Friday and Saturday: Nichola Miller “Thou Swingeth” CD Release. You might have heard her sing at Spoonriver, Hell’s Kitchen, the Mill City Farmers Market, or the Times (back when it was the Times). Her rich voice and sassy presence are unforgettable, as are her passion for melody, innate sense of swing, and squeaky-clean articulation. If you’ve ever wondered about the lyrics to “All or Nothing at All” or “But Not for Me,” listen to Nichola Miller sing them. Earlier this year, she recorded a CD at the AQ with Dave Karr on saxophone, Rick Carlson on piano, Keith Boyles on bass, and Nathan Norman on drums. This weekend she’ll return to sing and sign. Nichola performs with personality and joy; a good time will be had by all, in the house and on the stage. Hear songs from her first CD on her MySpace page. 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 15-16, Artists’ Quarter, in the basement of the Hamm Building in St. Paul ($10).
Sunday and Monday: Nellie McKay. She’s more cabaret and pop than jazz, but I’ve never seen anyone who’s such a pure, uninhibited, head-to-toe entertainer. (A friend recently shared this impression: “If she fell on her face during a song, she’d get up and pick up where she left off.”) Comparisons with other performers are futile; Nellie McKay (rhymes with “pie”) is sui generis. Her latest CD, “Home Sweet Mobile Home,” is just out on Verve. (Last year’s CD was a Doris Day tribute.) It’s a crazy quilt of Dixieland jazz and island beats, sunshine and angst, cuteness and biting sarcasm, complete with ukelele. Listen on her website. I picture her muses as a host of naughty angels. She’ll perform here with members of Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band, as she did in January. 7 p.m. Sunday and Monday, Oct. 17-18, Dakota, 1010 Nicollet Mall, 612-332-5299 ($32). Tickets at 612-332-5299 or online.
Wednesday and Thursday: Hugh Masekela. Everybody knows his zillion-selling hit from the 60s, “Grazing in the Grass.” But if that’s all you’ve heard of South African jazz/world fusion/Afrobeat master Hugh Masekela, you’re missing out. (It’s kind of like pigeonholing Bobby McFerrin as the guy who sang “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”) Singer, trumpeter, flugelhornist, and activist, Masekela has performed with Miriam Makeba (they were once married), Fela Kuti, the Crusaders, and Herb Alpert, among countless others; he was part of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” tour in the 80s. Here’s another Masekela hit, “Coal Train.” 7 and 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 20-21, Dakota, 1010 Nicollet Mall, 612-332-5299 ($45/$30). Tickets at 612-332-5299 or online.
- Saturday, Oct. 16: Dakota: The New Standards. Chill with Chan, John, and Steve.
- Wednesday, Oct. 20: Washburn High School: Jazz88 Community Education: Hillbilly Jazz. Is bluegrass “the jazz of American country music”?
- Thursday, Oct. 21: Hamline University, Sundin Music Hall: Stompin’ at the Grand Terrace. Poetry and jazz.
- Thursday, Oct. 21: Studio Z: AntiGravity. Sonic adventures on clarinet, guitar, cello, saxes, and laptop, with guest pianist/improviser Rahjta Ren.
- Friday, Oct. 22: Northrop Jazz Live at the Campus Club: Somi and Thomasina. The Northrop Jazz Season moves to a new location, with cocktails.
- Wednesday, Oct. 27: Artists’ Quarter: Christian Howes Quartet. Jazz violin.
- Friday-Saturday, Nov. 5-6: Walker Art Center: Brad Mehldau’s Highway Rider. The brilliant young pianist performs with his quintet and the SPCO.
- Sunday, Nov. 14: Southern Theater: Lush Life: Interpretations of the American Jazz Canon. Hosts Adam Levy and DJ Jake Rudh, musical director dVRG.