© Andrea Canter
They first came together about 25 years ago, and now it has been nearly 20 years since this trio first played as Fat Kid Wednesdays. Despite their local ties (all grew up in Minnesota and continue to call the Twin Cities “home”), they may have their strongest following in France, where they record on the Nocturne Records label. Their appearance at the Stone in Manhattan in 2009 upped their cachet in the U.S., Richard Brody reporting in The New Yorker that “their exhilarating performance…revealed both the depth of their individual artistry and the symbiotic wonder of their interplay.” Fat Kids, which includes drummer JT Bates, bassist Adam Linz and saxophonist Michael Lewis, hits the stage at the Icehouse on November 27, part of the Jazz Implosion series which they helped launch years ago at the Clown Lounge. Their gigs these days are few and far between, making this a special, not-to-be-missed night.
Michael Lewis is best known around town and well beyond as one of the most creative sax players in modern music, lending his blowing skills to the acclaimed Happy Apple as well as FKW. Noted Richard Brody in The New Yorker, “Lewis’s dry, metallic tone on alto and tenor and the free melodic logic of his improvisations recalls the playing of Ornette Coleman…as well as the fragmentation of mid-sixties Sonny Rollins, the quizzical assertions of the great altoist John Tchicai, and even the visionary gospel rhapsodies of Albert Ayler… Lewis’s solos, digging from melody to wail, moving from a breathy, atonal whisper to a deep, swinging groove, have a vulnerable, confessional air.” Lewis has been increasingly visible in New York, performing at the Stone with Happy Apple as well as with FKW; and he appeared on David Letterman in connection with his 2009 tour with Andrew Bird, on which he played electric bass. He continues to lead a double life in music, playing bass with Bird, Dosh, Alpha Consumer, Tallest Man on Earth, and Red Start. His sax is heard with Bon Iver, Gayngs, and Arcade Fire, as well as with Fat Kids and Happy Apple.
There would be few true fans of Twin Cities jazz who are not already familiar with Adam Linz. After graduating from Park Center High School in Brooklyn Center and bass studies with Peter Olson at MacPhail, Linz earned degrees in physics at Columbia University and in jazz studies at William Paterson University. He eventually returned to the Twin Cities, building his reputation as an adroit and innovative bassist with FKW and such groups as Gloryland Pony Cat, FKG, the Lease/Moriarty Quintet, and the Dave King Trucking Company. Over his career, he’s also appeared with Evan Parker, Stanley Turrentine, Milt Jackson, Dosh, Francois Tusques, Douglas Ewart, and Ten Thousand Things Theatre Company. A few years ago, Adam launched Le Percheron, a cross-generational ensemble dedicated to original music and frequently on the schedule a Khyber Pass. Linz is an active jazz educator, having taught at MusicTech (now McNally Smith College), MARS, Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth (MITY), and Augsburg College, and is currently Jazz Coordinator at the MacPhail Center for Music. Noted Richard Brody (New York Times), “Linz has a big tone, like Charlie Haden’s, strums like Jimmy Garrison, and has a sure sense of musical space like Gary Peacock.”
J.T. Bates is one of the busiest drummers in the Twin Cities, on and off the bandstand. He was a member of Motion Poets and has worked with a variety of Latin, electronic, and experimental ensembles, including Low Blow, the Kelly Rossum Quartet, Bryan Nichols’ Quintet and Trio, and Chris Bates’ Red Five. In addition to curating his Jazz Implosion series on Monday nights, JT often appears on the Icehouse stage with such musicians as brother Chris, Dave King, Brandon Wozniak and more. He also leads the B-3 trio Grain. Noted Richard Brody in The New Yorker, “In free rhythm, his shimmering cymbals recall Sunny Murray’s work with Ayler; the tom-tom groove is like the one Ed Blackwell got with Coleman; and, when he plays on an ethereally introverted modernistic piece, he sounds like a one-man Art Ensemble of Chicago, ready to use anything for the right sound—chopsticks, chains, his hands, and even the nub of a drumstick, which he rubs on cymbals to make them whisper as if butterflies were beating their wings upon them.”
Fat Kids released two albums on Nocturne Records in 2007, Art of Cherry and Singles.
Fat Kid Wednesdays plays at 9:30 pm at the Icehouse, November 27. The Icehouse is located at 2528 Nicollet Av South in Minneapolis; www.icehousempls.com