© Andrea Canter
The band name might refer to the veteran wisdom of the musicians or simply the intelligence of their music. Whatever, the Wise Quartet takes the stage this week on the Thursday Night Jazz at Reverie series (January 26, 9 pm), curated by Steve Kenny. And Kenny has assembled a group of jazz wizards, with saxophonist Pete Whitman, bassist Chris Bates and drummer Phil Hey joining Steve on his unique FLUMPET™. The band debuted on the Zeitgeist New Music Cabaret in 2015 (with Jay Young on bass).
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 and Group 47. 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. In his spare time, he manages a fulltime tech job, graduate studies in Computer Science, and manages the Jazz Police website. And that instrument he plays? It’s a FLUMPET™– a hybrid trumpet/flugelhorn.
Pete Whitman is a popular sax/flute performer, composer, arranger, bandleader and educator. After launching his career in Kansas City, Pete moved on to jazz studies at North Texas State University. He toured internationally with the Glenn Miller Orchestra before moving to the Twin Cities in 1988. Pete’s credits on saxes (tenor, alto, soprano) and flute include performing with Randy Brecker, Jack McDuff, the Woody Herman Orchestra,, Michael Feinstein, Debbie Boone, Rosemary Clooney, Barbara Dennerlein, Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, Dave Stryker, Curtis Fuller and Andres Prado. In addition to leading his X-Tet and smaller ensembles in the Twin Cities, Pete works regularly with the Jazz MN Orchestra. Bottomless Pit, and Mississippi. A few years ago, Pete was commissioned to score the film, Been Rich All My Life, about a quartet of octogenarians reprising their dancing days in vaudeville. A dedicated educator, Whitman heads the Woodwind and Brass Department at St. Paul’s McNally Smith College of Music, teaching saxophone, improvisation, and arranging, and leading the McNally Smith X-Tet.
Chris Bates and his brother, drummer JT, grew up with jazz, sons of trumpeter/bandleader Don Bates. He began bass lessons in 4th grade and progressed to jazz studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire before returning to the Twin Cities to study with Anthony Cox. A member of the 1990s ensemble, the Motion Poets, Chris was a 1999 McKnight Composer Fellow, and often lends his compositions to the many ensembles that he juggles throughout his busy performance schedule. Over his career, he has played with Mose Allison, Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano, Steven Bernstein, Howard Levy, Michael Attias, Ira Sullivan, Bill Carrothers, Eric Alexander, Ari Hoenig and Tim Sparks, among others. In addition to his local ensemble work (Atlantis Quartet, Red Planet, How Birds Work, Pete Whitman’s X-Tet, Bill Simenson Orchestra, Klezmerica, Enormous Quartet, Framework, Leisure Valley, Zacc Harris Group, Dean Granros’ Tall Tales, Leisure Valley), Chris leads his own Red 5, Good Vibes Trio, and Inventions and Dimensions Trio. Chris has played solo concerts using both acoustic and electronic instruments, and appears on over 30 recordings. With Red 5, he released New Hope in fall 2012; with his Good Vibes Trio (with Dave Hagedorn and Phil Hey), he celebrated the release of their eponymous debut CD in spring 2014. Chris curates a monthly improv series at Jazz Central.
A former student of Ed Blackwell and Marv Dahlgren, native Philadelphian Phil Hey is one of the most esteemed drummers in town. In addition to twenty years of touring with the late Dewey Redman, he has performed many gigs at the Artists Quarter, Dakota and other venues backing touring artists, local vocalists, and small ensembles. For several years, Phil (along with bassist Gordy Johnson) toured with British vocalist Stacey Kent, including gigs at Birdland in New York. These days, Phil manages percussion duties for the Pete Whitman X-Tet, Dean Sorenson Sextet, Dave Karr Quartet, Benny Weinbeck Trio, Good Vibes Trio and his own quartet, and teaches at the University of Minnesota, St. Olaf College, and MacPhail Center for Music. His recordings include his quartet’s Subduction, a volcanic duo with trumpeter Kelly Rossum, Conflict, and Mary Louise Knutson’s In the Bubble. He also contributed to Von Freeman’s Live at the Dakota, rating four stars from Down Beat. City Pages named Phil’s Subduction as its Jazz Recording of the Year for 2006.
With all this talent and experience coming together at Reverie, it will indeed be a night full of jazz wisdom.
Reverie is located at 1931 Nicollet Ave in south Minneapolis. Thursday Night Jazz at Reverie charges no cover but tips ($10 suggested) are appreciated to support the series and the musicians. Thursday schedule at www.thursdaynightjazzatreverie.info