Must-see pianist

Don’t let this weekend’s Twin Cities Jazz Fest deter you from first checking out pianist Christian Sands. A powerhouse member of the Christian McBride Trio, Sands’ debut disc, “Reach,” is embedded with post-bop panache while also gracefully encompassing Afro-Cuban, hip-hop and R&B. There’s even a version of “Somewhere Out There” from the 1986 animated movie “An American Tail,” which captivated Sands as a kid. Even in this golden age of young pianists, he belongs in the vanguard. (7 p.m. Wed., Dakota, Mpls.; $20,

Definitely not croaking

Stew Frog is an apt band name for the hoppy mélange of sounds that can emanate from this trio of veteran musicians. Each is renowned for his prowess on one instrument — guitarist Dean Granros, saxophonist Scott Fulz and percussionist Steve Goldstein — yet they’re wonderfully adept at electronic manipulation. It’s a synergistic confluence tailor-made for the spontaneous improvisations heard at the Khyber on Thursday nights. (9 p.m. Thu., Khyber Pass, St. Paul; $5,

Big Boo can sing, too

“Orange Is the New Black” star Lea Delaria is a quadruple-threat artist: actor, comedian, author and jazz singer. While not blessed with tremendous range, her vocal approach conveys emotional and stylistic versatility. Her sense of timing and dramatics enable her to belt out show tunes and croon ballads with equal facility. Her version of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” is exquisite. Maybe she’ll reprise it in honor of the recently departed Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell. More likely, some laughs and politics will find their way into her set. (7 and 9 p.m. Mon., Dakota, Mpls.; $37-$62,

Low-profile, large talent

Pianist Richard Johnson keeps a fairly low profile teaching music at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. But this semi-local has an impressive résumé that includes stints with Wynton Marsalis, Russell Malone and Irvin Mayfield. Mentored by Ron Carter at the New England Conservatory, he’s also worked as a musical ambassador with the U.S. State Department and Jazz at Lincoln Center. On the first evening of this two-night engagement, he’ll be in a trio, schooling listeners on the elegance of bop. (7 p.m. Tue., Crooners, Fridley; $15-$45,

Britt Robson