Well, the holidays are certainly upon us as there are special performances throughout the week. I’ve listed seven, and I’m sure you can find many more. Along with holiday specials are a few unique performances from both visiting and resident artists that are worth your while. Of course, there is the whole finding time conundrum, which is especially difficult for many this time of year. At any rate, have a good week, and if you’re overwhelmed, remember, live music can lift the spirit.
Wednesday, December 18
Radio Joe & the Jazzbos @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm ($5) Joe leads his group through swinging love songs, some jump blues, and a few holiday favorites for those of you who like dancing with your jazz.
Snowblind w/Dave Hagedorn @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Since its inception in 2005, Snowblind has become a formidable ensemble of relatively young players, in part because they rehearse so much, and in part because the AQ has provided them with regular gigs. Tonight they join forces with vibist Dave Hagedorn to perform the music of Dave Holland. Members of the group include: Adam Rossmiller, trumpet; Scott Agster, trombone; Shilad Sen, tenor; Graydon Peterson, bass; Reid Kennedy, drums. Should be a memorable evening.
Thursday, December 19
Larry McDonough CD Release @ The Artists’ Quarter. 9pm ($5) Pianist McDonough has gathered some of his favorite holiday songs in a new CD entitled, “Angels, Kings, and My Favorite Things.” He uses a variety of band formats, as well as odd time signatures and always interesting harmonies to have the listener hear such songs as My Favorite Things, and Scarborough Fair with new ears. Here he is with a quartet.
George Maurer’s Big Band @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($15) Pianist/composer/producer Maurer brings 14 other musicians with him to play some music for the holidays.
Friday, December 20
Vicky Mountain @ Parma 8200, Bloomington. 7:30 – 10pm (No Cover) Though some readers may equate going to Bloomington with a road trip, it is definitely worthwhile to hear Vicky sing, made all the better by the fact that she’ll be accompanied by Chris Lomheim on piano and Matt Peterson on bass.
Heather Masse – Red House Live! @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. 7:00pm ($15) Masse isn’t necessarily known as a jazz singer. After all, she was part of the Wailing Jennys, a folk duo that made the Billboard charts. However, she grew up listening to the Great American Songbook (her mom was a pianist), and a collaboration with pianist Dick Hyman on Prairie Home Companion led to the two of them recording the CD “Lock My Heart,” which has been well received in the jazz press, thanks in large part to her warm voice. She’ll be performing songs from the album, and perhaps a holiday chestnut or two. BTW, I’ll be hosting. Here she is doing a song that is definitely not of this season.
Young Beasts @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm (Donation) Jazz is definitely not dead. It’s alive and well. The proof? This evening of music from three high school and college combos: The Farmington Quintessential Quintet; The Eau Claire Ice Bergh Combo; and The Will Kjeer Combo. Stick around for the jam that takes place during the second set.
Friday, Saturday, December 20, 21
Eric Alexander & David Hazeltine @ the Artists’ Quarter, 9pm ($20) A couple of NYC stalwarts of the AQ return for one more performance before owner Kenny Horst calls it quits. Alexander has a big-toned, meaty sound on the sax and is a standard bearer for hard bop and post-bop jazz. Hazeltine‘s piano is a perfect match, as shown on a number of collaborations. They’ll be joined by Billy Peterson on bass and Kenny Horst on drums. Here’s an example of their playing from a few years ago.
Saturday, December 21
Let It Snow: Maud Hixson, the Wolverines Trio, & Dave Karr @ Bloomington Center for the Arts, 1800 West Old Shakopee Road, Bloomington. 7:30pm ($25) Maud, the Wolverines, and Dave visit classic carols and songs from vintage films, with the special help of film clips from the collection of Bob DeFlores.
Sunday, December 22
Doug Little Quartet @ Eat Street Social, Minneapolis. 8pm – 10:30pm (No Cover) A great way to end the weekend. Little is a reed player of immense talent, with a predilection for Latin rhythms. Listen while partaking of the room’s special cocktails.
Sunday, Monday, December 22, 23
Karrin Allyson’s Yuletide Hideaway @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm, 9pm ($35) Ms Allyson has long had a large contingent of fans from the area, since she spent some of her formative singing years here. She has a warm voice and cool delivery, which she uses with equal aplomb on bossa novas, blues, and bop. The Wall Street Journal, in describing her newest, Yuletide Hideaway, said, “Even “Winter Wonderland” and “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” seem darker and moodier than ever before.” I’ll be doing a phone interview with her Saturday morning.
Monday, December 23
Jake Baldwin vs. B3 Organ @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm (Donation) Baldwin is a young trumpet player who has been making his mark around town in a number of group settings. Tonight promises a new adventure, as he is joined by two of the guiding lights of Jazz Central, Tanner Taylor on Hammond B3 (!) and Mac Santiago on drums.
Blues, Roots, Other…
Wednesday, December 18
Jeff Ray & the Stakes on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (KFAI – 90.3 & 106.7FM) an 7pm – 9pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Ray is a guitarist who can put a new spin on old traditions, whether playing a Chicago-style blues, Bob Dylan, or the Grateful Dead. He’ll be accompanied by Nick Salisbury, bass; Mikkel Beckman, percussion, and Hurricane Harold, harmonica.
Thursday, December 19
Louisiana Rhythms Christmas Party @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 7:30 ($? – probably $5, but maybe more) Okay, lots of Cajun, Zydeco, and New Orlean’s bands play the Eagles Club on Mondays and Thursdays. Louisiana Rhythms’ host Karl Smelker is gathering many of them to play Christmas tunes as well as other favorites. Of special note, Adam Kiesling of Pert Near Sandstone, Corpse Reviver, and the Tune Jerks among others, will do a reading of Christmas Eve on the Big Bayou.
Holiday Rhapsody @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. 7pm (Free, but donations are welcome) Now for something completely different. This is a concert of two piano duets, featuring classical favorites such as An American in Paris, Rhapsody in Blue, the Nutcracker Suite, and Russian Rhapsody, all performed on two grand pianos. Featured artists are Denis Evstuhin, Anton Melnichenko & Ivan Konev, with special guests, The Partners in Praise Girls Choir and Soloists from the Academy of Russian Ballet.
Johnny Rawls @ The Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 7pm – 10pm ($10?) Rawls is a journeyman soul singer who deserves wider recognition. He knows how to work the crowd, teasing the ladies, getting the men to dance and altogether delivering a soul-satisfying show. No wonder: he’s played for ZZ Hill and Joe Tex, and led the bands of OV Wright and Little Johnny Taylor before going solo.
Bethany Larson & the Bees Knees and Alicia Kay & the Changeups @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. ($6) Larson, with her sweet voice, bittersweet country-ish lyrics, and highly supportive band, opens at 9pm sharp. The Changeups are scheduled at 10pm playing Americans with country and rock overtones. Reservations are always a good idea at this cozy spot overlooking the river and downtown.
Friday, December 20
Winter Soulstice: Black Market Brass @ The Nomad, Minneapolis. 9pm (Free) It’s the shortest night of the year, and time for a soulful evening of music featuring: soul revivalists Black Diet; the Grolar Bears, large band film scorers; and Afrobeat champs Black Market Brass Between set music provide by DJ Rambo Salinas.
Steve Clarke & Blue Book @ Thunder Valley Bar & Grille, 3809 Highway 13 West, Burnsville. Swinging saxophonist Clarke has a new band, at least for tonight, and he’s invited a number of musicians to sit in, including Maurice Jacox. So, without knowing any more than the fact that Clarke is leading the band and Jacox will be singing, you have more than enough reasons to venture to Burnsville.
Saturday, December 21
Brunch with the Rena Haus Trio @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 10am – 1pm (Free) You’ve got tasty food, tasty libations, and the ever-so-tasty country blues of Ms Haus, singing about chickens, mechanics, and fools in power.
Hotpants 45RPM Record Party @ The Nomad, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Get out those dancing shoes to celebrate the fact that days are gonna get longer. Deejays Brian Engel and Ben Mena party down with rare 45s, all of which will give you that itchy twitchy feeling.