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This week’s jazz picks: M is for music: Monk, Magraw, Miguel

Opera lovers once looked forward to spring at Northrop Auditorium, where the Metropolitan Opera performed each year from 1942 to 1986. People dressed for those events; men wore suits and women wore gowns, lifting the hems to climb the wide front steps.

Nowadays, dance and jazz fans anticipate fall and the start of the Northrop Dance and Jazz seasons. Jazz events are held at the Ted Mann Concert Hall and other venues, but the season still bears the Northrop name. And it still brings an eclectic mix of jazz artists to town.

I’m writing this Thursday morning, so I can’t report on improvisational musician Larry Och’s evening performance at the Whole. But I can say that fall for me means leaves turning, temperatures falling and Northrop Jazz tickets arriving in the mail. And Thelonious Monk’s birthday, and Mose Allison’s annual weekend at the Artists’ Quarter. (More about Mose next week.)

Friday and Saturday: The Laura Caviani Trio Tribute to Monk. Each year, pianist Caviani celebrates Thelonious Monk’s birthday (and her own) with a weekend at the Artists’ Quarter. Monk would be turning 92; Caviani is way younger, but she was born to play his brilliant, demanding, distinctive music. Monk was the first jazz artist I fell in love with; I remember people saying, “His music is too hard!” To play, for sure; to hear, not at all. This annual tribute is always an enjoyable event. Here’s a video from one of the 2007 shows. With Gordy Johnson on bass, Dave Schmalenberger on drums. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 9 and 10, 9 p.m., Artists’ Quarter ($10).

Sunday: Dean Magraw Benefit at the Artists’ Quarter. The benefits continue for guitarist/composer Magraw, who recently underwent a bone marrow transplant. He has been a regular and much-loved performer at the AQ, which will open its doors on Sunday to his friends and admirers. The music starts at 3 p.m. and continues until closing; this is an all-day, music-packed affair. The lineup includes (deep breath) the Tuesday Night Band, Lucia Newell, Gordy Johnson, Laura Caviani, Eric Gravatt, Tim Sparks, Chris Bates, Jay Epstein, Prudence Johnson, Dean Granros, Peter Schimke, Kenny Horst, Brandon Wozniak, Bryan Nichols, J.T. Bates, Jim Anton, Tommy Barbarella, Brian Gallagher, Dave Karr, Chris Lomheim, Tom Lewis, Joe Pulice, Connie Evingson, Anthony Cox and Debbie Duncan. Sunday, Oct. 11, 3 p.m., Artists’ Quarter ($10).

Wednesday: Miguel Zenon. On tour for his new CD, “Esta Plena,” the Puerto-Rican-born, Berklee- and Manhattan-School-of-Music-trained, MacArthur-Grant-winning saxophonist will play one night at the Dakota, in between stops at the Jazz Standard in Chicago and Yoshi’s in San Francisco. “Esta Plena” brings together the traditional plena music of Zenon’s homeland with his own up-to-the-minute, into-the-next jazz sensibility. Sample the music and hear him talk about it here. I’ve seen Zenon several times, and it’s always an exciting show. With Luis Perdomo on piano, Hans Glawischnig on bass, Henry Cole on drums, and Hector “Tito” Matos on percussion. Wednesday, Oct. 14, 7 and 9:30 p.m., Dakota ($20/$15).

Pamela Espeland keeps a Twin Cities live jazz calendar  and blogs about jazz at Bebopified. She tweets about jazz on Twitter.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Don Berryman on 10/09/2009 - 10:06 am.

    With the ST Paul Art Crawl also happening this weekend ( http://www.stpaulartcrawl.org/ ) art-crawlers can take advantage of the free shuttle bus to get to these Artists’ Quarter events at the end of the day – the bus stops at the Landmark Center, which is right across the street from the AQ.

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