© Andrea Canter
One of the Twin Cities favorite jazz sons, saxophonist Pat Mallinger made an almost annual holiday visit to the Artists Quarter for many years through 2013 when the club closed. In the four years since his last AQ gig, Mallinger has kept busy in the Chicago area, but “home” is still the Twin Cities. Pat has returned to the Twin Cities a few times, appearing at Vieux Carre’ with his quartet and most recently, in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge in duo with pianist Bill Carrothers. Back again for the Thanksgiving weekend, this quartet “homecoming” at Vieux Carré will be celebrated on Saturday, November 25 (9 pm), in the space previously filled by the Artists Quarter. And he’ll be joined by long-time pals from the Twin Cities, Mary Louise Knutson (piano), Gary Raynor (bass) and Phil Hey (drums).
As a youngster in St. Paul, Pat Mallinger was inspired by the Grass Junior High Jazz Band and recordings of Paul Desmond, and decided jazz rather than dentistry was his destiny. He played in the Sibley High School band, studied with his uncle Tommy Bauer and Brian Grivna, and often heard the great Eddie Berger perform around town. In addition to Desmond, Pat cites such early jazz influences as Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, and Miles Davis. After high school, Mallinger earned a degree in jazz studies from North Texas State and, in 1986, moved to Boston where he played with the Artie Shaw Orchestra. Relocating to his current home in Chicago in 1990, Mallinger has played with Joe Williams, Nancy Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Harry Connick, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; he’s toured with Charles Earland, Woody Herman, and Cab Calloway, and appears in concerts and festivals around the world. In Chicago, he regularly performs with the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Kurt Elling, Howard Levy, and the 911 Mambo Orchestra; he leads his quartet (Bill Carrothers, Dennis Carroll, George Fludes), plays in a sax/piano duo with Dan Trudell, and he co-leads the ensemble Sabertooth, which performs weekly at the Green Mill. Pat is also a committed jazz educator whose efforts include inspiring inner city students to pursue jazz as a member of the Ravinia Jazz Mentors and the Chicago Public Schools’ Louis Armstrong Legacy Project. Pat’s latest quartet release is Elevate (PJM Jazz, 2014), which was praised by Downbeat as “organically flowing, passionately played, highly recommended.”
A modern mainstream artist who honors melody without being confined by it, Lawrence Conservatory graduate Mary Louise Knutson cut her performance teeth with such notables as Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby McFerrin, Dianne Reeves, Slide Hampton, Richie Cole, Greg Abate, Von Freeman, and Billy Hart; and toured with Smoky Robinson, the Osmond Brothers, Engelbert Humperdinck, comedians such as Phyllis Diller, and internationally with Synergy (formerly Rupert’s Orchestra). Her highly acclaimed first recording, Call Me When You Get There, was released in 2001 on Meridian Jazz and later in Japan, hitting the jazz charts “Top 50” in the U.S. and Canada for eight consecutive weeks following its debut. Said Jazz Times, “Call Me When You Get There is…state-of-the-art piano trio finery.” If Call Me When You Get There was “piano trio finery,” then Mary Louise’s second release, In the Bubble (2011) was easily “piano trio majesty,” remaining on the Top 50 charts for 19 weeks. One of five finalists in the first-ever Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Piano Competition at Kennedy Center in 2005, Knutson was a Minnesota Music Awards nominee for both Jazz Artist of the Year and Pianist of the Year in 2006. Among her current gigs, she has performed for the past twelve seasons with the JazzMN Orchestra, and for the past seven years has joined Doc Severinsen’s Big Band fall and spring tours.
A Minnesota resident since 1977, Gary Raynor (bass) toured with Sammy Davis Jr., performed with the Count Basie Band, Rupert’s Orchestra, Richie Cole, Claudio Roditi, Herb Ellis, Mark Murphy, and Clark Terry, and has appeared with dozens of Broadway touring shows, including the first presentation of The Lion King. A long-time performer with Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band on Prairie Home Companion, Raynor is featured on Janet Jackson’s hit single “Again” and the original Rio Nido album, I Like to Riff. Locally Gary has performed with Debbie Duncan, Bruce Henry, Dave Karr, Manfredo Fest, Laura Caviani, Pete Whitman, Reuben Ristrom, Tim Sparks, the JazzMN Orchestra, and more.
A former student of Ed Blackwell and Marv Dahlgren, native Philadelphian Phil Hey is one of the most esteemed drummers in town. In addition to twenty years of touring with the late Dewey Redman, he has performed many gigs at the Artists Quarter, Dakota and other venues backing touring artists, local vocalists, and small ensembles. For several years, Phil (along with bassist Gordy Johnson) toured with British vocalist Stacey Kent, including gigs at Birdland in New York. He also manages percussion duties for the Pete Whitman X-Tet, Dean Sorenson Sextet, Dave Karr Quartet, and Benny Weinbeck Trio as well as Chris Bates’ Good Vibes Trio and his own quartet, and teaches at the University of Minnesota, St. Olaf College, and MacPhail Center for Music. His most recent recordings include a volcanic duo with trumpeter Kelly Rossum, Conflict, and sideman duties for Mary Louise Knutson on In the Bubble. He also contributed to Von Freeman’s Live at the Dakota, rating four stars from Down Beat. City Pages named Phil’s Subduction as its Jazz Recording of the Year for 2006.
Vieux Carré is located at 408 St Peter Street in the lower level of the Hamm Building in the space formerly occupied by the Artists Quarter. Pat Mallinger and his quartet play 9 pm- midnight, cover $12 (cash only). Full club schedule at http://vieux-carre.com