Earshot Jazz previews The Ballard Jazz Festival

Ballard Jazz Festival

May 6-9
Various venues

View Ballard Jazz Festival WebsiteBuy Tickets

Thirteen is a lucky number for local jazz fans: The 13th annual Ballard Jazz Festival is just around the corner. Hitting on multiple stages from May 6-9, Seattle’s uniquely homegrown jazz fest has developed into an eagerly anticipated annual event that hasn’t lost touch with the intimate and collaborative atmosphere that made it special in the first place. Since its early days as the Ballard Jazz Walk, the reputation and reach of the festival have grown while the vibe has remained welcoming and accessible.

“I want to make sure it’s a local festival, so it sounds like Seattle,” says festival organizer and Seattle jazz impresario John Bishop. “It will be a celebration of that.”

Rather than putting the focus solely on individual marquee gigs, Bishop’s approach is to bring in carefully selected out-of-town talent and pair them up with local musicians for a variety of performances. This gives everyone a chance to mix and mingle, to have a good time over a period of a few days. As Bishop says, invoking a sage perception of what makes a jazz scene vital, “It’s about the hang.”

I want to make sure it’s a local festival, so it sounds like Seattle
Another key piece of Bishop’s goal is to present the full range of jazz-related activity in town, mixing old and new, traditional and cutting-edge. To achieve your balanced jazz diet, for example, you could sample some renegade experimentalism at the Table & Chairs showcase and then drop in for classic jazz trio sounds from legendary pianist Overton Berry – “Two massively different experiences within a half block of each other,” says Bishop.

Bishop has also wisely retained festival elements that have proven popular over the years, including the opening night’s Brotherhood of the Drum and night two’s Guitar Summit concerts (both at Conor Byrne Pub), as well as the Ballard Jazz Walk, where you can take in 17 artists in eight venues for the price of a single ticket.

Every minute of the Ballard Jazz Festival is packed with great music, so selecting highlights can be an exercise in frustration. Just a few to consider: Brotherhood of the Drum will no doubt be special, as this year’s edition features Michael Shrieve, Gene Coye, and Julian MacDonough each leading their own bands. Shrieve is well-known to audiences locally and around the world as the original drummer for Santana. He has a staggering resume, which includes a wide range of music in many genres from rock and jazz to electronic and global experimentalism. Coincidentally, one of Los Angeles-based Gene Coye’s first gigs after high school was also with Santana, and he has since toured with guitarists Larry Carlton and Robben Ford. Julian MacDonough is a fixture on the West Coast scene, well-known for his work with saxophonist Mike Allen’s quartet and pianist Aaron Parks.

This is an especially notable year for guitar fans, with three legendary axe men taking the stage at the Guitar Summit. Peter Bernstein is internationally acclaimed for his mastery and taste as a thoughtful straight-ahead maestro. The NYC stalwart has toured with Diana Krall and Joshua Redman, and the legendary icon Jim Hall sang his praises. John Stowell is also revered as a guitarist’s guitarist, an original voice with a uniquely cliché-free take on the jazz tradition, informed by a modern harmonic sense. Jerry Hahn was one of the first to occupy the guitar chair in Gary Burton’s pivotal groups starting at the close of the 60s, and was a key figure in laying the groundwork and establishing a musical vocabulary for later eclectic innovators such as Pat Metheny.

This is only scratching the surface: Other appearances include bassist David Friesen, saxophonists Eric Alexander and Lucas Pino, plus a cross-section of supremely talented local luminaries that will make you glad to call the Pacific Northwest home. Don’t miss it!

Tickets and information available at ballardjazzfestival.com.

Andrew Luthringer

Ballard Jazz Fest Schedule

Wednesday, May 6
Conor Byrne Pub, 5140 Ballard Avenue NW
Brotherhood of the Drum, 8pm
Michael Shrieve, Gene Coye, and Julian MacDonough
Tickets $15 / $13 advance. Ages 21+.

Thursday, May 7
Conor Byrne Pub, 5140 Ballard Avenue NW
Guitar Summit, 8pm
Peter Bernstein, John Stowell, and Jerry Hahn
Tickets $15 / $13 advance. Ages 21+.

Friday, May 8
Various venues, downtown Ballard
Ballard Jazz Walk, 6:30pm
17 groups in eight venues for a single ticket price
Jazz Walk Only, $30 / $26 advance. Tickets available day-of at New York Fashion Academy, 5201 Ballard Ave NW. Most venues all ages, with some 21+.

Nordic Heritage Museum, 3014 NW 67th St
Friday Night Concert, 7:30pm
The Peter Bernstein Trio and David Friesen Circle 3 Trio
Friday Night Concert + Jazz Walk, $30 / $26 advance. All ages.

Saturday, May 9
Nordic Heritage Museum, 3014 NW 67th St
Swedish Pancake Jazz Brunch, 11am & 12:30pm
Thomas Marriott Quartet
Tickets $15 non-museum members, $12 museum members, $40 families of four. All ages.

Mainstage Concert, 7:30pm
Eric Alexander w/ the Peter Bernstein Trio
Lucas Pino No Net Nonet
Tickets $35 general, $55 reserved, $18 students. All ages.

Seattle Times: Ballard Jazz Festival spotlights Sonny Fortune

Sonny-Fortune-3from The Seattle Times:

The Ballard Jazz Festival, Seattle’s most convivial and inviting jazz event, has announced that the great saxophonist Sonny Fortune will headline this year. The festival runs Wednesday-Saturday, April 16-19.

Fortune, 74, is best known for his work with McCoy Tyner and Miles Davis in the ’70s, but has produced a highly-respected portfolio of albums as a leader, including “Four in One.” An added bonus for Seattle: sizzling, Portland-based pianist George Colligan will be at the keyboard.

Also on the bill at Ballard, and possibly even more exciting, is Spanish “flamenco jazz” pianist Chano Dominguez, who translates that guitar- and vocal-based music to piano in an original and compelling way.

continue reading at The Seattle Times.

Ballard Jazz Festival kicks off tomorrow

via MyBallard.com:

Tomorrow kicks off the first night of the annual Ballard Jazz Festival, starting Wednesday, April 18 and going through Saturday, April 21.

The John Moulder Quartet, from a previous year’s festival

The festival is happening all over Ballard, with tomorrow’s opening night at the Conor Byrne Pub with Brotherhood of the Drum. The rest of the week is as follows:

  • Thursday, April 19, the Guitar Summit will take the stage at Conor Byrne, featuring Bobby Broom, Tim Young, John Stowell, and Dave Peterson.
  • Friday, April 20, is the Ballard Jazz Walk, featuring 17 groups happening at 12 venues all over Ballard.
  • Saturday, April 21, the festival will be going on all day, starting with the Swedish Pancake Jazz Brunch at 11 a.m. at the Nordic Heritage Museum. The festival will culminate that evening with a concert at the Nordic Heritage Museum, featuring Bobby Broom Trio and the Orrin Evans Quartet.

Tickets are available by clicking here.

Ballard Jazz Festival 2012 showcases regional, national talent

from The Seattle Times:

Jazz has always relied on the commitment of grass-roots activist-musicians. It would be hard to find two more committed souls in that department than drummers Matt Jorgensen and John Bishop who, with their feisty record label, Origin, produce the Ballard Jazz Festival, which opens Wednesday.

Fittingly, one of this year’s headliners is an activist-musician himself, the dynamic Philadelphia pianist Orrin Evans. Though Evans is a New York journeyman, he lives in Philly, where he nurtures the scene with such projects as the Captain Black Big Band, a group Down Beat magazine critics recently called a “rising star.”

“I try to be present,” said the pianist on the phone, as he drove from Philadelphia to a Manhattan gig, earlier this week. “I bring things back, from wherever I go, whether it’s New York or Japan, to keep adding to the scene.”

With Evans, as with Seattle jazzers, local pride runs deep. In talking about influences, he’s as likely to mention Philadelphia keyboard legends Trudy Pitts and Shirley Scott as Kenny Barron or Ralph Bowen, the teachers he encountered at Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts.

Evans is also passionate about the African-American roots of jazz — he came up in the black church — which you can hear in his soulful swing and knotty, percussive attack, qualities that have earned him slots with Bobby Watson, Sean Jones, Branford Marsalis, Nicholas Payton and the Mingus Big Band.

Continue reading at The Seattle Times.

Review: Hadley Caliman at Ballard Jazz Festival

Review by Bill Barton

Ballard Jazz Festival, Nordic Heritage Museum, Friday, April 25, 2008

Hadley Caliman Quintet:
Hadley Caliman – tenor saxophone
Thomas Marriott – trumpet & flügelhorn
Dawn Clement – piano
Phil Sparks – bass
D’Vonne Lewis – drums

The quintet’s set began with Caliman’s composition “Kickin’ on the Inside” from the recent Origin CD Gratitude. His intro mentioned that pianist Clement could probably relate to the title, as she is pregnant. “Kickin’…” is a jaunty, mid-tempo tune and served as an excellent warm-up for things to come. At times Caliman’s beautiful tenor timbre was reminiscent of middle-period Coltrane, but he plumbs the depths of the horn’s range more than Trane did. Marriott’s bright-toned trumpet solo was an energetic post-bop romp; he had Hubcaps on his wheels here. Clement’s piano solo was subtle and imaginative. She has a distinctive style and sound all her own. Both as a soloist and as an accompanist she’s a spare, concise player. What she doesn’t play is fully as important as what she does play. Although there aren’t really that many direct connections in terms of sound or touch, she is closer to Red Garland or Mal Waldron (and perhaps Bill Evans) than to the more loquacious pianists who have taken the approaches of McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and/or Keith Jarrett as their guideposts. She is in the sunlight whereas Waldron was in the shade, but there is a similar sense of elegant yet earthy economy in her playing. Phil Sparks also took a very smooth, rhythmically charged bass solo. Read More

Review: Lee Konitz at The Ballard Jazz Festival

Review by Bill Barton; Photos by Jim Levitt

Saturday, April 26 – The Ballard Jazz Festival
Nordic Heritage Museum

Lee Konitz with The Hal Galper Trio:
Lee Konitz – alto saxophone, Hal Galper – piano, Jeff Johnson – bass, John Bishop – drums

Lee Konitz certainly needs no introduction to jazz fans. He’s been a major player for 60 years. That’s quite a remarkable achievement when you consider how many greats have come and gone in that span of time. He first attracted attention for his solos with Claude Thornhill’s orchestra in 1947 and only two years later took part in the recordings generally credited as the first “free” improvisations in jazz, captured for posterity with his mentor Lennie Tristano. He also took part in the sessions that produced the epochal Miles Davis Birth of the Cool. It would take a Britannica-sized book to list all of his credits since then. He’s been primarily a leader of his own groups for well over 50 years now. He looks great and sounds great at an age when most Americans have long since retired. The old cliché that music keeps you young applies here.

His liquid, pellucid tone on alto remains a thing of wonder. In the stereotype- crazy lexicon of jazz journalism he has long been considered part of the “cool school.” There may be a grain of truth in that pigeonhole, but many listeners seem to have missed the intense emotion with which he plays. It may be a cool burn – sometimes – but it’s a burn nonetheless. Konitz has made a career out of courting risks. The man never plays it safe. And as jazz critic Larry Kart put it: “The ethereal lyricism of Konitz’s earliest recorded work, related though it was to Lester Young, was an essentially private affair that existed outside the mainstream of jazz history.” His playing can also be – presumably purposefully – anti-lyrical; it’s as if he is stretching the limits of just how much he can fragment a melodic line before it loses its focus.

It’s a given in all definitions of jazz that improvisation is one of the music’s most essential ingredients. The paradox comes up and slaps us across the face when listening to many players – particularly in this age when neo-classicism has taken most of the seats at the front of the bus – that what passes for improvisation is often replication of something previously improvised or skilled interpolations from a grab-bag of licks and patterns. Konitz is one of the rare musicians who always seem to be standing up in the rollercoaster car at the top of the most precipitous and winding ramp. He’s not wearing a seatbelt that’s for sure. Pianist Galper stated – and I’m paraphrasing here – that in the nine months he toured with Konitz as a duo, playing six nights a week, the alto saxophonist never repeated himself or fell back on pet licks. Read More

Review: Sam Yahel Trio at Ballard Jazz Festival

Review by Bill Barton; Photos by Jim Levitt

Ballard Jazz Festival 2008, Saturday, April 26, 2008
Nordic Heritage Museum

Sam Yahel Trio:
Sam Yahel – Hammond A100 organ
Mark Taylor – alto saxophone
Matt Jorgensen – drums

Sam Yahel has received a lot of attention in the jazz world recently, including an impressive four year series of wins in the Down Beat Critics Poll as Talent Deserving Wider Recognition. Truth and Beauty – his most recent CD on Origin featuring Joshua Redman and Brian Blade – has received significant international jazz radio airplay and was voted one of the 2007 Top Ten by The New York Times.

After hearing him in concert it’s easy to understand why he’s making waves. The Hammond organ is customarily associated with a funky, blues-based, down home kind of groove jazz, as personified by the likes of Jimmy Smith, Brother Jack McDuff, Richard “Groove” Holmes, et al. Yahel can groove with the best of them, but his approach is decidedly multi-faceted, and he could be considered as part of the continuation of a line of organ innovators like Big John Patton, Larry Young and Alice Coltrane than he is an inheritor of the Smith legacy.

His personal sound on the instrument was evident from the very beginning of this set. The trio began with an African-ized arrangement of the Beatles’ classic “Norwegian Wood,” a song title certainly apropos to the concert’s location in the Nordic Heritage Museum. Yahel’s registrations on the intro evoked aural images of kalimbas and balaphones. There was plenty of dynamic range in this performance and Mark Taylor‘s alto solo was delightful.

Alec Wilder’s “Moon and Sand” was done as a bossa nova, beginning with organ and drums before Taylor joined in. A favorite of Marian McPartland’s, this lovely Wilder melody has been infrequently interpreted by other jazz players (Kenny Burrell and Gil Evans are among the few who have championed it.) It’s a beautiful song, and the trio did it justice in a version that dropped the dynamics down toward the end and reverted to its ballad origins. There was a canny and oblique quote from “Mona Lisa” slipped unobtrusively into the organ solo just before the group changed the mood. Read More

Sunday Jazz

It’s a good day for eatin’ and listenin’ 

Swedish Pancake Jazz Brunch w/ Brent Jensen (sax), Bill Anschell (piano), Doug Miller (bass), Greg Williamson (drums). 11am-2pm, Nordic Heritage Museum. More info at: http://ballardjazzfestival.com

JAZZ ALLEY: Billy Cobham

MAINSTAGE: Seattle Symphony at the Triple Door – Serious Quartet II
MUSICQUARIUM: Sunday Night Salsa: Rhythm Syndicate

3:00pm: Fairly Honest Big Band
8:00pm: Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra

TUTTA BELLA WALLINGFORD: Casey MacGill’s Blue 4 Trio

11am: Jazz Brunch with the Conlin Roser/Cynthia Mullis Duo
6pm: Ann Reynolds/Tobi Stone Duo

LA SPIGA: Gail Pettis

WASABI BISTRO: Brazilian Jazz w/ Marco deCarvalho

Saturday Jazz

Lee Konitz with the Hal Galper Trio, w/ Hal Galper (piano), Jeff Johnson (bass), John Bishop (drums)
Sam Yahel Trio, w/ Sam Yahel (organ), Mark Taylor (sax), Matt Jorgensen (drums)
Nordic Heritage Museum, 7:30pm. For complete line-up, ticket and venue information, visit http://ballardjazzfestival.com

…and there’s even more great music happening tonight:

EARSHOT JAZZ: Ullman/Swell 4
Gebhard Ullman (sax, flute, bass clarinet), Steve Swell (trombone), Hill Greene (bass), Barry Atschul (drums). Seattle Asian Art Museum 8pm.

JAZZ ALLEY: Billy Cobham


TULA’S JAZZ CLUB: Adrienne Wilson Quartet

7pm – Nick Allison Trio featuring Katie Walker
9pm – Susan Carr Ensemble 

BAKE’S PLACE: Greta Matassa and Trish Hatley

TUTTA BELLA: Marco deCarvalho


GRAZIE: Michael Powers Group

Friday Jazz

For complete line-up, ticket and venue information, visit http://ballardjazzfestival.com
Ballard Jazz Walk:
15 groups in 12 venues in beautiful downtown Ballard in Seattle, 8:30pm.
Mainstage Concert:
Hadley Caliman Group and the Hal Galper Trio, Nordic Heritage Museum, 7:30pm

In addition to the Ballard Jazz Festival,
there’s even more great music happening tonight:

JAZZ ALLEY: Billy Cobham Spectrum Band

TULA’S JAZZ CLUB: Gary Shutes Quartet

5:30pm- James Baumgart Trio
9pm- El Bapa Jason Parker (trumpet), Nathan Spicer (keys), Dave Elvin (drums), and special guests.

EGAN’S BALLARD JAM HOUSE: Ballard Jazz Walk  http://ballardjazzfestival.com

SERAFINA: Fred Hoadley Trio


HIROSHI’S: Buddy Catlett International Quartetlette

Seattle Times: It’s a clash of the jazz titans

From The Seattle Times:

The Ballard Jazz Festival climaxes Saturday with a main-stage concert featuring alto saxophone icon Lee Konitz. (See sidebar on page 5 for schedule.)

Unfortunately, Earshot is presenting the equally compelling reed man Gebhard Ullmann in a quartet with trombonist Steve Swell the same night, at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

If you haven’t had a chance to hear Konitz in concert, then he’s the obvious choice. But if you have, and your tastes run to the wild and woolly, I highly recommend Ullmann.

Continue reading at The Seattle Times.

Wednesday Jazz

The Sunset Tavern

5433 Ballard Avenue NW
8:00pm, 21+

featuring performances by groups led by: Michael Shrieve, Byron Vannoy and John Bishop

TULA’S JAZZ CLUB: Al Keith Octet


TRIPLE DOOR MAINSTAGE: Marcus Miller w/ special guests DJ Logic & Jean Baylor
TRIPLE DOOR MUSICQUARIUM: Leif Totusek (5:00pm); Tarik Abouzied Quartet (9:00pm)

6pm – Paul Turner, Australian singer/songwriter on U.S. tour, with Skip vonKuske (cello) [Website] ($5 cover)
8pm – Vocal Jam with guest host Ellen Marx and Steve Marx (bass), Jon Eisen (piano) and Paul Sawyer (guitar)

THE NEW ORLEANS: The Legend Band w/ Clarence Acox

THAIKU: Ron Weinstein Trio


Hadley Caliman on KONG TV

Hadley.jpgTune in to KONG TV (Channel 6) on Wednesday morning to see a profile of Hadley Caliman and his upcoming performance at the Ballard Jazz Festival and live performances from Hadley and Thomas Marriott.

Story and interview segments will air at 7:45 and 8:45am. Live performances will be featured throughout the morning.

Click here for more information and buy tickets to Hadley’s performance at the Ballard Jazz Festival.

Ballard Jazz Festival Starts Wednesday

The 5th annual Ballard Jazz Festival kicks off this Wednesday with The Brotherhood of the Drum at The Sunset Tavern.

Discount on advance tickets are still available, so visit the Ballard Jazz Festival website for more information.

Here is a rundown:

Wed – Thur, April 23 – 24: Brotherhood of the Drum

Friday, April 25: Concert featuring Hadley Caliman Quintet and the Hal Galper Trio

Friday, April 25: Ballard Jazz Walk (16 groups in 13 venues on a joint ticket)

Saturday, April 26: Concert featuring Lee Kontiz and The Sam Yahel Trio

Sunday, April 27
: Swedish Pancake Jazz Brunch

Ballard Jazz Festival in the press

The Ballard Jazz Festival begins next Wednesday and runs through Sunday. Discounts on tickets are available through the festival website.

Previews of the festival have started appearing the local papers.

Friday’s Jazz Walk is the festival highlight and its biggest draw. “With 16 bands in 13 venues, it is a sure thing,” Jorgensen promises. “If you can’t find something you like in all that, you need to look for a different genre of music.”

Not all festivals improve with age, but the Ballard Jazz Festival is an exception. After starting small and growing slowly, the Ballard Jazz Festival has become a distinct and essential event.

Now in its fifth year, the Ballard Jazz Fest has become one of the most popular and lively jazz events of the year. It gets started next week with the Brotherhood of the Drum on Wednesday and Thursday.