Jason Parker Quartet’s “Homegrown”– CD Release Party March 23rd


“Homegrown,” the new CD from the Jason Parker Quartet, is a celebration of contemporary Seattle jazz. The recording features original compositions from some of the area’s top artists and reflects the depth of riches in the Seattle jazz community. The release party for “Homegrown,” is scheduled for Monday, March 23rd at Tula’s. Music starts at 7:30pm.

Shortly after release of the band’s previous CD, “Five Leaves Left: A Tribute to Nick Drake,” trumpeter Jason Parker put a call out to local musicians, inviting them to contribute original songs for a new project. The response was enthusiastic – 16 artists submitted – and resulted in this ten-track collection that showcases the compositional talents of Thomas Marriott, Cynthia Mullis, Marc Seales, Jeremy Jones, Josh Rawlings, Troy Kendrick, the late Hadley Caliman and Parker. The recording highlights the diverse sensibilities of its contributors, from the dulcet swing of Parker’s “One Perfect Rose” to the pensive dreamscape of Seale’s “Rue Cler,” and is bolstered by the band’s steady and nuanced performances. Personnel for the CD includes the Jason Parker Quartet, with Josh Rawlings on piano, Evan Flory-Barnes on bass, D’Vonne Lewis on drums and Parker on trumpet, and also special guest Cynthia Mullis on tenor saxophone.

In addition to music from “Homegrown,” the March 23rd performance will also include selections from “Five Leaves Left: A Tribute to Nick Drake,” featuring guest vocalist Michele Khazak. Admission to the show is “pay-what-you-want,” and the first set is all-ages. For reservations, call 206- 443-4221. To purchase the CD, please visit: www.oneworkingmusician.com.

The Jazz Hang: Ship Canal Grill

By Katy Bourne


The Ship Canal Grill is Eastlake’s newest live music venue and jazz-friendly hang spot. I was making the rounds the other evening and decided to pop in and check out the scene.

The Ship Canal Grill is situated on Eastlake Ave., just southwest of the University Bridge and a beat away from the large intersection at Eastlake and Harvard Ave, where I-5 towers overhead. The spacious room is sleek and modern, with a slight industrial feel. Big windows look out on the busy street. There is an ample stage with tasteful lighting. Serving as a backdrop is a large quirky mural that includes figures from Seattle history sitting together on a girder that floats above Lake Union. There was a pile of instrument cases next to the stage.

I dropped in for the Wednesday night jam session, which is hosted by Jay Thomas and the Cantaloupes. The band featured Jay Thomas on sax and trumpet, Chuck Kistler on bass, Adam Kessler on drums and Gus Carns subbing for John Hansen on keys. The jam, which is all ages, included both student musicians and professionals from the Seattle jazz community. Thomas has a nice touch as host and the vibe is upbeat and friendly. Although the room is mostly hard surfaces with very little to absorb the sound, the acoustics were surprisingly good. The crowd was mixed: couples on dates, families and a host of folks hanging out at the bar. Most people seemed to be there for the jam. I might add that I counted at least three television sets positioned throughout the room. All of them were on but, mercifully, the sound was muted.

Mark Taylor at Ship Canal Grill The Ship Canal Grill has a full bar and a Mediterranean-leaning menu that includes an appealing assortment of appetizers, sandwiches and entrees. There are a variety of options for vegetarians. The bar offers a nice selection of wines, beer (bottled and draft) cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. They serve $4 mojitos and margaritas all day. I would describe the service as aloof. My waiter brought me my drink but never came back to my table after that. In fact, I had to hunt him down to get my check. That was the only negative in an otherwise pleasant experience.

The Ship Canal Grill has live music several nights a week. Weekday Happy Hours are from 4-6pm and after 9pm. There is free parking in the adjacent garage. I was also able to easily find street parking close to the restaurant. For more information about the Ship Canal Grill, check out www.shipcanalgrill.com.

On the Rise: Shohei Kuba Ogami

by Katy Bourne

Shohei Kuba Ogemi

Guitarist Shohei Kuba Ogami came to jazz by way of the blues, or more specifically, by way of Stevie Ray Vaughan. Shohei was just 15 years old and had recently moved from Kakogawa, Hyogo in Japan to Seattle with his mother and stepfather. Two months prior to the move, his father, a former metal guitarist, gave Shohei a guitar and showed him some of the basics. Stuck in an unfamiliar city with several months to kill before starting school, the young teenager took to practicing his new instrument and watching guitarists on You Tube. It was here that he discovered Stevie Ray Vaughan. “I thought he was a guitar god,” he muses. Shohei watched every performance clip that he could find and learned all of Vaughan’s songs. He even bought a Wyatt Earl style cowboy hat just like his idol wore. He was enraptured by Vaughan and by the blues. He was particularly struck by the emotionally expressive nature of the blues and by the immediacy. He decided to go deeper, listening to delta and country blues and artists such as Lightning Hopkins, Robert Johnson and Danny Gatton. When he came across a recording of Vaughan playing Kenny Burrell’s tune, “Chitlins con Carne,” the connection between blues and jazz became clear to Shohei, “I decided to listen to jazz so I could become a better blues player.”

After his summer of You Tube and guitar videos, Shohei started high school at the Northwest School. He decided to join the school jazz band and asked the bandleader Jim Sisko what he needed to know in order to play with the band. Sisko answered that he needed to be able to read chord symbols and drew a “C-” on the chalkboard. “I suffered over that for a week,” Shohei recalls, “I had no clue what that was. And then I figured I should study music.” He began studies with Cornish alum Zach Stewart, who taught him the basics such as music theory, sight reading and the “nuts and bolts of guitar.” Things began to gel for Shohei but playing jazz was a big change: “Jazz guitar is more restricted– at first it felt that way. There are more rules to play by.” Ironically, Shohei ended up playing electric bass in the school jazz band. There were several good guitarists in the band but no bass players. Shohei was assigned the role.  When he tried to get more input from his bandleader  as to what this would entail, Sisko replied, “Don’t use a pick. Bring down the tone nob. OK, you’re a bass player.”

 ogemiShohei continued to play and study, “faking jazz for awhile,” as he puts it. He was listening to lots of jazz but says, “I didn’t really get smashed in my face by jazz like the blues had.” However, when he heard a recording of Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation,” all that changed. “Oh my God, it that gave me the shivers. It was so good. I finally understood what swing was, what jazz was about. Before I didn’t really know where I was heading.” After this epiphany, Shohei had a focus. He picked up a Real Book and started learning tunes. Around this time, Shohei met Seattle guitarist Milo Peterson at the Shoreline Jazz Camp and started studying with him. This would prove to be another pivotal point in his development as a jazz artist. “This was a whole different experience because Milo is a jazz purist in so many ways,” he recalls, “That’s when I really started learning the traditions and aesthetics of jazz. My improvising started sounding kind of like jazz. I stopped using blues licks. I purchased a jazz guitar.”

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