Zeitgeist's Jazz Commissions Project
Help us raise $3,000 by May 31st to bring four new works to life! 


As an ensemble animated by a spirit of adventure and collaboration, Zeitgeist is dedicated to the creation and production of new and diverse musical works. This year, Zeitgeist is commissioning four new works from local jazz artists Chris Bates, Steve Kenny, Zacc Harris and Davu Seru to be premiered at the 2014 Twin Cities Jazz Festival. These new works will live on through a variety of performances in venues throughout our community - from concert halls and parks to music clubs and house concerts. 

We need $4,000 by May 31st to make these commissions a reality, and we have received a generous $1,000 3-to-1 matching donation from our board members. Now we’re reaching out for your support to raise the final $3,000 to bring these new works to life

Please visit our GiveMN page or click to the right to donate. We appreciate contributions of any size. Your gift will allow new music to develop and flourish, and will contribute to the vitality of our local music community. 

Thank you for your support! 

Chris Bates 

As a first call bassist in the Midwest, Chris Bates has played with many wonderful musicians including Mose Allison, Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano, Steven Bernstein, Tony Hymas, Howard Levy, Michael Attias, Anton Fier, and others. During the 90’s he played with the Motion Poets, touring nationally and releasing three albums to wide critical acclaim. Mr. Bates received a McKnight Composers Fellowship in 1999, has played on over 30 albums, and brings an unbridled joy and enthusiasm to every musical situation. In September 2012, he released his first solo album ‘New Hope’ featuring all original compositions performed by the Chris Bates Red 5. In addition to Red 5, Chris is leads the Good Vibes Trio and is involved in Atlantis Quartet, Red Planet, Framework, Enormous and Todd Clouser’s A Love Electric. Look out in 2014 for the Good Vibes album and the digital release of the fabled Grease Gun sessions feat; JT and Chris Bates with Dave King and Anthony Cox. 

Steve Kenny 

 The Star Tribune calls Steve Kenny “a terrific trumpeter and a hilarious emcee.” He is a recipient of a Minnesota Music Award, and is a co-founder of the Illicit Sextet. Kenny has won a West Bank School of Music Jazz Composer award, and is a multiple winner of the “Best Jazz Trumpet” award at the Eau Claire Jazz Festival. He performs in The Five, with Dave Karr and What Would Monk Do?, featuring Billy Peterson and Peter Schimke, and he has recorded with Pete Whitman’s Departure Point, the Cedar Avenue Big Band, and with the illicit sextet.

Steve is currently active on the local club scene, Playing regularly at Jazz Central Studios, and the Late Night series at the Dakota. He just finished a 5-year weekly residency at Artist’s Quarter hosting a jam session with his ‘Group 47’. The Illicit Sextet just released its second CD, “Chapter Eleven” and performed on the main stage of the 2013 Twin Cities Jazz Festival. Group 47 is releasing its debut recording, “Straight to Vinyl” in the Spring of 2014.

Zacc Harris

Since moving to Minneapolis in 2005, Zacc Harris has gained a reputation as one of the area's top guitarists, leading a host of creative projects including Atlantis Quartet, named 2011 Best Jazz Artist of the Twin Cities by the Citypages, as well as Vital Organ, Monk In Motian, and the Zacc Harris Group and Zacc Harris Trio. Jazz Improv Magazine says, "Harris delivers a sound that is lucid, clear...providing rich-sounding accompaniment, and well-crafted solos" while Cadence Magazine calls some of Harris' work on Atlantis Quartet's most recent album "worthy of John McLaughlin." MPR News states, "Harris makes his own mark on standards with enough new hooks to keep jazz alive." 

Davu Seru

Davu Seru has been involved in one or more of the arts (legitimate and otherwise) for most of his life. Music won over his attention only after he was introduced to “jazz,” a moniker which he feels—despite being presented here in scare quotes—is worth arguing over. He has a deep affection for jazz, one which, he believes, is made even richer by his capricious sense of race pride. He also believes that sincerity is heroic and improvisation is its ritual. 

His cohorts, past and present, include Milo Fine, Andrew Lafkas, Jaron Childs, Charles Gillett, Elliot Fine, Paul Metzger, Jack Wright, Elaine Evans, Anthony Cox, Dean Granros, Dean Magraw, Wendy Ultan, Evan Parker, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Adam Linz, Luke Polipnick, George Cartwright, Stefan Kac, James Buckley, Taylor Ho Bynum, Jim Baker, Robbie Lynn Hunsinger, Tatsu Aoki, David Boykin, Nicole Mitchell, Harrison Bankhead, Rafael Toral, and the band Take Acre. Currently he plays in the bands Merciless Ghost (with George Cartwright and Josh Granowski) and Body Omara (with Joseph Damman and Tom Reichert), and is co-leader with Mankwe Ndosi of The Mother of Masks, an improvising ensemble of poets, storytellers, activists and musicians. He is also a PhD candidate in African American literature at the University of Minnesota.