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Jazz and Cuban rhythms are part of Aug. 10 concert

by Jane Lightbourn • Staff writer

Doug Little, a saxophonist, flautist and composer whose sound blends soulful American jazz and contemporary Cuban rhythms, brings his music to the Alexis Bailly Vineyard at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 10. His appearance is part of the Jazz in the Vineyard series.

Little is recognized as an elite musician, an exceptional composer and a noted educator. He has released nine CDs and toured worldwide. Little began his career as a jazz saxophonist but over the past decade has emerged as a top flute soloist and a bandleader for Latin music groups such as Charanga Tropical (salsa) and Seven Steps To Havana (Latin jazz). He has performed with varied artists such Chuchito Valdés, Joe Lovano and Tiempo Libre.

Little grew up in the San Francisco bay area and moved to Minneapolis to attend Macalester College. He also studied briefly at Berklee College of Music. He graduated from Macalester with a degree in political science and French in 1991.

In 1994 Little co-founded the innovative jazz sextet, Motion Poets. After a successful seven-year run that included three CDs and tours to 37 states, Motion Poets disbanded. In 2000 Little began leading his own quartet. He recorded two quartet CDs, collaborated with Italian pianist Giacomo Aula, and later toured with the quartet throughout the United States and Europe.

In 2007 he was chosen by the French Ministry of Culture for a three-month artist residency at La Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. In 2008 he was awarded a grant by the Jerome Foundation for two months of travel and study to Brazil.

Little has created several ensembles and compositions that incorporate a strong Latin influence into his work. He formed a world music trio with musicians from Cuba and Brazil entitled Tres Mundos (Three Worlds). In 2005 he created the Latin jazz ensemble Seven Steps To Havana. In 2006 he founded Charanga Tropical, the only group in the Midwest playing with the traditional charanga instrumentation of three violins, flute, and full Latin rhythm section. In 2006 Little released three CDs and a DVD featuring the various ensembles and music.

Active in education, Little founded and still directs the Twin Cities Jazz Workshop, a summer program that has taught jazz fundamentals to hundreds of students since its inception in 1996.

The remainder of the Jazz in the Vineyard schedule:

Aug. 17 – Barbara Meyer returns. She will sing cabaret and jazz standards. Her musical roots also encompass Broadway show tunes, gospel and rock and roll.

Aug. 24 – Pavel Jany and the Talking Strings has been on the music scene with a wide range of jazz styles from bossa nova to jazz-fusion. Gary Schulte and Andrew Foreman will join him for the afternoon.

Aug. 31 – Gondwana returns. The season concludes.

The winery will offer a variety of picnic needs for purchase. All its wines will be available for tasting and purchase.

The Alexis Bailly Vineyard is located at 18200 Kirby Ave. Take Highway 61 south from Hastings to 170th Street, turn to the right. Drive two miles; as the road curves, it becomes Kirby Avenue. The vineyard is on the left side.