Judy Cooper Lyle of Minneapolis:
1 Natty Nation, Hook & Ladder. The band took us to the islands with a tightly arranged evening of Bob Marley’s music, with some terrific guitar solos. The reggae was smooth, rock steady and true to its form. Bob would’ve approved. I know I did.
2 Charmin Michelle, Normandy Kitchen. It was a lush pleasure to see her at this lovely little bar in downtown Minneapolis. Her voice caresses all the wonderful jazz standards, with the sound of a rose petal falling on a silk pillowcase.
3 Gregory Porter, “Miss Otis Regrets.” With the almost edible tones, he tells a strange tale within this three-minute nearly cinematic song in a luscious, wonderful way. From his CD “Nat King Cole & Me.”
Jon Bream of the Star Tribune:
1 Cécile McLorin Salvant, the Dakota. As a jazz vocalist, the 28-year-old Grammy winner is like an effortless conversationalist who can be girlish, mature, playful, no-nonsense, coquettish, hopeful, vulnerable, deep. In a word: exceptional.
2 “The Wiz,” Children’s Theatre. The singing of Greta Oglesby and Paris Bennett (her rendition of “Home” is stunning) saved a music-buoyed show featuring underwhelming performances by understudies as the Wiz and Glinda.
3 “School of Rock,” the Orpheum. The empowered kids make this cute, rebellious musical rock. As the substitute teacher, schlubby Rob Colletti makes a pretty good sub for Jack Black, who starred in the 2003 movie on which this show is based.