I got to two concerts in recent weeks, despite a heavy travel schedule: McCoy Tyner at the Blue Note in NYC and Claudia Schmidt at the Dakota in Minneapolis. Tyner's set was a strong performance in a quintet setting that kicked off with "Moment's Notice" and kept up a fast and furious pace. He looked and sounded much better than the last time I saw him about 5 years ago; he is still a monstrous piano player and, of course, a jazz legend. It was a special pleasure to see him at a legendary venue.
The Michegan-based singer Claudia Schmidt also performed in a quintet setting, with Bryan Nichols on piano and Dean McGraw on guitar. I really liked her songs, her stage presence, and her tendency to read poetry on stage. Her eclectic mix of jazz, blues and folk was very engaging. The only number that didn't quite work for me was "Skylark"; I've heard Tierney Sutton and Shelly Berg ace this complex song too recently. But overall a pleasant evening in a fabulous venue, our own Dakota Jazz Club.