February is a stellar month on the Seattle jazz scene. The Seattle Jazz Fellowship reconvenes at Vermillion on Wednesdays, this time as a permanent weekly fixture. Earshot pulls off a major coup in bringing the Maria Schneider Orchestra to Town Hall. Jazz Alley brings in a pair of icons in Dave Holland and Kenny Barron. Philadelphia based pianist Orrin Evans hits the Royal Room with the likes of Eric Revis and Marvin “Smitty” Smith, as does eclectic saxophonist Caleb Wheeler Curtis. All of this, and yet there is so much more. So dig into a few gigs, hit the jam sessions and dig this wonderful community that surrounds us!
Seattle Jazz Fellowship Wednesdays
Wednesdays at 7:30 PM/ Vermillion
The Fellowship hits four times this month, week by week descriptions below.
Marina Albero Quintet
Pianist Marina Albero is one of the true gems on the Seattle music scene. Since her arrival from Barcelona in 2014, her playing, magnificent when she arrived, has evolved exponentially. Her immersion in jazz, flamenco, Cuban and classical forms during her musical life are well represented in her sound. Albero is joined by drummer D’Vonne Lewis, bassist Kelsey Mines, trumpeter Hannah Mowry. and multireedist/composer Jessica Lurie. Lurie’s presence adds a different dimension to the band. There are many exciting musical cross-currents converging for this evening at Vermillion.
Bill Anschell Quartet
Pianist Bill Anschell played Tula’s jazz club more than anybody over its twenty six year run. Since the shuttering of the club three years ago, a span of time that includes the pandemic shutdown, opportunities to see him with his stock quartet are few and far between in the city. One of the city’s historic jazz musicians, Anschell fields a quartet that features guitarist Brian Monroney, bassist Chris Symer and drummer Brad Boal. SJF offers a listening vibe at Vermillion, in a room that is acoustically resonant. Anschell’s original compositions are exceptional as is his playing. A pre-gig listening to Anschell’s quirky classic, Rumbler (Origin, 2017) is highly recommended.
Skerik brandishes his talents in a variety of local bands and has appeared with a number of highly regarded acts inside and outside of jazz. It’s always interesting to see what he comes up with outside of his usual bands like Garage-a-Trois or Bandalabra to name two. In his first appearance at the Seattle Jazz Fellowship, he does what any good bandleader would do– hire a killin’ band. He will lead two sets featuring trumpeter Thomas Marriott, bassist Geoff Harper, drummer D’Vonne Lewis and pianist Tim Kennedy. Other than the obvious dedication to spontaneous composition, part of the fun here is not knowing quite what to expect other than the fact that it will likely be masterful. Hit the gig early, as it is first come, first served and will likely attract many SJF members.
Xavier Lecouturier Presents-Thursdays at the Owl
Each Thursday at 7:30 PM
Drummer/composer Xavier Lecouturier has always had an adventurous and entepeneurial spirit. Now a major presence on the Seattle jazz scene, Lecouturier is still just 25, something easy to forget while witnessing his performances. His intention here is to play each Thursday with a diverse group of Seattle musicians, truly reflecting the energy and spirit of city’s vibrant music scene. https://www.instagram.com/xavierlecouturier/?hl=en
DMX featuring Dylan Hayes, Matt Williams & Xavier Lecouturier
No, not the rapper. DMX is a bass-less trio featuring Lecouturier’s long-time partner in crime, keyboardist/composer Dylan Hayes. Matt Williams is a brilliant young pianist and vibraphonist, featured on the latter here. This trio is prone to riding out on the edge a bit. There is a full spectrum of sound despite not using bass as a bottom end. All three are inventive, fearless improvisors that listen extremely well to each other.
Dylan Hayes Organ Trio
Dylan Hayes has gained a reputation around town as a fine jazz pianist, keyboardist, composer and arranger. He has gained respect with his work as the curator of composer Jim Knapp’s legacy. He has recently added the Hammond B-3 organ to his repertoire. This performance then, is a bit of a coming out for the young Mr. Hayes. He’ll have more than competent help in forming a trio with guitarist Martin Budde and drummer Luca Cartner, and a familiar vibe at the Owl ‘n Thistle.
Kenny Barron Trio
Tue-Wed Feb 7-8, 7:30 PM/ Jazz Alley
Among the best known and most influential jazz pianists of the modern era, Kenny Barron has frequented Seattle his entire career, beginning in the 1970’s. Veteran Seattle jazzers can recall Barron teaming up with the late, great Chuck Deardorf at the old Jazz Alley on University Way. He is still playing at the highest level, and has formed a dynamic trio with drummer Johnathan Blake and bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa. Cats of this caliber aren’t here forever though, so let’s not take Barron’s frequent Seattle visits for granted. This is an artist to be treasured in the here and now, with the element of respect only granted those who have contributed to the music at the highest possible level. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=6404
Thu Feb 9- Sun Feb 12, 7:30 & 9:30 PM/ Jazz Alley
I attended the last landing of Kandace Springs and her trio at Jazz Alley with much trepidation– I left with none. I was surprised and delighted at her ability to spontaneously create in the moment, both as a pianist and highly skilled vocalist. Her set was sublimely informal, even taking requests at one point. I personally requested Billie Holiday’s iconic “Strange Fruit,” something I had heard she performed time and again. I literally had never heard it performed on a major jazz stage, by an artist of her magnitude. She began, stopped and moved over to Rhodes, and interpreted the classic brilliantly and dynamically. She truly includes the audience in her performance routinely, much like a house concert. Her live performances, by my standards, far outdistance her recordings. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=6397
Racer Sessions: Kalia Vandever, Carmen Rothwell, Isabel Crespo Pardo
Sun Feb 19, 7PM/ Cafe Racer
For those of us living in Seattle, it is difficult to know what to expect from this performance. This trio dubbed “Tilt” will be touring the west coast for the first time without a recording to their name, shrouding this gig in a bit of interesting and exciting mystery. We can glean from the careers of the trio’s participants that it will be an intuitive, interactive experience both for the musicians on stage and for the audience.
Bassist Carmen Rothwell is a Seattle born and raised artist based in New York City who has worked with such noted artists as David Murray, Ben Monder, Dave Douglas and Cuong Vu. While she mostly dwells within the improvised music scene, Rothwell is a highly adaptable musician, with strong roots in jazz. Her work would be considered modern, dedicated to improvisation and should open a gateway of understanding for Seattle fans familiar with her work, as to the nature of this collective performance.
Kalia Vandever is a trombonist/composer based in Brooklyn, NY, known in live music circles leading her own quartet. Her work as a sidewoman for artists such as Joel Ross and Immanuel Wilkins has exposed her mastery of form to many in recent years. Isabel Crespo Pardo is a vocalist and visual artist that produces music that interacts with visual art and movement. Another fine addition to the historic legacy of the Racer Sessions. http://www.racersessions.com/calendar/2023/2/19/tilt-kalia-vandever-carmen-rothwell-isabel-crespo-pardo
The Goodbye Look Presents: David Binney Trio
Sun Feb 12, 7:30 PM/ Bad Bar
Veteran alto saxophonist/composer David Binney has cast his line into many different waters over the years, from straight-ahead to avant-garde. His live performances feature his decidedly free approach to playing. On this evening, Binney leans to the acoustic side, teaming up with bassist Logan Kane and drummer Dan Weiss. If you know anything about Binney, then you are aware of his sense of musical adventurism that consumes his work, no matter the format. He is a remarkable musician in any context. To see a player of this magnitude, in a non-descript bar on Queen Anne (Bad Bar), is a rare opportunity indeed. It is also a chance to support what this group led by Peter Graham is trying to achieve in producing a live jazz experience in Seattle. https://everout.com/seattle/events/the-goodbye-look-presents-david-binney-trio/e137698/
Greta Matassa Quintet
Tue Feb 21, 7:30 PM/ Jazz Alley
Like Thomas Marriott’s sold out show in September, Greta Matassa’s JA engagement is a significant footnote to the beginning to the year of jazz in 2023. Jazz Alley’s business model while highly successful, has not enabled the hiring of many Seattle based artists over the years. Matassa’s iconic status in the city’s jazz lineage merits her gracing the Alley’s stage, much to the delight of her fans. Matassa will be joined by pianist David Deacon Joyner, bassist Clipper Anderson, guitarist Brian Monroney, drummer Mark Ivester and tenor saxophone giant, Alexey Nikolaev. This is an important gig to support. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=6401
Dave Holland Trio featuring Kevin Eubanks and Eric Harland
Wed Feb 22, 7:30 PM/ Jazz Alley
Legendary bassist/composer Dave Holland arrives in Seattle with a trio that features not just two players with whom he is well familiar– but two partners that have established themselves in iconic terms. Drummer Eric Harland has been touring with Holland as part of his Aziza Quartet, while guitarist Kevin Eubanks has appeared on a variety of Holland projects. All three are masters of creating space within the trio concept, as well as filling space spontaneously and melodically. One show only, so jump on this one. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=6400
Orrin Evans Trio with Eric Revis & Marvin “Smitty” Smith
Thu Feb 23, 6 & 8:30 PM/ Royal Room
Philly based pianist Orrin Evans has been one of the more influential voices in jazz over the past decade or more. From his trio with Christian McBride and Kareem Riggins to his Grammy nominated Captain Black Big Band, Evans’ presence has been felt both as a musician and a mentor. He spent two years in the piano chair of The Bad Plus, taking over for TBP founder Ethan Iverson. For two shows at the Royal Room, he teams with bassist Eric Revis and drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith for what should be a high water mark in Seattle jazz for 2023. https://theroyalroomseattle.com/event/orrin-evans-trio-early-show/?instance_id=4190
Maria Schneider Orchestra
Tue Feb 28, 7:30 PM/ Town Hall- Great Hall
It is quite the undertaking to bring the entire 18 piece Maria Schneider Orchestra to Seattle, and the west coast. Schneider’s brilliant work, Data Lords, was released in 2020 on Artist Share, and due to the pandemic, has not been heard live until this tour. This rare appearance by Schneider with her full ensemble is not to be missed, so do not hesitate to hit the link below and purchase your ticket. The lineup is top tier, featuring Michael Rodriguez, Donny McCaslin, Rich Perry, Dave Prieto, Steve Wilson, Gary Versace, Johnathan Blake, Scott Robinson, Ben Monder and of course, Maria Schneider.
Monday Night Jam Session with Thomas Marriott
Mondays at 9 PM
The thought behind putting a jam session on a Monday night is that it is the quietest evening on a city’s music scene, and more musicians can frequent the session on a regular basis. At the Royal Room in Columbia City, Monday evenings have taken on a less quiet approach, with Thomas Marriott hosting a 9 PM jam session that has attracted many of the city’s top players, as well as its younger core of up and comers. There is typically a set booked for 7 PM prior to the jam, making the evening one of the more anticipated events on the weekly jazz calendar in Seattle. The session is well curated by Marriott, who assists the ebb and flow onstage skillfully. The hang is first class as well, with the informal atmosphere of the RR contributing to the vibe. Along with the Owl jam on Tuesdays, the hang is the thing, a sense of community the result. https://theroyalroomseattle.com/event/royal-room-jazz-jam-session-hosted-by-thomas-marriott/?instance_id=3103