A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:

Dan Flynn of Eagan:

1 Tracey Blake, "Standing in Line." The new EP by the Minnesota singer features the melodic "One for Jack," the bluesy-country gem "Leave With Me" and the intriguing title track that speaks to our republic's collective freedoms.

2 Self-Titled, "Phryge." This single is an emboldened, ambitious risk-taking blues, hard-rock structured song that soars with roaring guitars and fiery vocals. The young Twin Cities band also wowed at Crooners with an exquisite Jeff Beck tribute.

3 Rick Clark's "Air Conditioned" on WYXR in Memphis. This weekly hourlong radio show wove a tapestry of mostly early Elton John recordings, including a sensational live duet with John Lennon at Madison Square Garden in 1974 in which the former Beatle said, "We'd thought we'd do a number of an old estranged fiancé of mine called Paul" before he and Elton let loose on "I Saw Her Standing There." It would be the last performance by Lennon in front of a live audience.

Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:

1 Connie Han Trio, the Dakota. Impressions of the 28-year-old Los Angeles jazz pianist: Intense, inventive, aggressive, percussive yet melodic, her fingers fly in a blur of emotion. She's classically trained and egghead-y yet rebellious in many ways. There was a metal influence to her approach yet a richness and effortless flow. Shoutout to drummer/producer/composer Bill Wysaske and bassist Luca Alemanno, top-notch soloists and a simpatico rhythm section.

2 Alicia Keys and Jay-Z, Tony Awards. In the midst of the cast of "Hell's Kitchen" performing a medley with Keys, she exited and then re-emerged on a giant video screen with Jay-Z on the staircase outside David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center performing "Empire State of Mind," their 2009 ode to New York City. Yes, the duet was taped earlier, but it was still a special Big Apple moment that trumped all the Broadway fanfare.

3 Wild Nights, Minnesota Zoo. The Apple Valley zoo has smartly reimagined its summer local music series. There are two stages (instead of three last year) — the traditional amphitheater and an ad hoc platform under a giant tent on the upper plaza. Each stage features one band, playing two sets (8 and 9:15 p.m.). Last week, High & Mighty got funky with its horns and the kitschy, energetic Pop Rocks got showy with their costumes of Nicki Minaj, Dee Snider, Britney Spears and others. In addition, Wild Nights features a karaoke stage, merch booths, food trucks, a walking trail and beer.

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