The Jazz Hang: Monday Night Vocal Jams @ Tula’s

by Katy Bourne

Singers looking for something to do on a Monday night might want to check out the regular Monday night vocal jam at Tula’s. The process is simple: Show up. Sign up. Sing. Each singer gets to perform 2 tunes. Different musicians from the local jazz scene host each session. There is always a pianist to accompany, and in the case of Darin Clendenin’s jams, there is even a full rhythm section. Singers have the opportunity to sing with some of the top jazz musicians in Seattle. Vocalists with all levels of experience are welcome. The vibe is very relaxed and supportive, and the scene is wonderfully fun hang. It is a great chance to try out new material, work out a tricky song or just have a good time. The musicians are the best in town, and you couldn’t ask for friendlier or more expert support. Many local singers have honed their chops at these very sessions. It’s a great place to learn, gain experience and meet other singers. In addition to all those positives, Tula’s has great food and a full-service bar, for those who enjoy a martini with their favorite jazz standard. The hosts for each week are as follows:

First Mondays: Greta Matassa with Randy Halberstadt
Second and Fourth Mondays: Darin Clendenin Trio
Third Mondays: Kelley Johnson with John Hansen

Vocal jams start at 8:00pm. Tula’s is located at 2214 Second Ave., Seattle, WA 98121. Phone is 206-443-42221. For more information about vocal jams and other events at Tula’s, check out

Jazz Hang: Bake’s Place at Providence Point

THE JAZZ HANG with Katy Bourne

The other day, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Craig Baker, the heart and soul behind the Eastside’s beautiful jazz spot, Bake’s Place. Baker and his wife and partner, Laura, are on a simple mission, which is to “preach the gospel of jazz”. If the Bakers are preaching, then Bake’s is certainly their church. Downbeat magazine voted Bake’s as one of the top 100 jazz clubs in the world, and there is a reason for that.

Baker is enthusiastic, altruistic and focused. Bake’s initially began nine years ago as a private jazz club in Baker’s home in Redmond. After difficulties with local zoning ordinances, Baker moved the club to its present residence, Providence Point in Issaquah, where it has been for four years. The room, with its lush interiors and pristine sound, is like a combination of a living room and a meditation hall. This is very much in keeping with Baker’s intention. “This is a place of meditation. The meditation is music.” Craig and Laura have created a space, which is an extension of their own living room, where guests can relax, unwind, forget the stress of busy lives and truly listen to great jazz performances. In Baker’s words, “The intention is you are here for the music.” The programming at Bake’s is excellent, regularly offering a line-up of some of the nation’s top, touring jazz musicians as well as providing a home stage for some of the region’s brightest jazz luminaries. The majority of Bake’s performers are vocalists. This is in keeping with his goal of bringing new fans to jazz music. Baker is looking for new converts, people not previously exposed to jazz. In that vein, Baker believes that vocal jazz, in particular, is an accessible introduction to the “non-jazz public”. Bake’s regular rotation includes top-notch singers such as Greta Matassa, Karin Plato, Rebecca Parris and Gail Pettis. Instrumental acts include Seattle vibraphonist, Ben Thomas, and Brazilian-born pianist, Jovino Santos Neto.

One thing that strikes me about Bake’s, is that it truly is a “family affair”. Bake’s recently underwent a fairly ambitious remodel, which involved removing the fireplace, which sat squarely in the middle of the room, moving the stage and upgrading the sound system. Everyone in the family pitched in: Craig, Laura and their children did the demolition. Laura and Craig did all the painting. Their son did the dry walling. Their daughter’s boyfriend helped with new construction. Along with Rick Chen, Craig helped design the new sound system. It is interesting to note that the remodel did not interrupt performances. Craig and crew worked hard on remodeling on the weekdays and then put things back together each week so the room would be suitable for weekend performances. In addition, the family also manages the day-to-day operations of the club. When you arrive, you will more than likely be greeted and seated by Craig. Laura or their daughter will also welcome you and serve your dinner. The only non-family member is executive chef, Joy Lund, who, it should be noted, creates an outstanding three- course meal for each performance. Bake’s place really is an extension of the Baker family living room. “This is our life,” says Baker.

For 2008, Baker will be bringing in vocalists from all across the country. For many, this will be their first time to perform in the Seattle area. Bake’s will also continue to present performances from local favorites (Greta Matassa will be there this weekend.) and will also be showcasing some new local talent. Baker is true to his mission. Clearly the gospel is spreading. Bake’s is located at 4135 Providence Point Drive SE, Issaquah, WA 98029. The phone is 425-391-3335. They have a wonderful website. Check it out at

Jazz and Porn: What Would You Do?

A few days ago, I checked my website statistics and discovered that last Saturday, I’d received 131 hits. For me, this was a huge jump from the daily average of about 25-30. This, of course, was pretty exciting. What hard-working musician doesn’t want lots of visitors to his/her website? This is good, right? However, as I investigated a little further, I discovered that the majority of the hits were generated from an Italian porn site, which had linked my website to theirs. Huh? How did this happen? This was one, fat Cyber mystery.

My initial reaction to being linked to a porn sight was negative. Being a vocalist has enough challenges already. Having my website linked to a porn site didn’t seem like it would be in any way helpful. Any credibility I’ve managed to garner these past few years could be destroyed in a single click. God knows what other links are on this site. How will anyone take me seriously when my website shares the same page as links for sites selling Love Dolls or bondage accessories? And what weirdos were visiting my website anyway? My mind raced. However, before I spun into complete histrionics, I caught myself. “Wait a minute”, I thought. “Aren’t you being a little too uptight? Porn is just, well, porn. What’s the big problem?” OK, maybe it wasn’t such a big deal. Isn’t the saying something like “any publicity is good publicity?” Is it really so bad to reach such an unlikely audience? Does it really matter way back here in Seattle? Anyway, it’s not like jazz fans and porn aficionados are always mutually exclusive, right? And truth be told, I have received 2 emails from Italians who have followed the link to my website. Both were respectful, said nice things about the music and raved about the musicians. No creepy come-ons or unsettling sexual innuendos. Is this really worth getting my drawers in a bunch over? I just don’t know.

For the past few days, I’ve spent some time on this particular website, trying to figure out exactly which page links to my website and also the context of the link. It’s been a bit of a challenge. There are multiple pages on this site, with loads of content. And of course the biggest challenge is that I don’t speak Italian. Sorry to say, despite my efforts, I still don’t have much information as to how my website ended up linked to an Italian porn site. And even more, I still don’t know how I feel about it.

It would be interesting to know how other musicians would feel if they found themselves in my situation. I know a lot of working musicians read the website, and I’d love to hear your input. What if you discovered that your website was linked to a porn site? Would you care? What if it tripled your daily visits? Do you think this would have any impact on your musical situation? Am I being too prissy even pondering these things? Jazz fans, feel free to weigh in too. Should I be more alarmed? Should I relax? What would you do?

Jazz Hang-Third Place Commons

A few weeks ago, I was itching to get out and listen to some jazz. It was a Saturday night. There was plenty going on, including loads of Earshot performances on top of the usual club offerings. There were complications, however. It was my night to have my boys, ages 10 and 14. I was also a little low on dough. I couldn’t drag them out to a club. God no! On top of that, they were hungry, and it was still pretty early. After a little head scratching and rumination, I checked the trusty to see if there were any possible options for someone in my situation. The Third Place Commons jumped out at me.

The Third Place Commons is a large open area in the Lake Forest Park Towne Center. There are several long tables, a stage and multiple restaurant offerings around the perimeters. It’s the typical food court fare: Pizza by the slice. Cheap Chinese. Burritos. Perfect for the teen and tween palates. There’s also a Honey Bear Bakery with espresso drinks and humongous layer cakes. Adjacent to all of this is Third Place Books, a large and inviting bookstore. The whole scene is a little reminiscent the Market Stage area at Crossroads Mall in Bellevue. There were all kinds of people hanging out: Families with toddlers screaming through the room. Groups of Emo-esque teenagers. Clusters of elderly people, playing cards and laughing. It is definitely a something for everyone situation.

We got our food and found a comfortable spot in the middle of the room. The band playing that night was the Chuck Deardorf Group: Chuck with Bill Anschell, Hans Teuber and John Bishop. I kicked back in relief. It was going to be a good night. The band started playing fairly quickly after we sat down. Although the mix was a little lopsided (More sax, please!) and the room was clanky, the band sounded great. Given the team roster, how could they not?

My 14 year-old, a budding jazz musician himself, was happy to hang with the music. Predictably, my 10 year old got a little antsy. I let him go peruse the kids’ section of the bookstore and also check out the giant chess set right by the entrance. He was happy. His brother was happy. Mom was happy. We were able to hang for the first set. Overall, the mission was accomplished. The kids were fed. We didn’t spend too much cash. I got to hear some really great live jazz. Sure, driving from our place on Beacon Hill all the way up to Lake Forest Park was a bit of a hoof, but well worth the trouble.

The Third Place Commons has live music regularly on Friday and Saturday nights as well as a few other errant nights as well. (Jazz fans should check the schedule before heading out. They do a wide spectrum of programming and don’t always have jazz. If you show up with a hankering for modern jazz only to discover a hillbilly hoe down quintet, well, this could be tragic.) Aside from music, the Third Place Commons has all kinds of crazy stuff going on: A knitting club. A French conversation group. A regular Mah Jonng game. These are just a few. While this may seem like a goofy place to spend your Saturday night, for me it offered an opportunity to listen to live jazz as opposed to nothing at all. If you’re looking for a family-friendly jazz hang, Third Place Commons gets a big thumbs up. For more information take a peek at

Live Music-Another Option

Sad that the Seattle Jazz Showcase is winding down?

Too broke for Earshot?

How about checking out the Columbia City Beatwalk? The BeatWalk is a monthly, community music event, which takes place on the first Friday of each month in the Columbia City neighborhood. For one low cover price of $5.00, you can stroll around and hear/see live music in 7 different venues! That’s a lot of musical bang for your buck. Venues include a book store, a health club, an art gallery and several bars and restaurants. There is a variety of programming and there are always at least a couple of jazz acts. This Friday, the Garfield Jazz Quintet will be playing at Bookworm Exchange. This is one swinging, little group, and these teenage musicians already have some fierce chops going on. If gypsy jazz is more your thing, the Djangomatics are playing at Lottie’s Lounge. The BeatWalk takes place this coming Friday, November 2 from 7-10pm. For more information and the complete line-up, visit