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Duluth soprano returns for jazzy DSSO concert

Some Duluthians may remember her from the days of Condor, a Duluth rock band, where she specialized in covering tunes by the band "Heart." "So I did 'Barracuda' and 'Magic Man' and 'Crazy on You,'" said Margaret Carlson during a phone interview f...

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Some Duluthians may remember her from the days of Condor, a Duluth rock band, where she specialized in covering tunes by the band "Heart."

"So I did 'Barracuda' and 'Magic Man' and 'Crazy on You,'" said Margaret Carlson during a phone interview from her Chicago-area home.

But the singer, now building a name for herself in the jazz world, will be coming back to sing with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra Saturday, July 26, at Lucius Woods Performing Arts Center. The concert, "Short Stories from the Great American Songbooks," will include works by Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen and George Gershwin.

While she has performed with orchestras in the Chicago area and in Indiana, coming home to perform with a hometown orchestra she classes as "very good" means something special.

"This is going to be just an honor for me, really," she said. "It's just going to be so much fun."

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It's the second show of the summer season for the DSSO at Lucius Woods, under the baton of Markand Thakar.

The first half of "Cabaret Night" will be all show tunes. For the second half, Carlson will sing a dozen or so numbers, interspersing with stories about the composers and music.

"Oftentimes, the great American songbooks programs concentrate on one artist, but I've taken many different composers and picked a couple of numbers from each of them to showcase many people's work," she said.

Carlson, with three CDs to her credit, including a Christmas CD reviewed in the Budgeteer, names Cleo Laine, Judy Garland, Duke Ellington and Chick Corea as major influences, but music first came to her life through her father playing the piano after dinner.

After Carlson married and moved to Florida, she encountered pianist Gene Hunt, who got her hooked on the standards, but she took time off to raise a family and didn't get back into active singing again until 1996, when, now living in the Chicago area, she approached Chicago jazz pianist Frank Mantooth.

She and Mantooth began working together, and he is her principle arranger. For the Lucius Woods performance, though, she'll be bringing a pianist from the Twin Cities and working with a drummer and bass player connected to the DSSO.

Carlson still has Duluth connections and usually gets back two or three times a year. "I still go back as often as I can, because that's where all my family still is," she said.

Another connection came by coincidence, through Mantooth. He introduced her to Tom Matta, a Duluth Central grad who now also does arrangements for Carlson. Matta did work on the Cole Porter tunes, one of the Arlen numbers and a medley Carlson will be performing.

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They even had common musical acquaintances from back in the Condor days.

"That was a real popular group in the area," Carlson said of the group, which was originally named Summer. "We did a lot of Minneapolis work and traveled a little."

The group also played regularly around Duluth and Superior, doing covers and a few originals.

The music starts at Lucius Woods at 7:30 p.m., but a silent auction, with items as varied as toys and artwork, begins earlier, when the gates open at 6:30 p.m. The bidding goes until intermission of the concert.

For more information, call (715) 378-4272.

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