by Erik Ritland
Rambling On is a seriously fun blog and podcast covering sports, music, culture, and more. Check us out on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, or at our website.
What: The Twin Cities Jazz Festival
When: Thursday June 25 - Saturday June 27, 2015
Where: Lowertown St. Paul and surrounding area
Check out part one and part two of our Jazz Festival coverage.
Jazz legends, new bands, and local talent filled each day of the 2015 Twin Cities Jazz Festival. There were plenty of highlights on Saturday, including lauded trumpeter Marquis Hill, eclectic artists like the Gypsy Mania Hot Club Quartet and Moors Blackman, and a finale featuring festival Artistic Director Francisco Mela and all-star trumpeter Nicholas Payton.
After the main event I decided to catch a couple of the more intimate, slightly off the radar performances that might not get as much attention. The sleek, clean rails of the Green Line took me to legendary St. Paul barbecue Big Daddy's for local bluesman Detroit Don King. The stage was set up outside on Big Daddy’s patio, University Avenue providing an authentic St. Paul backdrop to go with the genuinely local music and ribs. King’s soulful blues, much in the vein of his namesake B.B., was a perfect match for the warm afternoon.
From Big Daddy’s the Green Line brought me to the stage at Union Depot, where London’s Cloudmaker’s Trio headlined after a set from experimental local band the Atlantis Quartet. The leader of Cloudmaker’s, vibes player Jim Hart, played both quickly and fluidly (often while using four mallets at a time). Their songs contained lengthy, furious sections of improvisation that showcased his talent and that of his partners, bassist Michael Janisch and drummer Dave Smith. Think the experimentation of Sun Ra with the hard, driving tightness of Thelonious Monk. Although they pulled out a couple covers they played mostly original material, including the fittingly mellow “Early Hours,” Larry David tribute "Social Assassin," and the out there, sometimes disorienting (in a good way) “Post-Stone.”
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik's music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.