Seattle Jazz Scene: Live Jazz Previews for May and June

Noah Haidu Trio with Buster Williams & Lenny White

Tue & Wed May 21-22, 7:30 PM / Jazz Alley

Pianist Noah Haidu is a relative newcomer to the international jazz scene compared with his bandmates, noted as a modern player with a free and buoyant feel to his playing. While this performance will be a bit of a coming out party for the pianist in Seattle, the immediate focus for listeners will be the years of history made by his partners in bassist Buster Williams and drummer Lenny White

Williams and White share a commonality as former members of bands led by the great Miles Davis. At eighty one years of age, Williams still possesses his nimble, even-toned touch much like he did in Herbie Hancock’s historic sextet of the 1970’s. His trio work includes groundbreaking work with Hank Jones and Tony Williams. Much like Williams, White has a long list of recording and performance credits that include time with the revolutionary fusion transition of Davis in the early 1970’s. The three time Grammy winner was a founding member of Chick Corea’s seminal fusion band, Return to Forever. He is considered one of the founding fathers of the fusion movement. 

This performance allows jazz fans to both witness greatness that has persisted over generations and a talent that is fresh and on the rise. A can’t miss date at Jazz Alley.

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Underground Sounds with Thomas Marriott, Rick Mandyck, Jeff Johnson & John Bishop

Tue Apr 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, 8 PM / Underbelly- 119 First Av S.

Underbelly, the quaint cellar bar on First Avenue in Pioneer Square sits directly across the street from what was the New Orleans club, a former hub of local Seattle jazz. That vibe lives on Tuesday nights in the former burlesque venue, with four of the city’s top jazz musicians colliding in an explosive chordless quartet that at times has been known as Free Fall. This is an opportunity to witness great jazz in an informal environment with no cover. 

Trumpeter Thomas Marriott leads this band of long time mates with a strong intuitive connection. The author of fourteen albums as a leader and a recent inductee into the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame is joined by the incomparable duo of bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John Bishop. Saxophonist Rick Mandyck has switched to alto, but bears the sound and approach of some of the great tenor players in jazz. The band plays originals from Marriott, Mandyck and Johnson, along with a few standards. The vibe in the room is relaxed, the drinks are first class and there is a very cute puppy in the house to add to the charm. The house screens classic films and cartoons as well! A highly recommended hang on Tuesday nights.

Photo Credit: Daniel Sheehan

Eric Verlinde: Album Release Show- “Benevolence”

Wed May 22, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Veteran Seattle pianist Eric Verlinde has always been known for his nimble touch, advanced sense of harmony and versatility. His roots in bebop and Latin music speak loudly each time he performs. His sensitivity as an acompanist for vocalists stems from a very visual sense of melody that is reflected in his original compositions. This performance features his latest, with the help of a few friends.

Verlinde brings in the same all-star cast as the new album, featuring some of the city’s historic best. Trumpeter Thomas Marriott, multi-reedist Hans Teuber, bassist Chris Symer and drummer D’Vonne Lewis pack a collective punch. It seems so often we see Verlinde leading the Owl jam session, or playing at El Gaucho. We see and hear him accompanying some of the city’s brightest artists. It’s fitting that we gather in a listening space like SJF, and experience the true artistry of this marvelous son of Snohomish!

Jory Tindall: Left Coast

Thur May 23, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St

Saxophonist Jory Tindall has put together a band to celebrate the West Coast style, with a non-chordal quartet in the spirit of Lee Konitz, Lennie Tristano and Chet Baker. The band will present original music inspired by the west coast movement, though nuanced by Tindall’s hard bop DNA. Driven by bassist Greg Feingold and drummer Stefan Schatz, Tindall is joined on the front line by trumpeter Jun Iida. Feingold is a bold presence on double bass, and a perfect fit for this assemblage. Plenty of room here for melodic improvisation from the front line.

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

Ray Vega Quartet

Fri & Sat May 24 – 25, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Trumpeter Ray Vega is a native of the Bronx, NY, and a veteran of the bands of Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Mongo Santamaria, Johnny Pacheco and many, many more. He is also a master practitioner of bebop. Vega met a young Thomas Marriott in Seattle while on a tour stop at Jazz Alley, and became a close friend of the young trumpeter and his family. Their friendship became a musical partnership under the banner of “East-West Trumpet Summit,” resulting in three albums on the Origin Records label and accompanying live performances. 

This time around, Vega performs in quartet mode with three of Seattle’s finest. Pianist Eric Verlinde is a perfect match for the trumpeter’s personal musical journey. He is a master jazz pianist with a special affection for Latin jazz. Bassist Michael Glynn is a first call Seattle player with the acute musical flexibility to interact with a wide range of approaches to the jazz lexicon. He appeared on the latest East-West Trumpet Summit album, Coast to Coast (Origin, 2022). Drummer John Bishop is an iconic Seattle performer acclaimed on an international scale. He has been one of the leading voices in the Seattle jazz community for forty years as a drummer, record label owner, graphic designer and festival presenter. He has appeared on over 100 albums and has recorded and toured with the likes of Hal Galper, Jessica Williams, Sonny Fortune and Ernestine Anderson to name but a few. He was elected to the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame in 2008. 

Vega is a genuine soul and a bright light in the music world. Get there early for this one, it should fill up quickly.

Samara Joy

Sat May 25, 8 PM / Benaroya Hall

After quickly selling out her Earshot show at Town Hall, Grammy winning vocalist Samara Joy returns to Seattle to perform at Benaroya Hall. If you are unfamiliar, Joy performs standards in the vocal jazz tradition, and has been generously rewarded for her efforts. She recently has taken on writing lyrics for instrumental jazz classics for her own interpretation. How can a singer with a musician’s approach to sound not want to take on melodies that were written without lyrics? One example would be her take on Charles Mingus’ “Reincarnation of a Lovebird.”

In seeing Joy perform on several occasions, I have become well acquainted with her perfect pitch, deep resonance and dedication to excellence. She has not approached artistry to the extent of Cecile McLorin Salvant or Jazzmeia Horn, two current voices in jazz that have extended their respective reach into the music as artists. But she has a glorious instrument that can completely disarm you in moments. 

I fear Joy falling into the “too much credit, too soon” category that is prevalent in these times of social media driven, recency biased instant-gratification. Her talent is genuine and sound, and a gift not to be taken lightly. Another concern is Benaroya Hall itself. As anyone who has attended a jazz concert at the renowned venue can tell you, it is a difficult room to achieve dynamics through any sort of amplification. Performances by the Keith Jarrett Trio there were stricken by unbalanced resonance, particularly concerning drums and cymbals. Wayne Shorter on the other hand, sounded wonderful. Here’s to hoping for the latter. 

If you are a vocal jazz enthusiast, May is especially kind to you. Between Joy and Salvant, you might want to seek out a Greta Matassa show to add good measure for the month!

Photo Credit: Detroit Jazz Festival

Cecile McLorin Salvant

Tue & Wed May 28 – 29, 7:30 PM / Jazz Alley

What more can one say about vocal artist Cecile McLorin Salvant? A generational talent who is already a multi-Grammy recipient, Salvant’s performances could be described as “stunning,” or “genius seeking beauty.” She has recently visited Jazz Alley in duo with her partner, the great pianist Sullivan Fortner. Fortner is indeed on the gig this time around, joined by Bellevue’s own Yasushi Nakamura on bass and drummer Aaron Kimmel. If you are yet to witness one of her performances, this becomes a priority event for you, whether or not you are a fan of jazz vocals. Salvant is a musician in every sense of the word, with a comnposer’s ear and mind. She very well may be the greatest American jazz singer since the historic reigns of Sarah Vaughn and Carmen McRae.

Photo Credit: Anthony Dean

Victor North

Thu May 30, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Philadelphia based tenor saxophonist Victor North has roots in Seattle and Alaska, moving to Philly some twenty five years ago after attending Rutgers University. In that time, he has established himself as a prominent voice on the fertile Philly scene, performing with the late Joey DeFancesco, Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band, Charles Fambrough, Terrell Stafford and a variety of others. North is a powerful presence on the tenor, a straight ahead player with an eclectic view of the music. He doesn’t perform in Seattle all that often, take advantage of this opportunity. Band TBA

Emmet Cohen Trio

Thu May 30 – Sun Jun 2, 7:30 & 9:30 PM / Jazz Alley

It seems as though pianist Emmet Cohen has been around forever. He is frequently booked at major festivals and clubs on an international scale, and for good reason- he is a technically brilliant player with a seemingly endless vocabulary steeped in beatific melody. Yet Cohen is just thirty years of age, with a vital energy and peerless vision of what straight ahead jazz is and will be in the future. 

Cohen hits Jazz Alley with bassist Joey Ranieri and drummer Kyle Poole in tow for what should amount to a sizzling ninety minute set each of the four nights of his run. The only regret may be that the run doesn’t include a Tuesday evening, as he has a history of hitting the late-night jam session at the Owl ‘n Thistle. If you are a straight ahead jazz fan that loves genius musicianship, this is the gig for you.

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

Machado Mijiga Trio

Fri & Sat May 31 – Jun 1, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Machado Mijiga is a Portland based drummer / composer who has a close connection to the new wave of young jazz artists in Seattle. Making his second SJF appearance, Mijiga will perform in trio mode with one of those Seattle players in pianist Dylan Hayes. Veteran first-call bassist Michael Glynn completes the trio, in an environment where listeners will be able to witness his elegance as a soloist in ample portions. Mijiga’s style is intricate in form, polyrhythmic at times and nuanced in pure energy. At this point in his career, he is stylistically diverse, still in search of a true voice as he well should be. All of that musical gathering will be pared down to the moment at hand in trio mode, with Hayes’ harmonic imagination creating shapes for bass and drums to interact with. The date ends an active and broad ranging month of programming at the Seattle Jazz Fellowship.

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Phil Sparks Quintet

Jun 6, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame bassist Phil Sparks has been seen on Seattle stages performing with the top shelf of city musicians over the past thirty plus years. His dedication to craft and all-in performance mode is unquestioned and has been illuminated by bandleaders from Hadley Caliman to Matt Jorgensen. Here, Sparks is the bandleader, assembling a cast of musicians with a considerable history together, 

Trumpeter Nathan Breedlove wanders north from Tacoma, bringing with him a history performing with Lionel Hampton, David Murray and the legendary Skatalites. Steve Griggs brings a boss sound on tenor to the front line. Sparks leads a formidable rhythm section with pianist Ryan Burns and drummer Stefan Schatz. I suspect this gig will be about playing “tunes,” and played expertly by a band of real pros. The hang should be formidable as well!

Monty Alexander “The Real Deal” Celebrating his 80th Birthday and New Album Release

Thu Jun 6 – Sun Jun 9, 7:30 & 9:30 PM / Jazz Alley

The great pianist Monty Alexander has covered a plethora of sounds emanating from the Caribbean to all points north and west. Now celebrating a new album and his 80th birthday, he returns to Seattle with bassist Luke Sellick and drummer Jason Brown, applying the aesthetic of his collective musical spirit. Alexander has performed here so often, his arrival may not seem out of the ordinary. But remember, opportunities to see legends of the genre perform live become fewer and far between as time wears on. A good opportunity to lift your spirit and witness a historic artist in an intimate space.

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Bill Anschell “Rumbler” Quartet

Fri & Sat Jun 7-8, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. main St.

Pianist Bill Anschell brings his “Rumbler” band to the Fellowship, performing music old and new, including choices from his latest release, Improbable Solutions (Origin, 2024). Guitarist Brian Monroney brings an edge to Anschell’s unique originals, a marvelous musician all the way around and back again. Bassist Chris Symer has spent more time on stage with Anschell than anyone, and it pays dividends on a nightly basis. Brad Boal is a master collector and distributor in the jazz trio tradition a la Paul Motian. In a way this band plays like a piano trio with Monroney playing a sonic constant or a shadowing presence. In any sense, the overall sound of this now veteran outfit is truly one of a kind.

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Julian Speaks! with Julian Priester

Sat Jun 8, 1PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Julian Speaks is an opportunity for the jazz community to spend a few hours with a true jazz legend. Trombonist Julian Priester has performed with many of the great figures in jazz history, in the studio and on stage. He has graced the recordings of Herbie Hancock, Sun Ra, John Coltrane, Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, Duke Ellington and Freddie Hubbard to name but a few, as well as his own recordings on Riverside and ECM. 

For this program, we gather and listen to some of his iconic recordings and gain insight into them from Priester himself. Through the lens of his prolific career, we gain an understanding of the history of jazz music, and Priester’s direct impact on it. We gain a connection to history that allows us to appreciate this great music even more. We get to know the artist himself in this intimate and personal format, through questions and discussion. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to access Priester’s insight and wisdom concerning the music we all love, and its societal influence on world culture.

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

Marc Seales Quartet with Special Guest Ernie Watts

Tue & Wed Jun 11-12, 7:30 PM / Jazz Alley

Seattle piano icon Marc Seales revisits his long-time friendship with Los Angeles saxophone legend, Ernie Watts. This relationship goes back to Seales’ days in the trio New Stories, when they were in cahoots with Watts for several recordings and live dates. There is always a good vibe of love and appreciation on the bandstand when they perform together. 

Watts brings the marvelous drummer Moyse Lucas with him from LA. Multi-Grammy winning bassist Steve Rodby completes a rhythm section with unlimited parameters. Seattle trumpet ace Thomas Marriott adds a potent voice to the band. Anytime Jazz Alley features local Seattle talent, it is a good thing to support in general. In this case, there are purely musical imperatives to see to as a jazz fan.

Time for a change-up night at 109 S. Main with the Seattle Jazz Fellowship, as the T.O.P. Jazz Band brings back the music of the speak-easy, of the Prohibition era that began five years early in Seattle in 1916. They’ll be a little foot stompin’ going on here, with founding members Alex Guilbert (piano), and Mike Daugherty (drums & vocals) leading the band. They are joined by Jonathan Doyle (woodwinds), Jerome Smith (trombone & sousaphone) and Matt Weiner (bass & tenor banjo).

With most programming at SJF is modern, straight ahead jazz, the dedication to programming a full spectrum of the music is evident here, with a fun night that should produce a lively hang.

Kelley Johnson Quartet

Butch Harrison

Thu Jun 13, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Vocalist Kelley Johnson has been a mainstay on the Seattle jazz vocal scene for some time now, both as a performer and educator. She brings a lyrical style to jazz vocals, expressing the story of a tune like a fine craftswoman. Johnson leads the talented trio of pianist John Hansen, bassist Michael Glynn and drummer Matt Jorgensen. all long-time associates and top tier Seattle players. Most importantly, she lets the cats play and inserts her contributions as a member of the band. There’s tons of familiarity here, creating a fine aesthetic.

It’s interesting to see trumpeter / vocalist Butch Harrison on the bill at SJF. Harrison frequents area jam sessions, but his live performances often fall under the rhythm and blues category in terms of venues and audience. Originally from Philadelphia, Harrison carries that soul element in his playing and vocal style. This gig in some ways is an introduction to the SJF audience to an artist that has been around the Seattle scene for a considerable stretch. It’s good to see him booked on a jazz stage in front of a jazz listening audience, giving his music a focus and feature we have seldom seen. Harrison is an entertainer, as well as a musician, and we need more of that in our music! Band TBA

Bill Frisell Trio

Thu Jun 13 – Sun Jun 16, 7:30 PM & 9:30 PM / Jazz Alley

We in Seattle, may know the influential guitarist Bill Frisell better than any fan base in the US. His recently ended long-term residence here saw him enter his most innovative period as an artist, and articulate a guitar style that is now part of the modern jazz guitar lexicon. In a trio format, Frisell’s sweet, serene, yet iconoclastic guitar voice be heard best. Drummer Rudy Royston is a long-time counterpart for the guitarist, with his very musical style able to shapeshift between Frisell’s harmonic shapes and fractures. Bassist Tony Scher plays in and around the bottom end, with the curiosity of a guitarist, another part of his artistic skill set. 

There is a component of space that surrounds Frisell’s music, as strange as that may sound. Space in the sense that he never overplays. Space in the sense of listening and welcoming bandmates into the fray. Most importantly, space for the listener to get inside the music and have an experience that is truly transformative. That’s what music is supposed to be about, after all.

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

Matt Williams Trio + One

with Jay Thomas & Thomas Marriott

Fri & Sat Jun 14-15, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Pianist Matt Williams is one of the best kept secrets on the Seattle jazz scene, although that designation is fast vanishing. He has been around for a number of years, but in recent times has more established himself as a bandleader and eclectic composer in addition to his skill set as a pianist and keyboardist. For this weekend residency in Pioneer Square, Williams forms a trio with bassist Michael Glynn and drummer John Bishop, two of the city’s historic best. Each of the two evenings will feature a fourth band member, also two noted Seattle voices.

The Friday night tilt features Jay Thomas, a Seattle jazz legend. He has lit up city stages since the late 1960’s on both saxophone and trumpet, a rarity in jazz. He is an excellent flutist as well. Depending on the performance, Thomas may gather up to six instruments on a given evening. Of course, he achieves excellence on all his instruments, making him a rare duck on the scene, much like Ira Sullivan or the late, great Seattle muscian, Floyd Standifer. 

On Saturday, the trio matches up with trumpeter Thomas Marriott. It would be difficult to find a better formed quartet than this, a matchup not to be missed. All four are great read and react, off the page players. 

The two night offering from Williams will be worth a two night investment as a jazz fan. In the process, seeing Thomas and Marriott highlighted is a huge plus.

Jack Radsliff Trio

Thu Jun 20, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Portland based guitarist Jack Radsliff returns to Seattle Jazz Fellowship, this time leading his own band, and celebrating the release of his new album, Barefoot. Radsliff’s guitar style is eclectic with a deep taproot in the post-bop tradition. His lineage is tied more to modernists John Scofield and Bill Frisell, than the more traditional school of classic players such as Jim Hall. 

Joining Radsliff will be drummer Michael Raynor, now Portland based after years of being one of the top players on the Chicago scene. Young bassist Patrick Golichnik has taken advantage of his time at Portland State University, performing with George Colligan, Randy Porter, Alan Jones and most of the heavies on the Portland scene. He recently recorded with jazz saxophone legend, Charles McPherson. Radsliff has a strong connection with the emerging wave of new generation players in Seattle, including Xavier Lecouturier. This should be a notable evening for Seattle jazz guitar enthusiasts and jazz fans in general.

Joe Doria Trio

featuring Andy Coe & Tarik Abouzied

Fri Jun 21, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Hammond B-3 organ master Joe Doria performs in trio with two of his longest tenured musical partners. Guitarist Andy Coe is a versatile performer who is a jazz guitarist at his core, and a jam band guitarist on the edge. Drummer Tarilk Abouzied is a groove based player with tentacles in jazz, funk and fusion. The three together make for a funk based sound that can travel in a myriad of directions. The chemistry developed over years allows the band to create music in the moment that can morph into different forms on different nights. 

This is a great opportunity to see Doria perform outside of the Seamonster. While that venue is a great spot, SJF provides a room where people listen and the music is THE thing.

Alex Baird

Sat Jun 22, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Vocalist Alex Baird has risen to a degree of prominence on the local scene with her participation in the up and coming label, Next Music. Under the direction of the highly regarded vocalist Jeff Baker, she released Lemon Tree, enlisting the help of pianist Darrell Grant, bassist Clark Sommers and trumpeter Thomas Marriott among others. For this evening of original music / lyrics and standards, she brings in pianist Mack Grout and guitarist Demarcus Baysmore to join the top shelf back line of bassist Michael Glynn and drummer Max Holmberg

To this point, it has not been easy to see Baird perform in Seattle. This is a great opportunity to become acquainted with the native Seattleite, if you are not already. More importantly, it’s a good opportunity for Baird to get to know the Seattle jazz community on a more intimate level, the best way she knows how- the very intimate art form that is jazz vocals.

Rocky Martin: Fourager / Roman Goron Trio

Thu Jun 27, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship- 109 S. Main St.

Drummer / composer Rocky Martin presents his project, Forager, or Fourager– a project that could best be described as jazz infused with whatever Martin is delving into, in the moment. The approach is more cultural than musical in some ways, with all life infusing influences in play. The quartet for its part, is a highly skilled lot. Jackson Cotugno, the young and in demand tenor saxophonist, stakes out territory on the front line, with guitarist Martin Budde and bassist Julian Wiseman joining Martin in the rhythm section. 

Young, up and coming pianist Roman Goron makes his debut as a leader, after appearing at SJF with trumpeter Carter Eng. Goron leads a formidable trio with bassist Trevor Ford and drummer Yoshi Stroh, performing originals and selected standards. This is a good opportunity to get to know the eighteen year old pianist, as well as the young musicians of Fourager. A well curated and interesting double bill.

Friendship Trio with Ben Feldman, Jenny Xu & Kofi Shepsu

Fri & Sat Jun 28-29, 7:30 PM / Seattle Jazz Fellowship

Lyrical bassist Ben Feldman began making a name for himself as a high school aged Chuck Deardorf student in Seattle. He now has been in New York City for five years, earning a degree from the Manhattan School of Music and making a name for himself on the scene there. Now in the Masters program at Julliard, Feldman has grown into an artist on the rise in rapid fashion. Friendship Trio is an equal partnered piano trio that features pianist Jenny Xu and drummer Kofi Shepsu

I would describe this version of the traditional jazz piano trio as being, “emotionally unpredictable”– and this is where the fun begins. This characterization might be more closely related to pianist Xu, but there is an underlying honesty and loosely fitting harmony between the three participants. It feels like a conversation between three close friends that nevertheless contains agreements, disagreements, resolutions and celebrations to boot. As SJF attendees recently learned from Feldman’s part in the weekend residency of Xavier Lecouturier, the bassist just continues his meteoric rise in his pursuit of excellence. Xu has played numerous gigs in Seattle, but this performance, in a room dedicated to listening, is perhaps the best opportunity to see her perform in a fertile environment on a good piano. The two night run is as always, an opportunity for a band to dive deep into the music.

Seattle Jazz Fellowship Presents: Orrin Evans & The Captain Black Big Band

“While the nonprofit has been acknowledged for providing a place for the resident Seattle jazz to thrive, it is equally important to note the Fellowship’s work in caring for the music itself.”

The Seattle Jazz Fellowship, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded by trumpeter Thomas Marriott, was created in response to the loss of viable jazz stages showcasing the vibrant resident jazz scene in Seattle. While local jazz musicians and fans alike mourned the downfall of longtime resident haunts such as the New Orleans club and Tula’s Jazz Club, Marriott and a supportive group of like-minded community members sought an alternative to the traditional jazz supper club personified by the aforementioned institutions. Gentrification of the downtown core of the city had driven rents to such a level that sustaining a club that could also serve as a community hub had become difficult at best. Food and liquor sales became the life blood of these attempts, driving up the price of access to jazz fans, while wages for musicians hung at early 1980’s levels. Worse yet, musicians had to rely on the door or ticket receipts to be paid at all. Like many jazz scenes around the country not based in New York City, the best musicians had to leave town to have any hope of earning a living as a professional jazz musician. The story of the Seattle Jazz Fellowship (SJF) and its guiding principles first appeared in All About Jazz in February, 2022, in the article Seattle Jazz Fellowship: A New Beginning For Live Resident Jazz . To continue reading, click here