PIANO MAN  

It was a happy day for Twin Cities jazz lovers when native son Peter Schimke returned to town after a fertile decade spent mostly in New York City, with a two-year stopover in sunny Hawaii. Schimke is the total package on piano: a hard swinger with an introspective side, too, and a dazzling soloist and aware accompanist equally adept at bristling bop and Brazilian samba. Super-singer Mark Murphy was knocked out by Schimke's playing last year, and is coming back to town to make a live CD with the pianist in January (for Ben Sidran's Go Jazz! label). Tonight's show should provide a tune-up as Schimke and the house rhythm section at the Artists' Quarter (bassist Billy Peterson, drummer Kenny Horst) tackle original tunes, Cole Porter treats and other standards. His secret? Schimke's not only very good, but also very versatile and adaptable. (9 p.m. today, Artists' Quarter, 366 Jackson St., St. Paul. $7. 651-292-1359.)

ALSO RECOMMENDED  

  •   Eloquent trombone ace (and Minnesota native) Bruce Paulson, who spent 20 years with the "Tonight Show" Orchestra and now roams the globe as a hired gun, teaching and soloing in such far-off locales as Beijing and New Zealand. (9 p.m. Thu. and Dec. 25-26, Artists' Quarter. $3 Thu. & Dec. 26, $8 Dec. 25.)

    -- Tom Surowicz, Minneapolis writer