I’m in San Francisco, where it should be a lot warmer than it has been (in the 30s, with occasional light snow flurries, which seems like no big thing to us hardy Minnesotans but matters a lot in a city with a huge population of homeless people). And I’m feeling jazz deprived.
This is not, as it turns out, a big jazz city. Don Berryman, master of the Jazz Police website, pointed me toward KCSM-FM’s (San Francisco’s Jazz 91.1) online calendar of jazz in the Bay Area, which includes events in Healdsburg and Santa Cruz, each a considerable distance away. (Jazz fans, be sure to bookmark that site for your own next visit to the City by the Bay.) Again, I’m aware of how spoiled we are in the Twin Cities.
There’s much worth braving the snow and cold for this weekend.
Friday and Saturday: African Jazz Trio. When West African music meets R&B, temperatures are sure to rise. Guitarist Loba Akou, now based in Detroit, and Twin Cities bassist Serge Akou both hail from Côte d’Ivoire. They’ll be joined on the AQ’s intimate stage by vocalist/percussionist Stokley Williams of Mint Condition and JOTO. You may recall that the Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble JOTO once played every Tuesday at Babalu, where sitting still was not an option. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 11 and 12, 9 p.m., Artists’ Quarter ($10).
Sunday: A Copasetic Christmas Carol. Scrooge learns to swing in this Twin Cities Christmas fave. The show premiered at the Dakota several years ago, moved to the Capri in 2007, and returns to the Dakota for one night only. Created by singer/lyricist Charmin Michelle and composer/saxophonist Doug Haining, it treats the Dickens classic as a jazz concert in the style of Ellington and Basie. The band is the estimable Twin Cities Seven (Haining on saxes and clarinet, Steve Wright on trumpet, Dave Graf on trombone, Rick Carlson on piano, Kent Saunders on guitar, Steve Pikal on bass, Dick Bortolussi on drums), with narration by the Dakota’s own hep cat Craig Eichhorn. Sunday, Dec. 13, 7 p.m., Dakota ($55 three-course dinner and show; $16 show only).
Sunday: Laura Caviani’s Holiday Show. Everything about this show will be real, from the sincerity of the artists and the beauty of the music to “Hip Santa” Davis Wilson’s beard. Wilson, the AQ’s resident doorman and encyclopedia of all things jazz, grew his beard so he could work as a Santa over the holidays. By now it’s quite impressive, as is his grasp of hipster jive and beat poetry. Pianist Caviani will perform with good friends Lucia Newell on vocals, Pete Whitman on saxophone, Tom Lewis on bass, and Phil Hey on drums. Expect selections from Caviani’s sterling 1999 holiday release “Angels We Haven’t Heard.” Sunday, Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m., Artists’ Quarter ($10).