Downtown Music

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July 18, 2005 // UPDATED 1:56 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Holly Day
Holly Day

Eine kleine nacht jazz

This is a rare chance to actually sit on the Minnesota Orchestra stage during a performance. For this late-night concert, audience members will practically sit in the lap of one of the foremost jazz pianists in the world today, Fred Hersch. The prolific Hersch's accomplishments include a 2003 Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for composition and two Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, as well as more than 20 albums as a solo artist or bandleader and another 80 recordings as a sideman or featured soloist. In 2001, Nonesuch released a three-CD boxed set titled "Songs Without Words: Volume One," featuring 10 dazzling original compositions by Hersch. "Volume Two" presented Hersch covering classic tunes by great jazz composers such as Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Wayne Shorter. "Volume Three" contained re-workings of Cole Porter's work. The French Academie du Jazz honored the set as its Disc of the Year.

2005 has - so far - seen the release of Hersch's "Leaves of Grass" (Palmetto Records), his interpretation of Walt Whitman's famous collection of poetry set for two voices (Kurt Elling and Norma Winstone) and an instrumental octet; and "Haunted Heart," a disc with soprano Rene Fleming and guitarist Bill Frisell (Decca Records). His set for this night will likely feature the music of Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Thelonius Monk and Billy Strayhorn.

July 22, 11 p.m.

Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall

$10 and $15 on stage. 371-5656, www.minnesotaorchestra.org.

Crossing borders

Ever since Issa Bagayogo's first album "Sya" in 1998, he's defined himself as an artist determined to be recognized for both where he came from and where he's going. Bagayogo creates hypnotic, funky, riff-based songs that you would think would be far easier on the ear for the average rock or hip-hop fan than many of his more famous, awards-laden African contemporaries with their over intricate fretwork and gymnastic vocal displays.

Bayayogo's voice is a resonant baritone purr comparable more to John Lee Hooker than Salif Keita. His music conveys an elegant simplicity that transcends genre, impossibly mixing techno-music and the lone muted rasp of the n'goni (a kind of African lute), with vocals that sound like prayers and brilliant, fiery flute twiddles and twips, funk guitar and spoken word.

Bagayogo seems single-mindedly determined to successfully combine the chilling digital sheen of electronics with the warm textures and approximate tunings of ancient strings. The Malian dub artist has created a truly global sound with his music, one that transcends time and traditions as well as it does national borders.

July 18, 7 p.m.

Loring Park, 1382 Willow St.

Free. 370-4929.

All or nothing or neither

Local roots-rockers The Copperheads will be performing for free at the Acadia Friday night. The six-piece manages to blend languid Memphis country with Delta blues, making for a sweet blend sure to appeal to fans of both, and possibly even neither.

July 22, 9 p.m.

Acadia Caf, 1931 Nicollet Ave. S.

Free. 874-8702, www.acadiacafe.com.