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"you rehearse until you're hitting everything on the head, and here comes a band like the Savoy Sultans, raggedy, fuzzy sounding, and they upset everything.'What am I doing here?' you wonder. But that's the way it is. That's jazz. If you get too clean, too precise. you don't swing sometimes, and the fun goes out of the music." - Trombonist Dicky Wells
 
 Wednesday, 23 July 2014
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Big Names, Local Stars, New Visionaries, More Venues, and a Bit of Rain: 2014 Twin Cities Jazz Fest E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

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The Branford Marsalis Quartet headlined Mears Park Friday Night © Andrea Canter
 

The totally free "three-day" 2014 Twin Cities Jazz Festival really got its start in early June with the first of three Jazz in the Library gigs. The Saint Paul-centered event really expanded across the entire state as the festival-sponsored Jazz Central All-Stars launched a 3-month, six-city tour in late May. The festival's Lowertown/Downtown venues pushed beyond their usual boundaries to follow the new LRT Green Line along University Avenue, with six new "jazz stops" easily accessible via free rides on Light Rail. Names like Marsalis, Reeves and Krown shared raves with the likes of Aldana, Lea and Hagedorn.  With four active outdoor stages, more than two dozen additional club and concert venues, and more than 120 sets of music, an audience of over 20,000 enjoyed nearly three days of fabulous summer weather and endured one evening of torrential rain, forcing the final sets into alternative club spaces, with standing (or dripping) room only. The shows, nearly every set, went on without missing a beat, contributing to one of the most memorable jazz festivals in the event's sixteen-year history.

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Zacc Harris Group Presents "All Originals" at Studio Z, July 24th E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

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Zacc Harris©Andrea Canter
 

Surely one of the busiest jazz musicians in the Twin Cities, guitarist Zacc Harris is a man of many ensembles, heading the Atlantis Quartet, Monk in Motian, Zacc Harris Trio and Quartet, Vital Organ and lending his strings to Counterclockwise and more. About three years ago, Harris added the Zacc Harris Group to his list of projects, bringing together pianist Bryan Nichols and the brothers Bates, bassist Chris and drummer JT. On Thursday July 24, The Zacc Harris Group performs on the All Originals jazz concert series at Studio Z in Saint Paul's historic Lowertown Arts District. Curated by Steve Kenny and supported by a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this ten-week series presents area ensembles that focus on original compositions.

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Jazz Legend Ron Cater at Catalina Jazz Club in Los Angeles 7/24-26 E-mail
Written by Ronaldo Oregano   

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Ron Carter © Laura Manchinu.jpg

Ron Carter's dexterity and harmonic sophistication on the bass have few rivals in the history of jazz. In addition to the bass, he has also employed both the cello and the piccolo bass (a downsized bass pitched somewhere between cello and contrabass), one of the first musicians to use those instruments in jazz settings.  He remains the most original, prolific, and  influential bassists in jazz. With more than 2,000 albums to his credit, he has recorded with many of music's greats: Tommy Flanagan, Gil Evans, Lena Horne, Bill Evans, B.B. King, the Kronos Quartet, Dexter Gordon, Wes Montgomery, and Bobby Timmons. In the early 1960s he performed throughout the United States in concert halls and nightclubs with Jaki Byard and Eric Dolphy. The Ron Cater Trio performs atCatalina Jazz Club on Thursday, July 24th through Saturday, July 26th.

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Donald Harrison Quintet with special guest Steve Turre at the Jazz Standard, July 24-27 E-mail
Written by Ronaldo Oregano   
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Donald Harrison, Jr

Saxophonist Donald Harrison, Jr.  a.k.a The King of Nouveau Swing is a musician who can play it all - from traditional New Orleans, to swing, bop, post-bop, modern, smooth, avant-garde, and beyond. In 2012, Harrison’s album Quantum Leap explored new concepts in time, harmony, and melody, melding cutting-edge jazz with New Orleans funk. He’s gigged and/or recorded with scores of greats ranging from Art Blakey and Lena Horne to Dr. John and Eddie Palmieri; and mentored such rising stars as trumpeter Christian Scott and singer/horn man Trombone Shorty. This engagement will feature a very special guest: Trombonist and shells player Steve Turre, another Blakey veteran and an esteemed bandleader and recording artist in his own right. Donald Harrison quibtet with Steve Turre  on  trombone and shells, Detroit Brooks  on  guitar (Thursday, Friday, Saturday only), Zaccai Curtis  on  piano, Max Moran  on  bass, and Joe Dyson  on  drums will appear at the Jazz Standard on Thursday, July 24th through Sunday, July 27th
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Denny Zeitlin: Trio Splendor on "Stairway to the Stars" (2014, Sunnyside) E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

 

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Stairway to the Stars

I live in Minnesota, pianist/psychiatrist Denny Zeitlin lives in California, yet I feel like I have been his patient for years.  Listening to a Zeitlin recording is surely the equivalent to an hour on his couch without a co-pay--alternately relaxing, provocative, and refreshing. And while his latest release, Stairway to the Stars, was recorded over a decade ago with his then-new trio with Buster Williams and Matt Wilson, the music has lost none of its power to intrigue and endure.

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The New Jersey Performing Arts Center: Home of the TD James Moody Democracy of Jazz Festival E-mail
Written by Sheila Horne Mason; Photographs by Kevin R. Mason   

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New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NPAC)
 

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark has become a major go-to venue for jazz lovers in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut tri-state area, with a year-round schedule of jazz performances. Just some of the artists to appear recently at NJPAC include Bill Charlap, Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding, Bernie Williams, Hilary Kole, Freddy Cole, and Audra McDonald (who just won a history-making sixth Tony award for her portrayal of Billie Holiday). NJPAC also continually hosts events dedicated to up-and-coming young artists.

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Spirit Rising: Angelique Kidjo Closes California Institue for Integral Study Concert Season E-mail
Written by Ken Vermes   

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Angelique Kidjo ©Susana Millman
 

When the crowd started slowly filling the Nourse Auditorium in San Francisco, it was hard to tell how many of the audience were fully prepared for what was to follow. It was June 21st on a cold and blustery day, not an atypical night in the early summer foggy environment that surrounds the City by the Bay. A simple unadorned stage was lightly lit, showing a drum set, guitar set-up, bass, and a relatively small percussion set. By the end of the show, the entire auditorium was on its feet; Angelique was dancing in the aisles; and her percussionist was doing a talking drum demo all about passion and longing (that is what we got) and how to dance your romance and dreams.

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Charlie Haden (1937-2014) E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

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Charlie Haden (1978) by Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis
 

"I tell them [my students] if you strive to be a good person, maybe you might become a great jazz musician." --Charlie Haden

One of the most influential and respected musicians in modern jazz, bassist Charlie Haden died at age 76 on July 10 in Los Angeles of complications from the degenerative Post Polio Syndrome. Particularly associated with Keith Jarrett's American Quartet, the Ornette Coleman Quartet, and his own Liberation Music Orchestra and Quartet West, Haden was active in jazz across seven decades and was the founder of the famed Cal Arts jazz program.

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