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Wednesday July 16, 2014

From DownBeat Magazine

Strong Sets Under Stormy Skies at Twin Cities Jazz Festival
By: Robin James

Summer in Minnesota is generally a time for warm temperatures and outdoor fun. But it can also be a time of sudden, heavy rainfall. During the 16th annual Twin Cities Jazz Festival, held June 26–28 in downtown St. Paul, Minn., inclement weather may have forced some changes in venues, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of fest attendees, who were treated to strong sets from vocalist Dianne Reeves, veteran saxophonist Branford Marsalis and rising-star saxophonist Melissa Aldana.

Also performing were more than 120 bands at four outdoor stages and over 30 indoor venues. The 20,000 people who turned out for this year’s concerts are unlikely to forget the three days of improvised artistry—the likes of which are rarely seen on consecutive nights in a town that’s not exactly well-known for jazz. Indeed, the Twin Cities is an underrepresented, underserved market, despite its wide spectrum of top-shelf, locally based jazz talent in both Minneapolis and St. Paul.

But jazz is flourishing here. The Twin Cities Jazz Festival continues to grow in national stature, and the club scene is active. The Dakota, which originally made its name as a jazz venue, has opened up a satellite club in the spot formerly occupied by St. Paul’s now-defunct Artists’ Quarter. And judging by the number of Minnesotans who stepped up during the TC Jazz Fest, the entire state is poised to elevate its jazz profile.

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