The month of July features festivals in Port Townsend and Ellensburg, but the jazz beat in the city goes on, this month largely at Tula’s. In a month when indoor venues struggle in Seattle, Tula’s brings in some heavy hitters with the likes of George Cables, Gary Smulyan, Matt Wilson, Dawn Clement, and Chuck Deardorf. Top resident players Thomas Marriott, Marc Seales, Jovino Santos Neto, and Susan Pascal lead bands as well. Saxophonist Kate Olson makes her debut at the Belltown jazz spot, as does guitarist RL Heyer. 

Bruce Phares Reunion Quartet with Jay Thomas, John Bishop & Bill Anschell – Fri Jul 5, 7:30 PM/ Tula’s

 A reunion 30 years in the making, bassist Bruce Phares continues his journey down the comeback trail, reuniting with three stalwarts of the Seattle jazz scene. Bassist Jeff Johnson has developed an original sound, and trailblazing approach to the double bass, as has been heard on his solo albums for Origin Records, countless recordings as a sideman, and live performances around the world. Drummer John Bishop has joined Johnson on many projects over the years, including the groundbreaking rubato trio with pianist Hal Galper. He has established international regard not only as a top shelf drummer, but as founder of the Seattle based indie jazz label, Origin Records. Pianist Bill Anschell is the author of numerous albums as a leader, and has gained international recognition as a music director, radio host, and valued sideman. Jay Thomas is a Seattle jazz icon, and one of the few who can excel on a world class level on both brass and woodwind instruments.

Bill Anschell Standards Trio with Jeff Johnson & D’Vonne Lewis- Sat July 6, 7:30 PM/ Tula’s

The art of the trio is a delicate balance between musicians revolving around a common center, always in the moment. One never knows what will happen with pianist Bill Anschell behind the wheel of this vehicle of spontaneity. Jeff Johnson and D’Vonne Lewis are the perfect compliment to Anschell’s in the moment intuition. This is one of the true highlights of jazz music this summer in Seattle.

Tim Kennedy Residency Quintet- Tue July 9, 7:30 PM/ Tula’s

Each month, pianist Tim Kennedy welcomes the best of the Seattle jazz scene to Tula’s for his continuing residency. The results are always interesting. This month he welcomes trumpeter Thomas Marriott, on the heels of his new Origin release, Romance Language. Saxophonist Stuart MacDonald completes the front line, with bassist Eric Hullander, and drummer Jeremy Shanock rounding out this memorable quintet.

Thomas Marriott Quintet- Sat July 13, 7:30 PM/ Tula’s

Trumpeter Thomas Marriott has for some time now been one of the true can’t miss performers in Seattle. With the release of his 11th album on Origin, Romance Language, he focuses on beauty and its impact on the human soul. He as well has a way of surrounding himself with an inspired cast, this month featuring tenor icon, Rick Mandyck. Veteran bassist and long time pal Phil Sparks joins as well, with pianist Bill Anschell, and uber talented drummer D’Vonne Lewis rounding out the band. Anschell in himself is worth the price of admission, with his superb technique, and marvelous musical imagination always probing, and pushing the music forward. Marriott’s star has been rising as of late, not only with his new album, but as a member of Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band.

Richard Cole Quartet with John Bishop, Chris Symer & Bill Anschell- Sun July 14, 7:30 PM/ Tula’s

Known for his eclectic, uncompromising approach to the tenor saxophone, Richard Cole always has a surprise or two in hand for each of his shows at Tula’s. Pianist Bill Anschell, and drummer John Bishop have long been willing participants in his musical adventurism, adding their own incendiary wisdom to the proceedings. Bassist Chris Symer is in a word, musical. His playing adds just the right amount of bottom line to go with his melodic approach to the double bass. A great way to end the weekend, in the intimate confines of this historic club in Belltown.

Jacqueline Tabor Jazz Band- Thu July 18, 7:30 PM/ Tula’s

Vocalist Jacqueline Tabor is a confident, skilled singer and entertainer, who reminds us verse by verse that jazz is not jazz, unless it has a connection with the blues. Tabor has that, and so much more. She has the ability to incorporate real emotion into her sound, while providing a sense of strength, irony and just plain fun into the experience of seeing her live. On this date, she is joined by first call pianist John Hansen, bassist Greg Feingold, and uber talented drummer D’Vonne Lewis. Saxophonist Michael Brockman is her special guest.

Chuck Deardorf & Dawn Clement with Jay Thomas, Mark Taylor & Julian MacDonough- Wed July 17, 7:30 PM/ Tula’s

Bassist Chuck Deardorf and pianist Dawn Clement formed a special musical bond working together on the staff of Cornish College of the Arts. Clement has since moved on to Denver, reuniting with her friend and colleague for a special performance at Tula’s. Deardorf has long been the first call bassist in Seattle, in a career that has now spanned some 40 years. Special guest Jay Thomas is in that category as well, with a jazz resume that dates back half a century. Alto saxophonist Mark Taylor has appeared on over 100 recordings, including his two releases as a leader. He has long been considered by many as the finest saxophonist in town. Drummer Julian MacDonough can swing with the best of them, and has a tendency to push and energize the proceedings. Any chance to see Clement is well worthwhile, with her grinding, physical piano style embellished beautifully by her tender, emotive style as a vocalist. This is a can’t miss date on the Seattle jazz calendar!

Susan Pascal Quartet- Sat July 20, 7:30 PM/ Tula’s

Vibraphonist Susan Pascal has been holding down her weekend engagements at Tula’s for quite some time now, and for good reason. Her approach to the instrument provides glimpses of such luminaries as Gary Burton, Bobby Hutcherson, and Milt Jackson, while maintaining a personal sound. Her long time quartet features three of the best Seattle has to offer. Bassist Chuck Deardorf, and pianist Bill Anschell are iconic Seattle players. Drummer Mark Ivester is a veritable standard for time and articulation.

Racer Sessions: Carmen Rothwell- Sun July 21, 8 PM/ Cafe Racer

Seattle born and raised bassist Carmen Rothwell has been in NYC for almost four years now, moving there after graduating from the UW Jazz Studies program. She was performing with Cuong Vu, Ted Poor and Bill Frisell among others before graduating. She returns home to perform at the Racer Sessions, which grew out of the UW program during her time there. Rothwell is intuitive, versatile, and innovative, and is receiving rave reviews in Gotham. This session is a great opportunity to welcome her home, and gather what new directions she has ventured out on since departing.

Kate Olson of the K.O. Ensemble pauses, as she performs at the Royal Room in Seattle, Washington, on Nov. 29, 2018. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)

Kate Olson Ensemble- Tue July 23- 7:30 PM/ Tula’s

Saxophonist Kate Olson entered the Seattle jazz scene through the Racer Sessions, and ever since has been probing the scene, looking for her voice. Her projects have taken in the avant-garde, experimented with electronics, and as well has delved into the trad-jazz world. With this ensemble, she appears to have discovered an approach that combines the sum of her experiences, with a post-bop sensibility. The fact that she is playing Tula’s for the first time as a leader should speak to that. Pianist Alex Guilbert, and drummer Max Wood have been mainstays in this band, while for this performance, the ever-innovative bassist Evan Flory-Barnes adds an adventuresome spirit.

Marc Seales Band- Fri July 26, 7:30 PM/ Tula’s

Pianist/keyboardist Marc Seales has a legacy of great performances that spans more than three decades in Seattle. His star has risen steadily over the years internationally, largely due to his association with artists such as Ernie Watts. Seales brings something new to the bandstand each month at Tula’s, drawing from the best players in the Pacific Northwest. His intuitive, spontaneous creativity is steeped in the jazz tradition, yet with the inspiration to journey beyond.

Jay Thomas with George Cables & Friends- with Gary Smulyan, Matt Wilson, Michael Glynn

Seattle jazz legend Jay Thomas is known for his world class chops on both trumpet and saxophone, a rarity in the history of the genre. Along the way he has made friends with some of the best players the jazz world has known. On this evening, the great pianist George Cables will join him, along with baritone saxophone great, Gary Smulyan. Drummer/composer Matt Wilson joins in the fun as well, with first call bassist Michael Glynn holding down the fort. To see all of this elite talent in a small club like Tula’s is the rarest of treats for Seattle jazz fans, and not to be missed!

Ben Feldman & Friends featuring Johnaye Kendrick- Wed July 31, 7:30 PM/ Tula’s

Seattle born and raised bassist Ben Feldman has been a force on the local scene since his time at Garfield High School. That was not so long ago, as Feldman returns to Seattle after a year in New York at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music. Feldman leads a trio with Portland based drummer Domo Branch, and pianist Jahari Stampley from Chicago. Vocal artist Johnaye Kendrick adds another dimension to this trio that features boundary pushing, original music. For fans of Feldman himself, it will be fun to see him in action after a year in New York under the tutelage of Buster Williams.

The Alchemy of Improvisation: Will Lone, Abbey Blackwell, Daniel Salka- Wed July 31, 8 PM/ Chapel Performance Space at Good Shepherd Center

The Alchemy of Improvisation is an improvised music project featuring bassist Abbey Blackwell, pianist Daniel Salka, and drummer Will Lone. The trio attempts to access the mystical qualities of sound in what they describe as “an alchemical process of music making in which consciousness transmutes sound, and sound transmutes consciousness.” Blackwell is fast establishing herself as one of the true up and coming talents on the jazz and improvised music scene, and is reason enough to venture to this gig with an open mind. The question is, will this trio’s sound expand beyond the realm of three, and impact the audience in a meaningful way?

Seattle Jazz