Nathan Hanson, saxophonist

  • MN Express in Morris and Hancock MN

    After a couple of pop up concerts in Bemidji, including one in front of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox as well as all the sides of a four-way stop. We took the scenic route to Morris.

    Morris is definitely on the prairie. It's a dramatically different landscape than the northwoods, or the Lake Superior shore. We made ourselves comfortable in Morris. Laundry, dining, walking around were the orders of the day.

    Our concert hosted by Prairie Renaissance Culture Alliance took place at an events hall called Old No. 1. We were thrilled by the turnout but even more the warm welcome. It was a lovely audience, and we found some new places in the material we've been playing together.

    The next morning, we took a little detour to Hancock to drop in on some of our new friends, Dan and Ferolyn. Over the course of twenty years, Dan has transformed a little house on a double lot into something of a miraculous oasis. He's handbuilt several small buildings and pathways and lots of sculpture from various castoffs and auction finds into a place of elemental beauty and hushed reverence. It's a secret garden, sort of. I found his work to be deeply affecting on a level beyond language. It really was overwhelming, especially my profound sense of gratitude for this careful painstaking nearly anonymous labor. I would like to write more, but I am still having trouble finding the words.

  • MN Express Days after three, I forget how many

    Duluth, the city so nice they named it.

    We played last night at Teatro Zuccone for another great audience. Our concert was on one of the off-nights of the play that is currently running there, so we played in front of the set--a typical Florida condo. I felt right at home. Salmon walls with white trim, bland artwork in golden frames, beige lowpile carpet.

    Earlier in the day we popped-up at UDAC, a day program/sheltered workplace for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. We had such a good time playing, chatting, getting hugs and high-fives and dancing the hula. It was really a warm welcome to Duluth.

    This time together has really instensified the growth and depth of this ensemble. It's been a wonderful opportunity to get to know each other as people and artists. And it's been a great chance to develop a new ensemble music. I don't thing any of this would have been possible, at all, without the support of the grant. I am so grateful for the time to work on this project, and I cannot think of a way that it would have happened without the grant, and the staff of the Cedar that thought up the idea, wrote the proposal, and a million other details that they handled.

    We're sad to leave the hunting lodge, our refuge for the last few days. But we're happy to be on the road again. We'll pop up in Bemdiji this afternoon at Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Live streaming on the webcam at around 3:15 Central.


  • MN Express Days two and three

    Austin, MN welcomed us with a parade featuring the high school marching band. Although I have a feeling it may have been a Homecoming parade that we found ourselves near.

    We had a warm reception at Austin ArtWorks--a lovely and brand new (6 weeks or so) gallery and event center in a beautiful old building downtown. Big windows let the prairie sunset in. We had a really great meal at 1910 Mexican Kitchen (located in the old ballroom at the edge of downtown Austin. Then we played our show surrounded by art from two local artists. It was a great vibe.

    It didn't take long to spend the night in Owatonna, and we set out for Northfield at 7:15 this morning.
    We installed ourselves at the Farmer's Market at Bridge Square. The cold (27º) gave way to a really radiant warm and sunny fall day. It was even hot in the sunshine. Good thing we dressed in layers.

    It was super fun to see all the folks there buying veggies and baked goods, and the kids dancing to our music. I hope we see some familiar faces when we return to Northfield next week.

  • MN Express Day one

    Yesterday, the MN Express kicked off our round-the-state tour. We made a surprise pop-up concert at the Hy-Vee Supermarket in Austin. We played our hearts out for the shoppers after we set up beside the "fruit" snack sale display. I think we ended up blocking access to the Pizza Ovens that were on sale for $29, but if anyone minded they kept it to themselves.

    We were well-received and completely ignored in our sort of non-sequitur concert venue. But overall we had a delightful time playing and meeting people. I think we may see some of them at our concert tonight in Austin (at Austin ArtWorks, at 7:30pm).

    We installed ourselves at a motel in Owatonna, rehearsed and had a rollicking time last night. Now we're back on the bus headed to Austin. Tomorrow we expect to make an appearance at the Farmer's market in Northfield, and at Gilby's orchard in Aitkin. Look for us!

    Here's what has to say about our Austin show. (Spoiler alert: It's a "Best Bet" for the weekend.)

  • Adieu Jacques

    Adieu Jacques

    Such sad news. I've heard from several friends in France that Jacques Thollot has died. Although he was not a household name in the United States his contribution to the music I love was immense. As a kid he was playing as Kenny Clarke's replacement at the Blue Note and Le Chat qui Pêche clubs in Paris with Bud Powell, Chet Baker and other American jazz musicians. He had significant musical associations with Eric Dolphy, Barney Wilen, Karl Berger, Bernard Vitet, Sam Rivers among others. His 1971 recording "Quand le son devient aigu, jeter la girafe à la mer" (When the sound becomes acute, throw the giraffe in the sea) confounded some jazz fans, and became a prog-rock touchstone. His long association with Don Cherry's New York Total Music Company found him touring all over Europe. His compositions combined a wide variety of elements and influences and included intricate and surprising figures coupled with almost equal parts bombast and delicacy.

    I was introduced to Jacques in 2011 when he attended a Fantastic Merlins concert at l'Ermitage in Paris. A few months later he invited me to join him as part of the Jacques Thollot quartet (with Tony Hymas and Claude Tchamitchian) for a concert at Sunside in Paris. It was something of a triumphant return to the stage after a very long absence. The music was really vibrant and alive, and the audience was enthusiastic and receptive. It was quite a night! We spent part of the next day in the recording studio, and discussed the development of a new Jacques Thollot Quartet record. Alas that never came to be.

    I didn't know Jacques well or for long, but I felt an immediate bond with him. He was a beautiful soul.
    I'm extremely grateful to Jean Rochard for introducing me to Jacques Thollot. First to his music, then to the man himself. And I count myself fortunate to have had the chance to play his music with him. We miss you Jacques.

    Adieu et merci pour toute la musique, cher Jacques!

  • MN Express

    In a few days, I'll be heading out on the inaugural MN Express tour. Five prior recipients of the Cedar Cultural Center's 416 Club Commissions were selected to collaborate on a new project wherein we get on a bus that travels around the state. Well, there's really more to it than that: we'll perform five ticketed concerts around the state (Austin, Grand Rapids, Duluth, Morris, Northfield) and in between we'll just "pop-up" for performances in towns and cities around Minnesota.

    The project is based on the Africa Express, which took 80 artists across Britain by train. Along the way, those artists interacted, collaborated and just generally made (and are still making) a bunch of interesting music. I expect that the same thing in miniature will happen for us.

    Minnesota Express is Nick Gaudette, Sara Pajunen, Kyle Sobczak, Aby Wolf and me. We operate in sort-of overlapping music worlds. It's been intriguing and exciting to share our music amongst ourselves, and we're all very excited to discover together how things will morph and twist and shake and boogaloo (have I been listening to too much James Brown?) once we get on the bus.

    I hope you'll join us somewhere along the route. Details can be found here and here and a story about us on Minnesota Public Radio can be found here. You never know where we'll pop-up (but maybe I'll tip you off. Keep watching this space--I'll keep you posted from the road.)

    This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and culture heritage fund.

  • Jean-Brice Godet Returns to MN

    April showers bring May flowers. And April snow showers bring on the desire for more caffeine apparently. True to form and just like usual I've some gigs coming up soon, so here is some short notice. I sure would love it if you could come to them all--do what you can, OK?

    The most significant of these May concerts will be the ones with my friend Jean-Brice Godet who will be returning from Paris for a brief visit. Jean-Brice is a fantastic clarinet and bass clarinet player with a stunningly broad palette of sounds at his disposal. I met him in Paris a few years ago, and he came to MN for some concerts last summer. It is my extreme pleasure to play with him! You won't want to miss these.

    So now imagine, that Jean-Brice will join forces with Fantastic Merlins at what may be my favorite venue in St. Paul. Almost too much, right? Friday, May 16 at Sweet 317, 8 pm. $10 Suggested Donation. All ages. BYOB. Super-comfortable listening environment run by two of the sweetest people I've ever met. If you only go to one show this year, you should get out more. And this should be the one.

    On Sunday, May 18, from 4-6 pm, stay close to your radio. Jean-Brice and I (and some guests) will be performing live on Radio K's Sound Grammar show. 770 AM, 100.7 & 104.5 FM in the Twin Cities. everywhere within reach of the internet. We'll play some music, chat and share some records with Sam our genial host.

    Monday, May 19, join us at Icehouse in Minneapolis for Fantastic Merlins with Jean-Brice Godet.
    The Icehouse is a great place for music, and we're happy to be back on that stage. The Atlantis Quartet will share the evening with us.


    Friday, May 2 I'll be joining Todd Harper at his regular Jazz Happy Hour at the Black Dog. Todd and I have been friends and collaborators for a long time. We always have a great time together, and today will be no exception. More than Jazz, More than Happy, More than an Hour.
    Todd Harper, piano, voice, exhuberance; Nathan Hanson, soprano saxophone

    Friday May 23 Another with Todd Harper at the Black Dog, but this time it's an extravaganza on the eve of Todd's Birthday. Todd Harper, Nathan Hanson, saxophones; Peter Leggett, drums; Andrew Foreman, bass; Larry Sims, trumpet; Howard Bivens, trumpet, more guests TBA.

    Friday May 30 I am thrilled to be playing again with Davu Seru, as he presents Click Song (at the Black Dog) an ongoing project of groove, freeplay, and exciting twists and turns. Davu Seru, drums; Marc Anderson, percussion; Nathan Hanson, saxophones; Donald Washington, saxophones; Brian Courage, bass.

    I hope to see you all!
    Please say hello.

  • March 2014

    I hope you're getting a chance to thaw (or unthaw, as we used to say in Baltimore) after the preceding winter of our discontent and whatnot.

    True to form and just like usual I've some gigs coming up soon, so here is some short notice.

    This afternoon, 3/14 I'll be joining Todd Harper at his regular post at the Black Dog. Todd and I have been friends and collaborators for a long time. We always have a great time together, and today will be no exception. The riverbanks will talk of the waters of March, the end of the strain, the joy in your heart. 

    Todd Harper, piano, voice, exhuberance; Nathan Hanson, soprano saxophone

    3/14/2014         5:30 -7:30
    Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar
    308 Prince St.
    St. Paul, MN 55101
    Map and directions

    Monday March 17 Fantastic Merlins will be celebrating a belated St. Urho's Day in recognition of the driving of the grasshoppers out of Finland. There may or may not be other Saints who drove other things out of other places celebrated too. You just never know what will happen when Fantastic Merlins play at the Black Dog! You can predict however that the Black Dog will have its Monday special--buy a bottle of wine (or four beers) and get a pizza free! 

    Nathan Hanson, saxophones; Peter Hennig, drums; Doan Brian Roessler, bass

    3/17/2014        7:30-9:30

    Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar
    308 Prince St.
    St. Paul, MN 55101
    Map and directions

    Friday March 21 I am thrilled to be playing again withAnne La Berge, a phenomenal flautist from Amsterdam (the one in the Netherlands) as she joins Fifth Column at Studio Z. I love every chance to play with Fifth Column, and having Anne join us will be electric! Anne is a really captivating performer who incorporates flute virtuosity with computer-based electronic music. She is a dazzling improviser and we are in for a real treat.

    Fifth Column is Scott Miller, electronics; Brett Wartchow, electronics; Pat O'Keefe, clarinet/bass clarinet/soprano saxophone; and Nathan Hanson, soprano and tenor saxophones.

    More info

    3/21/2014     7:30 pm
    Studio Z
    275 E 4th St #200
    St. Paul, MN 55101
    Admission: $10
    Map and directions

    I hope to see you all!
    Please say hello.

  • Extremely late Jan and Feb 2014 shows

    Hi Everybody!
    I hope 2014 is treating you right and that you are enjoying the full splendor of winter in Minnesota--fortified with extra windchill and subzero features.

    I have some shows coming up, and I wanted to let you know about them. I hope to see you at all of them! Do what you can, but I urge you to collect the whole set.

    Tonight, after your disco nap, I'll be part of The Bible Cabaret. It's bawdy, ballsy, brainy…and the Good Book!  Comedian and ordained United Methodist pastor Jane Voigts joins Betsy Salkind (The Tonight Show; Roseanne), the playful, mystic Nathan Hanson Trio (that the Milwaukee Shepherd-Express calls “Part avant-garde jazz, part chamber music, part boundary-breaking sonic journey.”) and others for an evening of music, stand-up, satire and comedy-of-the-Bible monologues that offer a new (or is it the original?) look at the Bible and its take on matters spiritual. - See more at:

    Then Tuesday, Feb 4 I'm thrilled to sub in one of the tenor chairs for the Bill Simenson Orchestra at Jazz Central. Bill is a fantastic writer of big band music--fascinating twists and turns, mysterious titles, excellent players. Want more info?

    Right after Valentine's Day, Fifth Column will present the last of our concerts that were funded through the Minnesota State Arts Board. We're grateful for the support for this work, made possible by the voters of our fine state through the Legacy Amendment. This concert will feature Troy Rogers and his musical Robots. Intrigued? Me too. Isn't it time you took a road trip to the Iron Range to hear some musical robots?

    Monday, Feb. 17, Fantastic Merlins continues our holiday concert series. This time it's President's Day! Observe it with the Black Dog Monday pizza special--buy a bottle of wine, or 4 beers, and get a pizza free! (Next up St. Patrick's Day). We're really thrilled and delighted to be back in action with our regular Black Dog appearances (third Monday of the month). 

    Wednesday, Feb. 19, I'm back at the Black Dog. This time in duo with Steve Goldstein. Steve and I have done a handful of duo concerts, and they are always a fascinating ride. We'll share the evening with Viv Corringham and Pat O'Keefe. Viv is back from NYC for a short time, so avail yourself of the opportunity to hear her. Her longstanding duo with Pat is always worthwhile.

    Feb 21, 22, and 23 I will be one of the featured guest composers with Zeitgeist. I've written two new pieces just for the occasion, and I am honored to be included. This concert will feature the winners of their "Eric Stokes Song Contest" and some pieces from me, as well as some pieces from Viv Corringham. Details are on the Zeitgeist website: 

    Finally, if you're still looking for the perfect Groundhog's Day gift, might I suggest one of these fine recorded music products? 

    I hope to see you soon, stop by and say hello!