A jazzy start to Mother’s Day (fishing) weekend

Those looking for some quality entertainment up north this weekend might consider this concert in Grand Rapids featuring accomplished Minneapolis-based jazz guitarist Joan Griffith and the versatile northern Minnesota jazz guitarist Sam Miltich.

The show takes place at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Community Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids and will raise funds for the MacRostie Art Center, a unique gallery set in this small north woods town. (Coincidentally, you may also purchase signed copies of my book, “Overburden” at the MacRostie).

Joan Griffith, a noted teacher, composer, and performer, has toured and recorded as a classical and jazz guitarist, bassist, and mandolin player. The head of the Jazz Studies Department at the University of St. Thomas and director of the MacJazz Workshop at Macalester College, she also appears frequently with the Minnesota Orchestra as a classical mandolinist. Griffith is a long-time contributor to the Twin Cities music scene, and has developed an interest in the fusion of the African, European, and Amerindian traditions that influence the music of Brazil. Her most recent recording, “Sambanova,” with pianist Laura Caviani, is a blend of the rhythms of traditional Brazilian forms with modern jazz expressions.

Griffith and guitarist Sam Miltich first met at the Midwest International Guitar Summit in Fergus Falls, MN, in 2010. They immediately hit it off musically – sitting in on each other’s sets throughout the event – and began looking for opportunities to collaborate and perform together. In January 2012, they played two sold out shows at the Bloomington Arts Center in Minneapolis, MN.

“Joan is an exceptional player with an attention to detail that really pays off in the intricate melodies and harmonies of Brazilian music,” states Miltich. “There are a lot of similar influences in both Brazilian music and North American jazz, but it’s still unusual to find another Minnesota musician whose interests and inspirations dovetail so well with my own. It’s a treat to play with Joan – and a treat to listen as well!”

This unique pairing of two outstanding guitarists will present the Brazilian styles of samba, bossa nova, choro and baiao. Included in the program will be standards from the Django Reinhardt and Cole Porter songbooks, plus some of Griffith’s original compositions. 

Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Find out more.

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