By Don Berryman
Drummer Kenny Horst, who owned and ran the venerated Artists’ Quarter jazz club, will appear with his quartet featuring pianist Will Kjeer, saxophonist Pete Whitman, and bassist Chris Bates, on Wednesday, November 17th, at 7:00pm at KJ’s Hideaway (a new music club in the former Artists’ Quarter space at 408 St Peter St, St Paul). This performance is presented by AARP MN & the Twin Cities Jazz Festival’s Jazz Fest Live series and will also be streamed live.
Kenny Horst was an active drummer and toured with Mose Allison, Al Hirt, Bobby Lyle, and others. In the early 80’s he started booking acts for the Artists’ Quarter in its original Minneapolis location at Nicolett and 26th. That location closed in 1990 and Kenny reopened it in St Paul five years later in the basement of the McColl building at 5th and Jackson. Then in 2001 he moved it to the Hamm Building at 408 St Peter St where he ran it until it closed on December 31st, 2013. Some of the giants of jazz appeared there including Roy Haynes, Tom Harrel, Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison, Mose Allison, Lee Konitz, David Hazeltine, Eric Alexander, Jim Rotondi, Greg Skaff, and many more. Roy Haynes received a Grammy nomination for his album Whereas that was recorded live at the Artists’ Quarter in 2006. Several other great live albums were also recorded there including After Hours by Lee Konitz which features Kenny Horst on drums.
But even more than the nation touring artists, the Artists’ Quarter was a place where local musicians could perform their own music. Groups like the Atlantis Quartet, Red Planet, the Phil Hey Quartet, Happy Apple, and the Pete Whitman Xtet along with groups featuring Bryan Nichols, Dave Karr, Anthony Cox, Dave Hagadorn, Bill Carrothers, and Eric Kamau Grávátt. Kenny started a weekly organ night featuring Billy Holloman that became the hip place to be on a Tuesday night. The club became an incubator of new music bringing in a new generation of players and fans. Trumpeter Adam Meckler was quoted in an MPR article: “The AQ isn’t just one of the last pure jazz clubs left in the Midwest … it’s also a place where young jazz musicians can explore the music, and debut their new projects. Often [it’s] music that appeals to a younger audience.”
The Artists’ Quarter space was designed with music in mind, so it is no surprise that other music clubs opened in that space. A year after the AQ closed, jazz club Vieux Carré opened there and then closed after a few years. Now KJ’s Hideaway is the new music club opening in that space.Though not exclusively a jazz club, they are booking some jazz (check out Lila Aamons on November 12th and the Atlantis Quartet on November 13th)
Will Kjeer is a brilliant pianist and composer that was based in Los Angeles, California – but decided to return to St Paul during lockdown. He is an alumni of Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead and of Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, the 2018 winner of the Angel City Jazz Festival Young Artist Competition, and a 2019 Yamaha Young Performing Artist. He is a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts.
Pete Whitman has performed with such distinguished groups as the Minnesota Orchestra, Jack McDuff, Curtis Fuller, the Woody Herman Orchestra, the Jazz MN Big Band, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Andres Prado, Dave Stryker, The Temptations, and The Midtown Men. Whitman frequently performs in Broadway shows in the Twin Cities area.
Chris Bates is an inventive and swing bass player who can be heard playing in some of the region’s top jazz groups (Red Planet, Atlantis Quartet, How Birds Work, etc.). As a leader his highly regarded Good Vibes Trio and Red5 group both showcase his compositional skill.
This event is sure to be popular with Artists’ Quarter fans and may feel like a reunion.
Get tickets here
Register to stream live here