Well there aren’t many visiting artists this week, but there are plenty of interesting gigs in both jazz and blues/roots, which isn’t that surprising, considering what an active music scene we have in the Twin Cites. There are new combinations of artists, special presentations, and even a retirement party for some blues musicians. Not that they’re leaving the blues, but they no longer have to worry about getting up to work after a late night gig. Music lifts the spirit.
Wednesday, January 11
Travis Anderson Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($6) Sometimes, all you need is a bit of swinging music to put some snap in your step. Travis Anderson, piano; Steve Pikal, bass; and Nathan Norman, drums; can do that for you, whether they’re playing jazz standards or putting some swing to Chopin or video game music.
Jimmy Scott Documentary @ Trylon Microcinema, 3258 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10) This 50 seat movie house is screening I Go Back Home, a documentary about the legendary, if under-appreciated Jimmy Scott, a jazz singer without peer. Though he began recording in the 50s, he became a prisoner to a contract that kept him from recording for about 30 years. This film features appearances by Quincy Jones, Joe Pesci, David Sanborn, and others. Check with the Trylon website to see if tickets are still available. Here’s the official trailer.
Chris Bates Presents @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) The ever-busy bassist uses this monthly gig to spotlight one of his several groups, or to bring together new combinations of musicians to see what happens. Tonight Bates is joined by Thomas Nordlund, guitar; JC Sanford on trombone, and possibly his brother JT on drums.
Thursday, January 12
Andrew Walesch Big Band: Songs of Sinatra @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover, but you can reserve a seat in the stage area for $10) Walesch is a talented pianist and vocalist whose clear enunciation, and ability to swing certainly qualifies him as a crooner. His ten piece band features Bob Parsons, arrangements/alto sax; Dave Karr, tenor sax; Bruce Thornton, bari sax; Mark Bobnick and Steve Wagner, trumpets; Dave Graf, trombone; Geoff LeCrone, guitar; Gary Raynor, bass; and Jay Epstein on drums. There’s often a line out the door for this show, so be forewarned that it will pay to get there early. Here’s a bit of what Walesch and the big band can do.
Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) First set is by the Julian Manzara Quartet: Manzara, guitar; Drew Stinson, bass; Levi Schwartzberg, keys; George Randall, drums. Second set by the Aaron Hedenstrom Trio: Hedenstrom, saxes; Kameron Markworth, bass; and Lars Erik-Larson, drums. Here’s Hedenstrom performing all parts for Dolphin Dance.
Friday, January 13
Jeremy Walker, Debbie Duncan Band @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6:30pm (Walker – No Cover), 9pm (Duncan – $10) Another double bill of jazz at VC. Opening the evening is pianist Walker, who is a prolific composer, having written over 70 pieces for the various small bands he leads, as well as a number of commissions and the evening-length work 7 Psalms for jazz combo and choir. Then at 9pm it’s Debbie Duncan, who has been entertaining audiences with her mix of jazz, R&B, and sass for decades.
Doug Haining Presents the Music of Horace Silver @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Back in the 50s pianist Horace Silver was one of the architects of Hard Bop, infusing the improvisational wizardry of bebop with the soulfulness of gospel. The result is now considered mainstream jazz, having outlasted and outgrown a lot of other jazz movements. Tonight, saxophonist Doug Haining is gathering musicians to pay homage to Silver’s music, which includes such jazz standards as: Song for My Father, Sister Sadie, and Señor Blues. Joining Haining are: Steve Kenny, Flumpet; Chris Bates, bass; Mac Santiago, drums.
Saturday, January 14
OUDYANO @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 6pm workshop ($10), 7pm concert ($15, or free with workshop admission) Oudyano is the duo of Issam Rafea, oud; and Steven Hobert, eclectic keyboardist. Rafea, a native of Syria, and Hobert, of Minneapolis, have discovered a deep musical connection that’s immediately apparent when they play. Those who have heard Hobert in different settings know that he’s always a sensitive improviser, and with Rafea, he has found a musical partner that shares that sensitivity. Their music explores all the potential that’s inherent in the pairing of Arabic classical tradition with American jazz & roots. The resulting music is delightful, and if there are any political overtones to their work, it is simply the desire for peace.
Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 8:30pm (Tip Jar) There is no opening act tonight, so the Solomon Parham Quintet will perform starting at 8:30, with a stellar line-up of musicians, including: Parham, trumpet; Eric Kamau Gravatt, drums; Dean Magraw, guitar; Chris Bates, bass; Dave Graf, trombone.
Monday, January 16
Paul McCandles & Charged Particles @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) Back in the late 70s and early 80s, multi-instrumentalist/reed player Paul McCandles was a member of the original Paul Winter Consort and Oregon, both of which melded classical, jazz, and world music. McCandles still performs with Oregon, though he’s also managed a solo career, performing and recording with such stellar musicians as Jaco Pastorious, Wynton Marsalis, Steve Reich, Bruce Hornsby, the String Cheese Incident, and Bela Fleck.
Very Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) I may have missed it, but I’ve not seen this group listed before in any of the dozens of websites I check each week. They’re described as “an instrumental jazz, funk and pop trio” consisting of Andrew Frederick, guitar; Keith Yanes, bass; and Jared Mondlock, drums.
Monday, January 17
Butch Thompson @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm Solo on Monday ($12, $37 w/Dinner). This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first commercial jazz recording, so its only appropriate that the Dunsmore Room features Thompson, a pianist/historian, known for his elegant playing of early jazz pieces. This is the first of two nights at the Dunsmore Room for Thompson, who will be joined by Pat Donohue on Tuesday night. (See listing under Blues and Roots, below)
Blues, Roots, Other…
Wednesday, January 11
Mikkel’s Birthday Party featuring Jeff Ray on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Slide guitar master Jeff Ray has released 6 CDs and has made fans throughout North America andEurope. Tonight he’s joined by percussionist Mikkel Beckmen, who happens to be celebrating a birthday. Using just a djembe drum and washboard, Beckmen has managed to become a percussionist about town for a number of blues and roots performers, and as a result, is a frequent visitor to Harold’s House Party. Expect some of his many musical friends to be on hand at the 331, and, as he often does, host Harold Tremblay to sit in on harp for a few numbers.
Jaedyn James & the Hunger @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10) This energetic, enthusiastic funk n’ soul band will turn the Dakota into party central. Vocalist Jaedyn James has a powerful voice and commanding stage presence, both of which are enhanced by the 8-piece horn band and two vocalists who provide the backing.
Dean Magraw & Dan Newton, w/guest Pat Donohue @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 8pm ($6) Guitarist Magraw and accordionist Newton could easily be placed under jazz listings, but the Aster’s website says this as a folk show, and the appearance of guitarist Pat Donohue certainly steers it in that direction. All three are master musicians, so no matter what they play, it will be inspiring and entertaining.
Friday, January 13
Armadillo Jump @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 6pm – 10pm ($??) The blues and R&B of the five-piece Armadillo Jump never fails to bring dancers to the floor. They’re a favorite at Wilebski’s and other watering holes in the area.
Captain Gravitone & the String Theory Orchestra @ Dulono’s, Minneapolis. 8pm (No Cover) This Mankato-based sextet plays a combination of acoustic rock, gypsy jazz, tangos, and roots music, led by banjoist (is that the correct term?) Eli Hoehn, with a sure sense of both theater and a sense of humor.
Americana Showcase @ Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($6) Not only is it Friday the 13th, but it’s a Full Moon tonight as well, so the Hook & Ladder has put together a quartet of roots music groups sure to make the evening memorable. They’ve got bluesman Bernie King & The Guilty Pleasures, the world-weary vocals and deft playing of Doug Otto & The Getaways, singer/songwriter of old-timey sounding music of Jake Manders (of Pistol Whippin’ Party Penguins), and those bluegrass funsters, the all female Beavers.
New Feral Cats @ The Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) This is the debut performance of this new group, which has arisen from the breakup of Sweet Tea. The New Feral Cats are a soulful blues outfit that includes veteran players with sterling music resumes, that include years with a variety of bands from across the musical specturm. Singer Sonna Olson sings with passion and grit.
Calientando El Bloque @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10 Advance/$12 Door) This celebration of Afro-Latin rhythms will feature singer/songwriter/hip-hop artist Maria Isa, and Joga Bola, a new Brazilian project led by guitarist/songwriter Adam Levy, featuring Mina Moore and Karen Quiroz, vocals; Lucia Sarmiento, saxophone; Andrew Gillespie, percussion; Tim O’Keefe, reeds; Jeff Bailey, bass; and Charlie Peterson, keys Their sound is inspired by 1960’s & 1970’s samba, funk, soul, and psychedelia from Brazil.
Friday, Saturday, January 13, 14
Radiate! @ The Sheldon Theater, 443 West 3rd Street, Red Wing. 7:30pm ($18 – $30) It’s worth the hour or so it takes to drive to Red Wing simply to see the interior of the Sheldon Theater, a beautifully restored gem of architectural flourishes, ceiling paintings, and delicate plaster sculptures. It’s doubly worth it to see this unique show, described thusly by the New York Times, “RADIATE glows..making it hard to resist this sequined earth-mother’s soulful embrace.” It’s been a critic’s pick in the NY Times, Time Out New York, The New Yorker, and Time Out Chicago. The show itself is a musical about a mythical R&B expatriate diva, Jomama Jones, who returns to the states determined to awaken the ability in everyone to regenerate ourselves. Besides Jones, the production features a band and backup singers, as well as Red Wing High School’s Ovation Choir and the Red Wing Singers. The show’s creator Daniel Alexancer Jones, who performs as Jomama Jones, is a former member of Saint Paul’s Penumbra Theater.
Saturday, January 14
Westside Band Tribute to Earth Wind & Fire @ The Parkway Theater, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($25, $30 Advance, $35, $40 Door) During the 50s and 80s, EWF ruled the charts with their stunning R&B, selling hundreds of millions of albums, being inducted into the RnR Hall of Fame and eventually being one of the first bands to play at the Obama Whitehouse. With the passing of EWF founder Maurice White this year, Junior Trejo, leader of our own legendary band Westside, is gathering the band and some friends for this tribute to EWF and their positive message of hope and spirituality.
The Gated Community & the Skruffians @ Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Never mind that it’s the middle of January, the Skruffians will heat things up with the smoking’ sounds of classic ska from the 60s. The instrumental septet take their musical inspiration from the Skatalites, the band that backed The Wailers and other Jamaican groups. Then, at 10pm, a different kind of heat erupts from The Gated Community, an Americana septet that mixes country and bluegrass with a bit of rock. They recently released Country Hymn, their third album since coming together in 2006.
Sunday, January 15
Blues Retirement Party @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 1pm ($10) Though vocalist/bandleader Dee Miller has been retired for a while, she’s finally getting round to celebrating, and is doing so with a few other friends – Boom Boom Stevie Vonderhaar, Deb Frey, and Chris Bauer – who are now free to rest and/or do the things they enjoy. Of course, Dee Miller enjoys singing, so she and her band will be playing, with special guest harpist Vonderharr. They’ve also got the classic R&B of Who Nu on the bill, a band that Miller often sits in with. There will be a complimentary buffet, along with wine & keg beer during a 2pm – 4pm Happy Hour. Here’s an example of Vonderhaar at work.
Javier Matos @ The Como Park Conservatory, Saint Paul. 4:30 – 6:30pm. I mentioned Javier’s gig at Palmers last week, but this is such a different venue (and time) that it’s worth noting. Matos, an excellent slide guitarist and blues vocalist, will be performing in the Conservatory’s fabulous Sunken Garden. Though the Sunken Garden has few places to sit, the music will also be piped in to the Palm Dome and the North Garden. So… give your skin a break and take in the humid air of the Conservatory while hearing some great music. BTW, Beer and wine will be available to purchase.
Tuesday, January 18
Butch Thompson and Pat Donohue @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15, $40w/Dinner). Pianist Butch Thompson was solo on Monday night. Tonight he’s joined by guitarist Pat Donohue for an evening of classic blues, as found on their excellent album Vicksburg Blues. Don’t be surprised if Donohue sings a few songs and Thompson breaks out his clarinet.