On the Scene: Live Jazz Previews for January

Seattle Jazz Fellowship: Fellowship Wednesdays at Vermillion

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

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


Jan 19  Ari Joshua Quartet featuring D’Vonne Lewis

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

Jan 26  Elnah Jordan & Eric Verlinde

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

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


Jeff Busch Quintet

Fri Jan 21, 8 PM/ North City Bistro

Jeff Busch

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

Jenny Davis Quartet with Jovino Santos Neto

Sat Jan 22/ North City Bistro

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

Ben Thomas Tango Project- Postponed

Thu Jan 27, 8 PM/ Royal Room

Ben Thomas
Photo Credit: Nina Johnson

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

Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto

Fri Jan 28, 8 PM/ North City Bistro

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

Celebration of Jim Knapp- Postponed

Mon Jan 31, 7:30 PM/ Jazz Alley

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

Monday Nights at the Royal Room:

The Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble- 7:30 PM

Jam Session with Thomas Marriott- 9 PM

The Royal Room Collectige Music Ensemble
Photo Credit: Daniel Sheehan

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

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

Thomas Marriott
Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

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

Calluna Dinner Club

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

Bill Anschell

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

Jovino Santos neto

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

Ann Reynolds
Stephanie Porter

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

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

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

Neil Welch

Sun Jan 16, 7 PM- James Falzone Solo

James Falzone



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