Monday, March 26, 2012

Brunches Jazz Up spring at Mark Twain House

A Cat in the Hat Bonnet Brunch with Karen Frisk, whose five-octave vocal range covers breathy ballads to heart-wrenching blues, sexy Latin rhythms to up-tempo swing, is April's event in the popular Sunday Jazz Brunch series at The Mark Twain House & Museum, presented as always by Japanalia Music.
Don't pack away your Easter bonnet!  Frisk, who calls herself the "Jazz Cat in the Hat," will have your chapeau bob-bob-bobbin' along to her swinging melodies at the event on Sunday, April 15, complete with four-star Japanese cuisine and American breakfast favorites in the museum's famed Murasaki Cafe.

Along with the hot sounds and heatwarming foods in the coolest place in town, there will be prizes for -- among others -- the biggest hat, the smallest hat, and (of course) the jazziest hat.

In her late teens the "jazz bug" bit Frisk, she says: Swing, latin jazz and R&B filled her soul, and she counts Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald, and Rosemary Clooney as influences.

Frisk has shared the stage with many premier jazz artists including world-renowned pianist Dave McKenna, Artie Shaw Orchestra band leader Dick Johnson, Tony Bennett's guitarist Gray Sargent and legendary drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie.

Originally from Cromwell, Conn., Frisk says she was singing before she was speaking. She studied jazz piano with Merrill Doucette at the Hartford Conservatory and then moved on to study jazz/pop vocals and performance with Roberta Peck-Vater, the renowned music educator and Capitol Records recording artist.


Seatings for the Jazz Brunch are at 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. The $35 admission includes the performance, full brunch, soft drinks and hot beverages. Alcoholic beverages are available at an additional charge. Call 860-280-3130 for reservations.

The Mark Twain House & Museum's acclaimed Sunday Jazz Brunches, held in the museum's Murasaki Cafe, presented by Japanalia Music and curated by Dan Blow, are part of a jazz renaissance in the city.

Japanalia Music is famed for its "classy" and "red-hot" concerts (as Hartford Courant

jazz critic Owen McNally describes them). Each season Blow, Japanalia's musical tastemaker and  fashion designer, creates a powerful series of musical programs to delight and entertain.

The Murasaki Cafe brunch includes American favorites such as scrambled eggs, ham, sausage, tossed salad, Danish pastries, fruit, coffee, tea, juice and water; and Japanese treats to add flair to the mid-day: vegetable yakisoba (sautéed noodles with vegetables); tatsuta age (spicy chicken bits); edamame (lightly salted soybeans); curried rice pilaf; and vegetable sushi rolls with avocado, cucumber and sweet potato.
 
Future Sunday Jazz Brunches include offerings for both Mom and Dad:

May 13 - A Mother's Day Brunch with vocalist Napua Davoy. Born in Texas, and with a background in theater and avant-garde opera, whose has been heard on concert stages and major jazz venues in New York City and around the world, where she has toured extensively throughout Russia with her longtime collaborator, Russia's famed pianist/composer Andrei Kondakov. She was selected to open the 2002 Hartford Jazz Series.

June 17 - A Blues for Father's Day Brunch with the XY Eli Band. The music started for Eli when he was a little boy in his grandfather's church. After his move to Hartford in 1967 he joined Tony Bowens and the Soul Choppers, and he has played guitar for many years since. His music style ranges from R&B and rock to blues and gospel, and he even joined the punk world in the 1980s with The Repels.

The Mark Twain House & Museum (www.marktwainhouse.org) has restored the author's Hartford, Connecticut, home, where Samuel L. Clemens and his family lived from 1874 to 1891.

Twain wrote his most important works during the years he lived there, including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
 
In addition to providing tours of Twain's restored home, a National Historic Landmark, the institution offers activities and educational programs that illuminate Twain's literary legacy and provide information about his life and times.

The house and museum at 351 Farmington Ave. are open Monday and Wednesday through Saturday, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm and Sunday, noon-5:30 pm. (Closed Tuesdays through the end of March.) For more information, call 860-247-0998 or visit www.marktwainhouse.org.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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