I’m going to talk about jazz in two of the blurbs below. Don’t panic. The jazz will not hurt you.
Looking for new music? Let’s kick off with two big local album releases. The first comes from Stokley, best known for his work with ’90s R&B hitmakers Mint Condition. Several years in the making (“She” was released in 2019), Sankofa sprawls for 18 tracks and 70 minutes, features plenty of big names (producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Snoop Dogg, H.E.R.), and allows Stokely to display his supple range over delicate ballads and ‘90s-style funk. On the indie rock tip, Bad Bad Hats have returned with Walkman, another tuneful showcase for the wit of singer Kerry Alexander. The Hats will play an in-store at Electric Fetus today—a purchase of the exclusive Fetus campfire-orange-and-black vinyl pressing of Walkman will get you a pass to the gig. There are no rap features on Walkman. But Snoop, if you’re reading this (and why wouldn’t you be?), hop on a remix of “Detroit Basketball.”
When’s the last time you took a dive into the locally based jazz/improv collective record label Shifting Paradigms’ Bandcamp page? It had been a few months for me, honestly, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of music that’s accumulated. (Of this year’s releases, I’d only heard—and enjoyed—Framework’s Cognitive Dissonance, though I’ve heard good things about Jake Baldwin’s Where You’re Planted.) Today, guitarist Zacc Harris (no relation—or if he is, my family is concealing a dark secret that has yet to be revealed) adds to that catalog with his excellent new album, Small Wonders. In addition to Harris’s core group of pianist Bryan Nichols, bassist Chris Bates, and drummer JT Bates, John Raymond and Brandon Wozniak add horns on most of the tracks. There will be a release show for Small Wonders at the recently reopened Dakota on Sunday.
Do you love jazz but hate relaxing in Mears Park? Well, this year the Twin Cities Jazz Festival will also be offering a streaming option for you. (And, I guess, for anyone who’s still justifiably leery of crowds.) The fest is slightly scaled back this year, taking place in three rather than the usual 15 venues, but they haven’t skimped on quality. They’re offering two top-flight headliners: Friday night, pianist Kenny Barron and his trio, and Saturday night will be trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis (yes, one of those Marsalises) and his quintet.
Did you know Twin Cities Startup Week “starts up” today? I didn’t and I co-own a start up. But now I know and you do too. (Racket is all about learning together.) And we found out just in time—otherwise we might have missed the Minnesota Music Showcase, a roundup of local artists who are worth your attention if they haven’t grabbed it already. The headliner is rising local R&B performer Jaki, and the lineup includes noteworthy rappers such as Nur-D, Mac Irv, J Plaza, and Revii (aka Nimic Revenue). The event is Thursday at First Avenue, and there’s more info (and a complete list of performers) here.
Is it bad that I’ve started each new section this week with a rhetorical question? Maybe! But you know what’s not bad (he said awkward-transitionally)? Liquid Music, the experimental music series formerly housed at the Ordway, is settling in over at the Parkway Theater The shebang begins on November 3 with trumpeter Terence Blanchard performing his tribute to Wayne Shorter, and later installments include Pakistani singer Arooj Aftab, whose Vulture Prince is one of the best-reviewed albums of the year, and a newly commissioned piece by Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner, performed by an ensemble of locals Andrew Broder, CJ Camerieri, Trever Hagen, and Bryan Nichols. Here’s the full lineup, plus ticket info.
One last little plug to read this week’s big Gully Boys feature. The band plays three nights at Mortimers this weekend. Or is that Mortimer’s. The building sign has an apostrophe; their website doesn’t. See what we have to deal with around here?
Dammit, why didn’t I go to the Mannequin Pussy show?
Here are some other shows you should check out this week.