Quite often in my travels I stumble upon special events that I could not have planned better if I had tried. Last month it happened to be the Papal Conclave in Rome. As I walked around Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, MN after dinner Sunday evening, I stopped by the Dakota Club, a well-known Jazz Dinner Show Lounge downtown. I could not believe my eyes. The featured act this Sunday evening was Germany’s Max Raabe and his Palast Orchester, which was part of a 10 day American tour. But why were they playing in this relatively small, but intimate, Jazz establishment when they usually fill up big symphony halls across America?
Having seen Max Raabe in concert before, I did not need an answer and checked if tickets were still available. I was in luck and before I knew it I was seated at a table that had me sitting close enough to the stage as if I was at this concert in my own living room.
Max did not disappoint! His mesmerizing and unique baritone voice enchanted the audience from the first moment on and backed by his 12 piece orchestra, he transported us to another era, the 1920’s and 30’s as if in a trance. Singing mostly in English, he connected easily with the audience, which was in awe at the wit and renowned humor that Max used in the introduction of each song. His songs in German were just as cheerfully received and added to the mesmerizing ambiance of the evening, transporting us to Berlin in the time of the Weimar Republic.
The evening’s performance was originally scheduled to be at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis but due to a musician’s contract dispute with the Minnesota Orchestral Association, the show was moved to the Dakota Jazz Club. The Dakota Club provided a unique setting for the concert and Max and his Palast Orchester were actually excited to play here, enabling them to easily connect directly with the audience due to the intimate environment. They are not alone in their feeling about the Dakota Club, joining musical greats such as Prince, Judy Collins, Doc Severinsen, Madeleine Peyroux, Chick Corea and many more. Even the Rolling Stones often preferred the intimate settings of small Blues Clubs to warm up for upcoming tours.
After tonight Max Raabe and his Palast Orchester will head off to Los Angeles to perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on April 10, followed by two performances at the San Francisco Jazz Center on April 12 and 13. They will close out their US tour in Santa Rosa, California on April 14 at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.