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Jazz travel plans and this week’s picks

What’s better than a road trip to jazz?

What’s better than a road trip to jazz? On Memorial Day weekend, May 22-24, the Grand Marais Jazz Festival will return for its sixth year with a lineup worth driving to see: guitarist Larry Coryell, vibist Joe Baione, vocalist Melissa Walker, and Latin percussionist Rolando Matias. Plus Grand Marais is a beautiful town. View the schedule and buy tickets here.

Several jazz fans I know will be spending the Fourth of July weekend at the Iowa City Jazz Festival. The lineup is awesome: the David Sanchez Quartet, Lionel Loueke Trio, Chris Potter’s Underground, Bill Frisell Quartet, Dave Holland Quintet. These are big-ticket artists and the festival is still totally free. There’s not much information online yet but watch this site.

Here’s what’s happening right here at home over the next several days.

Friday and Saturday, May 1 and 2: Siamese Fighting Fish. Given who’s in this trio — Anthony Cox, Dean Granros, Dave King — small wonder it’s named for showy, aggressive males. All three are known for their technique, creativity and mastery of their instruments. Cox is a monster bass player who is heard on more than 100 recordings (to date) by artists including Pat Metheny, Dave Douglas, and Joe Lovano. Granros can take his guitar from pensive to blazing. Drummer King performed last Saturday with The Bad Plus at the Cedar; before going back on the road, he’s playing this date (and maybe more? I’ll try to find out). 9 p.m., Artists’ Quarter,  ($10).

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Sunday, May 3: Brad Mehldau Trio. I’ve been trying to remember the last time I saw pianist Brad Mehldau  in the Twin Cities — was it really February 2002 at the old Dakota in Bandana Square? Way too long. Since then, I’ve had to content myself with his many recordings, including the splendid “Trio” series. (The most recent, “Trio: Live,” was a Grammy nominee.) Subtle, introspective, adventurous, blending elements of jazz, classical, and rock, Mehldau is a poet of the keys. I especially enjoy his versions of Beatles songs — “Blackbird,” “Dear Prudence,” “Martha My Dear,” “Mother Nature’s Son,” “She’s Leaving Home.” I like him both in groups and solo, but it’s often said he’s best with his telepathic trio of Larry Grenadier on bass, Jeff Ballard on drums, happily the group the Dakota will host for one day only. Watch a video of the trio performing Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Dakota, ($40/$30).

Thursday, May 7: Jason Moran in conversation with James Everest. On Saturday, May 9, Moran  brings his Big Bandwagon to the Walker’s McGuire Theater for the much-anticipated final event of the 2008-09 Northrop Jazz Season (this is a collaboration with the Walker). More about that in next week’s picks and here. This Thursday he’ll be at the Walker to talk about his career with James Everest of Vicious Vicious and Roma di Luna. The Walker bills this as a lecture, but it’s sure to be much more lively, with demonstrations, video, and questions from the audience. I’ve seen Moran in conversation before, with the Walker’s performing arts curator Philip Bither in 2007 (watch and listen here), and expect an equally smart and provocative exchange. 7 p.m. Thursday, May 7, McGuire Theater, Walker Art Center. Free tickets at the Hennepin Lobby desk starting at 6 p.m.

Pamela Espeland tweets a daily jazz calendar on Twitter and blogs about jazz at Bebopified. Find Twin Cities jazz calendars and more jazz news online at Jazz Police. In the Main Menu at the left, click on Twin Cities. Jazz radio station KBEM 88.5FM posts a live music calendar each week; view it online in the Events menu.