On the Scene: Live Jazz Previews for January

Seattle Jazz Fellowship: Fellowship Wednesdays at Vermillion

The Seattle Jazz Fellowship hits the New Year running with a slate of Wednesday activities at Vermillion on Capitol Hill. Each Wednesday begins with a record listening session with Artist-In-Residence Julian Priester. This free event features historic recordings that feature Dr. Priester. The audience is able to share the experience in conversation with the artist, who offers his historic and cultural footnotes to the music. At 7 PM, the bar is open to hang a bit before music at 7:30 PM. Each evening features two bands, each performing one set. 

This month’s offerings include pianist Bill Anchell and his longtime quartet featuring saxophoinist Brent Jensen. Bassist Chris Symer and drummer Brad Boal round out a perfectly matched quartet. Pianist Darrius Wilrich makes his Fellowship debut with a soul driven interpretation of the jazz tradition. Vocalist Gail Pettis graces the Vermillion stage in a quintet featuring pianist Tony Foster, joining an evening that also features Wayne Horvitz, James Falzone, Beth Fleenor and Abbey Blackwell performing the music of the Gravitas Quartet. Pianist Ann Reynolds appears with a bold new trio with bassist Kelsey Mines and Chris Icasiano, performing original music and the compositions of Geri Allen and Mary Lou Williams. Veteran bassist Phil Sparks appears with his innovative Nu Trio, vocalist Elnah Jordan and pianist Eric Verlinde square off, and Eric Eagle’s Zozo band with Ray Larsen, Cole Schuster, Jacob Zimmerman and Matt Weiner finish off a grand month. Check out the schedule below. 

 https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/

Jan 19  Ari Joshua Quartet featuring D’Vonne Lewis

Ari Joshua
D’Vonne Lewis
Photo Credit: Jim Levitt
Kelsey Mines
                  photo credit: Daniel Sheehan
John Hansen
Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

Jan 26  Elnah Jordan & Eric Verlinde


Eric Verlinde photo by Daniel Sheehan and Elnah Jordan photo by Steve Parent.

Zozo Band with Eric Eagle, Ray Larson, Cole Schuster, Jacob Zimmerman & Matt Weiner

 https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/

Jeff Busch Quintet

Fri Jan 21, 8 PM/ North City Bistro

Jeff Busch

Drummer/percussionist Jeff Busch has gained a reputation for excellence in the art of jazz and world percussion mostly as a sideman, now playing out more as a bandleader. This is good news for Seattle music fans, as Busch employs an element of joy in his artistry that is stand-alone original. For this date on the north end, he is joined by pianist Julio Jauregui, bassist Dean Schmidt and a grand horn section with tenor giant Alexey Nikolaev and trombonist Jerome Smith. This is a dinner club, so be prepared to wine and dine. https://northcitybistro.com/

Jenny Davis Quartet with Jovino Santos Neto

Sat Jan 22/ North City Bistro

Vocalist Jenny Davis focuses on her own original compositions and on her recordings, in keeping good company among the Seattle jazz elite. That being said, she carries a low profile on the live Seattle jazz scene, so I shall not suppose to recommend her as a vocal artist. As a bandleader, she certainly knows how to assemble a band, as she is joined by pianist Jovino Santos Neto, bassist Chuck Deardorf, saxophonist Mark Taylor, trumpeter Dmitri Matheny and drummer Robert Rushing. Should be an interesting set to enjoy with a good merlot. https://northcitybistro.com/

Ben Thomas Tango Project- Postponed

Thu Jan 27, 8 PM/ Royal Room

Ben Thomas
Photo Credit: Nina Johnson

Ben Thomas is a uber talented vibraphonist in jazz and Brazilian forms, and for the past fifteen years as a master of the bandoneon. Those talents combine with his imaginative compositional prowess for his Tango Project that is celebrating their new release Eternal Aporia on Origin Records. Teaming with clarinetist Eric Likkel and bassist Steve Schermer, Thomas introduces traditional form with modern innovation. https://theroyalroomseattle.com/

Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto

Fri Jan 28, 8 PM/ North City Bistro

Well, if you can’t catch him at the Royal Room the evening before with his Tango Project, you can witness the wizardry of Ben Thomas and his intuitive musical bond with bandleader and Brazilian piano legend, Jovino Santos Neto. This band is commonly referred to as a “sure thing” for good reason. With Seattle icon Chuck Deardorf (bass), drummer Mark Ivester and percussionist Jeff Busch in tow, this gig is always a jumpstart of joy and an evening of true artistry. https://northcitybistro.com/

Celebration of Jim Knapp- Postponed

Mon Jan 31, 7:30 PM/ Jazz Alley

Jim Knapp’s passing in November was visited the same week by a new release of his choosing, It’s Not Business, It’s Personal. Knapp’s loving message of farewell will be performed by the Jim Knapp Orchestra, led by Seattle jazz legend and close Knapp associate, Jay Thomas. The band is swinging, with membership that includes Mark Taylor, Brad Allison, John Hansen, Xavier Lecouturier, Dylan Hayes and others. This evening is our way of saying thank you to James Knapp for all that he gifted us. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=5290

Monday Nights at the Royal Room:

The Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble- 7:30 PM

Jam Session with Thomas Marriott- 9 PM

The Royal Room Collectige Music Ensemble
Photo Credit: Daniel Sheehan

Monday nights have become a bit of a thing in recent times. beginning with the 7:30 appearance of the Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble under the direction of Wayne Horvitz, followed by the 9 PM jam session curated by Thomas Marriott

The RRCME (yes I know, another acronym) performs the music of Horvitz and Thelonious Monk, with the latter having a huge influence on the compositions of the former. It’s a zany, swingin’ ninety minute ride, and this writer’s favorite Horvitz endeavor. The band includes Hans Teuber, Kate Olsen, Ray Larsen, Eric Eagle, Geoff Harper, Haley Freedlund, James Falzone and David Marriott, Jr. among others. 

Thomas Marriott
Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

The jam session features Marriott in a quartet setting for a twenty minute set before it opens up into a jam session. The session has been well attended by both established and newer players on the scene, enabling fellowship both on the stage and off. The session is all ages, with a lot of opportunity for younger players to gain on stage experience with masters of the art. The Royal Room for its part has provided an excellent back line, and a welcoming, inclusive vibe. 

Calluna Dinner Club

Another busy month at Calluna, where the intimate venue on the north end of University Way presents jazz Wednesday- Sunday. The club only seats 30-40 people, so reservations are always recommended. The venue blends fine food and drink with music, offering artistry of the highest caliber in Seattle. Follow the link to look at the full schedule, and make reservations.

Bill Anschell

January is a veritable celebration of the art of the trio, as personified by the historic trio of Rick Mandyck, Jeff Johnson and John Bishop, or the stellar piano trio of Bill Anschell with Johnson and Stefan Schatz. Brilliant Brazilian pianist Jovino Santos Neto plays trio with Chuck Deardorf and Jeff Busch, and saxophonist Brent Jensen lands with his Blueprint Trio. Pianist Dan Kramlich pays a visit with his Grunge Jazz Trio, performing jazz interpretations of grunge classics. 

Jovino Santos neto

Vocal jazz fans have a selection of Seattle’s best, with Greta Matassa, Gail Pettis, Stephanie Porter and Kelley Johnson all performing. Pianist Ann Reynolds performs in trio with saxophonist Tobi Stone and bassist Marina Christopher. https://callunaseattle.com/music-calendar/

Ann Reynolds
Stephanie Porter

The Racer Sessions- every other Sunday at 7 PM/ Cafe Racer

The legendary Racer Sessions continue at the new location for Cafe Racer on 11th Avenue, between Pike and Pine. It is the same location once occupied by Barca, next door to Vermillion. The sessions are all about free improvisation, offering imaginative approaches to free musical expessionism. The new digs are roomier, and certainly residing in a more vibrant neighborhood. With the Seattle Jazz Fellowship housed weekley next door at Vermillion, there is a bit of a “thing” beginning to emerge on south Capitol Hill, with Capitol Cider chipping in on the other side of Broadway. There are two dates in January to take in.

Sun Jan 2, 7 PM- Neil Welch Extra Large Ensemble   CANCELED

Neil Welch

Sun Jan 16, 7 PM- James Falzone Solo

James Falzone

 http://www.racersessions.com/

 


Seattle Jazz Fellowship: Why in one evening,”Fellowship Wednesdays” became the most important jazz hang in Seattle

Pianist Dylan Hayes leads a tribute to Jim Knapp, for Seattle Jazz Fellowship. Dylan Hayes, piano; Jay Thomas, trumpet and sax; Michael Glynn, bass; Xavier Lecouturier, drums;

It was 5 PM on a crisp Wednesday afternoon on December 1, and thirty people sat casually in the brick lined digs of Vermillion Art Gallery and Bar on Capitol Hill, intently listening to the soft spoken musings of jazz legend, Julian Priester. The historic trombonist was playing selections from his storied career that continually over the course of seven decades has stood at the progressive forefront of the music. This afternoon it was his work with Dave Holland and Herbie Hancock that was featured. His historical and cultural anecdotes were thrilling to hear, providing weekly attendees a unique perspective on the music that they had become passionate about.  

There are a variety of ways to enjoy jazz music performed at its highest level of artistry in Seattle. Many of those options include a cover and a high end price tag for dinner and drinks. Those venues tend to lack a major component of jazz culture- the hang. It is during that time before, between and after sets that cultivates community and enables fellowship. 

The Seattle Jazz Fellowship weekly offers Priester’s free listening session, and two sets featuring two separate ensembles of the finest resident jazz musicians in Seattle for a reasonable cover. Vermillion serves fine drinks at a very reasonable price. If you need to eat, you can pop over to Mario’s for a slice, or head around the corner to grab a burrito. The music is the focus, and because of the organization’s non-profit status, it can book and curate music that is not ruled by the age old “butts in the seats” mentality, but with the idea of artistry in music first and foremost. At the front door, vaccination status is checked, and a twenty dollar cover charged. Fellowship founder Thomas Marriott remarked at one point, “It’s a twenty dollar cover, if you can swing it.” The important thing to Marriott and the Fellowship, is that you are there in the first place, that the evening is treated as a sacred place of music for the entire community. 

The seventh edition of “Fellowship Wednesdays at Vermillion” featured young pianist/arranger Dylan Hayes performing a set of his quartet arrangements of the music of recently departed composer Jim Knapp, followed by the Nathan Breedlove Quartet. Hayes was joined by Seattle jazz icon and Knapp associate, Jay Thomas, first-call bassist Michael Glynn and drummer Xavier Lecouturier. Thomas, a 55 year veteran of the Seattle scene, played brilliantly, putting a shine on Hayes’ perfect arrangements. The focus and drive of the band revealed what has been a commonality with all fourteen sets presented thus far by the SJF–that the musicians bring their “A” game to the set, that the vibe of the room was one that invites and appreciates artistry. 

l to r: Xavier Lecouturier, Michael Glynn, Dylan Hayes                 Jim Levitt photo
Jay Thomas                                                 Jim Levitt photo
l to r: Xavier Lecouturier, Michael Glynn, Jay Thomas             Jim Levitt photo

Between sets, the hang was thick, with many of the city’s top musicians present, as well as a jazz audience that spanned generations. New players on the scene, now especially unknown due to the pandemic, emerge and become acquainted with their new community. Younger players are mentored by the more experienced players. The audience is able to interact with the musicians in a meaningful way. They are truly a part of the performance, of the evening’s activities. The room itself has a warm glow, an intimate, welcoming vibe. The all ages policy invites younger players and fans, and allows parents to share the music with their children. 

Just before hitting the stage for his set, veteran trumpeter Nathan Breedlove informed us that Delfeayo Marsalis would be dropping by. Indeed he did, playing most of the set with this assemblage of veterans that included pianist Ron Perrillo, bassist Phil Sparks and drummer Brian Kirk. Marsalis and Perrillo played both dynamically and melodically, with the live nature of the room projecting the sound through the narrow gallery to the rear of the club, through the doors, and out into the Capitol Hill night. Marsalis’ presence brought the striking realization that in only seven total nights of operation, the hang at Vermillion was gaining significant notoriety for all the right reasons. 

Delfeayo Marsalis                                              Jim Levitt photo
l to r: Brian KIrk, Phil Sparks, Nathan Breedlove                                    Jim Levitt photo
Brian Kirk                                                 Jim Levitt photo
l to r: Nathan Breedlove, Phil Sparks, Delfeayo Marsalis

With the playing of the last note of the evening, the room was electric, the vibration of the music still stirring in the room and in the souls of all those that attended. Old friends and new acquaintances were united in fellowship, which of course, is the point. SJF wants you to be there, to help create a sacred place for the music. One departs the room with an overwhelming sense of community, a true feeling of belonging to something sacred, historic and sustainable. With current economnic times in direct conflict with the proliferation of art, the model presented by Marriot and the SJF is proving to be one that promotes artistry and accessibility. It is a foundational source of fellowship as its name portends, within the framework of a community that has sustained itself over a century of time. The ambitions of the group to expand to five nights a week in a permanent home is the light that shows the way to the present and future of the Seattle jazz scene. The music, the gathering of friends and the emotional and spiritual high experienced by those fortunate enough to attend speaks loudly and clearly to that. 

Scroll down to On the Scene: Live Jazz Previews for December to see the full schedule of the Seattle Jazz Fellowship. Next week: Iconic jazz vocal artist Greta Matassa, and Latin Jazz piano firebrand Julio Jauregui lead their respective bands to the Vermillion stage. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/

Nathan Breedlove                                        Jim Levitt photo
Phil Sparks (b), Ron Perrillo (p)                               Jim Levitt photo

Live Review: East-West Trumpet Summit at Meydenbauer Center Theatre- Oct 9, 2021

Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

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.

Ray Vega                   Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

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

Thomas Marriott              Lisa Hagen Glynn photo
Roy McCurdy                         Lisa Hagen Glynn photo
Lisa Hagen Glynn photo
L to R- Thomas Marriott, Ray Vega                    Lisa Hagen Glynn photo
L to R- Ray Vega, Orrin Evans, Thomas Marriott
Roy McCurdy, Michael Glynn                        Lisa Hagen Glynn photo
The rhythm section- Orrin Evans, Roy McCurdy, Michael Glynn
L to R- Orrin Evans, Thomas Marriott, Michael Glynn, Ray Vega, Roy McCurdy

A Night On the Town with The Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

DLO 3 on stage with friends at Jazz Alley. Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn


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.

Delvon Lamarr at Jazz Alley. Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

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. 

DLO3 at jazz Alley. Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

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). 

Guitarist Jimmy James and drummer Dan Weiss at Jazz Alley with DLO3. Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

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.

Delvon Lamarr at the Owl jam session. 8/24/21

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. 

DLO 3 plays the Owl jam session, after their opening night set at Jazz Alley 8/24/21 Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

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.

Drummer Dan Weiss in the pocket at Jazz Alley with DLO3 Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn


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

There’s a New Jazz Spot in Ravenna

There’s a new spot in North Seattle for an intimate evening of jazz. Calluna restaurant, a casual European American restaurant at 5628 University Way NE in the Ravenna neighborhood, will offer live jazz Wednesday-Sunday beginning in September.

Calluna was opened by familiar faces on the jazz scene in Seattle in former Tula’s manager Jason Moore and his partner, Heather Bourne. With Tula’s ending its 26 year run in October of 2019, they were looking to open a restaurant outside of the music business. The restaurant opened in December of 2019, just three months before the world shut down due to Covid-19. After close to two years in their new digs, they realized how much they missed the music. They knew post-pandemic, they had to breathe some life into the intimate, homespun room.

“I missed the music, I missed the culture and the musicians themselves” says Moore. Very much like they did at Tula’s, Moore and Bourne took on the task of renovating their new space, from painting and cleaning, to the huge step of committing finances to a piano and acoustic revisions to the room. Experience told them that a room in Ravenna was going to have to draw people in with something special and welcoming. This isn’t Belltown, and lack of foot traffic in the north end neighborhood makes Calluna a destination venue, needing top end talent and superior ambience to attract a crowd. 

L to R Heather Bourne, Jason Moore. Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

Knowing the room was not suitable for more volumnus bands, they decided on a duo/trio format, with solo acts a possibility as well. The recently shuttered New York club, Bradley’s, was cited as an example to follow. While Calluna doesn’t plan on being the late night hang that the iconic Bradley’s was known for, it will offer top tier Seattle jazz musicians performing in duos and trios without drums, just right for the cozy living room vibe that best describes the Ravenna eatery. Moore brought in a Yamaha C-3 piano, and invited the best players in town to join in on the fun.

September will bring in a large strand of Seattle’s top jazz musicians, including Bill Anschell, Jeff Johnson, Greta Matassa, Stephanie Porter, Kelley Johnson, Rick Mandyck, and a special John Coltrane birthday celebration with Alex Dugdale. Anschell will square off in a duo with bassist Jeff Johnson, a fine example of the programming at Calluna. The marvelous jazz vocalist Matassa will perform with Clipper Anderson on bass and Alexey Nikolaev on saxophones. The demands the room places on the musicians in terms of intimacy will create an environment unlike what one might experience at a larger venue. The fine food and drink and Moore’s standard and understanding of live jazz performance will be a big plus. 

Pianist Bill Anschell, who closed Tula’s, will open Calluna with bassist Jeff Johnson.
Bassist Jeff Johnson    knkx.org

Calluna adds to nightly opportunities for Seattle jazz fans. From the Royal Room in Columbia City and Egan’s in Ballard, to Jazz Alley and the arrival of the new Seattle Jazz Fellowship, the landscape for live jazz, post-pandemic, is beginning to take shape. For more information on Calluna, and a full music calendar, follow the link below.   

https://callunaseattle.com/music-calendar/


20 Seattle Jazz Musicians You Should Know: Matt Jorgensen

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

The jazz life in the twenty-first century requires a diverse and multi-skilled portfolio, requiring a resume previous generations of jazz musicians never fathomed having to deal with. Seattle’s Matt Jorgensen has spent the entirety of his career figuring out what this skill set entailed, and has navigated those waters, well, skillfully.

Jorgensen is a jazz drummer by trade, and has throughout his career composed original tunes. His entrepreneurial skills have manifested in the creation of the highly regarded indie-jazz label, Origin Records, in partnership with fellow drummer John Bishop. The label has now released close to seven hundred albums. A second label, OA2 came soon after, and Origin Classical next. The label in turn spawned the Ballard Jazz Festival, a Seattle jazz scene annual rite of spring each May since 2002. To continue reading, click this linkhttps://www.allaboutjazz.com/20-seattle-jazz-musicians-you-should-know-matt-jorgensen-matt-jorgensen

“20 Seattle Jazz Musicians You Should Know” Continues With 2 New Installments

Over the course of forty weeks, All About Jazz has given front page treatment to twenty of Seattle’s bright lights in the jazz universe. This unprecedented coverage highlights artists making a splash on the national and international scene. As we begin to rise from the scorched earth created by the worldwide pandemic, we attempt to keep the home fires burning here in Seattle, by celebrating a host of our outstanding artists. This time around the block, we feature drummer/record company owner/graphic artist/ festival promoter John Bishop, and pianist/composer Marina Albero. 

John Bishop

To say that John Bishop has had a profound impact on the life of jazz music in the Pacific Northwest, and more specifically, the city of Seattle, would be a sizable understatement. His influence has cast a spotlight on the vibrant Seattle scene on an international scale. As a musician, record label owner, festival presenter, graphic designer and educator, he has contributed mightily to the profound sense of community that exists presently and historically in his home city and abroad. Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn Follow this link to continue reading.https://www.allaboutjazz.com/20-seattle-jazz-musicians-you-should-know-john-bishop-john-bishop

Marina Albero

A lot can happen in life over six long years. The past six years in the life of Marina Albero have been eventful to the point of being a revelation. She arrived here with her then partner, flamenco jazz pianist Chano Dominguez, and their two children, aged 12 and 15. It was a fresh start, with the hope of finding more work in America than was being afforded them in Europe. The children were to start school in a new country, speaking their third language, behind Catalan and Spanish. Marina would play in the house band at Teatro Zinzanni and tend to the everyday needs of their children, while Chano continued to tour internationally, as he had for a quarter century. Photo credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn Follow this link to continue readinghttps://www.allaboutjazz.com/20-seattle-jazz-musicians-you-should-know-marina-albero-marina-albero

Pandemic Blues: The Slow Withdrawal From the Abyss

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a unilateral blow to the norms of all segments of our culture. For those of us dependent on the gathering of people in clubs, theatres, arenas and the like to make a living, that blow seems especially thunderous. Through the sociological haze of the state wide stay at home order, many musicians have taken to streaming performances, bringing a much needed sense of solace and hope. Music, just as love, can remind us of what it is like to not have it, the vacuity it engenders when it is suddenly taken from us. It is something in our lives that communicates through all perceived boundaries. Kudos locally to Earshot Jazz for their Saturday night series, to the Marina Albero led Quarrantine Sessions, and all musicians worldwide for sharing their music within the quarantine from their very living rooms. 

As you can see, this is the first time I have written a word here since April 1. This site has been largely about live performances in recent times, about presenting a means to research what is happening nightly around the city. My agenda today is to bring to your attention, some things that have been brought to my attention. As well, I am providing links to a profile series I am writing for allaboutjazz.com, “20 Seattle Jazz Musicians You Should Know.” This series gives Seattle musicians an internaional spotlight at the much acclaimed site, and is linked to local websites via the musician’s member page at AAJ. I highly recommend to all who do not have such a page, to create one. That way, any CD review, feature article, interview, or profile that mentions your name will be hyperlinked to your page, and from there, anywhere you need it to go. Here is the link to get that started https://news.allaboutjazz.com/download-the-all-about-jazz-musician-starter-guide.php

As we slowly return to normal life over the next months, years, we look forward for hope. We hope to have an Earshot Jazz Festival in October, the rescheduled Ballard Jazz Festival in November. We hope that the venues that generously support the music are there when we are ready to move forward. Most of all, we hope that we are all well, and ready to HANG. The fellowship our community provides to all who care to participate, is what is missed most of all. Here are a few things to ponder……..

Our friends Ryan Burns, Cole Schuster and Max Holmberg have taken to recording remotely, and are announcing the release of two brand new singles. The always eclectic, and remarkably versatile Burns is featured on Hammond B-3, along with Schuster on guitar, and Holmberg on drums. Here is a link to the press release. https://www.artistpr.com/press-release/ryan-burns-jazz-music/?fbclid=IwAR0gJRWMm_BZ4FTx0IMhm1WrKKxBzGNEXMD13MBVXjmNQLo_-g41IvdxAAg

As I mentioned, I am in the midst of writing 20 musician profiles for AAJ. So far we have featured Jeff Johnson, Jovino Santos Neto, Brittany Anjou, Xavier Lecouturier, Rex Gregory, Gail Pettis, Christopher Icasiano, Chuck Deardorf, Jay Thomas and Samantha Boshnack. Ten down, ten to go! Here is the link to my articles at AAJ, the overwhelming majority of which cover jazz in Seattle. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/contributor_articles.php?id=163817

Roosevelt High School grad Chris McCarthy has been making quite a name for himself in New York. He recently released a new album on Ropeadope Records, and pre-covid, was often seen performing with several noteables, including Jerry Bergonzi and Sasha Berliner. Here is an in depth look at the album……..

CD Review: Chris McCarthy- Still Time to Quit

From 2017 to 2020, composer and pianist Chris McCarthy charted a path as a noted sideman for such notables as Jerry Bergonzi and Jason Palmer. He was often seen performing with vibraphonist Sasha Berliner and in duet with vocalist Clotilde Rullaud. In short, he has gained a reputation for imaginative and supportive playing.

McCarthy’s path has been blazed from a renowned high school program in Seattle, to the cloistered realm of the New England Conservatory, finally landing in the pressure cooker that is the New York jazz scene. His first recording, Sonder (Red Piano, 2017), could easily have categorized him as a project artist, as the music was an amalgam of forms, including spoken word and vocal parts. The music was well written and performed, but in no way did it set a trajectory for what was to come next. To continue reading, click here https://www.allaboutjazz.com/still-time-to-quit-chris-mccarthy-ropeadope

Swedish born flutist/composer Elsa Nilsson spent some years here in Seattle, studying at Cornish College of the Arts. She has become a major force on the New York scene as a musician, activist and organizer. 2020 has seen her release a new solo album, Hindsight, and a new collective recording with her trio SXNE, For Human Beings. The album is a fully improvised suite of five movements. Read the review here:

SXNE: For Human Beings

Flutist Elsa Nilsson voice performing on an instrument that has historically received secondary status in jazz music. Often the second or third instrument for saxophonists such as Eric Dolphy, Charles Lloyd, and Tia Fuller, it would seem even the most passionate fans of the genre have relegated the flute as such. Modern times in jazz have however, cast that notion aside. Flutists covering a wide musical swath through the annals of modern jazz include the eclectic sounds of Nicole Mitchell, the post-bop works of jamie Baum,  and the diverse, fearless approach to the instrument by Nilsson, a Swedish born, New York based whirlwind. Continue reading here- https://www.allaboutjazz.com/for-human-beings-sxne-bumblebee-collective


CD Review: Thomas Marriott- Trumpet Ship

In a day and age when social and personal narratives pervade the jazz recording medium, it is a welcoming feeling to experience a recording of superb jazz musicians playing music in the moment the way it’s supposed to be played—for the people.

For his spring 2020 quartet release Trumpet Ship (Origin, 2020), Seattle-based trumpeter Thomas Marriott has summoned a powerhouse quartet that hits hard from the outset and never lets up. He has convened a band that shares his ferocity of approach, stretching the boundaries, while respecting tradition of modern jazz music. While many recent releases have been attached to some sort of conception, Marriott focuses the music on the fellowship that accompanies friendship and community. To continue reading click this linkhttps://www.allaboutjazz.com/trumpet-ship-thomas-marriott-origin-records__30386.php

Jim Levitt Photos: Marc Seales Band at Jazz Alley

KNKX has teamed up with Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley to present Northwest Music Mondays, a nod to the vibrant Seattle jazz scene. This is a welcome addition to the monthly Seattle jazz calendar post-Tula’s. Jazz photographer extraordinaire, Jim Levitt, was there on the scene to capture the Marc Seales Band playing before a full house at the city’s most esteemed jazz stage. Seales was joined by trumpeter Thomas Marriott, bassist Chuck Deardorf, drummer Moyes Lucas, Jr., and guitarist Jesse Seales. Many thanks to Mr. Levitt for documenting Seattle jazz in such fine and vivid detail!

The Marc Seales Group performs at Jazz Alley, for a KNKX Northwest Music Monday show. Marc Seales, keyboards; Jesse Seales, guitar; Thomas Marriott, trumpet; Chuck Deardorf, bass; Moyes Lucas Jr, drums;
Thomas Marriott

Marc Seales and Chuck Dearforf

Jesse Seales

Marc Seales- piano; Moyes Lucas, Jr.- drums; Chuck Deardorf- bass

Marc Seales

Moyes Lucas, Jr. 

Chuck Deardorf

The Marc Seales Group performs at Jazz Alley, for a KNKX Northwest Music Monday show. Marc Seales, keyboards; Jesse Seales, guitar; Thomas Marriott, trumpet; Chuck Deardorf, bass; Moyes Lucas Jr, drums;

Jim Levitt Photos: Marina Albero CD Release at the Royal Room

Jim Levitt is at it again, this time at Marina Albero’s CD Release at the Royal Room on December 17. Albero was celebrating the release of her 3 CD set, A Life Soundtrack before a full house, surrounded by friends, fans and family. 

Jim’s work is art in itself, with the vibrant Seattle jazz scene as a canvas. We are deeply appreciative for his work here at seattlejazzscene.com

Marina Albero celebrates the release of her three-volume recording A Life Soundtrack, with a concert at The Royal Room. Marina Albero- piano and hammered dulcimer; Hans Teuber- saxophone, flute; Jeff Johnson- bass; Jeff Busch- percussion; D’Vonne Lewis- drums; Serena Dominguez Albero-voice; Marcel Dominguez Albero- cajon, saxophone
Jeff Johnson

Serena Albero sings “Mi Secreto.”
Hans Teuber

Marina and Serena Albero

Marina Albero- psalterium

Marina Albero- piano; Jeff Johnson- bass; D’Vonne Lewis- drums; Jeff Busch- percussion

Marcel Dominguez- alto

Marina Albero performs with her son, Marcel Dominguez
Jeff Busch

Standing O, Music is Love

CD Review: Marina Albero- A Life Soundtrack

Attempts to characterize the music of Barcelona-born pianist Marina Albero seem to get lost in the details. She is not an artist who found herself within a passion for a particular form. That her music is the sum of her life experiences would be a factual description that would nonetheless fall short, given the far reaching, culturally diverse, and wildly meandering path that has occupied her first forty years. To continue reading, click this linkhttps://www.allaboutjazz.com/a-life-soundtrack-marina-albero-self-produced

CD Review- Charlie Porter: Immigration Nation

Jazz has always carried with it a social narrative with historical ebbs and flows reliant on the polarizing issues of its time. With Immigrant Nation (OA2, 2019), Portland based trumpeter Charlie Porter embraces the forever narrative of American immigration, the historical force of humanity that has formed and enriched this country from its beginnings. The linear timeline of American immigration that widened at the beginning of the twentieth century has narrowed due to the gut wrenching actions of the current administration, providing much artistic impetus to inspire a much needed reaction from the jazz community. Porter follows through with a view and statement from the collective lens of the musicians on this session. Much like Max Roach’s We Insist! (Candid, 1960), concerning the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, and Roxy Coss’ modern narrative piece, The Future is Female (Posi- Tone, 2018), Porter surrounds the listener with a social narrative that is rich musically, and open-ended poetically. To continue reading, follow this linkhttps://www.allaboutjazz.com/immigration-nation-charlie-porter-oa2-records

Jim Levitt Photos: Thomas Marriott and Friends From Philly- Oct 26, 2019/ Royal Room

Jazz beat photographer Jim Levitt was visiting family in California during a major portion of the 2019 Earshot Jazz Festival, but is back with a vengeance! Jim shared these fine shots of Thomas Marriott’s Earshot performance at the Royal Room, featuring friends from the Philadelphia jazz scene. 

Saxophonist Victor North offered his soaring tenor sound, working with Marriott on the front line of a quartet featuring a remarkable father-son tandem. Bassist Michael Boone is a veteran of the Philly scene, and a mentor to many young players on the rise there. Among them is his remarkable son, Mehki Boone, a 13 year old drummer with the presence, skills, and maturity of a seasoned, veteran player. 

Tula’s: The Final Weekend- Photographs From Lisa Hagen Glynn

Tula’s Jazz Club ended it’s vaunted 26 year run with two nights of music with old friends, and a late night hang not seen at the club in many years. It was a bittersweet time, in the end joyous in the form of the music that took place on the stage. 

Photographer Lisa Hagen Glynn was there, not just as a photographer, but on the hang as she often is at Tula’s. She captured some poignant moments, that will serve as portraits of this place that the Seattle jazz scene called home for  a quarter century. In that time, the best of the best in the Northwest played Tula’s, and as seen through the lens of Lisa, that standard was upheld to the end. 

Pianist Bill Anschell leads a trio on the final night at Tula’s- 9/29/2019


Bill Anschell- piano; D’Vonne Lewis- drums

Bassist Michael Glynn, last night at Tula’s, 9/29/2019

Jam at the last night of Tula’s- Michael Brockman- tenor; Mark Taylor- alto; Anton Schwartz- tenor; Michael Glynn- bass


And then we sing- Kelley Johnson, Gail Pettis, Stephanie Porter, adnd Jacqueline Tabor, last night at Tula’s 9/29/2019
Mack Waldron, last night at Tula’s, 9/29/2019

The club, and the couple that created it- Mack and Tula Waldron

The gang on Saturday night, 9/28/2019

Marc Seales- piano; Thomas Marriott- trumpet; Susan Pascal- vibes; Jeff Johnson- bass; D’Vonne Lewis- drums


Greta Matassa and Thomas Marriott, last weekend at Tula’s, 9/28/2019

Marc Seales, last weekend at Tula’s, 9/28/2019

Thomas Marriott performs at Tula’s on the last weekend.

Thomas Marriott

Mack, Tula, Jason, and Heather, last night at Tula’s

Seattle jazz royalty- Mack and Tula Waldron, last night at Tula’s, 9/29/2019

Photos: Thomas Marriott Quintet- last date at Tula’s

As the final week of Tula’s remarkable 26 year run approaches, we as jazz fans are witness to the final performances of the club’s foundational talent, of those artists who made live, resident based jazz thrive in Belltown. Artists such as vocalist Greta Matassa,pianists Marc Seales and Bill Anschell, vibraphonist Susan Pascal, and trumpeter Thomas Marriott have all left their mark on the city’s jazz legacy from the stage at Tula’s.

Photographer Jim Levitt has been as integral as anybody in terms of documenting the inspired jazz scene in Seattle over the last quarter century. While photographic documentation of historic Seattle jazz rooms such as the Black & Tan, Parnell’s, and Jazz Alley’s former home on University Way is scant at best, enthusiastic photographers such as Levitt, Daniel Sheehan, and Lisa Hagen Glynn have provided in depth imagery of Tula’s storied run.

Mr. Levitt recently shared some photographs of Thomas Marriott’s last gig as a leader at Tula’s on September 14. Marriott has been playing at Tula’s since he was a teenager in a band with his brother, trombonist David Marriott, Jr.. Taking quality photographs in the dimly lit confines of the club is no easy task. These were too exceptional  not to share- many thanks to our brother and noted jazz foot soldier, Jim Levitt!

Thomas Marriott leads his Quintet in a final show, two weeks before Tula’s Jazz Club in Seattle closes after 26 years. Thomas Marriott, trumpet; Rick Mandyck, saxophone; Tim Kennedy, piano; Jeff Johnson, bass; John Bishop, drums
Pianist Tim Kennedy at Tula’s with the Thomas Marriott Quintet. 9/14/2019

Tim Kennedy, Thomas Marriott, and Rick Mandyck perform one last time at Tula’s.

Tenor saxophonist Rick Mandyck, and drummer John Bishop with the Thomas Marriott Quintet at Tula’s 9/14/2019

A most dynamic duo- drummer John Bishop and bassist Jeff Johnson at Tula’s, 9/14/2019.

Thomas Marriott leads his Quintet in a final show, two weeks before Tula’s Jazz Club in Seattle closes after 26 years.Thomas Marriott, trumpet;Rick Mandyck, saxophone;Tim Kennedy, piano;Jeff Johnson, bass;John Bishop, drums 9/14/2019

Thomas Marriott leads his Quintet in a final show, two weeks before Tula’s Jazz Club in Seattle closes after 26 years.Thomas Marriott, trumpet;Rick Mandyck, saxophone;Tim Kennedy, piano;Jeff Johnson, bass;John Bishop, drums 9/14/2019

Trumpeter Thomas Marriott, and saxophonist Rick Mandyck at Tula’s, 9/14/2019.

Iconic jazz radio voice Jim Wilke, recording the Thomas Marriott Quintet at their final Tula’s performance on 9/14/2019. 

Tula’s Jazz Club: Soliloquy to a Seattle Jazz Institution

photo of Tula’s by Daniel Sheehan

It was the tail end of a long weekend. Temperatures had risen to 80 degrees under a sunny only-in-Seattle blue sky, the waterways and markets humming with a sea of humanity. It was not a night one would expect many to venture into the quiet, dark solitude of Tula’s Jazz Club, where for nearly 26 years the best of Seattle’s vibrant jazz scene had come to roost. The scene up and down Second Avenue in Belltown was its usual interesting mosaic of bars, restaurants, and music clubs. With no outdoor access, or air conditioning, Tula’s manager Jason Moore was not expecting a big turnout. This was Seattle, and when the weather turns warm and sunny, Seattleites tend to shake off a little rust and soak in the sun while they can. To continue reading, click here
https://www.allaboutjazz.com/tulas-jazz-club-soliloquy-to-a-seattle-jazz-institution-by-paul-rauch.php

25 Images From The 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival

The Ballard Jazz Festival spreads out over 4 days in 11 different locations, making it a logistical challenge in many ways. Traversing and documenting  the festival’s four events as a photographer begins in the tight, brick lined confines of Conor Byrne Pub, moves to the spacious Nordic Museum Auditorium, and ends with a ten venue jazz walk that covers a fair patch of ground in itself.

The festival has been extremely fortunate over the years to have jazz photographer Jim Levitt on the scene, and the 17th edition was no exception. For the second year running, he was joined by Lisa Hagen Glynn who has been doing great work around the Seattle music scene, in and out of jazz. Levitt’s knack for finding special moments in time seems to have passed on to Hagen Glynn, with both contributing images that define the soul of the festival. 

The Steve Korn Quartet at Celebration of the Drum, opening the 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival, featuring three groups led by drummers.Steve Korn, drums;Dawn Clement, keyboard;Mark Taylor, saxophone;Paul Gabrielson, bass

The Steve Korn Quartet at Celebration of the Drum, opening the 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival, featuring three groups led by drummers.Steve Korn, drums;Dawn Clement, keyboard;Mark Taylor, saxophone;Paul Gabrielson, bass
“Guitar Summit” at the 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival, featuring three guitarist-led groups. John Stowell and friends open the show.John Stowell, guitar;Rick Mandyke, saxophone;Jeff Johnson, bass;John Bishop, drums
Lage Lund leads a trio at the 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival “Guitar Summit.”Lage Lund, guitar;Michael Glynn, bass;Matt Jorgensen, drums
Kathy Moore leads a sizzling trio at the 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival “Guitar Summit.”Kathy Moore, guitar and vocals;Jeremy Lightfoot, bass and vocals;Ruby Dunphy, drums
Ernie Watts with New Stories, at the 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival Mainstage Concert.Ernie Watts, saxophone;Marc Seales, piano;Doug Miller, bass;John Bishop, drums
Ernie Watts with New Stories, at the 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival Mainstage Concert.Ernie Watts, saxophone;Marc Seales, piano;Doug Miller, bass;John Bishop, drums
Jazz radio legend JIm Wilke MC’s the 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival

Robin Lloyd from Knkx and the JJA, presents JJA Jazz Hero Award to John Bishop, and Matt Jorgensen

The 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk presents 17 groups, in 10 venues, in the historic old Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Thomas Marriott, and Rick Mandyck at Kula Movement. 

The 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk presents 17 groups, in 10 venues, in the historic old Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Thomas Marriott, Rick Mandyck, Jeff Johnson, and John Bishop perform at Kula Movement

The 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk presents 17 groups, in 10 venues, in the historic old Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Brittany Anjou Trio with Evan Flory-Barnes, and Todd Bishop. 

The 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk presents 17 groups, in 10 venues, in the historic old Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Brittany Anjou and Overton Berry

The 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk presents 17 groups, in 10 venues, in the historic old Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Xavier Lecouturier
The 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk presents 17 groups, in 10 venues, in the historic old Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Ben Feldman

Matt Jorgensen at the Ballard Jazz Walk

John Bishop performs at the Ballard Jazz Walk

Jacqueline Tabor performing at Bad Albert’s, on the Ballard Jazz Walk 2019

Jacqueline Tabor Quartet with Cole Schuster, Geoff Harper, and Max Holmberg- 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk

Johnaye Kendrick at the Cathedral, 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk

Johnaye Kendrick with Chris Synmer, 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk

Nathan Breedlove at the Cathedral, 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk
Dylan Hayes performing at Conor Byrne, 2019 Ballard Jazz Walk

Cymbal and Gong raffle winner Rebecca Wade with Matt Jorgensen

Conor Byrne Pub, Celebration of the Drum, 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival

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.

 

Roxy Coss Interview

Seattle born and bred, New York based saxophonist Roxy Coss has seen her star ascend in recent years. From 2012-2014 she gained international visibility touring with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt. She has been on a torrid recording pace as well, with the objective of releasing an album a year. Her past two releases Restless Idealism (Origin, 2016), and Chasing the Unicorn (Posi-Tone, 2017) have established her place in the upper echelon of saxophonists in jazz today.

Coss has also played a major role in the fight for gender equality in jazz, forming the organization Women In jazz Organization (WIJO). You can check out their website here: http://wearewijo.org/

On March 30, Coss will release a new album on the Posi-Tone label that expresses both her ardent musicality, and activism. Entitled The Future Is Female, the album stands as an important statement in support of modern feminism, and most specifically, to gender equality in jazz. In November 2017, just after she recorded the record, I had the opportunity to interview her while she was in town for the Earshot Jazz Festival. The result was compelling.

All About Jazz: You have recently released a new CD, Chasing the Unicorn (Posi-Tone, 2017), just a year after the release of Restless Idealism (Origin, 2016). Albums are like a snapshot of a timeframe, how has that musical image changed in a year?

Roxy Coss: More back story is it was recorded more than a year apart, even though they were released a year apart, so there was actually more time between recordings, almost two years. When I worked with Jeremy Pelt, he taught me a lot about the industry. His release schedule is every year, and I saw that really work for him, so that’s my goal right now, to continue now that I have the momentum going. From my experience, I’ve seen how important it is to keep getting contact out there, regardless of what it is. The more stuff you put out there, the more chances of someone hearing you.

read the entire interview here at All About Jazz: https://www.allaboutjazz.com/roxy-coss-standing-out-roxy-coss-by-paul-rauch.php