Fall officially began last Friday, but it’s fair to say that the fall jazz season started last night at Orchestra Hall when Osmo Vänskä raised his baton. The Minnesota Orchestra’s 2011–12 season opener, which continues tonight and tomorrow, includes two jazz-infused works, George Anthell’s “A Jazz Symphony” and “TimePiece for Jazz Soloists and Orchestra.” Composed by St. Paul’s Stephen Paulus and his son, Greg Paulus, “TimePiece” features Greg on trumpet, Michael Lewis on saxophone, Bryan Nichols on keyboards, Adam Linz on bass, and JT Bates on drums. I’ve been to rehearsals of the Paulus/Paulus piece and it’s beautiful. (See Michael Anthony’s article for more.) 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday.
Orchestra Hall’s 2011–12 jazz season begins on Sunday, Oct. 2, with the return of Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Music director (and fourth trumpet) Wynton Marsalis turns 50 on Oct. 18, so this event is being billed as “A 50th Birthday Celebration!” Marsalis says they’ll play “stuff I like,” including his original compositions and arrangements by members of the band. 7 p.m. Sunday.
Later in October, pianist/composer Herbie Hancock comes to Orchestra Hall for an evening of solo piano. This is Hancock’s first solo tour in a career that spans five decades and 14 Grammys, and Minneapolis is one of only seven cities he’s visiting. He travels with a 10’2″ Fazioli grand piano. 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28.
The JazzMN Orchestra‘s new season begins this Saturday, Oct. 1, with special guest John Clayton, a Grammy-winning jazz composer and arranger, bassist, and co-leader (with saxophonist Jeff Hamilton) of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Judi Donaghy is the featured vocalist. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1. On Nov. 19, Minnesota’s own jazz orchestra, now in its 12th year, will pay tribute to Miles Davis. 7:30 p.m.
Jazz is part of the menu each year at Hopkins Center for the Arts. On Saturday, Oct. 1, Connie Evingson will perform with the John Jorgenson Quintet. Jorgenson is a founding member of the Desert Rose Band, a six-year member of Elton John’s band, and a crack gypsy jazz guitarist; he was chosen to play Django Reinhardt in the 2004 film “Head in the Clouds.” On Saturday, Oct. 22, Grammy-winning saxophonist/composer Joe Lovano brings his band US Five to town, with Esperanza Spalding on bass. Spalding won the Best New Artist Grammy last year, besting Justin Bieber.
Four series are under way. The Nomad Jazz Series, curated by bassist James Buckley, happens weekly on Wednesdays at the Nomad World Pub. Buckley is doing a worthy job of mixing things up in Cedar-Riverside. In October, the series includes the Max Corcoran Project CD release show (jazz plus electronica and hip-hop), Buckley’s own trio, Anthony Cox, and The Gang Font. At the Nicollet coffee house, KBEM’s Maryann Sullivan and vocalist Rhonda Laurie are programming jazz on Tuesdays. In a nod to the Clown Lounge, which hosted the Jazz Implosion on Mondays for years, the Nomad starts late; the first set begins at 10:30 p.m. and goes until 1 a.m. At the Nicollet, the music begins at 7 p.m., and there’s a dance floor.
The Community Pool: Deep End series, curated by saxophonist Nathan Hanson and bassist Brian Roessler, takes place at the Black Dog every other Friday. On Oct. 7, Nathan Hanson, Douglas Ewart, and Pete Hennig will perform. On Oct. 21, Todd Harper’s Full Moon Rabbit, which Roessler describes as “a glorious mess.”
Jazz at Studio Z is a new monthly series curated by guitarist Zacc Harris and held at Zeitgeist’s performance space in St. Paul’s Lowertown. Harris is focusing on large-ish ensembles. The Dave King Trucking Company kicked things off in September. On Saturday, Oct. 22, it’s Seven Steps to Havana, the Latin jazz septet led by Doug Little. Each Jazz at Studio Z concert is preceded by a rehearsal at 1 p.m. that’s free and open to the public.
If you attend many jazz events in St. Paul this fall, you may notice a jovial fellow with a beard, a hat and recording equipment. Larry Englund is recording jazz performances all over the city for Saint Paul Live!, a new radio series to be broadcast on KBEM beginning in January.
Jazz Central will celebrate its first birthday on Monday, Oct. 3. Begun and run by pianist Tanner Taylor and drummers Mac Santiago and Luis Santiago (“for the cats, by the cats”), Jazz Central has become a prime space to hear many of the Twin Cities’ best musicians playing, jamming, and hanging. On Monday, the spotlight is on drummer Phil Hey.
Isolated events worth pointing out: Bieber-beater Esperanza Spalding’s Chamber Music Society at the O’Shaughnessy in St. Paul on Tuesday, Oct. 4. The Wolverines Big Band featuring Butch Miles at the Bloomington Center for the Arts on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 9. Madeline Peyroux with Nellie McKay at the Guthrie on Monday, Oct. 10. “In My Mind,” a film about Jason Moran’s interpretation of Thelonious Monk’s historic 1959 town Hall concert, at the Trylon Microcinema on Sunday, Oct. 16, part of this year’s Sound Unseen festival. On Friday, Oct. 21, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue at First Avenue. They’ve just released their second CD. This will be an explosive show. On Wednesday, Nov. 16, Al Jarreau at the Pantages.
We haven’t forgotten the Twin Cities’ two best-known jazz clubs. Coming to the Dakota this Sunday, Oct. 2: Charlie Hunter, who plays both bass and guitar on his custom eight-string instrument. On Thursday, Oct. 13, the Patricia Barber Quartet. On Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 17–18, Joe Sample and the Crusaders. On Monday, Nov. 7, pianist/composer Michael Kaeshammer. According to Dakota owner Lowell Pickett, Kaeshammer regularly sells out 2,000-seat halls in his native Canada. In December, The Bad Plus return for their 11th Dakota Christmas. They’ll be here Dec. 25–27.
At the AQ tonight, Friday, Sept. 30: Singer Nancy Harms pays a visit from New York, where she moved about a year ago and has since performed with people like Wycliffe Gordon and at places like Birdland. Not too shabby. On Wednesday, Oct. 19, trumpet great Wallace Roney performs with his quintet. On Friday–Saturday, Oct. 21–22, it’s the Matt Slocum Trio with Sam Yahel and Massimo Bialcati.
Jazz happens at Barbette, the Red Stag, the Riverview Wine Bar, the Loring Pasta Bar, Fireside Pizza, Jazz Central, the Aster, Café Maude, the Birchwood, the St. Paul Hotel, the Nicollet Inn, the Driftwood Char Bar, Hell’s Kitchen, Honey, and other places throughout the Twin Cities. The easiest way to learn what’s happening when and where is to check the Live Jazz Calendar on KBEM’s website. I maintain this calendar, and I do my best to be inclusive.