Yo La Tengo, Twin Cities Jazz Festival, and more
Twin Cities Jazz Festival
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.
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
Trombone Shorty on Orleans Avenue
Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater on Wednesday 6.22
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
Yo La Tengo
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
Orpheum Theatre on Saturday 6.25
The long, curious, enduring saga of Jethro Tull—the band, not the 18th-century agronomist whose name they appropriated—continues with this tour marking the 40th anniversary of the group's signature album, Aqualung. The first six notes of Aqualung's title tune are seared into the cerebral cortexes of anyone who listened to rock then, along with Ian Anderson's one-legged flute forays and his memorable description of the song's snot-encrusted protagonist. Tull always were a bit off the beam, mixing progressive rock, jazz, classical, English folk, and blues, plus Anderson's eccentric social commentary and Elizabethan inclinations. Charges of pomposity and pretentiousness inevitably were hurled in Tull's direction, but legions of closet fans can no doubt still quote Aqualung in its entirety, which is what the current version of Tull—notably sporting longtime guitarist Martin Barre—plan to play. All ages. $38.50-$103.50. 8 p.m. 910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Rick Mason
Nick and Eddie on Saturday 6.25
Led by funhouse punks New Labor, a blistering lineup will descend on Nick & Eddie's for the band's 7-inch release party. Vocalist Andy Bauer ranges from speak-sing to croon to full-lung screams when the time is right, fluidly maintaining a common energy and melody while the songs zig and zag across the musical spectrum over two-to-three-minute bursts. The band's fluid transitions made the tempo changes look easy, despite the manic tone. Also playing are Disasteratti, who, on the heels of their new album Transmissionary, will debut new drummer Jack Kalyuzhny, and Les Deux Magots and Safewords. 21+. $5. 9 p.m. 1612 Harmon Pl., Minneapolis; 612.486.5800. —Loren Green
Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater on Saturday 6.25
Adding a strong literary streak to the dusty Texas songwriter tradition helped make Nanci Griffith stand apart from the usual sagebrush tunesmiths of the Lone Star variety. Juggling folk, country, Southern Gothic angst, and cowboy melodrama of The Last Picture Show ilk, Griffith wrote a succession of early songs that rate as all-time classics of the genre, including "Love at the Five and Dime," "There's a Light Beyond These Woods," "The Last of the True Believers," and "Ford Econoline." Over the years Griffith's focus has shifted from internal emotional landscapes and personal evolutionary journeys to the world at large. In fact, her most recent album, 2009's The Loving Kind, is dominated by social and political issues like the death penalty and interracial marriage. All Ages. $38. 7:30 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. —Rick Mason
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