Evan Christopher & Henry Butler

A dazzling clarinet player, Evan Christopher (pictured) is thoroughly steeped in traditional New Orleans jazz, exemplified by the likes of Sidney Bechet and Barney Bigard. His fluid improvisations and soaring, piercing style have been repeated showstoppers on his visits as a member of Irvin Mayfield's New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. Although a southern California native, Christopher has been a stalwart on the New Orleans scene for 15 years, apart from interludes playing with the Jim Cullen Jazz Band in San Antonio and, post-Katrina, a two-year residency in Paris. It was there that he recorded his last album, Django á la Créole, a brilliant reworking of Django Reinhardt's Hot Club repertoire that combines Django's Gypsy jazz with the Creole howl of Crescent City licorice stick and a spicy array of rhythms gathered from points south, from New Orleans through the Caribbean to Brazil. Next summer, he'll premiere a composition here commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra. And he was just here a couple of weeks ago for a little-publicized performance for Dakota A-Train club members. Now he's back for a pair of highly recommended shows. The prospects for this gig just got elevated from great to fantastic with the late addition of ace New Orleans pianist Henry Butler, whose eclectic musical background and unique perspective yields wonderfully eccentric versions of the New Orleans canon. As a duo, there's no telling where they'll venture, but chances are there'll be at least something of a tribute to Butler's mentor, the late clarinet great Alvin Batiste. (Photo by Jim McGuire)
Mondays, Tuesdays, 7 p.m. Starts: Nov. 16. Continues through Nov. 17, 2009

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