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/


On the Scene: Live Jazz Previews For November

The month of October has plain rushed by, leaving in its wake an enlivened Seattle jazz scene. The Earshot jazz festival is back with a live audience, the Seattle Jazz Fellowship has taken off with a Wednesday night offering at Vermillion. Jazz Alley is full on back in action, and Calluna in the north end is offering a genteel jazz supper club with top resident talent. For November previews, I offer a glimpse into 15 performances I highly recommend, and invite you to dig much, much deeper into what the city has to offer as we go into winter. I invite you as well to support the non-profit organizations that are bringing the music to us. Earshot continues to deliver, and has gravitated even more so towards supporting the resident jazz scene in Seattle. The Thomas Marriott inspired Seattle Jazz Fellowship is in its infancy, and needs your support to establish a five night a week program supporting resident musicians and paying them a decent wage. The life of jazz music in Seattle is literally in your hands. I hope to see you soon at a gig near you!– Paul

Thomas Marriott              Jim Levitt photo

Monday Night Jam at the Royal Room with Thomas Marriott

Mon Nov 1,8, 15, 22, 29/ Royal Room

Through the first four weeks of its existence, the Monday night affair in Columbia City has drawn some of the best players in town. Many younger, less known musicians have had the opportunity to play with Seattle heavy-hitters such as Thomas Marriott himself. The hang is the thing of course, and that as well harbors a great sense of community and fellowship. In other words, the session is doing everything a community jam session is supposed to, and more. 

The organization provided by Marriott is crisp and orderly, with a sign up sheet saving valuable stage time for music. The opening set, by a quartet formed by Marriott, is short and sweet. The house band sticks around to play as well, thus providing younger players the opportunity to not just play with friends in the same age category, but with community elders and more established players on the Seattle scene. 

The session follows a 90 minute set by the Royal Room Composers and Improvisers Orchestra, under the baton of Wayne Horvitz. The band includes James Falzone, Hans Teuber, Eric Eagle, David Marriott, Kate Olson, Samantha Boshnack, Ray Larsen, Geoff Harper and other prominent Seattle players. Many tend to stick around and take in the session. In all, it’s a wonderful evening that takes in a huge swath of the Seattle jazz and improvised music scene. https://theroyalroomseattle.com/calendar-2/

Seattle Jazz Fellowship: Fellowship Wednesdays at Vermillion

The brand new jazz non-profit continues its launch with weekly presentations at Vermillion on Capitol Hill. Watch for a feature on these pages soon about the historic first evening. Thomas Marriott’s work to provide the Seattle jazz scene with a sustainable model for live local jazz is perhaps the most important thing happening in Seattle concerning the future of its resident jazz scene. The Fellowship aims to bring top quality performances, provide mentorship, and pay our resident musicians a decent wage. The evening session starts up at 7 PM with an hour of hang time, followed by two sets. Preceding the evening event, a 5 PM listening session with jazz great Julian Priester takes place. This is a free event for all ages. Mr. Priester plays albums he has appeared on, and provides incites and discussion about the history of the music surrounding the recording. The leaders for the performances for November:  

Nov 3   D’Vonne Lewis & EarthtoneSkytone with Kelsey Mines, Carlos Snaider, Antoine Martel & Chris Icasiano

Jim Levitt photo

Nov 10  Marina Albero/ Chuck Deardorf

Marina Albero
Chuck Deardorf

Nov 17 Alex Dugdale/ Johnaye Kendrick

Alex Dugdale        Jim Levitt photo

 https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/

Johnaye Kendrick                     Lisa Hagen Glynn photo




Benny Green Solo

Thu Nov 4, 7 PM/ Town Hall Forum

Benny Green                             Rolf Kisling photo

Known as an accompanist to many jazz icons, Benny Green brings his other-worldly talent, and prolific understanding of harmony to the Forum stage for a rare solo performance in Seattle. Green’s playing is full of emotion, from joy to sheer tragedy.  There is a forceful presence to this emotive sense of purpose, that combined with astonishing facility, creates a resonance that is unique and generational. 

Green’s work with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Betty Carter, Stanley Turrentine and others has left its mark on his playing, of course. How that translates to solo piano performance will be an interesting aspect to this special evening. https://www.earshot.org/project/2021-10-festival-previews-week-4/

Marina Albero Trio featuring Ganesh Rajagopalan

Friday November 5, 7:00pm/Town Hall Forum

Marina Albero and Ganesh Rajagopalan      Marina Albero photo by Lisa Hagen Glynn

Festival Artist-In-Residence Marina Albero embarks on her greatest adventure of the festival, performing with renowned Indian classical violinist Ganesh Rajagopolan. With electric bassist Tim Carey and drummer Xavier Lecouturier joining, the band represents a joyful collision of two diverse musical currents. With the focus being on the modal, improvisational world of Ganesh, Albero is free to draw from her lifelong journey in music in a new, exciting and ultimately free way. Lecouturier will be applying aspects of tabla playing to his work behind the drum set, acting as the tie that binds Ganesh’s music to the jazz tradition. Albero, with roots in classical, Cuban, jazz and flamenco forms adds yet another dynamic aspect to her musical identity in a quartet she senses is on the precipice of something new and innovative.

“I had a blast, he’s a rock star,” says Albero enthusiastically. “This to me is very special, because I feel that it is the beginning of something.”https://www.earshot.org/project/2021-10-festival-previews-week-4/

Ravi Coltrane Cosmic Music- The Music of Alice Coltrane and John Coltrane

Ravi Coltrane

Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane was just two years old when his father, the transcendent musician John Coltrane passed away, His main musical influence growing up was his mother, the pianist and composer, Alice Coltrane. Over time, both as a leader and a sideman, he has forged a musical identity that draws strongly from familial elements, with leanings towards spiritual exploration through sound. In this incarnation of his band, Coltrane explores the cosmic explorations of his parents through his own very personal lens, performing with transcendent guitarist David Gilmore, bassist Lonnie Plaxico, bassist Gadi Lehavi and drummer Ele Howell. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=5249

Ernestine Anderson: A Musical Tribute

Sat Nov 13, 7 PM/ Langston Hughes

Ernestine Anderson                        Photo courtesy of Billboard

In celebration of the city proclamation honoring Seattle’s international jazz icon, Ernestine Anderson, modern day Seattle musicians take the stage in the heart of the Central District to pay homage. October saw the Langston stage honor young Black artists Immanuel Wilkens, Giveton Gelis, Samara Joy and Sullivan Fortner, while November presents the opportunity to look back into the storied history of the Jackson St. jazz scene of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, of which Anderson was a major part. Just a few blocks west of Langston, Anderson sang in a bebop band that featured pianist Ray Charles and trumpeter Quincy Jones. On this night, Stix Hooper, Eugenie Jones, Gail Pettis, Darrius Willrich, Alex Dugdale, Paul Gabrielson and Jamael Nance make the sounds of history come to life, with John Gilbreath and Jim Wilke adding context. https://celebratingernestineanderson.org/

Eliane Elias Quartet

Mon, Tue Nov 15,16- 7:30 PM/ Triple Door

Eliane Elias                             photo courtesy of New York Latin Cuklture

The Triple Door is back in full swing, and finally hitting a jazz tone along the way. Pianist Eliane Elias can present many different sides of her musical persona in concert, though at this point her bandmates have not been revealed. Safe to say Marc Johnson will be on bass, and the pianist will explore Brazilian themes, straying just as easily towards the Bill Evans side of jazz piano. Her imaginative playing and flawless chops are grand partners at times, making any of her performances worth wading into. https://tickets.thetripledoor.net/eventperformances.asp?evt=884

Taj Mahal Quartet

Fri Nov 19- Sun Nov 28, 7:30 & 9:30 PM/ Jazz Alley

Taj Mahal

Talk about a return to normalcy. Sure, we’ll be sporting masks and verifying vaccination status at the door, but Taj is back for his traditional Thanksgiving stay at the Alley, and life is good, people! 

Taj brings to life the roots elements of the blues. His music has always brought the music of the delta together with all ports of call in the Caribean. His creative focus has broadened as the years have rolled by, acting as a musical gatherer, adding sounds from West Africa into his gumbo of musical culture. He will be joined by guitarist Bobby Ingano, bassist Bill Rich and drummer Kester Smith. Pick a date and go, opportunities to see esteemed elders of our community are few and far between. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=5240

Jeff Busch Quartet

Sat Nov 13, 8:00PM/ North City Bistro

Jeff Busch

Seattle area music fans are used to seeing drummer/percussionist Jeff Busch accompanying a myriad of local and international artists over the years. We are accustomed to his neat work on drum kit, and seeing him literally litter a stage with percussion instruments from around the world, and find a way to use every one of them creatively over the course of a ninety minute set. But what if this magician of jazz and world sounds were given the keys to his own ambitions as a leader, with a band consisting of the musicians that have provided him his most fertile moments in music? 

That’s exactly what you’re looking at, when Busch is joined by transcendent pianist Marina Albero, master multi-reedist Hans Teuber, and trailblazing bassist, Jeff Johnson. This is a small venue, with the audience and band in close proximity. The vibe is very intimate, though this performance may produce a white flash that fills the room in overwhelming fashion. Bravo to the folks at NC Bistro to host this show. https://northcitybistro.com/event/jeff-busch-quartet/

Greta Matassa Quintet

Sun Nov 21, 7 PM/ Royal Room

Greta Matassa

With the doors of Tula’s closing two years ago, and the pandemic ending live performances for eighteen months, jazz fans might wonder where the city’s greatest jazz singer since Ernestine Anderson might land after that grand twenty six year run. The answer to that would be “many places,” though for this evening, she takes residence on Rainier Avenue at the Royal Room.

Matassa has a slight change-up in her lineup, with guitarist Brian Monroney joining the band. Bassist Clipper Anderson, drummer Mark Ivester and saxophonist Alexey Nikolaev return, with Nikolaev playing a major role as soloist. Matassa is a great musician and bandleader, added to her grand superlatives as a vocalist of worldwide renown. Her creative spontaneity disallows her to perform any tune the same twice. Her continual habit of challenging herself artistically over the years has seen her arrive at this point of time not only maintaining her chops, but expanding them exponentially. Her range and articulation are simply second to none. If you have seen her perform, then you know, and you are likely to attend. If not, here’s your chance in the comfortable digs of the Royal Room. https://www.strangertickets.com/events/115553853/greta-matassa-quintet

KNKX Presents- Piano Starts Here: Marc Seales

Sun Nov 17, 7:30 PM/ Royal Room

Marc Seales                          Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

Seattle’s Marc Seales is iconic in the city’s historic landscape, as a ground breaking pianist, bandleader and educator. He is equally comfortable with piano and electric keyboards. Seattle jazz fans are accustomed to Seales’ performances with the best of the Seattle scene, normally surrounded by the likes of Thomas Marriott, Chuck Deardorf, Gary Hobbs or Ernie Watts. The fine nuances of his playing will be on plain display in the solo format of this program curated by Alex Guilbert and Wayne Horvitz. Seales draws from a deep well of harmonic understanding and cultural awareness, bringing to the surface the jazz tradition in modern terms. He will be joined by noted students performing his original compositions. https://theroyalroomseattle.com/event/knkx-presents-piano-starts-here-marc-seales/?instance_id=3586

Mike Clark with Skerik, Thomas Marriott, Wayne Horvitz and Geoff Harper

Fri Nov 19, 8 PM/ Royal Room

Mike Clark

Revered drummer Mike Clark made a name for himself as a jazz/funk drummer in the seventies performing with Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters. His versatile approach has landed him on stage with Brand X, with Phil Collins. Here he is neck deep in an eclectic group of Seattle musicians. 

Experience tells me that this is fertile ground for Skerik’s ravaging irreverance. Not that music that falls on the funk side is especially beneficial to his broad ranging style. Skerik’s mad immersions are all extremely musical and at times, profoundly original. Thomas Marriott has been playing at a consistently high level for years now, and somehow continues to up his game at a meteoric pace. Geoff Harper is a bassist and a presence that can meld into any musical situation, from free jazz to hard bop. How Wayne Horvitz fits into the equation is the mystery here. Both he and his bandmates have the added benefit of Clark pushing the cart forward. This is one of those convergences that tend to slide under the radar. HERE IS YOUR RADAR DETECTOR. This one will be just plain fun. https://www.strangertickets.com/events/115789777/mike-clark

Tuesday Jams at the Owl

Tuesdays at 9:30 PM/ Owl ‘n Thistle 


A jam session with a 26 year history in a city is rare. The Owl jam is one such jewel. The social center of the Seattle jazz scene, the proceedings begin with a set from the host band led by pianist Eric Verlinde and special guests, followed by an open jam. The session has been a huge source of opportunity for new players on the scene to display their chops for established city players, and has seen a plethora of significant drop-ins from touring stars such as Wynton Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Roy Hargrove, Ethan Cohen and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra. If the hang is the thing for you, and I know that it is, the Owl is a must. 

Calluna: A Jazz Supper Club Springs to Life in Ravenna

Stephanie Porter

Calluna is officially a thing, with jazz accompanying fine cuisine, cocktails and wine at the north end establishment operated by Tula’s managers, Jason Moore and Heather Bourne. The small intimate venue seats under 40, so be sure to make reservations in advance. Featured are duos and trios with the top shelf of the Seattle jazz community. 

Music is presented Wednesday- Sunday at 7:30 PM. Vocalist Stephanie Porter is joined by pianist Tony Foster on November 3. Bands led by Tim Kennedy, Marc Seales, Thomas Marriott, Brian Kirk, Paul Gabrielson and Gail Pettis fill the calendar between November 4-13.

Saxophonist Frank Catalano visits from Chicago in trio with pianist Bill Anschell and bassist Jeff Johnson November 16-19. Greta Matassa appears with Alexey Nikolaev and Clipper Anderson on November 27, the tail end of a weekend that begins on November 26 with an all-star duo of trumpeter Thomas Marriott and pianist Bill Anschell. https://callunaseattle.com/music-calendar/

Jared Hall Quintet, Seen on the Scene CD Release

Sun Nov 28, 7:30 PM/ Royal Room

Origin Records

Trumpeter Jared Hall celebrates his new Origin Records release with a performance at the Royal Room in Columbia City. Hall is joined by an all-star rhythm section featuring drummer Matt Jorgensen, bassist Michael Glynn and pianist John Hansen. Alto saxophonist Mark Taylor occupies the front line with Hall. 

The quintet will perform music from the new album, including Hall originals, and innovative takes on music by Tadd Dameron and Francis Lai. Hall’s evolution as a player over his time in Seattle has been remarkable, including a lengthy residency at the now shuttered Tula’s. Hansen, Glynn, Jorgensen and Taylor have performed and recorded with him for much of that journey and so have developed a comfort level with Hall’s original tunes that allows the music to be played freely. An evening of celebration for a well regarded member of the Seattle jazz community. https://theroyalroomseattle.com/calendar-2/


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