Every Thursday night, one of the smallest music venues in the Twin Cities hosts one of the most incendiary modern jazz gigs. Khyber Pass Cafe, otherwise a highly regarded Afghani restaurant in St. Paul near the Macalester campus, has presented free jazz and experimental music ensembles every Thursday night for a number of years, with a mere $5 cover. Curators include some of the area’s most creative musicians–Adam Linz, Davu Seru, Paul Metzger and Kevin Cosgrove. This week, three highly creative artists come together for the first time, playing all original (and likely spontaneous) music — Phil Aaron, Anthony Cox, and Phil Hey. The mayhem begins at 9 pm.
Pianist Phil Aaron is a Chicago native who studied music at the Berklee College of Music and the University of Illinois. After ten years in LA, he moved to Minneapolis in 1989, becoming fully immersed in the local jazz scene. By day, Phil works as a composer of film and television scores winning an Emmy in 2007 for his scoring work on the PBS animated series, “Auto-B-Good.” As a performing jazz artist, Phil has shared the stage with Lee Konitz, Eric Alexander, Jim Rotondi, Jim Snidero, Byron Stripling, Barbara Morrison and Jackie Allen, among others, and has provided piano accompaniment to many local jazz singers and ensembles. An active recording artist as sideman and on five CDs of his own, Phil plays regularly with his own trio, the Phil Hey Quartet, Lucia Newell, Joyce Lyons, Peter Kogan and more.
Twin Cities native Anthony Cox studied bass at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, then headed to New York, building a reputation that took him on tour with Stan Getz. In the early 90s, he returned to the Twin Cities but his career has hardly been limited by his residence. Over the years, Cox has worked and/or recorded with Joe Lovano, Sam Rivers, Dewey Redman, Geri Allen, Arthur Blythe, and Uri Caine, playing upright acoustic, electric and Spanish acoustic bass, as well as cello. With Bill Carrothers and Jay Epstein, he has performed and recorded as Easy Company, and recently has appeared at the Icehouse, Dakota, Black Dog and Jazz Central. He leads several ensembles including DD7 and the Regional Jazz Trio, and is a member of the Atrium Jazz Ensemble, with whom he recently debuted “The Rage of Achilles” at Orchestra Hall, co-written with Jeremy Walker.
A former student of Ed Blackwell and Marv Dahlgren, Phil Hey was born in New York City and raised in Philadelphia. One of the busiest drummers in his adopted home in the Twin Cities, Phil toured for 20 years with the late Dewey Redman and is often on the bandstand with his long-running Phil Hey Quartet or backing touring artists, local vocalists (Connie Evingson, Lucia Newell), and small ensembles (Chris Lomheim, Laura Caviani, Mary Louise Knutson, Dave Karr). Phil (along with bassist Gordy Johnson) has toured with British vocalist Stacey Kent, including gigs at Birdland in New York. He also manages percussion duties for the Pete Whitman X-Tet, Benny Weinbeck Trio, Dean Sorenson Sextet and Chris Bates’ Good Vibes Trio, and teaches at the U of M and St. Olaf College. Phil’s recording credits are legion, including his quartet’s Subduction, Chris Lomheim Trio (The Bridge), Pete Whitman Quintet (Sound of Water) and X-Tet (Where’s When). His more recent recordings include a volcanic duo with trumpeter Kelly Rossum (Conflict), a sublime trio date with Mary Louise Knutson (In the Bubble), and the 2014 debut release of the Good Vibes Trio. Phil also contributed to Von Freeman’s Live at the Dakota, rating four stars from Down Beat. In 2006, City Pages named Phil its Jazz Artist of the Year.
Khyber Pass Cafe is located at 1571 Grand Avenue in St Paul; http://khyberpasscafe.com/music/.