© Andrea Canter
Just last week, the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge hosted Sheila Jordan, John Raymond, and Connie Evingson with Jon Weber, followed by a weekend including vocalists Patty Peterson in the lounge and Bruce Henry in the Dunsmore Room. With no time for things to cool down, the Dunsmore Room this week brings in master trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis with an all-star Twin Cities rhythm section (May 1), New York-based bassist and Minnesota native Michael O’Brien (May 2), and (for two nights), the great trumpeter Randy Brecker with a regional band including former Twin Cities pianist Tanner Taylor (May 3-4). No, there are no overnight accommodations at Crooners but, fortunately, there are freeways connecting the club to most of the metro area!
Delfeayo Marsalis Quartet (May 1, 7 pm)
“One of the best, most imaginative and musical of the trombonists of his generation.”— Philip Elwood, San Francisco Examiner
Once the Marsalis in the background as a successful record producer, trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis is now renowned as a stellar performer and bandleader. Over the past decade, Marsalis has performed at the Dakota, Orchestral Hall; as guest artist/clinician with the local student ensemble, the Dakota Combo; and as headliner for the 2012 and 2016 Twin Cities Jazz Festivals. Brother of Branford, Wynton and Jason Marsalis, and son of New Orleans legend Ellis Marsalis, Delfeayo has garnered acclaim for a variety of projects, including his Ellington-Meets-Shakespeare excursion, Such Sweet Thunder, and project with his father, Last Southern Gentlemen.
A middle brother of the Marsalis Clan, Delfeayo largely stayed in the background through the first part of the new century, playing sideman to the late Elvin Jones and others, and concentrating on an impressive career as a Grammy-nominated record producer. Growing up in New Orleans, Delfeayo initially “dabbled with drums a little and it wasn’t my thing, and then the bass, but it hurt my fingers.” When he settled on the trombone at age 13, it was a perfect fit. “The trombone was meant for me,” says Delfeayo, “it fit my personality. The job of the trombone is to make sure everyone gets along, that the trumpet and sax get along…the trombone makes sure both of them sound good!” After attending high school at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Marsalis went on to the Berklee College of Music to study performance and production. He received additional classical training through the Eastern Music Festival and Tanglewood Institute; and he earned an MA degree in jazz performance from the University of Louisville and a doctorate from New England College. Marsalis’ early touring experiences included stints with Ray Charles, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Max Roach, and Abdullah Ibrahim, as well as Elvin Jones’ Jazz Machine.
Marsalis only released two recordings as leader prior to his 2006 Minion’s Dominion (Troubadour Jazz), including Pontius Pilate’s Decision in 1992 (RCA) and Musashi (King Records) in 1997. In 2010, Marsalis released Sweet Thunder: Duke & Shak, a reorchestration of Duke Ellington’s dramatic, Shakespeare-inspired work, scored for octet. Following the recording’s release, Marsalis toured with a theatrical production of Sweet Thunder. Released in late 2014, Delfeayo’s Last Southern Gentleman pairs him with father Ellis Marsalis, Jr. for the first time on a collaborative album. An accomplished composer, in addition to his original music for his jazz ensembles, Delfeayo has scored the backdrop for the ABC mini-series, Moon Over Miami, the documentaries Streetcar Mysteries and 112th & Central, an off-Broadway production of Girl Gone, and the New Orleans Ballet presentations of Tennessee Williams’ Streetcar Named Desire and Glass Menagerie. As a committed jazz educator, Delfeayo has served as Director of the Foundation for Artistic and Musical Excellence summer program in Lawrenceville, NJ, and founded the Uptown Music Theatre, created specifically to provide 8th-12th grade youth with musical theater training. He has written over 80 works to help introduce youngsters to jazz.
Unlike many musicians who turn to production later in their careers, often to gain more control over their music, Delfeayo’s first priority for many years was producing music for others, and he was already heading projects at 17. Producing over 100 releases since the 1980s (including projects for Wynton and Branford, and for Harry Connick, Terence Blanchard, Marcus Roberts, Eric Reed and Nicholas Payton), he’s garnered several Grammy awards and nominations. In 2011, with father Ellis and brothers Wynton, Branford and Jason, Delfeayo was named an NEA Jazz Master.
Joining Marsalis in the Dunsmore Room will be three local heavyweights– pianist Rick Carlson, bassist Steve Pikal, and drummer Nathan Norman.
Michael O’Brien – Triage Trio (May 2, 7 pm)
Former Twin Cities resident Michael O’Brien relocated to New York about ten years ago, and is now regarded as one of the first-call bassists in the Big Apple. He returns to the Twin Cities at least annually, and has established a stellar trio with pianist Chris Lomheim and drummer Jay Epstein, dubbed Triage. (See http://bitnami-wordpress-7b91-ip.centralus.cloudapp.azure.com/archives/4770)
Randy Brecker Quartet (May 3-4, 7 & 9 pm)
Few currently active jazz artists have a resume’ comparable to trumpeter Randy Brecker, who has performed with Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, Clark Terry, Joe Henderson, Duke Pearson, and the That Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, as well as appearing in studio sessions with James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, David Sanborn, Jaco Pastorius, and Frank Zappa. Early in his career, he was a mainstay of Blood, Sweat and Tears, Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House, and Dreams, but his talent as a hard bop trumpeter has most significantly shaped his career.
Brecker was born in Philadelphia in 1945, surrounded by a musical family including younger brother, late saxophonist Michael Brecker. After attending Indiana University, he moved to New York where he gigged with Clark Terry, Duke Pearson and the Jones/Lewis Orchestra, finding his way into jazz-rock in 1967 with Blood, Sweat and Tears. He left BST to join Horace Silver, recording his first solo album in 1968 featuring Michael on tenor sax. In 1975, they formed the highly regarded Brecker Brothers ensemble, and their first album was nominated for four Grammies. Ultimately the Brecker Brothers released six albums through the early 80s with 7 Grammy nominations. Randy also appeared on Charles Mingus’ last album (Me, Myself an Eye) and went on to perform in the Mingus Dynasty and Mingus Big Bands. In the early 80s, Randy toured and recorded with Jaco Pastorius’ Word of Mouth band. With Michael, Randy returned to the Brecker Brothers, recording Out of the Loop in 1994 which received two Grammy awards.
Influenced by Brazilian music, Randy’s Into the Sun received the Best Contemporary Jazz Performance Grammy in 1998. Around the turn of the millenium, he appeared with The Trumpet Summit ensemble, Jazz Times Superband, Brecker Brothers Acoustic Band, and a reunion of Coryell’s Eleventh House. With his quintet, he won a third Grammy (Best Contemporary Jazz Album) in 2003 for 34th n’ Lex, toured with the Randy Brecker/Bill Evans Soulbop Band, and toured with another reunion of the Brecker Brothers. His last performance with brother Michael came in 2004, as Michael was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia (MDS) and died in 2007. That year, Randy won a fourth Grammy for Randy Brecker Live With the WDR Big Band. He continued recording with Soulbop, and returned to Brazilian music with Randy in Brazil, earning another Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album of 2008. He earned 4 Grammy nominations for his release with the Danish Radio Big Band and Danish National Chamber Orchestra in 2011.
Most recently Randy Brecker has toured with the Brecker Brothers Band Reunion, including a dual disc with live DVD recorded at the Blue Note in New York and a studio recording with past band members and Randy’s wife, Ada Rovatti, filling the saxophone chair. In 2013, Randy Brecker with Polish composer Wlodek Pawlik’s Trio and the Kalisz Philharmonic released Night in Calisia, winning the Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. In 2015, he released Randy Pop!, featuring reworkings of the pop tunes that propelled his career in the 60s and 70s. In summer 2017, Randy will be on tour with the Mike Stern-Randy Brecker Band.
Randy’s ensemble for his run in the Dunsmore Room is no “pick-up” band! Pianist Tanner Taylor was a popular and versatile young lion during his 20s while living in the Twin Cities. He was a co-founder of Jazz Central Studios with Mac Santiago, led his own trio, toured with Five by Design, and was much sought-after as an accompanist to a long list of area vocalists and bandleaders before returning to his native Iowa four years ago. Bassist Gordy Johnson has toured with Maynard Ferguson and Stacey Kent, and is often on the bandstand with visiting artists (most recently with Sheila Jordan). Drummer Phil Hey leads the acclaimed Phil Hey Quartet, performs with the Good Vibes Trio and Pete Whitman X-Tet, and teaches at St. Olaf and the University of Minnesota. He was a long-time drummer for the late Dewey Redman and toured several years with Stacey Kent.
Reservations highly recommended for shows in the Dunsmore Room; limited availability remains for Delfeayo Marsalis on May 1. Visit www.croonersloungemn.com for reservations and schedule information. The Dunsmore Room in Crooners Lounge is located north of downtown Minneapolis at 6161 NE Highway 65 (Central Av NE) in Fridley, just north of I-694.