BLUES, JAZZ, ETC.
THE CENTERPIECE OF contemporary blues history has always been the great postwar migration from the Mississippi Delta up to Chicago. This weekend, two sterling blues musicians who've helped comprise the second wave of this migration--both were born in Mississippi in the three years between 1935-37, and both are closely associated with the still thriving Chicago style--will grace local stages. On Friday night at the Blues Saloon, the creative, refined guitarist Fenton Robinson will hold forth, playing mostly originals, including the classic "Somebody Lend Me A Dime" that Boz Scaggs turned into a hit single. Fenton's solos on his hollow-bodied instrument convey the stark, clean, authority of B.B. King, only with a greater tendency toward jazz improvisation. He can sing too. (Blues Saloon, Western and Thomas Aves., St. Paul; call 228-9959 for more info.)
That same Friday, Magic Slim and the Teardrops open a two-night stand at the recently opened Biscuits & Blues in the Kickernick Building across from the Pickled Parrot in downtown Minneapolis. Born Morris Holt, Slim was given his nickname by Magic Sam, his late boyhood friend from Grenada, Mississippi, and the similarity of their names and guitar styles makes it easy to confuse or conjoin the two. Like Sam, Magic Slim patterns his style after the august phrasing of Otis Rush, albeit with more soulful and r&b-oriented flavors. The Teardrops are dependable roadhouse vets, helping to stake Slim's reputation as a consistently good, occasionally great live performer. ($10, on both Friday and Saturday at Biscuits & Blues, 430 First Ave. N., Mpls.; 333-BLUE.)
Celebrating the release of Koerner, Ray & Glover's first record in roughly 30 years, One Foot In The Groove (recorded live earlier this year at the Bryant Lake Bowl), the group will be doing a free in-store performance at Oar Folkjokeopus (2557 Lyndale Ave., Mpls.) this Friday at 6 p.m. One of the legendary groups of the 60s folk revival, the sessions on Grave show the trio's rare chemistry in full effect. Don't miss.
On the jazz tip, Bob Rockwell is a former native who emigrated to Denmark, and his returns are always roiling celebrations of post-bop finesse, featuring powerhouse solos brimming with nimble phrases on both tenor and soprano saxophones. But what makes this engagement special is the presence of Jan Kaspersen, a Danish pianist whose rich appreciation for Thelonious Monk has been absorbed into a wry, inventive style of his own. A synergistic pairing of two strong players who know each other well. (Thursday-Saturday. $5-$10.
9 p.m. Artists' Quarter, 366 Jackson St., St. Paul; 292-1359.)
By the end of their three-night stay at the AQ earlier this year, the local jazz trio Power Circus were playing hair-raising sets that careened from flashy starbursts of nasty funk rock and atonal bleating to delicate interplay that whispered through space--dramatic miniatures that riveted the energy of everyone in the room. The redoubtable trio of bassist Anthony Cox, guitarist Dean Magraw, and drummer Phil Hey will go at it again on Monday at the Cedar Cultural Centre, opening for veteran jazz drummer Jerry Granelli & UFB, an above-average fusion outfit that explores the music of Thelonious Monk and Jimi Hendrix along with original material. ($10/$12 at the door/$8 students. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls.; 338-2674.)
Speaking of Anthony Cox, he once noted in an interview that Tribal Tech one of his favorite groups. We've always thought these guys were fusion jazz wankers of undifferentiated bombast, but Cox claims their live performances far outstrip their CDs for innovative wizardry, so they might be worth a listen this Monday night with Scott Henderson and Gary Willis. Who knows--with Cox playing an early evening set just down the road, he may turn up, too. ($6/$8 at the door. 9:30 p.m. Cabooze, 917 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls.; 338-6425.)
If gilded but predictable grooves are your thing, look no further than Jeff Lorber, a keyboardist with a New Age knack for ennui and the talent scout responsible for bringing the likes of Kenny G. and Dave Koz into the limelight. The band known as The Jeff Lorber Fusion had a big hit more than a decade ago with "Facts Of Love," sung by Karyn White; since then, like kindred spirit Bob James, Lorber has moved in a slightly more straight-ahead jazz direction without straying too far from the by-the-numbers, non-improvisational approach that enables him to make such pretty, pretty music. The Jeff Lorber Quartet will open this fall's Metropolitan Music Series on Sunday; ($22 for reserved seats/$12 general admission. 8 p.m. Metropolitan Balroom, at the corner of Hwys. 394 and 100, Golden Valley; 989-5151.)
Also on Sunday, an equally refined but far more compelling foursome known as the Turtle Island String Quartet will play two sets at the Dakota. Less adventurous than the Kronos Quartet, the Turtles still manage to turn the prism on classic songs by Cole Porter and Dizzy Gillespie, refracting new colors and harmonic textures via their chamber music instrumentation. Their own songs are also frequently arresting. ($18 for the 7 p.m. show and $12 at 9:30. Dakota Bar & Grill, Bandana Square, St. Paul; 642-1442.)
Finally, an inspired Monday night doubleheader of jazz-fired music for people who don't necessarily consider themselves jazz fans. The Squirrel Nut Zippers were great fun at their Fine Line show a few months back (despite the remarkably awful and inappropriate opening act that delayed the show for more than an hour). Their '20s-style tunes had great vocals, especially the bluesy numbers handled by the beautiful Katharine Whalen (a current pop crush among some CP staffers), and the arrangements departed from those on their CD Hot with extended improvs that generated plenty of steam. The Dirty Dozen may have dropped the "Brass Band" suffix from their band name. But it's what they are, despite the fact they were the first such New Orleans outfit to explode their own tradition, making rock and funk moves with the likes of David Byrne and Elvis Costello, among others. Like the headliners, they'll surprise you and move your bones. Opener TBA. ($8/$10 at the door. 9 p.m. First Avenue, 701 First Ave. N., Mpls.; 338-8388.) (Robson/Hermes)
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