The 2010 Jazz at Orchestra Hall season has been announced, and like the 2009 season, it has one foot firmly in New Orleans. Not surprising, given that NOLA native son Irvin Mayfield has been renewed as the orchestra’s artistic director of jazz. This year’s season is shorter than last year’s — three concerts instead of five — but each one is uniquely tempting. Subscription tickets are on sale now; single tickets go on sale Aug. 14 (online) and Aug. 18 (phone).
On Sunday, March 14, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis returns. Last year they gave two concerts (three if you count Saturday afternoon’s “Jazz for Young People” show); this year they’ll be here for one night only. Expect it to sell out.
On Friday, July 23, two very different artists perform with the Minnesota Orchestra under maestro (and rabid jazz fan) Andrew Litton. Grammy-winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater owns the first half of the evening. The last time I saw Bridgewater, she had shaved her head and was touring with a group of musicians from Mali. No telling what she’ll be up to when she returns.
After intermission, New Orleans/Creole clarinetist Evan Christopher premieres his new piece commissioned by the orchestra, the “Treat It Gentle” suite. Will commissions of jazz compositions become an annual tradition? Let’s hope so.
I saw Christopher with his trio in New Orleans earlier this year, at a small but squeaky-clean bar called Chickie Wah Wah. He was terrific. Last year he was part of the Feb. 12 Minneapolis Mardi Gras concert with the Rebirth Brass Band and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. This time the spotlight will be on him.
On Saturday, Aug. 21, it’s Los Hombres Calientes featuring Irvin Mayfield with Bill Summers. Twin Cities jazz fans will remember “The Hot Guys” from their frequent dates at the Dakota, both in its original Bandana Square location and on Nicollet Mall. Always lively, always fun Afro-Cuban party music.
Trumpeter Mayfield and percussionist Summers were co-leaders of the group (and their five CDs). Their most recent appearance here was in November 2004. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina blew the band apart. Percussionist Summers saved his computer and his compositions but lost all of his instruments; Mayfield lost his father in the floods that devastated New Orleans. The last I heard, Summers was on the road with a new LHC. When I asked Mayfield about that in July 2008, he wished Summers well but wouldn’t comment further.
So how did this get on the schedule? Lilly Schwarz, director of pops and special projects, invited Mayfield to pull it together. Her first time seeing Mayfield was with LHC and she (like all of us) has fond memories. It will be a reunion worth attending.
For this week’s picks, you’ll want to gas up the car. (Check Kare 11’s handy gas price map.)
Friday and Saturday, Aug. 14-15: First Annual Northfield Jazz Festival. The town of cows, colleges, and contentment has added a jazz fest to its yearly ArtSwirl event. On Friday at 7:30 p.m., Butch Thompson and his All Stars perform in the historic Grand Theater. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., tickets $10 adults/$6 students. On Saturday, scenic Central Park on Winona St. between Third and Fourth hosts a line-up of local jazz ensembles: the Joe Strachan Quartet (noon), the Over and Back band (2 p.m.), and Occasional Jazz (4 p.m.). In the words of Northfield booster Ross Currier, “We’ve got emerging (college-aged) jazz musicians with the Joe Strachan Quartet, mid-career (middle-aged) jazz musicians with the Over and Back Band, and, uh, finely-aged (like wine) jazz musicians with Occasional Jazz.”
Friday and Saturday, Aug. 14-15: Great River Jazz Fest. Up for a trip to our friendly neighbor Wisconsin? The Great River fest in LaCrosse features a Mardi Gras-style parade on Friday and “all kinds of jazz” through Sunday afternoon. Arne Fogel and the Tanner Taylor Trio will represent the Twin Cities on Saturday. The music is all indoors. Download a schedule here or call the hotline: 608-791-1190. All-events VIP badge $135. Session tickets $22; children 15 and under free (with adult); students 16 and over $8 with ID.
Saturday, Aug. 15: Burnsville Art and All That Jazz Festival. In Nicollet Commons Park. The Penguins (noon), Steve Clarke and the Working Stiffs (2 p.m.), Davina and the Vagabonds (4 p.m.), Brian Simpson (6 p.m.), Mindi Abair (8 p.m.). Simpson and Abair will please the smooth jazz fans. Visit the website FMI. $5 at the gate, 18 and under free.