The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, April 28-May 4


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There's always talk of the sorry state of jazz, but in this state, that stands in sharp contrast to the number of gigs, the number of visiting artists coming our way. As an audience, we may be spoiled in the Twin Cities, as few other areas in the country can boast of so many options. Some nights, the conflicting schedules can be frustrating— we can't do it all!

Big Gigs This Week

Friday, April 28. What a busy start to the weekend! The final concert of the Jazz in the Target Atrium season brings Jeremy Walker's Atrium Jazz Ensemble to the little space at Orchestra Hall, this time as a double sax quintet with Chris Thomson and Brandon Wozniak on horns, Walker on piano, Jeffrey Bailey on bass, and Kevin Washington on drums. They're looking at the roots of jazz and particularly Ellington to Coltrane.

At Jazz Central, it's the return of one of the most exciting local pairings in improvised music- guitar master Dean Magraw and tabla hero Marcus Wise. They have not played together much in the past few years, leaving us only the music from their 2010 album, When the Light Gets In. Hopefully this gig will encourage more frequent collaborations.

Another guitar master, Dave Singley holds a CD release gig at Studio Z—his first album in 20 years titled Good Hope. The Peter Schimke Trio with Chris Bates and Kenny Horst offers music at the newly revived Lexington. Zacc Harris and James Buckley provide dinner hour sets at the Icehouse; Arne Fogel croons at Hell's Kitchen; Lila Ammons is back at the Hennepin Steam Room; the Kronick Quintet makes music in the lounge at Public Kitchen; the Southside Aces swing at Vieux Carre'; and classical Indian music meets experimental improvisation when percussionist Zakir Hussein joins santoor player Rahul Sharma at the Pantages Theater.

Friday-Saturday, April 28-29. The Shaun Johnson Big Band experience is on stage for two nights at Chanhassan Dinner Theater.

Saturday, April 29. Theveterans of Bottomless Pit perform in the headline slot for Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog—that's Joel Shapira on guitar, Pete Whitman on sax, Tom Lewis on bass, and Eric Gravatt on drums, with an opening set from the Brian Handleland Quartet.

At the Dakota, the always sublime Bill Charlap Trio is back, with elegant pianist Charlap and longtime cohorts Peter Washington and Kenny Washington. Charlap is one of the most commanding pianists of his generation, and one of the finest interpreters of standards from swing to bebop to post-bop.

Also on tap for Saturday, Patty Peterson takes over Crooners Lounge; Tim Sparksjoins James Buckley at the Icehouse; vocalist Paula Lammers with pianist John Koziol entertain at Mendoberri's; the Benny Weinbeck Trio is in the lounge at Parma 8200. Sunday, April 30. It's officially International Jazz Day and the last day of the St Paul Art Crawl. Come down to Lowertown on Sunday afternoon and stop by the AZ Gallery in the Northern Warehouse to hear Joel Shapira on solo guitar while enjoying a lot of great local art.

In the evening, head out to the Dunsmore Room for your Bruce Henry fix— he's paying tribute to Stevie Wonder. Bruce left the Twin Cities for Chicago about 8 years ago but has never severed ties with the local music community, returning often to our great pleasure. Whether he is presenting Charlie Parker or Stevie Wonder or the best of Billie and Ella, Bruce is a force with plenty of chops.

In the Mankato area? Maud Hixson, Maria Jette, and Rick Carlsonperform music from Listening for Your Song, Maud's 2016 album honoring the music referenced in the Besty-Tacy stories written by Maud Hart Lovelace. The concert takes place at St John's Episcopal Church.

And don't forget the regular Sunday features including Patty and the Buttons, brunch at the Aster Cafe and the Zacc Harris Trio at the Riverview Wine Bar.

Monday, May 1. The Dunsmore Room hosts trombone master Delfeayo Marsalis surrounded by local talents—Rick Carlson, Steve Pikal and Nathan Norman. Marsalis was most recently in the Twin Cities for a headline set at the 2016 Twin Cities Jazz Festival. The Dakota presents more local talents as Larry McDonough reprises his “Born to Be Kind of Blue" show, saluting trumpet legends Miles Davis and Chet Baker with Steve Kenny handling the trumpet duties. The rest of the band includes Richard Terrill on saxophones, Greg Stinson on bass and Doug White on drums.

More trumpet at the Icehouse as JT's Jazz Implosion presents three trumpet heavy sets (a trio of trumpet trios), featuring the Jake Baldwin Trio, Hairsplitters (led by Noah Ophoven Baldwin), and Adam Zahler's Double Trio.

And without trumpet— in the spotlight at Jazz Central, a new band of sorts— it's the rhythm section of Group 47, Will Kjeer (piano), Adam Tucker (bass), and Alex Burgess (drums) as KTB.

At the Ted Mann Concert Hall, the U of M Jazz Ensembles I and II present their salute to big bands.

Tuesday, May 2. It's first Tuesday with Dean Magraw and Davu Seru at the Black Dog. Anything can happen. Also in St Paul, pianist Steven Hobert and multi-reedman John Croarkin are on stage for the early show at Vieux Carre'.

In the Dunsmore Room, another opportunity to hear former Minnesotan bassist Michael O'Brien and his Triage Trio with Chris Lomheim and Jay Epstein; and for First Tuesday, big band night at Jazz Central brings in the Bill Simenson Orchestra. Wednesday, May 3.Violinist Regina Carter returns to the Dakota with a new recording celebrating Ella Fitzgerald's centennial, Accentuate the Positive; her band includes bassist Chris Lightcap and drummer Alvester Garnett.

Wednesday-Thursday, May 3-4. Trumpet king Randy Brecker holds a two-night stand in the Dunsmore Room, featuring another former Minnesotan, Tanner Taylor on piano along with Gordy Johnson and Phil Hey. A new “Brecker Brothers" ensemble? Thursday, May 4. The Bryan Nichols Trio headlines at Vieux Carre,' with pianist Bryan in fine company with Jeff Bailey and brother JT Bates, following some cool solo guitar from Joel Shapira in the opening set. Over at Jazz Central, vocal night features Melody Mendis.

Officially Rodney Ruckus has left the Twin Cities for the Bay Area, but he's back for a night leading his hip-hop project at Reverie.

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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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