Launched as the Wednesday Night band at the Artists Quarter during that club’s final year of operation, Steve Kenny’s Group 47 has continued to perform at other venues. Although college studies (pianist Will Kjeer) have limited scheduling over the past year, Group 47 has maintained its collaborative artistry, on full display this week as the band performs on the Thursday Night Jazz at Reverie series, August 4, at Reverie Bar and Cafe in south Minneapolis ( 9 pm).
History. For a number of years, Steve Kenny led a band dubbed The Bastids (aka Bebop Bastids) for a weekly (Wednesday) early evening gig at the Artists Quarter. In summer 2013, Kenny decided it was time for a change-up, and for the remainder of the AQ’s run (through December 2013), the early Wednesday time slot featured his Group 47, with the veteran trumpeter surrounded by a brood of young lions. After the Artists Quarter closed, the ensemble found other modern jazz-friendly venues– Late Night at the Dakota, Jazz Central Studios, the Black Dog, Icehouse, Studio Z, the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, and earlier this summer, at the new Rochester City Jazz Festival. In summer 2014, the band released its first recording, Straight to Vinyl (on LP and digital download).
Steve Kenny studied at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Among many projects, he has performed with What Would Monk Do, the Cedar Avenue Big Band, and Larry McDonough’s quintet (tribute to Chet Baker) as well as leading several editions of his own quartet. He’s best known as co-founder of the Illicit Sextet, an ensemble popular in the 1990s before taking a long hiatus, and back in action for the past six years. Steve has received a Minnesota Music Award, West Bank School of Music Jazz Composer award, and multiple honors as Best Jazz Trumpet at the Eau Claire Jazz Festival. With support from a state arts board grant, he curated the ten-week “All Originals” jazz series at Studio Z for two summer seasons, continuing with a shortened schedule in summer 2016. In fall 2014 he launched the weekly Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog series, and in spring 2015, brought a similar series (Friday Night Jazz) to The Nicollet, recently rebranded and rescheduled as Thursday Night Jazz at Reverie. And that instrument he plays? It’s a FLUMPET™– a hybrid trumpet/flugelhorn.
Thomas Strommen (tenor saxophone) studied with David Milne at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Over the years Thomas has studied with Greg Keel, Bryan Nichols, Adam Linz, Phil Hey, and the faculty of the Shell Lake Jazz Camp, as well as with instructors at Wayzata High School. During his senior year of high school, Thomas was selected as a member of the Dakota Combo. In addition to Group 47, Thomas co-leads a quartet, Dark Blue, and performs with the Alex Burgess Quartet.
Pianist Will Kjeer was already working around town as a freelance musician well before high school graduation in spring 2014. In addition to Group 47, Will led his own trio and quartet at the Artists Quarter, and has led groups more recently at Jazz Central, the Black Dog, and Studio Z (All Originals jazz series), among other venues.
With his high school peers, Will was a member of the Dakota Combo (two years) and Minnesota Youth Jazz Band as well as several other student-led ensembles. After receiving acceptances to several music conservatories, Will opted to attend the post-high school music program at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan, which he completed in spring 2015. After a year at Cal Arts, he will now head to McGill University in Montreal to complete college studies.
Bassist Adam Tucker has been playing, recording and producing music for many years on the Twin Cities scene. He’s less known for his substantial jazz chops than as a member of groups like The Sextons, and is the driving creative and technical force behind Signature Tone recording studios, well regarded in the heavy metal community. However, many think of Adam as “the secret weapon” in jazz circles, given his work with the Adam Meckler Orchestra, No Time for Squares, the Jana Nyberg Group, and his long association with Steve Kenny and the Bastids.
Alex Burgess is known as a very dynamic drummer. A student at UW-River Falls, he studies drums with Craig Hara and composition with David Milne. In addition to Group 47, he’s a member of the Bad Habits Brass, Dark Blue, and other working jazz and commercial ensembles, and leads his own quartet. Alex teaches drums at Brickhouse Music in River Falls.
Thursday Night Jazz at Reverie takes place at 1935 Nicollet Ave South in Minneapolis. No cover but tips to support the band and series are appreciated ($10 suggested). Full jazz schedule at www.thursdaynightjazzatreverie.info