Happy New Year! 12.27 – 1.2

December 27, 2017

I think I can safely say that most of us are looking forward to putting 2017 behind us. What with hurricanes, mass shootings, wildfires, “taking a knee,” sex abuse scandals, a political climate that could be called tumultuous at best, and locally, the unexpected closing of MacNally Smith Music College, we’re ready to start anew.

On a personal and positive note, my year was upended when I was diagnosed with significant health issues. Thankfully, I have responded very well, thanks to some excellent health professionals and, I believe, the good thoughts, vibes and prayers of family and a supportive community, including readers such as yourself. Thank you.

Another positive thing about the last year is the great talent that has performed in our Twin Cities, from both resident and visiting artists. We’re lucky to have a vital music scene, with high schools and regional colleges producing talented musicians to join a bevy of highly respected veterans. Evidence of emerging talent will be on display this week as a number of young jazz musicians are home on vacation and lining up to play. Roots and Blues groups continue to percolate up with brand new younger groups and realignments of veterans. Now… we’re in for a cold spell, but as hardy Minnesotans, I know that many of you will layer on the clothes and brave the weather to enjoy and support the talent in town. Here are some ideas for music that will lift your spirit.

Larry

Jazz

Wednesday, Dec 27

Will Kjeer Trio @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 8pm ($6) Talented pianist Will Kjeer is on a Christmas break from school in California, and will be joined by his uncle Kenny Horst on drums, and Billy Peterson on bass. Kjeer was already playing professionally while in high school, and since going to college has performed as a leader and sideman in Washington DC, Montreal; and at the fabled Lighthouse Cafe in Los Angeles. He is also a member of Steve Kenny’s Group 47. Tonight is truly a cross-generational meeting of musical minds. Arrive early to catch pianist Kevin Gastonguay from 6 – 7:30 (No cover)

Rio Nido @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35), 9pm ($25) Tim Sparks, Prudence Johnson, and Tom Lieberman create wonderful three-part harmonies on tunes from the 30s and 40s, as well as on their original compositions. They are just as beloved today as they were back in the 70s and 80s.

Connie Evingson: Holiday @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7:30pm ($22) It’s not hard to think you’re in a cozy country lodge as you take in the Dunsmore’s view of a snow-covered lake during. Ms Evingson’s cool, yet sultry voice celebrates the season, as she did on The Secret of Christmas, her wonderful Christmas album of some year’s back. She’ll be accompanied by Mary Louise Knutson, piano; Dave Karr, sax & flute; and Gordy Johnson, bass. Here’s a version of a Christmas chestnut from The Secret of Christmas.

Thursday, Dec 28

Kendra Glenn and Jazz Fly @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 8pm ($6) Glenn is a powerful, soulful singer, while JazzFly’s members have played with a wide list of both resident and national artists, ranging from Tower of Power and Avishai Cohen, to Ginger Commodore, Ricky Peterson, and members of Sounds of Blackness. Such experience makes the band and Glenn equally adept at blues, jazz, soul, and R&B. Here’s Kendra, along with her daughter Jalela.

Friday, Dec 29

Young Lions @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm – No Exit), 10pm  (Ben Erlich Trtio) ($10, $5 w/valid Student ID) It’s a night of talented young musicians as things start off at 8pm with the No Exit Sextet, led by drummer Luke Peterson, and including  Peter Goggin, alto; Jack Coutwright, Trombone; Levi Schwartzberg, Vibes; Adam Astrup, Guitar; and Charlie Lincoln, Bass. Then drummer Ben Erlich brings on his trio, including Will Kjeer on piano; and Charlie Lincoln, bass. Here’s a video from No Exit, from last summer.

Saturday, Dec 30

The Last Edition of Rhythm and Grooves @ KFAI, (90.3 and 106.7FM) 10:30AM – Noon. After 15.5 years in three different time slots, it’s time for me to move on. Note that I also hostedShake Up Southside for three years in the early 80s, and Streetlight Serenade for five years in the mid-80s. I’ll play a couple of songs from Shakeup, followed by their jazz versions, as well as a couple of vocal group harmony versions of standards from Streetlight, preceded by jazz versions of those songs. It’s not goodbye, just so long, as I’ll show up to help during pledge drives and hope to be called upon to sub for different shows, which is always a treat for me and hopefully for listeners. Tune in.

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) 7pm DDT is composed of three veteran musicians: Dean Granros, guitar; Chris Bates, bass; and Tony Moreno, drums. At 8:30pm, a group of young and very talented musicians will perform. Hoaxer, which released their debut CD last summer, is Will Kjeer, piano; Peter Goggin, alto; Charlie Lincoln, bas; and Edmund Caitln, drums.

Sunday, Dec 31

Early & Late NYE @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 5-8pm ($5 suggested donation), 9pm – ? ($20 Reserved on stage side, $5 non-stage) The Black Dog continues its tradition of a family-friendly early NYE celebration, this year featuring pianist Todd Harper’s Open Season Ensemble, with Aaron Kerr, electric cello, James Holdman, guitar; Chris Hagedorn, tenor; and Eric Couren on drums. After clearing the stage side, a jazz extravaganza will ensue, with a group of Twin Cities All-Stars featuring Dave Brattain, sax; Steve Kenny, Flumpet; Will Kjeer, piano; Charlie Lincoln, bass; and Pete James Johnson, drums; PLUS special guests. It’s billed as safe and reasonably sane. This video features Steve Kenny’s Grou 47, with Will Kjeer, piano and composition.

Tuesday, Jan 2

Jon Weber’s History of the Piano @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7:30pm ($15, $25) Pianist Weber, who is now based in NYC, is a master of musical trivia, host of NPR’s Piano Jazz, and a regular visitor to the Twin Cities and the Twin Cities Jazz Festival. He’ll be performing in a number of piano styles to show how the piano has been used in music throughout history. Here’s a sample.

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, Dec 27

The Eddies on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) This annual event is one of the few times that the Saint Paul-based Eddies cross the river to Minneapolis. Their appearances are even rarer now that guitarist Wyoming Brown (aka Paul) has moved out of town, so we’re lucky he’s visiting and we can hear their songs of life, work, and death, from traditional mountain songs to sea shanties and tunes by Bob Marley, The Rolling Stones, and Billy Joe Shaver. If you’ve not heard them, tune in and head over to the 331 if you want to hear more. Listen to this example.

The Skruffians @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 8pm (Tip Jar) This septet will get you moving with their infectious blend of Ska, Reggae, Soul, & Jazz, featuring Todd Baer, trombone; Joe Mayo, tenor; Jared Jarvis, baritone sax; Brian Knox, keys and melodica; Park Evans, guitar; Tom Hutton, bass; and Rick Nair, drums. Hers’s a sampling of their music.

Dress Like Deano @ Dusty’s Bar, NE Minneapolis. 8:30pm (Tip Jar) Have you got a plaid flannel shirt and colorful sneakers? Then you can dress like Deano – that’s Dean Mikkelson, a fine guitarist who always has equally talented sidemen when he plays in the the “Big Green Booth” at Dusty’s. Expect jazzy, bluesy tunes, with perhaps, some guests. Here he is with the Mill City Hot Club, playing rhythm guitar for most of the song and soloing at about 3:10minutes.

Thursday, Friday, Dec 28, 29

Lush Country @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No cover, but guaranteed seat for $15) Classic country sounds from Eddy Arnold to Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette and Floyd Cramer, from an all-star group of longtime Twin Cities headliners and A Prairie Home Companion veterans: Dan Chouinard, Prudence Johnson, Richard Kriehn, Gary Raynor, Gary Rue, Pete Johnson, and Joe Savage.

Friday, Dec 29

Rena Haus @ Dusty’s Bar, NE Minneapolis. 9:30pm (Tip Jar) More proof that the new owners of Dusty’s are sticking with what works (They’ve also added music on Wednesdays) So… singer/Songwriter/Guitarist Haus Is back, singing humorous originals about relationships, farm animals, or the political and economic climate, as well as an occasional classic rock song. Backed by her brother Bob on bass and the under-appreciated guitar-meister Ed Petche, it’s an evening of highly entertaining performances.

Roots, Rock & Deep Blues 2018 Pre-Party @ The Hook & Ladder, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10 Advance/.$12 Door) What better time to get up for a summertime party than in the midst of a spell of below-zero temperatures? To entice you out, tonight the Hook features a group that’s been an RRDB staple since the annual event started – Left Lane Cruiser, the punk bluesmen from Fort Wayne, Ind. Another regular is Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders, with their flat-out blues that would be a hot rod if it were a car. Joining in on the fun are Flatwater Mississippi and their psychedelic swamp blues, as well as Mutation playing metallic rock.

Saturday, Dec 30

Nooky Jones 4th Annual End of Year Party @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 10:30pm ($15 Advance/$17 Door) 2017 was a big year for Nooky Jones as they sold out two consecutive nights at the Icehouse and co-headlined at the Fitzgerald Theater. They also released their debut album in July for fans who enjoy the band’s unique blend of soul, jazz, and undertones of hip-hop. Opening set by alternative should singer Jessica Manning, and between-sets music by DJ Keezy.

The “Committee” @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Maurice Jacox, Aisha Baker, and Deb Brown were all part of the Butanes Soul Review when it played at the Cabooze some 25-30 years ago, and recently for the 30th Anniversary of that group. They were also part of the Soul Tight Committee and the Lights Out Committee during much of the 90s. Tonight the three of them gather as “The Committee,” performing songs like Groove Me, Supernatural Thing, Rocking Chair, and other great soul songs of the 60s and 70s. Here they are performing in the Soul Tight Committee back when.

Sunday, Dec 31

Jaeden James & the Hunger @ The Basement Bar, Minneapolis. Doors at 9pm, music at 10:45pm ($20) This funk/soul ten-piece horn band has a high-energy attitude that’s almost punkish. They will surely ignite NYE revelers in celebration.

Joyann Parker Band @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 10:30pm ($30) Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Parker has a powerful blues and R&B voice that’ will ignite NYE partiers. She represented Minnesota in the 2015 International Blues Challenge. Additionally, her 2015 album, On the Rocks, was named Best Self-Produced Album by the MN Blues Society. Her versatility shows up in this duo setting.

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.


Let’s Go! Music: 7.27 – 8.2

July 27, 2016

 

Unknown-3Lots of great music this week, so let’s just get to it. Music lifts your spirits.

Jazz

Wednesday, July 27

Dave King Trio @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($20) After having a CD release at Vieux Carre for his five-piece Trucking Company last weekend, drummer Dave King brings bassist Billy Peterson and pianist Bill Carrothers to Crooners’ Dunsmore Room. King is well known for his stints with Happy Apple, Bad Plus, and the aforementioned Trucking Company, groups that traffic in avant/indie/experimental approaches to jazz. However, this trio, which has received rave reviews in the New York Times and on NPR, mines a treasure trove of standards from jazz and the Great American Songbook, bringing a fresh interpretation to songs each time they play.

Illicit Sextet 25th Anniversary of Chapter One Release @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10) It’s 25 years or so since the Illicit Sextet  Minnesota’s first Jazz Composers Collective, released their debut album, Chapter One. Sooo, to celebrate, attendees will get a download card with admission, along with a printed package of original liner notes, design elements, and a number of reviews. Tonight’s shows will include selections from Chapte One, as well as from Chapter Eleven, the group’s second album, and music from the third, to be released in late Fall.

Graham O’Brien @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5/Student ID) O’Brien is a drummer and electronic music producer and composer from Saint Paul. For this interesting gig, he’ll be performing new music written for solo live performance in which he uses a custom electric-drum set.

Thursday, July 28

Jana Nyberg @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Nyberg’s easy facility with both jazz and pop have helped gain her numerous fans since she moved back to the Twin Cities in 2008. She’s recorded 3 CDs and appeared on season 10 of American Idol. She’s always backed by a stellar band, which includes her husband, trumpeter Adam Meckler.

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) The evening starts off at 7pm with VVG, which stands for Very Very Groovy, and considering the young lions in the group, should very well live up to the billing:  Josh Johnson, sax; Levi Schwartzberg, vibes; Ben Beyene, drums; DeCarlo Jackson, bass. At 9pm Ruckus! appears, led by drummer Rodney Ruckus, who is celebrating his first year of living in the Twin Cities with three shows this week. He’ll be joined by international trumpeter Aaron Janik; young pianist Will Kjeer; veteran bassist Ron Evanuik; newcomer Jabari Powell on sax; and featuring Haylee Dee on Vocals.

Friday, July 29

Debbie Duncan with Ava McFarlane @ Rice Park, Saint Paul. 6pm – 9pm (Free) Brian Horst, owner of Details Salon and Boutique in downtown Saint Paul, is the person behind the successful Music in Mears events on Thursdays each summer. He’s now branched out with Rhythm in Rice, 10 weeks of globally inspired musicians, including tonight’s artist, Debbie Duncan  who will bring a jazz and R&B bent to the evening, with an emphasis on dancing. Ava McFarlane opens after dance lessons.

Pete James Johnson @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5/Student ID) Young Lions, progressive young masters, whatever you call them, this is a talented group of young musicians, of which none, I’m fairly sure, are over 30. They have a lot to communicate, including originals and their own arrangements of jazz standards. The group includes: Aaron Hedenstrom, saxes; Joe Strachan, piano; Dan Carpel, bass; and leader Pete James Johnson on drums.

Will Kjeer Summer Band @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10) Pianist Will Kjeer will be in town for a few more weeks before returning to college. In the meantime, he’s playing around with a number of groups, including this one which he leads, with Graydon Peterson, bass; Rodney Ruckus, drums (he sure is busy this week); Jake Baldwin, trumpet; and Stephanie Wielseler, recently returned to town, on sax. Here’s Will with a school group from a year ago.

Jeremy Walker Quartet @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($8 cash only) Composer/pianist Walker and bassist Anthony Cox have put together a new group: The Port Arthur Quartet, along with Corey Healy on drums, and Brandon Wozniak on sax. Walker has collaborated with TU Dance and Zenon Dance, and written (and performed) 7 Psalms, for choir and jazz combo. Cox has been on over 100 recordings by internationally known musicians, including Geri Allen, Dewey Redman, John Scofield, and Joe Lovano, among others. Here’s Jeremy, in a typically contemplative mood, playing solo a couple of years ago.

Friday, Saturday, July 29, 30

Jazz Town Hall: Black Music in the Twin Cities @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. Noon – 4pm (Free??)  Registration, Noon – 4pm. First hour is devoted to registration, then from 1pm – 4pm various presentations about Black Music in the Twin Cities, especially the marginalization of Black Jazz Artists, from Solomon Parham and Rodney Ruckus, hosts, Eric Kamau Gravatt, and others.

Saturday, July 30

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Steve Kenny Trio opens at 7pm, followed by the second of Rodney Ruckus’ shows this week, with a slightly different line-up than Thursday night at the Reverie (above): Aaron Janik, trumpet; Will Kjeer, piano; Jax Ravel, bass; and Ruckus on drums.

PipJazz Women of Jazz Band @ Bedlam Lowertown, Saint Paul. 7pm – 9pm ($20) Vocalist Pippi Ardennia  athers up some outstanding musicians who happen to be female for this presentation. They include: Faye Washington, flute; Marilyn Parker, sax; Margo Brevik, bass; and three young musicians: Yonci Jameson, bass clarinet; Cymphony Jackson, piano; and Glory Yard, drums. Look for appearances from special guests Breanna Less, spoken word; and Heather McElrath, vocals. Here’s a news report about Pippi, with a little bit from Will Kjeer (see Friday).

Sunday, July 31

Jazz in the Vineyard with the Doug Little Quartet @ Alexis Bailey Vineyard, Hastings. 1:30pm (Free) I can really get behind the trend of wineries having jazz on Sunday afternoons. Saxophonist/flautist Doug Little brings a quartet to this, one of the first vineyards in Minnesota, to entertain while you taste wines and have some food, either from your own picnic, or from the vineyards store.

Monday, August 1

Rodney Ruckus @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5/Student ID) In case you didn’t see him on Thursday at the Reverie or Saturday at the Black Dog, here’s your last chance to see drummer Ruckus and his group with visiting international trumpeter Aaron Janik. Aside from having Jax Ravel on bass; the lineup is the same as Thursday’s at the Reverie (above).

Tuesday, August 2

Sean Turner Trio @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) Here’s something that doesn’t happen very often, a no-cover show in the Dunsmore Room. With a trio of outstanding musicians: Sean Turner, piano; Gary Raynor, bass; and Jay Epstein, 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, July 27

Jillian Rae & Eric Martin @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. noon – 1pm (Free) Violinist/Vocalist/Songwriter Jillian Rae knows how to write a country-pop song with a hook that draws you in and keeps you there. See for instance, her song Heartbeat, which is also the title tune for her CD of a couple of years back. Rae is also proficient on guitar and piano, and teaches about 40 students at The Music Lab, her own music school, in addition to playing in a number of other bands besides her own. Today she’ll be performing with husband/guitarist Eric Martin in the sunny confines of the cortile of the Landmark Center.

Stephanie Niles on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Niles is a classically trained pianist (and cellist) who performed on NPR three times by the age of seventeen. After graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Music she landed in NYC, where she began writing and developing her barrelhouse/jazz punk style. She currently makes New Orleans her home, when she’ not out touring and gigging 150 shows a year.

Radio Joe & The Jazzbos @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm ($5) Guitarist/crooner/songwriter Joe Demko and his swingin’ band of Jazzbos – Bruce Wintervold, vibes; Tony Guscetti, drums; Keith Boyles, bass – play music for dancing, whether it’s the “businessman’s bounce,” a simple foxtrot, or swing dancing.

Marcia Ball @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35), 9pm ($25) Pianist/vocalist/songwriter Ball has been nominated for a Grammy five times, and for Blues Music Awards 44 times, winning 10 of those, as well as 9 Living Blues Awards, in addition to being inducted intto the Gulf Coast Music Hall of Fame in 2010, and the Louisiana Music Hall of ‘Fame in 2012. She delivers a rollicking set of blues, R&B, and Gulf Coast inspired originals and covers. I’ve seen her more than a half dozen times, in crowded, sweaty clubs, on the Dakota’s tony stage, and at festivals, and even on a steam boat, and she delivers every time.

Thursday, July 28

Boom Boom Stevie V & the Knockouts @ Neumann’s Bar, North Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Blues harpist/vocalist Steve Vonderhar has plenty of heart. He and the Knockouts will shuffles that will have the crowd at Neumann’s trying to dance among the tables.

Friday, July 29

Soul Tight Committee @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($8) A ten-piece horn band that draws from 70s R&B, but will occasionally play songs from the 80s as well. Great for dancing.

Ronnie Baker Brooks @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($??) As the son of fiery blues guitarist Lonnie Brooks, Ronnie Baker Brooks  a fine guitarist in his own right, grew up watching and absorbing the sounds of some of the finest blues and R&B artists of a previous era. He’s added a bit of rock and hip-hop to his influences and playing, proving that he can keep tradition while also looking towards the future. For his latest CD, “The Torch”, he worked with producer Jellybean Johnson, the Minneapolis guitarist who collaborated with Prince and Janet Jackson (and who, BTW, has a weekly Tuesday Night gig at MMC).

Aaron Kamm & the One Drops @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11pm ($10 Advance/$12 Door) Aaron Kamm and the One Drops,  from Saint Loui,) manage to merge Roots Reggaie, Delta Blues, and soulful vocals while sometimes veering into jam-band territory. Natty Nation  from Madison, is another original band playing reggae and dub. Trichrome opens.

Saturday, July 30

Hurricane Harold’s All Star Revue @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($8) Harold Tremblay is one of the acknowledged harpmeisters of the blues in town, with a rolodex (or phone directory) filled with blues and roots players from the area and beyond. Once a month or so, he gathers up a bunch of them to play in the All Star Revue. No matter who is playing, the band, and the audience, has fun. Here’s one edition of the All Stars.

Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapoils. 9pm ($10) Rockin’ Blues guitarist Thackery is a road warrior of the first order. He played with Muddy Waters and was the co-founder of the Nighthawks, recording and performing with them between 1972 and 1987, when he left to form his own group. He put together the three-piece Drivers in 1992, and started doing 300 shows a year. Though he tours less, his fiery guitar playing still thrills blues lovers everywhere.

PaviElle @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11pm ($8 Advance, $10 Door) Vocalist PaviElle French grew up in Saint Paul’s Rondo neighborhood, and in the last couple of years has become an advocate of black soul music for the Millenial generation. She’s a fairly prolific songwriter, who has collaborated with bassist/producer/composer Casey O’Brien for this project, which was named one of First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2015. You’ll hear her originals and a couple of surprising covers, all done with a contemporary outlook and echoes of 70’s R&B.

Sunday, July 31

Siama Matuzungidi @ The Dubliner Pub, Saint Paul. 5pm – 7pm (Tip Jar) Here’s a late afternoon dose of uplifting music from Congalese guitarist Siama  one of the architects of Soukous, a sensuous rhythm that fills dance floors. He’ll be joined by Dallas Johnson on vocals and percussion, and the ubiquitous washboard man, Mikkel Beckman.

Miss Myra & the Moonshiners @ Palmer’s, Minneapolis. 8pm (Tip Jar) Vintage, often sassy, jazz and barrelhouse blues, including originals by this group  featuring vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Miss Myra, who has studied with Papa John Kolstad and Dean Harrington, and the Moonshiners: Zane Fitzgerald Palmer, guitar; Dolly Dagger, drums; and Ike Heath, tuba.

Monday, Tuesday, August 1, 2

Marc & Ted Broussard Acoustic Duo @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30 – $45) Marc Broussard is a Louisiana born singer/songwriter who is at heart, a soul singer, doing original songs. Drawing on blues, funk, and R&B, his singing and songs reflect his Southern roots. He’ll be accompanied by his father Ted.

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.


New Year, New Music: 12.30.15 – 1.5.16

December 30, 2015

imagesThe end of the year provides us with a chance to celebrate another orbit around the sun, and look forward to a new year of challenges, disappointments, hopes, and accomplishments. Whether you celebrate with a nice dinner at home, dancing, or otherwise partying, you will have plenty of options, a few of which I’ve listed. In the meantime, check out some of the shows by young musicians back in town from college, as well as those from the veterans that are performing in the first days of the new year. Have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

Jazz

Wednesday, December 30

Luke Peterson Quintet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) A number of Dakota Combo alumni, as well as other young lions on the music scene are back in town from college for the holiday break. Tonight you can hear five of them: Luke Peterson, drums; Jack Courtright, trombone; Peter Goggin, alto sax; Charlie Lincoln, bass; Will Kjeer, piano.

Thursday, December 31

Jazzland Wonderband NYE Dinner Show @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 5:30 – 8pm ($45, includes 3 course dinner) Trad jazz and early swing from JLWB, as they’re called on their website  Cameron Kinghorn, trumpet & vocals; Nelson Devereaux, reeds; Keith Holdon, trombone; Andres Crovetti, drums; Evan Clark, tuba.

Debbie Duncan @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 6:30 – 9:30pm ($75 for a 4 course dinner) Here’s another early evening show for those of you who would rather be home when the clock strikes twelve tonight. Ms Duncan will provide her usual outstanding vocals. I’m not sure if you will be required to order the dinner, so call and make a reservation.

JoAnn Funk @ St Paul Hotel Lobby Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm -11pm (No Cover) Start off your New Year’s Eve with a visit to the Lobby Bar, where you can hear Ms Funk and her cohort Jeff Brueske on bass as they perform elegant, and often witty, jazz versions of songs from a wide variety of talented songwriters. Tonight they’ll be doing a tribute to Frank Sinatra, with special guest Steven Marking on vocals.

AQ NYE Reunion @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 9pm ($65, $100 VIP) New Year’s Eve at the Artists’ Quarter was always a warm, family affair, whether the family was related by blood or community. A couple of the long-time supporters of the club have put together a reunion, this time in a different basement. You’ll hear the wonderful Carole Martin on vocals, supported by her son-in-law Kenny Horst on drums; Chris Bates on bass; Phil Aaron on piano; and Dean Magraw on guitar. There will be a couple of guests sitting in as well. Complementary hors d’oeuvres are part of the offering, and reservations are recommended. More information and reservations can be found here.

Friday, January 1

Siama Matuzungidi @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 10am – 1pm (No Cover) Start off 2016 with brunch, accompanied by the Soukous stylings of Africa’s legendary Siama, guitar; Dallas Johnson, vocals; Tim O’Keefe, percussion.

Sound Skirmish @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Here’s another quartet of young lions taking advantage of the holidays to play together, this time doing original music. Patrick Adams, piano; Levi Schwartzberg, vibes; Drew Stinson, bass; Ben Ehrlich, drums.

Saturday, January 2

Will Schmid Duos @ 318 Cafe, Excelsior, 8pm ($5) This evening will include two duos led by high school student and guitarist Will Schmid. He’ll be joined by another guitarist, Adam Aastrup, who is currently in the Dakota Combo. Then Schmid will join rock/pop vocalist Kalli Anderson for second set of music. Who says Jazz is dead?

Patty Peterson @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) The legendary Ms Peterson brings her mix of jazz and R&B to the spacious lounge at Crooners.

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Opening at 7pm is a talented group of high school students performing as Trap Tube: Jordan Anderson, piano; Gerhardt Robinson, sax; Alma Engebretson, bassist; Simon Petrick, drums. at 8:30, a special edition of Central Standard Time, with a mix of veterans and young lions, performs: Steve Kenny, flumpet; Brandon Wozniak sax; and JT Bates, drums; are the veterans, while Levi Schwartzberg, vibes; Charlie Lincoln, bass; and Will Kjeer, piano; are all college students.

Monday, January 4

Will Kjeer Quartet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Young pianist Kjeer spent a year at Interlachen  in Michigan, and is now attending the California Institute of the Arts. Even before leaving town, however, Kjeer was gigging professionally, with Steve Kenny’s Group 47 and his own Blue Heaven. Tonight he’s joined by some rising stars of the Twin Cities music scene, none of whom are more than ten years older than Will:Nelson Deveraux, sax; Graydon Peterson, bass; and Miguel Hurtado, drums.

Tuesday, January 5

Chris Lomheim @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 6pm (No Cover) Elegant piano musings inspired by Bill Evans, but solely Chris Lomheim.

Butch Thompson @ The Dunsmore Room at Crooners, Fridley. 7pm ($15 Minimum) Traditional jazz and blues, played on the room’s 9 ft piano, along with Thompson’s edifying commentary on tunes.

Phil Aaron Trio @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 8pm ($5) A third piano gig for the evening, this time featuring the always tasteful Emmy-winning composer Phil Aaron. He’ll be joined by Gary Raynor on bass, and Jay Epstein on drums. A winning combination. Here he is with a slightly different trio.

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, December 30

The Eddies on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 and 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club, Tip Jar) Perhaps the last tradition of the year. Saint Paul’s Eddies cross the river to appear on Harold Tremblay’s House Party and then head over to the 331 Club to sing 5 part a cappella harmonies on sea chanties, and easy-to-sing-along favorites, from the Rolling Stones to Billy Joe Royal, and Bob Marley.

Willie Walker & The We R Band @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10?) It’s been a good year for Willie. He’s put out an excellent CD, produced by Rick Estrin of Little Charlie and the Nightcats, and has toured Brazil, Italy, California, and most recently, played Switzerland with this band. If you don’t like to go out on New Year’s Eve, this NYE Eve party might be just the ticket.

Lonesome Dan Kase @ Palmer’s, Minneapolis. 11pm (No Cover) A man and his guitar  channeling the ghost of bluesmen from the 30s by playing traditional finger-picking blues and hollers for your listening pleasure.

Thursday, December 31

Davina & the Vagabonds @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 6pm ($112 includes 6 course dinner), 10:30pm ($94) If you’re up for a big celebration, this would be the one. Davina will be raising the roof.

Hookers $ Blow @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 8pm ($15) Dance the year away to the sounds of this highly talented band led by Adam Levy  playing 70s covers, or as they call it “music from a more permissive era.”

Hipshaker/Hot Pants New Year’s Eve @ The Kitty Kat Club, Minneapolis. 9pm ($20) It’s a rare funk n’ soul bonanza and the deejays behind Hipshaker and Hot Pants combine to ring out the year with floor stomping rare 45s. Here’s an example of the kind of music you’ll hear.

Friday, January 1

Butanes @ Shaw’s, Minneapolis. 9:30pm (No Cover) Guitarist Curt Obeda realizes that not everyone enjoys “amateur night,” as NYE is often known, so the Butanes are moving their weekly gig by one day, which allows them to start off the year in the best possible way – playing the blues.

Sweet Tea @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 8pm ($8) This up and coming band is heading to Memphis to represent Minnesota at the International Blues Challenge in January. The band is driven by the passionate vocals of Joyann Parker, the rest of the band provides the power that excites dancers and listeners alike. Mark Lamoine, guitar (Dee Miller, Perfectly Loud), Nick Zwack, drums (Armadillo Jump); Mick Zampogna , keys; and Michael Caravale, bass (Lamont Cranston, Davina & the Vagabonds)

Saturday, January 2

Hurricane Harold Duo @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 6pm – 8pm (No Cover) Harpist Hurricane Harold excels, whether playing with a full band or a duo, which may include such collaborators as Doug Otto or Jeff Ray, with each of whom he’s recorded fun albums. Here he is with Doug Otto.

Sunday, January 3

Phil Heywood @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11am (No Cover) His upcoming gig with Dean Magraw and Tim Sparks in Hopkins is sold out, but you can still hear this fine fingerpicker while enjoying brunch.

Charanga Tropical @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 3pm – 6pm (No Cover) This eleven piece band  who performed and recorded in Havana last June, provides some mid-day Latin dance music to get your blood circulating and your pheromones bouncing.

Doug Otto & Friends @ Dusty’s, Minneapolis. 5pm (Tip Jar) This NE bar is so tiny that musicians have to use a booth to perform. The result is a perfectly intimate show featuring guitarist/vocalist Otto, and some of his very talented friends.

Sunday, Monday, January 3,4 

Tribute to James Brown w/Sonny Knight & Lakers, Fred Wesley, and Jabo Starks @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25, $35), 9pm ($20, $30). When Sonny & the Lakers recently performed at the Dakota, Sonny’s voice was strong, and the Lakers tore through their songs, much in the way that the Godfather of Soul would conduct his shows. So it makes sense to have them team up with a couple of original members of the JBs – trombonist Fred Wesley  who has appeared at the Dakota before, and the “original funky drummer” Jabo Starks – to perform Brown’s songs.

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.


Steve Kenny’s Group 47

July 28, 2014

Veteran trumpeter/composer Steve Kenny is one busy musician. He’s currently playing in The Illicit Sextet, The Steve Kenny Quartet, What Would Monk Do, and Steve Kenny’s Group 47, the last of which is celebrating the release of an album, Straight to Vinyl, at the Icehouse this evening. Besides Kenny, the group consists of four college aged musicians: Will Kjeer, piano; Thomas Strommen, sax; Adam Tucker, bass; and Alex Burgess, drums. This group of young lions exhibits the creativity and cohesion usually found in groups with much more experience.

Steve Kenny. Photo by Andrea Canter

Steve Kenny. Photo by Andrea Canter

I had a chance to talk with Steve about Group 47 and the All Originals Jazz Series, a ten-week series he is curating at Studio Z every Thursday during the summer. This post will cover Group 47, while our discussion about the Jazz Series will be posted later this week.

LE: You’ve become quite the busy person these days.

SK: That’s true. Maybe it’s a perfect storm or maybe it’s the way I like to operate. I’m thinking ahead to the things that will be happening in Jan and Feb right now. That’s way, when the dates roll around it’s easier to book people, a studio is already booked if I need it. I had it figured out in the 90s and now back to that thinking that way.

LE: Why such an approach?

SK: I like to play some pretty serious music in public at least one a week, and that takes lots of planning. I play trumpet, and for that particular instrument, people don’t call you. It might be different for a rhythm section player. People don’t call trumpet players for modern jazz gigs, so I figured out you have to be very creative. And now, with the club scene getting more challenging, it takes more self-promotion and effort to make sure there’s a show every week or every couple of weeks.

LE: How did Group 47 come about?

Group 47 at the late, lamented Artists' Quarter

Group 47 at the late, lamented Artists’ Quarter

SK: It came out of the fact that for 5 or more years, I had the privilege of playing the early gig at the AQ. The group was known by a variety of names. The way things progressed; it started as a loose, jam session, and as years went by there was a tendency to push away from pure jam to incubating some kind of group. Then we found out the club was going to close.

At that point, it became: let’s see if we can bootstrap something that can exist outside of the club. Right around that time I met Will Kjeer on street. While I was warming up outside, and he walked up and introduced himself, claiming he was a pianist who could play jazz. I started asking what tunes do you know, to find out how successful it would be to bring him up. After talking, I said come on down. He came down, and played great. I asked him if he would come back, and every time he returned he was better. As he got his wherewithal, his true abilities came out – holy crap. After a year, he’s improved so much – it’s crazy. He plays as well as anybody in town and this is a piano town.

LE: How did you find the other players in the band?

SK: When playing free gigs, a lot of established players aren’t going to play. Many did come down, but I was looking to shift to a steady membership for the group. As I approached players who sat in every week for the next 6 months, the membership changed according to whoever was willing to play. It was happenstance. Good ones stayed, what we ended up with was the group. It’s a band that can play on the same bill with any band in town and I’m really proud of it. And they’re monster players, the likes of which people don’t even know yet.

LE: How did the concept of the album originate?

SK: With Will joining we started writing. Six months before club closed we changed the name of the group. Then we booked studio time, played the Dakota, a college concert and other venues. We got enough material in recording sessions for Straight to Vinyl.

Straight to Vinyl happened in bassist Adam Tucker’s studio, where they have a track record of doing vinyl. We decided to record in the round, originally to 2 inch analogue tape and then to vinyl. There is no actual editing, just selecting the order of songs. No editing of beginnings, ends, no pitch correction. Ignoring the CD format because it’s a dead format. Except for radio stations, many devices no longer have CD drives. We made sure that the release is available in every digital format, iTunes, Wav files, CD baby, MP3, etc. Scary digital precision is also available. And of course the vinyl version with nice artwork, real liner notes, all the touch feely things we like about vinyl.

Note: Steve Kenny’s Group 47 will be celebrating the release of Straight to Vinyl at the Icehouse in Minneapolis Monday evening, July 28 at 10pm. Copies of the album will be available for sale.

You can also hear the group as part of the All Originals Jazz Series at Studio Z on Thursday, August 21st at 8pm.


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