With MinnPost taking a holiday later this month, this week’s jazz picks go beyond the weekend into the new year. Some of the shows are holiday-themed and some aren’t. Not to sound Scroogey, but I’ve had it with Christmas music, which has blared from store speakers and commercials since Halloween. Bah! Then again, it’s always a pleasure to hear Connie Evingson sing seasonal tunes. So mark your calendar, have a happy holiday, and we’ll see you in January.
Friday-Saturday, Dec. 18-19: Connie Evingson: The Secret of Christmas. Elegant and swinging, Evingson always delivers. Among other delights, she’ll sing “Simple Gifts,” “Silent Night,” and her version of “The Nutcracker (Petite) Suite.” 7:30 p.m., Bloomington Center for the Arts ($25 adults/$22 seniors/students). 952-563-8575.
Friday-Saturday, Dec. 18-19: Atlantis Quartet CD Release. Atlantis’ new “Animal Progress” is one of my favorite CDs of 2009. Somewhere between their first CD (2007’s “Again, Too Soon”) and now, Chris Bates replaced Travis Schilling on bass. I have nothing bad to say about Schilling but adding a Bates to your band is generally a smart move. 9 p.m., Artists’ Quarter ($10).
Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 19-20: Jingle Bell Doc. Legendary trumpeter Doc Severinsen is a holiday mainstay. This time he’ll play and conduct the Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Chorale, and Twin Cities Bronze handbell ensemble. Tickets are very limited but were still available early Thursday. Saturday, 8 p.m., and Sunday, 2 p.m., Orchestra Hall ($65-$22). 612-371-5656.
Saturday, Dec. 19: Bryan Nichols Quartet. Pianist Nichols’ new band includes Michael Lewis on saxophone, Adam Linz on bass, and J.T. Bates on drums. Wait — isn’t that Fat Kid Wednesdays? Indeed it is, making this group worth staying up late for. Use the underground parking in the Target ramp and return to a warm car. 11:30 p.m., Dakota ($5).
Sunday, Dec. 20: Tribute to Birdland. Debbie Duncan, Lee Engele, and Bruce Henry honor the great New York City jazz club and artists who have performed there over the years, from Dizzy Gillespie to Kurt Elling. 2:00 p.m., Bloomington Center for the Arts ($22 adults/$19 seniors/students). 952-563-8575.
Friday-Sunday, December 25-27: The Bad Plus. I don’t care if Santa comes as long as The Bad Plus makes its annual holiday stop at the Dakota. Pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King always have something interesting to say. I’m crossing my fingers that Wendy Lewis, who joined the group for their most recent CD, “For All I Care,” will be there to sing their tastefully twisted version of “Blue Velvet.” 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Dakota ($40/$30).
Saturday, Dec. 26: Bill Carrothers Trio. Making his home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, performing mostly in Europe, Carrothers is an artist whose music seems unfettered by geography. And it reaches back further in time than anyone’s. What other jazz musician plays songs by Stephen Foster? 9 p.m., Artists’ Quarter ($10).
New Year’s Eve. There’s much to choose from this year, whether you want to sit and enjoy the music or get up and dance. The Dakota hosts a dinner show with the Steeles and a cocktail show with trumpeter Irvin Mayfield that will be part of NPR’s “Toast of the Nation.” Go online or call 612-332-1010 for more information. The Artists’ Quarter throws its famously cozy New Year’s Eve bash with singer Carole Martin and the Irv Williams Quartet. Learn more about it and order tickets online. The excellent Bellagala Big Band plays a New Year’s Eve Swing Dance at the Christos Union Depot in downtown St. Paul, with vocalists Patty Peterson and Bob Glenn. For more information, call Don George at 612-805-1270.
Tuesday, Jan. 5: Birthday Bash at the Dakota. Vocalists Christine Rosholt and Leslie Ball and guitarist Dave Singley share a birthday (Jan. 3) and this year they’re celebrating in public. With Tanner Taylor on piano, Graydon Peterson on bass, Jay Epstein on drums, and Dave Karr on sax and flute. Let there be cake. 7 p.m., Dakota ($5).
Wednesday-Thursday, Jan. 6-7: Nellie McKay. Vocalist/multi-instrumentalist McKay is quirky, unpredictable, and insanely creative. When she played the Dakota in April 2008, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. And when she sang the “Zombie” song (“Do the Zombie, rawr rawr rawr rawr!”) I was totally charmed. Some of you may have heard her on “A Prairie Home Companion.” Her latest CD is “Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day.” Did I mention she’s a vegan and adopts pit bulls? She’ll perform with members of the All-Star Shoe Band: Pat Donahue (guitar), Gary Raynor (bass), and Peter Johnson (drums). 7:00 p.m., Dakota ($30).