Seattle Jazz Scene: Live Jazz Previews for April & May

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Underground Sounds with Thomas Marriott, Rick Mandyck, Jeff Johnson & John Bishop

Tue Apr 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, 8 PM / Underbelly- 119 First Av S.

Underbelly, the quaint cellar bar on First Avenue in Pioneer Square sits directly across the street from what was the New Orleans club, a former hub of local Seattle jazz. That vibe lives on Tuesday nights in the former burlesque venue, with four of the city’s top jazz musicians colliding in an explosive chordless quartet that at times has been known as “Free Fall.” This is an opportunity to witness great jazz in an informal environment with no cover. 

Trumpeter Thomas Marriott leads this band of long time mates with a strong intuitive connection. The author of fourteen albums as a leader and a recent inductee into the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame is joined by the incomparable duo of bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John Bishop. Saxophonist Rick Mandyck has switched to alto, but bears the sound and approach of some of the great tenor players in jazz. The band plays originals from Marriott, Mandyck and Johnson, along with a few standards. The vibe in the room is relaxed, the drinks are first class and there is a very cute puppy in the house to add to the charm. The house screens classic films and cartoons as well! A highly recommended hang on Tuesday nights.

Stanley Clarke

Thu Apr 18 – Sun Apr 21, 7:30 & 9:30 PM / Jazz Alley

Electric bass virtuoso, and NEA Jazz Master Stanley Clarke has been lighting it up for fifty years. Brought to national attention as a member of Return to Forever with Chick Corea, Clarke has gone on to become a jazz fusion pioneer and living legend through his recordings and performances as a leader.

Clark hits Jazz Alley in trio mode, in collective spirit with Dave Weckl on drums and piano / keyboard ace Beka Gochiashvili. Weckl is to fusion drumming what Clark is to the electric bass– a true match made in heaven. These shows amount to fusion royalty present in Seattle. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=7539

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

Jun Iida Quintet

Fri & Sat Apr 19 – 20, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Trumpeter Jun Iida hits the Fellowship for a two night residency on the heels of his new release on Origin Records, Evergreen. Iida has a fluid and full trumpet sound. Having four sets over two nights gives the band a chance to reallyn dig into his tunes, with the help of this well put together band. Pianist Dylan Hayes, guitarist Martin Budde, bassist Michael Glynn and drummer Xavier Lecouturier represent a formidable gathering for Iida to work his magic. Always good for a trumpet player to have a band stocked with skilled soloists. For the audience, it presents a diversity of sound across the board over a weekend residency that makes attending both nights an excellent option. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

The Racer Sessions: James Falzone

Sun Apr 21, 7 PM / Gallery 1412- 1412 18th Ave

The Racer Sessions are an iconic series of performances that feature artists in exploration mode. There is a wide variance in the performances depending on the participating artist, but all are strong in the art of improvisation. The tradition began at the old Cafe Racer on the edge of the University District, when it was a hip coffee bar. The sessions moved to the current incarnation of Racer on Capitol Hill, but have moved once again to the intimate room at Gallery 1412.

Clarinetist James Falzone is a world class musician, and a master of both classical and improvised forms. For his Fellowship date, he plays clarinet and piano in duo with Seattle-based dancer Giordana Falzone. G. Falzone is an accomplished movement artist, and the daughter of the noted clarinetist. https://www.racersessions.com/

Photo Credit: Daniel Sheehan

Ann Reynolds Quartet

with Tobi Stone, Heather Chriscaden & Evan Woodle

Ian Hughes Quartet

Thu Apr 25, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship – 109 S. Main St.

Pianist Ann Reynolds has been featuring the compositions of female composers in her recent performances, including those of the great Mary Lou Williams. Her skillful arrangements have raised awareness of these “new standards” for her audiences. Reynolds is supported by the solid rhythm section of bassist Heather Chriscaden and drummer Evan Woodle. Her beautifully harmonic support elevates the soaring, bold sound of tenor saxophonist Tobi Stone, who acts as the lead voice of this well formed quartet. 

Photo Credit: knkx

Guitarist Ian Hughes makes his Fellowship debut, leading a band that includes drummer Chris Patin, alto saxophonist Michael Jedynak, and bassist Marina Christopher. Hughes is known around Seattle for his work with the band Freudian Slurp among others projects. He is a tradition based player, with branches that extend into funk and adventurous original compositions. For this performance, he offers compositions inspired by nature, written during the pandemic to channel joy into times of despair. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events

Photo Credit: KNKX

Julio Jauregui

Fri Apr 26, 7 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Nobody embodies the spirit of Latin jazz in Seattle, better than talented pianist Julio Jauregui. The Mexico City native is an excellent jazz pianist who has pushed the limits of Latin music through a number of musical associations. He founded the band Tumbao with vocalist Carlos Cascante in 2001, and has been thrilling jazz and latin audiences with that combo ever since. Many of Jauregui’s performances are outside the orbit of local jazz programming. It’s satisfying to see him on the SJF schedule, giving the audience there the opportunity to witness his artistry and virtuosity. Band TBA https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

Dylan Hayes Trio with Jeff Johnson & Xavier Lecouturier

Sat Apr 27, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Dylan Hayes is a highly skilled pianist, composer and arranger who moves around the Seattle jazz scene in a wide ranging sort of way. He is the curator of the legacy of conmposer Jim Knapp, and co-leads The Jim Knapp Orchestra with Jay Thomas. As a member of the collective ensemble, Meridian Odyssey, he is challenged in all facets of his skillset. For this performance, he strips it all down to the studs, performing in the traditional jazz piano trio format. It will be fun to see how the composer / arranger side of him interacts with the jazz pianist.

Hayes has chosen excellent partners for this trio venture. Bassist Jeff Johnson has been blazing a new trail through trio configurations for decades with the likes of Hal Galper, Jessica Williams, Chano Dominguez and Bill Anschell. Drummer Xavier Lecouturier has been Hayes’ musical partner since high school days in California, and shares a collective spirit with the pianist. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events

Willie Jones III Sextet

Tue Apr 30 – Wed May 1, 7:30 PM / Jazz Alley

Drummer Willie Jones III is touring in support of his new album Fallen Heroes, an homage to a long list of his mentors that include Roy Hargrove, Larry Willis and Jimmy Heath. Speaking of Hargrove, Jones has Justin Robinson on alto, a veteran of the late trumpeter’s quintet. Young trumpeter Giveton Gelin is on the gig as well, a rising star in jazz who appeared recently in Seattle at Langston. Vocalist Christie Dashiell adds a different dimension to the proceedings, with pianist Keith Brown and bassist Gerald Cannon rounding out this stellar assemblage of talent. This is one that has “fly under the radar” written all over it, and could well be one of the best hits of the year at Jazz Alley. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=7527

Chris McCarthy Quintet

Wed May 1, 7:30 PM / Royal Room

Chris McCarthy is a Seattle born and raised pianist based in New York City. His style rests on the edge of straight ahead modern jazz and modern improvised music. His articulate, probing playing does not delineate a particular style in the jazz world, and possesses a refreshing openness and clarity. He is joined by the dynamic front line of Japanese born trumpeter Takuya Kuroda and dedicated baritone saxophonist Eden Bareket. Both bassist Sam Minaie and drummer Steven Crammer are adventurous spirits in the post-bop tradition that have a penchant for producing elasticity in their approach to rhythmic aspects of a given tune. 

This date will tend to slip under the radar, due to the Royal Room’s outdated and puzzling approach to publicity. Don’t allow that to deter you from venturing to Columbia City and welcoming home a brilliant Seattle artist who is making his mark in New York. https://theroyalroomseattle.com/event/chris-mccarthy-quintet-feat-takuya-kuroda/

Trombonasaurus Wrecks

Thu May 2, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 Main St.

Veteran trombonist Dan Marcus has been a major voice on the Seattle music scene for decades. His work includes highly visible gigs with SRJO and a variety of small bands in the area’s best clubs. His playing is also heard in show bands around town at the city’s showcase theaters. His musical personality is bold and virtuosic. Trombonasaurus Wrecks is his statement as a proud, unabashed trombonist living in a trumpet and saxophone dominated world. For good measure, he brings along a cadre of the city’s best trombonists, including the brilliant David Marriott, Jr.. Add relative newcomers Beserat Tafesse and Audrey Stangland, and you have a low toned wall of sound that ascends to trombone heaven. With pianist John Hansen and bassist Greg Feingold or Heather Chriscaden in tow in the rhythm section, this band is sure to vibrate the foundation of the intimate room at 109 S. Main. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events

Photo Credit: Matt Jorgensen

Matt Jorgensen Quintet

Fri & Sat May 3 – 4, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Drummer/composer Matt Jorgensen is the author of eleven albums as a leader or co-leader, including his modern jazz band, +451. He has co-led the ensembles Chamber 3, Human Spirit with Thomas Marriott and Mark Taylor, and NYC with Gary Versace. He is co-principal of Origin Records, the highly regarded Seattle based label.

Jorgensen has a way of measuring the pulse of the Seattle scene and assembling a band that best interprets his original compositions. For this iteration of his quintet, he teams with his longtime ally Mark Taylor on alto saxophone, joined in the front line by young tenor saxophonist Jackson Cotugno. Pianist Dylan Hayes has been making a name for himself as a composer/arranger, as well as an up and coming voice on piano. Bassist Kelsey Mines has become a highly visible presence on the scene, performing in a wide-ranging array of gigs that covers a broad spectrum of the jazz idiom. Jorgensen’s two night residency presents him with an opportunity to reach out over his two plus decade career as a composer, and dig deep into the sound. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Free Fall with Jeff Johnson

Thu May 9, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Free Fall is a chord-less quartet that in rare appearances over the years, has gained a reputation as a free spooling affair with four of the best jazz musicians this city has produced historically. The core of the band’s history goes back to a weekly gig in Ballard in the 1990’s, when bassist Jeff Johnson, drummer John Bishop and saxophonist Rick Mandyck led a trio gig that would every so often add a fourth member. That fourth member now is trumpeter Thomas Marriott, adding a different dynamic to the band. 

The quartet performs original compositions, many of which are open ended, freedom seeking scores written by Johnson and Mandyck. Marriott adds his tunes as well, selecting those that very well may have been incubated in this harmony liberated environment. Johnson’s trailblazing style on bass, and Bishop’s orchestral sound on drums tends to bring the best out of Marriott and Mandyck. One not to miss on the May calendar. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Marina Albero Trio / Quartet

Fri & Sat May 10 – 11, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

It’s now been ten years since pianist Marina Albero arrived in Seattle from her native Barcelona. The daughter of iconic Catalan musician / composer Marian Albero has created a style that reflects the many different directions her musical journey has taken her. A four month sabbatical in New Orleans is the latest journey taken by Albero, an immersion into her music while surrounded by the multiplicity of musical influences that encompass the crescent city. Albero hits SJF upon her return from that real life deep dive into the melting pot of American music, for a two night residency that features two different bands.

Albero breaks things down into the classic trio format on the first night, joining in conversation with bassist Kelsey Mines and drummer D’Vonne Lewis. Saturday night will feature a quartet with drummer Xavier Lecouturier, bassist Trevor Ford and tenor saxophonist Jackson Cotugno. With a different band and different tunes each night, attending both nights is a great option. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events

Marc Smason / Noah Pettibon Quartet

Thu May 16, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

This twin bill has an interesting theme of sorts, but in two very different ways. Young saxophonist Noah Pettibon bears the mark of being perhaps the only dedicated baritone player on the scene, dedicated enough to have studied with baritone legend Gary Smulyan. While he has played gigs in the area, and has frequented jam sessions around town, for the majority of Seattle jazz fans, this set is a bit of an introduction. Tacoma based guitarist Elliott Turner will join and contribute the original tunes for the set. Mountlake Terrace native Scott Swanberg is on bass with drummer Brady McCowan completing the quartet.

Marc Smason has played every type of gig in Seattle one could imagine, moving in and out of a broad range of musical forms. A trombonist of note and a jazz singer to boot, it is just as common to see him delivering his message on the street as it is to see him playing more conventional club dates. While holding a degree from the prestigious Cal Institute of the Arts, Samson’s jazz life has eschewed the career path of many modern jazz school trained musicians. He has served the local music community as a member of the executive board of international federation of musicians local 76-493, and as a community activist on a broad range of issues. His trombone sound is thick and foggy like the Seattle marine layer. He is trained both in jazz and classical music, and can often be seen and heard dipping into latin and klezmer sounds. You’ve heard about jazz musicians paying dues? This cat has paid a ton, and it is good to see him on the SJF docket. Samson’s band includes Gus Denhard on tuba, holding down the bottom end. Saxophonist Jeremy Shaskus, guitarist Martin Budde and drummer Dave Bush round out this unconventional lineup that should provide interesting results. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Johnaye Kendrick

Fri & Sat May 17-18, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Now with a Grammy in tow from her work in the vocal quartet, saje, vocal artist Johnaye Kendrick returns home to the SJF for two sets of original music and selected standards. A professorship at Cornish brought her to us in Seattle, and we have reaped the benefits of her artistry ever since. The author of two solo albums with a long list of finely crafted original tunes, Kendrick will be working up some new tunes to be included in her next album. An original board member of the Seattle Jazz Fellowship, Kendrick thrilled the audience on the opening weekend of the new Pioneer Square digs. She is joined in her return by bassist Chris Symer, pianist Dylan Hayes and drummer Byron Vannoy.  Another stellar two night residency by SJF with one of the true gems of the Seattle and international jazz scene. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events

Noah Haidu Trio with Buster Williams & Lenny White

Tue & Wed May 21-22, 7:30 PM / Jazz Alley

Pianist Noah Haidu is a relative newcomer to the international jazz scene compared with his bandmates, noted as a modern player with a free and buoyant feel to his playing. While this performance will be a bit of a coming out party for the pianist in Seattle, the immediate focus for listeners will be the years of history made by his partners in bassist Buster Williams and drummer Lenny White

Williams and White share a commonality as former members of bands led by the great Miles Davis. At eighty one years of age, Williams still possesses his nimble, even-toned touch much like he did in Herbie Hancock’s historic sextet of the 1970’s. His trio work includes groundbreaking work with Hank Jones and Tony Williams. Much like Williams, White has a long list of recording and performance credits that include time with the revolutionary fusion transition of Davis in the early 1970’s. The three time Grammy winner was a founding member of Chick Corea’s seminal fusion band, Return to Forever. He is considered one of the founding fathers of the fusion movement. 

This performance allows jazz fans to both witness greatness that has persisted over generations and a talent that is fresh and on the rise. A can’t miss date at Jazz Alley. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=7545

Jory Tindall: Left Coast

Thur May 23, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St

Saxophonist Jory Tindall has put together a band to celebrate the West Coast style, with a non-chordal quartet in the spirit of Lee Konitz, Lennie Tristano and Chet Baker. The band will present original music inspired by the west coast movement, though nuanced by Tindall’s hard bop DNA. Driven by bassist Greg Feingold and drummer Stefan Schatz, Tindall is joined on the front line by trumpeter Jun Iida. Feingold is a bold presence on double bass, and a perfect fit for this assemblage. Plenty of room here for melodic improvisation from the front line. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

Ray Vega Quartet

Fri & Sat May 24 – 25, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Trumpeter Ray Vega is a native of the Bronx, NY, and a veteran of the bands of Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Mongo Santamaria, Johnny Pacheco and many, many more. He is also a master practitioner of bebop. Vega met a young Thomas Marriott in Seattle while on a tour stop at Jazz Alley, and became a close friend of the young trumpeter and his family. Their friendship became a musical partnership under the banner of “East-West Trumpet Summit,” resulting in three albums on the Origin Records label and accompanying live performances. 

This time around, Vega performs in quartet mode with three of Seattle’s finest. Pianist Eric Verlinde is a perfect match for the trumpeter’s personal musical journey. He is a master jazz pianist with a special affection for Latin jazz. Bassist Michael Glynn is a first call Seattle player with the acute musical flexibility to interact with a wide range of approaches to the jazz lexicon. He appeared on the latest East-West Trumpet Summit album, Coast to Coast (Origin, 2022). Drummer John Bishop is an iconic Seattle performer acclaimed on an international scale. He has been one of the leading voices in the Seattle jazz community for forty years as a drummer, record label owner, graphic designer and festival presenter. He has appeared on over 100 albums and has recorded and toured with the likes of Hal Galper, Jessica Williams, Sonny Fortune and Ernestine Anderson to name but a few. He was elected to the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame in 2008. 

Vega is a genuine soul and a bright light in the music world. Get there early for this one, it should fill up quickly. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events

Samara Joy

Sat May 25, 8 PM / Benaroya Hall

After quickly selling out her Earshot show at Town Hall, Grammy winning vocalist Samara Joy returns to Seattle to perform at Benaroya Hall. If you are unfamiliar, Joy performs standards in the vocal jazz tradition, and has been generously rewarded for her efforts. She recently has taken on writing lyrics for instrumental jazz classics for her own interpretation. How can a singer with a musician’s approach to sound not want to take on melodies that were written without lyrics? One example would be her take on Charles Mingus’ “Reincarnation of a Lovebird.”

In seeing Joy perform on several occasions, I have become well acquainted with her perfect pitch, deep resonance and dedication to excellence. She has not approached artistry to the extent of Cecile McLorin Salvant or Jazzmeia Horn, two current voices in jazz that have extended their respective reach into the music as artists. But she has a glorious instrument that can completely disarm you in moments. 

I fear Joy falling into the “too much credit, too soon” category that is prevalent in these times of social media driven, recency biased instant-gratification. Her talent is genuine and sound, and a gift not to be taken lightly. Another concern is Benaroya Hall itself. As anyone who has attended a jazz concert at the renowned venue can tell you, it is a difficult room to achieve dynamics through any sort of amplification. Performances by the Keith Jarrett Trio there were stricken by unbalanced resonance, particularly concerning drums and cymbals. Wayne Shorter on the other hand, sounded wonderful. Here’s to hoping for the latter. 

If you are a vocal jazz enthusiast, May is especially kind to you. Between Joy and Salvant, you might want to seek out a Greta Matassa show to add good measure for the month! https://www.earshot.org/event/samara-joy/

Photo Credit: Detroit Jazz Festival

Cecile McLorin Salvant

Tue & Wed May 28 – 29, 7:30 PM / Jazz Alley

What more can one say about vocal artist Cecile McLorin Salvant? A generational talent who is already a multi-Grammy recipient, Salvant’s performances could be described as “stunning,” or “genius seeking beauty.” She has recently visited Jazz Alley in duo with her partner, the great pianist Sullivan Fortner. Fortner is indeed on the gig this time around, joined by Bellevue’s own Yasushi Nakamura on bass and drummer Aaron Kimmel. If you are yet to witness one of her performances, this becomes a priority event for you, whether or not you are a fan of jazz vocals. Salvant is a musician in every sense of the word, with a comnposer’s ear and mind. She very well may be the greatest American jazz singer since the historic reigns of Sarah Vaughn and Carmen McRae. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=7547

Photo Credit: Anthony Dean

Victor North

Thu May 30, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Philadelphia based tenor saxophonist Victor North has roots in Seattle and Alaska, moving to Philly some twenty five years ago after attending Rutgers University. In that time, he has established himself as a prominent voice on the fertile Philly scene, performing with the late Joey DeFancesco, Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band, Charles Fambrough, Terrell Stafford and a variety of others. North is a powerful presence on the tenor, a straight ahead player with an eclectic view of the music. He doesn’t perform in Seattle all that often, take advantage of this opportunity. Band TBA https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events

Emmet Cohen Trio

Thu May 30 – Sun Jun 2, 7:30 & 9:30 PM / Jazz Alley

It seems as though pianist Emmet Cohen has been around forever. He is frequently booked at major festivals and clubs on an international scale, and for good reason- he is a technically brilliant player with a seemingly endless vocabulary steeped in beatific melody. Yet Cohen is just thirty years of age, with a vital energy and peerless vision of what straight ahead jazz is and will be in the future. 

Cohen hits Jazz Alley with bassist Joey Ranieri and drummer Kyle Poole in tow for what should amount to a sizzling ninety minute set each of the four nights of his run. The only regret may be that the run doesn’t include a Tuesday evening, as he has a history of hitting the late-night jam session at the Owl ‘n Thistle. If you are a straight ahead jazz fan that loves genius musicianship, this is the gig for you. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=7519

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

Machado Mijiga Trio

Fri & Sat May 31 – Jun 1, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Machado Mijiga is a Portland based drummer / composer who has a close connection to the new wave of young jazz artists in Seattle. Making his second SJF appearance, Mijiga will perform in trio mode with one of those Seattle players in pianist Dylan Hayes. Veteran first-call bassist Michael Glynn completes the trio, in an environment where listeners will be able to witness his elegance as a soloist in ample portions. Mijiga’s style is intricate in form, polyrhythmic at times and nuanced in pure energy. At this point in his career, he is stylistically diverse, still in search of a true voice as he well should be. All of that musical gathering will be pared down to the moment at hand in trio mode, with Hayes’ harmonic imagination creating shapes for bass and drums to interact with. The date ends an active and broad ranging month of programming at the Seattle Jazz Fellowship. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events

Opinion/Editorial: The Time to Act is Now to Support Local Seattle Jazz

“Our mission is to build community, provide access to the mentorship cycle, incentivize excellence and to lower the barriers to access jazz for both performers and listeners.”

This quote from the original mission statement of the Seattle Jazz Fellowship states in no uncertain terms, the focus of the Seattle 401(c) 3 non-profit that has guided its journey from its point of inception in October 2021. This was when the fellowship initiated its “Fellowship Wednesdays” weekly affair at Vermillion Art Bar on Capitol Hill. While the non-profit has engaged in a variety of special events, the Wednesday series has presented live jazz featuring Seattle resident musicians with occasional out of town guests now for more than two years. It has provided a stage for Seattle jazz musicians to perform original music for an appreciative listening audience and be paid respectfully. While only one night a week, it has been a beacon of hope for the Seattle jazz scene that has lost its collective mainstages largely due to gentrification. The business model that guided jazz dinner clubs like the New Orleans Creole Restaurant in Pioneer Square and the iconic Tula’s Jazz Club in Belltown became obsolete. The price tag for the consumer became sky high, while the numbers needed to manage a successful business became impossible. An alternative was needed if the resident jazz scene in Seattle was to survive.

On Tuesday November 21, SJF founder Thomas Marriott announced that the December 6 edition of Fellowship Wednesdays would be the last staged at Vermillion, as the fellowship would be moving into its own space in Pioneer Square beginning in late January of 2024. The venue will be a pop-up affair in the historic Globe building near the intersection of First Avenue and Main St., smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood that not long ago was the heartbeat of Seattle nightlife. Programming will increase to “several” nights a week according to Marriott, increasing employment opportunities for musicians, and live jazz access for listeners. The non-profit’s logical next step is a large one, and will require a significant increase in support from the Seattle music community at large. Most importantly, it will require an “all in” support network from Seattle jazz musicians themselves. In an interview I conducted with Marriott that culminated in an All About Jazz article in February 2022, he stated, “It takes everybody showing up. It takes people getting off the bench and off the sidelines and saying,’I’m going to show up to this person’s gig because it’s good for all of us.’” 

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

In essence, this is a calling to step up to the plate and hit it out of the park. The time is NOW. What is required is not a burden, but an act of love and respect for jazz music in Seattle, and the artists that provide the sounds. It is a call to the jazz audience to not only support the music with your dollars, but to show up and join in the fellowship and broad sense of community this music provides. 

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

You can purchase a membership using the link below. If your personal income allows you to make a donation beyond standard membership, now is the time to do so. If your working life puts you in contact with personal and/or corporate entities that are possibly willing to support this venture, now is the time to begin that conversation. We can create something beautiful and long-lasting if we so wish–it’s up to us as a community. Do we want local, fair paying gigs in an inclusive environment that welcomes the public without typical financial barriers to access? The answer is definitely yes. It is now officially in our hands.

Buy a membership, volunteer your time, make a donation, show up–this is what is required of you. The exploding moment we have all been waiting for is here. Nobody is going to show up and be the savior of the local Seattle jazz scene–we are collectively just that. Marriott has set the foundation. It’s “go time” to take it from there and build our community. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/membership

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt
Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn
Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

In Pictures: Thomas Marriott Quartet at the 2023 Earshot Jazz Festival

The Seattle based trumpeter hits hard with George Colligan, Eric Revis and Roy McCurdy

Photographs from Jim Levitt

Thomas Marriott photo: Jim Levitt

Seattle trumpet star Thomas Marriott made his return to the Earshot Jazz Festival in 2023, clearly on his own terms. While the festival focused mainly on artists outside of the mainstream of modern jazz, Marriott layed it down on no uncertain terms that this evening would be innovative within form, a post-bop adventure featuring some of the hardest hitting jazz artists on the national scene.

While I cannot provide the sounds of the eighty minute set for you, I can present the beautiful work of veteran jazz photographer Jim Levitt to provide a context of the energy emanating from the stage at The Forum at Town Hall Seattle on the evening of October 12, 2023. I have chosen not to review the concert in words, which as you can imagine would include accolade after accolade. The images describe the essence of the powerful performance in ways that words simply cannot.

The band Marriott put together for this performance is emblematic of the work he has done over the past few years. Bassist Eric Revis appeared on his 2022 release, Live From the Heatdome, and perfectly fits into the paradigm of the trumpeter’s current “musical state of mind.” With a quarter century behind him with the Branford Marsalis Quartet and a long history as a composer/bandleader, Revis shares a common vision with Marriott of musical adventurism within the context of modern jazz. Pianist George Colligan is known on an international scale as the pianist of ensembles led by Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane, John Scofield and others. The Portland based musician has been a frequent visitor to the Seattle scene in general, including several other iterations of Marriott’s quartet/quintet projects. Drummer Roy McCurdy has spent extended periods of time touring and recording with Cannonball Adderly, Sonny Rollins and a slew of historic others. At eighty six years of age he is a wonder, engaged fully in his hard driving, swinging style that can explode in the moment, or drift into sublime subtlety. The quartet brought to light Marriott’s artistry, both in terms of creative spirit and ardent virtuosity. Enjoy these images and allow them to serve as motivation to not only witness live jazz, but to be an active participant in the energy, power and spirit of the music!

Many thanks to the uber talented, uber dedicated Jim Levitt. His images continue to bring to life the grace and fire of the Seattle jazz scene!

Pianist George Colligan
The quartet
The great Roy McCurdy
Bassist Eric Revis
Trumpeter Thomas Marriott muted
Thomas Marriott and Roy McCurdy
Pianist George Colligan and bassist Eric Revis
Thomas Marriott mans the flugelhorn for “Front Row Family”
Thomas Marriott and Roy McCurdy
Trumpeter Thomas Marriott, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Roy McCurdy
George Colligan
Thomas Marriott Quartet
L to R: George Colligan, Eric Revis, Thomas Marriott, Roy McCurdy

Album Review: Ray Vega & Thomas Marriott/ East West Trumpet Summit- “Coast to Coast”

For some people, the whole notion of an east-west summit of anything in jazz brings up the perceived differences over time between American west coast jazz and its east coast counterpart. The basic premise is that jazz on the American west coast is a cousin to the cool jazz movement, a calmer, less soulful part of the tradition that relies more on composition and arrangement than the playing of individual improvisers. East coast jazz is seen more as hard driving, soulful and rooted deeply in the blues. All of these perceptions have been eclipsed in great part by among other aspects of modern living, the internet and efficient commercial air travel. Follow link to All About Jazz to continue https://www.allaboutjazz.com/coast-to-coast-ray-vega-and-thomas-marriott-east-west-trumpet-summit-origin-records

Album Review: Jeff Johnson- “My Heart”

What could possibly be so interesting about a thirty-two-year old session of first takes, recorded live to 2-track DAT by a quartet led by a Seattle- based bassist who is not exactly a household name? A quick answer would include superlatives such as “masterful,” or “historic.” A brief history of bassist and composer Jeff Johnson creates a better sense of understanding. Johnson is perhaps best known as a pioneering member of pianist Hal Galper’s revolutionary rubato trio of the ’90’s, and ’00’s. His education in music was not from an institution of higher education, but from the fertile jazz scene of the early ’70’s in his native Minneapolis. His original sound would later be nuanced by time spent in Texas and Oklahoma, and by time spent alongside masters, including such greats as Philly Joe Jones, during a brief tenure in New York. Follow link to All About Jazz to continue https://www.allaboutjazz.com/my-heart-jeff-johnson-origin-records

In Photos: Maria Schneider Orchestra at Town Hall Seattle

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

When the Covid-10 pandemic shut down the world as we know it in the spring of 2020, the jazz scene in Seattle retreated into isolation, including dates that would have seen top touring bands appear in the city. Perhaps most notable of these missing dates was the Earshot Jazz presentation of the seven time Grammy winning Maria Schneider Orchestra, slated to appear in the Great Hall at Town Hall Seattle. It served then, as a large measure of social healing when the orchestra at last appeared in the historic hall on February 28, 2023, some three years delayed by the hundred year pandemic. An enthusiastic house of seven hundred patrons greeted the full New York ensemble, led by NEA Jazz Master, Maria Schneider, herself.

While hosting jazz legend is not a foreign entity to the city of Seattle, the receivership of the entirety of an eighteen member ensemble such as this is a rarity indeed. The price tag for a national tour of a large ensemble of this magnitude is indeed high, making such a phenomena practically non-existent. With Earshot picking up the tab, the Seattle audience needed to do its share by purchasing tickets, which in fact, it did. The stage was set for a historic evening that seemed to arrive at the perfect time, hastening our recovery from post-pandemic lethargy.

Schneider led the band through her highly visual compositions, including those on her Pulitzer nominated most recent release, Data Lords, and her pastoral masterpiece, The Thompson Fields. The band roster was full of some of the genre’s most notable stars, most of whom have been constants in Schneider’s band for more than a decade. The band in full: Saxophones: Rich Perry (tenor), Dave Pietro (alto), Steve Wilson (alto), Donny McCaslin (tenor), Scott Robinson (bari); Trombones: Ryan Keberle, Keigth O’Quinn, Marshall Gilges, George Flynn (bass); Trumpets: Mike Rodriguez, Greg Gisbert, Michael Dudley, Nadje Noordhuis; Accordion: Julien Labro; Guitar: Ben Monder; Piano: Gary Versace; Bass: Jay Anderson; Drums: Johnathan Blake; Sound Engineer: Fred Vogler.

Captured vividly by ace stage photogs Jim Levitt and Lisa Hagen Glynn, one can almost hear Schneider’s highly visual melodies emanating from the images. Many thanks to Jim and Lisa for generously and graciously lending us their time and talents. While many decades of Seattle’s vibrant jazz history is shrouded in mystery in lacking photographic documentation, the current era of Seattle jazz bears no such distinction. Jim and Lisa seem to be everywhere, and at the same time, respectfully hidden in the shadows of a performance. They have perfected the art of non-intrusion as far as the audience is concerned. Their colorful and emotive images add a dimension to written documentation of the scene that brings the events and characters of subject to vivid life. If you attended the concert, allow these images to refresh your memory. If unable to attend, witness some of the energy and beauty that filled the Great Hall on this one, very special evening.

Drummer Jonathan Blake (Jim Levitt)
Steve Wilson (Clarinet), Donny McCaslin (tenor saxophone)- (Jim Levitt)
Guitarist Ben Monder (Jim Levitt)
Baritone Saxophonist Scott Robinson (Jim Levitt)
Saxophonist Steve Wilson on soprano (Jim Levitt)
Photo Credit: Jim Levitt
Rich Perry tenor solo (Jim Levitt)
The rhythm section- Julien Labro (acordion), Ben Monder (guitar), Johnathan Blake (drums), Jay Anderson (bass). (Jim Levitt)
The Maria Schneider Orchestra (Jim Levitt)
Maria Schneider (Jim Levitt)
Trumpeter  Nadje Noordhuis (Jim Levitt)
Steve Wilson soprano solo (Jim Levitt)
Donny McCaslin and Maria Schneider (Jim Levitt)
Pianist Gary Versace (Jim Levitt)
Maria Schneider (Jim Levitt)
Trombonist Ryan Keberle (Jim Levitt)
Ryan Keberle solo (Jim Levitt)
Trombonist Marshall Gilges (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Acordionist Julien Labro (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Maria Schneider (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Saxophone section: L to R- Dave Pietro, Steve Wilson, Donny McCaslin, Scott Robinson (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
All eyes on the director (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Alto saxophonist Dave Pietro (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Maria Schneider (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
The Maria Schneider Orchestra at Town Hall. Best shot of the lot! (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Alto saxophone master, Steve Wilson (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Drummer Johnathan Blake (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Pianist Gary Versace (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Guitarist Ben Monder (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Maria Schneider and Earshot director, John Gilbreath (Jim Levitt)

Album Review: Scenes- Variable Clouds: Live at the Earshot Jazz Festival

Scenes’ first album dates back to 2001, but the origins of the band dates back to the early 1990s, when saxophonist Rick Mandyck, bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John Bishop initiated a trio gig. On occasion guitarist John Stowell would drop in if he was off the road and in Seattle. The band that began as a trio reverted back to that format after that inaugural recording, this time Stowell in tow as Mandyck slipped into a decade-long hiatus from the saxophone due to injury.

The listener may wonder that after thirty years, what more could this post-bop gathering of four actually have to say that would be enlightening and fresh to listeners? What could an eighth release on the Origin Records label possibly add to the band’s already impressive legacy? The simple answer to that is, “Plenty. To continue reading, click on this link https://www.allaboutjazz.com/variable-clouds-live-at-the-earshot-jazz-festival-scenes-origin-records__17805?fbclid=IwAR1ckH69nkoUSVfVH5oi3wcX10KfzgNow0jRbpHtjm3FW25GzFGNm2XV-ck

Thomas Marriott Album Release: “Live From the Heatdome”

The Thomas Marriott Quartet featuring Orrin Evans, Essiet Essiet and Mark Whitfield, Jr. play to a full house at Jazz Alley

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Night after night, week after week, jazz performances take place in the city of Seattle that inspire the local jazz community. They take place in clubs, dive bars, theaters and concert halls, featuring national and international jazz artists as well as prominent resident artists from the dynamic Seattle jazz scene. On occasion, an individual jazz performance serves as a signpost of things to come. The September 26 performance of the Thomas Marriott Quartet at Jazz Alley was all of the above. Marriott had assembled a stellar quartet to celebrate the release of his fourteenth album as a leader, Live From the Heatdome (Imani, 2022).

The stage at Jazz Alley has seen the best of the best since its opening in 1980 as an intimate bistro in the University District. For the first six years of the club, it was common to see an artist of international prominence perform with a supporting cast of Seattle jazzers such as Chuck Deardorf, Dean Hodges, Marc Seales and Jerry Granelli among others. After moving to its more spacious digs downtown in 1986, full touring bands were and are featured, with Seattle based performances becoming less common. Over the years, there have been periods when Monday nights were reserved for the local scene, either in the form of an individual artist’s show, or a jam session that featured top Seattle players such as Hadley Caliman and Don Lanphere. Taking on Marriott’s album release was a rarity that needed support from the Seattle jazz community. That support was received in abundance with the club nearly full house. 

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Marriott has had a musical connection with Philadelphia based pianist Orrin Evans since a chance meeting at a jazz festival in Idaho over a decade ago. Live From the Heat Dome is the fourth release from the trumpeter that features Evans. His appearance, along with legendary bassist Essiet Essiet and sensational drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr., gave the performance a huge kickstart, with Marriott delivering a top flight performance of original tunes and a triad of well chosen standards. 

The quartet started with Marriott’s “Tale of Debauchery,” extracted from his Urban Folklore (Origin, 2014) album that featured Evans on piano. On this evening, it served as a vehicle for Marriott to find his sound and cadence, serving up a long solo that began with longer tones and finished with a flurry of rapid fire runs. Evans, Essiet and Whitfield were immediately playful with the tune, something that would continue throughout the ninety minute set in plenitud. 

Orrin Evans and Thomas Marriott. Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

“Front Row Family,” an ode to Marriott’s uber-supportive family over the years, was a mood changer that featured his ultra refined trumpet tonality that served as a warm invite for the audience to join in the intimacy of the moment. Essiet’s solo was a telltale sign of his unique artistry, his exquisite sound framing intricate passages and chordal brilliance. Marriott for his part appeared to be just getting started, not quite unleashing the hounds, so to speak. 

“Mo-Joe,” Marriott’s homage to vibraphonist Joe Locke pushed the set forward into an uptempo, swinging foray into his post-bop, modernist leanings. His solo and that of Evans were telltale statements of their deep connection to the blues and the swing rhythm that defines the Black American art form they so ably express. Just as strongly, Evans launched into a quiet, beautifully harmonic intro to Marriott’s “Chick’s Lullaby,” serving as a beautiful interlude of quiet focus and meditative thought. In a tune dedicated to his wife, Marriott’s muted soliloquy was embracingly romantic and had a magical impact on the audience, roping them into the emotional aspect of the performance.

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Essiet’s thunderous intro to Wayne Shorter’s “General Assembly,” served as a passageway to melodic freedom for the quartet, with Marriott’s searing solo setting the bar high for his positively respondent bandmates. Evans has always had a percussive aspect to his playing that has supplied a degree of separation between him and the majority of pianists in modern jazz. His solo seemed to ignite Whitfield on drums, whose focused intensity and supportive dynamics were unabashedly a highlight of the entire performance. In essence, Shorter’s thunderous composition seemed to light the fuse for the next few tunes. Easing into Vernon Duke’s classic, “I Can’t Get Started,” the quartet seemed to settle into a comfortable place with Evan’s playfully daring solo and Essiet’s beautifully pensive offering leading the way. 

Jazz great Julian Priester stageside at Jazz Alley Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

“The Joint Chiefs,” which appears on Live From the Heatdome, and “Both Sides of the Fence,” the title track from Marriott’s 2007 release, operated at an elevated degree of intensity and featured Whitfield’s spirited playing. Marriott and Evans exchanged glancing blows back and forth with the young drummer, the spirited response of the near capacity crowd seemingly lifting the roof off the place. The finale, Duke Ellington’s “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be,” was a fitting ending for the band, wrapping up their fourth consecutive night on a high. The foursome had spent two nights at Frankie’s in Vancouver, followed by a night in Bellingham. They had earned their repose. 

Thomas Marriott Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Jazz Alley has never been much of a “hang” spot after a gig since the U District days when it was all of that. This evening was an exception, with an audience that represented a broad cross-section of the Seattle jazz community. It seemed everyone wanted a piece of the trumpeter, a prime indicator of the love and respect that Marriott inspires in his home town. With community elders like Julian Priester, Jim Wilkie and Marvin Thomas in the room and many of the city’s prominent jazz musicians as well, the respect factor was plainly evident. As far as the love factor, that was something felt upon entering the room, was elevated by the performance, and expressed with warm embraces post-show. For anyone that has spent any amount of time on the Seattle jazz scene, and at Jazz Alley in particular, this was a beautiful and welcoming sight. Let’s hope it portends to a re-ignited relationship between Seattle’s best jazz musicians, and its city’s most renowned stage. 

On the hang: Thomas Marriott, Lisa Chick, Orrin Evans. Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Seattle Jazz Fellowship Presents: Orrin Evans & The Captain Black Big Band

“While the nonprofit has been acknowledged for providing a place for the resident Seattle jazz to thrive, it is equally important to note the Fellowship’s work in caring for the music itself.”

The Seattle Jazz Fellowship, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded by trumpeter Thomas Marriott, was created in response to the loss of viable jazz stages showcasing the vibrant resident jazz scene in Seattle. While local jazz musicians and fans alike mourned the downfall of longtime resident haunts such as the New Orleans club and Tula’s Jazz Club, Marriott and a supportive group of like-minded community members sought an alternative to the traditional jazz supper club personified by the aforementioned institutions. Gentrification of the downtown core of the city had driven rents to such a level that sustaining a club that could also serve as a community hub had become difficult at best. Food and liquor sales became the life blood of these attempts, driving up the price of access to jazz fans, while wages for musicians hung at early 1980’s levels. Worse yet, musicians had to rely on the door or ticket receipts to be paid at all. Like many jazz scenes around the country not based in New York City, the best musicians had to leave town to have any hope of earning a living as a professional jazz musician. The story of the Seattle Jazz Fellowship (SJF) and its guiding principles first appeared in All About Jazz in February, 2022, in the article Seattle Jazz Fellowship: A New Beginning For Live Resident Jazz . To continue reading, click here https://www.allaboutjazz.com/seattle-jazz-fellowship-presents-orrin-evans-and-the-captain-black-big-band-captain-black-big-band

Seattle Jazz Fellowship’s Saturday Jazz Matinee

The jazz non-profit hits it out of the park presenting piano great George Cables and his trio, with the Fellowship ‘Ceptet

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn



Trumpeter and Seattle Jazz Fellowship founder Thomas Marriott is always on the lookout to bring to life ideas that further the goals of the Fellowship. The principle of lowering barriers to access was practiced in booking The George Cables Trio alongside the non-profit’s Fellowship ‘Ceptet for a 1 PM jazz matinee, a promotional risk of sorts. The Saturday tilt would allow more students to attend, as well as families. Then there are those that are reticent about venturing out at night, when most of the music takes place on the Seattle jazz scene, or for that matter, any local jazz scene. 

The show was made possible by a generous donation from Bob and Sue Frause, friends of Marriott’s late parents David and Helen Marriott. The Marriotts were hugely influential in their support for jazz in Seattle, and the Frause family wanted to both support the Fellowship and memorialize David and Helen in some way. Cables was a favorite of theirs, and a dear friend. There was never any doubt as to who their son wanted to bring in to perform. Cables would add drummer Jerome Jennings from New York, and Seattle jazz legend Chuck Deardorf on bass, a long-time friend. Marriott decided to include a key mentorship project of the Seattle Jazz Fellowship in the billing–the Marriott led Fellowship ‘Ceptet.

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

“We decided to include the ‘Ceptet in the event and to keep the price of the ticket down (and make it early) so we could use the event to further our goals of building community, increasing mentorship, incentivizing excellence and lowering barriers to access,” says Marriott.

The 1 PM start turned out to be agreeable to the Seattle jazz public, as the room filled to capacity in anticipation of two superb sets. The sun washed through the club’s windows looking out onto Rainier Ave, shadows cast across the room seldom seen before by patrons more accustomed to the club’s typical late night persona. The crowd was decidedly cross-generational, with families and students not normally associated with evening sessions at the club in attendance. They came for the music, as the Royal Room itself was not quite accustomed to an afternoon happening. The kitchen was closed, and one bartender was left to attend to the needs of a full house.

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

The Fellowship “Ceptet opened, featuring a line-up that spoke well to the non-profit’s premise. Marriott, along with drummer John Bishop, pianist Marc Seales and alto saxophonist Mark Taylor are four of the finest jazz musicians to emerge from the Seattle scene historically. Tenor saxophonist Jackson Cotugno, trombonist Beserat Tafesse and bassist Grace Kaste represented the new wave of jazz artistry in the city, with Kaste still a senior at Roosevelt HIgh School. All three would demonstrate to the audience that their inclusion was merited in terms of artistic facility. 

The band played a selection of Marriott originals, and a cover of Thelonious Monk’s “Ask Me Now.” Throughout the seven tunes selected, the band offered crisp arrangements and imaginative soloing. Immediately noticeable was the rhythm section, with Seattle stalwarts Bishop and Seales working seamlessly with Kaste. Kaste performed with the refinement and elegance of a veteran, much to the delight of Deardorf, her mentor since the age of thirteen in attendance. The front line responded to the strong vibe in the room with fire, queued by Marriott’s leadership, and most importantly his brilliant solo work. Taylor, who has been somewhat invisible the past few years from live performance in Seattle, played beautifully, with his trademark, original style on alto. Cotugno continued a somewhat meteoric visibility on the Seattle scene offering a modern approach, with a pre-bop sound that speaks to Ben Webster. Tafesse, who has been ever-present post-pandemic at area jam sessions, was in a way introduced to the jazz public at large, providing harmonic depth and spirited soloing. 

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

The set had a dynamic arc from start to finish. opening with “Fellowship Blues,” and delving into Marriott’s “Human Spirit,” and O.D.A.A.T (One Day at a Time). The Monk interlude was lush and spacious. It stood out in terms of arrangement, featuring a commonality between Marriott and his saxophone counterparts in Taylor and Cotugno–all three produce a rich tonality that fares well in moments of intensity, or those of melancholy. By the time the band arrived at Marriott’s “Stupor in D,” and “The Tale of Debauchery,” they had found a connective spirit that resonated well with an audience that was pleasingly dialed in. 

Pianist Cables at 78 years of age, still not only performs at a high and inspired level, but maintains the prowess he has demonstrated throughout his career without any signs of slowing down. His playing is crisp, brilliantly articulated and radiating with the joy that is an integral part of his personality both on and off the bandstand. 

The trio offered in depth interpretations of Wayne Shorter’s “Speak No Evil,” and Bill Strayhorn’s gorgeous “Lotus Flower,” with Cable’s playing accented perfectly by Deardorf’s seemingly effortless style. Jennings played as though delighted to be in the presence of the two jazz elders he would converse with over the ninety minute set. 

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt
Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

The standards “Too Close For Comfort,” and “Who Can I Turn Too” brought the audience to Cables’ romantic side, perhaps prepping them emotionally for his two originals he silently dedicated to his late wife. “Song For Helen,” and “My Muse” brought more than melancholy to the audience. Cables’ lush harmonies and sweeping, melodic runs spoke to fond remembrance, joy and gratitude. It reminded the attentive audience that they were in the company of one of the true giants of jazz music. The elders in the audience could think back to seeing the master as a sideman with the likes of Dexter Gordon and Art Pepper. With that, came the realization that Cables had joined the two saxophone icons as a true master of the form. His graciousness and humility was a true gift to the younger members of the audience, many of them musicians themselves. As young bassist Kaste learned on the bandstand, and many of her contemporaries witnessed in the audience, true mentorship and the process of paying dues in this music is done in the presence of the masters of the form. For this one afternoon, those lessons were communicated with unusual clarity. 

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

The matinee portends good things for SJF, for what is to come down the road. With their weekly “Fellowship Wednesdays” commencing on April 20, the non-profit moves front and center in support of the resident jazz scene in Seattle. 


Seattle Jazz Fellowship Photo Gallery: Alex Claffy Quintet and The Fellowship ‘Ceptet at the Royal Room

The Seattle Jazz Fellowship, the city’s 501 (c) (3) jazz non-profit, has taken a hiatus from their weekly dates at Vermillion until April 20, when the Wednesday night program will re-ignite for another six week run. In the meantime, the organization founded by Thomas Marriott has turned its focus to presenting performances featuring the Fellowship ‘Ceptet, a rotating gathering of the best of the Seattle jazz scene. The seven piece ensemble opened for New York based bassist Alex Claffy and his quintet on Tuesday, February 8 at the Royal Room in Columbia City. 

The ‘Ceptet performed compositions by trumpeter Marriott, along with a Thelonious Monk classic. Marriott was joined by a front line of altoist Alex Dugdale, tenorist Jackson Cotugno and trombonist David Marriott, Jr.. Pianist Marina Albero, bassist Trevor Ford and drummer D’Vonne Lewis held down the rhythm section.

Claffy’s quintet featured Portland born and raised tenorist Nicole Glover, and trumpeter Benny Benack III. The New York based band was all in on the hang in Seattle as well, attending both the Monday night jam at the Royal Room, and the Tuesday night jam at the Owl ‘n Thistle. 

Photographers Jim Levitt and Lisa Hagen Glynn were there to document the event with their stellar photographic skill sets. Enjoy the results! To further explore the goings on with the Seattle Jazz Fellowship, visit their website at https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/

Photo Credit:
Lisa Hagen Glynn
Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn
Saxophonist Jackson Cotugno
Photo Credit:
Lisa Hagen Glynn
l to r: Alex Dugdale, Thomas Marriott, Jackson Cotugno, David Marriott
Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn
l to r: Nicole Glover, Alex Claffy
Photo Credit:
Lisa Hagen Glynn
Bassist Alex Claffy
Photo Credit:
Lisa Hagen Glynn
pianist Marina Albero
Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn
Trunmpeter Benny Benack III
Photo Credit:
Lisa Hagen Glynn
Photo Credit:
Lisa Hagen Glynn
Guest drummer Ted Poor
Photo Credit:
Jim Levitt
Drummer D’Vonne Lewis
Photo Credit: Jim Levitt
Pianist Marina Albero
Photo Credit:
Jim Levitt
Trumpeter and SJF founder Thomas Marriott

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

Jazz Returns to Seattle’s Central District: Two Evenings of Black Brilliance

Giveton Gelin                                                          Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

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




Seattle Jazz Fellowship: One Small Step at Vermillion, One Giant Step for the Seattle Jazz Scene

Xavier Lecouturier Group performs at the first Seattle Jazz Fellowship “Fellowship Wednesday” event, at Vermillion Art Bar.Matt Williams, vibes;Noah Halpern, trumpet;Martin Budde, guitar;Dylan Hayes, piano;Xavier Lecouturier, drums;  Jinm Levitt photo

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 welcomes the audience to the first “Fellowship Wednesday” at Vermillion Art Bar, on behalf of the Seattle Jazz Fellowship. Jim Levitt photo

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. 

The Marc Seales Group opens the first Seattle Jazz Fellowship “Fellowship Wednesday” event, at Vermillion Art Bar. Thomas Marriott, trumpet; Marc Seales, keyboards; Chuck Deardorf, bass; Gary Hobbs, drums;

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.

Gary Hiobbs (d), Chuck Deardorf (b)        Jim Levitt photo

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. 

Xavier Lecouturier         Jim Levitt photo

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. 

Noah Halpern                           Jim Levitt photo

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. 

Xavier Lecouturier (d), Matt Williams (v), Noah Halpern (t)

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. 

Guitarist Martin Budde                          Jim Levitt photo

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.

Gary Hobbs (d), Thomas Marriott (t)

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/


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

Live Review: The Cookers at Jazz Alley- 9/22/2021

Performance Photos by Lisa Hagen Glynn

The Cookers at Jazz Alley on 9/22/2021

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. 

Julian Priester (L) and Bill Hart (R)    Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

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

Tenor saxophonist Billy Harper and bassist Cecil McBee      Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

The great Billy Hart                            Lisa Hagen Glynn photo 

Alto saxophonist Donald Harrison       Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

Bassist, the great Cecil McBee           Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

George Cables with the Cookers at Jazz Alley, 9/22/2021          Lisa Hagen Glynn photo
L to R- George Cables, Billy Harper, David Weiss, Eddie Henderson, Cecil McBee, Donald Harrison, Billy Hart  at Jazz Alley 9/22/2021         LIsa Hagen Glynn photo
Cecil McBee (bass) and Eddie Henderson (trumpet)     Lisa Hagen Glynn photo
Billy Hart drum solo at Jazz Alley with the Cookers- 9/22/2021    Lisa Hagen Glynn photo
Dr. Eddie Henderson        Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

The great George Cables       Lisa Hagen Glynn photo


Mwandishi brothers- Julian Priester, Billy Hart, Eddie Henderson       Ken Steiner photo

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/


Photo Review: Marc Seales Quintet at Jazz Alley- 8/17/2021

Pianist Marc Seales. Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

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. 

L to R- guitarist Jesse Seales, drummer Moyes Lucas, bassist Jeff Johnson, pianist Marc Seales and trumpeter Thomas Marriott. Lisa Hagen Glynn photo’

The tall stranger- bassist Jeff Johnson. Lisa Hagen Glynn photo


Thomas Marriott on flugelhorn. Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

Marc Seales and Thomas Marriott. Jim Levitt photo

Jeff Johnson and Marc Seales. Jim Levitt photo

The always expressive Marc Seales. Jim Levitt photo

Drummer Moyes Lucas. Lisa Hagen Glynn photo.


Guitarist Jesse Seales and drummer Moyes Lucas. Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

Marc Seales Quintet at Jazz Alley

All eyes on the leader. Jim Levitt photo


CD Review: Nicole McCabe- Introducing Nicole McCabe

If you were a young and talented jazz musician in Portland, Oregon, you would make yourself highly visible on the local scene to gain invaluable experience playing with the best the city had to offer. In addition to your more formal studies, you would extend your musical outreach from post-bop modernism to the avant-garde. Most importantly, you would constantly be rubbing musical shoulders with the elders who have mentored you to the point of having professional aspirations.


This is precisely what Portland-based alto saxophonist Nicole McCabe accomplished before her 2020 move to Los Angeles. Along the way she benefited from performing with the great pianist George Colligan, trumpeter Charlie Porter, bassist Jon Lakey, and veteran drummer/producer Alan Jones. For her debut recording Introducing Nicole McCabe (Minaret, 2020), she gathers all four to perform a collection of original tunes, along with two covers.
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CD Review: Jay Thomas Quartet- Upside

Seattle-based musician Jay Thomas may be considered the oddest of ducks in the jazz universe. By that, I am referring to his fierce musicality expressed both on trumpet and saxophone, as well as most members of the brass and woodwind families. Inspired early in his career by the like minded veteran Ira Sullivan, Thomas in a single night will drift from trumpet to tenor, from flugelhorn to alto, and then double back on flute and soprano. He may as well play a melody in elegant style on tenor, and solo on trumpet and flute within the context of a single tune. While the demands of embouchure for each of these instruments makes Thomas’ methodology remarkable in itself, the fact that he performs with equal world-class virtuosity on each makes him, well, the oddest of ducks in the jazz universe. To continue reading, click this linkhttps://www.allaboutjazz.com/upside-jay-thomas-quartet-mcvouty-records