For something like 115 weeks straight, great jazz has taken over the stage of the Black Dog in Lowertown St Paul, thanks to curator Steve Kenny and a cast of the best veteran and up-and-coming jazz artists in the metro and beyond. December 4 is no exception, as the evening begins with the Yo Jimbo ensemble, followed by the Steven Hobert 4 with Pete Whitman, Yohannes Tona and Arthur “LA” Buckner.
Yo Jimbo (7 pm)
This cross-generation ensemble is led by Jimbo Robinson on drums, with Jerry Shelton on trumpet, Steve Klein on alto sax, Jerry Benson on tenor sax, Brian Van Stavern on trombone, Ron Peterson on piano, and John Brown on bass. That should cover every inch of the Black Dog Stage!
Steven Hobert 4 (8:30 pm)
The Steven Hobert 4 has performed around the metro over the past year.
Originally from Hartland, Wisconsin, Steven Hobert recalls that he “would noodle around on the piano and just make things up, maybe even as young as middle school.” The music of Keith Jarrett, particularly his solo improvisation concerts, influenced Steven’s decision to pursue piano improvisation at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, as it allowed him to express himself through uninhibited creativity. After graduation, Hobert performed with symphony orchestras from Calgary to Buffalo, played on cruise ships, and spent a year touring Japan, Canada and the U.S. with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. He also served as music director for vocal ensemble Five By Design. Currently Steven leads FireFly Forest, the Steven Hobert 4, plays accordion in Lulu’s Playground and piano with the Adam Meckler Orchestra, works in duo with saxophonist/flautist James Kellerman and guitarist Dean Magraw, and generally works as a freelance musician and teacher of piano, accordion and woodwinds.
The renowed Pete Whitman X-Tet is one of several projects led by veteran sax/flute performer, composer, and arranger Pete Whitman. After launching his career in Kansas City, Pete moved on to jazz jazz studies at North Texas State University. He toured internationally with the Glenn Miller Orchestra before moving to the Twin Cities in 1988. Pete’s credits on tenor, alto, soprano and flute include performing with Randy Brecker, Jack McDuff, the Woody Herman Orchestra,, Michael Feinstein, Debbie Boone, Rosemary Clooney, Barbara Dennerlein, Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, Dave Stryker, Curtis Fuller and Andres Prado. In addition to leading his X-Tet and smaller ensembles in the Twin Cities, Pete works regularly with the Jazz MN Orchestra, Laura Caviani Quartet, and the quartet Mississippi. A few years ago, Pete was commissioned to score the film, Been Rich All My Life, about a quartet of octogenarians reprising their dancing days in vaudeville. A dedicated educator, Whitman heads the Woodwind and Brass Department at St. Paul’s McNally Smith College of Music, teaching saxophone, improvisation, and arranging, and leading the McNally Smith X-Tet.
Bassist Yohannes Tona grew up in Awassa in southern Ethiopia, the son of a church organist (father) and vocalist (mother). Studying guitar and then bass in his homeland, he attended Yared, Ethiopia’s lone music school, at sixteen. Yohannes emigrated to the U.S. in the late 1990s to study at the Berklee College of Music. A few yeas later he was recruited to serve as music director for the Ethiopian Church in Minneapolis. Here he has played with the Grammy-nominated Excelsior Choir , Dr. Mambo’s Combo, Darnell Davis and the Remnant, Nachito Herrera, Kevin Washington, Doug Little, #Mpls, and Foreign Motion. He’s also performed with top area vocalists including T. Mychal Rambo, Bruce Henry, Debbie Duncan, and Sounds of Blackness, leads the Yohannes Tona Band and Made in Abyssinia, and works as a producer for a variety of projects.
Currently a Masters degree student at McNally Smith College of Music, drummer Arthur “LA” Buckner works with national gospel recording artist Jovnota Patton & Deliverance for Youth, Shiloh Temple International Ministries, the Ethan Yeshaya Trio, Cameron Wright Band, Paris Bennett, and the award-winning McNally Smith X-Tet. Born and raised in Minneapolis, LA was influenced by his father’s jazz collection, his mother’s Quincy Jones and Erykah Badu albums, his involvement in the music of his family church. His father, baritone singer Art G. Buckner, bought LA his first drum kit after observing his son’s fascination with the drums he heard during church services. LA is known for his ability to incorporate Latin, Blues, Pop, Hip-Hop and R&B into whatever style of music he’s playing.
The Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog series is supported fully by patron donations via the tip jar at each performance. Suggested donation $10. The Black Dog is located in the Northern Warehouse at 308 E. Prince Street (at E. 4th Street and Broadway) in St Paul’s Lowertown Arts District. Series schedule at www.saturdaynightjazzattheblackdog.info; venue schedule and more at www.blackdogstpaul.com