Hard to believe we’re approaching the middle of December and we haven’t been hit with either a major snowstorm or temps below 20 degrees. Not to complain, however, since such weather makes it easier to get out and about – we don’t need to plan for an extra 20 minutes just to get properly dressed. At any rate, we have some great music in store for this week, including a long awaited reunion of Rio Nido, a couple of outstanding visiting artists, and some more holiday celebrations. It’s all good. Music lifts the spirit.
Wednesday, December 9
Gary LaRue Quartet @ Mancini’s, Saint Paul. 7pm – 10pm (No Cover) LaRue and his Rat Pack Band (a trio) will perform songs by Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, and others of that era and time. Throw in the layout and atmosphere of Mancini’s bar, and it shouldn’t be hard to feel transported to a lounge in on the Jersey Turnpike during the 60s.
Framework @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Chris Olson, guitar; Chris Bates, bass; and Jay Epstein, drums; are three veteran musicians with a vast wealth of experience between them. They mesh well as a unit, to create swirling sounds that range from Americana-like swing to aural soundscapes.
Wednesday, Thursday, December 9, 10
Ramsey Lewis: The Sound of Christmas @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40, $50), 9pm ($30, $40) With over 80 albums and three Grammys to his credit, pianist/composer Lewis knows how to connect with an audience. He’ll be applying his sprightly, swinging style to tunes of the season for this appearance.
Thursday, December 10
Vicky Mountain Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30 – 9:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Mountain has a fairly extensive performing resume that includes touring South America with a show band many years ago. Nowadays, she’s a vocal teacher at MacPhail Center for Music and occasionally gets lets her talent shine on stage, where she sings originals as well as her own arrangements of hip pop tunes and standards. Tonight she’s accompanied by Chris Lomheim, piano; and Jim Chenoweth, bass. Here’s a video of her singing at a house concert.
Adam Meckler Orchestra @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Trumpeter Meckler brings his 16 piece big band to the basement boîte. His compositions and arrangements take full advantage of the colors and palettes of the group’s instruments, as you can see and hear in this video.
Friday, December 11
Rio Nido @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35), 9pm ($25) Perhaps you got to see the article about this group in Sunday’s Star Tribune. It’s been 35 years since they performed together at a commercial venue, and many folks are eagerly awaiting the return of this swinging trio. Back then, their tight harmonies on tunes from the thirties and forties provided a refreshing break from the Blues, Punk, R&B, and cover bands that were sprouting all over the Twin Cities. Here’s an example of why they had such great appeal.
Bill Simenson Quintet @ The Nicollet Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Simenson, on trumpet, leads a big band in town. He’ll be joined by a talented mix of the areas best: Nathan Hanson, sax; David Martin, guitar; Chris Bates, bass; JT Bates, drums. Preceded at 7pm by the Mac Wilms Quartet, a group of secondary students appearing as part of the monthly JazzInk Youth Showcase.
Andrew Walesch Big Band: Frank Sinatra Centennial @ Crooners Lounge and Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) Lines were out the door last time Walesch presented his Frank Sinatra show at Crooners. Since today is the Centennial anniversary of Sinatra’s birth, I suspect the demand will be even greater, so be forewarned if you want a seat.
Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Steve Kenny continues to find both upcoming and veteran bands to play each Saturday night. Opening set by the Cadenza All Stars. At 8:30 it’s the King/Fletcher/Woods CD Release, with Jeff King, saxes; Charles Fletcher, bass; and Eron Woods, drums.
Peter Kogan Quartet @Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) The tympanist from the Minnesota Orchestra takes out a smaller set of drums and is joined by Brian Grivna, sax and woodwinds; Phil Aaron, piano; and Anthony Cox, bass; to play songs from both Cornucopia and his latest, Some Monsterful Wonderthing. If you scroll down past this post, you’ll find a short review of the new album. Here’s one track from the album.
Sunday, December 13
Fuzzy Math CD Release @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 7pm ($7) Mark Vandermyde, keys; Eric Graham, bass; Andrew Schwandt, sax; and Haralds Bondaris, drums; celebrate the release of their second album, Pass the Guacamole. Their first, released in 2012, resulted in the band being named, “best jazz band for people who don’t like jazz,” or something to that effect.
Monday, December 14
George Cartwright’s PAL @ Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($8) Drummer JT Bates has been exploring the use of electronics as part of his performing, which may be one of the reasons saxophonist George Cartwright, who is quite adventurous himself, tapped him for this group. They’ll be joined by Andrew Broder, guitar; and Josh Granowski, bass; for an evening of thrilling music.
Monday, Tuesday, December 14, 15
New York Voices @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40, $45), 9pm ($35, $40) This vocal quartet as been around for about 27 years now, and, with close harmonies and tight arrangements, seamlessly blend jazz, R&B, Brazilian, and classical sounds into their repertoire. Check out this acapella version of a Beatle’s song.
Tuesday, December 15
Katia’s Holiday Special @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 8pm ($5) Here’s a chance to get some holiday cheer without attending a large hall. Katia Cardenas has the pipes to get over an R&B tune, but also has the instincts and subtlety to handle jazz standards. Tonight she’ll tackle some seasonal favorites as well.
For a comprehensive listing of Jazz go to the Twin Cities Live Jazz Calendar. KBEM provides a calendar of jazz and roots music. For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz, check out the blogs, Jazz Police, Jazz Ink, and Bebopified.
Blues, Roots, Other…
Wednesday, December 9
The RAMM Band on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 and 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Twin Cities guitar hero Paul Mayasich leads this trio (Hye Pockets, drums; & John Iden, bass) through a program of R&B, Funk, and rock n’ roll.
Thursday, December 10
Mikkel Beckmen with Pop Wagner @ The Dubliner, Saint Paul. 5pm – 7pm (Tip Jar) Wind down from work and prepare for the weekend with Beckmen’s weekly residency, this week featuring the esteemed Pop Wagne on vocals, guitar, fiddle, and perhaps a lasso trick or two. Whether he’s singing cowboy songs, forgotten tin pan alley gems of the 30s and 40s, or telling stories, Wagner will set your toes to tapping and tickle a funny bone or two.
Samba Meu and Snap Frost! @ The Nicollet Cafe, Minneapolis. 7pm – 9pm (Tip Jar) Acoustic Brazilian roots and pop music, performed by Karen Quiroz, vocals; David Martin, guitar; Tim O’Keefe, percussion, and special guest Pat O’Keefe, clarinet. There will be an intermission set by SnapFrost!, the sisterhood of the shakere, the dried gourd with beads that helps create unrelenting rhythms.
Friday, December 11
Hurricane Harold’s All-Star Blues Revue Holiday Part @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 6pm – 10pm ($?) Harold Tremblay’s harp playing is so sharp he has no problem recruiting players for his All Star Blues Revue. Tonight he’ll be joined by Keith Boyles, bass; Bruce McCabe, piano; Doug Otto and Mark “Good Time Willy” Williams, gutars; and Allen “Captain” Kirk on drums. Besides celebrating the holidays, this show will be recorded for future release, so a noisy crowd is a welcome crowd. Here’s Harold with another version of the All-Stars.
Jack Knife & the Sharps @ Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 9pm (No Cover) Rockabilly, roots, and a bit of Western sound from a trio that’s been around in various groupings for a long, long time. Check out this example of their work.
Saturday, December 12
The Fattenin’ Frogs @ Bayport BBQ, Bayport. 8pm ($10) This sextet performs roots music – the stuff you would hear in juke joints, tent revivals, and medicine shows of years past years, upping the energy by using electrified instruments. The Bayport will soon be ending its presentation of music, so here’s one of your last chances to chow down on some mighty fine ‘Q while listening to live music.
JT Bates’ Grain Trio @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7pm ($15) The Jazz at Studio Z Series has started up once again. Since tonight’s group is an organ trio playing the genre’s hits from the 60s, I thought to put it under blues and roots. Tonight, drummer JT Bates Zacc Harris, guitar; and Kevin Gastonguay, organ; to the stately listening room. As usual, there’s a workshop at 6pm, followed by the group’s performance at 7pm.
Sunday, December 13
Charanga Tropical @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 3pm (No Cover) Charanga Tropical was the first American band to play at the Danzon Festival in Havana, held biannually in June, and also recorded in the fames EGREM studios while there. Look for the resulting album in early 2016. In the meantime, hear them live this afternoon.
Phil Heywood @ The Dubliner, Saint Paul. 5pm (Tip Jar) With its wooden chairs and tables, The Dubliner is about a comfy a neighborhood bar as you can find, even if it is located along the Green Line LRT on University Avenue. It’s a perfect place to listen to the relaxed, warm vocals and mighty fine finger-picking of guitarist Heywood.
Marcia Ball @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 6pm ($40) Rollicking swamp pop, Texas blues, and second line rhythms from the always entertaining Ms Ball Whether singing about doomed relationships, life on the Mississippi, or backyard barbecues, Ms Ball delivers party music, plain and simple. While on her website, check out Marcia’s recipe for emergency chicken gumbo.
Monday, December 14
Doug Otto & Friends, featuring Nikki Roux and Rich Rue @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 10pm (Tip Jar) Admittedly, these are two of my favorite roots acts. Otto is an often mournful, evocative singer, while Nikki’s vocals are sprightly. All three are strong guitar players.