Photos: Kendra Shank and John Stowell in Bellingham

By Jim Levitt

Photos from the Bellingham show which concluded the Kendra Shank/John Stowell West Coast tour supporting the release of their “New York Conversations” recording on TCB.

This show, at the Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth, was part of the Jazz Project “Art of Jazz” series. Kendra (vocals and looper) and John (guitars) performed the first set as a duo. In the second set, they were joined by Jeff Johnson on bass, and Jud Sherwood on drums.

Kendra and John kicked off their East Coast tour with a show at Roulette, in Brooklyn, on Sunday, May 4th.

Vocalist Kendra Shank and guitarist John Stowell finished their West Coast tour with a concert in Bellingham, WA, part of the Art of Jazz series put on by the Jazz Project.

Vocalist Kendra Shank and guitarist John Stowell finished their West Coast tour with a concert in Bellingham, WA, part of the Art of Jazz series put on by the Jazz Project.

Vocalist Kendra Shank and guitarist John Stowell finished their West Coast tour with a concert in Bellingham, WA, part of the Art of Jazz series put on by the Jazz Project.

Vocalist Kendra Shank and guitarist John Stowell finished their West Coast tour with a concert in Bellingham, WA, part of the Art of Jazz series put on by the Jazz Project.

Vocalist Kendra Shank and guitarist John Stowell finished their West Coast tour with a concert in Bellingham, WA, part of the Art of Jazz series put on by the Jazz Project.

Photos: Yosvany Terry Quintet – Earshot Jazz Festival

Photos by Daniel Sheehan, EyeShotJazz.com

The 2013 Earshot Jazz Festival prsented the Yosvany Terry Quintet at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute.

The Harlem-based Cuban saxophonist Yosvany Terry addresses both the ancient and the immediate, working in a sonic world of Afro-Cuban polyrhythms and sophisticated jazz structures – with Michael Rodriguez (trumpet), Osmany Paredes (piano), Matt Brewer (bass) and Clarence Penn (drums).

See more photos at EyeShotJazz.com

Photos: Trumpet Madness at Tula’s

from Daniel Sheehan’s EyeShotJazz.com

Friday night at Tula’s saw a return of Jay Thomas this time with his Trumpet Madness.  Jay Thomas brought Willie Thomas (trumpet), young Seattle trumpeters, John Hansen (piano), Chuck Kistler (bass) and Adam Kessler (drums) to Tula’s.

A versatile multi-instrumentalist, Thomas began to develop his lyrical and bluesy tone as a teen on scholarship to Berklee. He then worked and studied for several years in New York, then, the Bay Area. Later, in Seattle, Thomas became a frequent member of the house band at Parnell’s Jazz Club, working with artists George Cables, Charles McPherson, Bill Mays, Ralph Penland, Harold Land, Diane Schuur, Slim Gaillard and many jazz greats as they traveled through Seattle. Today, he is a member of one of Japan’s leading big bands, where he records and performs several times a year. Often, he shares those star players with audiences in the States.

For more photos from the Earshot Jazz Festival, check out EyeShotJazz.com

Photos: Bill Ramsay Tribute at Earshot Jazz Festival

Photos by Daniel Sheehan, EyeShotJazz.com

Earshot Jazz Festival presented the Bill Ramsay Tribute and it was wonderful. Featuring his septet – with Jay Thomas (trumpet), Travis Ranney (sax), Dan Marcus (trombone), John Hansen (piano), Greg Williamson (drums), Chuck Deardorf (bass) – legendary Northwest saxophonist Bill Ramsay (baritone saxophone) is among Seattle’s best.

A former member of the Count Basie Orchestra, and a veteran of many of the nation’s outstanding big bands, including the bands of Thad Jones, Cab Calloway, Mel Lewis, Gene Harris, Quincy Jones and the Benny Goodman Octet, Ramsay recently toured the western United States with the Duke Ellington Orchestra (under the direction of Paul Ellington). He was inducted to the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame in 1997.

View more photos of this show, and all Earshot Jazz Festival events at EyeShotJazz.com

Photos: Industrial Revelation at Tula’s

From EyeShotJazz.com

The 2013 Earshot Jazz Festival kicked off with two shows, Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette at BENAROYA HALL and Industrial Revelation at TULA’S. They were both formidable performances. Here are pictures from Industrial Revelation since Keith Jarrett is camera shy.

Widely regarded as the best drummer in Seattle, D’Vonne Lewis proppeled Seattle’s homegrown, hard-hitting post-genre quartet – with bassist Evan Flory-Barnes, Rhodes pianist Josh Rawlings and trumpeter Aham Oluo.

See more photos from this event and other Earshot shows at EyeShotJazz.com.

Photos: Dawn Clement LP release show at Columbia City Theater

Photos by Jim Levitt

Dawn Clement marked the release of her Tempest/Cobalt LP with a show at the Columbia City Theater on Thursday, September 12th.

Dawn Clement – piano, Nord, vocals;
Johnaye Kendrick – keytar, voice;
Isacc Castillo – guitar and voice;
Ryan Burns – Moog, bass;
Jacques Willis – drums

Seattle Times: Jazz Port Townsend’s sweet Saturday afternoon

from The Seattle Times Blog:

The Clayton Brothers with Special Guest Stefon Harris at the 2013 Centrum Jazz Port Townsend Festival.
Photo by Jim Levitt

The Saturday afternoon triple bill at Jazz Port Townsend’s McCurdy Pavilion fired on all cylinders, unusual for a three-and-a-half hour show featuring three distinctly different acts.

Up first was the Clayton Brothers band — more accurately the Clayton family band, since it featured not only festival artistic director and bassist John Clayton and his brother, alto saxophonist Jeff, but John’s fiery, dredlock-bedecked son, Gerald, who plays piano. This was essentially the same sextet that tore up the Public House in Port Townsend Friday, with the difference that John Clayton replaced Joe Sanders and that the group played a prepared set, including a world premiere.

With Terrell Stafford on trumpet, Stefon Harris on vibes and Obed Calvaire on drums, the band had firepower to spare, and they took no prisoners in a set characterized by thick textures, high pressure, sizzling cross-rhythms, soulful swing and a refreshing variety of tempos, instrumentation and solo order. On the opening tune, a rhythmically tricky original by Jeff Clayton titled “Cha Cha Charleston,” Stafford let fly a bravura circus of high notes and muscular, percussive phrases, then continued to outdo himself all afternoon. Jeff, whose girth and mustache recall Fats Waller, mugged with minty surprise at Stafford’s virtuosity, one arm akimbo, as if to say, “Get a load of that!”

Continue reading at The Seattle Times

Review: Human Spirit, Dialogue

from All About Jazz | Buy Dialogue at Human Spirit’s website

The three players who now call themselves Human Spirit—drummer Matt Jorgensen, trumpeter Thomas Marriott and alto saxophonist Mark Taylor—have a very successful track record of recording together. They teamed up on Jorgensen’s magnificent Tattooed by Passion (2010) and Another Morning (2008), and on Marriott’s strange and splendid Crazy: The Music of Willie Nelson (2008) and Flexicon (2009), all on Seattle’s Origin Records. But the idea of the group’s name came certainly from Marriott’s Human Spirit (Origin Records), teaming the trio with organist Gary Versace for one of 2011’s most dynamic and modern-sounding recordings.

Dialogue finds the group—with special guests sitting in on piano and bass—in a live setting at the Earshot Jazz Festival, and sounding very spirited indeed. Jorgensen, Marriott and Taylor have a special genius for for taking the standard jazz quintet—sax, trumpet and rhythm section—and breathing new life into the format. The distinct ensemble sound comes, in part, from the melding of Taylor’s tart tone, with its “lemonade a couple of teaspoons short on the sugar” tang blending with Marriott’s clean, pure timbre. A vibrant simpatico rises up, whether the horn men are playing unison lines or interweaving long notes, leading to always-inspired soloing. Jorgensen, in the drum chair, channels tumultuous grooves and—as the best of the best drummers seem to do (like the late Paul Motian, and Al Foster)—makes everyone sound better, as he subtly boosts the music and catches the ear with the unexpected.

Dialogue‘s tunes are all originals: two by Jorgensen; two from Taylor; and four from perhaps nominal leader Marriott. It’s a live show, and the energy level is high, with mostly up-tempo workouts and lots of fire. And the special guests are inspired choices, as they’ve always been with Human Spirit—whether, as on previous recordings, it was guitarist Corey Christiansen and keyboardist Ryan Burns, or bassists Geoff Harper, Dave Captein or Jeff Johnson. The guest slots on Dialogue go to pianist Orrin Evans, who plays with percussive gusto, and bassist Essiet Essiet, who supplies a solid foundation for the horns’ soaring free flights.

Human Spirit offers up high wire jazz quintet sound with Dialogue, an outing that takes a standard lineup and shifts it into a different dimension.

Track Listing: In Unity; Stepford and Son; Reversal of Fortune; Song for Samuel; After Hours; 148 Lexington; Pelham Gardens.

Personnel: Thomas Marriott: trumpet; Mark Taylor: alto saxophone; Matt Jorgensen: drums; Orrin Evans: piano; Essiet Essiet: bass.

Gifting the Hammond B3 on CD

from the December Issue of Earshot:

If you’re in need of a gift for a Hammond B3 fan, multiple 2011 releases by Northwest artists feature the organ:

McTuff Trio
McTuff Volume 2: After the Show

Joe Doria Music
Dynamic, inventive music conversations by Joe Doria on the B3, with Andy Coe on guitar and D’vonne Lewis on drums.

The Nightcrawlers
Down in the Bottom

Cellar Live
Vintage B3 sounds out of Vancouver, BC, featuring a handful of local guest artists with Cory Weeds, alto saxophone; Steve Kaldestad, tenor saxophone; Chris Gestrin, Hammond B3; and Jesse Cahill, drums.

Thomas Marriott
Human Spirit

Origin Records
Hammond B3 artist Gary Versace joins an evident and expanding musical rapport shared by trumpeter Thomas Marriott, alto saxophonist Mark Taylor and drummer Matt Jorgensen.

The Young Lizards
Our Modern Lifestyle

Pony Boy Records
Smart, clean, fun B3 quartet with Greg Williamson on drums, Ty Bailie on Hammond B3, Dave Petersen on guitar, and Chris Fagan on saxophone; features John Coltrane’s “Mr. Day,” from Coltrane Plays the Blues, Joe Henderson pieces, and “Three Views of a Secret” by Jaco Pastorious. Hip!

Matt Jorgensen featured in December DownBeat

Seattle drummer Matt Jorgensen is featured in the Players section of the December issue of Downbeat magazine (with Trombone Shorty on the cover). The issue is currently on newsstands so pick up your copy before the month is out.

The story details Jorgensen’s time in New York, his move back to his hometown of Seattle, the start of Origin Records and some of his recent projects.

Returning to Seattle in 2002, Jorgensen not only established a reputation as a versatile sideman throughout the West Coast; he also helped operate a record label that was starting to receive attention. “The attraction of moving back to Seattle was being able to stay in one town and really have more of a home base,” he said.

… Jorgensen and John Bishop, another Seattle drummer, began Origin Records in 1997 as a means to document their own work, in addition to the music of their friends and peers in the Pacific Northwest. It has developed into an imprint whose catalog includes 340 albums, many featuring nationally recognized artists. After producing a series of bookings at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, the two established the Ballard Jazz Festival in 2003, a five-day event showcasing regional and national artists.

You can read the article online or pick up the December issue of DownBeat (and see the snazy color photo!)

Review: Mordy Ferber at Jazzscapes

By Carolyn Graye

Israeli-born guitarist and composer, Mordy Ferber, completed a West Coast tour earlier this month. He teamed up with drummer Greg Williamson and bassist Chris Symer for a run of Seattle area gigs that included Boxley’s in North Bend, the Jazz and Sushi series at Hiroshi’s, and a set at the Pony Boy Jazz Picnic. In addition, Mordy and Chris also played an intimate duo house concert that was interesting on several levels.

Ivy Nugent and Julie Olson have been presenting musicians at Ivy and Jamie Nugent’s West Seattle home under the auspices of Jazzscapes. This show wasn’t part of their regular programming, but the setting was just as spectacular. A beautiful garden overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains, great live music, wine, appetizers…really, what’s not to love? And the story behind the event is just as unique.

In May, Ivy was walking on a beach in Tel Aviv and noticed a guy wearing a Pony Boy tee shirt. She got to talking with him, found out he was a jazz guitarist, and invited him to do a gig at her home the next time he came to Seattle. Four months later, Mordy was serenading her guests, her neighbors, and the fish in her lily pond.

Ferber uses an artful combination of effects to create a distinctly personal sound. His early love of rock and roll combines with a jazz sensibility that makes arrangements of standards anything but routine. Ballads (Peace, When Sunny Gets Blue, Blue in Green,) blues (Turn Around, Blue Monk,) and up tempo tunes (In Your Own Sweet Way, Sweet and Lovely,) were all deftly dismantled and reassembled with skill and sensitivity.

But as nice as the standards were, the highlight of the evening was a short, haunting original, ‘River of Life,’ from a yet-to-be released recording titled Reflection. When we chatted during the break, Mordy mentioned that he missed hearing the piano and drum parts on the CD (which features Portland-based musicians Greg Goebel, Todd Strait, Rob Davis, and Dave Captein.) But from the audience’s perspective, the duo version was a knock out.

Ferber won a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music, and moved to the U.S. when he was twenty-three. He graduated in 1987, built up a following in Boston, and moved to New York in 1990. Since then he’s performed and recorded with Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, Billy Hart, Richie Beirach, Richard Bona, and a host of other internationally known artists. He’s currently on the faculty of the New School and continues to tour internationally, record, and compose for TV and film.

Go hear him the next time he’s in town. And if you get a chance to do that on a beautiful summer evening with a magenta sunset, all the better.

Review: Thomas Marriott, Constraints and Liberations

from the October 2011 issue of Downbeat magazine:

Thomas Marriott, Constraints & Liberations
Origin Records 82577
4 1/2 Stars

The music on Constraints & Liberations operates and resides in that state between dreams and reality. The record slowly simmers with a restrained intensity and rarely comes to a boil.

The soloists are stellar and never fail to tell engaging stories. Thomas Marriott’s trumpet sound is as lush and inviting as it comes. “Up From Under” and “Clues” give him plenty of room to slowly stretch out, like a tall man coming to from a deep sleep and remembering how to walk. Pianist Gary Versace is a master at taking simple ideas and developing them until he’s exhausted all possibilities. His solo on “Clues” is exciting, as his increase in dynamics and intensity coincides with the most fruitful developments of his initial statement. Hans Teuber possesses a complex subtone sound and one of the fresher tenor approaches today.

Marriott’s rhythm section kills. The bass/drums tandem of Jeff Johnson and John Bishop holds down the Hal Galper Trio and is twothirds of the trio Scenes. Their significant time together has allowed them to share a common musical consciousness and approach.
—Chris Robinson

Bebop rules at Jazz Port Townsend

from The Seattle Times:

The big story at this year’s Jazz Port Townsend — held last weekend in the Fort Worden balloon hangar called McCurdy Pavilion and at several Port Townsend clubs — was the world premiere of a work by Los Angeles composer Bill Holman for reed man Paquito D’Rivera.

The piece lived up to expectations and more at its Saturday afternoon debut. But a plain old-fashioned jam session that night was the festival highlight.

A bebopper’s delight, the program featured an ad hoc group of musicians who had been teaching all week at a workshop that preceded the festival. Jokingly called an “8-Piece Sextet” (that ultimately had seven players — go figure), it fell effortlessly into a deep, toe-tapping groove.

The bespectacled, suit-clad drummer Matt Wilson had a lot to do with that, as he set a swingin’ pace on Herbie Hancock’s soulful shot, “Driftin’.” D’Rivera, whose irresistibly silly humor fell somewhere between Dizzy Gillespie and Ricky Ricardo, pulled the crowd to its feet with a sparkling solo on “Corcovado.” Trumpeter Terrell Stafford tore the lid off Gillespie’s “Tour de Force” and Wilson answered with a solo that cleverly cast his bass drum against fields of silence. Pianist Benny Green rumbled over the edge of the earth into of the ether of pure sound.

Continue reading at The Seattle Times.

Review: John Proulx at JazzVox

JAZZVOX CONCERT: John Proulx and Chuck Kistler
MAY 21, 2011

by Libby Graham

Nich Anderson, lauded vocalist with Seattle Jazz Singers, had two very big reasons to celebrate last months’s fantastic “Boys, Boys, Boys” concert, as part of the JazzVox house concert series, in Auburn, WA. Reason #1: It was a CD Release party for his stellar debut JazzVox CD “Back in your own backyard” (a showcase of new studio recordings by past JazzVox artists) and Reason #2: It marked the resplendent return of great LA-based jazz vocalist/pianist John Proulx. Nich has been hosting this incredible house concert series at his cozy condo in Auburn, WA and also the lovely home of friends Andy and Patti Carr on Camano Island for 3 1/2 years now. He continues to enthrall audiences every time, bringing in the best national/international vocal artists as well as fostering a wealth of local and regional talent.

It was a magical evening with John singing in an understated, mellow style reminiscent of Chet Baker such eclectic tunes as his heart-rendering ballad “Welcome To My World”, the wonderful Jimmy McHugh song “I just found out about love” and “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You?” made popular by Nat King Cole. John encouraged lively audience participation in such numbers as his light-hearted original “Push-Hands Anna” (a tribute to his wife) and “Sing”, known by many from The Carpenter’s timeless version. He was accompanied brilliantly by local favorite Chuck Kistler who is established as a first-call bassist throughout the region. Chuck plays with command and vigor and knows how to accentuate the melody and rhythm of every song to great effect.

I always relish each morning following a JazzVox concert because it allows me to reflect on the awesome music and special people I meet again or for the first time. If you love vocal jazz in an intimate setting and want to be a part of this fabulous experience, and to purchase Nich’s fine JazzVox CD, please visit jazzvox.com.

Jazz Times Reviews: Chuck Deardorf, “Transparence”

from Jazz Times Magazine:

Most major American cities (and, for that matter, most European ones) contain a jazz musician who is the default bassist of record. You run into them all over town, in all manner of ensembles, kicking ass and taking names.

In Seattle, Wash., it is Chuck Deardorf. He is known for making other people sound good, not leading his own projects. But Transparence argues that he is also a strong and smart bandleader. Deardorf blends various configurations of the 14 musicians and combines sessions recorded in several places over three years into a coherent album statement with continuity of tone. It is no mean trick. His own voice is the primary unifying factor. He is a quick, clear rhythm-section player and an articulate, interesting soloist on all of his instruments: acoustic, Toucan and Fender freltess basses and acoustic bass guitar.

The roster of 14 includes strong players from Seattle (alto saxophonist Hans Teuber, pianist Jovino Santos Nero, tenor saxophonist Richard Cole) and elsewhere (pianist Bill Mays, guitarists Bruce Forman and Rick Peckham). Most of the ensembles are duos, trios or quartets, and there is a string bias. (Four different guitarists interact with Deardorf’s basses.) On “Alone Togeher,” Forman’s electric guitar and Deardorf’s acoustic bass create resonant blends and suggestive contrasts. The same instrumental combination, with Rick Peckham on guitar, portrays Jobim’s gentle “Zingaro” as something edgy and twangy.

Deardorf makes inspired song choices like “The Peacocks.” The version here is one of the permanent recordings of Jimmy Rowles’ atmospheric masterpiece. Deardorf and Mays and Teuber allow the song to keep its secrets. Together and apart, they just beautifully float with it.

Jazz Times Review: Katy Bourne, As the Fate Decide

from Jazz Times Magazine:

Katy Bourne’s route to jazz has been peripatetic to say the least. Back in the 1980s, when her focus was fully on acting and writing, she bounced from Oklahoma to Iowa to New Mexico to the Northeast. In 1992 she took an extended break, re-emerging a few years later as lead singer for two Seattle-based blues bands. Soon afterward she discovered teacher Greta Matassa and concurrently unleashed her inner jazz stylist.

Now, at last, Bourne has released her debut album, a shining introduction to a vocalist who can swing as elegantly as the young Nancy Wilson while invading a lyric with both the insightfulness of Anita O’Day and the smolder of Julie London. Bourne, superbly assisted by a top-drawer foursome of local players—bassist Doug Miller, drummer Steve Korn, guitarist Chris Spencer and, most impressively, pianist Randy Halberstadt—focuses primarily on time-honored standards, ranging from a purringly frolicsome “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?” to a dove-soft “True Love.”

Toward the end of this 12-track set, she visits more contemporary material with even greater success. Dave Frishberg’s too-rarely heard “Our Love Rolls On” is fittingly unfurled in gentle waves of fatalistic contentment. “Our Day Will Come” is utterly refreshed atop a bouncy bossa beat. But the session’s apex is Bourne and Halberstadt’s seven-minute, dream-state meander through the shadows of Jimmy Webb’s “The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress.”