This is the first in a periodic series of inspired collaborations among unlikely artists, promising a virtual nirvana for music junkies who delight in hearing what strange musical bedfellows can conjure. Session I brings together a quintet of extraordinary players from opposite ends of the Mississippi: Twin Cities residents Dean Magraw and Brandon Wozniak, and New Orleanians George Porter Jr., Johnny Vidacovich, and Joe Krown. Magraw is a brilliant, versatile guitarist who plays the gamut from jazz to world music. His many projects include Celtic rock 'n' reelers Boiled In Lead, and Impulso, a new jazz trio with drummer Jay Epstein and Wozniak, a saxophonist who has played rock, swing, and bop literally from Berlin to Shanghai and is a member of the local modern jazz band Atlantis Quartet. Porter is among the world's most iconic bass players, having set the wicked pulse for the Meters, the seminal Crescent City second-line funkateers whose influence far eclipses their record sales. Master drummer Vidacovich's heart beats with that syncopated NOLA strut; he's played with virtually everyone in town, notably including New Orleans's premier avant-jazz outfit Astral Project. Keyboardist Krown, who played for more than a decade with Clarence Gatemouth Brown, picks up on the NOLA B3 tradition from the likes of James Booker and the piano heritage of Fess, Tuts, and the rest. Magraw, who has never before played with any of the downriver trio, said the Cedar session will likely be heavy on Meters material, some of which he's been playing for decades. "These are really intense and open-minded people," he enthused. "These guys are famous for their ears as well as their chops. I'm just as psyched as I can be."
Thu., Feb. 26, 7 p.m., 2009