In spring 2008, Kevin Barnes of KBEM launched a series he called REEL Jazz — films about jazz. Held in the theater at the Bryant Lake Bowl, it featured movies that bigger rooms and chains wouldn’t touch: about singer Jackie Paris and pianist Fred Hersch, avant-garde musician Cecil Taylor, guitarist Pat Martino, clarinetist Woody Allen (yes, that Woody Allen), and a public-school jazz program in Jacksonville, Fla.
The series continues this fall in a new home: the Trylon microcinema on Minnehaha Avenue. Alas, no more BLB beer or burritos — but no more sounds of pins falling, either.
“I’ve been admiring what Take-Up Productions has been doing at the Trylon,” Barnes says. “The Bryant Lake Bowl has been great, and we’ll be back there in the future with other projects, maybe cabaret-style performances. With 50 seats and a 20-foot screen, the Trylon is truly a screening room.”
Make that “50 deluxe rocker seats,” two Century 35mm projectors, digital projection, and eight-channel sound. That’s how I want to see my jazz films, thanks very much. Plus there’s popcorn.
The new series will screen on the second Thursdays of September, October and November at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7. Tickets are $10. Here’s the schedule.
Thursday, Sept. 9: Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser. Rare footage of the genius pianist/composer in studio, on tour, and behind the scenes. Co-produced by Bruce Ricker and Charlotte Zwerin, executive producer Clint Eastwood. See an excerpt here. Reserve here.
Thursday, Oct. 14: An Evening with Bob DeFlores. The local film historian-preservationist hosts an evening of films from his personal collection. Reserve here.
Thursay, Nov. 11: The Last of the Blue Devils: The Kansas City Jazz Story. Kansas City in the 1930s had a vibrant jazz scene. Director Bruce Ricker’s film is a montage of footage shot at two reunions of surviving KC musicians and a concert performance by Count Basie and his band. The New York Times called it “a very happy movie.” Reserve here.
It’s likely this year’s Sound Unseen festival in October will include a jazz film or two, or three. I’ll report when I have more details.
Live jazz to see and hear this weekend and into the week:
Friday-Saturday: Kelly Rossum. The trumpeter/composer/former director of MacPhail’s jazz program is back from New York City, teaching at MacPhail’s Jazz Camp and playing two nights at the AQ. I saw him at the Clown in May with drummer Phil Hey, and he’s definitely edgier. Friday’s performance is a reunion with his quartet: Bryan Nichols (piano), Chris Bates (bass), JT Bates (drums). This is the group heard on Rossum’s most recent CD, “Family” (612 Sides, 2008). Here they are at the AQ last February. Saturday’s show features Rossum with members of the Atlantis Quartet: Brandon Wozniak (saxophone), Chris Bates (bass), Pete Hennig (drums). 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Aug. 13-14, Artists’ Quarter, 408 St. Peter St. (in the basement of the Hamm Building), St. Paul ($10).
Wednesday-Friday: Greg Skaff. Based in New York City, guitarist/composer Skaff is a great favorite at the AQ for two reasons: He’s an exceptional player and a fine human being. He has played with Stanley Turrentine, Ruth Brown, Jimmy Scott, and Bobby Watson; his recordings as leader include “East Harlem Skyline” (Zoho, 2009). He’s here for three nights, and each will be different. On Wednesday he plays with a trio; on Thursday with an organ trio; on Friday he’s part of the AQ’s Jazz Guitar Hero Weekend and shares the spotlight with Chris Olson and Loren “Wally” Walstad. 9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, Aug. 18-20, Artists’ Quarter, 408 St. Peter St. (in the basement of the Hamm Building), St. Paul ($7 Wednesday and Thursday, $10 Friday). Go early on Wednesday and catch the weekly Tesfa Jam led by saxophonist Dejen Tesfagiorgis. 7 p.m., no cover. Go early on Thursday and catch the TCJS Young Artists Series with Three-Way Stop (recent high school grads Keefe Tarnow, guitar; Ted Olsen, bass; Lars Johnson, drums). 7 p.m., no cover.
Thursday: Sophia Shorai and Tommy Barbarella. It’s a good point of reference to compare singer Sophia Shorai to either Stacey Kent or Karrin Allyson (or both); there are similarities between them in tone, phrasing and approach, an appealing freshness, winsomeness and clarity, along with the ability to nail the note. But Shorai has her own voice, her own ideas, and her own debut CD, “Long as You’re Living,” due out on Thursday with a CD release at the Dakota. The recording is bracketed with two vocal high-wire acts, “Long As You’re Living” and Jobim’s “Waters of March.” In between, a refreshing variety of classic and contemporary tunes: a flirty, seductive “Black Coffee,” Leonard Cohen’s satirical “Everybody Knows,” a version of “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” filled with sadness and longing, and a bluesy, saucy “Hellhound on My Trail.” Pianist Barbarella, the former keyboardist for Prince and the New Power Generation, is perfection on the keys. 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 19, Dakota, 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis ($5).