With summer gone and a long winter ahead, October is always one of the most beautiful months of the year in the Pacific Northwest. To add to the mix, the Earshot Jazz Festival has plenty of things to share to keep us all busy and interested. Between the annual festival, the Seattle Jazz Fellowship and Jazz Alley, we have things about covered. More than ever, please understand that these are gigs that I can personally recommend–I’m not taking a bow to popularity, what is trending, or any other element to distract from the music itself. Many nights this month, there are multiple gigs that are engaging- a nice problem to have. We’ll start with the Fellowship, then the festival, followed by fine performances outside the format of either. See you out there!
Seattle Jazz Fellowship: Fellowship Wednesdays at Vermillion
KJS featuring Steve Korn, Jeff Johnson & Marc Seales
Wed Oct 4, 7:30 PM/ Vermillion
Three of Seattle’s historical best explore the freedom of the jazz trio. Pianist Marc Seales, Bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer Steve Korn all have a reputation for listening and participating in group mind, and compose their original works accordingly. Johnson is a transcendent figure on an international scale as a bassist in this format, having anchored the trios of Hal Galper, Jessica Williams, Chano Dominguez and many others. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events
Atlantic Road Trip with Chad McCullough
Wed Oct 11, 7:30 PM/ Vermillion
Atlantic Road Trip is an international project featuring artists from Europe and America, that create a fusion of traditional indigenous folk musics from Scotland, Ireland and Slovakia, imagined through the lens of American jazz and improvised music. Seattle’s own Chad McCullough, now based in Chicago, is featured on trumpet. Paul Towndrow is the interface with folk forms of the British Isles, playing whistles, flutes and saxophone. Vibraphonist Miro Herak adds a unique timbre to the band’s sound. Bassist Lawrence Kohut and drummer Jon Deitemyer are the ties that bind. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events
Naomi Moon Siegel Septet
Wed Oct 18, 7:30 PM/ Vermillion
Trombonist/composer Naomi Siegel left Seattle a while back, relocating to Montana. When she comes back to visit, it is always an occasion for her to put together a killing band to perform her original tunes that speak to jazz with folk and classical elements in the mix. The real objective is spontaneous composition with this band of stellar improvisors. Siegel is joined on the frontline by trumpeter Ray Larsen and guitarist Andy Coe. The back three is sensational, with pianist Marina Albero, bassist Kelsey Mines and drummer Christopher Icasiano. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events
Matt Jorgensen Quintet
Wed Oct 25, 7:30 PM/ Vermillion
Drummer/composer Matt Jorgensen has been laying low in terms of live performance the past few years, and is dedicated to playing more going forward. That’s good news for the Seattle jazz scene. One of the most innovative drummers and imaginative composers in the PNW, Jorgensen teams up with longtime mate in alto saxophonist Mark Taylor, half of a two saxophone front with young tenorist Jackson Cotugno. Pianist Dylan Hayes brings a composer’s mind to the keyboard, teaming with bassist Kelsey Mines in a rhythm section with the leader Jorgensen. This lineup just seems like a good match–the sparks should fly. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events
Earshot Jazz Festival 2023: We Recommend
Alex Dugdale Funk Band
Fri Oct 6, 7:30 PM/ Town Hall Forum
Seattle jazz fans are accustomed to seeing saxophonist Alex Dugdale in swing mode, playing his brand of hard bop. Here, he explores his funk persona with a large band big on horns and deep in the rhythm. The opening set of the 2023 Earshot Jazz Festival features Seattle headliners D’Vonne Lewis (drums), Kelsey Mines (bass), Jun Iida (trumpet), Freddy Fuego (trombone) and lead trumpet Walter Cano. The Forum may be an odd fit, unless it’s set up for dancing. https://www.earshot.org/event/alex-dugdale-funk-band/
Gretchen Parlato & Lionel Loueke
Wed Oct 11, 7:30 PM/ Triple Door
The culmination of twenty years of friendship, vocalist Gretchen Parlato and guitarist Lionel Loueke forge their longtime association into an intimate, explorative musical conversation. The two met as part of the Thelonious Monk Institute, with Parlato winning the jazz vocal competition there. Loueke has gone on to work extensively with Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland and Terence Blanchard. They will perform music from their duo project, Lean In. The music bears the weight of the events of the past three years The sonic connection that binds this duo is bound to create something dynamic for the audience. https://www.earshot.org/event/gretchen-parlato-lionel-loueke/
Thomas Marriott Special Quartet
Thu Oct 12, 7:30 PM/ Town Hall Forum
Good to see Seattle trumpeter Thomas Marriott back on the festival bill, this time headlining an all-star quartet performing his original music. Marriott has produced fourteen albums as a leader and is the driving force behind the Seattle Jazz Fellowship. Frankly, he is one of the best trumpeters walking on two legs, and perhaps one of the most under-appreciated. The quartet chosen for this Earshot hit is emblematic of the work he has been doing over the past several years.
Drummer Roy McCurdy has played with the masters, and at eighty six years of age, he has played with many of the best in jazz history. His credits include long tenures in the bands of Sonny Rollins and Cannonball Adderly. Remarkably, he is still the same force behind the kit that he has always been, one of the great spirits of jazz music. Pianist George Colligan has an extensive recording catalog as a leader, and as a member of several prominent ensembles, including those of Jack DeJohnette. Bassist Eric Revis is a prominent leader and composer and the bassist of the vaunted Branford Marsalis Quartet. It is quite the convergence for a great set of modern, post-bop jazz.
This amounts to a celebration of Marriott’s extensive work as a jazz artist. The name Earshot came to be, meaning, “within earshot of Seattle.” Marriott is a historic musician within earshot of this town, and this gig is one not to miss. https://www.earshot.org/event/thomas-marriott-all-star-quartet/
Tina Raymond Trio
Fri Oct 13, 7:30 PM/ Royal Room
Drummer Tina Raymond has been a known quantity for a little while now, but her work with the Esthesis Quartet opened my eyes a bit wider to her skills. Having to bob and weave through the band’s intricate passages, both ghostly quiet and hurricane fierce, Raymond was the grounding force of her three atmospheric partners. Working in the intimate Columbia City digs at The Royal Room, Raymond brings a guitar trio to town featuring guitarist Andrew Renfroe and bassist Karl McComas- Reicht. They will perform music from their upcoming release titled Divinations for Imani Records. https://www.earshot.org/event/tina-raymond-trio/
Jun Iida Sextet
Thu Oct 19, 8:30 pm/ Clock-Out Lounge
Trumpeter Jun Iida emerged as the city began to bounce back from the pandemic. He had recently moved here from Los Angeles, and was in active search mode to connect with the scene here in Seattle. He has done that nicely. Iida will be releasing his debut album on the highly regarded Origin Records label in January, and celebrates just that with this Earshot neighborhood hit at the Clock Out.
First of all, as a Beacon Hill resident, it is wonderful to see the music performed in this great south end neighborhood. While the Clockout lacks a suitable piano. and has seldom if ever hosted live jazz, it has a sizeable south end vibe that is unique and special. Marina Albero joins on keyboards, with bassist Kelsey Mines and drummer Xavier Lecouturier rounding out the rhythm section. Guitarist Masami Kuroki makes his way up from LA to join and essentially join the front line. Iida has a refined sound gained from his original quest as a classical player. As a jazz player, he always seems to play a bit behind the beat and then gain on it dynamically. He has a natural feel for melody in his lines, something that also speaks to his original tunes. https://www.earshot.org/event/jun-iida-sextet/
Todd Sickafoose’s Bear Proof
Fri Oct 20, 7:30 PM/ Town Hall Forum
To be perfectly honest, what caught my eye about this gig was that Seattle native and NYC resident Carmen Staaf is touring with the band as its pianist. Staaf has had remarkable success since leaving her hometown, including her duo with Allison Miller and as music director/pianist with Dee Dee Bridgewater. This is not to take anything away from Grammy and Tony winning artist Todd Sickafoose.
Producer, arranger, orchestrator, bandleader and double bassist Sickafoose leads his band dubbed Tiny Resistors here, an odd contraption of folk, indie rock, jazz and chamber music. The large ensemble is brilliant both orchestrally, and in terms of soloing, on a case by case basis. With Staaf on piano, drummer Allison Miller joins her duo partner with Sickafoose on the back line, with an orchestral mix of violinist Jenny Scheinman, guitarist Adam Levy, clarinetist Ben Goldberg, cornetist Kirk Knuffe and accordionist Rob Reich. They will perform music from their new album, Bearproof. https://www.earshot.org/event/todd-sickafooses-bear-proof/
Elsa Nilsson: Band of Pulses
Sat Oct 21, 7:30 PM/ Town Hall Forum
Flutist Elsa Nilsson has Seattle ties, as a student at Cornish College of the Arts. Originally from Sweden, Seattle area fans knew her as a frequent guest of the Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto. After a move to New York, she has slowly worked her way into being considered one of the most innovative practitioners of her instrument, involving herself in a number of eye opening projects.
Nilsson performed at last year’s festival as a member of the Esthesis Quartet with Dawn Clement. With this band, dubbed Band of Pulses, she explores the works of Maya Angelou utilizing Angelou’s actual voice in the mix. The set list is all inspired by the iconic poet, and includes a musical interpretation of her poem, “On The Pulse of Morning.” Nilsson won a grant through the Chamber Music America New Works program, and includes the right to enhance the performance with Anjelou’s voice. The ensemble includes pianist Santiago Liebson, drummer Rodrigo Recabarren, and bassist Marty Kenney. https://www.earshot.org/event/elsa-nilsson-band-of-pulses-jahnvi-madan/
Linda May Han Oh and Fabian Almazan
Sun Oct 22, 7:30 PM/ Town Hall Forum
Bassist/composer Linda May Han Oh and pianist Fabian Almazan have been on a musical journey together for more than a decade, along the way gaining acclaim as both innovative instrumentalists and groundbreaking composers. Their music is explorative and modern, without the slightest hint of pretension. While both can swing with authority, or play original compositions with an abundance of harmonic space, each plays with an almost tidal sense of time. The object is more about beauty and spiritual refinement than a blaring demonstration of instrumental prowess–but yes, they can do that too. Drummer Christian McGhee is a remarkable musician who is so much more than a traditional timekeeper. He is pursuing melodic notions just as much as Oh and Almazan, with alto saxophonist Greg Ward being the fortunate recipient of license to play off the edge a bit. The intimate Forum at Town Hall is a perfect launching pad for this music. https://www.earshot.org/event/linda-may-han-oh-and-fabian-almazan/
Celebrating Mary Lou Williams, An Evening of Live Performance and Film
Wed Oct 25, 7:30 PM/ Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute
Pianist Ann Reynolds has been focused on playing in tribute to some of the great female performers in jazz history over the past two years, both in performance and in the studio. She has been writing her own music inspired by these icons, with none being more important than the great Mary Lou Williams. For Earshot, Reynolds teams with producer and director Kay D. Ray in creating a multi-media homage to Williams, which includes live performance and film.
The live performances will be mixed with archival film segments that include interviews and rare live performance footage. Reynolds will share the piano bench with Alex Guilbert, Kent Stevenson and Nelda Swiggett. Heather Chriscaden holds on to the groove on bass, and drummer Maria Wulf shares time behind the drum kit with Steven Banks. Freddy Fuego provides color on trombone and flute, while Reggie Garrett supplies the vocals. This program is an excellent match with Langston both in terms of programming and the building itself. https://www.earshot.org/event/celebrating-mary-lou-williams-an-evening-of-live-performance-and-film/
Monday Night Jam at the Royal Room with Thomas Marriott
Mondays at 9 PM/ Royal Room
The Monday night jam is back at The Royal Room, beginning at 9 PM with Thomas Marriott as host. It gives Seattle a one-two punch with the Owl ‘n Thistle jam following on Tuesday night. Marriott’s Monday tilt has the advantage of being all ages, not to mention a legit piano and back line. Working off a sign up sheet, Marriott has done a fine job getting everyone on stage in a workable environment. Bring your chops, as this session attracts a lot of good players, both young and older. Check out what Wayne Horvitz has cookin’ prior to the jam at 7 PM. New Music Mondays is offered by the South Hudson Music Project. Don’t forget to support the night with your donation. https://theroyalroomseattle.com/event/royal-room-jazz-jam-session-hosted-by-thomas-marriott/?instance_id=3135