prairie Home Companion; Lieberman as a producer and songwriter, and Sparks as an award-winning guitarist who’s equally at home with folk, jazz, country blues, and gospel.

Patrick Harrison/Larry McDonough Quartet’s Twisted Holidays @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm (Harrison – No Cover), 8:30pm (McDonough) The evening starts with button accordionist Patrick Harrison playing for the dinner hour. Then at 8:30 pm Larry McDonough and his quartet put uncommon meters, rhythms, and harmonies to a selection of seasonal songs as well as some originals and songs from Chet Baker, Bill Evans, Led Zeppelin, Spinal Tap, Paul Simon, and others.

Wednesday, Thursday, December 28, 29

Connie Evingson @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15, $40 Dinner Show) Connie Evingson can sing bebop, blues, bossa novas, the Beatles, Peggy Lee, and Gypsy Jazz with equal ease. Her pitch is perfect, her tone is slightly husky and a bit sensuous, and her timing is impeccable. She’s had ten CDs in the top fifty in both the US and Canada, and has appeared with the Minnesota Orchestra, Prairie Home Companion, Jazz at Lincoln Centyer and at other high profile venues. Her holiday CD, The Secret of Christmas, gets lots of play on my system each year. If we’re lucky, she’ll sing the Petit Nutcracker Suite, a 7 minute distillation of Tchaikovsky’s score for the classic Christmas ballet.

Thursday, December 29

No Exit: Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Drummer Luke Peterson leads this young group, which tonight has a couple of special guests who are veteran players. Performing tonight are:  Brandon Wozniak, Sax; Jack Courtright, trombone; Levi Schwartzberg, vibes; Adam Astrup, guitar; and Graydon Peterson, bass.

Will Schmid Quartet @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7:30 – 9:30pm (Tip Jar) Seems I had the wrong date last week for this Reverie debut of another group of up and coming  players on holiday leave from college. Will Schmid, guitar; Patrick Adkins, piano; Alma Engebretson, bass; Jesse Thorson, drums.

Vicky Mountain @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) The ever versatile Ms Mountain can heartily swing a bebop tune, and turn around and deliver a soothing ballad, or hip R&B tune. The excellent voice teacher will be accompanied by Dave Martin on guitar for an intimate evening of music.

Friday, December 30

Jeremy Walker/Pat Mallinger Quartet @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6:30pm (Walker – No Cover), 9pm ($12 Cash only) Pianist Jeremy Walker starts things off during the dinner hour. Then The Pat Mallinger Quartet, with: Chris Lomheim, piano; Graydon Peterson, bass; and Phil Hey, drums takes the stage at 9pm. Mallinger is a saxophonist who grew up in Saint Paul and now lives in Chicago, where he is co-leader of Sabertooth, a group that’s been performing till the wee wee hours each week at the city’s Green Mill since 1992. He also plays with the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, the Bobby Lewis Quintet, the Arty Hoyle Quintet, and his own Quartet, and is a jazz educator of note in the Chicago school system.

TK Wallace’s Hard Bop Playhouse @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) It’s college night at Jazz Central, and things kick off with this group of students who are home for the holidays: Jordan Anderson, piano; Tyler Wagner, bass; Peter Goggin, sax; and Edmund Catlin, drums. They’ll be playing tunes by Wayne Shorter, Thelonious Monk,a nd more, followed by two more college groups.

Saturday, December 31

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 5pm (Tip Jar) This may be the first time that the Black Dog is open until the New Year’s countdown, as past years they’ve had an early, family-friendly countdown. The celebration starts with Todd Harper, keys; Eric Coursen, drums; and Aaron Kerr on electric cello playing from 5pm to 7:30pm. Then at 8:30, Hoaxer, the college-age band, takes the stage: Will Kjeer, piano; Charlie Lincoln, bass; Peter Goggin, alto; and Edmund Catlin, drums. Topping things off will be an all-star jam session anchored by Steve Kenny and Dave Brattain, beginning at 10:30pm and going until the new year.

SouthSide Aces, w/Patty & the Buttons @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm ($22 Advance, $25 Door) It’s a New Years Eve Dance party at the Eagles, as the Aces and Patty & the Buttons take to the small stage with a big dance floor. Both groups draw mostly on music from the 30s and 40s. While the Aces mine traditional New Orleans music, Patty & the Buttons use Gypsy Jazz and popular songs of those decades to successfully entice dancers.

NYE at Parma, with Arne Fogel & The Benny Weinbeck Trio @ Parma 8200, Bloomington. 6pm (Fogel); 9pm (Benny Weinbeck Trio) Arne Fogel sings for dinner-time festivities (6 till 9pm) with Rick Carlson, piano; and Gordy Johnson, bass. Then Benny Weinbeck takes over with his trio, Gordy Johnson, bass; and Phil Hey, drums. Sadly, Parma is discontinuing Singers Night on Fridays, though Weinbeck and his trio will continue to perform Saturdays.

Sunday, January 1

Twin Cities Hot Club @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 8pm ($5) Maybe you chose to stay home for NYE, but are now itching for music. Or maybe you simply enjoy the acoustic, romantic, and swinging music of artists Django Rheinhardt, Stephane Grapelli, and other proponents of Gypsy Jazz, such as the Twin Cities Hot Club: Robert Bell and Reynold Philipsek, guitars; Gary Schulte, violin; and Matt Peterson, bass.

Monday, Tuesday, January 2, 3

Terence Blanchard Live Recording @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40, $45, $50) New Orleans born trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard has a beautiful tone, and creates music is often cinematic in scope, as exemplified by the over 50 soundtracks he’s composed, including Blanchard’s beautifully heartbreaking score for A Tale of God’s Will, Spike Lee’s documentary on Hurricane Katrina. Blanchard’s 2015 release, Breathless, finds him playing with a group called the E-Collective in a genre-crossing groove-laden fusion of jazz, funk, and R&B. He’ll be joined by them at the Dakota, and recording the event for inclusion in his next album.

Tuesday, January 3

Thompson, Balluff, Pikal @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 8pm ($5) Well, if you’re a fan of traditional jazz from the early part of the 20th Century, you’ll do no better than to hear Butch Thompson, piano; Tony Balluff, clarinet; and Steve Pikal, bass, play this evening.

Tuesday, Wednesday, January 3, 4

Dick Oatts Quartet @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($20, $45 Dinner), 9pm ($15) Iowa born and raised, alto saxophonist Dick Oatts began his professional music career in the Twin Cities in 1972, and moved to NYC in 1977 where he became a member of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. He has since worked with such big bands as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Lester Bowie, Joe Lovano, Paquito D’Rivera, Tito Puente, Kenny Wheeler, and Gunther Schuller as well as a number of big bands from Europe. He’s also recorded and toured with small groups led by Red Rodney, Bob Brookmeyer, Mel Lewis, Fred Hersch, and others, and has a dozen and a half albums as a leader. Tonight he’ll be backed by a stellar line-up: Bill Carrothers, piano; Billy Peterson, bass, and Joe Pulice, drums.

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, December 28

The Eddies on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) It’s a rare day in December when this “almost acapella” group crosses the river from Saint Paul to Minneapolis, but they’re now at it annually for the House Party show between Christmas and New Years. Their repertoire includes songs of life, work, and death, from traditional mountain songs to sea shanties, and tunes by Bob Marley, and The Rolling Stones.  Be aware that KFAI has had problems broadcasting due to the recent ice storm snapping its hardware, so you may need to tune in to to stream the show.

Thursday, December 29

Mayasich Mayhem @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) Guitar master Paul Mayasich is joined by his brothers Mark and Greg, as well as John Iden and Joe Luoma, for the final Hot Seat at Crooners.

Curtiss A & The Cold Cold Hearts Sing Hank Williams @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($8 Advance, $10 Door) Rocker Curtiss A does a John Lennon tribute each year; has a blues band (The Dark Click); leads a rock band (The Jerks of Fate); and occasionally does an Elvis Presley show. Tonight, however, he’s performing his annual Hank Williams tribute, a warm tribute to the classic country singer/songwriter. Bonus: Curtiss A’s sometimes rambling, often hilarious commentary.

Thursday, Friday, December 29, 30

The New Standards @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm, 9pm ($30, $40) Give these musicians credit, where credit is due. While jazz musicians have always drawn from pop music, only a few have embraced post-60s rock, notably Miles Davis, with the Cyndi Lauper tune Time After Time, and The Bad Plus, who featured songs from Blondie and Queen amongst their originals. About ten years ago, Chan Poling, keys (The Suburbs); John Munson, bass (Trip Shakespeare, SemiSonic); and Steve Roehm, vibes (Billygoat, Electropolis); formed The New Standards to concentrate on acoustic, jazzy versions of post 60s rock. They became national and international stars as a result. If you didn’t catch their annual holiday extravaganza this year, you can see them as a trio in the comfier confines of the Dakota, bringing new life to songs from Lou Reed, the Outkasts, Britney Spears, T Rex, and their own bands.

Friday, December 30

Rena Haus Trio @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 10AM – 1PM (Tip Jar) It’s a special Pre-New Years Brunch at Hell’s Kitchen, and they’ve brought in the very special Rena Haus Trio just for the day: Rena Haus, guitar and vocals; Bob Haus, bass; and Ed Petsche, guitar. Rena’s originals are often highly amusing, sometimes racy, and occasionally political, with appearances by classic blues songs. Brunches at the Kitchen can be mighty crowded, so you may want to get a reservation to ensure you’re close to the band.

Willie Walker and the We R Band @ Crooners Lounge and Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) It’s a good night to warm up for NYE with both Willie Walker and Willie Murphy (below) playing, though it gives us a good problem of whom to see. Walker is the winner of two awards in the 2016 Living Blues Critic’s Poll: Comeback Artist of the Year and Best Blues Album of 2015 for his release If Nothing Ever Changes, a well deserved award. He is most assuredly a Twin Cities Treasure.

Willie Murphy & The Angel-Headed Hipsters @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapoils. 8pm ($7) Many folks who party hearty all year round, or who have had enough to last a lifetime, think of NYE as amateur night, and stay home. Willie Murphy is similarly inclined, and chooses to celebrate on the eve of NYE. Whether you want to stay home NYE, or have the energy to party two nights in a row, be sure to bring your dancing shoes, as Murphy’s brilliant arrangements of both his own songs and others that you know and love will have you gyrating before you can say Happy New Year.

Nooky Jones + Dem Atlas @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11pm ($10 Advance, $12 Door) Nooky Jones has been around the Cities for a couple of years now, spreading smooth neo-soul with hearty elements of jazz and R&B. Among its members: Cameron Kinghorn, vocals/trumpet; Adam Meckler, trumpet; and Kevin Gastonguay, keys. Opening is rapper/hip-hop artist Dem Atlas  who signed with Rhymesayers Entertainment in 2013 and toured a number of festivals opening for Atmosphere. He recorded with the French group Ursus Minor last year and is about to drop a new CD in 2017.

Saturday, December 31

The Good, The Bad, and the Funky @ The Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($15) Get down, Get Funky, and Dance to this ten-piece band (including a five-piece horn section) covering both old-school and new-school funk and soul.

Hot Pants/Hipshaker 45RPM Dance Party @ The Kitty Cat Club, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) The two best Dance Parties in town once again team up to present rare, original Funk and Soul 45s from the collections of Brian, George, Greg, Ben for New Year’s Eve. They get some extra special help from the distaff point of view as special guests Elizabeth Christian and Paula Carrillo join them. This event is always a hit, so arrive early to avoid disappointment.

The Last Revel @ Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($12 Advance, $15 Door) This acoustic trio describes their sound as Front Porch Americana, which seems about right, especially if you like to party on said porch. They are talented multi-instrumentalists, who bring the acoustic guitar, upright bass, fiddle, 5-string banjo, harmonica, kick drum and three-part vocal harmonies to their performances, whether they’re singing delicate ballads or high energy stompers. Special guest: Richard Hanson.

Papa John Kolstad: Masquerade Party @ Merlin’s Rest, Minneapolis. 8pm (Tip Jar) Lately, Papa John has been playing with the New Phits: Bill “Wailin’ Willie” Smith, harmonica/vocals: Gary Powell, aka Tiny Gene Pool, slide guitar/vocals; Mark “Rizz” Rizzardi, bass/vocals. Papa John will be playing 12-string guitar, singing, and adding amusing anecdotes and political musings to the mix, as well as bringing in trombonist/bassist Sam Fiske to play. Expect some four-part harmonies from the group, as well as Morris Dancers, a piper to bring in the New Year, and a Celtic blessing, not to mention bubbly at midnight and people in costumes.

Joyann Parker @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($30) With a voice that combines the emotion of the blues with the fire of rock, Joyann Parker has been making her mark on the Twin Cities Blues scene for the last few years, representing Minnesota in the 2015 International Blues Challenge. Her 2015 album, On the Rocks, was named Best Self-Produced Album by the MN Blues Society, and has been nominated for Best Independent Blues Music Award. The guitarist/pianist and songwriter has become a regular at Vieux Carré, drawing more fans with each appearance.

Hookers $ Blow @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($25) If you’re looking to dance to some 70s R&B, then H$B are the band to hear. This group of stellar musicians led by Adam Levy will be delivering the goods in the Cafe’s River Room, which is standing room only tonight. Call for reservations if you want dinner beforehand.

Charlie Lawson & Friends @ The Dubliner Pub, Saint Paul. 10pm (Tip Jar) Guitarist Lawson is taking on NYE for a fun-filled evening with: Jim Ouska, guitar; Lorent “Slasher” Dwyer, bass; Marty Bryduck, drums. With Special Guests Langer’s Ball, the husband and wife team of Michael and Hannah Sturm playing punk Irish music.

Sunday, January 1

Corpse Reviver @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 3pm – 5:30pm (Tip Jar) Maybe you need the Corpse Reviver classic cocktail after last night, but it’s most likely you need a shot of the group that plays music from the classic Harry Smith Anthology of Folk Music. It’s especially noteworthy that today’s edition of Corpse Reviver includes: Mikkel Beckman, percussion; Jillian Rae, fiddle, and Charlie Parr, guitar. Here are two of the three musicians.

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.

Penultimate Summer Music: 8.24 – 8.30

August 24, 2016

2015-09-07 15.50.34Can it be that it’s time for the State Fair already? Oh the time goes by so quickly when you’re having fun, and we certainly do that every summer here in Minnesota and the Twin Cities. There is music everyday at the Fair, and not just in the Grandstand, which has some noteworthy attractions this year, as do the free outdoor stages at the West End, the Leinie Lodge, and the Intenational Bazaar. I’ll let you check the Fair’s website. I can’t say there’s jazz, but there’s lots of other kinds of music. The Minnesota Blues Society has kindly put together a list of performances on a daily basis, which you can find here. In the meantime, there’s lots of jazz around town. Have fun, music lifts your spirit.


Wednesday, August 24

Pat Donahue and Dean Magraw @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm – 10pm A guitar-lovers dream as Donahue, a finger-picking champion, and Magraw, a genre-shifting magician, play together in a listening room where they can be best appreciated.

SH4 @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 8pm ($5) This is the newest group from pianist Steve Hobert  whose playing can often be described as sparkling, etherial, and downright full of wonder. He’ll be joined by Johannes Tona, bass; LA Buckner on drums; and Jabari Powell, a newcomer to town, on alto sax. They’ll be performing jazz and R&B standards from folks like Duke Ellington, Nina Simone, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Kendrick Lamar.


JelloSlave @ Mill City Museum, Minneapolis. 6pm – 8pm ($5) This is a “new music” quartet, with quotation marks, in that they have been around long enough that they aren’t new, but rather play new compositions. With two cellos, tabla, and a drum kit, they play classical compositions, as well as pop/rock compositions, sometimes combining them into one piece. Michelle Kinney, cello; Jaqueline Ultan, cello; Gary Waryan, tables; and Greg Schutte, drums, don’t play that often as JelloSlave  so see them while you can, especially considering the unique venue of the outdoor plaza at the Mill City Museum.

Thursday, August 25

Andrew Walesch Quartet @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10) Walesch is a talented pianist/vocalist with a predilection for the Great American Songbook and a singing style that evokes crooners of the past. Tonight he’ll be performing songs about the fleeting passing of summer, with help from the venerable Dave Karr on sax; the always swinging Billy Peterson on bass; and ace timekeeper Pete James Johnson on drums.

Friday, August 26

Jeremy Walker; Southside Aces @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm (Walker – No Cover); 9pm (Aces – $10) The folks at Vieux Carré have hit on a winning formula: bringing in terrific solo artists for the 6pm dinner show, and equally terrific groups for the 9pm shows. Tonight, pianist/composer Walker will play during the dinner hour, then at 9pm, the six-piece Southside Aces will heat things up with traditional New Orleans jazz. With a sousaphone!


Adam Booker’s Hip-Gnosis @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5w/studentID) Adam Booker is a bass player who currently teaches at the UofMN-Duluth. He has an extensive history with groups such as The New Orleans Hot Club, the Jazz Pharaohs, the Asylum Street Spankers, and others. He’ll be joined by Levi Schwartzberg, vibes; Aaron Hedenstrom, tenor; and Ben Baldwin, drums.

Boo Boo’s Last Birthday @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 10pm ($10, $5w/studentID) This is the last event in this summer series, as each of these young musicians head back to their respective colleges. Edmund Catlin, drums; Charlie Lincoln, bass; and Levi Schwartzberg, vibes, have been performing a Thelonious Monk album every other week at Jazz Central this summer. See what they’ll play for their last performance.

Saturday, August 27

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) A couple of younger bands tonight, starting with Amythest 3: Byron Johnson-Blanchard, drums; Josh Granowski, bass; and Park Evans, guitar. Followed at 8:30 or so by No Exit, a group of post high-school students who will all be going back to college in the next week or so: Peter Goggin, alto; Levi Schwartzberg, vibes; Adam Astrup, guitar; Charlie Lincoln, bass; and Luke Peterson, drums.

Nicole Mitchell @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7pm ($10/$15) Wow! Kudos to whomever booked Mitchell  a jazz flautist, who has consistently won Downbeats award for rising flautist before awards as an established flautist during the last decade. She formerly served as the first female to be president of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, and is the founder of a number of groups, including: The Black Earth Ensemble, Black Earth Strings, and Sonic Projections. tonight, she’s accompanied by Bryan Nichols, piano; Jeff Bailey, bass; and Davu Seru, drums.

Sunday, August 28

The Peterson Family: Songs Our Mother Loved @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm – 10pm ($15, $40 w/Dinner) For the 95th anniversary of the birth of the late Jeanne Arland Peterson, her children, all of whom have been highly successful in the music business, have prepared a special show. Patty Peterson on vocals, Linda Peterson on keys and vocals; Billy Peterson on bass; grandson Jason Peterson DeLaire on saxophone and piano. Jeanne Arland was named an Arts Midwest Jazz Master in 1998, and was the second woman named to the Minnesota Hall of Fame, after Judy Garland. This is sure to be a warm, loving, and entertaining tribute to “The Matriarch of Minnesota Jazz.”

Connie Evingson @ The Jungle Theater, Minneapolis. 4pm, 7:30pm ($30) Ms Evingson continues her regular appearances at the Jungle. This time she’s singsong from the Ella Fitzgerald songbooks, backed by the ace trio of Tanner Taylor, piano; Gordy Johnson, bass; and Dave Karr, sax. The afternoon show is about sold out, but fans can still find seats for the 7:30 show.

Monday, August 29

Return of Born to Be Kind of Blue @ The Dakota, Minneapolis.8pm ($10) Larry McDonough and his septet keep filling up the Dakota with this show featuring the music of Chet Baker and early 60s era Miles Davis. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s your chance. Larry McDonough, piano and vocals; Steve Kenny, flumpet; Richard Terrill, tenor and soprano saxes; Jeff King, alto and baritone saxes;  Jim Bierma, bass; Dean White, drums; and Guest: Carol Bergquist, flute

Bill Carrothers and Anna Mjoll @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($12, $40 w/Dinner) Pianist Carrothers must really like the Dunsmore Room, since he travels from Michigan’s Upper Penisula regularly to play there. This time the internationally known pianist is bringing an Icelandic singer with him. Mjöll grew up in a musical household (her parents had a successful band and a TV show), and after competing in the Eurovision singing contest, toured the world with Julio Iglesias.

Tuesday, August 30

Pat Mallinger & Bill Carrothers @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm – 9pm ($15) A concert in which two Saint Paul natives return to the Twin Cities. They’re both monsters of their respective instruments: the piano for Carrothers, appearing for the second night in a row, and the saxophone for Mallinger. This should be fun!

Chris Lomheim/JT Bates GRAIN Trio @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm (Lomheim – No Cover), 8pm (GRAIN – $6) Another complete evening of jazz at the Vieux. Pianist Chris Lomheim creates luminous, dreamy moments as he plays for a dinner crowd. Then the highly active drummer JT Bates brings his organ trio to the stage, with Kevin Gastonguay on B3, and Zacc Harris on guitar. It’ll be a jazz party!

Aaron Hedenstrom Big Band @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Saxophonist/composer recently finished up his PhD in music and has moved to the Twin Cities, where he’s been playing in various groups. HIs is a big band gig, which will likely be more like an open rehearsal. It will be interesting to hear Hedenstrom’s take on big band music.

Tuesday, Wednesday, August 30, 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.

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 24

Hounds of Finn @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. noon – 1pm (Free) This trio performs music based on the roots of Celtic and American traditions, that is music inspired by Celtic, Americana, Blugrass and other folk and roots music from around the world. Its members are Pete McCauley, on vocals, mandolin, and guitar; Michelle MacGregor on fiddle and bodhran (that skinny drum often played with a small double headed stick); and Lojo Russo on vocals, guitar, mandolin, bodhran, and bass.

Kildahl & Vonderharr Trio on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 and 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Kit Kildahl, guitar; Boom Boom Steve Vonderharr (aka Stevie V) on harp; and Dave Pengra, bass guitar; all hail from the Mankato area. Kildahl and Vonderharr put out a fine blues album a few years back called Working Without A Net, featuring some snappy originals and a few choice covers. Tune in during the 5 o’clock hour, and then head over to the 331 Club.

Mehmet Polat Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) Three virtuoso practitioners of instruments that are definitely not European. Mehmet Polat was born and raised in Turkey, and studied Ottoman music in Istanbul, where his approach to playing the oud eventually landed him in Amsterdam. There he studied and immersed himself in the music of a number of other cultures, including Persian, Flamenco, and African music. He formed a trio, whose other members are pekin Basar, who plays the Ney, an end-blown flute that may be the oldest kind of instrument still in use, and Victor Sims, on ngoni and percussion. I believe there’s also a Kora, a 21 string instrument from West Africa, in the mix. The resulting music is, at times, contemplative, and spicy.

Thursday, August 25

The Honeydogs @ Music in Mears, Saint Paul. 6pm (Free) This is the last performance of this year’s Music in Mears series, and the organizers are presenting us with one of the finest rock/pop bands in the area. Under the leadership of frontman/guitarist/songwriter Adam Levy, they’ve produced 10 albums and a Best of compilation since their 1995 debut on Mercury records. No less an artist than Al Kooper is a fan, as is the mayor of Saint Paul. The Latin Billies, a sextet that performs in both English and Spanish, open.

Dan Tedesco w/Hannah Von Der Hoff @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($8) If you’re looking for a lower key evening, this double bill of singer/songwriters might just fill the bill. Headliner Tedesco, who hails from Des Moines these days, is a guitarist/singer songwriter whose influences range from Van Halen and Pete Townsend to George Benson and Wes Montgomery, though he admits that the rock n’ roll side is dominant. Von Der Hoff is a bluesy, soulful singer/songwriter who sometimes leads an R&B-ish band, though tonight she’s flying solo.

Friday, August 26

Soul Tight Committee w/Ginger Apocalypse @ Rice Park, Saint Paul. 6pm – 9pm (Free) As summer winds down, so do some of the outdoor series we’ve been enjoying. This is the last performance in the Rhythm in Rice series, featuring the tight, ten-piece R&B horn band Soul Tight Committee. Opening is Ginger Apocolypse, for whom it is hard to find information. It might be an electronic/metal band or a horde of red-haired, freckle-faced, pale skinned zombies.

Buffy Sainte-Marie @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45, $50) Those of you of a certain age may remember her songs “Universal Soldier,” or “Until It’s Time for You To Go.” If you’ve followed her closely, you know that she co-wrote “Up Where We Belong” with Joe Cocker. And, she was on Sesame Street for five years in the mid-70s. Her songs have been covered by The Indigo Girls, Janis Joplin, Neko Case, Dottie West, Glen Campbell; Andy Williams, Barbra Streisand, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Donovan, and many more. Sainte-Marie has a new album out, Power in the Blood, with a batch of new songs, some of which cover social criticism, while others are love songs and one is a blues rocker. Here them now before they get covered.

Malamanya Album Release @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($12 Advance/$15 Door) If you missed their performance at the Icehouse last week, have no fear. Even if you caught it, this is a CD release party, so the energy and excitement will be even more pronounced for these purveyors of classic Cuban sons, energetic salsas, and other Latin rhythms.

Friday, Saturday, August 26, 27

Hipshaker 14th Anniversary Party @ The Kitty Kat Club, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5?) Now one of the longest running funk soul dance nights in the country, Hipshaker is celebrating its 14th Anniversary as a 45RPM Dance Night with a two night blowout. Friday night is dedicated to Hipshaker favorites, while Saturday night will be a showdown between Motown and James Brown. Dance, Dance, Dance.

Saturday, August 27

Nikki Roux & Rich Rue/Erica West Band @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm (Nikkie & Rich – No Cover), 9pm (Erica West $8) Again we have a one-two punch at the Vieux, with Nikki & Rich providing bluesy folk and folk-rock during the early evening, and the Erica West Band starting at 9pm. West is a sultry, powerful singer with a six-piece back up band. West and the band perform blues, R&B, and jazzy versions of standards.

Wenso Ashby Live! @ the Penumbra Theater, 270 Kent Street, Saint Paul. 7pm – 9pm ($10 general, $15 Reserved) Ashby is a keyboard player who started out as a producer in hip-hop and has had some significant success in the smooth jazz area, though he calls it Contemporary Jazz With Soul. He’s released six albums, often featuring a female singer, and tonight he’ll be presenting music from a singer/songwriter point of view. The show also features K Jay The Comedian, and proceeds will be donated to the Hallie Q Brown Food Shelf.

Sunday, August 28

Lonnie Knight Cancer Fight @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 1pm ($10 Donation at Door) Veteran guitarist/singer Lonnie Knight started as a folk singer back in the antediluvian days and was part of the burgeoning Twin Cities rock scene in the early 60s. He’s since gone on to record and perform with a slew of better known, if no more talented, performers. Of late, hes been fighting off cancer, but still needs help with medical expenses. A number of friends are helping out by performing, including Mick Sterling, the Lisa Wenger Band, Mary Jane Alm, James Loney and Lolo’s Ghost, anmd the Smokin’ Section, in addition to Knight himself. There’ll be an All-Star Jam, and well as a live auction and raffle.

Tuesday, August 30

Cajun Crawfish Hotdish @ Sea Salt, Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis. 6pm – 8pm (Tip Jar) Cajun Crawfish Hotdish is not a new offering from the popular restaurant, but rather a seven-piece group that lays down the Southern Louisiana sounds that make people get up and dance. You can even dance a step or two while waiting in line for Sea Salts signature dishes of crawfish, fish tacos, oysters, and gumbo.


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.

Thanksgiving Music: 11.25 – 12.1

November 25, 2015

Greetings to all;

On Thursday, many will be thankful for Mashed Potatoes

On Thursday, many will be thankful for Mashed Potatoes

The listing is a little light this week, but still capable of lifting your spirit and reminding you of that for which you are thankful, which may include certain foods that are part of the day. And at this point, many of us may be reminded that we have much to be thankful about. However, events of the past few weeks also remind us that we have a way to go to reach the ideals that are celebrated with Thanksgiving. I am certainly thankful to have many of you in my life on a regular basis. And though I say it most every week, I discovered once again that it is absolutely true that music has the power to lift your spirit.


Wednesday, November 25

Jay Young and the Advisory Committee @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Depending on whether or not you’re hosing Thanksgiving, you may have the time and inclination to hear some new music. Tonight, bassist Jay Young picks up the piccolo bass once again, and leads a group consisting of: Gary Raynor, bass; Pete Whitman, saxes; and Jay Epstein, drums.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, November 25, 26, 27

Davina and the Vagabonds @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm (Wed, Thurs), 8pm (Fri) $15) After being absent from the local scene all summer due to touring, Davina and the guys come back with a vengeance for this three night gig, which is certainly a rarity these days. Whether you’re pre or post the big dinner, Davina’s stirring vocals and the unabashed energy of the Vagabonds will get you jumping in your seats, if not elsewhere.

Friday, November 27

All kinds of swing dancers turn out at the Caves

All kinds of swing dancers turn out at the Caves

Swingbeat Big Band @ Wabasha Caves, Saint Paul. 7pm ($8) Moved from Thursday night this month, Swing Night at the Caves features the Swingbeat Big Band. You’ll see folks of all ages out on the dance floor. Bring dancing shoes, keep them clean, and no bare feet on the floor.

Paul Harper Chordless Quartet @ The Nicollet Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Saxophonist Paul Harper leads Steve Kenny, Flumpet; Tom Lewis Bass; and Matt Buckner, drums.

Levi Schwartzberg Project @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 10pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Young vibist and pianist Levi Schwartzberg gathers some like-minded musicians to perform Schwartzberg’s originals and, I’m assuming, some jazz standards. Beside Levi, the group includes: Thomas Stromman, tenor; Jackson Mullet, trumpet; Drew Stinson, bass; and Benjamin Beyene drums.

Saturday, November 28

Jazz @ Barely Brothers Records, 783 Raymond Ave, Saint Paul. Noon – 5pm. (Free) Owners Mike and Spencer are doing a good job of finding ways to bring folks into their vinyl emporium. Today, bassist Adam Linz (a part-time worker at the store) brings in four groups to play, including the Dominican Crisis Quintet at noon; Ted King at 1pm; the “Pony Show Edition” of Le Percheron at 2pm, and The Dakota Combo at 3pm. The show is free, but you may be very tempted to purchase of something from the store.

Pat Mallinger @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm. ($12) Alto saxophonist Pat Mallinger returns to his home town for a regular gig while visiting family. He’s always appeared at the Artists Quarter in the past, so it’s appropriate for him to play the Vieux. Tonight he’ll be joined by Chris Lomheim, piano; Andrew Foreman, bass; and Kenny Horst, drums. Mallinger lives in Chicago, and his late night gig at the Green Mill there has been going on for 20 years or so, and recently featured on Christian McBride’s Jazz Night in America. Here’s a video from an AQ performance of a few years back.

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Blackdog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (tip Jar) First up is Steve Kenny’s Group 47, able to play because pianist Will Kjeer is back in town for the holiday. Followed at 8:30pm by Dave King’s Vector Families, one of the drummer’s many bands: Dean Granros, guitar; Anthony Cox, bass; Brandon Wozniak, sax.

Peg Carrothers @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7pm ($10 Advance, $15 Door) Vocalist Peg Carrothers is celebrating the US release of her album Edges of My Mind, which has already been released in France and has sold over 1000 copies, which is quite good for a jazz release in this download era, especially in one country.  She’ll be joined by husband and pianist Bill Carrothers, as well as Dean Magraw, guitar and mandolin; and Billy Peterson, bass. This is part of the Jazz at Studio Z series, and as always, there will be a master class at 6pm, where Peg will discuss being the Singer in the Band. Attend the master class and the concert is only $10. Here’s something from the album.

Monday, November 30

Pat Martino Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($32), 9pm ($20) Guitarist Martino began playing professionally after he dropped out of 10th grade in Philadelphia to play in that city’s burgeoning rock scene, touring with organist Charles Earland,m and recruited by Lloyd Price to play in his band. He played in the organ trios of Jack McDuff and Don Patterson, as well as with organ groups led by Willis Jackson. After suffering from a severe brain aneurysm, he could hardly remember anything, including his parents, and his ability to play. The award winning guitarist learned to play again by listening to and playing along to his own recordings. Tonight he’ll be accompanied by Pat Bianchi, Hammond organ; and Carmen Intorre, drums.

For a comprehensive listing of Jazz go to the Twin Cities Live Jazz Calendar. 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, November 25

Nikki & the Rue-Mates on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 and 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club, Tip Jar) Nikki and the Rue-Mates are deserving of a wider audience for their Sixties style Folk-Rock and Folk-Blues, filtered through a much younger generation. Besides Nikki on vocals and guitar, the Rue-Mates are Rich Rue, guitar; Jon Olson, bass; and Jimmy Tollesrud, drums. I don’t know if all four will show up for the radio show, but they’ll be on stage for the 5th or 6th Thanksgiving Eve show in a row. Here they are sans drummer.

imagesA Tribute to Joe Cocker @ Pepito’s Parkway Theater, Minneapolis. 8pm ($25) Forty-five years after Joe Cocker made his Twin Cities appearance at what is now First Avenue, a bunch of Sterling musicians, including Mick, take the stage in this show. Featuring, besides Mick, 13 other musicians, including Bobby Vandell and Scott Sansby among 4 drummers, Melanie Rosales and Cate Fiero on vocals, Billy Franze on guitar, and Serge Akou on bass.  Word on the street is that this is a hot show.

Steve Clarke & the Working Stiffs @ Crooners Lounge and Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) Saxophonist Clarke, winner of six Minnesota Music Awards, leads the Working Stiffs through some jump blues, swing, and a bit of jazz. Here they are doing an old Cab Calloway number.

Thursday, November 26

The Butanes @ Shaw’s, NE Minneapolis. 8pm (No Cover) Work off those turkey blues with the Twin Cities best blues band, and the guests that show up each week. If you can dance in tight spaces, you may even be able to work off some mashed potatoes.

Friday, November 27

Jimmi & the Band of Souls @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 6pm ($?) It’s the third anniversary for Ted and Jennifer Wilebski, and Jimmi & the Band of Souls will provide the soundtrack for the party: high energy blues, R&B, and a touch of gospel.

Pat Donahue @ Crooners Lounge and Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) This Grammy winning fingerpicking guitarist with a pleasant voice will be joined by Dan Newton on accordion, and Gary Raynor on bass. I’m thinking there will be more band members to fill out the sound.

The Silvertones @ Schooner’s Tavern, Minneapolis. 8pm (No Cover) Here’s a show for baby boomers and others who want to dance but don’t don’t want to make a big deal of going out. The funky, comfortable Southside tavern might be considered a dive, but it’s too well cared for. The Silvertones are a 60s cover band, plain and simple, with a repertoire that ranges from Girl Groups to the Byrds, to Steppenwolf to Stax Soul. Add in the inexpensive drinks, a few friends, and you’ve got a recipe for a fun evening.

Saturday, November 28

Louis Prima Jr & the Witnesses @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. ($15 Advance, $20 Door) Though your first reaction might be “What the?” this sounds like it could be much fun. Yes, Prima is the only son of the Wild Man of Las Vegas, and yes, his act draws upon his paternal heritage, but Prima also has a background in rock, having led a Las Vegas band called Problem Child in the 80s and early 90s. He began performing the music of his Dad in 1995, and until 2010, juggled that with a full-time job. Then he took up performing full time in 2010, and after a successful appearance at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, released his first album, Return of the Wildest, in 2012, which was followed last year by Blow. He’s got 8 musicians in the Witnesses, and according to Nick Spitzer, of American Roots, he has, “a sense of honor, of joy; a sense of being Louis Prima’s son, but also a sense of self.”

High and Mighty @ The Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10?) This eleven-piece horn band has a repertoire that ranges from Joe Cocker and classic Motown, to Kool & the Gang, The Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, and Amy Winehouse. Bring your dancing shoes.  Here’s a video with a number of samples of their work.

Jimi Hendrix Remembered @ The Cabooze, Minneapolis. 9pm ($15) This tribute show has been going on for 23 years now. Tonight’s extravaganza features such mighty performers as Billy Franze, Julius Collins, Jeremy Ylvisaker, and Jellybean Johnson.

Sunday, November 29

The World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band @ The Turf Club, Saint Paul. 1am – 3pm (Free) Nye’s house band began in 1975, which makes it older than many of its fans. It brings its polkas, waltzes, foxtrots, and more to Saint Paul on the last Sunday of every month for brunch, which includes Polish brunch items and sausages from Kramarczuks.

Monday, November 30

Daddy Squeeze and some of his friends

Daddy Squeeze and some of his friends

Daddy Squeeze & Friends @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($8) There’ll be spinning, dipping, and two-steps galore at this bi-weekly Cajun/Zydeco dance. Master of the “Stomach Steinway” Dan Newton will bring along some of his pals to provide the beats and melodies for dancers.

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.


End of the Year Music: 12.26 – 1.1

December 26, 2012

imagesWell it’s another relatively quiet week, though Friday and Saturday offer a number of choices. Perhaps it’s all in anticipation of the big night next Monday, for which there are numerous musical and party choices. The big shows are easy to find, so I’ve included a few no cost/low cost choices. Have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve.


Wednesday, December 26

DownloadedFile-1Moore by Four @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm. Glorious harmonies from a group that has been thrilling Twin Cities audiences since the 80s. Now they only perform a few times a year since Sandford Moore, piano; and vocalists Dennis Spears, Connie Evingson, Yolande Bruce, and Ginger Commodore are all successful solo performers.

Boot Camp @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Pianist Jeremy Walker gathers together Brandon Wozniak, sax; Chris Bates, bass; and Miguel Hurtado, drums; to create sublime and exciting music.

Thursday, December 27

Donald Thomas and Rick Carlson @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm (donation) Thomas is a vocalist/drummer with a smooth baritone singer who can take on jazz standards and rhythm and blues with equal ease. Pianist Carlson is a favored foil for many vocalists, given his Basie-esque approach to playing and an ability to know when to accent and when to lay out.

DownloadedFile-1Thursday, Friday, Saturday, December 27, 28, 29

Bad Plus @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm & 9pm. ($40) Since their first post-Christmas appearance at the old Dakota about 12 or 13 years ago, this chamber jazz trio with a rock n’ roll attitude has become a favorite of festivals and clubs around the world. It’s a grand opportunity to see them in a relatively small club.

Friday, Saturday, December 27, 28

Pat Mallinger Quartet w/Bill Carrothers @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($15) Saint Paul born and Chicago based, Mallinger makes his annual return to the AQ, bringing pianist Carrothers along with him, as well as Chris Bates on bass and Kenny Horst on drums. Mallinger and Carrothers made an excellent live album entitled Home on Richmond. Expect to hear some things from that as well as other post-bop inspired material. I did an interview with him last year, which you can read here.

Saturday, December 29

Connie Evingson @ The Lexington, Saint Paul. 6:30pm – 10:30pm ($30 minimum) Sophisticated thrush Ms Evingson brings Tanner Taylor (piano) and Dave Karr (reeds) along to serenade diners at the Saint Paul institution. The restaurant’s web site touts the minimum, but you may want to check, as I’ve found that arriving for the later sets hasn’t tripped that trigger.

DownloadedFile-2Peterson Family New Year’s Concert @ Hopkins Center for the Arts, Hopkins. 8pm  ($45) Though it’s been announced that Jeanne Arland Peterson, the Matriarch of the talented Peterson clan, is retiring, she recently recorded album with Grammy Winning producer Bruce Swedien, so there may be another concert or two for the 90-something. This show, however,  will be her last performance with the whole family, which includes Patty, Linda, Billy, Ricky, and Paul, as well as members of the third generation.

New Year’s Eve 

Jon Pemberton Trio @ The Red Stag, Minneapolis 10:30pm (Free) Pemberton is a trumpeter/piano player/composer with serious chops, no matter what his instrument. Ring in the year with him and and have the added bonus of being able to order good cocktails and tasty goodies from the Red Stag’s kitchen.

Fat Kid Wednesdays & Friends @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 6:30pm ($?) Okay, if you want to go whole hog in celebrating, you can go for the Prix Fixe Dinner with wine, beer or whiskey pairings, or you can show up late to ring in the new year, in which case the cover should be relatively small. The music starts and 6pm and includes a number of musicians from the Kid’s wide range of jazz, rock, and rootsy musical projects.

More listings for Twin Cities jazz can be found at KBEM and at Jazz Police. Jazz Police also features jazz commentary as well, as do Bebopified, and Jazz Ink.

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, December 26

The Eddies on KFAI and @ the 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (KFAI) 7p, (331 Club – Tip jar) I’m a big fan of this group, which is unique in the Twin Cities. I mean, where else will you get sea shanties, whaling songs, Appalachian death ballads, and Bob Marley, all delivered by a five-man group, with only an occasional guitar or accordion as accompaniment. Tune in to 90.3 or 106.7FM at about 5pm to hear them live, then head over to the 331 Club for this annual between-holidays gig.

Radio Joe & the Jazzbos @ The Eagles Club, Minneapolis. 8pm ($5) Vintage boogie-woogie, swing tunes, and jump blues. Plus you have a wonderful dance floor and value-priced drinks. Get out the dancing shoes.

Saturday, December 29

Phil Heywood @ Cafe Maude at Loring, Minneapolis. 9pm (no cover) I don’t know what’s in the water here, but over the years a number of finger-pickin’ champions have come from this area, including Heywood, who has a bluesy bent to his playing. The folks at Cafe Maude have put him in regular rotation between the two locations, all the better for us.

The Butanes w/Camile Baudoin @ The Cabooze, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10) The area’s hardest working (and often cited as best) blues band brings along guitarist/vocalist Baudoin, who spent 33 years with New Orleans’ Radiators. Baudoin recently recorded an album of country blues that he grew up with in Louisiana and has been doing some duo gigs with the Butanes Curt Obeda. Even though Christmas has passed, you may be able to get Curt to loosen things up with his version of Back Door Santa.

K-Libre @ The Amsterdam, Saint Paul. 10pm ($10) Calling all salsa dancers, though most are probably already aware of this gig.  K-Libre is an eleven piece band that  keeps the rhythms and the dancers flowing. BTW, this show is being recorded by KBEM for its series, Saint Paul Live!.

DJ Brian Engel @ The 3rd Floor, 579 Selby, Saint Paul. 8pm – 11pm (free) The home of all things chocolate, The Chocolate Chateau, has this sweet little bar up on the third floor (duh!), where you can find chocolate cocktails, chocolate bourbon, dark beers, and a few light dishes. Tonight, you’ll also find DJ Brian (Hipshaker, Hot Pants, Worldwide Discotek) spinning a variety of jazz, soul, and world sounds.

imagesSunday, December 30

Rena Haus @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 10am – 1pm (free) A rootsy, bluesy accompaniment to go with your brunch & bloody marys. Rena is a singer-songwriter of considerable skill, with an ear for (sometimes humorous) detail and a winning way with a guitar.

New Year’s Eve

Paul Mayasich @ Manitou Station, White Bear Lake. 9pm (free) You’ll have to make a reservation if you want dinner (served until 10pm) but otherwise Paul and the RAMM band will be playing for your dancing pleasure, whether you’re on the tiny dance floor, or boogying between tables.

Papa John Kolstad @ Merlin’s Rest, Minneapolis. 8pm (tip jar) Papa John’s sly observations and storytelling, along with some swinging guitars, and top-notch players make this a relaxed, and family-friendly gig. Merlin’s is full of bonhomie, as well as an impressive array of single malt scotch, Irish Whiskey and beer. Make sure you have your ID, though, or you won’t be served adult beverages.

Roe Family Singers & Doug Otto & the Getaways @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis 9pm (tip jar) The Roe Family Singers are a loose congregation of folks that play Quillan Roe’s songs as well as some real old-timey tunes. Doug Otto’s voice is as world-weary as any hard-scrabble farmer’s. You can’t get a more rootsier New Year’s Eve than this one.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the Minnesota Blues Society calendar. For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar.

Summer Days, Summer Nights. Music: 8.1 – 8.7

August 1, 2012

Night Time is the Right Time

Okay, so I guess you can say we’re halfway through the summer. Hope you’ve been having a good one and have been able to attend some of the many outdoor events that we try to squeeze in here in the Twin Cities. If you’ve not gotten out much, don’t despair. There is more to come, including music at a brewery tap room, some neighborhood celebrations, and more festivals. These are just a few of your music options for the coming week.


Wednesday, Thursday, August 1,2

DeFrancesco, Coryell, and Cobb: A Tribute to Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40), 9pm ($25)  The Jimmy Smith/Wes Montgoemery recordings of the 60s set a high bar for organ trios. The music was soulful and highly inventive, yet never lost its groove. Joey DeFrancesco was an acolyte of Smith’s. Coryell has his own clean way with the guitar. Joining them is Jimmy Cobb on drums, the last surviving member of the Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” recording. This is as good as it gets.

Peter Schimke Trio @ Cafe Maude, Minneapolis. 7pm – 10pm (No Cover) Peter is a talented pianist, who can go from swing to latin rhythms at the drop of a beat. Cafe Maude is a neighbohood bistro with inventive food and top-notch cocktails. Tell them you’d like a seat near the music.

Thursday, August 2

Zack Lozier’s Jazz Night @ The Harriet Brewing Tap Room, Minneapolis. 9pm (No cover) The Brewpub on Minnehaha just south of Lake has developed an adventurous booking policy in a short time, with music ranging from jazz to folk to rock, country, and the occasional deejay. Trumpeter-about-town Lozier brings his formidible attack to the Tap Room every month with different sidemen. Tonight it’s Adrian Suarez on drums and Chris Bates on bass. Chris is threatening to break out the electronics.

Friday, August 3

Pat Mallinger Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($15) Born and raised in Saint Paul, and living in Chicago, Mallinger has developed into a powerhouse sax player. He’s toured with the orchestras of Cab Calloway and Artie Shaw, and regularly plays with Kurt Elling. Every week for almost twenty years, he and his band Sabertooth have played  the Green Mill in Chi-town, starting at Midnight and going until the wee hours. I did an interview with him a couple of years ago which you can read here.

Saturday, August 4

Jon Pemberton Trio @ Loring Pasta Bar, Minneapolis. 6pm – 8pm. (No Cover) An early evening show featuring composer/trumpeter/pianist Pemberton. Whether he’s interpreting a Lee Morgan piece on trumpet, or a Monk piece on piano, Pemberton is always lyrical, always melodic.

“Serious” musicians.

Atlantis Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($12) This tight quartet with serious chops has been “laying in the weeds” lately, as guitarist Zacc Harris put it. Well, they’ve all been busy with other projects but have still found the time to work up some new tunes. See what they’re up to with a visit to the AQ.

Tuesday, August 7

Jazz Implosion @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis 9:30 and 11:30pm ($5) JT Bates is doing the curating, and he puts together interesting combinations of players. Sometimes he doesn’t get it done until the last minute. Nevertheless, I can say that whoever he books for Monday night will provide a satisfying take on 21st Century jazz.

A Note: Pamela Espeland has recently stopped publishing a calendar of upcoming jazz events at Bebopified, though she continues her insightful commentary and interviews. The calendar is a mighty effort, and I thank her for her work on it, since I often used the calendar myself. Happily, Jazz Police will take up the slack with a calendar, in addition to continuing their excellent commentary on jazz in the Twin Cities and elsewhere.  Other blogs that feature jazz commentary for the Twin Cities include the aforementioned Bebopified, and Jazz Ink, which also features previews and interviews, in addition to Andrea Canter’s fine photography.

Roots, Blues, Other….

Wednesday, August 1

Hair Club for Cowboys on KFAI and @ the 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm hour (KFAI – 90.3 & 106.7 FM) and 7pm (331 Club) Free. Jay Peterson is back in town for a visit and he’s gathered some friends to play, including Dan Newton on Accordion, Rusty Jones on bass, Dan Gaarder of Trailer Trash on guitar, and Dehl Gallagher on drums. Jay especially likes Western Swing. Listen on KFAI and then head over to the 331 Club.

Friday, August 3

Musicpalooza w/Mary Cutrufello, Crankshaft & the Gear Grinders @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 5pm – Close.  Also including Mary Elias and the Young Relics, and the Jonards. Don’t know about the other acts, but Cutrufello is a powerful singer with a country bent who is in the midst of a Midwest tour with a full band. Crankshaft does raw blues like no one else in the area.

Saturday, August 4

Past Barfest

Red House Barnfest in Red Wing. 1pm -7:30pm ($30 at the gate) Get in the car and head down to Red Wing for a day of folk and roots music. Performers include: Lucy Kaplansky, Bill Staines, Dean Magraw and John Williams, Drew Nelson, Natalia Zukerman, The High 48s, Black Audience, and Jon Rodine. A family friendly event that’s a perfect way to spend a summer day. For more information, including driving directions, go to:

Seward Co-op 40th Anniversary Party @ East River Flats Park, Minnenapolis. Noon to 8pm. (Free) If you’re not up for a drive to Red Wing, you can help celebrate the 40th Anniversary of one of the oldest co-ops in the area, with over 8,000 members. The line-up includes the family-friendly Bunny Clogs, The Brass Messengers, Malamanya, and Willie Murphy and the Angel-Headed Hipsters. Expect food trucks and more. FMI:

Sunday, August 5

Camile Baudoin & Curt Obeda @ Bayport BBQ, Bayport. 2pm ($15) After 33 years as a member of New Orleans’ Radiators, Baudoin has issued a solo country/folk album, Old Bayou Blues, which features songs from his boyhood on the bayou. He now tours with various sidemen, and often pairs with Twin Cities bluesman Curt Obeda (of the Butanes) when he’s in this area. The Bayport BBQ is a cash-only place that serves the real thing – smoked meat that melts in your mouth along with the classic sides for ‘Q. Here’s a video of their March appearance at the Bayport. Curt is taking vocals on this one.

Jake Manders @ Merlins’ Rest, Minneapolis. 4pm – 6pm (No Cover)  Jake is joined by Mikkel Beckman on washboard and percussion and Gretta Hunstiger on vocals and guitar for an afternoon of folky-rootsy music. Bring an ID if you want adult beverages.

Sunday, Monday, August 5,6

Dan Penn @ The Dakota, MInneapolis. 7pm ($35) With his relaxed demeanor, it’s sometimes hard to believe that Penn was responsible for hits like The Letter,  Cry Like a Baby, I’m Your Puppet, Do Right Woman, not to mention, numerous hits for Aretha Franklin, James Carr, Solomon Burke, Percy Sledge Ronnie Milsap, and others. It’s a special night whenever he performs, especially in an intimate, yet elegant setting like The Dakota.

Tuesday, August 7

Ahh, summer at the bandshell

Alison Scott @ The Lake Harriet Bandshell, Minneapolis. 7:30pm. (Free) A talented young pianist/singer performing original, soulful tunes on a beautiful bandshell stage in a park on a lake. Picnic areas close by, sailboats in the background, the occasional plane overhead, and the sound of kids enjoying a swim. This is the summer we love.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the Minnesota Blues Society calendar. For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar.

Pat Mallinger, Saxophonist, Educator

November 20, 2011

Pat Mallinger at Home

Pat Mallinger is a multi-reed virtuoso who is very active in Chicago, playing in various configurations around town and leading the late-night house band at the Green Mill.  In 2000, he and his quartet played the 25th North Sea Jazz Festival in The Netherlands and released a recording of the concert as Moorean Moon.

Mallinger is originally from St. Paul and returns once or twice a year, when he usually plays a gig at the Artists’ Quarter. In July of 2010 he was in town to promote his third CD, Dragon Fish (Chicago Sessions, 2009), an elegant musical conversation between Mallinger and pianist Dan Trudell. He stopped by Rhythm and Grooves on Saturday, July 3rd. We played some cuts off the new album and talked. This is a lightly edited version of that interview, and was originally published in Pamela Espeland’s fine blog, Bebopified. At that time I did not have my own blog.

Now, in November of 2011 he has a new album with his quartet, Home On Richmond, recorded live at the Green Mill. Since he will return to the Artists’ Quarter Friday and Saturday November 25 and 26, I thought I would publish the interview from 2010 here.

LE: You grew up in Saint Paul.
PM: Indeed, I grew up in West Saint Paul and I went to Sibley High School and before that to Grass Junior High, which had a reputation for a fine jazz program.

LE: Was it in junior high that you decided you wanted to become a jazz musician?
PM: Yeah, it was kind of funny. It was about 7th grade. Exactly 7th grade.  I remember I wanted to be a dentist for about a minute, and then the bug hit me and I quickly decided I would switch from being a dentist to being a jazz musician.

LE: You went on to school at North Texas?
PM: Actually, I went to the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire for a year and then transferred down to Denton for North Texas State.

LE: They have a wonderful jazz program there.
PM: At the time, it was the second largest jazz program in the country. It still is pretty large.

LE: You’ve had a career that’s taken you around the world, literally. Sometimes on ships, I understand.
PM: Exactly. Right after school, I jumped on a ship for about a year and played with some great musicians. I went to Boston after that and was with a bunch of friends. They were on the ships together, so we kind of formed a group together and jammed everyday. For about four years I jumped on the Artie Shaw band and the Woody Herman Orchestra and went the road awhile and then moved to Chicago. So I’ve been in Chicago almost 20 years. This November (2010) will be my 20-year anniversary of being in Chicago.

LE: You’re very active in the Chicago scene, with a weekly gig at the Green Mill leading Sabretooth.
PM: Sabretooth has been there for 17 1/2 years. In fact, someone was asking if Sabretooth was taking a break. I said no, Sabretooth doesn’t take a break. In the 17 years we’ve been doing this, we’ve been there each and every Saturday night. We start the late shift at midnight and go to a quarter to 5. 12:30 til quarter to five.

LE: So you sleep in on Sundays.
PM: If I can. My family is pretty helpful with that.

LE: You have a new recording out. It’s a wonderful recording that’s really a duo with Dan Trudell.
PM: I met Dan in my second year at North Texas. He came from Wisconsin as well. Ironically, we were born a day apart, hence the title of the CD, Dragon Fish. Dragon coming from the Chinese calendar for 1964, and Fish because we’re both Pisces. That’s where we got the name.

LE: How did you come to compose and record the CD?
PM: Chicago Sessions, a relatively new label out of Chicago, approached me about a year ago.  Their mission is to record local artists and original music. They asked what I’d like to do, and I thought for a minute about my quartet with Billy Carrothers. I thought there would be some logistic issues with that, so I asked what they thought about a duo recording. I had recently done a couple of duo performances with Dan and a couple of people put that in my ear. They thought it would be a good idea. When I mentioned it to Nick Ipers of Chicago Sessions, he was thrilled with the idea. I call Dan and Dan thought it was a good idea as well, and so Dragon Fish was born.

LE: The idea was to do original music. You came up with some. Did Dan come up with ideas as well?
PM: There are two tunes that Dan and I co-wrote.  “Adventures” is one of the tunes we co-wrote specifically for the album. It’s our tongue-in-cheek rock tune. [Laughs.] If there can be such as thing as a rock tune done as a piano/sax duo.

LE: The way you interact is so seamless, it’s obvious you have been playing together for a long time.
PM: Really continuous since college, North Texas, where we first met in 1984.

LE: How did you go about composing Dragon Fish?
PM: Well, I can pretty much trace all or most of my compositions to, funny enough, airline flights. When I’m flying—I don’t know if it’s the altitude, or if it’s just being contained in one spot for a certain time with nothing to do—I bring a little manuscript sheet with me that fits in my pocket so I can scribble ideas while I’m in-flight. These ideas ultimately turn into tunes. Dragon Fish is one of them.

LE: When you went into the studio, what happened then?
PM: At Chicago Sessions, they want to record new material. When I talked to Dan about tunes, I basically went through my most recent compositions. The ones that haven’t been recorded. Most of these have been written in the last year. So I gave Dan the tunes and he really shedded these tunes for a good month. We got together a few times to rehearse. He put in a lot of time into learning the tunes. I’ve been told they’re not easy tunes to learn. [Laughs.] I can attest to that because I have to improvise over them.

LE: What do you think it is it about your writing that makes them difficult? Are you just attracted to particular chords or particular progressions?
PM: Yeah, that’s probably correct. Maybe my chord choices, or the progressions. It’s hard to say exactly. The tunes don’t seem too difficult to me when I’m at the piano and working out the chords as I finish them up from my notes from the plane. But when you get on the bandstand or we’re rehearsing them, navigating through the chord changes, that’s when I become aware, these aren’t easy tunes.

LE: Do you approach things differently at that time? Does the meter or tempo change?
PM: Not too much. I’m not a huge fan of big meter changes or hard things to navigate when you’re playing melodies.

LE: Do you sometimes wonder what it would be like to play something slow at a faster tempo or vice versa?
PM: On occasion, but most of the time what I come up with on a flight is what I think in my head is what the tempo and feel should be. When I wrote “Just Give It a Chance,” I had in mind a Jobim feel for it. I’m not sure if that’s the way it came out.

LE: You play tenor, alto, and soprano saxes, as well as flute. What are the differences in playing each of the instruments you use?
PM: I approach them differently. I’ve got my influences on tenor, Coltrane and such. Alto, I’ve been influenced by Paul Desmond and Charlie Parker and such. So I approach each instrument slightly differently.

LE: Does the physical difference of each instrument make for differences in fingering?
PM: It does. Each has its own idiosyncracies. That’s probably why a lot of saxophone players prefer to play one or the other. I began as an alto player and picked up tenor in college. Really didn’t play the alto for awhile, but then brought it back into my life. The soprano snuck in there somewhere in college.

LE: Let’s talk about another aspect of your musical life, the Ravinia Jazz Mentor Program.
PM: I’ve been involved with the Ravinia Jazz Mentor program for 17 years now, about as long as I’ve been at the Green Mill. Ravinia started this great program and I was on board since its inception. It was created by Ramsey Lewis. The tradition of jazz education has been imparted through mentorship. For me there was no exception. I was mentored by Brian Grivna here in town, and Eddie Berger was a mentor of mine. Of course, there was my uncle Tommy Bauer, who played with Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller. So, this mentorship program has meant a lot to Chicago public school students. Right now we’re involved in 19 Chicago public high schools.

LE: How does it work?
PM: Basically, we have a mentor on each instrument. Bobby Broom is our guitar mentor, Willie Pickens is our piano mentor. We go into each school and we give performances, clinics, and workshops to each school.  There are two separate aspects to it. We have the scholar program, where we pick the best students out of auditions in October, and rehearse twice a week with them. It’s like a mini jazz camp. Then, at the end of the year, we perform at Ravinia in June with them, and have a big picnic on the lawn. For those who aren’t familiar with it, Ravinia has a big festival on the North Shore of Chicago. We also bring the scholars to jazz camp. We’re going to the Jamey Aebersold jazz camp, so we’ll be bringing them to Kentucky in a couple of weeks.

The other aspect of the program is our in-school visits ,where we give our workshops and reach as many kids as possible and try to teach the about jazz and the love of music.

LE: That sounds like a terrific program, and it’s impressive it’s been going on for so many years.
PM: It’s great that Ravinia continues to support it.

LE: Thank you very much for coming in.
PM: Thank you and your audience.

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