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.