Saturday Night Jazz at kj's hideaway

The Lead Sheet: Top Voices Come to Town

Featured Twin Cities
Cecile McLorin Salvant at the Dakota (2015)

Vocalists seem to love the Twin Cities, and we’ve already had some top voices visit in the past few months, including Karrin Allyson, Marilyn Maye,  Signe Eeg, Sara Gazarek,  Gretchen Parlato, Cyrille Aimee, Stacey Kent and more, on top of our own local vocal standouts. But it’s going to be a whirlwind in the next month! If you schedule your time wisely, you can probably catch them all!

Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz

June Delights

Kate McGarry/Keith Ganz Quartet, in the Dunsmore Room (Crooners) June 2, 6:30 pm.  There is probably no more perfect setting for this long overdue visit from vocalist Kate McGarry and music/life partner guitarist Keith Ganz. The Wall Street Journal notes that their music is “austere and elegant, an exceptionally appealing blend of folk and jazz.” The New York Times pronounced Kate’s singing “astute and sensitive.” Her credits including touring and recording with jazz stars Fred Hersch, Kurt Elling, Maria Schneider, John Hollenbeck, Billy Childs, Luciana Souza, Theo Bleckmann and Tony Award Winner Jason Robert Brown. She’s also served as a Lincoln Center Teaching Artist, U.S. State Department Jazz Ambassador, and Jazz Arts faculty member at The Manhattan School of Music. Named #1 Rising Star Female Jazz Vocalist by Downbeat in 2016,  she has been featured on NPR shows such as Jazz Set with DeeDee Bridgwater, Piano Jazz with Marion McPartland, and All Things Considered. Husband Keith Ganz serves as guitarist, arranger and producer, winning a 2019 Grammy and lauded by Jazz Times as a “sublime master of subtlety.” Keith has performed Harry Connick, Jr., Tierney Sutton, Luciana Souza, Kurt Elling, Gretchen Parlato, Gary Versace, and Jo Lawry. Together, Kate and Keith have produced 6 critically acclaimed albums, earning two Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Their 2021 release, What to Wear in the Dark. features vibrant, jazz- fueled rearrangements of songs by iconic songwriters of the 70’s, with performances by jazz greats Gary Versace, Obed Calvaire, Sean Smith, Clarence Penn, Becca Stevens, and the late Ron Miles. Joining Kate and Keith in the Dunsmore Room are renowned bassist Reuben Rogers and drum dynamo Clarence Penn.

Cecile McLorin Salvant (at the Dakota, 2019)

Cecile McLorin Salvant, at The Dakota June 2, 7 & 9 pm.  Seemingly appearing out of nowhere to win the 2010 Thelonious Monk Vocal Jazz Competition, Cecile McLorin Salvant was described by the Wall Street Journal:  “She evokes Vaughan when she releases a taste or two of lush vibrato. She sounds a bit like Betty Carter, swooping up or down between notes to make a point; like Ella Fitzgerald, when she revels in an up-tempo groove. Yet these seem less like references than inherited traits…”  Her trajectory since winning the Monk competition has been steep, her first album for Mack Records nominated for a Grammy and winning Downbeat  Critics’ “Best Album” in 2013, winning New Artist of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year honors  in the 2014 Downbeat Critics Poll, and now holding three Grammy awards for Best Jazz Vocal Album. In 2020, Salvant received the “genius” MacArthur fellowship and the Doris Duke Artist Award. Nonesuch Records released Ghost Song in March 2022. Also a visual artist, Salvant makes large scale textile drawings and typically provides illustrations for her CD covers. She’s completing work on Ogresse, is a musical fable in the form of a cantata that blends genres (folk, baroque, jazz, country). Salvant wrote the story, lyrics, and music. It is arranged by Darcy James Argue for a thirteen-piece orchestra of multi-instrumentalists and will be performed next spring at the Walker Art Center.

[I first considered cloning myself to attend McGarry and Salvant on the same night, then realized I could easily hit the Dunsmore Room at 6:30 and arrive at the Dakota in time to hear Salvant’s second set at 9.]

Kandace Springs at The Dakota, June 9, 7 & 9 pm. Singer/Songwriter/Pianist Kandace Springs is a native of Nashville, and daughter of session singer Scat Springs. She grew up listening to jazz and soul and to Nina Simone. She released her debut EP for Blue Note in 2014, and soon performed on the Late Show with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and on stage with Prince. For her 2016 album Soul Eyes, she collaborated with Terence Blanchard, Dean parks, Jesse Harris and Vinnie Colaiuta. Karrien Riggins produced her 2018 album Indigo, featuring a trumpet solo by the late Roy Hargrove. In 2020 she released her third studio album, The Women Who Raised Me, a set of covers of songs recorded by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Roberta Flack, Billie Holiday, Diana Krall, Carmen McRae, Bonnie Raitt, Nina Simone and Dusty Springfield.

Kurt Elling (at The Dakota, 2021)

Kurt Elling with Charlie Hunter, at The Dakota June 22, 7 & 9 pm. Two-time Grammy winner Kurt Elling has been proclaimed “the standout male vocalist of our time” by the New York Times. Over his 25-year career, he has won three Prix du Jazz Vocal (France), two German Echo Awards, two Dutch Edison Awards, and has been nominated for a Grammy award fifteen times. For the past 14 years he has topped DownBeat Critics and Readers polls, and has won twelve Jazz Journalists Awards for “Male Vocalist of the Year.” Elling has appeared in the Twin Cities on a number of occasions in the past 20 years, and his return visits are always eagerly anticipated. His use of scat and vocalese, his original lyrics for such masterpieces as Coltrane’s “Revelation,” and his interpretations of such great instrumental works as Dexter Gordon’s sax solo on “Body and Soul” have put him at the creative apogee of modern jazz artists. In the midst of the pandemic, Elling was seeking fresh connection at a time of disorienting distance from the bandstand. He found it with hybrid guitarist Charlie Hunter, who brought in a couple of younger firebrands from the Richmond, Va. funk collective Butcher Brown. The result was Super Blue (Edition Records) and a dazzling new band. The album places Hunter’s dynamic and groove-fueled energy in collaboration with drummer Corey Fonville and multi-instrumentalist DJ Harrison, fueling Elling’s trademark storytelling and hipster persona even further.

Samara Joy, at  The Dakota June 25, 7 pm. Winner of the 2019 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, Samar Joy is currently touring in support of her debut recording, released in 2021. Although she grew up in New York surrounded by music, Samara didn’t seriously pursue jazz until attending SUNY Purchase, where she was named the Ella Fitzgerald Scholar. On her new album liner notes,  veteran vocal jazz writer Will Friedwald comments that “Samara’s voice and her music seem to belong to all time, like she’s connected to the entire history of jazz all at once – as if she were existing in every era simultaneously, she sounds both classic and contemporary.”

Bruce Henry (in the Dunsmore Room, 2017)

Bruce Henry at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, June 25, 4 pm (Main Stage).  A mainstay on the Twin Cities jazz scene for 30 years before returning to his adoptive hometown Chicago, singer/educator Bruce Henry has a distinctive baritone and three-octave range. Born in West Point, Mississippi, he moved to Chicago as a young child and was already singing in the family’s Baptist church by age 5. His pianist father immersed young Bruce in the music of Basie and Ellington. Although initially studying classical music at the Chicago Conservatory of Music, his love of improvisation led Henry to the music of Nina Simone, Al Jarreau, and John Coltrane. Absorbing eclectic styles of vocals and composition while touring the world, Bruce has garnered a large following in France and the Far East, and has been heard live on the BBC as well as on movie soundtracks. Over his career, Bruce has performed on such exotic and legendary international stages as the Malate in Manila, the Klezmer Festival in Israel, Le Bilboquet in Paris, the WhitBread in London, the Coconut Grove in Miami, the Waldorf Astoria in New York, and Grand Wailea in Maui. A Minneapolis resident for over 30 years, Henry maintained a nonstop schedule of performing, recording, and teaching before his move back to Chicago. In addition to private lessons, his educational efforts include workshops on creativity, vocal performance and Afro-American musicology, including the inspirational workshop, “Evolution of African American Music,” which will form the core of his Twin Cities Jazz Fest appearance. Bruce will be back in July in the Belvedere at Crooners.

Tierney Sutton (with Jazz MN Orchestra, 2016)

Tierney Sutton, at The Dakota June 29, 7 & 9 pm (rescheduled from May 30). It’s tribute enough that Tierney Sutton has nine Grammy nominations, but consider that every album she has released in the last decade has received the nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album! Switching from Russian studies to jazz, Milwaukee native Sutton studied at the Berklee College of Music, opened for Billy Taylor and Max Roach, and was a finalist in the 1998 Thelonious Monk Jazz Vocal Competition alongside Roberta Gambarini and Jane Monheit, all finishing behind the late Terry Thornton. Her fourteen albums to date cover broad territory, including tributes to Bill Evans, Frank Sinatra, Sting, and Joni Mitchell, and feature her long-running Tierney Sutton Band. Sutton spent a decade teaching at USC’s Thornton School of Music and six years as head of Vocal Music at the Los Angeles College of Music. Among her students, she counts Gretchen Parlato and Sara Gazarek. She’s performed locally at the Dakota and with the JazzMN Orchestra. Just a few weeks ago, Sutton released her 15th album, Paris Sessions II, featuring Parisian guitarist (and husband) Serge Merlaud and world renowned flutist Hubert Laws.


More –June on the Local Scene and Beyond!

We have a vibrant local vocal jazz scene, with these local and national artist gigs upcoming (this is not an exhaustive list–in particular see the Twin Cities Jazz Fest website at

Jennifer Grimm does Judy Garland

Crooners (

  • Prudence Johnson/Tim Sparks, “Songs of Lennon and McCartney), May 27, 6:30 pm (Dunsmore Room)
  • Erin Schwab and Jay Fuchs “Summer of Love”, May 27, 8 pm (Belvedere)
  • Maud Hixson “50s Songbook”, May 28, 5:30 pm (Dunsmore Room)
  • Jennifer Grimm “Judy Garland”, May 29, 5:30 pm (Main Stage)
  • Leslie Vincent, June 2, 8 pm (Main Stage)
  • Andrew Walesch/Orchestra, “Sinatra!” June 3, 7 pm (Belvedere)
  • Wayne Anthony, “Standards and Z Vous Play”, June 3, 8 pm (Main Stage)
  • Laila Biali, June 3, 8:30 pm (Dunsmore Room)
  • Connie Evingson with Patty and the Buttons, June 4, 4 pm (Main Stage)
  • Arne Fogel and Ages of Bing, June 5, 6 pm (Dunsmore Room)’
  • Dennis Spears and Ginger Commodore, June 5, 7:30 pm (Belvedere)
  • July 16, Bruce Henry at Crooners (Belvedere)
  • July 23-24, Ann Hampton Calloway at Crooners (Belvedere)

The Dakota (

  • Ginger Commodore Quartet, May 28, 7 pm
  • Paris Chansons, July 30, 7 pm

Sovereign Estate (

  • Maryann and the Moneymakers (Maryann Sullivan), May 27, 5 pm

Woman’s Club (

  • Connie Evingson with Patty and the Buttons, “Jazz on the Rooftop”, June 1, 6:30 pm