Dakota Jazz Club will feature renowned Jewish musicians on two successive nights in August
By MORDECAI SPECKTOR
The Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant has booked two shows of interest to Jewish World readers later this month. On Sunday, Aug. 21, St. Louis Park native Peter Himmelman makes his first appearance at the Mill City’s premier jazz spot. And on Monday night, Aug. 22, pianist and raconteur Ben Sidran journeys from his home in Madison, Wisc., to entertain Twin Cities music fans.
In an e-mail exchange this week, the AJW asked Himmelman if he was going to jazz up his repertoire for the Dakota gig. “I’ll probably be playing some extensions on my regular chords,” he responded. “Some flat 5s and a few sharp 9s.”
So, watch for ’em.
As for the lineup, Himmelman, who has an enthusiastic following around here going back to his days with the legendary Sussman Lawrence rock ensemble, will reunite with Sussman mates Andy Kamman, drums, and Jeff Victor, keyboards. They will be joined by Matt Thompson, “an amazing bassist from Chicago,” according to Himmelman.
The singer and composer’s most recent album, for adults, was The Mystery and the Hum (1-7-11 AJW); but a new album is being mastered. Himmelman recorded the untitled work last winter in Minneapolis, with the help of producer David Hollander. The sessions included Victor on Hammond organ; Noah Levy, drums; Jim Anton, bass; Jake Hanson, of the band Halloween, Alaska, on guitar; and Kristin Mooney and Claire Holley on vocals.
To enhance the “mystery” of the forthcoming project, Himmelman would not reveal the album title or the name of the band.
For his Dakota show, expect a mix of ballads and rockers, philosophical musings, audience participation and surprises straight out of the Himmelsphere.
On the following night, Ben Sidran will be paired with local tenor sax mainstay Irv Williams, who recently turned 92. Known as “Mr. Smooth,” Williams has performed in every local jazz club since a Navy band date brought him to Minneapolis in 1942. He has played in bands with Ella Fitzgerald, Fletcher Henderson, Mary Lou Williams and Billy Eckstine; and he is the first jazz musician to be honored by the state of Minnesota, with the proclamation of “Irv Williams Day,” in 1984.
Sidran and Williams will be backed by Billy Peterson on bass, and Sidran’s son, Leo Sidran, on drums.
In an e-mail exchange with the Jewish World this week, Sidran, who was a recent scholar in residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said that he is looking forward to the release of his new book, Jews, Music and the American Dream, a 400-page work “tracing the history of the Jewish influence in American popular music from Irving Berlin to the Beastie Boys.”
The book will be released in October, and details can be found at: bensidran.com.
Many know Sidran from his tenure as host of Jazz Alive, the Peabody Award-winning interview series on National Public Radio. A composer, recording artist (25 solo albums) and touring musician, Sidran also has produced albums for Van Morrison, Diana Ross, Mose Allison and Jon Hendricks.
An engaging pianist and singer in live performance, Sidran typically intersperses his songs with stories and jazz lore backed by his keyboard riffs.
In 2009, Sidran released an album of songs by Minnesota’s renowned Jewish troubadour Bob Dylan. The album, Dylan Different (Nardis Music), features Sidran’s arrangements of a dozen Dylan tunes, from “Highway 61 Revisited” to “Maggie’s Farm.”
Sidran’s 1994 album Life’s a Lesson (Go Jazz Records) features a remarkable assemblage of talented Jewish musicians (Carole King, Randy Brecker, Dave Liebman, Joshua Redman, Lee Konitz et al.) on traditional Jewish liturgical tunes and originals.
Peter Himmelman performs 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21, and Ben Sidran and Irv Williams play 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 22 at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant, 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis. For tickets, call 612-332-1010 or go to: dakotacooks.com.
(American Jewish World, 8.5.11)
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