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Big lineup for TC Jazz Fest; dance nights in St. Paul

Courtesy of Twin Cities Jazz Festival
No matter how hard you try, you can’t see everything at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival.

Jazz fans will start their weekend on Thursday evening, when the 16th Annual Twin Cities Jazz Festival begins with a bang: 21 events on eight stages. And that’s just Thursday. The festival continues Friday and Saturday with a dizzying line-up of international, national and area artists. The main location is Mears Park and nearby, with its four outdoor stages, but events are scattered like buckshot around St. Paul, including stops along the Green Line on University Avenue.

No matter how hard you try, you can’t see everything; it’s physically impossible because many performances overlap and some are far apart. We suggest taking a look at the website to plan your first few stops, then picking up a printed program somewhere along the way and circling things with a pen. An app – like Northern Spark’s, or the apps of other jazz festivals including Monterey and New Orleans – would be really, really helpful. Maybe next year? Meanwhile, go here, scroll down, and print out the Schedule by Stage or Schedule by Day, or both. What we really need is a schedule by day that shows everything on a grid. Hard-core fans have created those in the past, and if one shows up, we’ll let you know on Artscape’s Facebook page.

Fun facts about this year’s Jazz Fest: More than 30,000 people are expected to attend. (The weather gods were unkind to Northern Spark, kind to Rock the Garden. Will kindness prevail?) More than 120 bands and individual artists will participate. This year’s headliners are Grammy winner Dianne Reeves, a splendid vocalist whose band includes Wisconsin-born pianist Geoffrey Keezer, who used to play often in the Twin Cities; Grammy winner Branford Marsalis, the saxophone-playing member of the famous Marsalis family, and his excellent quartet; Big Easy keyboardist Joe Krown and his trio; 24-year-old Chilean saxophonist Melissa Aldana, winner of the 2013 Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition (and the first woman instrumentalist in history to win any of the Monk top honors); gypsy jazz and Latin Swing artist Lulo Reinhardt, grand-nephew of Django; and drummer Babatunde Lea, a world-renowned artist now living in the Twin Cities. Update: Reinhardt’s set has been canceled due to travel problems. No replacement has yet been announced. 

Like Jazz Fest itself, public transit to and from is free. Go here, click on Location up top, and scroll down to Free Rides to print your pass. Can’t make it, still want to hear it? KBEM (Jazz 88 FM) will broadcast live from Jazz Fest on Friday and Saturday. Tune in from 4-10 p.m. both days.

Free dancing outdoors is under way in downtown St. Paul. On Thursday nights through July 24, the Ordway expands into Rice Park with a weekly social dance event featuring live music – and, for those of us with two left feet, basic lessons by professional dance instructors. Lessons at 6 p.m., band at 7:15. If it rains, the event moves indoors to the Ordway or the Landmark Center, depending on the night. Swing dancing with the Capri Big Band is featured this Thursday (June 26), disco on July 10, salsa on July 17, ballroom on July 24. Sign up for the weekly summer dance emails to stay informed.

When we read this headline in the Strib – “Holidazzle to be replaced with Christmas market” – we groaned a little. The article went on to say, “Steve Cramer, Downtown Council president, said Friday that the council hopes to reinvent Holidazzle as a shopping, eating and entertainment experience centered on Peavey Plaza.” Plans are to keep it open seven days a week and into the evenings. But don’t we already have plenty of holiday shopping opps, starting as early as, say, Easter? Does anyone want to go to Peavey Plaza? Are there plans to cover it with a heated dome? Holidazzle was quirky, but it was fun, and it was ours for 22 years, and maybe the marketplace will be great for downtown Minneapolis and everyone will love it, but we’re feeling humbuggish about the whole thing. Update: The City Council’s Budget Committee has voted against using city funding for the concept.

Courtesy of the MIA
Egon Schiele (Austrian, 1890-1918)
Standing girl, c. 1908-1909, charcoal
and tempera. The John R. Van Derlip
Fund and gift of funds from Dr.
Otto Kallir 69.7.

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is urging us to snag tickets now forMarks of Genius,” a show that opens July 13 and lasts just over two months, until Sept. 21. Like most major collecting museums, MIA has countless items that the public seldom or never sees. Drawn from deep in storage, “Marks of Genius” includes 100 drawings, watercolors and pastels considered too sensitive to light to bring out often or for long – works by artists including Degas, Picasso, Klimt, O’Keeffe, Hopper, Warhol and Lichtenstein. After seeing the show, you may feel inspired to do a little sketching yourself. Your ticket also gets you into an open Drawing Studio on Thursday evenings from 6-9 p.m., where artists including Mequitta Ahuja (whose work is featured in “Marks of Genius”) will be on hand for informal demonstrations, gallery talks, and lessons. Way to bring people in, MIA. $8-$13.

What is Minnesota to you, and can you communicate that in a six-second video? For the August 1 edition of its First Friday Films series, the Minnesota Museum of American Art is inviting anyone to grab a camera phone and shoot a very short, family-friendly video in the style of Vine. (And what is Vine, you may ask? It’s a free app that lets you create looping videos.) Send your clip to MMA Curator of Engagement Christina Chang by Friday, July 11 for consideration. If selected, you’ll get to present it on Aug. 1. And we thought the Soap Factory’s annual Ten-Second Film Fest was cutting things short.

The Associated Press reports that terrorist-hunting hero Mitch Rapp will live on, even though his creator, best-selling St. Paul author Vince Flynn, died last year from prostate cancer. Writer Kyle Mills has been commissioned by Flynn’s publisher and estate to complete an unfinished novel by Flynn and write two more. It’s not uncommon for publishers (and estates) to carry on successful franchises once their original authors pass on. Mills has already written two books in the style of Robert Ludlum. And, in case you Agatha Christie fans haven’t yet heard, British author Sophie Hannah has written a new novel starring none other than Hercule Poirot. Sacrebleu! “The Monogram Murders” comes out Sept. 9.  

The U of M Centennial Showboat’s summer feature, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” was scheduled to begin June 19, but the mighty Mississippi had other plans. The Showboat is docked at Harriet Island, which is flooded and has been closed to the public. (Taste of Minnesota, scheduled for Harriet Island over the Fourth of July weekend, is seeking another location.) All performances of J&H through June 28 have been postponed. Tickets purchased for performances on those dates will be honored. FMI

Our picks for the week

Tonight (Tuesday, June 24) at the Loft: Amanda Lindhout presents “A House in the Sky.” In August 2008, Lindhout, a fledgling reporter, traveled to Somalia. Four days later, she was abducted by a group of masked men and held hostage for 460 days. The Strib called her book “as monstrous as it is moving, as terrible as it is transforming.” Don’t expect a fun time, but know going in that Lindhout is working today to help the people of Somalia through her nonprofit Global Enrichment Foundation. Co-sponsored with Magers & Quinn and the American Refugee Committee. 7 p.m. Free.

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Tonight in Lloyd Ultan Recital Hall in Ferguson Hall at the U: Eriko Tsuchihashi, violin. Associate concertmaster at La Scala in Milan, Tsuchihashi is in Minnesota for the School of Music’s Bravo! Summer String and Keyboard Institute program for young musicians. Last Tuesday she performed some of the six Solo Sonatas and Partitas by J.S. Bach; tonight, she’ll finish them up. Bravo! director (and Tsuchihashi’s teacher) Sally O’Reilly describes the two programs as “a feat for Super Woman.” 7:30 p.m. Free.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, June 25), back at the Loft: Givens Foundation Reading. New work by participants in the 2014 Givens Foundation Black Writers Collaborative Retreat Program. Each year, this eight-month program provides 10 emerging African-American writers with mentoring, peer support, literary community and one-on-one sessions with national and state mentoring writers. 7 p.m. Free.

Thursday at St. Olaf Catholic Church in Minneapolis: Minnesota Bach Ensemble: Bach in Bloom. Three Bachs on a summer’s night. Music by J.S. (Orchestral Suite No. 2), J.C. (Symphony in G Minor), and C.P.E. (Oboe Concerto in E-flat Major), plus works by Abel (Symphony in D Major) and Mozart (Symphony No. 4 in D Major). Formed during the lockout of the Minnesota Orchestra musicians, the Minnesota Bach Ensemble is led by Andrew Altenbach and features many musicians from the orchestra. Soloists for Thursday’s concert are Basil Reeve, oboe, and Adam Kuenzel, flute. Altenbach was artistic director and principal conductor of the St. Cloud Symphony before moving to Boston and a position at the Boston Conservatory. FMI and tickets ($10-$25).

Photo by Mark R. Brown
Dustin Luke Nelson

Thursday on the Walker’s Open Field: “Applause.” Pass by and be applauded, join in and applaud, or just watch. Author, poet, and soon-to-be performance artist Dustin Luke Nelson plans to lead two hours of unbroken applause, breaking the current world record of 90 minutes. Applause is one of those things that benefits both giver and recipient, applauder and applaudee, so this promises to be a feel-good event, with sore hands. Stay for as little or as long as you like and be part of history. The Guinness Book of World Records has approved this event; if the attempt is successful and verified by the Guinness Book, you’ll be eligible for a certificate. RSVP on Facebook or show up. We’re hopelessly in love with this. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Free.

Thursday and Friday at Studio Z: New works by area jazz composers. As part of this year’s Twin Cities Jazz Festival, Zeitgeist, St. Paul’s new music collective, commissioned guitarist Zacc Harris, trumpeter Steve Kenny, bassist Chris Bates and drummer Davu Seru to write new music. All four artists are known for their inventive and collaborative approach to composition. All four works will have their world premieres right here. Bravo, Zeitgeist. 5 p.m. both nights. Free.

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