While the Twin Cities Jazz Festival is a sure thing – we can count on it happening in June in St. Paul, centered on Mears Park – the Winter Jazz Festival has been a moving target. It’s been on, off, at the old Dakota in Bandana Square, the Millennium Hotel in Minneapolis, the Doubletree, a heated tent in downtown St. Paul (in January!), at MacPhail, the St. Paul Hotel, and Crooners in Fridley.
Now, it seems, the Winter Jazz Fest is the Fall Jazz Fest, and it’s back at Crooners. Which could be the best place for it. Crooners has two indoor stages, lots of free parking, a full bar and a restaurant kitchen. You can easily spend the day there.
Fall Jazz Fest, which takes place on Sunday, Oct. 20, from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., has two strong headliners. Ann Hampton Callaway is a Tony-nominated star of Broadway, concert halls, theaters and jazz clubs. A singer, pianist, composer, lyricist, arranger, and actress, she has made 17 albums of her own and written countless songs with and for other artists including Barbra Streisand. She’s a charming and witty performer and improviser. Callaway usually performs here at Orchestra Hall or the Dakota. She’s a big score for Fall Jazz Fest.
Kenny Werner is one of the finest pianists of our time. He backs singers and other musicians, fronts trios and plays in big bands. But he’s finest (we think) as a solo artist, and he’ll shine on Crooners’ Steinway. We haven’t seen him here since he performed with the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota in 2017; he and CMSM’s founding artistic director Young-Nam Kim are old friends. Werner has made more than 40 albums. His latest, “The Space,” is a solo piano recording that came out in December. If he wants to play Fall Jazz Fest with a trio, that will be lovely, but we hope he makes it a solo date.
Unlike summer’s Jazz Fest, fall isn’t free. But proceeds help to keep summer free. General admission is $40, VIP (includes buffet) $100. Tickets are on sale now.
On Friday, Sept. 6, the AACM’s Great Black Music Ensemble will perform at the Cedar. Co-presented with the American Composers Forum (ACF) and the Schubert Club, this is one of the most important events happening this fall. (Technically late summer, but post-State Fair, so fall.) Made up of musicians from Chicago’s legendary and highly influential Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, this is a must for fans of creative, experimental music and improvisation. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($15/20).
The Great Black Music Ensemble concert is the kick-off event to the ACF’s 2019 Racial Equity and Inclusion Forum: Musical Creators Leading Change, which takes place Saturday, Sept. 7, at TPT from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This will be a convening of artists, administrators, and advocates to discuss racially inclusive and equitable opportunities for creative musicians. It’s free and open to the public, but RSVPs are strongly encouraged. FMI.
Tuesday, Sept. 10, is the pub date for Margaret Atwood’s “The Testaments,” the sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale.” On that night, “Margaret Atwood: Live in Cinemas” will be broadcast to more than 1,000 theaters across the globe, including several in the Twin Cities. Filmed live from the National Theatre in London, BBC journalist and New York Times best-selling author Samira Ahmed will interview Atwood about her career, her work and why she has returned to “The Handmaid’s Tale” 34 years after its publication. The event will include readings and special guests. 7 p.m. Find a theater and buy tickets here. Watch the trailer. P.S. Atwood was recently longlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize.
On Thursday, Sept. 19, the Ramsey Hill Association will hold its biennial Ramsey Hill House Tour. More than 18 homes and public spaces in the historic St. Paul neighborhood will be open from 3-8 p.m. This tour’s theme is “Contemporary Living in the Homes of Saint Paul’s Gilded Past.” The featured homes were built between 1888 and 1905 and include Queen Annes, neo-Colonials, Victorian painted ladies and examples of the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style. A trolley will run between house stops. If you’ve ever wanted to see inside 389 Portland Ave., 443 Holly Ave. or Holly Row (all three row houses), here’s your chance. FMI and tickets ($30 advance, $35 day of tour). Addendum: Catch this terrific new TPT documentary, “St. Paul’s Historic Hill: Salvaging a Gilded Past.”
Now at Artistry: “Footloose.” Summer fun with music and dancing, this is the musical based on the hit film starring Kevin Bacon as Ren McCormack, a teen from Chicago who moves to a small Utah town where dancing is banned. You know how it ends, but it’s such fun to see and hear. Bacon had a dance double in the movie; newcomer Ethan Davenport doesn’t on Artistry’s stage. Both Angela Steele and Paul R. Coate were in last year’s “Legally Blonde.” They return as Ren’s love interest, Ariel Moore, and her disapproving dad, Rev. Shaw Moore. Benjamin Governor is director, Anita Ruth is music director and Heidi Spesard-Noble is choreographer. 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. FMI and tickets ($17-46). Closes Aug. 18.
Opens tonight (Friday, July 26) at the Uptown Theatre: “Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love.” Nick Broomfield’s documentary tells the story of Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse, Marianne Ihlen, who inspired some of his best-known songs. FMI including trailer, times and tickets.
Tonight through Sunday at Century College in White Bear Lake: Shakespeare & Company 44th Season. Bring a picnic, bring a blanket, bring the kids and let them play on the grass. Founded in 1976 by George Franklin Wade, this classic repertory theater spends summers at the outdoor theater complex of Century College’s west campus. Tonight at 7 p.m.: “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.” Saturday at 7 p.m.: “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” Sunday at 6 p.m.: “Coriolanus.” FMI. Tickets at the box office on the day of the performance ($20 adults/$15 seniors and students, children under 10 free with adult). Cash and checks only. Next weekend (Aug. 2-4) is the final weekend of the season.
Saturday at Franconia Sculpture Park: Music@Franconia. Something else to bring the kids to, and the dog. Franconia is 43 acres of grounds, paths and monumental sculptures, open from dawn to dusk 365 days a year. Saturday’s concert at the Earthen Amphitheatre will feature the Scottie Miller Band. During band breaks, you can take a guided tour and meet artists-in-residence. Music at 6 p.m. Food trucks. The concert is free; you’ll pay $5 to park. In the St. Croix River Valley. FMI.
Tuesday at the Amsterdam: The Theater of Public Policy: Mayor Melvin Carter Returns. His honor will endure another genial but pointed public grilling from the improv wizards of T2P2, who promise to ask him about St. Paul’s new comprehensive plan, early childhood education, how the issues he campaigned on are turning out, and trash collection, the never-ending St. Paul story. Doors at 5:30 p.m., show at 6. FMI and tickets ($12 advance, $15 door).