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Twin Cities Jazz Fest to include Joshua Redman, Emmet Cohen

Photo by Michael Wilson
Saxophonist Joshua Redman

The Twin Cities Jazz Festival has announced more headliners and finalized its schedule. Not content with its usual St. Paul takeover, this year’s Jazz Fest will also present a Minneapolis preview night the week before, a teaser of what’s to come.

Saxophonist Joshua Redman will join McCoy Tyner’s quartet on the Mears Park main stage on Saturday, June 24, at 8:30 p.m. Son of the legendary Dewey Redman, Josh has become the saxophonist everyone wants to play with and record with. His latest recording (of 20 as leader or co-leader) includes “Nearness” with pianist Brad Mehldau. His last Jazz Fest appearance was in 2015 with The Bad Plus.

Young Harlem-based pianist, prodigy, B-3 organist and educator Emmet Cohen breezed through Crooners and Jazz Central in March and blew everyone away. A finalist in the 2011 Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition, winner of the 2014 American Jazz Pianists Competition, he has already made several recordings including his acclaimed 2011 debut “In the Element” and his latest with Miles Davis drummer Jimmy Cobb. He’ll perform with his trio on the Mears Park main stage on Thursday, June 22, at 6:30 p.m.

Previously announced headliners include the iconic pianist Tyner, Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard, clarinetist Anat Cohen, and keyboardist, organist and Minnesota native Bobby Lyle.

Also new to the lineup: Swedish flugelhornist-trumpeter Oskar Stenmark, who’ll play the Mears Park stage Thursday at 5 p.m., thanks to a partnership with the American Swedish Institute.

On June 17, the Saturday before the festival, Hennepin Ave. United Methodist Church in Minneapolis will host a Jazz Fest preview night with the Cameron Kinghorn Quartet. This will be in addition to the usual prefestival performances at St. Paul libraries that begin on June 8 with the Twin Cities Hot Club at the Highland Park Library.

The Festival officially starts Thursday, June 22, at 5 p.m. in Mears Park (with Stenmark) and continues through late Saturday, June 24, at various venues including the Black Dog, the Amsterdam and Vieux Carré. The latter is the site of the official nightly Jazz Fest jams hosted by New York pianist and Festival stalwart Jon Weber, and the place where visiting artists are most likely to show up.

View the complete schedule here.

Iowa City Jazz Festival has Twin Cities connections

Just down the road a bit – honestly, not that far – the Iowa City Jazz Festival draws a good crowd of Minnesota jazz fans each year, except when it conflicts with the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, which has happened only once. Now that the two festivals have a working relationship, it’s safe to say that won’t happen again.

Iowa City is a scenic college town, and its jazz festival, which takes place over the Fourth of July weekend and ends with fireworks, is generally excellent. We’ve seen some big names there: Randy Weston, Vijay Iyer, Fred Hersch, Poncho Sanchez, Miguel Zenón, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Esperanza Spalding and Pharoah Sanders, to name a few. The festival takes place on the lush green lawn of the Old Capitol and on the inviting streets nearby, which are full of bars, shops and restaurants. It’s all walkable and manageable. If you stay somewhere within walking distance, you can park your car and forget about it for three days.

Courtesy of the artists
The Cookers

This year’s Iowa City headliners include The Cookers, the supergroup of hard-bop masters Billy Harper, Cecil McBee, George Cables, Eddie Henderson and Billy Hart. An appearance by the exciting saxophonist Donny McCaslin also makes this worth the drive. McCaslin was mostly known to jazz fans – as the leader of his own group, and a member of Maria Schneider’s sublime orchestra – until he led the backing combo on David Bowie’s last album, “Blackstar,” and suddenly everyone wanted to know more about him.  We haven’t yet heard pianist-composer Kris Davis, but we’ve heard a lot about her, and she’ll be there with her quintet including Mat Maneri on viola. Vocalist Stacey Kent will close out the festival Sunday night, and soon after her final notes, the first fireworks will kaboom.

Representing the Twin Cities, the exquisite pianist Laura Caviani and her trio will make us proud. And trumpeter-flugelhornist John Raymond will play a set with his Real Feels trio, just before McCaslin. Raymond is a Twin Cities native who began his jazz career here, moved to New York City in 2009, and was recently named the new professor of jazz trumpet at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Wherever he goes, he’s still one of ours.

The Iowa City Jazz Festival’s 2017 dates are Friday, June 30 through Sunday, July 2. Here’s the complete schedule.

The picks

Now at the Walker: Katharina Fritsch: Multiples. German sculptor Fritsch made the giant blue rooster that will give “Cherry and Spoon” some stiff competition when it’s unveiled in the Sculpture Garden in June. But what else has she done? Drawn from the Walker’s collection, this career-spanning retrospective includes early examples from her student years to later works. In the Burnet Gallery. Ends Oct. 15.

Friday (May 12) at CTUL (Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha): Opening reception for “General Strike/Huelga General.” An art show celebrating strikes, protests and popular resistance, with work by dozens of artists and poetry from the Palabristas. More than 40 artist-activists are expected to participate; the art will include puppets, prints, paintings, posters and photography. CTUL is Minnesota’s largest workers’ center. 3715 Chicago Ave., Minneapolis. 6-10 p.m. $10 suggested donation.

Courtesy of MN Original
Erick Harcey

Sunday on your teevee: “MN Original: Kate Sutton-Johnson, Erick Harcey, Dessa.” Twin Cities PBS’ arts-and-culture series goes behind the scenes of a hip debut with the Minnesota Orchestra, a hot restaurant in Linden Hills and hit shows at local theaters. Dessa’s performances at Orchestra Hall in April won raves. For her, they were the culmination of “a year and a half of excitement, panic, enthusiasm and run-of-the-mill, pedestrian stage fright.” The first chef to be featured on “MN Original,” Harcey has made Upton 43 a success by honoring his Swedish heritage and his grandfather. “Anything can inspire you, if you let it,” he says. Sutton-Johnson designs sets for Theater Latté Da, the Ordway, Mixed Blood and more, and exhibits like “Sportsology” at the Science Museum. Sally Wingert claims that Sutton-Johnson’s sets make her a better actor. “MN Original” airs Sunday night on TPT 2 at 6 p.m. and again at 10. Watch online anytime.

Monday-Wednesday at the Dakota: Three nights of jazz. Start the week with vocalist Karrin Allyson, whose ties to the Minneapolis club are strong; she built her early career at the Bandana Square location before moving to New York City. The five-time Grammy nominee has one of those instantly recognizable voices, and she can sing anything, from Great American Songbook to bossa nova to bop. Monday at 7 and 9 p.m. FMI and tickets ($30/40). Marcus Roberts lost his sight at age 5 and taught himself to play piano; by 21, he was touring with Wynton Marsalis. A tremendously versatile and knowledgeable artist and composer, he’s in the pantheon of greats. 7 and 9 p.m. both nights. FMI and tickets ($25-40). Roberts will perform with his acclaimed trio of Rodney Jordan on bass and Jason Marsalis on drums. Allyson will bring her own band.

Tuesday at the St. Anthony Park Library: 100 Years at the Library. What was the St. Paul Public Library like a century ago? Find out at one of the city’s Carnegie libraries celebrating a centennial this year. Greg Gaut will discuss the Carnegie Library project in Minnesota. MinnPost writer Bill Lindeke will focus on St. Paul’s four libraries celebrating centennials. And Billie Young will give us a glimpse into what the library was like in 1917. 7 p.m. Free. Part of the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library’s Untold Stories Labor History series.

Tuesday at the Fitzgerald Theater: The Thread Live with Eddie Glaude Jr. Is the United States losing its national identity? Or does diversity make us stronger? MPR’s Kerri Miller and Glaude, the author of “Democracy in Black” and a professor of religion and African American studies at Princeton, will explore the concept of “national identity,” the role diversity plays, and what it means to be an American during this divisive political time. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25-50).

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