Twin Cities Jazz Festival

The Twin Cities Jazz Festival turns 15 this year. Its free outdoor stages in St. Paul's Lowertown are ideally located in a thriving urban scene. There are two Mears Park stages and, on Saturday, two additional stages on Prince Street and at the Union Depot. And counting all the gigs in St. Paul clubs, the fest is an outstanding showcase for the virulent local jazz scene. The many choices range from traditional jazz pianist Butch Thompson to the cutting-edge contemporary jazz of the Atlantis Quartet (pictured). There are big bands (JazzMN Orchestra), Latin jazz (Salsa del Soul), Afrobeat (Black Market Brass), Gypsy jazz (Clearwater Hot Club), premier vocalists (Judi Donaghy Vinar), and first-rate student ensembles (Stillwater High School Xtet). The headliners include a pair of exceptional pianists. Cyrus Chestnut, who'll lead his trio (bassist Dezron Douglas, drummer Neal Smith), plays a stylish, lyrical variety of jazz deeply influenced by gospel, blues, classical, and bop. His career has included notable stints with Wynton Marsalis and Betty Carter. Versatile and prolific Kenny Werner has long distinguished himself as a composer and educator in addition to his keyboard work. His trio will include drummer Ari Hoenig and bassist Johannes Weidenmueller. Ariel Pocock is a young pianist and vocalist from the Pacific Northwest who's recording her debut album with heavyweights Larry Grenadier and Eric Harland. Last but certainly not least, highly touted drummer and composer Matt Slocum brings his sophisticated melodic sense back home from New York, touting along rising tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III. The full lineup is at Free outdoor stages. Check individual clubs for admission fees and times. (Photo by Shelly Mosman.)
Thu., June 27, 6-10:30 p.m.; Fri., June 28, 4-10:30 p.m.; Sat., June 29, 1-10:30 p.m., 2013

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