From The Seattle Times:

Changes were coming to Ballard, Bishop and Jorgensen among them. Condominiums, gourmet dog biscuits, indoor-plant boutiques, panko breadcrumbs and all the trappings of yuppie-hood were making their way to old Ballard, the changes literally visible from Bishop’s and Jorgensen’s apartment windows.

The density of bars and restaurants, the foot traffic and the changing demographics of their neighborhood made it easy to decide to start the Ballard Jazz Festival in 2003.

Now in its sixth season, the five-day festival has grown, but not to enormous size. It starts Wednesday at the Sunset Tavern with the first of two themed nights of music, the Brotherhood of the Drum, at least three sets and three different groups led by drummers. The Guitar Summit commences at the Sunset on Thursday night, with three groups led by guitarists.

The festival’s Friday-night jazz walk — next Friday — features 19 groups performing in 12 venues on or around Ballard Avenue; guitarist Corey Christiansen’s trio and New York vibraphonist Joe Locke and his quintet play the big-stage concert April 25 at the Nordic Heritage Museum; the festival ends April 26 with a Swedish-pancake jazz brunch, also at the museum.

What sets the festival apart from others in the area is its organic, homegrown quality. Most of the musicians scheduled to perform (Hadley Caliman, Thomas Marriott, Bill Anschell, Kelley Johnson, Bill Ramsay, Jay Thomas, Hans Teuber, Mark Taylor, Jeff Johnson, among many others) are top-shelf, local musicians. The Ballard festival does not receive funding from arts organizations or corporate sponsors, like the festivals in Bellevue or Port Townsend, or the Earshot festival.

As such, the budget is in the modest range of $35,000. The money comes mostly from local businesses — meaning Ballard, not Seattle. Some of the budget is made in barter, bottles of wine or printing services.

“It’s 100 percent artist- produced and community-funded,” Jorgensen said. “And the money goes back into the neighborhood and to local musicians.

“[Sponsor] Ann Babb sold me my first house,” he continued. “At first we just went to people we knew and asked if they could contribute.”

The festival is a distillation of the jazz scene in Seattle, without the leverage of corporate dollars or national brand names and their built-in audiences — a tightly knit, relatively small circle of talented musicians who are neighbors, friends and, sometimes, even housemates.

Continue reading at The Seattle Times.

Seattle Jazz