The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, August 2017


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Call August the Month of the Vocalist, with some heady talent visiting (Kendra Shank, Cyrille Aimee, Kevin Mahogany) as well as one of our veterans—Debbie Duncan— recording a long-overdue live outing. Or call August the Month of Legends, with several visitors who deserve such status, including long-awaited returns of Lee Konitz and Dr, Lonnie Smith, and even an longer-awaited visit from Bob Rockwell. Or call it Month of Iconic Bands as Illicit Sextet, Happy Apple, and youthful Hoaxer all strut their stuff in August. Or just call it another great month of Jazz in the Twin Cities!

Big Gigs This Month

Tuesday, August 1. First Tuesday— The Bill Simenson Orchestra is on the floor at Jazz Central; Davu Seru leads tonight without usual partner Dean Magraw. Instead he brings in two young guns— vibes master Levi Schwartzbergand bassist Charlie Lincoln. At Crooners' Lounge, enjoy an evening with savvy vocalist Sophia Shorai with sublime backing from Rick Carlson and Steve Pikal.

At the Dakota, Cuban jazz monsters and Grammy nominee Tiempo Libre return in the smaller configuration dubbed the Bohemia Quartet, with Jorge Gomez, Xavier Mili, Leandro Gonzalez and Fabian Alvarez. And at Vieux Carre', the night begins with solo piano from Chris Lomheim.

Wednesday, August 2. It's been seven years since vocalist Kendra Shank came to town, and in the interim she's been busy releasing outstanding duo recordings with guitars John Stowell (New York Conversations, 2014) and almost-hometown pianist Geoffrey Keezer (Half Moon, 2016). Now she returns to check out the intimate surroundings of the Dunsmore Room, celebrate the music of Half Moon, and interact with Phil Aaron and Gordy Johnson. Inventive yet always accessible, Kendra is one of the finest of modern-era singers, and still a “talent deserving wider recognition." Come early—beat the traffic and enjoy Arne Fogel and Lee Blaske for Happy Hour in the Lounge.

Two visitors with Iowa connections at Jazz Central tonight— saxophonist Chris Merz and pianist Jon Snell have been playing as a duo for a number of years. Merz heads jazz at the University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls) and was the leader of Christopher's Very Happy Band that hit the Sixth Street Stage of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival last month as part of the Minnesota-Iowa jazz exchange. Snell lived and performed in Cedar Falls and Iowa City before heading east for graduate studies at the Manhattan School of Music, and remains based in New York.

At Vieux Carre', Steven Hobert opens on solo piano, followed by the relatively new Selby Avenue Brass Band led by renowned jazz educator (and tubist) Tom Wells. And at the Minneapolis Woman's Club, First Wednesday means Connie Evingson in the Lounge with friends—Dave Karr and Andrew Walesch.

Wednesday-Thursday, August 2-3. The Dakota hosts Los Angeles-based Paris Chansons for two night. Recently featured on CBS News, the ensemble is known for original renditions of French favorites from Aznavour, Brel, Dassin, Piaf, Montand and such contemporary artists as Zaz.

Thursday-Friday, August 3-4. Often the host, Andrew Walesch is on stage himself for two nights of Happy Hour at Crooners Lounge. He's a one- man band on piano and vocals.

Friday, August 4. Two mighty string players open the evening at the Icehouse as visiting former resident Todd Clouser (guitar) and Icehouse 'house" bassist James Buckley join forces during the dinner hours. Jeremy Walker opens the night, followed by Jay Young and the Lyric Factory with their reprise of their Michael Jackson/Stevie Wonder salute, Superstitous Thriller II.

Jazz Central typically presents either Masters or Emerging Masters on Friday nights, and tonight the trio is both! Jordan Anderson Trio is led by emerging master pianist Jordan Anderson, currently studying with Benny Green at the University of Michigan and gigging all over the metro this summer. Bassist Charlie Lincoln has been a busy presence the past few summers during breaks from studies at the Berklee College of Music's Global Jazz Program; locally he's heard with Hoaxer and a long list of bands, and recently returned from a multi-city tour of Asia. Holding down the time is master drummer Jay Epstein, heard with Red Planet, Framework, Tall Tales and many other ensembles.

Saturday, August 5. Jazz in the afternoon at the Icehouse as Doug Little presents his annual “showcase" of students from his Twin Cities Jazz Workshop. A few years from now we will be hearing these teens on the “emerging masters" stages around town.

Speaking of emerging masters, the emergents turn the schedule upside-down as Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog's double header tonight starts out with a veteran trio, The Growlers, in honor of the Lowertown Guitar Festival. Growlers include guitarists Joel Shapira and David Martin, with drummer Pete Hennig. The “headline" slot is filled by No Exit, a highly accomplished group of collegians led by drummer Luke Peterson (Northwestern U), with alto saxophonist Peter Goggin (U of Michigan), trombonist Jack Courtright (Eastman), vibraphonist Levi Schwartzberg (U of M), guitarist Adam Astrup (U of Northern Colorado), and bassist Charlie Lincoln (Berklee College of Music).

At Vieux Carre', Debbie Duncan takes the stage, warming up for her live recording night later this month at the Dakota, while the Travis Anderson Trioserenades at the Normandy Kitchen.

Sunday, August 6. We don't often hear a salute to the great Roberta Flack, making this night in the Dunsmore Room with Ginger Commodore extra special. Ginger's velvety voice seems particularly well suited to this music, and she will be accompanied by her GC Quartet. Monday, August 7. The Acme Jazz Company with Arne Fogel hits the stage at Crooners' for their monthly “party." At Jazz Central, the “spotlight" is on young guitarist Will Schmid and three fellow collegians, Patrick Adkins (piano), Charlie Lincoln (bass) and Jesse Thorson (drums).

JT's Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse brings back area native John Raymond, appearing on trumpet with the Chris Thomson Band led by the local sax great. We should be seeing more of Raymond now that he has relocated from New York to Indiana University.

Tuesday, August 8. Few vocalists of the 21st century have been on as steep a trajectory as French-Dominican star Cyrille Aimee. Winner of the Montreaux Jazz Fest vocal competition, she's known for her Django-influenced ensemble, although her repertoire is ever-expanding, as she will demonstrate tonight on her Dakota debut. At Vieux Carre', vocalist Sarah M. Greer is on stage for the evening.

Tuesday-Wednesday, August 8-9.It's been a number of years since star vocalist Kevin Mahogany visited the Twin Cities, and he makes up for the lapse with two nights in the Dunsmore Room with support provided by Mary Louise Knutson and friends.

Friday, August 11. The Jana Nyberg 5 debuts in the Dunsmore Room, and they have a new CD to celebrate! At Vieux Carre', enjoy the exciting rhythms of the Babatunde Lea Quartet.

Saturday, August 12. Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog kicks off with the Will Schmid/Charlie Lincoln Duo (guitar and bass), followed by the intrepid Illicit Sextet.

Sunday, August 13. Trumpeter Warren Vache' kicks off a star-studded week in the Dunsmore Room. Down in Rochester, it's the second annual Rochester City Jazz Festival, with the Jana Nyberg 5and Illicit Sextet headlining the evening at the Rochester Civic Theater.

At the Dakota, it's yet another birthday party for Irv Williams, this one is #98! Irv's frequent partners at Happy Hour, Billy Peterson and Steve Blons, will be on hand.

Monday-Tuesday, August 14-15. The Dunsmore Room hosts two nights with former Minnesota resident, Copenhagan-based saxophonist Bob Rockwell and New York pianist David Hazeltine; they're joined by former cohorts at the Artists Quarter, Billy Peterson on bass and Kenny Horst on drums. Wednesday, August 16. Local piano hero Phil Aaron pays homage to one of his muses, Bill Evans, tonight in the Dunsmore Room.

Friday, August 18. After their stellar CD release gig earlier this summer, the amazing young guns of Hoaxer repeat at Vieux Carre'—Will Kjeer, Peter Goggin, Charlie Lincoln and Edmund Catlin.

Saturday, August 19. Steve Kenny has been working on this booking for quite a while and finally Happy Apple (Mike Lewis, Eric Fratzke, Dave King) will be on the Black Dog bandstand! Only the young would be brave enough to open for Happy Apple— the quintet SPACE (Will Schmid, Charlie Lincoln, Patrick Adkins, Alma Engebretson, Luke Peterson).

Sunday-Monday, August 20-21. The Dunsmore Room is booking more and more national artists, and for two nights, international stars as working legend saxophonist Lee Konitz comes to Fridley with extraordinary pianist Dan Tepfer. It's been about a decade since Konitz came to the Twin Cities.

Thursday, August 24. Her recordings have been few and far between, and this one is long overdue— Debbie Duncan records live tonight at the Dakota. Friday, August 25. “All Originals Jazz" at Studio Z hosts one of the more unusual projects tonight— Jazz Word Jazz, a night of poets and spoken word artists along with improvised music from a talented jazz ensemble dubbed MILTD41—Chris Bates, Will Jenson, Steve Kenny, Nathan Hanson and Greg Schutte.

Saturday, August 26. At the Black Dog, the JazzINK Youth Showcase presents the BCA Trio, followed by Steve Kenny's Quintet(Kenny, Levi Schwartzberg, Ted Olsen, Miguel Hurtado).

Wednesday, August 30. It's been a long time since Dr. Lonnie Smith performed his B-3 magic at the Dakota. Now he's back for one glorious night!

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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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