“I am the music. I am my first instrument and the music is in me” –Rodney Ruckus
Drummer Rodney Ruckus has been one of the busiest performers around the Twin Cities over the past year. His second major gig in three days (he led three ensembles at Reverie on December 15), Rodney brings The Ruckus (with Steve Kenny, Javi Santiago and Anthony Cox) to Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog’s 116th installment on December 17, following the opening JazzINK Youth Showcase performance by the aptly named ensemble, Below Zero. And yes, it will be below zero but the music will surely warm your heart, soul, and ears!
JazzINK Youth Showcase, Below Zero (7 pm)
Below Zero is a 9th-10th grade combo at the MacPhail Center for Music, directed by renowned clinician and saxophonist Greg Keel. The quintet includes Noah Willhite on tenor sax (9th grade, Southwest High School); Jacob Rochelle-Share on trombone (9th grade, Southwest High School); August McKinney on piano (9th grade, Southwest High School), Jorgen Linne on bass (10th grade, Southwest High School), and Nick Adams on drums (10th grade, Totino Grace High School). Over the past two years, Below Zero has performed at the Black Dog, Barely Brothers Records, Pepitos, the Marsh, Jazz Central and Reverie. On January 6th, the band will perform at the Warming House in south Minneapolis. Why are they “Below Zero?” Because they are “beyond cool”!
The Ruckus (8:30 pm)
A Florida native, Rodney Ruckus started playing drums at the age of two in church, and also picked up piano and bass. “As a child, I had no video games,” says Rodney. “Instead, I had musical instruments. I was willingly brought up to be engaged into music twenty-four/seven.” Rodney was introduced to jazz at age 14 in his middle school music program after moving from Miami to Sarasota, FL. With some friends, he started playing for tips outside neighborhood markets. Later, his band The Jazz Juvenocracy raised money to travel, playing at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Jazz a Vienne and at La Barington Jazz Club in France, and at the Umbria Festival in Italy.
Rodney attended the Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship, and was selected as drummer for The Grammys in the Schools Foundation. After completing studies at Berklee, he received an Art Blakey Jazz Messengers Presidential Scholarship to the McNally Smith College of Music. He’s been on stage with such jazz luminaries as Tia Fuller, Ralph Peterson, Herbie Hancock, Billy Childs, John Patitucci, Joe Lovano, Roy Hargrove, Wynton Marsalis, and Charles Lloyd. Locally, Rodney has performed with the Solomon Parham-Steve Kenny Quintet at the 2016 Winter Jazz Festival, with the Steve Kenny Quartet on Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog, with Anthony Cox’s Free Range Quartet at the Black Dog, and heading is own ensembles at Jazz Central Studios, Reverie, the Black Dog and more. He’s also appeared with Solomon Parham at The Bedlam.
Flumpet™ master Steve Kenny is a founding member of the popular, long-running Illicit Sextet and leads various renditions of his quartet as well as the acclaimed quintet, Group 47. He also heads Illicit Productions and curates three ongoing jazz series that emphasize original music– Thursday Night Jazz at Reverie, Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog, and the summer All Originals. Steve plays with a number of other ensembles, including What Would Monk Do and Central Standard Time. He was awarded a commission from Zeitgeist for a new composition that premiered at the 2014 Twin Cities Jazz Festival. In his spare time, Kenny holds a “day job” in tech design, serves as administrator for the Jazz Police website, and works on a master’s degree in Computer Science.
Minneapolis native and pianist Javier Santiago comes by his musical bent honestly, the son of drummer Mac and vocalist Laurie Santiago, and grandson of Latin percussion master, the late Luis Santiago. Javi began studying piano at age 7, turning to jazz piano and trumpet at age 10, and playing with the bands in middle school and high school as well as the Minnesota Youth Jazz Band and the first edition of the Dakota Combo under the direction of Kelly Rossum. A former student of pianist Tanner Taylor, Javi was selected as a Fellow of the Brubeck Institute at the University of the Pacific after completing high school, where he attended for the maximum two years. From Brubeck Javi moved on to complete his college studies at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York and participated in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program at Kennedy Center. Since returning to the Twin Cities, Javi has become a significant voice on the local jazz scene, performing at venues throughout the metro in a long list of ensembles including his own trio and the Steve Kenny Quartet.
Twin Cities native Anthony Cox studied bass at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, then headed to New York, building a reputation that took him on tour with Stan Getz. In the early 90s, he returned to the Twin Cities but his career has hardly been limited by his residence. Over the years, Cox has worked and/or recorded with Joe Lovano, Sam Rivers, Dewey Redman, Geri Allen, Arthur Blythe, and Uri Caine, playing upright acoustic, electric and Spanish acoustic bass, as well as cello. With Bill Carrothers and Jay Epstein, he has performed and recorded as Easy Company, and recently has appeared at the Icehouse, Dakota, Black Dog and Jazz Central. He leads several ensembles including DD7 and the Regional Jazz Trio, and is a member of the Atrium Jazz Ensemble, with whom he recently debuted “The Rage of Achilles” at Orchestra Hall, co-written with Jeremy Walker.
The Black Dog is located in Lowertown St. Paul in the street level of the Northern Warehouse, 308 Prince Street at East 4th St and Broadway. Full kitchen and bar. Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog takes place every Saturday night. No cover but donations to the tip jar (via cash or Tip Jar token; $10 suggested) fully support the musicians and the series. See full Saturday schedule at www.saturdaynightjazzattheblackdog.info. The Black Dog presents music daily – see www.blackdogstpaul.com