A weekend brimming with performing arts choices in Milwaukee

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Singer-songwriter-instrumentalist Claudia Schmidt will perform a benefit concert for the Urban Ecology Center Saturday. Courtesy triblocal.com

Hear  that?

No? Well, OK, there’s a major music buzz in my brain — a crosscurrent between the part that hears it and the part that decides where I’m going, to hear live music.

You see, the pressure began last Thursday when I missed some surely excellent live music, which I regret. I was feeling under the weather and little tapped out financially, after a two-week road trip to the West Coast and back.

So last Thursday offered both roots rock singer-songwriter par excellence James McMurtry and his band at Shank Hall, and the Wisconsin Conservatory faculty sextet We Six performing live the classic Blue Note album Speak No Evil by the great jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter — yep, both on Thursday night. I’ve seen McMurtry live and he’s a serious roots rock artist. Imaginative, melodically and harmonically startling modern jazz doesn’t get any better than Speak No Evil. 

But more to the point, this weekend offers another happy conundrum of sorts — at least three very compelling choices in Milwaukee, with two performances on Friday and two on Saturday.
They are, listed alphabetically:
The Atlantis Quartet,  The Jazz Estate, 2423 E. Murray Ave., 9:30 PM Friday — This Minneapolis-based group is accomplished and highly listenable, and splits the difference between a Pat Metheny-esque electric textural expansiveness and an acoustic, introspective, almost navel-gazing mood, perhaps epitomized by the title “Stargazer Shoegazer,” on their latest album Expansion. That’s meant as a characterization more than a criticism. The band can also blow fairly straight ahead.

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The Atlantis Quartet, from Minneapolis, visits Milwaukee Saturday. Courtesy jazzink. blogspot.com

“Br(OK)en genius,” produced and created by Christopher McIntyre. South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, 901 15th Ave., South Milwaukee, via I-94 E/Interstate 41, 7:30 PM Friday and Saturday — McIntyre is a young, gifted and perhaps even visionary black man who is drawing naturally on his personal experience in the racially and sometimes culturally oppressive environment of Milwaukee (for young black men especially). But he’s striving to deliver a message of healing and hope. The interdisciplinary, multi-media stage event is “a prayer, a plea, a song,” that will include several spoken-word artists, a musical band, and McIntyre’s photography projected onto the stage in large form. If you want to get inside the head of a worthy young African-American male in contemporary Milwaukee — to understand his plights and challenges as well as his drive and vision — this is just the ticket. Here’s a WUWM interview with McIntyre about the project: http://wuwm.com/post/broken-genius-healing-milwaukee-through-art

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Several of the performers in “Br(OK)en Genius” show a little genius for publicity. facebook.com

Claudia Schmidt, Urban Ecology Center, 1500 E. Park Place, 7:30 PM Saturday — Schmidt is a vibrant singer-songwriter-guitarist-dulcimer player who brews stews of gospel, folk and jazz influences with a clarion voice and powerhouse passion. What she describes as her own “inner snark” might call her “Joni Mitchell on uppers.” This troubadour now resides on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan, so we may hear “Wisconsin Country,” her uncanny evocation of a long drive through our state in bleak November, haunted by Native American ghosts. But drive on, she will. The former Milwaukee resident has a soft spot for some of our worthy institutions, such as the Urban Ecology Center, for whom this will be a benefit concert. The center works hard to advance ecological values within the city, most recently creating a natural prairie in a large area of property adjacent to the center, all situated right along the Milwaukee River, just south of Locust St.

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Claudia Schmidt playing her dulcimer. Courtesy galleryhip.com

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