The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, May 8-14


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Some jazz giants visit this week (Tim Berne, Horacio “El Negro" Hernandez), and the weekend is filled with veterans and rising stars across the metro. Spring is here, and we're warming up for big sounds this summer.

Big Gigs This Week

Friday, May 8.  A Twin Cities favorite for the past decade, Red Planet plays less often these days but with no less intensity. Dean Magraw, Chris Bates and Jay Epstein invigorate Jazz Central Studios on the Bridge Series, now starting at 7 pm. Don't worry about dinner, Vanessa Lopez will turn up about 8 pm with her almost nightly treats.

Virtuosic guitarist Joel Shapira plays at Parma 8200 on a rare instrumental Friday. Nothing beats some inventive guitar trio music to melt away the stress of the week!

A late night treat at Orchestra Hall tonight (10:30 pm) is the finale of the new Jazz in the Target Atrium series curated by Jeremy Walker. Following the orchestra's concert earlier in the evening, the Target Atrium welcomes Denver-based trumpeter Ron Miles with the Atrium ensemble, featuring Bryan Nichols, Anthony Cox and JT Bates. Miles is a long-time cohort of Bill Frisell as well as an accomplished leader, composer and educator.

Saturday, May 9. The weekly double-header at the Black Dog brings young saxophonist Joe Mayo and company to start off the evening with a bang, followed by another young bandleader, drummer Cory Healey and his Beautiful Sunshine Band. Usually with two horns, tonight the Sunshine will be delivered as a quartet with Jake Baldwin, Zacc Harris and Erik Fratzke. Over at the Icehouse, you could not ask for a more sublime duo than Bryan Nichols and Dave Karr. A few generations apart, Bryan (piano) and Dave (sax) nevertheless find a lot of common ground musically, and it's really hard to beat free music at this level accompanied by some of the most inventive dining options in the area.

Sunday, May 10.  The Dakota offers two stunning options for Mothers Day—brunch with the Southside Aces, dinner or whatever with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard. The Aces are a top-notch New Orleans swing band headed by Tony Balluff; Prudence and Dan are a velvety voice/piano team celebrating the release of their new Gershwin. Their special guest tonight is ragtime piano magician Butch Thompson.

Another option for Mothers Day, and anyone else who likes some exquisitely rendered straight-ahead jazz melded with modern poetry is Soul Café, once a monthly event and now performing a few times each year at their home base, the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church. Led by guitarist Steve Blons, the current configuration includes Dave Graf on trombone, Brad Holden on sax, and Darryl Boudreaux on percussion, with guest readers adding the poetic touches. Of tonight's concert, dubbed “Breathing Lessons," Steve says, “It's Spring and Minnesotans are feeling giddy. Yet, while the weight of winter may finally be lifting, the world can still feel heavy on our shoulders. Breathing helps.  Beauty helps. Lighten your load relaxing with an hour of jazz and poetry. Rest in the images and the music. Re-attune to the natural rhythms of breath and heartbeat."

Monday, May 11. Once in a while, JT Bates turns his Jazz Implosion into an international jazz explosion! Tonight, he welcomes avant-garde saxophonist Tim Berne and his Snake Oil ensemble to the Icehouse for a night of gleeful mayhem.  Snake Oil, which just released a new album on ECM (You've Been Watching Me), includes clarinetist Oscar Noriega, pianist Matt Mitchell, and drummer/percussionist Ches Smith.  This band will transform the Icehouse into an inferno.

At the Dakota, Cuban pianist Nachito Herrera departs from his usual weekend gigs to bring “Back to Cuba" to the stage, featuring Grammy winners drummer, Horacio “El Negro" Hernandez and bassist José Armando Gola, and vocalist Mirdalys Herrera.

Tuesday, May 12. Vocalist Vicky Mountainhas been gigging more lately, and we're all the better for it. Tonight she invites us all to put on our swing dance shoes at The Nicollet, aided and abetted by guitarist Dave Martin and bassist Jim Chenoweth.

Wednesday, May 13. Former Minnesotan, NY-based saxophonist Nick Videen drops into Jazz Central, where he will play with three of our best— Bryan Nichols, Chris Bates and Cory Healey. Among his credits, Nick has played with Superpower Horns, including a recording session with Beyonce'. Expect a jazzier version of Nick at Jazz Central.

Thursday, May 14.  Possibly the least likely jazz venue in the metro—Khyber Pass Cafe in St. Paul sports improvised music every Thursday night. Tonight marks the return of Le Percheron, a cross-generational project headed by bassist Adam Linz, along with a troupe of modern experimenters including saxophonist Brandon Wozniak, vibes master Levi Schwartzberg, and drummer Cory Healey. Enjoy experimental music and some small plates from the kitchen!

More Jazz!Keep up with the live jazz scene in the Twin Cities — check out calendars at Jazz Police, KBEM, Rhythm and Grooves and Jazz Near You, as well as here on the blog.  More jazz to tickle your ears:

Friday, May 8.  Irv Williams and Mary Louise Knutson, happy hour at the Dakota; Todd Harper Piano Fridays at the Black Dog; Eastside at Hell's Kitchen; Zacc Harris and James Buckley, dinner sets at the Icehouse; Larry Dunsmore and Sheridan Zuther at Crooners Lounge; Trio Brasiliero with Pavel Jany and Natania Kamin at the Cedar Cultural Center; Classic Big Band & the Nostalgics Quartet at Bloomington KC Hall

Saturday, May 9.  Talking Strings at Loring Pasta Bar; Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar, Saint Paul Hotel; Nujume with Paula Lammers Quartet, Antonello Hall at MacPhail Center for Music; Pippi Ardennia's PipJazz Improv Night at the Bedlam Lowertown

Sunday, May 10. Swing Brunch with Patty and the Buttons at the Aster; Jazz Jam and Brunch at Crooners Lounge; Mothers' Day Big Band Blowout at the Como Dockside Pavilion; Fuzzy Math at the Black Dog; Jerry O'Hagan Orchestra with Charmin Michelle at Cinema Ballroom; Zacc Harris Trio at Riverview Wine Bar; Zack Lozier Three at Underground Music Cafe; Paul Renz at the Aster

Monday, May 11. Ray Covington and Bob Johnston at Crooners Lounge; Evan Benidt at Jazz Central

Tuesday, May 12. 7 Cats Swing Band at Crooners Lounge; Cafe Accordion at Loring Pasta Bar; Nova Jazz Orchestra at Minnesota Music Cafe; Cedar Ave Big Band at Jazz Central

Wednesday, May 13. Lila Ammons Trio at the Tangiers

Thursday, May 14. Fuzzy Math at Hell's Kitchen; JazzMN Orchestra with Patty Peterson at Chanhassan Fireside Theater

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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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