By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
The annual three-day invasion of downtown St. Paul by the Twin Cities Jazz Festival again will be highlighted by a couple of free stages sporting first-tier jazz bands at Lowertown's Mears Park. Numerous downtown clubs will also be teeming with an eclectic array of local artists, running the gamut from pianists Scott Miller and Butch Thompson to guitarist Dean Magraw's Red Planet, Ticket to Brasil, and groups led by George Mauer, George Avaloz, and Zacc Harris. There'll also be a stage featuring student jazz ensembles, and the festival will coincide with Pianos on Parade, which scattered 10 pianos outside around downtown St. Paul for anyone to play when the fancy strikes.
221 E. 5th St.
St. Paul, MN 55101
Category: Community Venues
Region: St. Paul (Downtown)
910 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Category: Performing Arts Venues
Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)
Meanwhile, the main stage amid the leafy glades of Mears Park on Thursday will feature local singers Alicia Renee (joined by Chicago pianist Jon Weber) and Connie Evingson. The local Latin-oriented outfit Seven Steps to Havana will get things underway there Friday, followed by the multi-generational Peterson Family of local jazz stalwarts, and finally by the New Gary Burton Quartet. Burton, an innovative vibraphone icon with enduring ties to the likes of Chick Corea and Larry Coryell, now is heading up a quartet featuring guitarist Julian Lage, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Antonio Sanchez. Their lustrous new Common Ground is a masterpiece of sublime ensemble work, especially the effervescent interplay between Burton and Lage, exploring jazz subtly streaked with Spanish and blues elements via intricate originals and a handful of older tunes. Saturday evening on the main stage will begin with a surprising surfacing of keyboardist Eumir Deodato, the Brazilian pop-jazz phenom perhaps best known for his 1972 version of Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra," the theme for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Although much of his extensive output is bland, Deodato has also been an arranger and producer for everyone from Jobim and Sinatra to Kool and the Gang. His brand-new The Crossing is a more serious fusion escapade boasting the likes of Al Jarreau, Billy Cobham, and Airto Moreira. Veteran percussionist Gerardo Velez, who played with Hendrix at Woodstock, will help out.
Wrapping things up on the main stage will be the fabulous Panamanian pianist/composer Danilo Pérez in a trio setting with standout bassist John Patitucci and master percussionist Adam Cruz. A protégé of Dizzy Gillespie, Pérez conjures up a vivid mix of bop, pan-Latin American styles, and classical, playing with a remarkable blend of fire and lyricism. His latest album, the Grammy-nominated Providencia, has an expansive perspective, incorporating elements from many facets of jazz and world music. Check out the entire schedule at twincitiesjazzfestival.com. All ages. Free. 6 p.m. Thursday; 4:30 p.m. Friday; 12 p.m. Saturday. 221 E. Fifth St., St. Paul; 651.632.5111. —Rick Mason
Varsity Theater on Wednesday 6.22
Lee DeWyze garnered millions of votes to win Season 9 of American Idol, then watched as those votes failed to translate into sales for post-Idol disc Live It Up. That was a shame: The 25-year old Illinois native has raw talent to spare, and there was an undeniably voyeuristic feel to his televised performances as his unvarnished vocals slalomed unevenly between triumph and failure. Live sands down that roughness, offering listeners an intense-if-tamed version of the DeWyze experience—you know, that burly-boy-next-door honesty, that burlap-teddy-bear soulfulness. (Seriously, dude isn't as far removed from Taylor Hicks territory as his boosters would like to believe.) We're willing to gamble that live, bearded DeWyze remains more spontaneous than studio-based, reined-in DeWyze, and we advise you to take those odds. All ages. $17. 6 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Ray Cummings
Troy Andrews has been playing his trombone on the streets of New Orleans since the days he competed for a height advantage with his own instrument. Although he shot up way past his 'bone's slide, he still has the nickname, along with a skyrocketing reputation as one of the Crescent City's most talented and dynamic young artists, whether blowing his horn or as a charismatic singer. His major-label debut, Backatown, a bristling mix of traditional and contemporary jazz, funk, pop, and soul from New Orleans and elsewhere, is still near the top of Billboard's contemporary jazz chart more than a year after its release. While work progresses on a new album, Trombone Shorty has been a hot commodity, frequently turning up with the likes of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Dave Matthews. Chicago's Lubriphonic will open with a blast of its tight, effusive, horn-goosed funk, soul, blues, and rock, suggesting a time warp swing back to 1974. All ages. $29. 7:30 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. —Rick Mason
400 Bar on Thursday 6.23 and Friday 6.24
On both nights of this two-night stand, the trio's first set will be determined by a spin of a wheel in the game-show spirit of Elvis Costello's "Spectacular Spinning Songbook." YLT's wheel yields one of eight possibilities: a set of astutely chosen covers by second selves the Condo Fucks, for instance, or one in which "band and crew act out a classic sitcom" (two slow-moving minutes of internet research indicates that they're not kidding, and that they won't be off script), or another in which the band draws exclusively from its many songs whose titles feature someone's name, from 1989's lovely "Alyda," if we're lucky, to 2006's atmospheric "Daphnia," which would be welcome too. The second set will be whatever they decide to pull from their quarter-century of crispy-duck freakouts, murmured harmony folk, winningly inexpert falsetto soul, whispered drones for midsized corners of the world, midlife symphonies for unphotogenic beaches, and other stuff that sounds good in horizontally striped T-shirts. 18+. $20. 8 p.m. 400 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.332.2903. —Dylan Hicks