Jazz fans across the Twin Cities are shaking their heads in disbelief and raiding their piggy banks. March is an amazing month for jazz, with so many fine artists coming our way that it’s impossible to see them all; even if your means are limitless, you can’t be in two or three places at once.
Earlier this week, the Joshua Redman Trio drew crowds of rapt listeners to the Dakota on Monday and Tuesday. The house was full again on Thursday for bassist Esperanza Spalding. Club owner Lowell Pickett insists that “the best way to fight a recession is to hear good music.” It’s worth a try.
Friday-Saturday, March 6-7: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Founded in 1988, led by Wynton Marsalis, JLCO is rooted in tradition yet forward-looking, committed to the masters (Ellington, Mingus, Coltrane, Monk) and commissioning new music; as Marsalis has often said, “All jazz is modern.” Today they play the music of Monk, including new arrangements by JLCO members; on Saturday, selections from their vast repertoire. Read my interview with band member Walter Blanding. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Orchestra Hall ($35-$59, $77 VIP). Call 612-371-5656 or order online. (Tip: This is shaping up to be a very good weekend to attend the Dakota’s late-night shows, now being billed as “jams,” meaning that surprise guests are expected. Friday and Saturday, 11:30 p.m., $5.)
Saturday, March 7: Kenny Werner Trio with Debbie Duncan. Werner is a pianist whose lyricism has brought tears to my eyes — but he can also singe the keys. Most recently he has played these parts with his good friend Toots Thielemans. This time he’s bringing a trio to town (Richie Barshay on drums, Jorge Roeder on bass). Vocalist Debbie Duncan will join them on stage for part of the evening and I can’t wait to hear that combination. 8 p.m. Saturday, Dakota ($15).
Here’s Werner with a different trio, performing at the Blue Note in NYC.
Tuesday, March 10: SFJAZZ Collective. Here’s the current lineup of this jaw-dropping ensemble: saxophonist Joe Lovano, trumpeter Dave Douglas, alto saxophonist (and 2008 MacArthur Fellow) Miguel Zenón, trombonist Robin Eubanks, vibist Stefon Harris, pianist Renee Rosnes, bassist Matt Penman, drummer Eric Harland. Eight big jazz stars, one small stage. Watch “Jazz Video Guy” Bret Primack’s short film, then raid the kids’ piggy banks. 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dakota ($55/$38).