When a regular weekly curated Jazz series established a beachhead on Fridays at the intersection of Franklin & Nicollet avenues in Minneapolis well over a year ago, the coffee house located there was called ‘The Nicollet’, and was struggling to graduate into becoming well known. The place had history as a small scale music venue, having been open in the not-too-distant past as the original location of Acadia Cafe. Many of our region’s Jazz musicians had played there off-and-on way back when. More recently, except for great monthly performances by Maryann Sullivan, and a few isolated other gigs, there wasn’t enough music there, and even less Jazz.  The Nicollet ownership and Lowertown impresario Eric Carranza were the first to have the vision of that place having more and more music. Eric in particular saw a music-performance future in that location, and started working to establish higher-profile performances there.

Eventually Eric Carranza approached Steve Kenny about curating a Jazz series at The Nicollet on Fridays, and that led to the formation of ‘Friday Night Jazz at The Nicollet’, which grew and matured to enjoy packed houses weekly, and the series created a buzz about that location being a real up-and-coming music venue…enough so that the ownership, who had been looking to sell the place, were finally able to attract new ownership in part based on the strength of the frequency and size of the weekly Jazz audiences. It no longer took the faith of a visionary to see that The Nicollet had even more potential as a ‘poor man’s First Avenue’, and so the new ownership re-branded the venue and partnered with storied booking agent Heath Split to get the place packed with multiple metal/experimental/industrial/eclectic shows per night. The remodeled ‘Reverie Cafe & Bar’ is majorly better looking and sounding…with improved lighting, sound, stage logistics and presentation. The outstanding new plant-based menu and interesting coffee and adult beverage options are icing on the cake.

It’s a great place to catch a show.

When it would be easy for anyone privy to the balance sheet of a Bar/Restaurant/Concert Venue to steer clear of Jazz, the Reverie boldly has committed to keep one night a week allocated to a curated jazz series, and so, Starting this week on May 5th 2016 at 9:00 pm, ‘Thursday Night Jazz at Reverie‘ has a Soft Opening featuring perhaps the most sublime Jazz Trio on the scene, “Seru – Bates – Wozniak“, and then two weeks later, on May 19 at 7:00 pm, the Grand Opening of Thursday Night Jazz at Reverie will kickoff the series with a double billing of “Halcyon Daze” and “Fall of The House of Usher

May 5th, 2016 9:00 Thursday Night Jazz at Reverie Presents the stellar Jazz Trio : Seru – Bates – Wozniak

Brandon Wozniak, © Andrea Canter

Brandon Wozniak, © Andrea Canter

My favorite configuration for a Jazz trio is the combination of Tenor Saxophone, Upright Bass, and Drums. The essentials. I like to think of it in terms of how NASA packs for a space mission. Only bring what is absolutely necessary to lessen the payload and quicken the transit into orbit. The Twin Cities is a hotbed of established, cohesive, and exciting horn-led Jazz trios. Fat Kid Wednesdays comes to mind… or Happy Apple… or the “Regional Jazz Trio”… Those ensembles have a particular notable unnamed saxophonist in common, and that musician has enjoyed an international reputation caused in part by the strength of the trios in this same format that keep springing up around him. Brandon Wozniak is another soon to be similarly acclaimed Saxophonist in our midst who seems to continually be in the company of the very best musicians. In the trio format, Brandon lets it all hang out, and at any time the performances can switch on a dime from hair-on-fire soaring lines of sound cubist fractals to straight-from-the-gut Dexter Gordon like soulfulness.

Chris Bates, © Andrea Canter

Chris Bates, © Andrea Canter

Drummer Davu Seru has a chemistry with bassist Chris Bates that I have witnessed many times in other venues and other configurations. The last time I heard this particular trio “Seru – Bates – Wozniak“, it was a jaw-dropping evening of interplay, creativity and swing.

 

Davu Seru, © Andrea Canter

Davu Seru, © Andrea Canter

This rhythm section can stir the soup of all possible time feels with different grooves, and while they sometimes create that ever-so-satisfying full-on driving time sound… a nudity of sorts, they also are known as a tandem for being able to play in a way that has a decreased density and many implied aspects of the whole… like when a burlesque leaves some to the imagination, resulting in more engagement in the mind of the listener.

If this performance is anywhere near as good as the last time I heard this group, I know this new Jazz Series will be ‘Soft Opened’ mighty finely.