On the Scene: Featured Seattle Jazz Performances for December

The Racer Sessions- Sun Dec 1,8,15,22,29- 8 PM/ Cafe Racer

Sunday sessions at Cafe Racer have always invited innovation, originality and forward thinking, making the weekly session an essential hang on the jazz scene in Seattle. The website is generally not kept current, making the actual artists performing on a given night a shot in the dark. It’s always =worth a shot to take in the Sunday scene. https://www.facebook.com/racersessions/

The Beaver Sessions- Sun Dec 1-8-15-22-29, 9 PM/ Angry Beaver

Who would ever think a jazz jam session would reside weekly at a hockey bar in Greenwood. Drummer Max Holmberg’s crazy notion has taken root, and manifests in a weekly session of note, becoming all the more important as a social and musical gathering in Seattle post Tula’s. It’s a bit of a jaunt north for south end jazz fans, but worth the drive or journey on Metro bus #5. https://beaversessions.com/

Entremundos Quartet- Sun Dec 8, 6 PM/ Pacific Room Alki

The Pacific Room Alki has taken on much of the jazz community that performed at Tula’s. The room has a good vibe, good food and drink, and stunning views of Salish Sea. There is a bit of work to do in terms of professional presentation and the quality of the piano is questionable. Entremundos Quartet is a multi-cultural band featuring Brazilian vocalist Adriana Giordano and pianist Eric Verlinde. Drummer/percussionist Jeff Busch brings his talents acquired from his worldwide travels studying global percussive currents. Bassist Dean Schmidt has earned the nickname “Dino Latino” because of his prowess with Latin Jazz and its multiplicity of form and rhythm. This band always brings a good vibe and potent virtuosity. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/entremundos-quarteto-live-at-pacific-room-alki-tickets-80556184717

Kareem Kandi Band- Fri Dec 13, 7 PM/ Pacific Room Alki

Tacoma based tenor saxophonist Kareem Kandi may be the hardest working musician in the region. He tends to pair things down to a trio these days, but offers a more diverse and full bodied performance when he includes a pianist in the mix. Kandi is a fine player and a veteran entertainer, making his first appearance at Pacific Room Alki. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/kareem-kandi-band-live-at-pacific-room-alki-tickets-73649735341

Mike Stern/Jeff Lorber Fusion featuring Dave Weckl & Jimmy Haslip- Tue Dec 3, 7:30 PM/ Jazz Alley

Touring in support of their new album Eleven, veteran fusion all-stars Mike Stern (guitar), Jeff Lorber (keyboards), Jimmy Haslip (bass), and Dave Weckl (drums) convene at Jazz Alley for two shows. Stern, who gained considerable notoriety early in his career touring and recording with Miles Davis, has endured a plethora of personal setbacks in his career. Nonetheless, he remains as one of the true virtuosos of the rock/jazz fusion idiom. Dave Weckl is the perfect compliment to Stern’s adventurous musical spirit with Haslip as the uniting undercurrent. https://www.earshot.org/event/mike-stern-jeff-lorber-fusion-feat-jimmy-haslip-and-dave-weckl/

Jovino Santos Neto- Fri Dec 6, 9 PM/ Vito’s

Brilliant Brazilian pianist/composer takes to less formal digs with an evening performance at Vito’s. Closely affiliated with Brazilian master Hermeto Pascoal, Jovino has perfected his craft utilizing both traditional and contemporary means. Whether playing solo, or leading his world class quinteto, there is always an air of ardent positivity in the room when Jovino takes the stage. 

It was our good fortune in Seattle when Jovino decided to make his home here. To see an artist of his accomplishment in a spot such as Vito’s is a miracle in itself. https://www.earshot.org/event/jovino-santos-neto-3/

Charlie Hunter & Lucy Woodward- Tue Dec 10, 7:30 PM/ Jazz Alley

Guitarist Charlie Hunter has always had original intent. Playing custom built seven and eight string guitars, he incorporates bass lines and chordal patterns seamlessly in his playing. Hunter hits for one show at Jazz Alley with veteran vocalist Lucy Woodward.

This would seem a good pairing, as both have benefited from the spotlight of the modern jazz scene while incorporating pop notions into their sound. The duo tours in support of their new release, Music!Music!Music!.http:// https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=5101

Thomas Marriott Quintet- Fri Dec 13, 9 PM/ Vito’s

Trumpeter Thomas Marriott is on the verge of releasing his 14th album on Origin Records, and is playing at an exceptionally high level. With Tula’s closure, Marriott, like most top tier players in town, is in search mode for appropriate places to perform. In Vito’s, he has found a great hang spot. Get there early to sit close to the performers to hear the music, as the room is a bit chatty.

Marriott brings in bassist Jeff Johnson, pianist Marc Seales, saxophonist Rick Mandyck, and drummer John Bishop, as fine of a gathering of musical souls as you will find in Seattle. https://www.earshot.org/event/thomas-marriott-2/

Kiki Valera & Cubache- Fri Dec 13, 8 PM/ Royal Room

Cuban cuatro master Kiki Valera presents his band and musical form, Son Cubano on the heals of his new release Vivencias en Clave Cubana on Origin Records.

A member of his legendary family septet, La Familia Valera Miranda, Valera brings the traditional form of the hill country of eastern Cuba to the Royal Room in Columbia City.

Valera’s arrival in Seattle allows the Son Cubano tradition to evolve through his constant probing, modern approach to improvising within the traditional form right here in the Pacific Northwest. His playing, while within the formal Son style, bears influences from the world of jazz. Indeed, Son is the bedrock from which Afro-Cuban forms spring to life. Valera’s virtuosity on the 8-string cuatro is reason enough to attend, no matter your stylistic leanings as a listener.https://theroyalroomseattle.com/event/kiki-valera-cubache/?instance_id=572

Jared Hall Quintet- Sat Dec 21, 8 PM/ Pacific Room Alki

Trumpeter Jared Hall established his star in Seattle with a long term monthly residency at the now shuttered Tula’s Jazz Club following the release of his debut recording, Hallways. 

Hall performs at the newly minted jazz dinner club, Pacific Room Alki with a quintet of top shelf Seattle players. Pianist John Hansen, bassist Michael Glynn, and drummer/composer Matt Jorgensen are all time stalwarts of the Seattle scene. Multi-reedist Derek Smith joins to add one more essential element to the mix. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/jared-hall-quintet-live-at-pacific-room-alki-tickets-75227396167

Marina Albero CD Release- Tue Dec 17, 7 PM/ Royal Room

Barcelona born pianist Marina Albero has been thrilling Seattle audiences since her arrival here in 2014, and now has a new album to document her life experiences here over the past five years.

Albero celebrates the release of A Life Soundtrack with a performance at the Royal Room in Columbia City featuring multi reedist Hans Teuber, drummer D’Vonne Lewis, trailblazing bassist Jeff Johnson, and percussionist extraordinaire Jeff Busch. Albero introduces as special guests, her children Serena Albero and Marcel Dominguez. Aside from her stunning talent on piano, Albero is a true innovator on psalterium, or hammered dulcimer. The many crosscurrents that intersect in her musical world should be fully exposed on this evening that includes seemingly, the perfect compliment of musicians joining. 

Barca Sessions with Phil Sparks & Adam Kessler- Thu Dec 5, 12 & 19, 9 PM/ Barca

Drummer Adam Kessler and Seattle bass icon Phil Sparks have hosted this weekly Thursday evening session for 13 years now. The audience is large, generally young, and at times seemingly indifferent to the music. There is however, a large enough contingent of jazz devotees and newcomers open to the proceedings to provide a compatible vibe. Kessler and Sparks welcome different guests each week, making this session at the Capitol Hill venue well worthwhile.

Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music- Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra- Sun Dec 29, 7:30 PM/ Town Hall

SRJO’s annual presentation of the Ellington classic returns home to Town Hall after the building’s return to magnificence after a much needed retrofit. 

Ellington’s interfaith classic  has been a unifying musical force for more than half a century, with the ensemble joining forces with choir and dance elements. The delve into spirituality and humanity was then, and is now considered one of his most inspired works. https://www.earshot.org/event/31st-anniversary-concert-of-duke-ellingtons-sacred-music/

Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band- NYE Dec 31, 8:30 PM/ Jazz Alley

Jazz Alley once again brings back the Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band for New Years Eve, this year on tour in support of their new release Trane’s Delight!  Poncho Sanchez (congas/vocals), Ross Schodek (bass), Ron Blake (trumpet and flugelhorn), Robert Hardt (alto/tenor saxophones and flute), Francisco Torres (trombone), Jose Perez (timbales), Giancarlo Anderson (bongos/percussion) and Andy Langham (piano). https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=5137