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 Saturday, 23 May 2015
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    Take an "Impossible Vacation" With Firebell at the Black Dog, May 23 PDF Print
    Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
    Wednesday, 20 May 2015

    FirebellİAndrea Canter

    Five years ago, three of the area's most productive and creative jazz artists came together as Firebell, a guitar/bass/drum trio drawing on the talents of Park Evans, Graydon Peterson and Jay Epstein. Over the years they have experimented with original compositions as well as some unique interpretations of jazz and pop standards, finally culminating in the release of their first recording, Impossible Vacation (Shifting Paradigm Records) last November. The vacation continues this holiday weekend, at the Black Dog on Saturday, May 23 (8:30 pm). Part of the Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog series, the night opens at 7 pm with music from Central Standard Time.

    Chris Lomheim Trio at The Nicollet, May 22 PDF Print
    Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
    Tuesday, 19 May 2015

    Chris LomheimİAndrea Canter

    Long a mainstay in the Twin Cities jazz community, pianist Chris Lomheim is known for his affinity for Bill Evans, his sublime skills as a singer's accompanist, and for his creative, lush compositions. Yet Lomheim's recorded output has been limited - his first (1994, Igmod) was aptly titled And You've Been Waiting; eight years later he released The Bridge (Artegra). Figuring he had waited long enough, Lomheim applied for a state arts board grant in 2013 to write and record new trio music, yielding Timelines, released in October 2014 with a sold-out show at Studio Z in St. Paul. The trio (with Gordy Johnson and Jay Epstein) returned to St Paul in November, performing at the Black Dog. With Reid Kennedy taking over the trapset, the Chris Lomheim Trio debut at The Nicollet on Friday, May 22, part of the Friday Night Jazz at The Nicollet series curated by Steve Kenny.

    "Home" for the Summer: Kristin Sponcia at Jazz Central, May 22 and 28 PDF Print
    Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
    Tuesday, 19 May 2015

    Kristin SponciaİAndrea Canter

    Former McNally Smith instructor and a seasoned performer on piano and vocals, Kristin Sponcia is taking a break from graduate studies at the University of Illinois to spend some time back home in the Twin Cities this summer. She launches her "vacation" with two gigs at Jazz Central -- leading her quartet on Friday, May 22, and singing in a trio with pianist Phil Mattson and bassist Tom Lewis on "Vocal Jazz Night," May 28. Following the May 22nd gig, Jazz Central will sponsor a Concert for Nepal featuring Javi Santiago, Pawan Benjamin and Miguel Hurtad, raising funds to support communities impacted by the recent earthquakes.

    Paul Renz Quartet + 1 at the Black Dog, May 16 PDF Print
    Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
    Friday, 15 May 2015

    Paul RenzİAndrea Canter

    "Renz music keeps surprising, with stylistically diverse, finely honed tunes, sometimes taut and tuneful, and sometimes open-ended and unpredictable...[His]compositions and fretwork alike exult in unveiling intriguing melodic and rhythmic angles with insouciant charm, knocking out listeners with subtle firepower hidden in a splendid vocabulary of feints and finesse." - Rick Mason, City Pages

    Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog is fast becoming the weekend "go to" jazz gig in the Twin Cities, featuring many of the artists who helped built the region's reputation as a major jazz scene as well as up-and-coming artists who will help shape the scene in the 21st century. Curated by Steve Kenny, the weekly series features two bands per night, 7 pm (usually a new band or newer artists) and an established ensemble at 8:30 pm. No cover-- tips of $5-10-20 appreciated to support the musicians. This weekend, the featured band is the Paul Renz Quartet + 1 (including guest artist Anders Bostrom), following the opening set from an old Artists Quarter favorite, Headspace.

    Michael O'Brien in the Twin Cities This Month: Three Gigs PDF Print
    Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
    Thursday, 14 May 2015

    Michael O'BrienİAndrea Canter

    One of the hottest young jazz talents in the Twin Cities during the first part of the 00s, bassist Michael O'Brien relocated to New York about 8 years ago where he has built an enviable reputation. Fortunately he returns "home" now and then to reconnect with old pals, and this week performs in three clubs in three different configurations. Catch Michael at the Icehouse on Monday, May 4 with a quintet featuring Zacc Harris, Brandon Wozniak, Jake Baldwin, and JT Bates (JT's Jazz Implosion); on Thursday, May 7 with Joel Shapira at Hell's Kitchen; and with his Triage Trio (Chris Lomheim, Jay Epstein) on Friday, May 15, at Jazz Central.

    JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske: "Jazz in the Lobby Bar" (and Far Beyond), CD Release May 15 PDF Print
    Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
    Wednesday, 13 May 2015

    JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske in the Lobby Bar

    "When does a hotel piano bar become a jazz venue? When the talent belongs to musicians who not only soothe bar patrons with refined artistry, but at the same time can engage jazz cognescenti with their interpretive skills and serious repertoire." --Jazz Police

    Seven years of weekend gigs in the Saint Paul Hotel's Lobby Bar has earned singer/pianist JoAnn Funk and bassist Jeff Brueske a loyal following as well as a 2011 recording, Pick Yourself Up. Adding frequent guest drummer Nathan Norman to most of the tracks, that first effort to recreate a typical Lobby Bar evening was well received, taking the listener through crowd as well as artist favorites from the songbooks of Gershwin, Kern and Carmichael to Brazilian standards from Jobim to the tunes of Nat King Cole, Diana Krall, Blossom Dearie and Leonard Cohen. After four more years of Friday and Saturday night gigs, JoAnn and Jeff again celebrate Jazz in the Lobby Bar with an equally eclectic set drawn from Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, and George Gershwin; familiar standards from less familiar writers ("The Very Thought of You," "Tea for Two," "I'm Glad There's You," "You Fascinate Me So"); a jazz classic from  Clifford Brown; and a pair from less expected sources-- Mose Allison and Waylon Jennings. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that only one songwriter -- George Gershwin-- overlaps the two recordings. Of course anyone who frequents these gigs in the Lobby Bar has come to appreciate JoAnn's and Jeff's wide-ranging repertoire. And those not yet familiar with their collaboration can get their first dose on Friday, May 15, when JoAnn, Jeff, and a few talented friends celebrate the CD release at the Saint Paul Hotel. In order to accommodate the expected crowd, the music moves into the large Promenade Ballroom, 7:30-10:30 pm. JoAnn and Jeff finish off their Lobby Bar season the next night, May 16, returning for their annual three-night run during the Twin Cities Jazz Festival (June 25-27) and starting season eight in September.

    Gravatt and Magraw Bring Their "Fire" to Studio Z, May 16th PDF Print
    Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
    Tuesday, 12 May 2015

    Eric Gravatt and Dean MagrawİAndrea Canter

    “There was a time when big band people, if they had a hit, they had to play that same solo every night. We improvise and play off each other. It’s fresh every night.”  --Eric Kamau Gravatt

    Drum veteran Eric Kamau Gravatt (Weather Report, McCoy Tyner) and eclectic guitar titan Dean Magraw (Red Planet) formed a duo only two years ago, but wasted little time developing a magical partnership. “We went the Coltrane direction,” says Magraw. “I really studied his compositions and the way he played music, improvised and writes music.” Gravatt proved to be a kindred spirit, a Philly native who’d grown up immersed in the city’s rich music scene, including the music of fellow Philadelphian John Coltrane. The two virtuosos brought little but their fertile imaginations to Creation Audio last spring, and followed their collaborative muse to light a Fire on the Nile, released in October 2014 by Red House Records. Fortunately they continue their collaboration with occasional gigs. On Saturday, May 16, they perform on the Jazz at Studio Z season-ending concert at 7 pm. The pair will also conduct a free public master class at 6 pm.

    Tim Berne's Snakeoil at the Icehouse on Monday, May 11th PDF Print
    Written by Ronaldo Oregano   
    Saturday, 09 May 2015
    Few musicians working in or around jazz over the last 30 years have developed an idiomatic signature more distinctive than Tim Berne.”   — Nate Chinen, The New York Times


    Tim Berne İ Andrea Canter

    Tim Berne is visiting Minneapolis in support of his third ECM album, You’ve Been Watching Me, which sees the saxophonist-composer again leading his dynamic New York band Snakeoil (Tim Berne on alto saxophone, Oscar Noriega on bass and b-flat clarinets, Matt Mitchell on piano, and  Ches Smith on drums) , but with the quartet now a quintet with the addition of guitarist Ryan Ferreira. Tim Bern's Snakeoil will be appearing at the Icehouse in Minneapolis on Monday, May 11th at 9:30 pm.
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