There is a miracle on the corner of 12th Avenue and Jackson St. in what is now Seattle’s “Little Saigon.” In what was a traditional African American and Jewish community before the influx of Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian immigrants after the war in Southeast Asia in the early 1980’s, this urban crossroads was the main pulse of an integrated nightclub scene in the 1930’s, ’40s and ’50s that featured dozens of late-night jazz clubs that not only housed the city’s thriving African American musicians, but attracted many musicians after hours from their respective gigs Downtown that featured only white audiences.
A fully integrated jazz nightclub scene was a rarity on a national scale, perhaps only fully realized along Jackson Street in Seattle, and Central Avenue in Los Angeles. The respective scenes attracted Black musicians from the Jim Crow south, in search of work and the ability to achieve artistry untethered by the tyranny experienced in southern music cities such as Atlanta, Memphis and New Orleans. Even Jelly Roll Morton lived a spell in Seattle, as early as 1919. Neither prohibition, nor the Great Depression could cap the enthusiasm of the city’s bottle clubs along Jackson Street, many of which were operated by Black entrepreneurs. The most notable of these club owners was E. Russell “Noodles” Smith, who along with partner Burr “Blackie” Williams would operate the legendary Black and Tan nightclub in the basement of the aforementioned “miracle” on the corner of 12th and Jackson. In 1920, they opened The Entertainers Club in the upstairs portion of the building, and the late night Alhambra club in the basement. The downstairs nightspot then was renamed the Black and Tan, noted for its integrated, black and white clientele. Smith had arrived in Seattle in 1909, and had a sharp eye for business. With the town rife with cash from the shipyards and lumber mills following the Great War, Jackson Street was able to withstand the onslaught of prohibition, and later as mentioned, the Great Depression. To continue reading, click this link https://www.allaboutjazz.com/jazz-returns-to-seattles-central-district-two-evenings-of-black-brilliance-immanuel-wilkins
History and historical change happens incrementally. An able writer could expound exponentially about the life changes that added up to Louis Armstrong being the first great messenger of jazz music, step by step, before ever mentioning Duke Ellington. In the history of jazz in Seattle, one evening last week has the huge potential of being the first incremental phase of live, local jazz moving forward in the new jazz century, in such a way that allows more meaningful access for the fans, and a creative outlet for artists that compensates them fairly. It has the potential of uniting in a meaningful way, the musicians of this very social art form, and the patrons that support it. For those patrons, it as well allows them to put their hard earned dollars more directly into the musician’s pockets, impacting the creative process in such a way that positively leads to innovation in the music itself. For those of us who love the music, and see it as an integral part of our lives and culture, October 20, 2021 is the date where a giant step was taken towards a goal of vibrance and stability for the Seattle jazz scene. It was the first live incarnation of the Seattle Jazz Fellowship, and its weekly affair at Vermillion on Capitol Hill.
Trumpeter Thomas Marriott, one of the most impactful jazz musicians in recent Seattle memory, has envisioned a movement like this for a number of years. During the deepest, darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, he put his ideas on paper, effectively charting the future for post-pandemic, live, resident jazz in Seattle. With the eventual goal being a five night a week venture in a permanent home, the Seattle Jazz Fellowship has taken its first incremental step towards that goal, forming a Wednesday night partnership with Vermillion, an art gallery and bar that has mainly hosted music from the city’s avant-garde and improvised music community. Marriott purchased a piano and a PA system, and began operations in Vermillion’s brick lined digs. The room is quite vibrant acoustically, and the music was able to take place without electronic assistance with the exception of light amplification for bass and electric keyboards. The piano was not mic’d.
As a 501(c)3 non-profit, the fellowship cannot charge a cover, but has a twenty dollar suggested donation that includes two sets of music from the best Seattle jazz has to offer. The programming however, actually starts in the afternoon at 5 PM, with a free listening event designed for students and jazz fans alike. Historic trombonist and jazz icon, Julian Priester, spends an hour playing albums he appears on, and discusses the historical aspects of that recording. Mr. Priester has appeared on albums and toured with Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, John Coltrane, Sun Ra, Herbie Hancock, Duke Ellington and more. His own records on ECM and Riverside will be explored as well.
On his first go-around, Priester played and expounded on his 1960 Riverside date, Keep Swingin’, and shared wonderful stories about his time with such greats as Roach, Lincoln, and Tommy Flanagan. To sit in a quiet room, talking about a session that took place over sixty years ago with one of the participants was magical, an opportunity not to be missed. Unfortunately, the audience consisted of twenty six musicians, and not a single high school student. The hope is certainly that students will begin to take advantage of this rare opportunity to share time with Priester.
At 7 PM, the club opened officially for an hour of hang time prior to the first set. Vermillion had been shuttered since the beginning of the pandemic, and it took a little work to create the space the event required. Many familiar faces checked in, as well as many new, young faces, all covered in masks. Vaccination ID was checked at the door, adding a layer of social comfort to the event.
From the first note, the room was resonant, the sound projecting out of the bar, and down the long corridor that is the art gallery. People walking through the front door could hear the acoustical brilliance of the room, with the piano of Marc Seales coloring the sound with gorgeous voicings. Drummer Gary Hobbs, up from Portland for the evening, chimed in at first, and then dug in, being his usual swinging self. So appropriately, bassist Chuck Deardorf was on the gig, and sounding better than ever, literally. Deardorf has been a first-call musician in this town since the early seventies, playing often at clubs like the original Jazz Alley in the U District, Parnell’s, The Rainbow and the Pioneer Banque, all of which are swept away into the dustbin of history. Marriott’s trumpet sound was in perfect tune with the physical aspects of the room, his resonant tone rising and projecting immensely. The quartet was in perfect tune with the human vibe in the room, as fifty people filled the tiny, brick lined digs at the Capitol Hill club.
A short break between sets provided more time for people to enjoy the fellowship of community, in many cases, greeting long time friends not seen since the pandemic shut down live music eighteen months ago. The diversity of the crowd itself was stunning in terms of age–being so indicative of the long term multi-generational nature of jazz scenes around the globe. Those attracted are not done so by generational trends, or corporatized marketing. The music is the thing, the appreciation of beauty, the immersion into something that elevates us emotionally and spiritually. There were no expensive dinners to buy, no craft cocktails required. Hungry patrons took advantage of Mario’s across the street. Vermillion owner Diana Adams provided drinks and friendly service. It was obvious she was there for the art, the music itself, just as everyone else in her bar.
Drummer/composer Xavier Lecouturier led his quartet the second set, a bassless ensemble that morphed into a quintet with the last minute addition of trumpeter Noah Halpern. Some of the usual suspects were on the gig, with Meridian Odyssey bandmates Martin Budde (guitar), and Dylan Hayes (piano, keyboards). Vibraphonist Matt Williams, known more prominently as a pianist, but as well highly skilled on vibes, completed the band. With the bassline maintained collectively by Hayes, Budde and Halpern, soloists were free to explore with less visible and audible parameters, creating a unique, orchestral sound. Halpern’s ardent tonality was rich and warm, giving the evening an extraoridinary two trumpet hit. Budde’s playing was free, probing yet thoughtful, as his evolution continues to unfold before us. Lecouturier acted as a leader should, often kicking rhe music in another direction with his confident playing that embraces the entirety of the jazz tradition. Noticeable of course, was like the audience, the group of musicians playing that evening spanned four generations. If you include Priester into the mix, there was sixty five years of separation between the most highly regarded elder, and the youngest player on the gig. There is beauty and value in that beyond measure.
The Seattle Jazz Fellowship could not have hoped for a better result the first time out of the gate. The evening was competing with the Earshot Jazz Festival and Jazz Alley, and received an audience that was attentive, mature, joyous, engaged and aware of the value of masking and being vaccinated. The music was thrilling, the vibe generous and positive and our hosts at Vermillion, kind, helpful and all in on the music.
The Seattle Jazz Fellowship offers a weekly opportunity to show your support for local Seattle jazz, hear vibrant and important music and gather in fellowship with friends. Best of all, it won’t cost you half your weekly paycheck to attend. It is an organization for the music, and the community that embraces it. Musicians and patrons alike are equal partners in this most social music. October 20, 2021, mark it down. It is step one of a journey that very well could determine the future of the Seattle jazz scene. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/
Two trumpet quintets in jazz are rare, historically and presently. The alliances most commonly mentioned are the bop era tandem of Fats Navarro and Howard McGhee and their post-bop descendents, Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw. The individual players in both these pairings had similar qualities in terms of style and approach.
The pairing of Bronx born trumpeter Ray Vega, and his younger partner, Seattle’s Thomas MarriottT, as well have their musical commonalities. It is where the differences lie between the two that provides the intrigue around their recordings and live performances.The age-old belief that the east coast version of jazz is commonly more intense, and the west coast approach more laid back, has not been completely eradicated by modern travel, and in recent times, social media. Vega’s move from the Bronx and New York City to Burlington, Vermont has certainly redefined the “east” portion of the equation, while Marriott is now suddenly the more urban of the two, residing in the city of Seattle. Musical styles aside, the true story of this historic pairing has much more to do with friendship, with mentorship, and a long time friendship and bond that has seen Vega name his youngest son after Marriott. A little background therefore, is necessary to be able to appreciate the magnitude of this latest meeting in Seattle, performing at the Bellevue Blues and Jazz Festival. To continue reading, click on this link:https://www.allaboutjazz.com/east-west-trumpet-summit-at-meydenbauer-center-theatre-thomas-marriott-and-ray-vega
The third week of September turned out to be quite the week for jazz in Seattle. On Tuesday September 21, Herbie Hancock appeared at the Paramount Theatre, performing a thrilling two hour set with bassist James Genus, flutist Elena Pinderhughes and drummer Justin Tyson. The following night, The Cookers were at Jazz Alley, and I went not only to hear some great jazz music, put to pay homage to a group of jazz elders that are hugely influential in the music I had come to be passionate about. This was personal and I wasn’t alone in that feeling. Pianist George Cables is not only one of the great jazz pianists of our time, he is a man with tremendous humility and humanity. Eddie Henderson is on the list of most underappreciated trumpeters historically, with his brilliant melodic sense and tonal elegance. Drummer Billy Hart is still, at age eight one, a force of nature. Mr. Cecil Mc Bee? The master bassist is on records I have come to treasure that date back to the early sixties. Just seeing the great McBee enjoying a glass of wine after the gig was a bit of a surreal experience in itself for an admittedly over-the-top jazz fan like myself.
I was insistent on attending the performance as a civilian–I wanted to enjoy these master musicians without checking on a set list, without jotting down notes. I was however, accompanied by photographer Lisa Hagen Glynn, who wanted to document the event with her very fine skills as a live performance photographer. She knew the room well, so her plan of attack would no doubt bring excellent results. As you can see from the photgraphs below, that indeed was the case.
A review might simply point out that Billy Harper is still letting it fly on tenor, that Cables is playing as well, or better than he ever has. It would state the obvious that Hart would set the pace with his physical and articulate style. It would cite McBee as the foundational impulse of the band, playing with understated elegance. It would mention that Donald Harrison would bring a bit of New Orleans with him, acting as a tonal counterpoint to Harper’s snarling, biting attack. David Weiss would fill in the gaps, solo madly and be the band’s designated spokesman.
For the audience, there was a prominent feeling of rebirth, that somehow through the fog of now almost two years of social isolation, these jazz apostles are still on the road, still sharing their gifts with us. We felt not only joyous, but fortunate to be sharing space with them.
Our friend, the iconic trombonist Julian Priester, sat at a table right up against stage left. It occured to me that three members of Hancock’s Mwandishi Band would be in the house, after having seen Hancock the night before. Priester was there unbeknowst to his Mwandishi brothers, Hart and Henderson. As the Cookers were being announced and entering the stage, Hart spotted Priester and got down on his knees to lean over the stage and embrace his old friend. The emotion of the moment was only surpassed by its beauty.
The hang is always the thing–an unequivocal fact in the jazz community, that somehow felt even more relevant that evening. To be seated with Priester, Hart and Henderson, or sharing a drink with McBee is an honor. Young musicians, such as saxophonist Jackson Cotugno, were able to meet and briefly chat with these legendary and historic musicians. That generational bridge is always something wonderful to behold.
As for my friend Lisa Hagen Glynn, she captured the energy of the evening perfectly. Many, many thanks to her for sharing this treasure trove of jazz history with us. You can catch and support her fine work covering the music scene in Seattle, both inside jazz and out, at her new blogsite https://hardlyraining.com
The stage at the esteemed Seattle jazz club, Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, holds special meaning for local musicians who are brought up through the traditions of the city’s historically vibrant jazz scene. The majority of the performers who grace the Belltown nightspot’s hallowed podium are national and international touring artists, who over the years have included Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Chick Corea, Branford Marsalis, Betty Carter and Cecile McLorin Salvant to mention but a few. On occasion, the club has set aside nights for its resident jazz elite, including the great Ernestine Anderson.
Before the worldwide pandemic brought the live performance world to a screeching halt, Jazz Alley began featuring resident artists on Monday nights (the reference to ‘resident’ artists as opposed to ‘local’ was inspired by Seattle jazz great Julian Priester, who explained that the term local could be interpreted as pedestrian). With live music at the club re-igniting in the summer of 2021, the club decided to take a chance on Seattle’s best, booking Thomas Marriott, Greta Matassa, Marc Seales and Ari Joshua with positive results both in terms of performance and attendance. It was quite striking to see a full club in on every note for Seattle veteran pianist Seales for example, with a band that featured Seattleites Marriott and Jeff Johnson.
The Seattle based Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio took to the Jazz Alley stage to begin a two night, sold out engagement on August 24th, a Tuesday evening with a full house on hand. Many in the audience were about to experience live music for the first time since the pandemic induced shutdown. There was a sense of rejuvenation, of celebration in the room, as Lamarr escorted his mother, brother and sister in law to their table suspended over the stage in the front of the balcony. The soulful R&B and blues guitarist Jimmy James was his usual sharp witted and comical self. “Do you know how to tell if someone is not from Seattle,” he quipped. “When they ask how to get on THE five!” James is all south end Seattle, just as Lamarr’s roots run deep in the Emerald City. New drummer Dan Weiss, who hails from Reno, was getting a full dose of the immensity of the moment, of his Seattle bandmates about to take stage on the city’s most prestigious jazz precipice. The trio had enjoyed a degree of commercial success prior to the shutdown, and had drawn well in their previous visit to the club.
Seattle’s reputation of being a remote and unique cultural outpost is perhaps a bit outdated in its modern incarnation, but nonetheless steeped in historical accuracy. When Jazz Alley opened, it would often feature a national touring artist accompanied by Seattle musicians. In the seventies and eighties, it was common to see such Seattle stalwarts as Chuck Deardorf and Dean Hodges manning the rhythm section for notables like Kenny Burrell or Mose Allison. The resident artists could be found full time at clubs like The New Orleans, or Tula’s beginning in the nineties. But headliners at the old Jazz Alley on University Way, or the current Belltown location, were clearly the exception, not the rule.
Lamarr is what some might refer to as a “natural” musician, one that has an innate understanding of music as a base point for his personal musical progression. In middle school, he came to play in the band by chance, by clearly showing his teacher and mentor Sam Chambliss his ability.
“One day I saw a horn on the floor, and didn’t even know what it was. I told Mr. Chambliss, ‘I can play that.’ He said, ‘Good, I’ll put you in band.’ It was a baritone horn. I picked it up and played it naturally right away. I couldn’t read music, so I would just copy the person next to me. Whatever they played, I played,” he recalls.
Lamarr settled on B-3 after playing drums in the band of Seattle B-3 master, Joe Doria. A year of simply observing his bandleader from behind the kit, allowed him to casually sit down and play the complex instrument.
“I had been watching Joe play it for a year, and literally sat down and played it like I had been playing it my whole life,” says Lamarr.
Lamarr was, and is, a jazz first musician no matter what musical tradition he employs. There is an intuitive eclecticism about his art that transcends form. The influences of his first love, R&B and soul, speaks through his music as well. Taking those elements of his musical personality, and creating a concept that not only would be sufficiently expressive for a genius musician like Lamarr, and as well supply ample opportunity to make a living, eventually became the domain of Amy Novo, Lamarr’s wife, life partner and manager.
“She literally owns DLO3,” exclaimed Lamarr from the Jazz Alley stage that night. “She came up with the idea, and made it happen in every way. I just have to play music.”
Novo worked tirelessly, while her husband created music that would land them with the esteemed Kurland Agency. They found an audience that, like the music, transcended genre. The potent recipe of jazz, rhythm and blues and rock pulled in a sizable crowd that enabled the band to play venues like the Blue Note in New York, worldwide festivals and of course, Seattle’s Jazz Alley. Guitarist James provided the punch that incorporated that which encompasses all of Lamarr’s stylistic indulgences- the blues. The band’s sound has been represented well on the studio albums Close But No Cigar (Colemine, 2018) and I Told You So (Colemine,2021) for Colemine Records, and the live offering Live at KEXP (Colemine, 2018).
That “sound” has a historical lineage, perhaps unknown to Lamarr at the beginning stages of the band’s development. In the fifties and sixties, Seattle Hammond B-3 artist Dave Lewis had a multitude of hit records with what was being referred to at the time as the “Seattle Sound.” It was instrumental, organ based music, that had markings of jazz, rhythm and blues and the hybrid form taking hold of the airwaves in those days– rock and roll. Lewis’ band would eventually have a huge impact sociologically by playing north end gigs that were the exclusive domain of white bands. This would put an end to musical segregation in the city, which included separate unions for white and black musicians. The unity exhibited by late night jam sessions on Jackson St., now had legal and ethical legitimacy by practice among venue owners. The “sound” would have an impact on Seattle jazz, as well as artists in all blues based styles, including Jimi Hendrix. DLO3 has received a large degree of popularity and commercial success with their own unique organ based sound, that much like Lewis’ combo, is an open door for guest artists to enter and leave their mark. It is a style that is constantly in motion and inviting new musical notions. Whether performing for a sit down audience at Jazz Alley, or accommodating a dance crowd, the band has the unique ability to satisfy multiple audiences, a luxury seldom afforded by jazz artists.
Lamarr’s solo work, and his minimalist comping style, are unmistakingly tied to his roots as a jazz musician. His dual persona in a way, is like an artistic aperture allowing the entire blues tradition into the mix. So much is the same, so much is different. “When I play DLO3 music versus swinging jazz, the approach is completely different. I intertwine the soul with jazz and make sense of it,” he explains. It is not, however, groove dance music, no matter how thick and comfortable drummer Weiss makes that pocket seem. Lamarr’s thought processes arrive musically from the jazz lexicon, smothered in blues based soul and funk. “It’s undeniable that music is better when it speaks to somebody’s soul instead of just hearing a beat,” he points out.
The trio’s open door welcomed in India Arie bassist Khari Simmons, and Polyrhythmic’s guitarist Ben Bloom on this Tuesday evening engagement in Seattle. Relieved of bass line duties, Lamarr is able to ascend as a soloist to new heights, and for two tunes, as a vocalist. Until this opening night in Seattle, Lamarr had never dared to sing in public. He soulfully rendered two new compositions to accommodate this new, very personal revelation. “No Walk in the Park,” and “Can’t Win For Losing,” unmasked the organist’s inner creative sanctum, leaving himself completely vulnerable to an audience that included family, long time friends and some of the city’s top music scribes. That comfortable vibe, that which one feels when surrounded by loved ones, by being home, gathered all the loose ends of the evening into one, enlightened space. The jovial nonchalance of Lamarr’s outward personality, and his deep, soul searching inner musical self came to a singular state of being. This wasn’t another ordinary stop on a long tour–it was Seattle, it was Jazz Alley, this was about neighborhood and being home.
The afternoon preceding DLO3’s opener at Jazz Alley, Lamar and Novo set up a B-3 at the Owl ‘n Thistle, an Irish dive bar in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, with intentions of returning after the Jazz Alley hit to attend a weekly jam session that has taken place at the Owl for more than two decades. The jam is the social focal point of the Seattle jazz scene, and where Lamarr would come to match his chops with the best players in town. In those days, the young Lamarr would play trumpet and drums at the session. Two weeks prior, he had dropped in at the Owl after a gig at Woodland Park, with Novo and Simmons in tow. He played drums a bit, but mostly just enjoyed the hang tremendously. He realized how shut in socially he could be, between touring and ultimately, due to Covid-19. Knowing that he would be playing the house B-3 at Jazz Alley, he set up his own equipment at the Owl, and arrived around 10 PM, just as the house band led by pianist Eric Verlinde was finishing up its set. The trio played a few tunes for the jam packed (pun intended) audience in the small, brick lined room. Soon, Lamarr was at the organ with a rapidly changing cast of musicians at the open session, clearly enjoying himself. While Lamarr is an affable sort, his normal positive self seemed to play into a state of heightened joy and repose. Novo as well sported a look of knowing she was in the right place at the right time. Normally a whirlwind during a gig, dealing with the business portion of the band, she as well could just revel in the sense of normalcy, of fellowship and community, that was so clearly at hand.
Of course, the evening would end with Lamarr and Novo once again loading one hulk of a musical instrument into their van. There was another night at Jazz Alley to traverse, and whatever else comes literally down the road as things slowly return to normal. There is the uncertainty of the Delta variant, of course, yet over two nights at their city’s most esteemed club, every seat is full, every audience member engaged and content. There is hope in the air, that we will rise above a two year pandemic hiatus, and find our stride musically, and inevitably, socially.
A single evening saw the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio in front of a full house, and then immersed in the hang, that which in the end really matters. A return to normalcy means so much more than audience being reunited with artist. Rising above the fray of a worldwide pandemic, that place where none of us had ever resided, is more about being reunited with each other. Of feeling that embrace. On one Tuesday evening in Seattle, the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio and family felt the embrace that only home can bring. —Paul Rauch
One of the recent positive marks on the Seattle jazz scene is that Jazz Alley, the city’s premier spot for touring acts, has been featuring some resident artists. The shows have been well attended, featuring iconic Seattle artists such as Greta Matassa, Marc Seales, Thomas Marriott and Delvon Lamarr.
The Seattle jazz community has been well documented in recent years photographically, thanks in large part to veteran jazz photog, Jim Levitt. Long known for his work for the Ballard Jazz Festival, Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Port Townsend, Levitt can often be found at a gig near you. He may be hiding behind a curtain, or slithering along the ground like a shutterbug snake. He may find the empty chair at your table, taking a few shots before disappearing again, toting his stuffed to the gills bag of camera equipment.
Levitt has mentored the next gen photog on the scene, Lisa Hagen Glynn, who as well can often be found working around stages and audiences in several genres of the city music scene, most notably the jazz world where she typically resides. Her initial interest in photographing jazz performances came by attending gigs played by her husband, Seattle first call bassist, Michael Glynn. She has a unique, perhaps innate sense of the moment, often catching musicians at the height of their emotional arc. Her remarkable ability to seem almost invisible, yet find superior angles to shoot, makes her work stand out much in the way of her mentor. Many thanks to Jim and Lisa for bringing the music to life in pictures.
Jazz music continually renews itself generationally with young and inspired talent, presenting an evolving and original approach to the art. The vibrant jazz scene in and around the city of Seattle is a recipient of that renewal at an accelerated pace. The city’s nationally acclaimed high school and university programs continue to churn out accomplished practitioners of the art, in some cases revealing game-changing talent that either remains in the area, or journeys to jazz meccas such as New York. Certainly, drummer/composer Xavier Lecouturier, and trumpeter/composer Noah Halpern fall into that category.
On a crisp Tuesday evening on January 7, the eclectic pair appeared in Columbia City at the Royal Room for two sets featuring their original compositions. Lecouturier’s quintet, and Halpern’s trio as well featured young trailblazing bassist/composer Ben Feldman, pianist/composer Dylan Hayes, saxophonist Rex Gregory and guitarist Ari Joshua.
To be fair, the time to refer to Lecouturier, Halpern, Feldman and Hayes as “young talent” has run its course. While Halpern would be the senior contributor of the bunch at age 23, the accomplishments of these four young men both on stage and in the studio more alludes to veteran accomplishment. Lecouturier released an album of original compositions on the respected Origin label this year titled Carrier (Origin, 2019). As well, he spent a year behind the kit for the Thomas Marriott Quintet while still a student at Cornish. All six musicians have been wise beyond their years in terms of getting real life education on the bandstand, outside of the clutches of academia.
The first set featured Lecouturier’s quintet with Halpern being the lone non-participant. The opening salvo was Lecouturier’s composition “Aube,” a piece that well personifies his work as a composer. Each movement featured a melody built through a thick harmonic structure traversed by each soloist. Gregory’s work was especially insightful, with angular lines gaining ground through the dense ground laid before him by his bandmates. For those who have witnessed this music being performed live over the past year, it became immediately evident that the musicians were freer within the flow, Gregory’s solo personifying this new found comfort zone. Lecouturier’s polyrhythmic work behind the kit clearly pushed the music forward, acting as a de facto conductor.
The band’s interpretation of Lecouturier’s “Tempest” definitively stated that this music is finding a true identity as it is played, and played again by a contingent of players now familiar with the nuances of the work. As the piece began to swing, a deeper connection with the blues and jazz tradition evolved, creating space for off the rails solos by Gregory, Feldman, and Hayes.
Set two featured Halpern in trio with Feldman and Lecouturier. The Seattle born trumpeter is now a New York resident, as is Feldman. Halpern performed seated, playing Wurlitzer electric piano along with his horn. Aside from a brief electronic repose, and an even briefer vocal daliance, the three long time friends demonstrated a warmth and familiarity throughout the set that spoke well to a sizeable crowd at the Columbia City nightspot.
While Halpern offered finely tuned compositions, a three tune swing through brilliantly interpreted standards stood out above the fray, providing the audience with their most energetic support of the evening. Dizzy Gillespie’s “Dizzy Atmosphere” became a vehicle for Halpern to express his deep, rich voice, spoken freely with a vivid imagination, at one point referencing classic Gillespie. Feldman as well chimed in with a solo that included tonal clusters interspersed with agile melodic runs. He once again made the impression on the audience that they were witnessing something special from this young bassist not yet of legal age.
An interpretation of “Body and Soul” followed, with Halpern offering in ballad mode, weaving in and around the melody. If you are of the school that believes a jazz musician truly shows their worth when interpreting a ballad- and I am- Halpern’s stark tonality, and Lecouturier’s deft brushwork spoke volumes to you.
The highlight of the evening was Duke Pearson’s classic, “Gaslight,” adding another Seattle born musician currently making his residence in Gotham- tenor saxophonist Santosh Sharma. Sharma came out of the gate unhinged, playing an unrelenting solo in this chordless quartet format. Feldman and Lecouturier managed to lay down the foundation for the piece, while at the same time dodging in and out of Lecouturier’s polyrhythms. In all, it was a fine example of modern, forward thinking playing within the hard bop tradition. Hayes, whose reputation is more centered around his brilliant composing and arranging skills, comped and soloed on this piece sounding like a young McCoy Tyner. His star in Seattle continues to rise as a pianist aside from his compositional prowess.
It is an ongoing story in the history of Seattle jazz, that our young musicians take residence in New York City, the center of international jazz. We can look back generations, then moving forward and see that nothing in this fashion has changed. Many, or most, return. This evening represented a homecoming for these fine young players, performing on a respected stage in front of an engaged audience. As I stated earlier, the time to refer to Halpern, Lecouturier, Feldman, Santosh and Hayes as “generation next,” or “young guns” has past. Give these cats their due.
Trumpeter Thomas Marriott premiered the evening-length work Urban Folklore at The Royal Room on Wednesday, October 18. He was joined by Orrin Evans (piano), Eric Revis (bass) and Donald Edwards (drums). The group is in the studio today recording.
Michael Owcharuk- keyboard
Beth Fleener – clarinet
Paul Kemmish – double bass
The compositions were a M. Owchurak gig. The music was carefully crafted.
Mr Owcharuk played ok, helping give the music a little more fullness, that is, rounding it out. Giving the sound more depth. It didn’t need much of that as Mr Kemmish and Ms Fleener owned the place.
I’ve heard PK (Paul Kemmish) play double bass before, and I wasn’t really paying a whole lot of attention. I have heard him play bass guitar, and that’s very good. Now I just want to hear him play double bass. ‘Cause, man, he sounded very, very good. One solo he took was exciting, excellent.
Ms Fleener plays clarinet like a dream. Enjoyable, with substance, drive, as beautiful art. Great tone, clear, crisp and deep as appropriate.Wonderfully expressed. If you get a chance to hear her play, do it! She writes a whole new page for clarinet.
The way they do things at the Racer Sessions… after the evening curator(s) give an initial presentation (usually btween 15 to 30 minutes) things open up for anyone to come up and play. Music starts at 8, quits at 10. After the curator it’s no holds barred. Usually one person will start playing and others will join in, completely spontaneous.
You can take this to the bank… the Racer Session is the most happening weekly gig in Seattle! These are good kids, trying to make a difference in this world, their way, with music. I hang there almost every Sunday night if I’m not at the Royal Room. Sometimes I don’t care for the music,sometimes it’s kinda disjointed. After doing it for three years, these kids are starting to really get it together and play stuff harmoniously, with a lot of pop, spirit, and excitement. The slower tunes are making more sense. Later this night Jacob Zimmerman playing alto and Neil Welch on tenor did a great wonderful duet.
Ya better get down here. ‘Cause the next round of great jazz and music in general, in Seattle, will be coming from here. And no cover, always good. Thanks to all the great musicians at the Racer, and thanks for reading.
Free Funk Union
Evan Flory-Barnes – bass
Darrius Willrich – keyboard, vocals
D’vonne Lewis – drums
The Triple Door Jan 14, 2013
I went see the Mr Lewis’ gig expecting to hear the great and fun jazz one usually gets from D’vonne and the cats he rotates in and out for his trios. Tonight they were playing most pop songs, and that was a big disappointment for me.
Years ago I saw Mr Lewis play with a quartet, he was driving the band, and got way out in front … and I hate when drummers do that. Since then, every time I hear D’vonne he sounds better and better. More and more brilliant. I stated in a previous review that Byron Vannoy and D’vonne remind me of favorite drummer, Ed Blackwell. Just like Mr Blackwell D’vonne has a timing that is inherently superior to most, and he never forgets where the music and drumming came from. No matter what type of music, D’vonne always brings a lot of spark, funk, soul, excitement, and fun to the party.
The only problem I have with tonight’s gig was the song list for the first set (three sets total.). Too many mellow songs in a row ( when you’re old like me you want some more excitement.).
About Mr Belisle-Chi… this kid can play! He is very good. If I was all about competition like downbeat or earshot I would vote this kid as one of the up and coming superstars of the Seattle jazz scene.
While the first set was mellow, Gregg always tried to give the songs that all important emotional extra that great musicians do. The next set was great! All the songs were either more up tempo than before, or if as slow or slower than before, much more interesting. That is, most weren’t just tunes, they intricate and more complex pieces to perform and listen to. The same was almost true of the third set, just not as much as the second.
Gregg plays with a lot of skill, always tries new ideas and techniques, always trying to present the music as artfully as possible, always striving for the listener to feel as if Gregg played this music just for him.
Evan Woodle also played great. Always good fills, solos, and accompanying the others. Mr Woodle is a racer session kid. Evan, like Gregg, have both learned all the vocabulary of their art and are writing the verses their way. Good! Because it sounds so good!
Mr Symer really had it all going on tonight. No matter if he was plucking or bowing the bass, he sounded great. His accompanying always insightful, his bass lines always interesting, often making outstanding statements, always harmonizing well, solos, killer great. Chris did more bowing than I’ve heard him do in a gig before. Sounded awesome. Hope he does more
I want to write about this one song of the second set, Ornette Coleman’s Lonely Woman. Their presentation was knock out, light’s out, everybody else can pack up their stuff and go home. It seemed as if the three (I’m not a musician and I might be getting this wrong.) were playing at different tempos, so the trio was like a polyrhythm all it’s own, everybody serving up the music a little differently, all together. Yeah, man! That’s the best kind of jazz!
Tom Marriott and Friends
Tom Marriott – trumpet
Mark Taylor – alto sax
Eric Verlinde – electric piano
Phil Sparks – double bass
Greg Williamson – drums
Eastside Jazz Club
Marriott Hotel, Bellevue
January 15, 2013
Started the night listening to this all-star quintet. As usual Phil Sparks was playing great bass.
Tom Marriott also played very well. His leadership was evident with the song selection,and the band’s balance. When I go to the Racer Sessions I feel like everyone’s Dad or Grandpa … Here I felt like a kid. The songs were all pretty straight ahead stuff or recognizable ballads.
Eric Verlinde is a great piano player. As in any community or industry, some people get all the hype, some don’t enough. Unfortunately Eric may be in the latter category, not that others don’t deserve what they get (and some don’t), I just believe Mr Verlinde deserves more. He played some solos that really wowed the crowd.
Mark Taylor is a special musician. His is a unique, great tone. His presentation is mature, professional, thoughtful, and honest. He KO’ed everyone on “body and soul” during the second set.
Magic Jazz… The Tom Marriott Trio
Tom Marriott – trumpet
Phil Sparks – double bass
Greg Williamson – drums
becomesThe Eastlake Trio
Tom Marriott – trumpet
Phil Sparks – double bass
Bill Anschell – electric piano
Originally Greg Williamson was to play drums. He was ill, and replaced with Bill Anschell.
2501 Eastlake Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98102
Being the elite, professionals that the are, the transition from one trio to the other was not a problem. The set lists were enjoyable, and the balance of the different instruments was very good.
Bill Anschell is one of my favorite pianists in the PNW. Always a pleasure, always comps his band mates appropriately, energetically, always solos well. Helped keep time for Mr Sparks when he took a solo. Always a professional, always very good.
One may think, ok, who’s going to keep time without a drummer. A lot of people listen to the drums, as do some horn players. A lot of drummers will tell you they listen to the bass. Phil Sparks, the swing maestro, had everything under control. Good solos, good swinging base lines, making it easy for the others to hear him and dig the time… the cat shoulda got paid double.
Hiroshi’s is a restaurant, not a jazz joint. Tom Marriot was considerate of the patrons who came to eat not listen. He showed what a master of the dynamics he is. And it’s harder to play trumpet that way, having to control your breathe and chops like that. That was no problem for Mr Marriott, always a great musician. there’s a reason why he’s so well respected around here. I hope he considers playing cornet.
Analog Honking Device
Cynthia Mullis – tenor sax
Brent Jensen – soprano sax
Steve Kim – electric bass
Chris Symer – acoustic bass
Chris Icasiano – drums
presented by: Wayward Music Series Chapel Performance Space
Let’s begin by thanking the Wayward Music Series for presenting this fine concert, other past performances, and music that will be forthcoming.
Also, if anyone knows of another venue, or hall, or space that regularly has jazz, and has better acoustics, and depth and definition for the performer’s instruments in the PNW, please tell me about it.
The harshest criticisms I can make about tonight concert are that Mr. Kim was sometimes too loud during his solos, and that the band played the Girl from Ipanema … I hate that tune! Otherwise, this concert was just GREAT!
There was a set list, Monk tunes, etc.The thing is, the band would start playing the head, their way, still very recognizable, and go from there. It was free, and it had swing. This music was free, and didn’t disrespect itself or where it came from.
The harmonies were incredible. Ms. Mullis and Mr. Jensen had some fantastic harmony going on. Brent, how do you get such a big full sound out of that little horn? Steve Kim and Cynthia also had some good melodic harmony happening.
Briggan Krauss – alto sax
Wayne Horvitz – electronics and electronic keyboards
Robin Holcomb – piano and voice
Peggy Lee – cello
Dylan Van Der Schyff – percussion
January 05,2013 Wayward Music Series The Chapel Performance Space
Wayne, I enjoy when you play hammond B3 or piano, and I like a lot of the things you write, I’m sorry Man, I have a lot of trouble with electronics. And since I don’t like to watch tennis, my opinion of a match wouldn’t be any good, so I’m not going to say anything about the electronic end of the gig.
That, and I thought some songs ended too abruptly, should have stretched out further are the only things I didn’t care for…
Overall I think the music was either very good, or very excellant. The first part the ladies, Ms Holcomb and Ms Lee performed. Second part, only the gentlemen, Mr Krauss, Mr Horvitz, and Mr Van Der Schyff. The third and final part all five played together.
Someone told me once that Berg, the modern classical composer was erasing some of a composition students’ notes on the sheet music.When the student asked why he was doing that, Berg replied that the silence between the notes were as important as the notes themselves. I think Ms Holcomb has a pretty good handle on that. She and Ms Lee had the right amount of harmony and disharmony. I also thought there was some classical style impressionism involved. They did about six or seven songs (I don’t remember exactly. ) and Robin sang on about half of them. She has a nice pleasant voice. Both ladies are excellant musicians.