Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Personal Christmas Story

This past Sunday night I played in an adult pick up hockey game in St. Paul. It was a primarily a group of older men and women who had known each other for some time. Because it was holiday break there were quite a few new people including a couple of high school players. Since there was no school the next day, I brought my 6 year-old son along. He enjoys watching me play and being in the middle of the action. I have him dress in full equipment even if he only gets to skate during warmups or between periods. I want him to be safe while on the ice and on the bench.

Anyway, the players on my team all wanted my son to come out and play during the game. So, he went out and followed along and they fed him the puck. They really were good to him and he skated end to end 5 or 6 times and shot on the other goalie. This went on for most of the game. (It was tough to get him off the ice once he was on!) I was pretty proud of him. He got right in there and wasn't intimidated by the bigger guys -- and gals. Finally, my son took the puck the length of the ice, weaved through a few defensive players, and stuck it in the five hole for a goal! Everyone went crazy and my son was beaming. After the game, one of the guys came into the locker room and said that they usually don't do this but they were giving out the 3 stars of the game tonight. My son got the first star and the game puck. This guy even went about the formality of shaking my son's hand.

Later, I had to explain to my boy that he had been playing with, sitting on the bench with, and getting a handshake from Governor Tim Pawlenty. I don't think that meant as much to him as the goal but he seemed to gain interest after I explained what a Governor was.

Although we didn't get home from the game until after 10:00 pm, my son had a hard time falling to sleep that night. And when he did, he had that puck clutched in his hand.

Joy comes from unexpected things and places. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Jud

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christine Rosholt Live at the Dakota

Live at the Dakota. Christine is fabulous and her trio of musicians is a good fit. The place is packed.

Live Blogging at the Dakota

I am at the Dakota Jazz Club. Christine Rosholt starts at 7:00 pm. I will provide my thoughts as the evening progresses. The Dakota's atmosphere is luxuriant. Quite a treat just to be here

Monday, December 15, 2008

Jazz CDs of the Year

Nick Francis on NPR has announced his best jazz CDs of 2008. Although listed in no particular order, the top of the list is James Carter, who just finished a tour at the Dakota. Carter's "Present Tense" is rightfully among the best of the year (if not the best). See Pamela Espeland's review at MinnPost.

Francis also has Holly Cole's self-titled album, the Pat Metheny Trio's "Day Trip", David Sanborn's "Here and Gone", Chick Corea & Gary Burton's "New Crystal Silence", Roy Hargrove Quintet's "Earfood", Cassandra Wilson's "Loverly", Danilo Perez's "Across the Crystal Sea", Tom Scott's Cannon Re-Loaded", and Melody Gardot's "Worrisome Heart" as his favorites.

My plans for this week include Christine Rosholt's CD release party at the Dakota on Wednesday night. The show starts at 7:00 pm and cover is $5.00 at the door.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Minnesota Orchestra

If you have not done so already, make sure to sign up for the Target Free Family Concerts with the Minnesota Orchestra. Jazz for Young People will be held on March 7th at 2:00 pm. The concerts are free but the tickets are issued via a random drawing.

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will be answering questions and performing for approximately one hour.

In addition, the Minnesota Orchestra will be hosting the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Mr. Marsalis for live performances on March 6 and March 7, 2009.

Finally, don't forget the Minnesota Orchestra's Jazz Festival which will be held all day on March 6th at Orchestra Hall. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will be offering critiques of each performance and will perform with participants.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

MacPhail Center for Music

The MacPhail Center for Music, right here in Minneapolis, offers up a variety of jazz opportunities. MacPhail holds "Jazz Thursdays" and this week's offering is Snowblind. The show begins at 8:00 pm and tickets are $10/$5. The performance will be held in Antonello hall.

In addition to the performances, MacPhail (obviously) has a number of jazz classes available for the novice to the expert. Special attention is paid to the younger set, but there are some opportunities available for the older crowd as well -- including those for non-musicians. I want to highlight the Jazz 101 class which begins on February 3, 2009. It is a twelve-week session and meets each Tuesday for one hour. Cost is $220.

The MacPhail's Jazz Events Calendar will now be featured on Jazz Ramblings.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Yusef Lateef

Well, Saturday December 6th was my birthday. So, what did I do to celebrate this fine occasion? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Originally, I had plans to join my son's mite hockey team for a social gathering. That was cancelled, so following his evening hockey practice I came home and did, well, pretty much nothing.

Today, while perusing Pam Espeland's column over at MinnPost, what do I see? Yusef Lateef was in town at the Walker Art Center on Saturday night! I am heartbroken. Not only did I miss one of the best in the business, I missed it on my birthday.

It almost pains me to ask this, but if anyone did attend and would like to offer up a few words, please feel free to comment.

I cannot complain much despite this mistake however. I am planning to attend James Carter's performance on Wednesday night at the Dakota. Ms. Espeland does a fabulous write-up on him so I won't attempt to compete. See you there.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Bad Plus to Perform in Moscow

The jazz trio, The Bad Plus, originally from Minnesota and now based in New York will be performing tonight in Moscow. The group has introduced a new dimension to jazz by performing versions of popular rock hits from Nirvana, ABBA, Black Sabbath, and Blondie.

The Trio is made up of pianist Ethan Iverson, drummer David King, and bassist Reid Anderson. Also performing in Moscow will be vocalist Wendy Lewis, also a Minnesotan.

Check out the band's recent album "Prog." It includes covers of Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Rush, and even some Stravinsky.

The next gig for the trio will be at the Dakota in Minneapolis from December 26th - 29th. Then, they are off to the venerable Village Vanguard in New York from December 30th - January 4th.

The Bad Plus may not appeal to jazz purists but I am keeping an open mind. There is no question they bring a new dimension to jazz and are shaking things up. I have a weakness for pop rock so the combination is appealing to me. I have not caught any of the "Plus One" vocals of Ms. Lewis but understand from others that she is a nice addition.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Look Ahead at the Weekend

A look ahead at your weekend entertainment options.

The Artists' Quarter in St. Paul has the Dave Karr Quartet on Friday night at 9 pm. Cover is $10.

On Saturday night, the Larry Coryell Trio plays at AQ. Showtimes are 8 and 10:30 pm. Cover is $25.

If you can make it tonight, the AQ has the McNally Smith Jazz Ensemble at 6:30 pm and Triplicate at 9 pm. Cover for Triplicate is $5.

Over at the Dakota, Nancy Harms performs on Friday night at 8 pm. Cover is $10. On Saturday night, the Dakota Combo, an elite high school ensemble performs at 8 pm. Cover is $10.

Finally, a hearty congratulations to Ahmad Jamal, whose "It's Magic" was announced as one of the year's ten best by NPR Jazz.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jazz 88.5 KBEM

Minneapolis jazz radio station 88.5 a/k/a Jazz88 has been getting short shrift in Jazz Ramblings. It is not intentional. It is just that the Jazz88 website is so difficult to navigate. When you click a header the drop down menu actually appears at the top of the page and you have to chase it around to click on what you want.

So as to make sure my local jazz station is getting the attention it deserves, I am posting the following information on upcoming events.

On December 5th and 6th, the Jazz88 Holiday Boutique will be selling golf shirts, hoodies, T-shirts, berets, baseball caps, and beanies. Pre-orders are available today and tomorrow by clicking here and then clicking on the Merchandise Form.

Other Jazz88 events include:

December 7th - Butch Thompson's Jazz Originals Holiday Show at the Dakota

December 11th - Gallery Grooves at Frank Stone Gallery

December 17th - Jazz88 Holiday Part and Swingin' with the Wolves Holiday Broadcast

I would also note that local columnist Pam Espeland of MinnPost is now broadcasting on Friday mornings on Jazz88, so tune in.

I encourage you to support Jazz88, the Minneapolis students involved with the station, and our local jazz scene.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holiday Gift Ideas

There are a huge number of gift ideas for jazz lovers but I am attempting to narrow down the list for those who don't have the time.

First, I have to mention the new Miles Davis Kind of Blue 50th Anniversary Deluxe Box set. Most stores who carry such items are offering it for $100 or less. If you purchase the set through Jazz Live at Lincoln Center's Gift Shop, you pay an additional $100 but get additional sets and the autograph of last surviving member and drummer Jimmy Cobb.

The Box Set contains: 180-ram blue vinyl LP in original jacket, two compact discs (more than 2 hours of music), new documentary DVD celebrating Kind of Blue, 60-Page book of critical essays and annotations plus discographical data, timeline and photos, 6 evocative 8X10 photos and a 22x23 Miles Davis poster, a reproduction of a Columbia Records promotional brochure and more.

Jazz at Lincoln Center also has a number of other items you could peruse.

The Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis offers a wide variety of live recordings, shirts, mugs, and gift cards.

The Artists' Quarter in St. Paul also offers gift cards.

Next, check out some great shirts, mugs, and ties at Zazzle.

You can spice up the morning with some Holiday Jazz Coffee from Community Coffee of Louisiana.

The New York Times has put together a decent list for jazz lovers. Check it out here.

I hope this list will at least get you started. And, if you are anything like me, you won't hesitate to pick up a few items for yourself.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Wynton Marsalis: "Moving to Higher Ground"

Several weeks ago I finished reading Wynton Marsalis' recent book "Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life". The book was not intended to be a primer on jazz but rather a means of looking and listening to jazz in such a way as to apply it to all aspects of life.

I read the book with a novice's perspective and truly enjoyed it. This is a book that both aficionados and neophytes will find useful and refreshing. There was information for the newcomer in how to listen and enjoy jazz but the most interesting material was that related to using the creativity and improvisation of jazz and applying it to life in general.

I have to concur with the excellent commentary on the book jacket provided by Maya Angelou:

“Wynton Marsalis is absolutely the person who should write this book. Here he is, as young as morning, as fresh as dew, and already called one of the jazz greats. He is not only a seer and an exemplary musician, but a poet as well. He informs us that jazz was created, among other things, to expose the hypocrisy and absurdity of racism and other ignorances in our country. Poetry was given to human beings for the same reason. This book could be called “How Love Can Change Your Life,” for there could be no jazz without love. By love, of course, I do not mean mush, or sentimentality. Love can only exist with courage, and this book could not be written without Wynton Marsalis’s courage. He has the courage to make powerful music and to love the music so, that he willingly shares its riches with the entire human family. We are indebted to him.”
–Maya Angelou

If anyone can sum up in words what jazz means, it is Marsalis. And if anyone can sum up what Marsalis is and has accomplished here, it is Angelou.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dizzy Gillespie - The Complete RCA Victor Recordings

I am currently working my way through Dizzy Gillespie The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (1937-49). I am struck by the technical skills displayed along with the fresh quality of the music. This compilation was recommended to me for a good overall sampling of Gillespie's music. The contrast and comparison between big band with an emergence of bebop, and Latin jazz are a great introduction for the new listener. In addition, tunes such as "Ool-Ka-Yoo" provide a good example of scat singing.

Overall, I would rate the compilation highly for the reasons I mention above and for its ability to communicate the high energy style which is associated with Dizzy. I could not help myself from tapping my feet even after a very long night. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Addition to Jazz Ramblings - Jazz at Lincoln Center

Jazz Ramblings is proud to announce that Jazz at Lincoln Center events will now be included in its Schedule of Events. Please refer to the jazz events column to the left and click on Jazz at Lincoln Center for a calendar of Lincoln Center jazz events including jazz productions, Dizzy's Club Coca Cola, JazzEd!, and other performance and educational opportunities.

Monday, November 24, 2008

MinnPost's Pamela Espeland

It is with a slight blush I note the presence of the brilliant Pamela Espeland, MinnPost columnist and editor of the Bebopified blog, right under my nose.

I highly recommend her recent MinnPost column on Ahmad Jamal. Mr. Jamal will be performing tonight through Wednesday night at the Dakota. Showtimes are 7:00 and 9:00 pm.

Ms. Espeland notes, without details, the upcoming performance by Herbie Hancock. The Jamal and Hancock performances are part of the Hennepin Theatre Trust's Jazz Series. The details on the Hancock gig have not been announced but a Spring date has been suggested. Further details will be released and we will be tracking the news from the Hennepin Theatre Trust.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Doris Hines 85th Birthday Bash

The Dakota Jazz Club will be hosting an 85th birthday celebration tonight for one of the areas most renowned vocalists, Doris Hines. Ms. Hines has performed with such other greats as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Nat King Cole, and Harry Belafonte.

Tonight's performance will include Ms. Hines on vocals, Percy Hughes on alto sax, Irv Williams on tenor sax, Jimmy Hamilton on piano, Tom Lewis on bass, and Joe Pulice on percussion.

The show starts at 7:00 pm tonight, November 19th, at the Dakota Jazz Club in downtown Minneapolis. Cover is $10 at the door.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Podcasts

Jazz Ramblings is proud to include NPR's Jazz Profile Podcasts on the site. With one click you can now access NPR's extensive and authentic profiles of jazz legends.

Jazz Events

Jazz Ramblings has added a calendar of jazz events to its site. Currently, local jazz venues/sources such as Dakota Jazz Club and McNally Smith College of Music are posted. In addition, favs such as the Copenhagen Jazz House and Jazz Festival are listed.

If you would like to add your event or link to the list please let us know.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Alive Arts Media Event - Dakota Jazz Club

Alive Arts Media will be hosting a special event at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis tonight. The event starts at 5 p.m. with music by a Alison Scott.

The event is intended to kick-off of a new mentorship program involving Alive Magazine and Alive Arts Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging women to create the media they want to see.

Jazz vocalist Connie Evingson and her band headline the event starting at 7 p.m. The $10 cover includes a complimentary glass of wine, with proceeds going to Alive Arts Media.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Day Off

I enjoyed a day off from work today to recoup from minor surgery. The time passed quickly and painlessly thanks to the iPod and the music of Charlie "Bird" Parker, Dave Brubeck, J.R. Monterose, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis.

I have enjoyed exploring bassist William Parker's album "Corn Meal Dance." I typically don't enjoy vocals but if you listen for Parker everything else seems to melt away.

Today's post is short -- for obvious reasons. I hope to still attend Nachito Herrera's gig tomorrow night at the Dakota. Review will follow.

Enjoy it all.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nachito Herrera

Ignacia "Nachito" Herrera headlines the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis on Friday and Saturday night. Herrera is an experienced latin jazz specialist with prior training under Rubén González, Jorge Gomez Labraña, and Frank Fernández. Herrera is the past musical director at the "Tropicana" in Cuba. More recently he was a member of the Cubanismo as lead pianist, arranger, and musical director.

Here is what the Star Tribune had to say:

“Hotter than the burning tip of a contraband Cuban cigar. Stronger than a straight shot of Havana rum. As exciting as a World Series game, with ‘El Duque’ on the mound. Explosive. Crowd pleasing. Rhythmically intense. Romantic. Dynamic. Jaw-droppingly good.”- Tom Surrowicz, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Herrera opens at the Dakota at 8:00 pm each night. Cover is $15.00. I hope to see you all there Saturday night.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Inaugural Edition of Jazz Ramblings

Welcome to the Inaugural Edition of Jazz Ramblings. I hope you will find something of benefit from this new blog. It certainly is not written by an expert but will provide a fresh, new perspective from a relative newcomer to the jazz scene. My experiences have been shaped through exposure to jazz in the Midwest, Southern California, and Copenhagen.

Your comments, thoughts, and criticisms are welcome.