The month of October has plain rushed by, leaving in its wake an enlivened Seattle jazz scene. The Earshot jazz festival is back with a live audience, the Seattle Jazz Fellowship has taken off with a Wednesday night offering at Vermillion. Jazz Alley is full on back in action, and Calluna in the north end is offering a genteel jazz supper club with top resident talent. For November previews, I offer a glimpse into 15 performances I highly recommend, and invite you to dig much, much deeper into what the city has to offer as we go into winter. I invite you as well to support the non-profit organizations that are bringing the music to us. Earshot continues to deliver, and has gravitated even more so towards supporting the resident jazz scene in Seattle. The Thomas Marriott inspired Seattle Jazz Fellowship is in its infancy, and needs your support to establish a five night a week program supporting resident musicians and paying them a decent wage. The life of jazz music in Seattle is literally in your hands. I hope to see you soon at a gig near you!– Paul

Thomas Marriott              Jim Levitt photo

Monday Night Jam at the Royal Room with Thomas Marriott

Mon Nov 1,8, 15, 22, 29/ Royal Room

Through the first four weeks of its existence, the Monday night affair in Columbia City has drawn some of the best players in town. Many younger, less known musicians have had the opportunity to play with Seattle heavy-hitters such as Thomas Marriott himself. The hang is the thing of course, and that as well harbors a great sense of community and fellowship. In other words, the session is doing everything a community jam session is supposed to, and more. 

The organization provided by Marriott is crisp and orderly, with a sign up sheet saving valuable stage time for music. The opening set, by a quartet formed by Marriott, is short and sweet. The house band sticks around to play as well, thus providing younger players the opportunity to not just play with friends in the same age category, but with community elders and more established players on the Seattle scene. 

The session follows a 90 minute set by the Royal Room Composers and Improvisers Orchestra, under the baton of Wayne Horvitz. The band includes James Falzone, Hans Teuber, Eric Eagle, David Marriott, Kate Olson, Samantha Boshnack, Ray Larsen, Geoff Harper and other prominent Seattle players. Many tend to stick around and take in the session. In all, it’s a wonderful evening that takes in a huge swath of the Seattle jazz and improvised music scene.

Seattle Jazz Fellowship: Fellowship Wednesdays at Vermillion

The brand new jazz non-profit continues its launch with weekly presentations at Vermillion on Capitol Hill. Watch for a feature on these pages soon about the historic first evening. Thomas Marriott’s work to provide the Seattle jazz scene with a sustainable model for live local jazz is perhaps the most important thing happening in Seattle concerning the future of its resident jazz scene. The Fellowship aims to bring top quality performances, provide mentorship, and pay our resident musicians a decent wage. The evening session starts up at 7 PM with an hour of hang time, followed by two sets. Preceding the evening event, a 5 PM listening session with jazz great Julian Priester takes place. This is a free event for all ages. Mr. Priester plays albums he has appeared on, and provides incites and discussion about the history of the music surrounding the recording. The leaders for the performances for November:  

Nov 3   D’Vonne Lewis & EarthtoneSkytone with Kelsey Mines, Carlos Snaider, Antoine Martel & Chris Icasiano

Jim Levitt photo

Nov 10  Marina Albero/ Chuck Deardorf

Marina Albero
Chuck Deardorf

Nov 17 Alex Dugdale/ Johnaye Kendrick

Alex Dugdale        Jim Levitt photo

Johnaye Kendrick                     Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

Benny Green Solo

Thu Nov 4, 7 PM/ Town Hall Forum

Benny Green                             Rolf Kisling photo

Known as an accompanist to many jazz icons, Benny Green brings his other-worldly talent, and prolific understanding of harmony to the Forum stage for a rare solo performance in Seattle. Green’s playing is full of emotion, from joy to sheer tragedy.  There is a forceful presence to this emotive sense of purpose, that combined with astonishing facility, creates a resonance that is unique and generational. 

Green’s work with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Betty Carter, Stanley Turrentine and others has left its mark on his playing, of course. How that translates to solo piano performance will be an interesting aspect to this special evening.

Marina Albero Trio featuring Ganesh Rajagopalan

Friday November 5, 7:00pm/Town Hall Forum

Marina Albero and Ganesh Rajagopalan      Marina Albero photo by Lisa Hagen Glynn

Festival Artist-In-Residence Marina Albero embarks on her greatest adventure of the festival, performing with renowned Indian classical violinist Ganesh Rajagopolan. With electric bassist Tim Carey and drummer Xavier Lecouturier joining, the band represents a joyful collision of two diverse musical currents. With the focus being on the modal, improvisational world of Ganesh, Albero is free to draw from her lifelong journey in music in a new, exciting and ultimately free way. Lecouturier will be applying aspects of tabla playing to his work behind the drum set, acting as the tie that binds Ganesh’s music to the jazz tradition. Albero, with roots in classical, Cuban, jazz and flamenco forms adds yet another dynamic aspect to her musical identity in a quartet she senses is on the precipice of something new and innovative.

“I had a blast, he’s a rock star,” says Albero enthusiastically. “This to me is very special, because I feel that it is the beginning of something.”

Ravi Coltrane Cosmic Music- The Music of Alice Coltrane and John Coltrane

Ravi Coltrane

Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane was just two years old when his father, the transcendent musician John Coltrane passed away, His main musical influence growing up was his mother, the pianist and composer, Alice Coltrane. Over time, both as a leader and a sideman, he has forged a musical identity that draws strongly from familial elements, with leanings towards spiritual exploration through sound. In this incarnation of his band, Coltrane explores the cosmic explorations of his parents through his own very personal lens, performing with transcendent guitarist David Gilmore, bassist Lonnie Plaxico, bassist Gadi Lehavi and drummer Ele Howell.

Ernestine Anderson: A Musical Tribute

Sat Nov 13, 7 PM/ Langston Hughes

Ernestine Anderson                        Photo courtesy of Billboard

In celebration of the city proclamation honoring Seattle’s international jazz icon, Ernestine Anderson, modern day Seattle musicians take the stage in the heart of the Central District to pay homage. October saw the Langston stage honor young Black artists Immanuel Wilkens, Giveton Gelis, Samara Joy and Sullivan Fortner, while November presents the opportunity to look back into the storied history of the Jackson St. jazz scene of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, of which Anderson was a major part. Just a few blocks west of Langston, Anderson sang in a bebop band that featured pianist Ray Charles and trumpeter Quincy Jones. On this night, Stix Hooper, Eugenie Jones, Gail Pettis, Darrius Willrich, Alex Dugdale, Paul Gabrielson and Jamael Nance make the sounds of history come to life, with John Gilbreath and Jim Wilke adding context.

Eliane Elias Quartet

Mon, Tue Nov 15,16- 7:30 PM/ Triple Door

Eliane Elias                             photo courtesy of New York Latin Cuklture

The Triple Door is back in full swing, and finally hitting a jazz tone along the way. Pianist Eliane Elias can present many different sides of her musical persona in concert, though at this point her bandmates have not been revealed. Safe to say Marc Johnson will be on bass, and the pianist will explore Brazilian themes, straying just as easily towards the Bill Evans side of jazz piano. Her imaginative playing and flawless chops are grand partners at times, making any of her performances worth wading into.

Taj Mahal Quartet

Fri Nov 19- Sun Nov 28, 7:30 & 9:30 PM/ Jazz Alley

Taj Mahal

Talk about a return to normalcy. Sure, we’ll be sporting masks and verifying vaccination status at the door, but Taj is back for his traditional Thanksgiving stay at the Alley, and life is good, people! 

Taj brings to life the roots elements of the blues. His music has always brought the music of the delta together with all ports of call in the Caribean. His creative focus has broadened as the years have rolled by, acting as a musical gatherer, adding sounds from West Africa into his gumbo of musical culture. He will be joined by guitarist Bobby Ingano, bassist Bill Rich and drummer Kester Smith. Pick a date and go, opportunities to see esteemed elders of our community are few and far between.

Jeff Busch Quartet

Sat Nov 13, 8:00PM/ North City Bistro

Jeff Busch

Seattle area music fans are used to seeing drummer/percussionist Jeff Busch accompanying a myriad of local and international artists over the years. We are accustomed to his neat work on drum kit, and seeing him literally litter a stage with percussion instruments from around the world, and find a way to use every one of them creatively over the course of a ninety minute set. But what if this magician of jazz and world sounds were given the keys to his own ambitions as a leader, with a band consisting of the musicians that have provided him his most fertile moments in music? 

That’s exactly what you’re looking at, when Busch is joined by transcendent pianist Marina Albero, master multi-reedist Hans Teuber, and trailblazing bassist, Jeff Johnson. This is a small venue, with the audience and band in close proximity. The vibe is very intimate, though this performance may produce a white flash that fills the room in overwhelming fashion. Bravo to the folks at NC Bistro to host this show.

Greta Matassa Quintet

Sun Nov 21, 7 PM/ Royal Room

Greta Matassa

With the doors of Tula’s closing two years ago, and the pandemic ending live performances for eighteen months, jazz fans might wonder where the city’s greatest jazz singer since Ernestine Anderson might land after that grand twenty six year run. The answer to that would be “many places,” though for this evening, she takes residence on Rainier Avenue at the Royal Room.

Matassa has a slight change-up in her lineup, with guitarist Brian Monroney joining the band. Bassist Clipper Anderson, drummer Mark Ivester and saxophonist Alexey Nikolaev return, with Nikolaev playing a major role as soloist. Matassa is a great musician and bandleader, added to her grand superlatives as a vocalist of worldwide renown. Her creative spontaneity disallows her to perform any tune the same twice. Her continual habit of challenging herself artistically over the years has seen her arrive at this point of time not only maintaining her chops, but expanding them exponentially. Her range and articulation are simply second to none. If you have seen her perform, then you know, and you are likely to attend. If not, here’s your chance in the comfortable digs of the Royal Room.

KNKX Presents- Piano Starts Here: Marc Seales

Sun Nov 17, 7:30 PM/ Royal Room

Marc Seales                          Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

Seattle’s Marc Seales is iconic in the city’s historic landscape, as a ground breaking pianist, bandleader and educator. He is equally comfortable with piano and electric keyboards. Seattle jazz fans are accustomed to Seales’ performances with the best of the Seattle scene, normally surrounded by the likes of Thomas Marriott, Chuck Deardorf, Gary Hobbs or Ernie Watts. The fine nuances of his playing will be on plain display in the solo format of this program curated by Alex Guilbert and Wayne Horvitz. Seales draws from a deep well of harmonic understanding and cultural awareness, bringing to the surface the jazz tradition in modern terms. He will be joined by noted students performing his original compositions.

Mike Clark with Skerik, Thomas Marriott, Wayne Horvitz and Geoff Harper

Fri Nov 19, 8 PM/ Royal Room

Mike Clark

Revered drummer Mike Clark made a name for himself as a jazz/funk drummer in the seventies performing with Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters. His versatile approach has landed him on stage with Brand X, with Phil Collins. Here he is neck deep in an eclectic group of Seattle musicians. 

Experience tells me that this is fertile ground for Skerik’s ravaging irreverance. Not that music that falls on the funk side is especially beneficial to his broad ranging style. Skerik’s mad immersions are all extremely musical and at times, profoundly original. Thomas Marriott has been playing at a consistently high level for years now, and somehow continues to up his game at a meteoric pace. Geoff Harper is a bassist and a presence that can meld into any musical situation, from free jazz to hard bop. How Wayne Horvitz fits into the equation is the mystery here. Both he and his bandmates have the added benefit of Clark pushing the cart forward. This is one of those convergences that tend to slide under the radar. HERE IS YOUR RADAR DETECTOR. This one will be just plain fun.

Tuesday Jams at the Owl

Tuesdays at 9:30 PM/ Owl ‘n Thistle 

A jam session with a 26 year history in a city is rare. The Owl jam is one such jewel. The social center of the Seattle jazz scene, the proceedings begin with a set from the host band led by pianist Eric Verlinde and special guests, followed by an open jam. The session has been a huge source of opportunity for new players on the scene to display their chops for established city players, and has seen a plethora of significant drop-ins from touring stars such as Wynton Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Roy Hargrove, Ethan Cohen and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra. If the hang is the thing for you, and I know that it is, the Owl is a must. 

Calluna: A Jazz Supper Club Springs to Life in Ravenna

Stephanie Porter

Calluna is officially a thing, with jazz accompanying fine cuisine, cocktails and wine at the north end establishment operated by Tula’s managers, Jason Moore and Heather Bourne. The small intimate venue seats under 40, so be sure to make reservations in advance. Featured are duos and trios with the top shelf of the Seattle jazz community. 

Music is presented Wednesday- Sunday at 7:30 PM. Vocalist Stephanie Porter is joined by pianist Tony Foster on November 3. Bands led by Tim Kennedy, Marc Seales, Thomas Marriott, Brian Kirk, Paul Gabrielson and Gail Pettis fill the calendar between November 4-13.

Saxophonist Frank Catalano visits from Chicago in trio with pianist Bill Anschell and bassist Jeff Johnson November 16-19. Greta Matassa appears with Alexey Nikolaev and Clipper Anderson on November 27, the tail end of a weekend that begins on November 26 with an all-star duo of trumpeter Thomas Marriott and pianist Bill Anschell.

Jared Hall Quintet, Seen on the Scene CD Release

Sun Nov 28, 7:30 PM/ Royal Room

Origin Records

Trumpeter Jared Hall celebrates his new Origin Records release with a performance at the Royal Room in Columbia City. Hall is joined by an all-star rhythm section featuring drummer Matt Jorgensen, bassist Michael Glynn and pianist John Hansen. Alto saxophonist Mark Taylor occupies the front line with Hall. 

The quintet will perform music from the new album, including Hall originals, and innovative takes on music by Tadd Dameron and Francis Lai. Hall’s evolution as a player over his time in Seattle has been remarkable, including a lengthy residency at the now shuttered Tula’s. Hansen, Glynn, Jorgensen and Taylor have performed and recorded with him for much of that journey and so have developed a comfort level with Hall’s original tunes that allows the music to be played freely. An evening of celebration for a well regarded member of the Seattle jazz community.

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