The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, April 14-20

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Snow, sunshine, wind, rain...Welcome to Minnesota Spring, version 3.0. We have a holiday weekend as well as festive music throughout the week, including a CD release from Red Planet with Bill Carrothers in the Dunsmore Room, a “monsterful" evening at the Black Dog, two dazzling, internationally acclaimed performers at the Dakota, seriously improvising ensembles on the calendars at Jazz Central, the Black Dog and Icehouse and more.

Big Gigs This Week

Friday, April 14. The improvising ensemble Fall of the House of Usher is on stage at Jazz Central, led by Chris Cunningham with a cast of some of our most inventive musicians, including two still in high school (Ivan Cunningham and Riley Swain); keyboard magician John Keston will be the special guest. And there's a special opening set with oud player Issam Rafea, Chris Cunningham and some of the other Ushers.

If swing and sass is more your thing, Debbie Duncan is in the lounge at Crooners. Minnesota's “First Lady of Song" never fails to entertain (or hit her notes!). Dinner at the Icehouse means some jazzy ambience courtesy of Zacc Harris and James Buckley.

Saturday, April 15.Weather Report alum Eric Kamau Gravatt and his long-running Source Code ensemble perform on the Jazz at Studio Z series. The band tonight includes veteran saxman Dean Brewington, rising star trumpeter Solomon Parham, the dean of guitar, Dean Magraw, and Gravatt's longtime cohort Ron Evaniuk on bass. In lieu of a master class, the evening starts with a preconcert Q and A with Eric and company, recorded for archiving in the Jazz at Studio Z's podcast collection.

Down the street at the Black Dog, the Aaron Hedenstrom Trio opens the evening (Hedenstrom on saxophones, Kameron Markworth on bass, Lars- Erik Larson on drums), followed by Peter Kogan's Monsterful Wonderband—and it is a band filled with jazz monsters, including Jake Baldwin (trumpet), Scott Agster (trombone), Pete Whitman (saxophones), Chris Olson (guitar), Sean Turner (piano), Jeff Bailey (bass), and Kogan of course on percussion.

Across town at the Normandy Kitchen, you can hear always charming vocalist Charmin Michelle and her “friends"—Joel Shapira on guitar, Tom Lewis on bass, and Nathan Norman on drums.

Sunday, April 16. Enjoy Easter Brunch at Crooners Lounge with—of course—a genuine crooner, Maurice Jacox. Fuzzy Mathappears late afternoon at the Black Dog. That's the band dubbed “best jazz act for people who don't like jazz" by the Best of Minnesota List in 2012.

Monday, April 17. It's the monthly open rehearsal of the Cherry Spoon Collective at the Black Dog— a large ensemble filled with the area's top improvisers, including leaders Michelle Kinney, Nick Gaudette, and Pat O'Keefe.

A double header at the Icehouse starts with Week Three of Reich Fest, celebrating the music of Steven Reich. Compositions include “Music for Pieces of Wood"—a 5-drum quintet, and “Electric Bass Phase" with bassists Chris Bates and Cody McKinney. The second set is the Jim Campilongo Trio with Twin Cities native, Brooklyn-based Chris Morrissey on bass.

Described as a one-man band who turns the guitar into an orchestra, globally infused singer-songwriter Raul Midon returns to the Dakota. And at Jazz Central, the spotlight artist tonight is alto saxophonist Dave Strong.

Tuesday, April 18. Mary Louise Knutson—taking a break from JazzMN and Doc Severinsen— plays her monthly solo piano sets, early evening at Vieux Carre'. Then she zips across town to Jazz Central to join the Explosion Big Band, led by Doug Haining and Scott Agster. EBB makes tiny Jazz Central seem like the perfect place for big band music.

Tuesday-Wednesday, April 18-19.Over two nights, enjoy the CD release for Red Planet With Bill Carrothers in the Dunsmore Room. Together for about 15 years now, Red Planet (Dean Magraw, Chris Bates, Jay Epstein) came to Creation Audio for a recording session in front of a live audience, adding to their already-stellar collaboration the unique talents of pianist Bill Carrothers. The resulting CD yields a playlist much like a Red Planet gig, with original tunes and heavy doses of Coltrane and Monk. But the addition of Carrothers provides the wild card—anything can happen. And it's even better live.

Wednesday, April 19. The new music night at Jazz Central features the Steven Hobert Quartet— creative pianist Steven joined by sax titan Pete Whitman, amazing bassist Yohannes Tona, and wildly gymnastic drummer Arthur “LA" Buckner.

Thursday, April 20. Mezmerizing vocalist Lizz Wright returns to the Dakota, bringing along her trademark melding of jazz and soul, and now adding hand percussion to her repertoire.

At Jazz Central, one of the area's most accomplished vocalists, Dorothy Doring, takes the bandstand with pianist Marc Ziegenhagen (aka Marc Z) to reprise her Roaring 20s' Cabaret Show in the first set, finishing the evening with a second set of her dazzling jazz and blues.

At Reverie, the Thursday Night jazz series presents a double bill, starting out with a quintet dubbed Fermentation with flutes, accordion, bass trombone, guitar and drums. The duo Large Marge follows (that's Chris Hepola on drums and Josh Granowski on bass). Sounds like large fun.

Out at Crooners, it's the monthly swingfest with the Wolverines Trio (Rick Carlson, Steve Pikal, Jendeen Forberg), adding vocalist Kate Moore.

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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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