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Rondo Community Music Series

Welcome to the Rondo Community Music Series!

Join us for an incredible lineup of performances featuring talented artists from our community this season! This year we have many ways to attend the shows. Join us live on our Facebook page, YouTube, attend in person by registering on EventBrite or watch through Crowdcast! If you miss the live event, you can watch the replay and our other past events here.

The in-person event has room for 70 people and shows are hosted at Walker|West Music Academy 760 Selby Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55104. Once registration is full, please join us virtually by watching on Crowdcast, Instagram, YouTube or Facebook live.

Panel Discussions In conjunction with our Rondo Community Music Series concerts,  we will host five online discussions with musicians, vocalists and spoken word artists with connections to Walker West, the Twin Cities and the Rondo Community to share thoughts about music and  this community’s rich legacy as a training ground for musicians.

2024 Events

Featured Artists

Jack Barrett Trio

April 6th, 7 pm

A wide variety of music can be heard in Jack Barrett’s compositions. Throughout his life, he has explored avenues of classical, progressive rock, metal and jazz. All of which have left their permanent mark on his sound.

Raised in the Twin Cities, Barrett studied in the northern wilderness of St. John’s University where he earned a degree in piano performance. There, he was drawn to the sounds of Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett among others as he delved further into the sound and practice of jazz. Since then, his path has brought him to the sounds of modern players like Brad Mehldau and Tigran Hamasyan. Intense rhythms and rich harmonies dominate Barrett’s compositions, marked by concise and dynamic solos. With each new work he builds around a single concept, whether it is a rhythmic or harmonic motif or simply a feeling. Expanding from this, he crafts the song into a sprawling extrapolation, adding and transforming until the original idea is woven into every part of the music.

RSVP today to reserve your spot on Crowdcast!

RSVP today to reserve your spot in-person at Walker|West!

Marie Chanté

April 20th, 7 pm

Actress, Model, Poet, Orator, Spoken Word Artist and Writer. With a passion for Healthcare and a career span over 15 years that includes Elderly/Hospice Care Companion, PCA, Home Health Aide, Independent Care for persons living with Acquired and Traumatic Brain Injury, and dietary aide, this Chicago native grew up in Minneapolis, MN., and has graced stages from there to NY, California and Texas, in productions including, yet not limited to stage plays: Steel Storm, Mind Games, A Door A House A Window and Mama’s Family. Her poetry has set the tone for award banquets, grand openings, and Black History Month Celebrations for 89.9 KMOJ, The MN Timberwolves, and to bring awareness to Domestic Violence for the Spokesman Recorder. Her modeling experience include: Beauty XXTreme Plus Size Fashion Show (2012), Coco’s Fashion Boutique Embrace Your Curves Fashion Show (2016), The Diamonds and Pearls Fashion Show and Award Dinner (2018) and PlusSize Fine “Worth My Weight In Gold” 2019 Calendar as Miss September. She is contributing writer for Healing One Production Entertainment and is currently working with her team on their first ever Screenplay.

Marie Chanté has written over 1000 poems, monologues and short stories that are being compiled into long awaited published works. Her dream job is combining music and poetry, although she enjoys teaching as well. Her collaboration and artist work resume includes: #MPLStheBAND and Houston White for The Black Excellence & The King Kunta Project, PipJazz Foundation, The Mn Spoken Word Association, Poets of The City, The Poetic Voyage, and a brief but loving run as the host for Majestic Flows Open Mic at Favor Cafe. She worked as a Teaching Artist at HECUA, in the Inequalities in America department for several years before the college closed their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her hobbies include massage therapy, walking, painting, horticulture, and learning. This mom of three, now an empty-nester, enjoys music, traveling, playdates with her grandbabies, and taking care of her mental and physical health. She is currently Student Services and Outreach Manager at Walker|West Music Academy, where she has had a working relationship, in different capacities, since 2008.

RSVP today to reserve your spot on Crowdcast!

RSVP today to reserve your spot in-person at Walker|West!

Tower of Power Horns

May 11th, 7 pm

Trumpeter Gerard Ahlgren is based in the Minneapolis, Minnesota. He currently holds a Master’s Degree in Music Performance from McNally Smith College of Music with emphasis on Jazz Studies. Gerard plays locally with Blue Water Kings, Soultight Committee, Northstar, Jaedyn James and the Hunger, and Moonlight Serenaders.

Gerard also has extensive experience playing professionally with the History Theatre and for Old Log Theater as well as Breck Middle School. Because of his diverse training from various trumpet players including Dave Jensen, Charles Lazarus, Marshall Scott, Michael Davison, and Adam Meckler, Gerard is fluent in several styles of music including jazz, blues, latin, fusion, and classical.

This is the second appearance for Tower of Power Horns in our series.

RSVP today to reserve your spot on Crowdcast!

RSVP today to reserve your spot in-person at Walker|West!

2023/2024 Past Events

Selby Avenue Brass Band ft. Thomasina Petrus

September 30th, 7 pm

We’re glad to welcome again Selby Ave Brass Band ft. Thomasina Petrus back to the series for the FOURTH time. This group always brings something dynamic to the stage. Be sure to tell a friend about this upcoming set.

The Selby Avenue Brass Band brings a unique voice to the Twin Cities music scene with a mix of New Orleans jazz and other genres. The group is led by Tom Wells, tubist, arranger, composer, and Walker|West teaching artist. The band features Twin Cities premier vocalist, Thomasina Petrus.

Kevin Washington & RA SPIRIT

October 21st, 7 pm

Kevin Washington has been part of this series since it’s inception, with his group RA Spirit performing in the 2021 series as well. You won’t want to miss their return. Kevin is among the most versatile of jazz musicians-as adept at playing straight ahead tunes as he is incorporating Afro-Latin rhythms on hip-hop into his sets. He has studied under legendary drummer Max Roach and has played with top jazz performers such as saxophonist Antonio Hart and James Carter. Kevin is a Walker|West instructor.

WDP Crew ft. Robert Robinson

November 11th, 7 pm

Duncan & Robinson return to the series for the 4th time. We can’t wait of the sounds of these incredible artists hit the airwaves again. This duo, along with background fro the WDP singers will perform gospel, jazz and R&B. As Mr. Duncan promised, “you’ll be inspired and you won’t walk out the same.”

William Duncan was born in Motown, was once a child prodigy and Minister of Music. Mr. Duncan grew up surrounded by music, working with some of the greatest gospel artists of multiple generations (like the late Dr. Mattie Moss-Clark and her daughters The Clark Sisters, Byron Cage, Fred Hammond, J. Moss, the Winans, the late Donald Valis and Thomas Whitfield to name a few). Most recently Mr. Duncan was commissioned to compose an original work for, “Art in This Present Moment,” an initiative by the Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundation where he worked with local artists for the piece.

Robert Robinson is reason to believe that the greatest music reaches everyone, crossing every border and boundary –from the Pontiac Silverdome to troops in South Korea. Robert possesses the ability to sing any song while remaining true to his style and vision.

Katia Cardenas Ensemble

December 2nd, 7 pm

Luminous, multi-genre vocalist and international touring artist Katia Cardenas inspires audiences with her sultry, soulful voice and infectious energy and presence. Possessing an impeccable range and dynamic style, Katia grew up in a musical family, and her professional training came largely “on the job,” performing throughout high school with her mother’s Bay Area bands and collaborating with her Seattle-based father on numerous recording projects.

After graduating from Macalester College in 2010, Katia took the Twin Cities by storm, landing regular shows at The Dakota, and performing as the Featured Artist for the grand opening of the Dakota’s St. Paul venue, “Vieux Carré.” She’s since appeared at such respected local venues as Crooners, kj’s hideaway, Jazz Central Studios, the “Saturday Night Jazz” Series, and The Twin Cities Jazz Festival, as well as venues in Colorado, Seattle, California and Central México. Katia has also performed with Funk/Soul/R&B bands Casablanca Orchestra, Sonically Speaking, Blue Water Kings and Boogie Wonderland. 

After taking an almost 3-year hiatus from performing 2019-2021 to focus on her voice health, Katia’s “back at it” with a newfound appreciation for dynamics and subtlety in her performance. Her connection to the Twin Cities music scene dates back to the 1980s when her dad, Mark Cardenas, played keyboards for Morris Day & The Time on their Ice Cream Castles album and the film Purple Rain, and with Jesse Johnson’s Review. Katia is passionate about education and the arts, and recently transitioned out of her role as Executive Director of Minnesota Jazz Education (Formerly the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education) to join Walker West Music Academy as a Program Director.

“Katia Cardenas has long since been embraced by elders and peers alike. This is due mostly to raw talent, but she has an affability and charm that is impossible to resist.” (Kevin O’Connor, Jazz 88/KBEM 88.5 FM )

“…a young but veteran vocalist who can cover Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, yet is equally adept at modern folk/pop/blues.” (Jazz Police)

“[She has] the pipes to get over an R&B tune, but also has the instincts and subtlety to handle jazz standards.” (Rhythm & Grooves).

I can honestly say that this artist, this interpreter of song, is one you won’t forget. Katia is the real deal, and will leave you wanting to hear more.”

– Patty Peterson, Twin Cities Jazz Icon

Learn more about Katia Cardenas and her upcoming projects and performances at

Kavy plays Jamal

January 13th, 7 pm

Kavyesh Kaviraj is a pianist, composer and arranger from India. Although primarily a jazz pianist, he is known for his versatility as a musician; thanks to his experience in different musical climates he is closely involved with settings of many different genres and styles. 

Kavyesh was introduced to music at a very young age; born into a musical family, he started playing the piano at the age of 2, and has since been garnering experience towards an expansive international career. Thanks to his family’s rich musical ancestry, Kavyesh has been fortunate to be educated in both Western classical and contemporary music, but also in Indian Classical music, including both Carnatic and Hindustani styles. He often attributes this wide span of musical taste and experience to his education and cultural involvement within his childhood. Born to Indian parents in Oman, he began his fledgling musical career in the small town of Sohar, from where he moved to India to further his musical development and education, and subsequently pursued a professional music education in the United States. He has garnered attention and acclaim from the various musical environments he has been a part of, including Indian, Middle-Eastern and American shores. 

​Kavyesh graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2018, with a Bachelor of Music (B.M) degree in Jazz Studies and Contemporary Music. In 2019, Kavyesh received a full tuition grant to pursue a Masters’ degree at Berklee College’s Global Jazz Institute, where he was under the eminent tutelage of several jazz masters including Danilo Perez, Kenny Werner, JoAnne Brackeen among many others. He graduated in 2020 with a Master of Music (M.M) degree in Contemporary Performance.

Kavyesh is a member of the jazz quintet Mississippi, set to release their second album in 2022. He has performed with national and international artists from many different genres, including Wynton Marsalis, David Sanchez, Roosevelt Collier, Jay Young and the Lyric Factory, Justin Robinson, Yolande Bruce, Debbie Duncan, Bruce Henry, Nooky Jones, Kevin Washington Quintet, Jamecia Bennett, I Self Devine, Lady Midnight, Desdamona, Toki Wright and several others.

Kavyesh is also a passionate music educator, with experience as a private instructor and experience as an educator in music academies and public schools alike. Kavyesh is currently on faculty at the piano department at The University of St Thomas, and is also at the music department at Minneapolis College. Kavyesh is also an instructor for various musical arts at Walker West Music Academy. Kavyesh enjoys leading jazz workshops and teaching music classes for children and youth, and his work takes him across the US. His compositions and arrangements for various ensembles and configurations have been featured on radio, TV and collaborative exhibitions.

Minneapolis String Project

February 3rd, 7 pm

Minneapolis String Project is a high energy trio that’s breaking boundaries through eclectic pop/funk covers and genre-defying original works. Ernest Bisong, David Feily, and Greg Byers performed together for years in diverse spheres of the Minnesota music scene before forming their unique musical partnership. This is their first appearance in the series.

Alongside his mainstream classical training, Nigerian-born violinist Ernest Bisong found an appreciation for contemporary musical styles and thus began an exploration of the jazz genre early in his career. Having performed at SXSW in 2012, Ernest has played on many stages since. Ernest has opened for such acts as Richard Bona, Mike Stern, Marcus Johnson, Marsha Ambrosius, and the illustrious Anita Baker.

The first jazz cellist/bassist to graduate from the University of Miami, Greg Byers has a pioneering music style. With a focus on modern genres, improvisation, and integrating technology Greg branches into new territory with his work. Off stage, Greg is a passionate educator, dynamic clinician, and in-demand recording artist & producer.

Born in Seoul and raised in Maryland, David Feily studied music at University of St. Thomas. Now an in-demand guitarist, banjos, mandolinist and bassist; you know him from his work with New Sound Underground and Rhythm Street Movement. He has gained a deeper understanding of his own unique sound through his unique collaborations; an amalgamation of many different genres of music.

MPLS String Project deviates from the standard repertoire of classical or bluegrass instruments and instead draws from jazz, fusion, rock, soul, folk, and Brazilian music influences. Their original compositions expand the conventional use of the many instruments they play. Live performances leave audiences dazzled by their technical wizardry, simpatico improvisation, and engaging on-stage presence.

*MPLS String project is sponsored by McPherson Guitars, Coda Bow, D’Addario Strings, NS Design, and Acoustic Electric Strings.

The Rondo Band

February 17th, 7 pm

For over 30 years, Mr. James Felix has taught saxophone, clarinet and flute in addition to directing jazz ensembles here at Walker West. He has been a mentor and organizer for youth performances at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival since 2003. He is a natural at engaging youth and has given a life of service to the promotion of jazz in the Rondo community. Because of his dedication to music education, he was given the Jazz Educator Award sponsored by Thrivent Financial at the 2019 iteration of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival.

The Rondo Band is Mr. Felix James’ latest musical endeavor and it features a cast of well known players from the Twin Cities and beyond.

Jack Breen Ensemble

March 2nd, 7 pm

Jack Breen has deep roots within the Walker|West community. A student of Walker|West since 2004, Jack started lessons with Felix James and has been a member of our Teaching and Performing faculty since 2019. In 2018 Jack graduated Lawrence University Conservatory with a dual degree in Saxophone performance and Music Education, and was an intern at the New York Jazz Academy in Manhattan.

During Jack’s playing career he’s performed with a multitude of artists both local and nationally, including Bill Carrothers, Mike Stern, Jose Encarnancion, and Walker|West’s own instructors -Kevin Washington, Kavyesh Kaviraj, and Charlie Lincoln.

Give Get Sistet

March 16th, 7 pm

The Give Get Sistet is an expandable, improvisational chorus of Black women and non-binary artists based in the Twin Cities with ties around the world. Using a cappella singing and vocal improvisation, the Give Get Sistet entertains, educates and empowers audiences and communities from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. These artists listen deeply and sing with great generosity and daring, the music they make is unlike any other ensemble you’ve heard.
This is the second appearance for the Give Get Sistet in our series.

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