Rick Carlson taught himself to play the piano by studying the vast works of Count Basie and Duke Ellington and capitalizing on a long string of happy accidents. He has also perfected the art of “circular drinking”, whereby he can sip martinis uninterrupted while still playing a cohesive piano solo.
He has been the pianist for the Wolverines Big Band since 1980. He is a sought-after accompanist by singers and has served as pianist and musical director for various local concert series, including those for the Twin Cities Jazz Society’s “J To Z” series, the Capri Theater’s “Legends” series, and for special presentations at the Heights Theatre and performing arts centers across the United States. He has performed on concert stages in London and New York City, and has appeared with Count Basie drummer Butch Miles, trumpeter Warren Vaché, New Orleans clarinetist Evan Christopher, and served as musical director, arranger and pianist in the Guthrie Theater’s presentation of “Coward’s Women”. He has opened for Rosemary Clooney, accompanied Kathryn Crosby in various cabaret shows, and counts Madeleine Peyroux among his many unwitting fans.
Maryann Sullivan’s passion for jazz began at an early age, when her father, a local trumpeter, played his jazz records in their home. She studied music in college, and played flute and saxophone in the Augsburg Jazz program under the direction of James “Doc” Carlson.
Sullivan has been an on-air radio personality in the Twin Cities since the 1980s. She has worked in a variety of radio formats and settings. Her jazz broadcasting career began when she worked at KTWN-108 in Anoka, the first full time jazz radio station in the Twin Cities area. She went on to broadcast jazz at several stations, including KTCJ, KTWN’s “The Breeze” new-age jazz satellite radio network, and KTWN Video as a jazz video host.
Sullivan is also an established voice-over professional, and has worked since 1981 on thousands of voice over engagements, including industrial show narration, audio books, telephone systems, and advertisements. Her client list numbers in the hundreds.Find out more »
Guitarist Zacc Harris is gaining a reputation as one of the hardest working guitarists in town. He has been presenting his original music in a number of different ensembles, each one striking and unique: the multi-meter melodies of the Atlantis Quartet, bebop sounds or classic organ groove music with CounterClockWise or Vital Organ, a six-piece Thelonious Monk tribute a la Paul Motian’s Electric Bebop Band Monk in Motian, and more.
Jazz Improv magazine says, “Harris delivers a sound that is lucid, clear… providing righ-sounding accompaniment, and well-crafted solos” while Cadence magazine calls some of Harris’ work on Atlantis Quartet’s most recent album “worthy of John McLaughlin.” MPR News states, “Harris makes his own mark on standards with enough new hooks to keep jazz alive.”Find out more »
Composer, arranger, producer, guitarist Dean Magraw has fine-tuned his “Heavy Meadow” approach to music from years of performing and recording with some of the finest musicians in the United States, Europe, and Japan. His first recording, Broken Silence, came out in 1994 and won the NAIRD award for Best Acoustic Instrumental Album of the Year.
Dean has since produced myriad passionate albums, including his latest release, Fire on the Nile (Red House Records), a duo collaboration with renowned percussionist, Eric Kamau Gravatt.
“Dean Magraw… so liquid, lyrical and effortless it’s like listening to a dancer.” -Steve Tibbetts
“Dean Magraw unveils soulful melodic grooves intricately designed to heal the broken dancer, confuse the boldest mathematician, and eradicate ennui in our lifetime.” -Nick LethertFind out more »
In a career spanning over 45 years, pianist and clarinetist Butch Thompson has earned a world-wide reputation as a traditional jazz and ragtime master. He tours widely as a soloist or at the helm of any of his several ensembles, including his well-known Butch Thompson Trio, his eight-piece Jazz Originals band, the Butch Thompson Big Three, or his unique blues duo with fingerstyle guitarist Pat Donohue.
In 1974, he joined the staff as the house pianist of public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion. By 1980, the show was nationally syndicated, and the Butch Thompson Trio was the house band, a position the group held for the next six years.
In addition to extensive touring (he has traveled the world from Cairo to Tokyo) as a soloist and with his trio and 8-piece Jazz Originals Band, he finds time to write and teach. His writing has appeared in various magazines including Down Beat and The Mississippi Rag, and among his teaching credits are residencies at the American University in Cairo and the New England Conservatory of Music.Find out more »
As a teenager growing up in rural southern Michigan, Lonesome Dan Kase happened upon a radio show called the “Blues Cruise,” broadcast out of Ann Arbor. Although he had picked up the guitar a year or so before, when he began hearing artists like Reverend Gary Davis and Robert Johnson, he quickly became hooked on the country blues.
Lonesome Dan’s live performances showcase both his unique finger-picking style and dynamic vocals as well as his depth of knowledge of the history of the blues and related forms.. If you catch a live performance, you’re bound to walk away with some interesting tidbits about known artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson or more obscure performers like Funny Papa Smith. Lonesome Dan’s trusted companions are his hand built Kopp K-35 6-string and his 1935 National played bottleneck/slide style.
Lonesome Dan Kase continues to play his unique brand of blues in and around Minnesota. However, his desire to experience other parts of the country still takes him out on the road. Dan has put out 4 solo cds as well as 2 with Crush Collision Trio and one with 32-20 Jug Band. His most recent cd, “So Glad I’m Livin’,” was released in early 2009.Find out more »
The Selby Avenue Brass Band is a relatively new voice in the Minneapolis / St. Paul music scene. The group is led by Tom Wells, tubist, arranger & composer and music educator in the Twin Cities area. Tom’s compositions and arrangement fuel a band comprised of enthusiastic and experienced musicians (including a couple of Grammy winners). While our musical roots come from the streets of New Orleans we expand from that genre into many others.Find out more »
Jeremy Walker is a prolific composer and pianist who started playing the saxophone at age ten in his hometown of Minneapolis, MN. He was the founder of the club Brilliant Corners – voted by Downbeat magazine as “One of the 100 Great Jazz Clubs Worldwide,” and co-founder of the non-profit organization Jazz is NOW!– which launched with the Wynton Marsalis Quintet and surprise guest, Itzhak Perlman.
In 2003, City Pages voted Walker “Best Local Impresario” for his “community-conscious” programming. Turning to piano and composition in 2005, Walker earned recognition including a Jerome Foundation Travel/Study grant, and collaborations with TU Dance and Zenon Dance Company. He has performed with Vincent Gardner, Marcus Printup, Ted Nash, Ron Miles, Matt Wilson, JT Bates, and other notable musicians. In addition to commissions, Walker has written over 70 compositions for his bands: Small City Trio, Boot Camp, BOXCAR featuring Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson and Anthony Cox, The NOWnet, and The Bootet.
In 2014, Walker released his most ambitious recording to date: 7 Psalms. The album was released in March 2014 on CD Baby, iTunes and Amazon and was listed in Star Tribune as one of the 2014 albums in the Twin Cities Critics Tally with Walker listed as one of the “Jazz Heros” in Jazz Police.
In October 2014, Minnesota Orchestra named Walker Curator of the new Jazz in the Target Atrium series at Orchestra Hall bringing together national musicians with the regional Atrium Jazz Ensemble.Find out more »
Southside Aces perform traditional New Orleans jazz. The band first began as the brainchild of Clarinetist Tony Balluff and Sousaphone player Erik Jacobson. Their whispers and rumors materialized in Tony’s foyer near Pillsbury and 27th in South Minneapolis, late August 2003. Since their first gig on a flatbed truck in Apple Valley, they’ve played weddings, festivals, clubs— “music furnished for all occasions.”
The Aces have self-produced and released five CDs: All Aboard!!, Bucktown Bounce, A Big Fine Thing, their Christmas album, Santaphone, and their latest, Second Thursday.Find out more »
Nikki Roux & Rich Rue are the core members of the ongoing musical group, Nikki & The RueMates. Together, they express some of America’s great musical past through voice, guitar and songwriting in their interpretation of classic female blues tunes (by artists such as Bessie Smith and Memphis Minnie), 60’s-like electric guitar sounds, and lyrics that are thoughtful, dreamy, sultry and unguarded. Rich’s blistering slide guitar solos and Nikki’s melodious singing create an intimate, joyful and refreshing musical experience.Find out more »
Erica West is strong, confident, and sultry right out of the box. Her striking looks and mesmerizing vocals make an immediate impression on the senses. In a uniquely captivating way, Erica brings a beautiful fusion of soulful, R&B, pop, jazz and blues inspired melodies to the microphone. But do not let her silky vocals fool you. Erica’s vocal style is both powerful and sultry influenced by female vocalists such as Barbara Streisand, Whitney Houston, Sade, Nina Simone, Shirley Horn, Anita Baker, Sarah McLachlan, Lizz Wright, Goapele and Jill Scott.
Erica loves the true art of musicianship, lyrical content, beautiful melodies and music that demonstrates true emotional expression. With hypnotic phrasing, subtle shading, and a powerful range, she offers that emotional experience, holding you spellbound from the first note to the last. There’s a passion that vibrates off of her and raptures her audience. That makes it easier than ever to separate her from the rest.Find out more »