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 Thursday, 26 November 2015
Young and Fearless: The Jake Baldwin Quartet, Late Night at the Dakota on March 26th PDF Print
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Jake BaldwinİAndrea Canter

There’s a rich tradition of nurturing young jazz musicians in the Twin Cities, and many jazz artists from coast to coast trace the origins of their jazz chops and inspiration to studies in local schools, jazz camps, and various local and state-wide ensembles. Among young lions launching careers just over the past few years are Jose James, John Raymond, Chris Graham, Paris Strother, Brandon Commodore, Javier Santiago, Chris Smith and more. And among jazz education programs that have significantly impacted future jazz stars is the Dakota Combo, now in its fourth year as a program of the MacPhail Center for Music in partnership with the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education. On Friday, March 26th, Late Night at the Dakota presents an ensemble of recent Combo alumni, the Jake Baldwin Quartet. Actually, that’s three Combo alumni – Jake Baldwin, Cory Grindberg and Joe Strachan, and one current Combo musician, Cameron LeCrone. Now playing and studying in four different locations, spring break reunites a young but formidable ensemble. 

The Band

Jake Baldwin started trumpet in sixth grade, he says, “because it was between that and choir, and if you've ever heard me sing, well, be glad I play trumpet.” Hearing Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra pulled him into jazz, while Charles Mingus and Thelonious Monk are other sources of inspiration. A 2009 graduate of Minnetonka High School and alum of the second and third editions of the Dakota Combo (2007-09), Jake also played in his school bands and with the Minnesota Youth Jazz Band, the Isaac Zuckerman Quartet, and Metropolitan Port Authority. Now attending the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Jake notes that “since getting here things have changed a lot for me. My whole perspective on music has changed thanks to my studies with Jerry Bergonzi, Bob Moses, John McNeil, Joe Morris and Fred Hersch. These guys have all been incredibly supportive and helpful in shaping me as a musician. I've been lucky enough to be able to see the Wayne Shorter quartet perform at my school, Jason Moran, too, and I got the opportunity to play in an ensemble coached by Dave Holland earlier this year. The musical climate here is unbelievable and I really feel like this place is perfect to me. I've grown as a trumpeter and a musician more than I could have ever imagined going into this school year.” 

Joe StrachenİAndrea Canter
Pianist Joe Strachan is a graduate of Northfield High School (2009) and was the pianist for the third edition of the Dakota Combo (2008-09). A student of Laura Caviani, he first studied classical music, switching to jazz in eighth grade. Joe cites as historic influences Ornette Coleman, Wayne Shorter, Charles Mingus, and Keith Jarrett, while more contemporary sources of inspiration include Adam Linz, Bryan Nichols, Michael Lewis, Chris Morrisey, JT Bates, Craig Taborn and Tim Berne. In addition to the Dakota Combo and his Northfield High School jazz, band and choral ensembles, Joe played with the 2008-09 All State Jazz Band, Minnesota Youth Jazz Bands, Shell Lake Jazz Ensemble (three years), MITY Jazz Ensemble, the Isaac Zuckerman Quartet, and his own trio. Joe was a scholarship recipient in the 2008 and 2009 Jazz Piano Scholarship Competition sponsored by the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education and Schubert Club, taking the Performance Prize in 2009. Now attending the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music, Joe reports that “I've been studying classical piano under Cathy Kautsky and performing as a member of the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble. We just did a U.S. premiere of Fred Sturm's “Migrations” with Bobby McFerrin. After all the rehearsing and practice, I've only really had time for a couple of small combos on the side, including some work with a really fantastic singer over in Appleton…We [Joe Strachan Trio] performed as this group minus Jake this winter [at Rogue Buddha Gallery in Minneapolis] and I was really happy with how it turned out, so I'm very excited to add Jake into the mix.”  

Cory GrindbergİAndrea Canter
Minneapolis South High graduate (2009), bassist Cory Grindberg started guitar lessons in 5th grade and bass the following year. His interest in jazz was fueled by his lack of interest in classical music: “Basically the real music that challenged me was jazz and classical.  I wasn't interested in classical, so I went to jazz,” he explains. Among his sources of inspiration, Cory cites Charles Mingus, Les Claypool and Jaco Pastorius. Also a two-year member of the Dakota Combo (2007-09), Cory played with the Minneapolis South High School Jazz band, the Minnesota Youth Jazz Band, Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth (MITY) Jazz Program and  the Twin Cities Jazz Workshop with Doug Little, as well as with the Isaac Zuckerman Quartet, Metropolitan Port Authority and Joe Strachan Trio. He was on the Rogue Buddha gig in December. Now attending Northwestern University in Chicago, Cory notes that “I've been learning and playing the music of Horace Silver, Richard Rodgers, and Jerome Kern.  I've been playing about eight times as much as I used to, and am learning a lot from my private lesson teacher, Carlos Henriquez.  I've been working really hard to develop solid technique and my own unique tone.” 

Cameron LeCroneİAndrea Canter
Cameron LeCrone (drums) is the youngest member of the quartet, a senior at Minnetonka High School and member of the Dakota Combo. Cam has been playing drums since he was six or seven, when his dad, also a drummer, first set up a drum kit in the basement. After a few years he began to study concert percussion, but became interested in jazz through his older brother Geoff, guitarist with the second edition of the Dakota Combo. Among drummers who have inspired him, he cites “anything with Art Blakey, Tony Williams, Frankie Dunlop or Brian Blade. Outside of the drumming world, I like Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and Wayne Shorter.” Returning to the Dakota Combo for a second year, Cam played with the MMEA All-State Jazz Ensemble last summer, with the All-State ensemble at the MMEA Convention in February, and, in addition to the Combo, plays with the Minnetonka High School Jazz Ensemble, Minnesota Youth Jazz Band, and some blues and rock bands. In December, he played with the Joe Strachan Trio at Rogue Buddha Gallery. After graduation this spring, he’s looking to “pursue a Jazz Studies/Performance degree...and hopefully double major in something math or science related,” and is leaning toward the University of Minnesota. 

Late Night Gig

So what’s in store for Late Night at the Dakota with the Jake Baldwin Quartet? “A lot of the music will be my originals (if I can get them together in time!),” says Jake, “and the rest of the guys’ stuff.  It will mostly be originals with a snoop dogg tune in there. I want to meet the guy who writes the beats for snoop because the chord changes to some of his songs are unbelievable. This gig will be really cool for me because it's my debut as a leader.”  

It will be really cool for us in the audience, too, because it’s always cool to hear how promising student musicians evolve into accomplished young masters. And to hear how they integrate their new influences with their already-substantial talents. 

The Jake Baldwin Quartet takes the stage at the Dakota at 11:30 pm on Friday, March 26th, following the incendiary sets of Nachito Herrera from 8-11 pm. Late Night cover only $5.  

The Dakota is located at 1010 Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis; Find Jake Baldwin on Facebook at  

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