Pandemic Blues: The Slow Withdrawal From the Abyss

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a unilateral blow to the norms of all segments of our culture. For those of us dependent on the gathering of people in clubs, theatres, arenas and the like to make a living, that blow seems especially thunderous. Through the sociological haze of the state wide stay at home order, many musicians have taken to streaming performances, bringing a much needed sense of solace and hope. Music, just as love, can remind us of what it is like to not have it, the vacuity it engenders when it is suddenly taken from us. It is something in our lives that communicates through all perceived boundaries. Kudos locally to Earshot Jazz for their Saturday night series, to the Marina Albero led Quarrantine Sessions, and all musicians worldwide for sharing their music within the quarantine from their very living rooms. 

As you can see, this is the first time I have written a word here since April 1. This site has been largely about live performances in recent times, about presenting a means to research what is happening nightly around the city. My agenda today is to bring to your attention, some things that have been brought to my attention. As well, I am providing links to a profile series I am writing for allaboutjazz.com, “20 Seattle Jazz Musicians You Should Know.” This series gives Seattle musicians an internaional spotlight at the much acclaimed site, and is linked to local websites via the musician’s member page at AAJ. I highly recommend to all who do not have such a page, to create one. That way, any CD review, feature article, interview, or profile that mentions your name will be hyperlinked to your page, and from there, anywhere you need it to go. Here is the link to get that started https://news.allaboutjazz.com/download-the-all-about-jazz-musician-starter-guide.php

As we slowly return to normal life over the next months, years, we look forward for hope. We hope to have an Earshot Jazz Festival in October, the rescheduled Ballard Jazz Festival in November. We hope that the venues that generously support the music are there when we are ready to move forward. Most of all, we hope that we are all well, and ready to HANG. The fellowship our community provides to all who care to participate, is what is missed most of all. Here are a few things to ponder……..

Our friends Ryan Burns, Cole Schuster and Max Holmberg have taken to recording remotely, and are announcing the release of two brand new singles. The always eclectic, and remarkably versatile Burns is featured on Hammond B-3, along with Schuster on guitar, and Holmberg on drums. Here is a link to the press release. https://www.artistpr.com/press-release/ryan-burns-jazz-music/?fbclid=IwAR0gJRWMm_BZ4FTx0IMhm1WrKKxBzGNEXMD13MBVXjmNQLo_-g41IvdxAAg

As I mentioned, I am in the midst of writing 20 musician profiles for AAJ. So far we have featured Jeff Johnson, Jovino Santos Neto, Brittany Anjou, Xavier Lecouturier, Rex Gregory, Gail Pettis, Christopher Icasiano and Samantha Boshnack. Eight down, twelve to go! Here is the link to my articles at AAJ, the overwhelming majority of which cover jazz in Seattle. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/contributor_articles.php?id=163817

Roosevelt High School grad Chris McCarthy has been making quite a name for himself in New York. He recently released a new album on Ropeadope Records, and pre-covid, was often seen performing with several noteables, including Jerry Bergonzi and Sasha Berliner. Here is an in depth look at the album……..

CD Review: Chris McCarthy- Still Time to Quit

From 2017 to 2020, composer and pianist Chris McCarthy charted a path as a noted sideman for such notables as Jerry Bergonzi and Jason Palmer. He was often seen performing with vibraphonist Sasha Berliner and in duet with vocalist Clotilde Rullaud. In short, he has gained a reputation for imaginative and supportive playing.

McCarthy’s path has been blazed from a renowned high school program in Seattle, to the cloistered realm of the New England Conservatory, finally landing in the pressure cooker that is the New York jazz scene. His first recording, Sonder (Red Piano, 2017), could easily have categorized him as a project artist, as the music was an amalgam of forms, including spoken word and vocal parts. The music was well written and performed, but in no way did it set a trajectory for what was to come next. To continue reading, click here https://www.allaboutjazz.com/still-time-to-quit-chris-mccarthy-ropeadope


CD Review: Thomas Marriott- Trumpet Ship

In a day and age when social and personal narratives pervade the jazz recording medium, it is a welcoming feeling to experience a recording of superb jazz musicians playing music in the moment the way it’s supposed to be played—for the people.

For his spring 2020 quartet release Trumpet Ship (Origin, 2020), Seattle-based trumpeter Thomas Marriott has summoned a powerhouse quartet that hits hard from the outset and never lets up. He has convened a band that shares his ferocity of approach, stretching the boundaries, while respecting tradition of modern jazz music. While many recent releases have been attached to some sort of conception, Marriott focuses the music on the fellowship that accompanies friendship and community. To continue reading click this linkhttps://www.allaboutjazz.com/trumpet-ship-thomas-marriott-origin-records__30386.php

Jim Levitt Photos: Marc Seales Band at Jazz Alley

KNKX has teamed up with Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley to present Northwest Music Mondays, a nod to the vibrant Seattle jazz scene. This is a welcome addition to the monthly Seattle jazz calendar post-Tula’s. Jazz photographer extraordinaire, Jim Levitt, was there on the scene to capture the Marc Seales Band playing before a full house at the city’s most esteemed jazz stage. Seales was joined by trumpeter Thomas Marriott, bassist Chuck Deardorf, drummer Moyes Lucas, Jr., and guitarist Jesse Seales. Many thanks to Mr. Levitt for documenting Seattle jazz in such fine and vivid detail!

The Marc Seales Group performs at Jazz Alley, for a KNKX Northwest Music Monday show. Marc Seales, keyboards; Jesse Seales, guitar; Thomas Marriott, trumpet; Chuck Deardorf, bass; Moyes Lucas Jr, drums;
Thomas Marriott

Marc Seales and Chuck Dearforf

Jesse Seales

Marc Seales- piano; Moyes Lucas, Jr.- drums; Chuck Deardorf- bass

Marc Seales

Moyes Lucas, Jr. 

Chuck Deardorf

The Marc Seales Group performs at Jazz Alley, for a KNKX Northwest Music Monday show. Marc Seales, keyboards; Jesse Seales, guitar; Thomas Marriott, trumpet; Chuck Deardorf, bass; Moyes Lucas Jr, drums;

Live Review: Xavier Lecouturier Quintet/ Noah Halpern Trio- Jan 7/ Royal Room

Jazz music continually renews itself generationally with young and inspired talent, presenting an evolving and original approach to the art. The vibrant jazz scene in and around the city of Seattle is a recipient of that renewal at an accelerated pace. The city’s nationally acclaimed high school and university programs continue to churn out accomplished practitioners of the art, in some cases revealing game-changing talent that either remains in the area, or journeys to jazz meccas such as New York. Certainly, drummer/composer Xavier Lecouturier, and trumpeter/composer Noah Halpern fall into that category.

On a crisp Tuesday evening on January 7, the eclectic pair appeared in Columbia City at the Royal Room for two sets featuring their original compositions. Lecouturier’s quintet, and Halpern’s trio as well featured young trailblazing bassist/composer Ben Feldman, pianist/composer Dylan Hayes, saxophonist Rex Gregory and guitarist Ari Joshua. 

Xavier Lecouturier

To be fair, the time to refer to Lecouturier, Halpern, Feldman and Hayes as “young talent” has run its course. While Halpern would be the senior contributor of the bunch at age 23, the accomplishments of these four young men both on stage and in the studio more alludes to veteran accomplishment. Lecouturier released an album of original compositions on the respected Origin label this year titled Carrier (Origin, 2019). As well, he spent a year behind the kit for the Thomas Marriott Quintet while still a student at Cornish. All six musicians have been wise beyond their years in terms of getting real life education on the bandstand, outside of the clutches of academia. 

Rex Gregory

The first set featured Lecouturier’s quintet with Halpern being the lone non-participant. The opening salvo was Lecouturier’s composition “Aube,” a piece that well personifies his work as a composer. Each movement featured a melody built through a thick harmonic structure traversed by each soloist. Gregory’s work was especially insightful, with angular lines gaining ground through the dense ground laid before him by his bandmates. For those who have witnessed this music being performed live over the past year, it became immediately evident that the musicians were freer within the flow, Gregory’s solo personifying this new found comfort zone. Lecouturier’s polyrhythmic work behind the kit clearly pushed the music forward, acting as a de facto conductor.

Ben Feldman

The band’s interpretation of Lecouturier’s “Tempest” definitively stated that this music is finding a true identity as it is played, and played again by a contingent of players now familiar with the nuances of the work. As the piece began to swing, a deeper connection with the blues and jazz tradition evolved, creating space for off the rails solos by Gregory, Feldman, and Hayes.

Dylan Hayes

Ari Joshua

Set two featured Halpern in trio with Feldman and Lecouturier. The Seattle born trumpeter is now a New York resident, as is Feldman. Halpern performed seated, playing Wurlitzer electric piano along with his horn. Aside from a brief electronic repose, and an even briefer vocal daliance, the three long time friends demonstrated a warmth and familiarity throughout the set that spoke well to a sizeable crowd at the Columbia City nightspot. 

While Halpern offered finely tuned compositions, a three tune swing through brilliantly interpreted standards stood out above the fray, providing the audience with their most energetic support of the evening. Dizzy Gillespie’s “Dizzy Atmosphere” became a vehicle for Halpern to express his deep, rich voice, spoken freely with a vivid imagination, at one point referencing classic Gillespie. Feldman as well chimed in with a solo that included tonal clusters interspersed with agile melodic runs. He once again made the impression on the audience that they were witnessing something special from this young bassist not yet of legal age. 

Noah Halpern

An interpretation of “Body and Soul” followed, with Halpern offering in ballad mode, weaving in and around the melody. If you are of the school that believes a jazz musician truly shows their worth when interpreting a ballad- and I am- Halpern’s stark tonality, and Lecouturier’s deft brushwork spoke volumes to you. 

The highlight of the evening was Duke Pearson’s classic, “Gaslight,” adding another Seattle born musician currently making his residence in Gotham- tenor saxophonist Santosh Sharma. Sharma came out of the gate unhinged, playing an unrelenting solo in this chordless quartet format. Feldman and Lecouturier managed to lay down the foundation for the piece, while at the same time dodging in and out of Lecouturier’s polyrhythms. In all, it was a fine example of modern, forward thinking playing within the hard bop tradition. Hayes, whose reputation is more centered around his brilliant composing and arranging skills, comped and soloed on this piece sounding like a young McCoy Tyner. His star in Seattle continues to rise as a pianist aside from his compositional prowess. 

Santosh Sharma

It is an ongoing story in the history of Seattle jazz, that our young musicians take residence in New York City, the center of international jazz. We can look back generations, then moving forward and see that nothing in this fashion has changed. Many, or most, return. This evening represented a homecoming for these fine young players, performing on a respected stage in front of an engaged audience. As I stated earlier, the time to refer to Halpern, Lecouturier, Feldman, Santosh and Hayes as “generation next,” or “young guns” has past. Give these cats their due.  


Jim Levitt Photos: Marina Albero CD Release at the Royal Room

Jim Levitt is at it again, this time at Marina Albero’s CD Release at the Royal Room on December 17. Albero was celebrating the release of her 3 CD set, A Life Soundtrack before a full house, surrounded by friends, fans and family. 

Jim’s work is art in itself, with the vibrant Seattle jazz scene as a canvas. We are deeply appreciative for his work here at seattlejazzscene.com

Marina Albero celebrates the release of her three-volume recording A Life Soundtrack, with a concert at The Royal Room. Marina Albero- piano and hammered dulcimer; Hans Teuber- saxophone, flute; Jeff Johnson- bass; Jeff Busch- percussion; D’Vonne Lewis- drums; Serena Dominguez Albero-voice; Marcel Dominguez Albero- cajon, saxophone
Jeff Johnson

Serena Albero sings “Mi Secreto.”
Hans Teuber

Marina and Serena Albero

Marina Albero- psalterium

Marina Albero- piano; Jeff Johnson- bass; D’Vonne Lewis- drums; Jeff Busch- percussion

Marcel Dominguez- alto

Marina Albero performs with her son, Marcel Dominguez
Jeff Busch

Standing O, Music is Love

CD Review: Marina Albero- A Life Soundtrack

Attempts to characterize the music of Barcelona-born pianist Marina Albero seem to get lost in the details. She is not an artist who found herself within a passion for a particular form. That her music is the sum of her life experiences would be a factual description that would nonetheless fall short, given the far reaching, culturally diverse, and wildly meandering path that has occupied her first forty years. To continue reading, click this linkhttps://www.allaboutjazz.com/a-life-soundtrack-marina-albero-self-produced

CD Review- Charlie Porter: Immigration Nation

Jazz has always carried with it a social narrative with historical ebbs and flows reliant on the polarizing issues of its time. With Immigrant Nation (OA2, 2019), Portland based trumpeter Charlie Porter embraces the forever narrative of American immigration, the historical force of humanity that has formed and enriched this country from its beginnings. The linear timeline of American immigration that widened at the beginning of the twentieth century has narrowed due to the gut wrenching actions of the current administration, providing much artistic impetus to inspire a much needed reaction from the jazz community. Porter follows through with a view and statement from the collective lens of the musicians on this session. Much like Max Roach’s We Insist! (Candid, 1960), concerning the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, and Roxy Coss’ modern narrative piece, The Future is Female (Posi- Tone, 2018), Porter surrounds the listener with a social narrative that is rich musically, and open-ended poetically. To continue reading, follow this linkhttps://www.allaboutjazz.com/immigration-nation-charlie-porter-oa2-records

Jim Levitt Photos: Thomas Marriott and Friends From Philly- Oct 26, 2019/ Royal Room

Jazz beat photographer Jim Levitt was visiting family in California during a major portion of the 2019 Earshot Jazz Festival, but is back with a vengeance! Jim shared these fine shots of Thomas Marriott’s Earshot performance at the Royal Room, featuring friends from the Philadelphia jazz scene. 

Saxophonist Victor North offered his soaring tenor sound, working with Marriott on the front line of a quartet featuring a remarkable father-son tandem. Bassist Michael Boone is a veteran of the Philly scene, and a mentor to many young players on the rise there. Among them is his remarkable son, Mehki Boone, a 13 year old drummer with the presence, skills, and maturity of a seasoned, veteran player. 

CD Review- Kiki Valera: Vivencias en Clave Cubana

Son Cubano is a genre of music and dance originating from the hill country of eastern Cuba during the 19th century. Its origins are a blend of African and Spanish influences. Son vocal style and meter are of Spanish tradition, while its identifiable clave rhythm, call and response, and percussive elements are of Bantu origin.

Over the past century, the form has evolved, spreading its influence as the music was performed internationally by touring musicians. It manifested itself in the jazz world in New York in the 1960’s with the advent of salsa music. Son became the main form utilized in jam sessions known as descargas, incorporating tres, cuatro, trumpets, percussion, and piano. Buena Vista Social Club (World Circuit, 1996), a brilliant documentary film and album release from American musician Ry Cooder, helped popularize this form of pre-revolution Cuban music to audiences in the United States and Europe.

Kiki Valera is a Cuban cuatro master, formerly the director of one of the most influential bands in the history of Son Cubano-La Familia Valera Miranda. He currently resides in Seattle, and has released an album of twelve original compositions by Francisco Jose Freeman and Valera, Vivencias en Clave Cubana (Origin, 2019) on the highly regarded Origin Records label. To continue reading, click this link-https://www.allaboutjazz.com/vivencias-en-clave-cubana-kiki-valera-origin-records

Tula’s: The Final Weekend- Photographs From Lisa Hagen Glynn

Tula’s Jazz Club ended it’s vaunted 26 year run with two nights of music with old friends, and a late night hang not seen at the club in many years. It was a bittersweet time, in the end joyous in the form of the music that took place on the stage. 

Photographer Lisa Hagen Glynn was there, not just as a photographer, but on the hang as she often is at Tula’s. She captured some poignant moments, that will serve as portraits of this place that the Seattle jazz scene called home for  a quarter century. In that time, the best of the best in the Northwest played Tula’s, and as seen through the lens of Lisa, that standard was upheld to the end. 

Pianist Bill Anschell leads a trio on the final night at Tula’s- 9/29/2019


Bill Anschell- piano; D’Vonne Lewis- drums

Bassist Michael Glynn, last night at Tula’s, 9/29/2019

Jam at the last night of Tula’s- Michael Brockman- tenor; Mark Taylor- alto; Anton Schwartz- tenor; Michael Glynn- bass


And then we sing- Kelley Johnson, Gail Pettis, Stephanie Porter, adnd Jacqueline Tabor, last night at Tula’s 9/29/2019
Mack Waldron, last night at Tula’s, 9/29/2019

The club, and the couple that created it- Mack and Tula Waldron

The gang on Saturday night, 9/28/2019

Marc Seales- piano; Thomas Marriott- trumpet; Susan Pascal- vibes; Jeff Johnson- bass; D’Vonne Lewis- drums


Greta Matassa and Thomas Marriott, last weekend at Tula’s, 9/28/2019

Marc Seales, last weekend at Tula’s, 9/28/2019

Thomas Marriott performs at Tula’s on the last weekend.

Thomas Marriott

Mack, Tula, Jason, and Heather, last night at Tula’s

Seattle jazz royalty- Mack and Tula Waldron, last night at Tula’s, 9/29/2019

Photos: Thomas Marriott Quintet- last date at Tula’s

As the final week of Tula’s remarkable 26 year run approaches, we as jazz fans are witness to the final performances of the club’s foundational talent, of those artists who made live, resident based jazz thrive in Belltown. Artists such as vocalist Greta Matassa,pianists Marc Seales and Bill Anschell, vibraphonist Susan Pascal, and trumpeter Thomas Marriott have all left their mark on the city’s jazz legacy from the stage at Tula’s.

Photographer Jim Levitt has been as integral as anybody in terms of documenting the inspired jazz scene in Seattle over the last quarter century. While photographic documentation of historic Seattle jazz rooms such as the Black & Tan, Parnell’s, and Jazz Alley’s former home on University Way is scant at best, enthusiastic photographers such as Levitt, Daniel Sheehan, and Lisa Hagen Glynn have provided in depth imagery of Tula’s storied run.

Mr. Levitt recently shared some photographs of Thomas Marriott’s last gig as a leader at Tula’s on September 14. Marriott has been playing at Tula’s since he was a teenager in a band with his brother, trombonist David Marriott, Jr.. Taking quality photographs in the dimly lit confines of the club is no easy task. These were too exceptional  not to share- many thanks to our brother and noted jazz foot soldier, Jim Levitt!

Thomas Marriott leads his Quintet in a final show, two weeks before Tula’s Jazz Club in Seattle closes after 26 years. Thomas Marriott, trumpet; Rick Mandyck, saxophone; Tim Kennedy, piano; Jeff Johnson, bass; John Bishop, drums
Pianist Tim Kennedy at Tula’s with the Thomas Marriott Quintet. 9/14/2019

Tim Kennedy, Thomas Marriott, and Rick Mandyck perform one last time at Tula’s.

Tenor saxophonist Rick Mandyck, and drummer John Bishop with the Thomas Marriott Quintet at Tula’s 9/14/2019

A most dynamic duo- drummer John Bishop and bassist Jeff Johnson at Tula’s, 9/14/2019.

Thomas Marriott leads his Quintet in a final show, two weeks before Tula’s Jazz Club in Seattle closes after 26 years.Thomas Marriott, trumpet;Rick Mandyck, saxophone;Tim Kennedy, piano;Jeff Johnson, bass;John Bishop, drums 9/14/2019

Thomas Marriott leads his Quintet in a final show, two weeks before Tula’s Jazz Club in Seattle closes after 26 years.Thomas Marriott, trumpet;Rick Mandyck, saxophone;Tim Kennedy, piano;Jeff Johnson, bass;John Bishop, drums 9/14/2019

Trumpeter Thomas Marriott, and saxophonist Rick Mandyck at Tula’s, 9/14/2019.

Iconic jazz radio voice Jim Wilke, recording the Thomas Marriott Quintet at their final Tula’s performance on 9/14/2019. 

Tula’s Jazz Club: Soliloquy to a Seattle Jazz Institution

photo of Tula’s by Daniel Sheehan

It was the tail end of a long weekend. Temperatures had risen to 80 degrees under a sunny only-in-Seattle blue sky, the waterways and markets humming with a sea of humanity. It was not a night one would expect many to venture into the quiet, dark solitude of Tula’s Jazz Club, where for nearly 26 years the best of Seattle’s vibrant jazz scene had come to roost. The scene up and down Second Avenue in Belltown was its usual interesting mosaic of bars, restaurants, and music clubs. With no outdoor access, or air conditioning, Tula’s manager Jason Moore was not expecting a big turnout. This was Seattle, and when the weather turns warm and sunny, Seattleites tend to shake off a little rust and soak in the sun while they can. To continue reading, click here
https://www.allaboutjazz.com/tulas-jazz-club-soliloquy-to-a-seattle-jazz-institution-by-paul-rauch.php

25 Images From The 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival

The Ballard Jazz Festival spreads out over 4 days in 11 different locations, making it a logistical challenge in many ways. Traversing and documenting  the festival’s four events as a photographer begins in the tight, brick lined confines of Conor Byrne Pub, moves to the spacious Nordic Museum Auditorium, and ends with a ten venue jazz walk that covers a fair patch of ground in itself.

The festival has been extremely fortunate over the years to have jazz photographer Jim Levitt on the scene, and the 17th edition was no exception. For the second year running, he was joined by Lisa Hagen Glynn who has been doing great work around the Seattle music scene, in and out of jazz. Levitt’s knack for finding special moments in time seems to have passed on to Hagen Glynn, with both contributing images that define the soul of the festival. 

The Steve Korn Quartet at Celebration of the Drum, opening the 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival, featuring three groups led by drummers.Steve Korn, drums;Dawn Clement, keyboard;Mark Taylor, saxophone;Paul Gabrielson, bass

The Steve Korn Quartet at Celebration of the Drum, opening the 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival, featuring three groups led by drummers.Steve Korn, drums;Dawn Clement, keyboard;Mark Taylor, saxophone;Paul Gabrielson, bass
“Guitar Summit” at the 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival, featuring three guitarist-led groups. John Stowell and friends open the show.John Stowell, guitar;Rick Mandyke, saxophone;Jeff Johnson, bass;John Bishop, drums
Lage Lund leads a trio at the 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival “Guitar Summit.”Lage Lund, guitar;Michael Glynn, bass;Matt Jorgensen, drums
Kathy Moore leads a sizzling trio at the 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival “Guitar Summit.”Kathy Moore, guitar and vocals;Jeremy Lightfoot, bass and vocals;Ruby Dunphy, drums
Ernie Watts with New Stories, at the 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival Mainstage Concert.Ernie Watts, saxophone;Marc Seales, piano;Doug Miller, bass;John Bishop, drums
Ernie Watts with New Stories, at the 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival Mainstage Concert.Ernie Watts, saxophone;Marc Seales, piano;Doug Miller, bass;John Bishop, drums
Jazz radio legend JIm Wilke MC’s the 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival

Robin Lloyd from Knkx and the JJA, presents JJA Jazz Hero Award to John Bishop, and Matt Jorgensen

The 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk presents 17 groups, in 10 venues, in the historic old Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Thomas Marriott, and Rick Mandyck at Kula Movement. 

The 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk presents 17 groups, in 10 venues, in the historic old Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Thomas Marriott, Rick Mandyck, Jeff Johnson, and John Bishop perform at Kula Movement

The 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk presents 17 groups, in 10 venues, in the historic old Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Brittany Anjou Trio with Evan Flory-Barnes, and Todd Bishop. 

The 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk presents 17 groups, in 10 venues, in the historic old Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Brittany Anjou and Overton Berry

The 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk presents 17 groups, in 10 venues, in the historic old Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Xavier Lecouturier
The 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk presents 17 groups, in 10 venues, in the historic old Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Ben Feldman

Matt Jorgensen at the Ballard Jazz Walk

John Bishop performs at the Ballard Jazz Walk

Jacqueline Tabor performing at Bad Albert’s, on the Ballard Jazz Walk 2019

Jacqueline Tabor Quartet with Cole Schuster, Geoff Harper, and Max Holmberg- 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk

Johnaye Kendrick at the Cathedral, 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk

Johnaye Kendrick with Chris Synmer, 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk

Nathan Breedlove at the Cathedral, 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk
Dylan Hayes performing at Conor Byrne, 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk

Cymbal and Gong raffle winner Rebecca Wade with Matt Jorgensen

Conor Byrne Pub, Celebration of the Drum, 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival

CD Review- Chuck Deardorf: Perception

Before the tech revolution that has ushered in an era of unprecedented growth and global recognition, the city of Seattle was a bit of an outpost in the world of jazz. Since the 1920s, the city has enjoyed a vibrant and innovative jazz scene, often resulting in local musicians backing major international touring artists. The emerald city has spawned such renowned jazz icons as Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Larry Coryell and Ernestine Anderson as well. 

In the 1970s and early 1980s, bassist Chuck Deardorf was often on call to perform with touring artists at the city’s vaunted jazz spots, Parnell’s and Jazz Alley. Major artists such as Kenny Burrell, Chet Baker, Larry Coryell, and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson would be the fortunate recipients of his solid sense of time, marvelous articulation, and innovative solo work. To continue reading, follow this link:
https://www.allaboutjazz.com/perception-chuck-deardorf-origin-records-review-by-paul-rauch.php

CD Review: Thomas Marriott- Romance Language

Trumpeter Thomas Marriott has established his jazz credentials over the years through a collection of beautifully inspired and well received albums on the Origin Records label. His formidable chops, extensive vocabulary, respect for tradition and penchant for musical adventurism has put him into the conversation concerning the top practitioners of his instrument in modern times. Marriott has the rare ability to look deeply into the matter at hand, whether it be through interpretation of classic repertoire, or performing his deeply reflective and emotive original compositions. To continue reading, follow this link
https://www.allaboutjazz.com/romance-language-thomas-marriott-origin-records-review-by-paul-rauch.php

CD Review: Jay Thomas with The Oliver Groenewald Newnet- I Always Knew

Jay Thomas has lived the jazz life. He has endured, overcome, and continued to artistically thrive through all the ruminations of a path chosen by few. While much of his life may form a parallel story to those of many, Thomas’ version, his personal adjunct to its litany, is a story of artistic triumph that opened doors seldom walked through. It is a musical legacy in Seattle, unmatched in the colorful history of jazz in his hometown, documented by a number of recordings on several small labels. He as well is among the few musicians in jazz to be featured on both trumpet and saxophone, and in his case, play them both with virtuosity. His skills are as well applied fondly to the flute, and clarinet. To continue reading, follow this linkhttps://www.allaboutjazz.com/i-always-knew-jay-thomas-with-the-oliver-groenewald-newnet-origin-records-review-by-paul-rauch.php

S

Randy Halberstadt: Open Heart

Pianist Randy Halberstadt has a new record on Origin, after an eight year hiatus from the studio. It features many of the top names in Seattle jazz, including Mark Taylor, Ben Thomas, Jay Thomas, David Marriott, Jr., and Chuck Deardorf. Read the review and buy the CD!

Seattle based pianist Randy Halberstadt has been a major figure on the jazz scene in the Pacific Northwest for several decades, applying his talents as a pianist, composer, educator, and author. He has four previous releases as a leader, most recently with Flash Point (Origin, 2010). So yes, it has been some time since we last heard from the multidimensional pianist…..to continue reading, follow this link:https://www.allaboutjazz.com/open-heart-randy-halberstadt-origin-records-review-by-paul-rauch.php

Johnaye Kendrick: Flying

Once, maybe twice in a generation, a singer enters the world of jazz and captivates the genre so dominated by jazz instrumentalists. There are qualities in the voice, delivery, the exquisite phrasing, and inexhaustible ability to deliver a narrative in such a way that expresses the jazz and blues tradition in a special and personal way. Johnaye Kendrick is one of those singers. Upon graduating from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, then sequestered at Loyola University in New Orleans, Kendrick was hired by trumpeter Nicholas Payton, who remarked, “Johnaye has the potential to be a vocalist of the highest order, the likes of which we have seen seldom since the grande dames of the golden era of jazz roamed the earth. She’s got it!”  Continue reading here-

https://www.allaboutjazz.com/flying-johnaye-kendrick-johnygirl-review-by-paul-rauch.php

John Coltrane Birthday Celebration: Charles Owens Interview

The annual John Coltrane Birthday Celebration at Tula’s has become a symbolic jazz new year of sorts. It is performed in a time of transition in the northwest, when we begin to seek a bit more shelter both without and within.

The music of Coltrane is a spiritually unifying force of nature, a gust of wind to push our humanity ever forward to each new day.

Each year, event organizer Matt Jorgensen brings in special guests to offer their interpretations of Coltrane’s art. This year saxophonist Charles Owens is our guest, arriving from Charlottesville, VA. along with New York-based bassist Ben Shapiro. The two will form a quartet with Jorgensen on drums and pianist Marc Seales. In a way, it continues a tradition that began on Jackson St., and continues to this day of welcoming great players from yonder scenes and surrounding them with the best the Seattle jazz scene has to offer.

Owens was so kind as to answer a few questions, and provide some insight as to who he is as an artist, and what we might anticipate at this year’s performances.

You spent 12 years on the scene in New York City and moved to Charlottesville VA. Talk about your reasons for the change, and how that transition has been for you musically.

The year 2002 was a big one for me. I got married, turned 30, and my wife became pregnant with our first child. I was looking for a better life for myself and my family, I was looking for some space and some quiet. I grew up in VA and my mom has some property out in the country. So we moved out there to get our footing and then shortly thereafter moved to Charlottesville. Being in VA as a musician has been beautiful! I am a big part of the scene in Cville but also in Richmond which is a short drive away. I play and record with guys in Butcher Brown like Devonne Harris (DJ Harrison) Corey Fonville, Andrew Randazzo, Morgan Burrs, and Marcus Tenney as well as guys like Kelli Strawbridge on drums Cameron Ralston (Matthew E White) on bass.  Also, there’s a great bunch of cats in Richmond that are in a band called Future Prospect. I love to gig with them. Cleandre Foster, Brandon Lane, Jacob Ungerleider, Trey Sorrels. In Charlottesville, I have the pleasure of playing with guys like Dane Alderson who’s the bass player in the Yellowjackets and John D’earth who is a master trumpeter and improviser. He was really close with many people in the Brecker generation in NY. All of these people and more have indeed changed my playing. Virginia has a laid back, funky, and soulful vibe. Virginia music is greasy and sexy and hot. It’s got its own special sauce that everybody needs to experience. I treasure what its done to my saxophone playing, improvising, writing and arranging.

You are often linked stylistically to John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Wayne Shorter. How do you use those voices to create and impact your own voice as a player?

Well, those men had a huge hand in creating Charles Owens the improvising saxophonist, so the voices have created, and continue to impact my sound. I don’t just study their playing but I also study the spirit in which they bring forth their truth. These men played in a way that spoke to humans through key facets of their humanity. Their music appeals to people on a visceral level because they are accessing the most truthful regions of their muse, and bringing to fruition sublime improvised musical art. I want to create at this level 100% of the time.

You are coming to Seattle to be featured at the annual John Coltrane Birthday Celebration at Tula’s Jazz Club. First off, how did this association with Seattle come to be?

I was lucky enough to attend the New School for Social Research (Jazz performance and composition)  in NYC alongside the amazing Seattle drummer Matt Jorgensen and the great Seattle based bassist Ben Shapiro. Matt and I had been talking for a while about playing together again and when the Coltrane celebration came up, we all thought it would be a perfect fit and opportunity for us to make it happen. I’m so grateful! This will be my first time in Seattle and I’m thrilled.

Coltrane was a primal force that forged so many creative pathways through the music. How will you approach this performance as a saxophonist? Will it be more of a repertory approach, or will you seek more personal insights into the music?

I’ve been playing Coltrane’s music since I was a teenager. These songs are simply part of the Black American Music Canon. We will certainly choose compositions that span his career and make sure that the repertoire is varied in tempo, tone, and timbre. I will approach this music saxophonistically the same way I approach all music. I will be calm, clear and confident. I will gain my inspiration from a mix of spirituality, intellect, and passion. I will treat this and every opportunity to play music for my fellow humans as a sacred and rarified privilege. I will have an open heart and mind and proceed without fear.

With so much material to choose from, how do you go about selecting a set of music from the vast Coltrane library?

For me, it’s the compositions that have meant the most to me personally over the years and also the ones that I enjoy improvising on. But we will also rely on the tried and true method of putting a good set together which is to not have songs with a varied tempos, feels and forms.  We want to produce a different mood and vibration on every song so as to make it a rich and satisfying experience for us and the audience. Luckily we have a wide range of genius material from which to choose. We will also put in a couple of songs from the American songbook that were favorites of Coltrane’s.

You performed “A Love Supreme” in Charlottesville last year at UVA. In preparing for, and performing this music, did it at all impact your personal view of this classic?

It had a huge impact on my personal view of the album. I actually performed the suite in Richmond two years before the Charlottesville performance. I never dreamed I would be in a place where I could convincingly perform the Suite. So when the opportunity arose I made sure to prepare thoroughly. I studied the transcriptions heavily and memorized passages that I thought were classic parts and then improvised other parts. This was his ultimate opus. He is thanking God for his life and acknowledging that to him God is the only thing he is doing anything for forever.

This is going to be your first visit to Seattle. The city is noted for its eclectic music scene.  What have you learned about Seattle, and what do you anticipate encountering on the scene here?

I know little about the music scene in Seattle other than every musician I’ve played with from there has been great. Matt Jorgensen, Shawn Schlogel, and Max Holmberg.

Coltrane transitioned his sound towards the end of his life, employing what he saw as a spiritual approach, a soul cleansing series of cries and vocalized effects. Some in the audience did not receive the music in the same light in which Coltrane created and performed it. What is your personal perception of this period of Coltrane’s sound, and what impact did it have on your approach to playing?

Coltrane always pushed himself forward and never seemed to want to stay in the same place for long. This is one of the normal hallmarks of an artist/creative person. It’s really the same old story. An artist becomes popular by doing their art in a certain way. That art lives in the fans heart as sublime. Then the artist pushes themselves to create something new (again) with the same energy, focus, and attitude that they used in the past. The established fan usually reacts in 1 of 2 ways- they move forward with their artist despite the fact that things are different, or they stop and stick with what they like about the artist and pine away for “the old stuff.” This is what happened with Trane. I don’t listen to as much of his avant-garde as I do Crescent, A Love Supreme, Coltrane’s Sound etc., but I still do listen. The thing that has most influenced me from his later work is how much his tone continued to evolve, Listening to his tone on the Olatunji Concert recordings makes me feel that he had transcended the saxophone and turned it into his interstellar voice of his worship. No one has ever evoked the universal power of love through a saxophone like him. I learned a lot from the vocalized effects as well. One of my first gigs in NYC was with Reggie Workman’s ensemble at the Knitting Factory. We were playing free, free, free as a bird. Many of the things I’d heard Trane doing, I did especially on those gigs.

Jazz education has become largely institutionalized in modern times, much like classical music in the twentieth century. So many giants of the form learned through the oral tradition, with mentorship provided by the experienced players of the day. Talk about your own personal experience learning the saxophone and jazz music, and how that experience has impacted your approach as an educator.

I’ve been quite lucky to have great saxophone teachers. Ralph Lalama, Joe Lovano, Grant Sewart, Eric Alexander, Makanda McIntyre, Arnie Lawrence. I’ve never had a “big break” gig with a master. The people that I learned the most about actual improvisation though were John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, and Charlie Parker. I learned a lot about swing from Duke Ellington and Count Basie.  I also came up in NYC in the 90’s at my home club, Smalls. I met, and hung out with, listened to, and learned from just about every great jazz musician you could think of that was still around at the time. Smalls was the place where I really learned what the music should sound like, and more importantly, the attitude and ethos one needs in order to be a successful improviser, performer, bandleader, and composer. My first gig in NYC was running the Sunday jam session at the Village Gate. That’s where I first met people like Brad Mehldau, Dwayne Burno, Ben Wolfe, Leon Parker, Gonna Okegwo, Ari Roland, just to name a VERY few. I also learned a lot during my time at the New School. Some of my teachers there included Jim Hall, Buster Williams, Jimmy Cobb, Bernard Purdie, Peter Bernstein, Reggie Workman… I also was lucky enough to take some advanced jazz harmony classes with Kenny Werner. But I also never stop learning and growing and pushing myself to be better. So I woke up this morning with the same attitude towards music and saxophone that I’ve always had. How can I be better? When I educate people on the tradition of Black American Music, I am very careful to point out that the concepts that we cover are intellectual, but this music needs more than just intellectuality. The other essential ingredients are spirituality and passion.

Environment and lifestyle impacts culture on all levels, including music. New York is like an incubator for new talent, and is unquestionably the living gathering place for jazz, convening sounds from all over the world. The energy and whirlwind of cultural activity drives the music and seems to give it an ardent physicality like nowhere else.  Seattle is a touch more relaxed, reflecting the physical beauty and lifestyle of the Pacific Northwest. Talk about the musical environment in Charlottesville, your current residence, and how it differs from other musical scenes you have encountered.

Charlottesville has a wide variety of bands in different genres. It reminds me a lot of other scenes in other cities, just smaller. The energy is, of course, more relaxed and certainly reflects the terrain of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I love the scene here though. Being in Cville and Richmond has taught me that it’s cool to relax and not go for the “touchdown” solo every time. It’s helped me to let go of my ego and not play solos where I’m “checking boxes” i.e the out part, the fast part, the part, the altissimo part, where I trick the audience into clapping more etc… It’s taught me that it’s ok to groove and be sparse and play longer notes. That VA grease!

What projects are you currently engaged in?

I am of course busy with my trio and quartet but I also play in a wide variety of bands here in VA and NYC.

Jack Kilby and the Front Line. Drummer Jack Kilby is about to release his debut album and it’s gonna be amazing. I wrote a song for the Album titled “Love Is A Song Anyone Can Sing.” Jack liked the tune so much that he named the album after it and has taken the concept and run with it. We have a couple of release shows in October and the album is just fantastic. Allyn Johnson, Kris Monson, John D’earth, and Antonio Hart are playing on it.

I am in a band called The ATM Unit that plays every Monday at a club called Rapture here in Cville. The band is lead by Australian electric bass virtuoso Dane Alderson who is also currently in the Yellowjackets. It’s a fusion sound coming out of bands like Yellowjackets, Weather Report, Steps Ahead, etc. It is such a killer band and it’s been a fun challenge learning all the new music.

Reginald Chapman is a great bass trombonist and composer formerly with No BS Brass Band. He has just released a fantastic album called Prototype, and I will be playing his VA release shows in September.

I also play with a ton of great rock, funk, and should bands. I stay very busy with recording sessions, and I have a full studio of wonderful private saxophone, theory and improvisation students. I’m also a pianist and stay busy with solo piano work and duo work with singers.

What can we expect from Charles Owens in the near future in terms of recordings and live performances?

Well, Jack Kilby’s album is on deck next. I just recorded a live album at Smalls with the great Joel Frahm on tenor saxophone, Ari Hoenig on drums and Alexander Claffy on bass. That was released back in April. The next record I want to do will be a trio record with electric bass, drums, and saxophone. I am currently compiling repertoire and testing it out on gigs. My M.O. for recording is to gig with material/band for a year then go to the studio for one day and record it all. I just got a new horn so I will be playing a lot on it before I decide to go back to the studio again.

 

Bongwool Lee: My Singing Fingers

Seattle based Origin Records has released the debut recording of Korean born pianist Bongwool Lee. A young classical piano prodigy in her native Korea, Lee gravitated to jazz, and offers a unique sound and approach to jazz composition and improvisation.

Much has been written about the different creative processes engaged between classical and jazz musicians, more specifically, as applied to the collective worlds of jazz and classical piano. New York based pianist Bongwool Lee has an intimate relationship with these perceived differences. Born and raised in Seoul, Korea, she was exposed by her parents to a variety of music at a very early age, winning her country’s acclaimed Samik Competition at age seven. Considered a prodigy in the classical world, Lee’s focus shifted to jazz upon hearing Oscar Peterson on the radio. After graduating as a music major from Dongduk Women’s University, she relocated to New York City, where she engaged in jazz studies at the Manhattan School of Music earning a Master’s degree. More importantly, she engaged in and began to flourish on the heralded jazz scene in Gotham. Continue reading here

https://www.allaboutjazz.com/my-singing-fingers-bongwool-lee-origin-records-review-by-paul-rauch.php

CD Review- Chamber 3: Transatlantic

Chamber 3 began as a trio effort started by German guitarist Christian Eckert, and Seattle based drummer Matt Jorgensen, who forged a friendship while studying at the New School in New York in the early nineties. Over the years, they engaged in many projects and tours together, culminating in this project that includes German tenor saxophonist Steffen Weber. The band added a fourth member in the person of Seattle bassist Phil Sparks for their last release, Grassroots (OA2, 2017), and returns the same lineup for the new Origin release, Transatlantic (OA2, 2018).

Continue reading here https://www.allaboutjazz.com/transatlantic-matt-jorgensen-origin-records-review-by-paul-rauch.php