Live jazz in the Twin Cities, plus fresh new releases

. Delfeayo Marsalis

Good news! The Twin Cities Jazz Festival returns with more live jazz next month in a familiar place, but a different month. Headlining performances are scheduled by pianist Kenny Barron and his trio, pianist Emmett Cohen featuring saxophonist Patrick Bartley, and trombonist and NEA Jazz Master Delfeayo Marsalis and his quintet.

The festival takes place back in its regular location Mears Park on September 17 and 18. For more information visit,

Trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard, who is no stranger to the Twin Cities, has a new Blue Note release “Absence.” It honors saxophone and composer legend Wayne Shorter. It’s available on Aug 27

With the new album, Blanchard performs with the E-Collective, featuring guitarist Charles Altura, pianist Fabian Almazan, drummer Oscar Seaton, bassist David Ginyard; and the Turtle Island Quartet with violinist and artistic director David Balakrishnan; plus violinist Benjamin von Gutzeit, violist Gabe Terracciano and cellist Malcolm Parson.

“Absence” includes original work by Blanchard and members of his band as well as pieces written by Shorter.  

Blanchard told Jazzfm’s Adam Feibel, “I’m proud to have a chance to visit some of the music that has shaped my musical identity. Pairing Wayne Shorter’s music with original works from the E-Collective along with the sonic colors of the Turtle Island Quartet has been an amazing experience. Wayne has said before, ‘Jazz means, I dare you,’ so why not dare to be creative and pay homage at the same time?”

Blanchard’s opera “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” is set to open the 2021-22 season of the Metropolitan Opera in New York on Sept. 27 and will make it the first opera by a Black composer in the organization’s 136-year history.

Blanchard has already won five Grammy Awards and earned two Oscar nominations for his collaborations with filmmaker Spike Lee.

Alto saxophonist and composer Kenny Garrett, who hasn’t been to the Twin Cities in a minute, also has a new release out now entitled, “Sounds from the Ancestors” from Mack Avenue (

“Sounds from the Ancestors” acknowledges the likes of Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye, while examining the roots of West African music in the spectrum of jazz, gospel, Motown, hip hop, and all other genres that have descended from jùjú and Yoruban music, according to Garrett.

“It’s crucial to acknowledge the ancestral roots in the sounds we’ve inhabited under the aesthetics of Western music,” said Garrett.

“Sounds from the Ancestors” not only is a reflection of jazz, and R&B but is also a gospel history of his hometown of Detroit. There is also the inclusion of music from France, Cuba, Nigeria, and Guadeloupe.

“The concept initially was about trying to get some of the musical sounds that I remembered as a kid growing up—sounds that lift your spirit from people like John Coltrane, ‘A Love Supreme;’ Aretha Franklin, ‘Amazing Grace;’ Marvin Gaye, ‘What’s Going On;’ and the spiritual side of the church,” Garrett explained in an album press release. “When I started to think about them, I realized it was the spirit from my ancestors,” Garrett said.

Musicians on “Sounds from the Ancestors” include those Garrett has toured and recorded with over recent years. They are pianist Vernell Brown, Jr., bassist Corcoran Holt, drummer Ronald Bruner, and percussionist Rudy Bird.

The album also features guest appearances from drummer Lenny White, pianist and organist Johnny Mercier, trumpeter Maurice Brown, conguero Pedrito Martinez, batá percussionist Dreiser Durruthy and singers Dwight Trible, Jean Baylor, Linny Smith, Chris Ashley Anthony, and Sheherazade Holman. On the album, Garrett also plays a little piano and sings.