Robin James

Recent Articles

Thoughts on great love songs for Valentine’s Day, love’s holiday

Billie Holiday, 1949

I do know that the treatment, Minneapolis-born vocalist José James gave the song, “Tenderly” when he performed on this birthday, January 20, at the Dakota was stellar. It was perfect for his vocal range and revealed a level of maturity beyond his 37 years. That song, among others by the great Billie Holiday, or made popular by her, appear on his new Blue Note Records album, Yesterday I Had the Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday, which drops in March. On Valentine’s Day, James will be in Japan, where the album has already been released and is making waves.

Holiday, also known as “Lady Day,” would have celebrated her 100th birthday this year. Her music has made a great impact on a wide spectrum of artists, and continues to resonate with people from all walks of life. Vocalist Cassandra Wilson is celebrating the music made by Holiday by releasing, Coming Forth by Day: A Tribute to Billie Holiday from Legacy Records in April. Look out for her upcoming performances in support of the album, at the Dakota, too. Holiday’s artistry speaks volumes about love, loss, and overall human condition. Thank you, Lady Day. Continue Reading →

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Two high-caliber musicians lead in university classrooms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you experiencing the end of the summer blues? Ahhh, yes I can already smell fall in the air, which for me signals change. And if to journey is to embrace change, then we have but one choice and that is to do just that — embrace change. In the world of jazz, two high-level musicians are changing and adding new titles to their professional profiles. I’m talking about trumpeter Sean Jones, and saxophonist Kenny Garrett. Continue Reading →

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Rebirth Brass Band gets Dakota crowd on their feet

Do we have an agreement?,” asked lead trumpeter and Rebirth Brass Band (RBB) member Chadrick Honre at the beginning of the band’s second marathon set at the Dakota last Thursday night. He asked the audience if they were ready for some New Orleans music, if they were ready to have a good time and dance, and then encouraged them to get up and do it. The packed house, consisting of just about every age and ethnic demographic, honored that agreement.  

For almost a full 90 minutes, eight songs, and one encore later, the eight piece Grammy-winning ensemble that’s been entertaining music supporters around the globe since 1983 stepped off the stage as if they had just left a boxing match and won by TKO. From start to finish people were dancing and singing in the aisles. Continue Reading →

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Minneapolis musician selected for Doris Duke Artist Award

 
Minneapolis native, New York-based pianist and composer Craig Taborn among 13 jazz artists to receive 2014 Doris Duke Foundation awards
 

 

Earlier this week, The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) announced the first-ever recipients of the Doris Duke Impact Awards and the third group of individuals to receive Doris Duke Artist Awards. According to the press release, “both awards are part of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards, a special ten-year initiative of the foundation to empower, invest in and celebrate artists by offering flexible, multi-year funding in response to financial challenges that are specific to the performing arts. Doris Duke Artist Award recipients receive $275,000, and Doris Duke Impact Award recipients receive $80,000. Since commencing in April 2012, the program has awarded a total of $18.1 million to artists in the fields of jazz, dance and theater.” The 2014 jazz related award recipients are:
2014 Doris Duke Artist Awards

Oliver Lake
Steve Lehman
Roscoe Mitchell
Zeena Parkins
Craig Taborn
Randy Weston

2014 Doris Duke Impact Awards

Muhal Richard Abrams
Ambrose Akinmusire
Steve Coleman
Ben Monder
Aruán Ortiz
Matana Roberts
Jen Shyu

 

Pianist and composer Craig Taborn is multi-talented in the realms of straight-ahead and free jazz. Continue Reading →

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This weekend, it’s jazz-related concerts galore!

Brooklyn-based ensemble Red Baraat makes its debut at Orchestra Hall on Friday, April 25 at 8 pm. Critics have described their performance as “a shot of pure adrenalin.” Established in 2008, Red Baraat is an eight-piece band from Brooklyn, New York. The brainchild of Sunny Jain, the group has been celebrated worldwide for its live performances of original sound — a blending of North Indian bhangra rhythms, New Orleans brass band, jazz, go-go, brass funk, and hip hop. Sunny Jain is known as a rising star in the jazz world. Continue Reading →

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Hometown talent José James returns to the Cedar

José James and Kris Bowers return to the Cedar Cultural Center on Monday, April 21. Consider this an invitation to enjoy more new music from two young and gifted musicians with new albums.

 

But this is not just a fantastic reintroduction of two talented artists. It’s a fantastic way to explore music from two men who are potentially on their way to becoming huge influential musicians in the future.  

 

 

In January 2013, James played an album-release show with Bowers on keys, but this time around, the Minneapolis-born, Brooklyn-based vocalist will play a pre-album release show to support his upcoming June 10 release, While You Were Sleeping on Blue Note Records, with Bowers opening the gig. His new album is Heroes + Misfits on Concord Records. Continue Reading →

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Lewis, Pizzarelli and McFerrin take over Orchestra Hall

When you’re in the business of moving people–and I mean by way of live musical artistry, it’s never an easy task. If the goal is to have an unforgettable experience with an audience that occurs in the now and that takes people places that they’ve never been before, then Orchestra Hall has arranged something extra special for music lovers this weekend. Pianist Ramsey Lewis along with guitarist John Pizzarelli take the stage on Friday, April 18 at 8 pm to perform a special Nat King Cole tribute, and vocalist Bobby McFerrin performs with his band that includes his daughter, vocalist Madison McFerrin, on Saturday, April 19 at 8 pm. Both Grammy Award-winning artists, Lewis and McFerrin enjoy ever-evolving careers and music making that continues to attract diverse audiences around the globe. They have also, in their own distinct ways, altered the musical landscape with their unmatched virtuosity and masterful creativity for decades. Continue Reading →

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Minnesota Orchestra unveils 2014 “Live at Orchestra Hall” and Sommerfest concerts

Having just witnessed a richly entertaining musical show during the 2014 NBA All Star Game held in New Orleans featuring New Orleans own Rebirth Brass Band, Trombone Shorty, and Dr. John, among others, I couldn’t help but think about our own musical entertainment on the horizon. Recently, I received a lovely 10-page booklet from the Minnesota Orchestra, which reminded me of the press release I had also received highlighting this new season’s music to be held at its newly renovated venue, which looks beautiful. For discerning season ticket holders and regular attendees, from the looks of things, prepare for a déjà vu moment. Indeed, the Minnesota Orchestra is back in business and unveiled their 2014 “Live at Orchestra Hall” concerts billed as a “broad spectrum series of popular music, jazz, world music, Broadway classics, movie scores,

comedy, and other genres — bringing under one umbrella several separate concert series previously offered by the orchestra.”

Live at Orchestra Hall includes shows with returning vocalist Bobby McFerrin and his band (April), a Nat King Tribute starring guitarist John Pizzarelli and Grammy Award-winning pianist Ramsey Lewis (April), who performed along with his band at the Dakota last year. Music supporters can also expect the return of two Grammy-Award winning trumpeters Chris Botti (March) and Pops Conductor Laureate Doc Severinsen (April). Continue Reading →

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Get ready for a carnival of musical delights.

 

 

Heading into this weekend and the next, an assortment of upcoming jazz related shows are set to take place at the Dakota. Get ready for a carnival of musical delights. Actually, it was trumpeter Russell Gunn who was to help kick things off at the Dakota last night, along with his quartet and vocalist Dionne Farris, but the gig was postponed. Farris and Gunn have a new live album, Dionne Get Your Gunn, which Farris released on her independent label, Free and Clear Records.  

One of my all-time Gunn favorites featuring him on electric trumpet and flugelhorn is his Live in Atlanta: Ethnomusicology, Vol. Continue Reading →

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