It seems the JazzMN Big Band has done a bit of rebranding and is now known as the JazzMN Orchestra. That’s the language used in their latest press release. Somehow it sounds more … serious. Like the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, or the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, or the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra. If the name change draws more attention to this fine group of Twin Cities musicians, formed by Douglas Snapp in 1998, that’s all for the good.
On Monday, JazzMN announced its 2010-11 season: four concerts featuring four very different guest artists.
Oct. 2, 2010: The Latin Jazz Maestro. Michael Philip Mossman is a Grammy-nominated trumpeter and composer who has played lead trumpet with the Lincoln Center Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra and the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, performed with Latin jazz greats Tito Puente and Paquito D’Rivera, and composed for the Basie and Mingus orchestras. He was featured in “Calle 54,” the critically acclaimed 2000 documentary on contemporary Latin jazz.
Nov. 20, 2010: Kenton’s 100th Kickoff. JazzMN will expand its 10-piece brass section to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Stan Kenton’s birth and accompany guest vocalist Stephanie Nakasian, heard recently at the Artists’ Quarter in St. Paul. Nakasian will pay tribute to June Christy, who sang with the Kenton orchestra and on his biggest-selling record, “Tampico.” It’s a safe bet Nakasian will cover that one.
March 12, 2011: Jazz Guitar Extraordinaire. Mike Stern has played guitar with Miles Davis, Michael Brecker, the Yellowjackets, and Blood, Sweat & Tears. The five-time Grammy nominee is at home in both jazz and fusion.
April 9, 2011: Sizzling T-bone Entrée. Andy Martin is the top-call jazz trombonist in Los Angeles; if you’ve seen “Dancing with the Stars,” “American Idol,” or pretty much any major awards show, you’ve heard Martin play. He has a long list of motion picture credits and eight albums to his credit.
All JazzMN concerts are held at the Hopkins High School Performing Arts Center, 2400 Lindbergh Drive, Minnetonka, an inviting venue with ample free parking. Season tickets ($104-$96) are available online or by calling 1-866-811-4111. Single tickets go on sale in July.
David Brauer reported Wednesday on KFAI’s new programming grid. Except for “International Jazz Conspiracy,” which will move from Wednesday night to Monday night, the station’s jazz shows — “Mostly Jazz,” “Rhythm and Grooves,” and “Collective Eye”— will be heard on Saturday mornings as of June 30. This happens to be the same time block KBEM devotes to bluegrass. Jazz fans should be pleased.
Over at KBEM, Maryann Sullivan’s “Corner Jazz” airs on late Saturday night, a time when many of us are out hearing live music. I’m happy to report that Sullivan’s programs are now archived so you (and I) can listen online anytime. The archives go all the way back to February 14, 2009, soon after Sullivan was let go from Minnesota Public Radio (where she had hosted “The Jazz Connection”) and picked up by KBEM.
This week’s jazz picks:
Friday-Saturday, June 11-12: Dave King Trucking Company. Drummer King is the guy to whom the Walker devoted a weekend in March (“King for Two Days”). He was originally scheduled to play the AQ with Happy Apple (Michael Lewis, Eric Fratzke), but instead he’s bringing one of his numerous other bands, the Trucking Company. With Fratzke on guitar, Brandon Wozniak on saxophones, and Adam Linz on bass, it’s not too shabby. Artists’ Quarter, 408 St. Peter Street (in the basement of the Hamm Building), St. Paul, Friday and Saturday, 9 p.m. ($5).
Sunday, June 13: The Count Basie Orchestra. William “Count” Basie passed away in 1984, but the swinging orchestra he founded lives on with many of the musicians he chose personally. To date, the group has won 17 Grammy awards. Here’s a video recorded in Switzerland in 2004. Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, Sunday, 2 p.m. ($60-$22). Tickets by phone or online.
Sunday-Monday, June 13-14: Stanley Clarke & Hiromi. Those of us who saw Clarke, Hiromi, and Lenny White at the Dakota last October knew we were hearing something special and memorable. It seems that Clarke thought it was a bit too loud. He’s returning with Hiromi for four all-acoustic sets. Just the two of them, she on piano, he on upright bass. The anticipation may kill me. Dakota, 1010 Nicollet Mall, Sunday and Monday, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ($45-$30). Tickets at the door or online.
Coming next week: the MinnPost guide to the Twin Cities Jazz Festival.