Or to put it more humorously and inclusively, Happy Chriskwanzacuh – and don’t forget the celebration of Winter Solstice, since we can look forward to increasing daytime light after Thursday. This is a time of year when a number of faiths and cultures have special celebrations, and if you don’t practice those faiths, you can nevertheless appreciate and even enjoy some of their traditions (including setting up toy trains). You still have the opportunity to hear great music throughout our area, though admittedly, you might have to settle for watching Netflix and getting Chinese takeout on December 25. Besides a couple of holiday shows, we can choose from the last appearance in town by the original Bad Plus, a couple of dance-oriented bands, and some roots music. Whatever your traditions at this time of year, enjoy the season, and remember, music lifts the spirit
Wednesday, Dec 20
Chris Lomheim Quintet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/valid student ID) Pianist Chris Lomheim gathers Adam Rossmiller, trumpet; Pete Whitman, sax; Graydon Peterson, bass; and Dave Schmalenberger, drums; for an evening of swinging tunes and subtle ballads. Here is what Lomheim sound like in a trio setting.
Fuzzy Math @ The Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 10pm (Free) Original eclectic jazz and creative covers from pianist/composer Mark Vandermyde, with Jason Parvey, sax; Matt Peterson, bass; and Harald Bondaris, drums.
Wednesday, Dec 20 – Saturday, Dec 23
The Bad Plus @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45), 9pm ($40) Since the turn of this century, Ethan Iverson, piano; Reid Kennedy, bass; and Dave King, drums; have been making annual visits to the Dakota to present their iconoclastic jazz, reimagining rock hits and jazz standards while creating songs that are often as quirky as their titles (i.e., 1979 Semi Finalist, Epistolary Echoes). This is the last gig featuring pianist Iverson, who is leaving the group after their New Year’s Eve appearance at the Village Vanguard. His droll wit will be missed, but he’ll be ably replaced by Orrin Evans. Stay tuned….
Thursday, Dec 21
Holiday Piano Bar @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/valid student ID) The “Piano Bar” isn’t really such, since Jazz Central isn’t a bar. Nevertheless curator Sarah M. Greer describes the evening as part open mic, part jam session, and part caroling singalong. Ms Greer will host the evening, aided by pianist Jon de Vall. Bring instruments, charts, your lyric sheets and requests.
Belle Amour Holiday Show @ Vieux Carré Saint Paul. 8pm ($8) Looking at their website, it appears that this four-piece group – vocalist, keys, bass, drums – seems to specialize in wedding and corporate gigs. It appears that Graydon Peterson is on bass, though I don’t recognize the other performers. Listening to their songs reveals a tight, jumping outfit that plays vintage jazz, including songs from Bessie Smith, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, The Andrew Sisters, and other performers from the 1930s and 40s. Their music is bright, breezy, and fun.
Aerosol Pike @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Acoustic-based spontaneous composition from Philip Mann, Ryan Reber, and Rick Ness on horns (and other instruments?).
Friday, Dec 22
Peter Schimke Trio @ The Lexington, Saint Paul. 7pm (No Cover) The Lexington’s Williamsburg Room can be a bit noisy to fully appreciate the playing of pianist Schimke, who always has A-list players with him. Just sit close, enjoy a cocktail, and relax after doing your holiday shopping.
John Raymond’s Standards Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/valid student ID) Minneapolis native Raymond is a trumpeter/flugelhorn player who was called a “Rising Star” by no less than DownBeat Magazine. His four albums have all been well received by the NY Times, Downbeat, and Jazz Times. He’s currently Professor of Trumpet at Indiana University. His trip home provides us with a chance to hear him, accompanied by Graydon Peterson, bass; and Phil Hey, drums. Here he is with his New York group.
Saturday, Dec 23
Bill Carrothers @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 6:30pm ($15, $20) Carrothers, a pianist whose imagination is always inventive and far-ranging, seems to have fallen in love with the Dunsmore Room, as the Saint Paul native makes the trip from Michigan quite frequently to appear in various groups. He’s recorded 26 albums as a leader and has appeared as a sideman with a wide range of jazzers including Buddy DeFranco, Dave Douglas, Curtis Fuller, Billy Higgins, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Konitz, Dewey Redmanm, Toots Thielman, and more. He’ll be appearing solo to play on the 9-foot Steinway at the intimate listening room.
Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Guitarist Cole Mahlum opens at 7pm, leading his own group. At 8:30pm bassist Ted Olsen appears with frequent collaborators Javi Santiago on piano; Miguel Hurtado, drums; and saxophonist Aaron Hedenstrom.
Sunday, Monday, Dec 24, 25
Merry Christmas! Enjoy a technicolor Christmas at the movies, or a Chinese meal for those who don’t practice the Christian faith.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Dec 26, 27
Connie Evingson: Holiday @ Dunsmore Lodge, Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7:30pm ($22) With its view of a snow-covered lake, the Dunsmore will easily bring to mind a cozy country lodge as Ms Evingson, of the cool, yet sultry voice, celebrates the season, accompanied by Mary Louise Knutson, piano; Dave Karr, sax & flute; and Gordy Johnson, bass. Here’s a cut from her gorgeous Christmas album.
Blues, Roots, Other…
Wednesday, Dec 20
Ben Eaton on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Roots/Americana songwriter/guitarist Eaton is a native of Des Moines who now lives in Minneapolis. He’s working on a 5-song EP with drummer Dwight Dario, who used to live around here, and Matt Woods. Tonight he’ll have a 4-piece band with him, featuring guitarist/drummer Jeremy Johnson.
Thursday, Dec 21
Draper-Beckmen-Kiesling @ The Dubliner Pub & Cafe, Saint Paul. 5pm – 7pm (Tip Jar) The Twin Cities hardest-working washboard player teams up with bassist-around-town Liz Draper and Adam Kielsing (of Pert Near Sandstone) to play old-time music, country blues, early jazz, and maybe a holiday tune or two for your happy hour pleasure.
Friday, Dec 22
Steve Clarke & The Working Stiffs @ Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm ($5?, $10?) Blues, swing, jump, jive, & jazz for dancing in the Ernie Mattson Ballroom at the commodious Eagles Club.
Nikki & the Ruemates @ Dusty’s Bar, NE Minneapolis. 9:45pm (Tip Jar) Though Dusty’s is under new ownership, they remain committed to providing the rootsy groups that have been appearing there for years. Example number 1: Nikki & the Rue-mates, whose folk-blue-rock has long been a Dusty’s favorite, often packing the place while they play in the “big green booth.” Nikki’s clarion voice and Rich Rue’s terrific fretwork are always a treat, with the added delight of guitarist Dean Mikkelson often sitting in to accompany Nikki on a jazz standard or two.
Saturday, Dec 23
Steeling Dan @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10) You say you want to hear some heady, sometimes inscrutable lyrics, performed with cool, jazzy pop? Then this Steely Dan Tribute Band may deliver just what you need.
Joyann Parker Band @ Crooners’ Lounge and Supper Club, Fridley. 8pm (No cover, but $10 guaranteed seat) Vocalist/pianist/guitarist Parker has a powerful blues and R&B voice that’s just right for the Pre-Christmas Saturday night crowd at Crooners. She’s been making her mark on the Twin Cities Blues scene for the last few years, and represented Minnesota in the 2015 International Blues Challenge. Her 2015 album, On the Rocks, was named Best Self-Produced Album by the MN Blues Society.
Sunday, Dec 24
Enjoy Christmas Eve!
Monday, Dec 25
Christmas With Robert Robinson @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25, $35) Get your gospel groove on with the highly popular and one-of-a-kind Robinson, who gets rave reviews wherever he appears. Some examples: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinal called him “a volcanic talent,” while the Salt Lake City Desert New called his performance “glorious,” and the Star Tribune described him as a “soaring presence.”
Tuesday, Dec 26
Willie West @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($12) Louisiana-born Willie West is a classic soul singer who recorded for Allen Toussaint with the score for the blaxploiotation film Black Samson, and later worked with The Meters in the late 70s and early 80s. He then worked all over Bourbon Street until Hurricane Katrina, after which he moved to Saint Cloud, where he currently lives. In the last few years he’s recorded with some Finnish funk/soul groups (see video), and still has the vocal prowess and emotional power that makes a soul singer a soul singer.