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.

 

Steve Wilson at Tula’s – July 17-18

Tula’s Jazz Club is proud to announce that they will be presenting New York saxophonist Steve Wilson two nights, Friday – Saturday, July 17-18. Make your reservations now to hear this group in the intimate setting at Tula’s Jazz Club (Reservations: 206-443-4221).

Joining Wilson will be an all-start Northwest group featuring Thomas Marriott (trumpet) , Marc Seales (piano), Michael Glynn (bass) and Matt Jorgensen (drums).

JULY 17-18: STEVE WILSON QUINTET
TULA’S JAZZ CLUB
2214 Second Ave
Seattle

Reservations: 206-443-4221
http://tulas.com

About Steve Wilson:
Steve Wilson has attained ubiquitous status in the studio and on the stage with the greatest names in jazz, as well as critical acclaim as a bandleader in his own right. A musician’s musician, Wilson has brought his distinctive sound to more than 100 recordings led by such celebrated and wide-ranging artists as Chick Corea, George Duke, Michael Brecker, Dave Holland, Dianne Reeves, Bill Bruford, Gerald Wilson, Maria Schneider, Joe Henderson, Charlie Byrd, Karrin Allyson, Don Byron, James Williams, and Mulgrew Miller among many others. Wilson has seven recordings under his own name, leading and collaborating with such stellar musicians as Carl Allen, Steve Nelson, Cyrus Chestnut, Greg Hutchinson, Dennis Irwin, James Genus, Larry Grenadier, Ray Drummond, Ben Riley, and Nicholas Payton.

Jason Parker Quartet’s “Homegrown”– CD Release Party March 23rd

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“Homegrown,” the new CD from the Jason Parker Quartet, is a celebration of contemporary Seattle jazz. The recording features original compositions from some of the area’s top artists and reflects the depth of riches in the Seattle jazz community. The release party for “Homegrown,” is scheduled for Monday, March 23rd at Tula’s. Music starts at 7:30pm.

Shortly after release of the band’s previous CD, “Five Leaves Left: A Tribute to Nick Drake,” trumpeter Jason Parker put a call out to local musicians, inviting them to contribute original songs for a new project. The response was enthusiastic – 16 artists submitted – and resulted in this ten-track collection that showcases the compositional talents of Thomas Marriott, Cynthia Mullis, Marc Seales, Jeremy Jones, Josh Rawlings, Troy Kendrick, the late Hadley Caliman and Parker. The recording highlights the diverse sensibilities of its contributors, from the dulcet swing of Parker’s “One Perfect Rose” to the pensive dreamscape of Seale’s “Rue Cler,” and is bolstered by the band’s steady and nuanced performances. Personnel for the CD includes the Jason Parker Quartet, with Josh Rawlings on piano, Evan Flory-Barnes on bass, D’Vonne Lewis on drums and Parker on trumpet, and also special guest Cynthia Mullis on tenor saxophone.

In addition to music from “Homegrown,” the March 23rd performance will also include selections from “Five Leaves Left: A Tribute to Nick Drake,” featuring guest vocalist Michele Khazak. Admission to the show is “pay-what-you-want,” and the first set is all-ages. For reservations, call 206- 443-4221. To purchase the CD, please visit: www.oneworkingmusician.com.

On The Scene with Howard Londner: Three groups at The Royal Room

On The Scene with Howard LonderJanuary 13, 2013
Three Bands (or musical groups) at the Royal Room.

Storm D’Angelo’s All Star Big Band
Storm D’Angelo – tenor sax, bass clarinet
Rubin Hohlbein – trumpet
John Otten – trumpet
David Klein – baritone sax
Lise Ramaley – bass
Daniel Arthur – piano
Quinn Anex-Ries – alto sax, clarinet
Noah Halpern – trumpet
Adam Shimabakuro – guitar
Kenzo Perron – drums
Porter Jones – trombone
Logan Pendergrass – bass trombone

Some of Roosevelt High’s finest, these kids are just great!

They could be tighter (how perfect were you in high school?), so what! These kids played great, were a lot of fun.
Support the kids… they’re doing something positive!

I was especially impressed with, Mr Hohlbein, Mr Arthur, Ms Anex-Ries, and Mr Jones. If Mr Storm D’Angelo was a baseball player he’d be like Ken Griffey Jr. This kid is killer! He composes, plays great, and leads the band with a poise and grace and talent well beyond his years. You better be listening to these kids now, before they head off to NY.

This was the first band of the night, the last band was …

Nelda Swiggett Stringtet
Nelda Swigett – piano, voice, composer
Rachel Swerdlow – viola
Walter Gray – cello
Chris Symer – bass
Byron Vannoy – drums

Tonight’s performance was a tune-up for a CD they will be recording soon.

All the compositions were originals by Ms Swiggett, who played piano and sang well. All the tunes were pleasant, enjoyable.
Ms Swerdlow and Mr Gray are from the Seattle Symphony, so I’ll just shut up about them and you listen. Mr Symer played a great solo bowing (keep bowing, man, it sounds great.). Mr Vannoy and D’vonne Lewis both remind me of my favorite drummer, Ed Blackwell. Byron always has impecable time keeping, and always makes great statements concisely, that is, he doesn’t need a lot of flash and jive, he just plays the right amount of notes the right way! (Byron was my drum teacher, ’till he fired me because I was a lousy drummer and a lousier student.)

The band has a blend of third stream music with a touch of Stephan Grappelli.

The large group of musicians playing between these two bands call themselves Scrape.

Mostly classiacal folks, with jazz’s own Chris Symer on bass, and Gregg Belisle-Chi on guitar. Exquisite harmonies, interesting compositions (these aren’t quick little ditties). All of the compostions except two were by local jazz trumpeter, educator, and composer, the great Jim Knapp. If you want to hear classical music without paying the high ticket prices classical music usually charges … come see this band. A couple of drinks and a donation, and you’ll still be money ahead.

Thank you to all the musicians and composers tonight.
Thank you.

Shout Out: Jazz Now! Seattle

By Katy Bourne

It is with great enthusiasm that I send a virtual high five and a holler out to Seattle jazz musicians Jason Parker and Dave Marriott for their spanking new podcast Jazz Now! Seattle. Jazz Now! Seattle is a weekly podcast that features music from local artists in the Seattle community. The mission of the podcast is twofold: (1) To put the spotlight on Seattle musicians and their projects and to help publicize their performances. (2) To present the thriving Seattle jazz scene to the rest of the world. Now in its fifth week, Jazz Now! Seattle has already been downloaded 1000 times

Jason and Dave are working jazz musicians and both have backgrounds in broadcasting. Jason is a trumpeter, blogger, bandleader and one half of the production and booking company J & J Music. Jason worked in radio for several years and is the former musical director for KMTT radio in Seattle. He is an occasional guest host on KPLU. Dave is an award-winning trombonist and plays with a variety of groups including the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, the Emerald City Jazz Orchestra and his own band Septology. Dave was also the force behind the “original” Seattle jazz podcast “Seattle JazzScene.” Jason and Dave combine their experience and knowledge with sheer enthusiasm to create podcasts that offer a unique view of Seattle jazz. They highlight music from “every corner of the jazz spectrum in Seattle.”  So far, the podcasts have included a wide-range of music from artists such as Richard Cole, Wayne Horvitz, Matt Jorgenson, McTuff, Zubatto Syndicate, Gail Pettis, Nelda Swiggett and many, many more. The podcasts are presently focused on artists that are appearing in the Earshot Jazz Festival, which runs until November 7th. In Dave’s words, “We’re both fans of the scene that we’re a part of.”

Jason and Dave record new episodes every Monday and spend the rest of the week editing and also going through music for future podcasts. For two musicians who already have their hands in numerous other ventures, their efforts on behalf of the local scene are amazing. While it would be easier to stay focused solely on their own pursuits, Jason and Dave choose to cheer on other artists and help them get attention for their music. Jason and Dave are true ambassadors for Seattle jazz, and our community is all the better for it. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend checking out Jazz Now! Seattle. While you’re at it, maybe send a message of thanks to Jason and Dave for their time, work and generosity. They deserve it.

“We’ve figured out a way to make something that’s going to be a good contribution.”
– Dave Marriott

For more information, visit: http://jazznowseattle.com/

Weekend of Rising Stars at Bake’s Place

Trumpeter Riley Mulherkar and vocalist Siobhan Brugger are the featured performers for “A Weekend of Rising Stars,” which takes place July 16 & 17 at Bake’s Place.

The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the most outstanding high school jazz programs in the country and has long been the starting point for some of the brightest musicians and vocalists entering the national jazz scene today. In recognition of the wealth of emergent talent in our own backyard, Bake’s is dedicated to supporting these new artists and providing them an opportunity to perform. “We are excited about the talent of these up and coming young people,” says owner Craig Baker. This weekend marks the first of what will be a regular series at Bake’s.

Trumpeter Riley Mulherkar graduated in June from Garfield High School, where he was a member of the prestigious Garfield Jazz band. The band recently took top honors at the Essentially Ellington Competition in New York, and Mulherkar was named the Ella Fitzgerald Outstanding Soloist. Over the past few years, Mulherkar has received numerous awards and accolades, including being recognized as an “outstanding soloist” in DownBeat magazine’s 30th Annual Student Musician Awards. Mulherkar will be attending the Julliard School of Music in the fall. Joining Riley on the bandstand will be Gus Carns on piano, Carmen Rothwell on bass, Zach Para on drums and Carl Majeau on tenor sax. Riley and his band will be performing on July 16.

Siobhan Brugger has been singing jazz standards since she was 12 years old and has appeared at jazz clubs in Edinburgh, Scotland and Kobe, Japan. She has received numerous accolades including:winner of the 2009 Downbeat Magazine Best High School Jazz Vocalist, two –time winner of the “Outstanding Alto Soloist” award at the Lionel Hampton jazz Festival, winner of the student division of the Seattle-Kobe Jazz Vocalist competition, selection for the 2008 All-State Jazz Choir and also a two-time finalist for the Gibson/Baldwin Grammy Jazz Festival. She is a longtime student of Greta Matassa and her performed at such great venues as Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley and Bake’s Place. Siobhan is presently a student at USC, where she is continuing her education in jazz studies. Siobhan’s band features Devon Yesberger on piano, Chris Copland on drums, Colleen Gilligan on bass and Daniel Hipke on guitar. Siobhan will be appearing on July 17.

For both of these performances, dinner service starts at 6pm and the show starts at 7:45pm. For reservations, please call 425-391-3335 or send an email to email hidden; JavaScript is required. For more information, please visit www.bakesplace.org.

Bad Monkey Bistro: Live Jazz in South Lake Union


Situated between the glittering high rises of the downtown core and the busy waters of Lake Union, the South Lake Union neighborhood is Seattle’s new mecca for contemporary urban living. With all the hustle and bustle there, it is the perfect location for a spanking new live music venue; welcome the Bad Monkey Bistro

Last Friday, my teenage son Emmett and I dropped by to check things out. We had just come from the last day performances of the University of Washington jazz workshop and were looking to grab a bite to eat. The room was popping with activity and felt immediately inviting. We landed during happy hour; the bar was full of cheerful, chatting patrons, and a pianist was playing away in the dining room, where we were seated.

The layout of the space allows it to successfully accommodate both sports fans and music lovers; this is certainly not easy to do, and many establishments fail at this particular kind of multi-tasking. As you walk in, there is a sports bar with high tables and stools to the immediate right. Straight on is the dining room with traditional tables and chairs and also the piano. Adjacent to the bar is an enclosed room-the “Socialing Lounge”- with leather chairs and a fireplace. On the other side of the bar is an area with a pool table. Both the bar and the Socialing Lounge have large, flat screen TV’s, which were turned on but with the sound muted. I appreciated the respect shown to Martin Ross, who happened to be the pianist working that set. Although the bar was very busy, it in no way detracted from the music. I felt like the balance was well executed. Hats off to Bad Monkey for that.

The musical setting at the Bad Monkey is a combination of piano bar and jazz joint. The glass top on the table with surrounding stools certainly indicates the former. Martin Ross played a variety of music from “Popsicle Toes” to Tom Wait’s boozy anthem “My Piano Has Been Drinking.” While we were having dinner, a trio of giggling women came in and sat around the piano. Ross engaged them accordingly, mixing song with playful banter. Bad Monkey has live music a few nights a week. They have two sets; a 4-7pm set for happy hour and an 8-11pm set for the dinner service. In addition to solo piano, they present jazz combos from a variety of genres, with or without vocalists, depending on the particular group.

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The owners of the Bad Monkey Bistro are Daniel Poe Gale and Christopher Williams. Even though he was clearly busy taking care of customers, Daniel kindly took a few minutes to chat it up with us. He told us a little bit about the history of the building, which used to be an office for a paper manufacturing company. When they were remodeling the space, they used much of the original wood, especially in the bar area. We talked a little bit about the music; Daniel is clearly a piano aficionado and is very enthusiastic about the potential of the room and about musical things to come. (Sidebar: It came up in the conversation that Emmett plays guitar and performs with his own jazz group. Daniel offered him a gig on the spot. I found his openness surprising yet refreshing.) There is no question that he is committed to creating a welcoming scene for live jazz at the Bad Monkey. You gotta love that.

Our dinner was yummy. I had the smoked salmon pasta, which was creamy and smooth and full of lightly cooked, fresh vegetables. Emmett had the calamari stuffed with artichoke, garlic and crab, which he gobbled up in mere minutes. Our waitress was sweet and laid back. The Bad Monkey experience is probably best done when you’re in the mood to kick back, relax and hang awhile. The vibe seems to lend itself to that, and that’s just fine.

The Bad Monkey Bistro is located at 400 Boren Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109, on the corner of Boren and Harrison. Please note that it can be slightly tricky to find because there are actually two Boren Avenues that run parallel to each other. Construction in the area can add to the confusion. However, don’t let this dissuade for one minute. There are directions on the website (http://www.badmonkeybistro.com/), and once you arrive, there is plenty of available street parking. The Bad Money Bistro is open daily from 10am to 2am, serving lunch, dinner and late night bites. There is a happy hour menu as well. Phone is 206-467-1111.

By Katy Bourne

The Jazz Hang: Sandy Cressman & Homage to Brazil

Sandy Cressman

Sandy Cressman is a San Francisco jazz vocalist, who has devoted the majority of her career to the study and performance of Brazilian music. This Saturday, Sandy will be appearing at  along with the Jovino Santos Neto Trio and together they will perform her Homage to Brazil- a “musical journey through the world of Brazilian jazz” at Bake’s Place. Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sandy about her career and about Brazilian music. She was warm and engaging and clearly very passionate about what she does. The following are excerpts from our conversation:

It is clear from your bio that you’ve had a natural affinity for Brazilian music almost your entire life. What about it resonates with you?

In knew the first time I heard it, there was something about the passionate nature of the music that was appealing. Performing it myself really suited my own personal expression. Early on in junior high, I heard a girl sing Sergio Mendes’s hit “Mas Que Nada” and it totally floored me.  I didn’t know how to go out and seek the music at that time. But by the time I was into college and into jazz, I heard it again…..Tania Maria, Flora Purim….and was really excited. One time I was at a Pat Metheny concert, and the music that was playing on the break was so beautiful that I walked to the soundboard to find out who it was. It was Ivan Lins. I went out and bought as much as his music as I could.

Later, I was on touring Japan with a Japanese group. The guitarist for that group gave me recordings of Djavan to listen to. I was overwhelmed. When I got back from Japan, I bought all the Brazilian music I could find. At one point, the pianist Marco Silva sat in as a sub for Pastiche. He brought me cassettes of Brazilian music and fed my addiction further. In 1995, Marco asked me to come and sing Brazilian music with him. It was a little café duo gig. Each week we would bring in new tunes to try out. That was really the start for me.

Why do you think the popularity of Brazilian music is so enduring?

I think the rhythm is infectious. There’s a feeling of passion that’s very Brazilian yet not restricted to Brazil. A lot of people feel that passion. It makes you feel really good. It really takes you somewhere.

Tell me about putting together the music for “Homage to Brazil.”

Well, my first record was “Homenegem Brasileira”. I have known Jovino for fourteen years. We met at California-Brazil summer camp. He’s one of the rare pianists that can play the broad repertoire of Brazilian music that I like to sing with authenticity and freshness. The last time we played at Bake’s, it was Jobim’s 80th birthday. At that time, we decided to do a tribute to Jobim. This time, we decided to mix up composers. We came up with some songs that our quartet can explore and have fun with. Basic arrangements but not everything is planned.

Tell me a little bit about playing with Jovino.

Jovino is just a stellar musician. He knows his craft, knows Brazilian music and knows jazz. He has a certain openness to the unexpected and he’s non-judgmental, which makes it such a comfortable experience to play music together. I’m a guest on his soil. He respects the work that I’ve done to do it as well as I do. It feels like I’m being collaborated with and respected.

How do you think your approach to the music differs from other vocalists and musicians?

I’m not Brazilian but I try to be true to the spirit of the music. The musicians I use, the way I sing and phrase it. I typically sing to a non-Brazilian audience and I am able to give them a background on the tunes and why I like them. They get a history and exposure to things they might not have heard before.

To someone who is new to Brazilian music and wants some ideas as to what recordings to check out, what suggestions would you make?

Joao Guilberto. Also, I have a Brazilian music discography on the teaching page on my website.

What is playing on your i-Pod right now?

Chico Pinheiro. Really cool, modern Brazilian music.

For more information about Sandy, please visit http://www.cressmanmusic.com/.

For information about Bake’s Place, please visit the website at www.bakesplace.org. To make resvervations for the show, please call 425-391-3335 or send an email to email hidden; JavaScript is required.

The Jazz Hang: Local Color – Art, Jazz & Big Fun

There is some seriously fun hang happening right in the belly of the Pike Place Market: Local Color Gallery. This spunky spot is a working art studio, coffee shop, wine bar and live jazz venue all rolled into one. Anyone looking for a great place to listen to jazz should definitely check this out.

Local Color sits on the corner of Pike Place and Stewart Street. I recently went down to check out their “Jazz in the Market” series, which happens every Friday and Saturday night. On this particular night, vocalist Rochelle House was, forgive the pun, in the house along with her killer band: Darrius Willrich on keys, Evan-Flory-Barnes on bass and D’Vonne Lewis on drums. The room is long and rectangular, and a stage sits on the far end of the space. Of course, there is art everywhere. Local Color features works by local artists of all mediums: oil, acrylic, watercolor, photograph and contemporary pottery. There are paintings and photographs on all the walls and cases full of original jewelry. The room is colorful and cheerful. They have a full espresso menu, a nice variety of beer and wine and also a selection of light nibbles, including delicious grilled sandwiches, a la pannini-style. I had a wonderful tuna melt and a very tasty vanilla latte, which was served to me by the friendliest of baristas.

When it comes to the music side of things, owners Frank and Sydne Albanese don’t mess around. They are committed to creating a relaxed listening venue for their patrons and also to making this jazz series successful. They have an outstanding sound system, complete with stage monitors, main speakers for the house and a Mackie mixer. The acoustics were pretty impressive. Initially, we couldn’t hear enough of the vocals through the mains, but Frank quickly adjusted, and it was fine for the rest of the evening. There is a house drum kit and an electronic piano. The stage is well lit with professional gel lighting. Comfortable couches and chairs are assembled in front of the stage, and there are high tables, counters and stools situated throughout the room. This is no coffee shop open mic with a singer-songwriter on a stool in the corner. This is a full-on listening venue that has been planned with careful attention to detail.

Perhaps one of the most striking things about Local Color is the warm hospitality and decidedly pro-music vibe. Frank, Sydne and staff treat everyone like friends, and anyone walking through the door is greeted as such. Frank, in particular, is excited about all things jazz and happily engages in conversations about his favorite recordings or about the upcoming performance of a new vocalist that he is excited about. On the particular night I was there, the room was packed, Rochelle and her band were on fire, and the overall scene felt like a party full of happy friends. I thought to myself, “Everyone should know about this place.”

Local Color has live jazz on Friday and Saturday nights, with the exception of the first Saturday night of the month, when they host a regular art opening. Local Color validates parking after 5pm at the Public Market Garage at 1531 Western Ave. This eliminates the pesky task of parking in the market, which can be very daunting, especially on a weekend evening. Again, Frank and Sydne have thought of everything.

Local Color is truly a wonderful establishment, and I can’t say enough about the sheer fun- factor of hanging out there. In a time when many music venues are struggling to stay afloat, the spirited gang at Local Color forges full-speed ahead. This optimism and enthusiasm will no doubt make this one of the most vibrant rooms on the scene. If you haven’t been, check it out. If you’ve already been, well, you know what I’m talking about.

Local Color is located at 1601 Pike Pl., Seattle, WA 98101. Phone is 206-728-1717. Website is http://www.localcolorseattle.com/

The Jazz Hang: 2009 – The Year of Live Music

by Katy Bourne

Well, here it is the New Year again. It seems I should have some inspiring personal missive or perhaps a bold, optimistic profundity to share. But the truth is people: I got nothing. Oh sure, I’m plenty excited for the January 20th inauguration. Even though the election was back in November, I still grapple to find the words to express how it feels to be alive during such an unprecedented moment in history. Trust me, it’s big stuff for me….for all of us. However in regards to 2009 overall, I don’t have much commentary, personal, political or otherwise.

But I’m here and you’re here, so I feel like I should come up with something. So, I am going to make a short but heartfelt plea to encourage you to make 2009 the Year of Live Music in our community.

Yes, times are hard, and there’s plenty to be gloomy about, especially on the economic front. This is precisely why, however, that we need live music.

Music is a living, breathing, burning entity. It is bigger than the cosmos but affects us on a cellular level. It is the tried and true magic that lifts us up and energizes us. It is the enduring comfort that reaches down to our most desolate places. It is everything in between.

Throughout all of history with wars and economic downturns, as well as men landing on the moon and people dancing in the streets, music has been there in one fashion or another. No matter what we or our ancestors have been through, we have always had a sound track. Musicians have always been around to shoot us to the heavens, funk us to the low down, swing us into delirium and soothe our wounded hearts. Musicians are the constant of history, and music is the one sure thing.

So I propose that we make this the Year of Live Music. I’m standing on my chair (OK, home alone at my desk….You can’t see me, but still…conjure up an image.) and asking you to commit to going out and supporting live music, whenever or wherever you can.

Drop into shows. Support restaurants and cafes that have live music. Better yet, ask your local noodle shack or pizza joint to start booking bands and musicians.

If you’re a musician, go out and hear your friends play. If you’re driving home from work, drop into your neighborhood coffee shop and throw a buck or two into the hat of the guy playing acoustic guitar. If you’re low on cash, there are plenty of places to catch music for free. If you have some bread, then squirrel a few bucks away to spend on a cover charge or two.

Think of this, for one month of basic cable, you could catch two or three really great live jazz performances. Make music part of your New Year’s resolution effort and reward yourself for putting down that donut with two or three (or five or ten or nineteen) nights a month out listening to music. Take your friends. Invite your mom. Get up your nerve and finally ask that special someone out on a date. Ride your bike. Hop on a bus. Saddle up a donkey. Carpool with your neighbors. Just go out and listen to live music! It’s not just about keeping musicians working, although that’s very important. It’s about keeping our collective selves alive, engaged and energized. It’s about making the place we live hip and wonderful.

Yes, things suck right now, but they don’t have to suck as badly. Live music can make the difference. So how about it? “2009-The Year of Live Music”. C’mon, let’s do it, people! As the Ellington tune so eloquently put it, “It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing.”

Review: Wayne Horvitz and NY Composers Orchestra West at The Triple Door

I didn’t think I’d be able to attend much of the 2009 Earshot Jazz Festival as I’ve been completely tied up with The Drowsy Chaperone at The 5th Avenue, but with my Monday night free, and my brother in the band, I decided to check out Wayne Horvitz and NY Composers Orchestra West at The Triple Door. While I did bring my camera, I sadly didn’t bring anything for note taking, so I missed getting the titles, but to be honest, it’s not important. What was important about this concert was the music of composer and keyboardist Wayne Horvitz. I used to go see his band Zony Mash at the OK Hotel and revelled in the groove, but always remembered seeing a similar incarnation of tonight’s band around ten years ago. My tastes have certainly broadened since then, and with a focus on Wayne’s writing this time, I was even more taken with it.

Read the entire review by David Marriott and view a slideshow here

Tuesday Jazz

TULA’S JAZZ CLUB: Music Works Big Band

JAZZ ALLEY: Ed Reed and the Peck Allmond Quartet

NEW ORLEANS: Holotradband

EGAN’S BALLARD JAM HOUSE:
7pm – Boston to Austin, with Liz Stahler and Brianna Lane
9pm – Victor Noriega Trio Plus 2, with Victor Noriega (piano), Jay Thomas (horns), Mark Taylor (alto sax), Willie Blair (bass) and Kassa Overall (drums)

DEXTER AND HAYES: Tim Kennedy Trio

MARTIN’S ON MADISON: Karin Kajita

MIX: Don Mock, Steve Kim & Charlie Nordstrom

OWL ‘N THISTLE: Jam Session

Saturday Jazz

TULA’S JAZZ CLUB: Susan Pascal Quartet

JAZZ ALLEY: Earl Klugh

THE TRIPLE DOOR MUSICQUARIUM: Red Eye Flight

EGAN’S BALLARD JAM HOUSE:
7pm – Island Jazz Quintet, Maggie Laird (vocals/melodica), Richard Person (trumpet/flugelhorn), Tom Wilkins (piano), Todd Zimberg (drums), Todd Gowers (bass)
9pm – Steve Korn Group with Steve Korn (drums), Mark Taylor (sax), Marc Seales (piano) and John Hamar (bass)

CHAPEL PERFORMANCE SPACE: Ziggurat Ensemble 
Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 8pm

SERAFINA: Leo Raymundo w/ Sue Nixon

GRAZIE: Michael Powers Group

BAKE’S PLACE: Kelley Johnson Quartet

SORRENTO HOTEL: Katy Bourne Trio

PAMPAS ROOM: Brian Nova w/ Stephanie Porter

Sunday Jazz

BUDDY CATLETT FUNDRAISER: The Pampas Room under El Gaucho.
5:00pm – 11:00pm. 90 Wall St., Belltown.

SEATTLE DRUM SCHOOL: Byron Vannoy’s Meridian
12510 15th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98125, Tel:(206)364-8815

JAZZ ALLEY: Robben Ford

TULA’S JAZZ CLUB:
3:00pm: Jazz Police
8:00pm: Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra

BAKE’S PLACE: Pearl Django

TRIPLE DOOR MUSICQUARIUM: Sunday Night Salsa: Fred Hoadley Trio

TUTTA BELLA WALLINGFORD: Casey McGill’s Blue 4 Trio

SERAFINA:
11am – 1:30pm: Jazz Brunch with the Conlin Roser Duo
6:30 – 9:00pm: Jerry Frank Solo Piano

La SPIGA: Gail Pettis Trio

Saturday Jazz

TULA’S JAZZ CLUB: Andrienne Wilson Farewell Concert

JAZZ ALLEY: Robben Ford

TRIPLE DOOR MUSICQUARIUM: The New Architects

BAKE’S PLACE: Karin Plato Quartet

EGAN’S BALLARD JAM HOUSE:
7pm – Student Loan. Julio Appling (bass/vocals), Liz Chibucos (guitar/violin/vocals), Mark Gerolami (banjo/guitar/vocals) and Chad Kimbler (mandolin/vocals)
9pm – Elise Kloter w/ Karin Kajita
11pm – Rachel Bade-McMurphy Quartet. Rachel Bade-McMurphy (vocals/sax/composer) and Brendan McMurphy (trumpet/drums)

SERAFINA: Jazzuhka

GRAZIE: Andre Thomas and Quiet Fire

PAMPAS ROOM: Brian Nova Quartet

Sunday Jazz

The Pony Boy Jazz Picnic is the biggest game in town today…sure hope you don’t need a last minute sub for those other gigs!

PONY BOY RECORDS 5TH ANNUAL JAZZ PICNIC: Noon-5pm
Sandpoint Magnuson Park Amphitheatre, 7400 Sandpoint Way, NE, Seattle. For more information visit the Pony Boy Records website. (See previous post.)

JAZZ ALLEY: Chuck Mangione

TULA’S JAZZ CLUB:
3:00pm: Reggie Goings / Hadley Caliman
8:00pm: Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra

TRIPLE DOOR MAINSTAGE: Afrissippi

TUTTA BELLA WALLINGFORD: Casey McGill’s Blue 4 Trio

SERAFINA:
11am – 1:30pm: Jazz Brunch with the Conlin Roser Duo
6:30 – 9:00pm: Ann Reynolds / Tobi Stone Duo

La SPIGA: Makini and the Killer Bees

KWJZ JAZZ BRUNCH CRUISE: Susan Pascal Quartet, 12-2pm.
More info: 206-623-1445

Saturday Jazz

TULA’S JAZZ CLUB:
3:00 – Andrienne Wilson Vocal Showcase
8:30 – Greta Matassa Quartet

JAZZ ALLEY: Chuck Mangione

BAKE’S PLACE: Jeanie Bryson Quartet

SORRENTO HOTEL: Katy Bourne w/ Hans Brehmer and Chuck Kistler
900 Madison St., Seattle, 206-622-6400

TRIPLE DOOR MAINSTAGE: Jacqui Naylor
TRIPLE DOOR MUSICQUARIUM: Vunt Foom

EGAN’S BALLARD JAM HOUSE:
7pm and 9pm- Overton Berry Trio CD Release Party

SERAFINA: Leo Raymundo w/ Sue Nixon

GRAZIE: Blues Union

PAMPAS ROOM: Brian Nova Quartet w/ Stephanie Porter

Friday Jazz

TULA’S JAZZ CLUB: Katie King Quartet

JAZZ ALLEY: Chuck Mangione

TRIPLE DOOR MAINSTAGE: Cuchata and Nationbeat (world music)
TRIPLE DOOR MUSICQUARIUM: Joe Doria Trio

EGAN’S BALLARD JAM HOUSE:
7pm – Dylan Heaney Group, with Dylan Heaney (sax), Andy Coe (guitar), Keith Judelman (bass) and Phil Parisot (drums)
9pm – Like Minds, jazz guitar duo with Greg Glassman and Ron Peters

HIROSHI’S: Gene Argel / Jay Thomas / Greg Williamson

LATONA PUB: Phil Sparks / Leif Todasek

SERAFINA: Jose Gonzales Trio

GRAZIE: Blues Union

PAMPAS ROOM: Brian Nova Quartet

Thursday Jazz

TULA’S JAZZ CLUB: Greta Matassa Vocal Workshop

EGAN’S BALLARD JAM HOUSE:
7pm – Sunship, with Brian Heaney (guitar), Michael Monhart (saxophone), David Revelli (drums), Andrew Luthringer (bass) and Stuart Dempster (trombone)
9pm – Tom Baker Quartet, with Tom Baker (guitar and fretless guitar), Greg Cambell (drums), Jesse Canterbury (clarinet) and Brian Cobb (bass)

JAZZ ALLEY: Holly Cole

TRIPLE DOOR MUSICQUARIUM: Monarch Duo

NEW ORLEANS: The Ham Carson Quintet

ASTEROID CAFE: Tim Kennedy & Friends

THAIKU: Jon Alberts / Jeff Johnson / Tad Britton

LO-FI: The Teaching

MARTIN’S OFF MADISON: Karin Kajita

MAY: Hans Teuber Trio

Wednesday Jazz

JAZZ ALLEY: Umalali: The Garifuna Women’s Project

TRIPLE DOOR MUSICQUARIUM: Monarch Duo / Ramana Viera

TULA’S JAZZ CLUB: The Teaching w/ Jeremy Jones, Josh Rawlings, Evan Flory-Barnes

NEW ORLEANS: The Legend Band w/ Clarence Acox

GALLERY 1412: More Zero w/ Chris Stover, Jeff Norwood, Ben Thomas,  Matt Jorgensen, Stuart McDonald

THAIKU: Ron Weinstein Trio

EGAN’S BALLARD JAM HOUSE:
7pm – Beth Wulff (piano) and Jim Wulff (vocals/drums)
9pm – Vocal jazz jam session

WHISKEY BAR: Ronnie Pierce