Completing their tour of the Midwest, the Steve Kenny Quartet ends up at home, headlining this weekend’s Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog, November 19. Opening the evening is the long-running ensemble, Ahmed and the Creators, headed by trumpeter Ahmed Abdul Kareem.
Ahmed and the Creators (7 pm)
This ensemble of straight-ahead jazzers is led by master trumpeter Ahmed AbdulKarim, and has performed across the metro from the Dakota in Minneapolis to Public Kitchen in St Paul. Ahmed will be joined by a crew of veterans– James “Jimmeapolis” Wallace on tenor saxophone, Ron Evaniuk on bass, and Batume on drums.
Steve Kenny Quartet (8:30 pm)
For many years, trumpeter Steve Kenny has led bands boasting as many young lions as elder statesmen. His “Bastids” had a five-year, weekly run at the Artists Quarter, followed by Group 47, starting out at the AQ before the club closed in late 2013. Steve Kenny’s Group 47 continues to be a popular ensemble on the local jazz scene. Steve also launched Central Standard Time, a cross-generational band that has performed at the Black Dog in St. Paul. In spring 2016, Steve launched yet another band featuring a younger generation of jazz standouts. With Javi Santiago on piano, Ted Olsen on bass and Rodney Ruckus on drums, the Steve Kenny Quartet has spent the past week touring the region, now back home for their tour finale.
Steve Kenny studied at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Among many projects, he has performed with Pete Whitman’s Departure Point, Dave Karr, The Five, What Would Monk Do, and the Cedar Avenue Big Band. He’s best known as co-founder of the Illicit Sextet, an ensemble popular in the 1990s before taking a long hiatus, and back in action since 2009, with a new CD released last week. Steve has received a Minnesota Music Award, West Bank School of Music Jazz Composer Award, a commission from Zeitgeist, and multiple honors as Best Jazz Trumpet at the Eau Claire Jazz Festival. With support from state arts board grants, he’s curated the “All Originals” jazz series at Studio Z for the past three summers. In fall 2014 he launched the weekly Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog series, and in spring 2015, brought a similar series (Friday Night Jazz) to The Nicollet, now on Thursdays at Reverie. And that instrument he plays? It’s a Flumpet™– a hybrid trumpet/flugelhorn.
Minneapolis native Javi Santiago comes by his musical bent honestly, the son of drummer Mac and vocalist Laurie Santiago, and grandson of Latin percussion master, the late Luis Santiago. Javi began studying piano at age 7, turning to jazz piano and trumpet at age 10, and playing with the bands in middle school and high school as well as the Minnesota Youth Jazz Band and the first edition of the Dakota Combo under the direction of Kelly Rossum. A former student of pianist Tanner Taylor, Javi was selected as a Fellow of the Brubeck Institute at the University of the Pacific after completing high school, where he attended for the maximum two years. From Brubeck, Javi moved on to complete his college studies at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York, graduating in 2011. After returning to the Twin Cities, Javi has become a significant voice on the local jazz scene as sideman and bandleader.
Ted Olsen studied bass with Travis Schilling and Adam Linz. He graduated from St. Paul’s Como Park High School and went on to study composition at Luther College in Decorah, IA, finishing college studies at the University of Northern Colorado in spring 2015. In the Twin Cities, Ted has taught at the Twin Cities Jazz Workshop and has performed as leader and sideman at various venues including the Artists Quarter, Jazz Central, Black Dog, Icehouse, Vieux Carré, and Twin Cities Jazz Festival. His quartet recently performed on the Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog series.
Drummer Rodney Ruckus is truly a multi-instrumentalist who also plays piano and bass. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music where he attended on full scholarship, he was also selected as drummer for The Grammys in the School Foundation and received an Art Blakey Jazz Messengers Presidential Scholarship to the McNally Smith College of Music. He has traveled all over the world playing with Tia Fuller, Ralph Peterson, Herbie Hancock, Billy Childs, John Patitucci, Joe Lovano, Roy Hargrove, Wynton Marsalis, Charles Lloyd, and more. His ensembles have been featured at Jazz Central, Reverie, the Black Dog and more.
Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog is supported by patron donations ($10 recommended). The Black Dog is located at 308 E. Prince Street in the Northern Warehouse in St Paul’s Lowertown Arts District. Full Saturday Night schedule at www.saturdaynightjazzattheblackdog.info; full Black Dog calendar and information at www.blackdogstpaul.com