While most of the live music I see is jazz (broadly defined), and there’s enough of that happening in the Twin Cities to keep anyone busy, I make two regular exceptions: for the Schubert Club’s International Artist Series, and for almost anything at the Southern Theater.
I like the intimacy and scale of the Schubert’s recitals — usually two people on stage, sometimes four — and I’ve grown to trust the Southern’s music curator, Kate Nordstrum, for her adventuresome spirit and wide-open mind.
The Southern announced its 2010/11 season this week, and I’m already marking my calendar. Highlights:
Sept. 17 and 18, 2010: Music of Ben Frost and Music of Tim Hecker. Frost is from Reykjavik, Hecker from Montreal. Frost has collaborated with Johann Johannsson, Sam Amidon, and Nico Muhly, all of whom have been to the Southern within the past two years.
Oct. 7-9, 2010: Sound Unseen. The 11th installment of this respected festival of films on music is still in development. There’s usually at least one jazz film in the mix. Last year’s star was “Icons Among Us: Jazz in the Present Tense.”
Nov. 14, 2010: “Lush Life: Interpretations of the American jazz canon.” Adam Levy hosts what promises to be an utterly unpredictable evening with music director dVRG, Heiruspecs as the house band, and guest musicians Ill Chemistry, Omaur Bliss, Janey Winterbauer, Mayda, and more to be announced.
Feb. 11-13, 2011: Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater: “The Ends of Love.” I meant to write only about music events but got distracted by this dance program, which features original music by Michelle Kinney, performed by cellists Kinney and Jacqueline Ultan of Jelloslave and guitarist Park Evans.
Feb. 18-19, 2011: Alisa Weilerstein & Gabriel Kahane. Young cellist Weilerstein plays music by Bach and Britten and two new commissions by composer Kahane including his song-like setting of Galway Kinnell’s poem “Little Sleep’s-Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight.”
April 10, 2011: Quartet New Generation (QNG). Four women play contemporary and early music on up to 20 different recorders of varying sizes and shapes. Hey, I’m game.
The Southern’s complete 2010-11 calendar will be available soon (online and, if you’re on the list, in your mailbox). Check it out. Fascinating stuff in a terrific little venue — old stone arches, just 210 seats, always good people-watching.
Jazz for the weekend and into the week:
Friday-Saturday: Kendra Shank. On her fifth and latest CD, “Mosaic” (Challenge, 2010), New York-based vocalist Kendra Shank hooked me with the first three words, “So Far Away.” Her tear-stained version of the Carole King classic is full of loneliness and regret. Throughout, her voice is delicious, warm and textured, and her commitment — to taking risks and letting her emotions show — is compelling. Hear clips on her website; click “Cds” at the top. She won’t be here with her regular quartet, which includes the sublime pianist Frank Kimbrough, but we don’t have to worry about the three area musicians who will have her back: pianist Bryan Nichols, bassist Terry Burns, and drummer Phil Hey. 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday, July 9-10, Artists’ Quarter, 408 St. Peter St. (in the basement of the Hamm Building), St. Paul ($17).
Sunday: Gerry Hemingway/Terrence McManus Duo. A rare Twin Cities appearance by the improvising duo Hemingway (trap set, acoustic and electronic addenda) and McManus (homemade guitars, electronic processing). From their press release: “A Monk tune might present itself in a sincere traditional setting or may find itself extended beyond hardcore industrial noise textures.” Hear clips on their website. 4 p.m. Sunday: Masterclass ($15). 7 p.m. Sunday: Performance ($10). Rogue Buddha Gallery, 357 13th Ave. NE (one block north of University and Broadway Ave. NE), Minneapolis. If you miss them on Sunday, you can catch them at the Clown Lounge the following night. 10:30 p.m. Monday, Clown Lounge (in the basement of the Turf Club), 1601 University Ave., St. Paul ($10).
Monday-Tuesday: Bill Frisell’s Beautiful Dreamers. Any list of top jazz guitarists must include Bill Frisell. He was here in February in performance at the Walker with violist Eyvind Kang and Iraqi oud master Rahim AlHaj; he returns this week with Kang and Rudy Royston on drums. Frisell recently signed with Savoy and recorded a new CD of originals and interpretations, “Beautiful Dreamers,” with Kang and Royston, due out Aug. 31. I’ve been listening to an advance audio stream: an otherworldly take on the Stephen Foster tune, “Beautiful Dreamer,” the Vince Youmans chestnut “Tea for Two,” transformed into a lilting, gauzey dance, and “Goin’ Out of My Head,” best known in the hit version by Little Anthony and the Imperials. Eclectic? You think? 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, July 12-13, Dakota, 1010 Nicollet Mall ($30/$20).Tickets at the door or online.