Saturday Night Jazz at kj's hideaway

The Lead Sheet: February Jazz in the Twin Cities

Featured TCJF Twin Cities
Stablemates (Dale Alexander, Gary Raynor, Jay Epstein) plays all over town in February

If the rest of 2024 is anything like January, we are in for one glorious year of jazz! And the hot start of the past month just continues, with such international stars as Joshua Redman and Kenny Garrett, the Winter Jazz Fest featuring Cuban keyboard sensation Jorge Luis Pacheco, and a hefty list of local talents.

Last month’s picks!

Marimbist Jenny Klukken

Honestly this is a small sampling of terrific music from the past month, and I suspect some of these will still be among my favorite shows of the year at the end of 2024. And I did not get to some really great gigs, I’m sure. Standing out for me: Marimbista, a jazzy ensemble led by marimbist Jenny Klukken with Chris Olson, Matt Peterson and Dave Schmalenberger in the Dunsmore Room (January 11). Jenny’s originals, some Charlie Parker, and a gorgeous duet (Bernstein’s “Some Other Time”) with guitarist Olson. (The band returns to the Dunsmore Room May 3). Vijay Iyer brought a new trio to The Dakota (January 19) which offered accessible and fascinating original music.  Also in the Dunsmore Room—a trip down memory lane with Charmin Michelle, Rick Carlson and Keith Boyles, tracing the music that helped launch Charmin’s career and her days with the Twin Cities Seven ((January 18) and the always stunning voice/guitar duo of Jennifer Grimm and Joe Cruz (January 21); Cecile McLorin Salvant’s welcome return to The Dakota stage with a varied program of French songs, standards, and originals (January 28); and Patty Peterson’s Jazz Women All-Stars salute to Brasil with guests Lucia Newell and Clea Galhano (Crooners Main Stage).  The most interesting performance I heard this past month was pianist/composer/educator Laura Caviani’s solo recital/presentation on the Carleton College campus, particularly a suite of original compositions inspired by Carlo Rovelli’s Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (January 6).


February Jazz in the Metro

My usual caveat: These are selected recommendations drawn from listings and notifications received by press time; these reflect my tastes and opinions but, even at that, not exhaustive. Do check websites, Facebook, etc for your favorite musicians and venues—some do a good job of posting calendars and gigs! I will do some updating throughout the month as I get more information.

Crooners Lounge, 6161 Highway 65 NE, Fridley;

Again, named one of Downbeat’s top 100 jazz venues in the world for 2024, the Main Stage and Dunsmore Room offer live music, with a lot of jazz, at least 4 nights per week, as well as piano/vocal duos several nights per week in Maggie’s Lounge.

February 1, Stablemates with Thomasina Petrus (Dunsmore Room, 6:30 pm). The stellar trio (Dale Alexander, Gary Raynor, Jay Epstein) add vocalist Thomasina Petrus. Standards that swing!

Corky Siegel and Randy Sabien

February 9, Corky Siegel and Randy Sabien (Dunsmore Room, 6 pm). Sit back and enjoy an evening blending blues and jazz and humor, thanks to harmonica ace Corky Siegel and acclaimed violinist Randy Sabien.

February 10, Maud Hixson and Rick Carlson “Silly Love Songs” (Dunsmore Room, 6 pm).  A duo that never disappoints, Maud (vocals) and Rick (piano) turn their attention to the silly side of love songs. Not only will their music entertain, but Maud’s commentary always provides tidbits of insight and history.

February 23, Dan Cavanagh and Dave Hagedorn (Dunsmore Room, 7 pm). Some years ago, pianist Dan and former teacher vibraphonist Dave joined forces on a very cool piano/vibes duo album. Now Dan has relocated from a teaching gig in Texas to a new one in Wisconsin, making it a lot easier for the duo to present their unique music in the Twin Cities area.

February 25, Adi Yeshaya Orchestra with Jennifer Grimm (Main Stage, 6:30 pm). Back in the early 90s, pianist/bandleader/arranger Adi Yeshaya led a big band with the late vocalist Debbie Duncan. Last year, Adi revived the band, with Jennifer Grimm taking on the vocals. It’s a heavenly match with a who’s who of local talents.

See Crooner’s music calendar for a long list of shows from country to jazz and the schedule of duos in Maggie’s Lounge.


The Dakota, 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; . Also a perennial selection for Downbeat’s 100 Best Jazz Clubs, the Dakota has served up the finest in jazz in the downtown digs for over 20 years. Live music every night, frequently international and top local jazz artists.

Joshua Redman

February 6, Joshua Redman Group with Gabrielle Cavassa (6:30 and 8:30 pm). Touring in celebration of his latest recording, the award-winning saxophonist brings his band featuring vocalist Gabrielle Cavassa to the Dakota, with Paul Cornish, Phillip Norris and Nazir Ebo.

February 17, Bruce Henry’s “Watch That Star “(7 pm). Returning to his former home territory, Chicago-based baritone Bruce Henry shows off not only his vocal chops, but his talents as teacher and storyteller in his show “Watch That Star,” a journey through African American history and culture.

February 24,  Kenny Garrett (6:30 pm and 8:30 pm). Internationally acclaimed alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett returns to The Dakota with a flaming sextet.


Icehouse, 2528 Nicollet Av, Minneapolis ( A cool venue (really an old icehouse) in Uptown Minneapolis, jazz seems less on the menu in early 2024, but you can find some gems among a wide range of genres this month:

Jack Brass Band

February 13, Fat Tuesday with Jack Brass Band (8 pm).  A true taste of New Orleans brass, Jack Brass boasts veteran musicians you would assume were from the Big Easy.

February 14, Valentine’s Dinner with Stablemates (6 pm).  The usual line-up includes Dale Alexander, Gary Raynor and Jay Eptstein, who likely turn to more romantic standards tonight.

And note March 1 jazz ”inauguration” of popular vocalist  Tina Schlieske, releasing her first jazz recording (on Zacc Harris’s Shifting Paradigm label) in the company of the metro’s finest—Bryan Nichols, Jake Baldwin, Brandon Wozniak, Kevin Gastonguay, Cody McKinney and Pete Hennig.


Jazz Central Studios, 407 Central Av SE, Minneapolis; www.jazzcentralstudios.orgThe “little engine that could” equivalent of jazz clubs, Jazz Central has been chugging along for more than a decade under the leadership of drummer Mac Santiago, offering a space for musicians to experiment and perform. A new Steinway grand now ups the sonic ante. Music usually five nights per week.

Tuesday Big Band Nights, 8 pm. Bill Simenson Orchestra (February 6); Cedar Av Big Band (February 13); Explosion Big Band (February 20), Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra (February 27).

February 3, Trios Trio (8 pm). With Larry McDonough on the piano bench, it’s a winning ensemble, featuring Jim Bierma on bass and Jimmy Olson on drums.

Ted Godbout

February 7, Solo Piano Series: Ted Godbout (8 pm). What do you do with a new Steinway? Start a solo piano series. Ted Godbout launches this monthly showcase for the area’s best.

February 10, Framework (8 pm).  A popular trio of veterans, Framework boasts Chris Olson on guitar, Chris Bates on bass and Jay  Epstein on drums—hard to beat that combination!

February 21, JCS@JCS (8 pm). Every third Wednesday, trombonist JC Sanford presents a night of improvisation with a constantly changing cast of creative musicians.

February 23, Brian Bellows/Dave Graf (8 pm). For years, a popular band at the old Artists Quarter was Valve Meets Slide, led by valve trombonist Brian Bellows and slide trombonist Dave Graf. The two-bone band provides a unique energetic sound. And it’s fun.

See the full line-up at


kj’s hideaway, 408 St Peter Street, St Paul;  The Hamm Building is historic on its own, but the lower level club space is blessed with the history of the beloved Artists Quarter. kj’s features jazz at least weekly via Steve Kenny’s Saturday Night Jazz series. A masterful trumpeter as well as impresario, Steve ensures stellar performances, requiring bands to be purveyors of original music.  Sometimes 2 bands, often one band plays two sets.

Steve Kenny

February 3, Steve Kenny Quintet’s Coltrane Show (8 pm). Kenny was so moved by his band’s earlier salute to John Coltrane that he momentarily thought he could now put down his horn, noting that I was content to never play again. Of course, a day or two later I just wanted to recreate that vibe over and over.”  So here is the next Coltrane show, with trumpeter Steve Kenny joined by Dave Brattain on saxes, Kavyesh Kaviraj on piano, Josh Granowski on bass, and Kevin Washington on drums.

February 10, Patrick Adkins Group (8 pm). A leader among a younger generation of Twin Cities standouts, pianist Patrick Adkins is quickly gaining a reputation as a virtuosic performer, composer and bandleader.  In this double-set length performance, he’s joined by youngish talents Bryan Murray (saxes), Ryan Garmoe (trumpet), Will DeBlaey (bass) and Ben Ehrlich (drums).

February 24, Winter Jazz Fest. Saturday Night Jazz this night finds kj’s hosting one of the Winter Jazz Fest stages. Check the festival website for complete schedule of music across two stages in the Park Square Theater and kj’s stage, all in the Hamm Building.  (more info below)


The Lexington, 1096 Grand Av, St Paul; A landmark supper club in the heart of St Paul’s Grand Avenue district, with jazz most Friday and Saturday nights in the classy Williamsburg Room. Specify Williamsburg Room when you reserve; $5 music charge.

Joel Shapira

February 2-3, Joel Shapira Trio (7 pm). A true virtuoso on guitar, Joel Shapira brings two trios to The Lex this weekend: Friday night features Phil Aaron on piano and Matt Peterson on bass; Saturday features Chris Lomheim on piano and Ted Olsen on bass. You win no matter what. Maybe consider going both nights?

February 9, Chenoweth-Daley Trio (7 pm). Jim (bass) and Will (drums) Chenoweth team up with guitarist  Kevin Daley. (No jazz Saturday night –private party.)

February 19, Stablemates (7 pm). This trio –Dale Alexander (piano), Gary Raynor (bass), Jay Epstein (drums)—is playing all over the metro. Lucky us.

February 20, Peter Vircks Trio (7 pm). Veteran saxman Peter Vircks leads the trio with Chris Lomheim on piano and and Tony Axtell on bass.


Metronome Brewery,  385 Broadway, St Paul, With music nestled in the subterranean “Fingal’s Cave” in St Paul’s Lowertown, Metronome offers nearly nightly music with plenty of first class jazz.

February 2, Adam Levy and the Bates Brothers (7:30 pm). Renowned guitarist Adam Levy (Norah Jones, Joey Baron, Sex Mob) comes to town, joined by Chris and JT Bates.

February 4 and 27, Minnesota Jazz Student Mentorship Series (6:30 pm). Collaboration among Metronome and the Minnesota Hard Bop Collective brings student musicians to the stage at least once every month.

Red Planet

February 6, Red Planet (7 pm). One of the long-standing jazz groups in the metro, Red Planet (Dean Magraw, Chris Bates, Jay Epstein) orbits St Paul every first Tuesday.

February 8, Stablemates (7 pm). It’s hard to keep up with Stablemates –they perform here monthly (Dale Alexander, Gary Raynor, Jay Epstein).

February 15, Peter Kogan Presents (7 pm). Master percussionist Peter Kogan explores the history of jazz with a monthly ensemble.


Smack Shack, 3801 Minnesota Drive, Bloomington;  A new music venue in the south burbs, with bookings by the former booker at The Lex. Music in the “funky little shack” room every Friday and Saturday, 7-10 pm.

February 2, Mike Wolter Quartet. Guitarist with his stellar quartet.

Maryann (Sullivan) and the Moneymakers

February 3, Maryann and the Moneymakers. The bright voice of Maryann Sullivan.

February 9, Neighborhood Quartet.  Vibes master Steve Roehm with guitarist/vocalist Dan Schwartz, bassist Nick Salisbury and drummer Greg Schutte.

February 10, Gumbo Boys. A new ensemble, I think, with an interesting cast: Steven Hobert on accordion and keys, Omar Abdulkarrim on trumpet, Ben Link on trombone, Ted Olsen on bass, and Abinnet Berhanu on drums. That’s jazzy gumbo!


More February Jazz!

Abinnet Berhanu

February 6, Connie Evingson and Mary Louise Knutson, “Jazz in the Lounge” at Minneapolis Woman’s Club, 410 Oak Grove St, Minneapolis (6:30 pm). You can usually catch Connie singing with Mary Louise or other top jazzers, first Tuesday of the month.

February 16-17, Big Turn Music Festival,  St. James Hotel, Red Wing.  The Big Turn offers 2 days of music including some top metro jazz ensembles on Saturday (4:30 -9 pm): Connie Evingson with Parisota Hot Club, Travis Anderson Trio, Doug Haining Quintet, and Ginger Commodore Quartet. Worth the 80-minute drive from the metro!

February 24, Twin Cities Winter Jazz Fest at Park Square Theater/kj’s hideaway, Hamm Building , 408 St Peter Street, St Paul.  A one-day jazz extravaganza under the leadership of new Exec Director Dayna Martinez. Park Square Main Stage features headliner Jorge Pacheco Trio and Abinnet Berhanu’s Ahndenet; kj’s hideaway will feature Stablemates, Steve Kenny Quintet, and Lila Ammons; and the Boss Stage at Park Square features “emerging artists” (Callum Schultz Quartet, Hannah Harder Quintet, and the Blue Ox Orchestra led by Jack Schabert). In true jazz fest fashion, there will be an after-hours jam at kj’s led by Graydon Peterson. VIP tickets sold out; general admission available online (


Coming in March!

Cyrille Aimee

March 1, Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Orchestra, The Dakota

March 1, Aja Parham and Quartet Carioca, Dunsmore Room at Crooners

March 1, Tina Schlieske CD release, Icehouse.

March 10, Tanner Taylor Trio, Dunsmore Room at Crooners

March 18, Goldings/Bernstein/Stewart Trio, The Dakota

March 19, Cyrille Aimee, The Dakota

March 22, SF Jazz Collective, The Dakota