On the Scene: Live Jazz Previews for October- The Earshot Jazz Festival and Beyond

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

Photo Credit” Steve Korn

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

Photo Credit: Paul Towndrow

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

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

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 Icasianohttps://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

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

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

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/

Photo Credit: Lisa hagen Glynn

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/

Photo Credit: Jose Perez

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/

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

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/

Photo Credit:  johnrogersnyc.com

 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/

Photo Credit: NPR

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/

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

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


On the Scene: Live Jazz Previews for September

The month of September is one of transition. On the Seattle jazz scene it is that month that precedes the deluge of live jazz opportunity provided by the annual Earshot Jazz Festival in October. Once again, it is a month of quality jazz programming around the city, Here is a variety of gigs to attend–but don’t stop here. While I have plucked some fine sounds happening here over the course of the month, I encourage you to dig even deeper–you’re bound to find a great reason to get out of the house and support live jazz music in Seattle!

Seattle Jazz Fellowship: Fellowship Wednesdays at Vermillion

Presenting the best of the resident Seattle jazz scene with frequent out of town guests, the tiny brick lined room on Capitol Hill will be jumpin’ in September. Each Wednesday curator Thomas Marriott provides a stage for the active members of the local scene to perform. Here are the selections for September. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/events

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Benefit for Julian Priester with guest Emcee Christian McBride

MON, SEP 25, 2023, 7:30 PM/ Jazz Alley

From the Jazz Alley calendar:

On July 4 of this year, five days after his 88th birthday, Julian suffered a heart attack. He is recovering nicely, and promises to return. Julian will require a lengthy rehab. Your ticket price will go to the benefit of Mr. Priester

Dimitiriou’s Jazz Alley presents in conjunction with the Seattle Jazz Community, a jazz benefit fundraiser for Julian Priester, Emcee’d by Christian McBride. Doors open at 6:00pm. Show starts at 7:30pm.Thomas Marriott will be Music Director for the evening. The Seattle Jazz Fellowship ‘Ceptet under his direction will be performing the compositions of Julian Priester. “Priester’s Cue, with Dawn Clement, Byron Vannoy, Geoff Harper, plus special guests will make this a celebration of Julian Priester.

Julian is one of the great trombonists. He’s worked many jazz legends including Sun Ra and Muddy Waters, Dinah Washington, Lionel Hampton, Max Roach, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, Sam Rivers. In addition to being a distinct soloist and valued sideman, he’s also a bandleader and composer of note.

A native of Chicago, Julian is a graduate of the famous DuSable High School. While a teenager, he worked in Sun Ra’s experimental band, and walked onto the stages of South Side blues clubs to play with Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters. In 1958 he moved to New York, toured with Lionel Hampton and Dinah Washington, then spent four years as a front-line player with Max Roach. During the fertile New York jazz scene of the Sixties, he participated in some of the most important recordings of the era, including John Coltrane’s “Africa Brass,” Booker Little’s “Out Front,” and Max Roach’s “Freedom Now – We Insist.” Julian also recorded two albums for Riverside as a leader.

When Max Roach disbanded in 1964, Julian worked in a variety of settings, including a stint with Ray Charles, work in the house band of Chess Records where he recorded “Rescue Me” with Fontella Bass, and a job in the pit orchestra for the Broadway show “Promises, Promises.” Duke Ellington called and he spent six months in 1970 learning from the master. His career took a new spin when he joined Herbie Hancock’s “Mwandishi” band – a bold mixture of group improvisation and electronics. During the 70s, he recorded the highly-regarded “Love, Love” and “Polarization” albums for ECM Records.

In 1979, Julian moved to Seattle to take a position of Professor of Jazz Trombone at Cornish College of the Arts. In a career spanning seven decades, Julian has spent more thanfour of them in Seattle, where he’s been an important presence in the community. Through both his playing and teaching, he has imparted his vast knowledge to new generations of students and listeners. Julian has been the Artist in Residence of the Seattle Jazz Fellowship since its inception. In their series of Listening Sessions, Julian has regaled the audience with tales of recording some of the most important albums in jazz. He’s dedicated to passing the jazz tradition forward. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=7487

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

James Falzone New Quintet

Carter Eng Quintet

Wed Sept 27, 7:30 PM/ Vermillion

James Falzone is an improvising clarinetist of the highest caliber. Since his arrival in Seattle, he has appeared in a number of ensembles, most notably his duo with bassist Katie Ernst, Wayfaring. His music occupies a space between jazz, classical and free improvisational forms. While much of his music is atmospheric and spacious, Falzone is not opposed to taking things to their absolute breaking point and beyond. He has a wondrous, wooden sound and vibrant musical imagination that speaks to his composing, and his spontaneous composing as an improvisor. 

Falzone appears on this gig with a like minded crew, but one that reaches more into his jazz bag. Pianist Tim Kennedy is one of the finest modern jazz pianists in the city, playing with his own trio, or as a member of Thomas Marriott’s band. He does have a keen fascination with outside forms and others more conventional. Bassist Kelsey Mines can swing, play solo bass, perform classical–we’ve witnessed all of this, as she creates a personal voice that has truly risen to the surface. Trumpeter Ray Larsen might seem like one of the “usual suspects” in Falzone’s Seattle formed ensembles and you would be correct. He has a very unique and recognizable sound that can be fat and swinging, or crisp and light. As an improviser, his vocabulary is wide reaching and melodic. Young drummer Rocky Martin is just getting his feet wet in Seattle, and is in constant search mode as a drummer. He always seems to find ways to surprise an audience with something unique and deeply rooted. It’s good to see Falzone showing an interest in his playing.

For openers, trumpeter Carter Eng has returned to Seattle from studying in San Francisco and makes his Seattle Jazz Fellowship debut leading a quintet of young players, and a veteran artist of note. Pianist Marina Albero brings remarkable imagination and facility to the set, as well as a world of influences. Bassist Alex Dyring and drummer Avery Clarke are younger players on the rise on the Seattle scene. Tenor saxophonist Jackson Cotugno fits into the same age category, but has garnered a lot of performance credits over the past three years that have established him as a fixture on his instrument on city stages. His sound is fluid and boldly stated. Eng has developed into a fine player, and is commited to staying in town. It should be fun seeing him evolve as an artist, and a bandleader.

Spanish Harlem Orchestra

Thu Sept 21- Sun Sept 24, 7:30 & 9:30 PM/ Jazz Alley

One of the premier Latin Jazz bands on the planet, pianist/musical director Oscar Hernandez brings this dynamic 12 piece ensemble to Jazz Alley. Hernandez and the band are friends to Seattle, and for this show, employ two of its best musicians. Lead vocalist Carlos Cascante and trumpeter Thomas Marriott are on the gig, along with another friend of Seattle, trombonist Doug Beavers

Now twenty years into their journey, SHO is still dedicated to the legacy of salsa dura, the music of Spanish Harlem in NYC. The band comes at you full force, and never takes lets off the gas. It can as well sound romantic and tender. No matter the tempo or form, there is great emotion and life affirming qualities in their presentation. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=7481

Christian McBride New Jawn Quartet

Tue Sept 26- Wed Sept 27, 7:30 PM & 9:30 PM/ Jazz Alley

Bassist Christian McBride is a large presence in modern jazz, both as a bandleading bassist and composer and as a radio host and creative director of the Newport Jazz Festival among many other positions as an advocate for the music. His New Jawn quartet is his “new thing,” a band designed to remove harmonic limitations and open things up for interpretation. Saxophonist Marcus Strickland, trumpeter Josh Evans and drummer Nasheet Waits are perfect partners to that end. Each possesses a personal style that speaks to spontaneous innovations within a tune, in this case, many of McBride’s original pieces. But New Jawn also is open to interpretations of compositions from legends Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman and Larry Young. Inspired last week of the month at JA! https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=7455

Samara Joy

Thu Sept 28- Sun Oct 1, 7:30 PM & 9:30 PM/ Jazz Alley

Grammy winning, 23 year old vocalist Samara Joy hits Jazz Alley fronting what amounts to an octet. How wonderful does that sound? In a rare turnabout from typical touring fare, the vocal artist adds to her rhythm section of pianist Connor Rohrer, bassist Michael Migliore, and drummer Evan Sherman. Trumpeter Jason Charos, altoist David Mason, tenorist Kendrick McCallister and trombonist Donavan Austin round out the band. 

Joy’s career has centered on jazz standards, evoking comparison to Sarah Vaughn. She has a familial background in gospel, something that adds a quality to her approach that becomes beyond ordinary and special. That alone is reason to attend, as there is not a long history to draw from, or a variety of stylistic choices to be made. This is one for the ear test only accessible in performance. Take the plunge. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=7463

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt
Photo Credit: Daniel Sheehan

The Marriott Brothers Revival & Cory Weeds Quintet with Steve Davis

Thu Sept 28, 7:30 PM/ Royal Room

The Marriott brothers, trumpeter Thomas and trombonist David, Jr., put a band together in 1996 prior to departing for New York. Now twenty seven years later, the lads reconvene, and put together a band that includes original member Joe Doria on Hammond B-3 organ. Tim Kennedy joins on keyboards, with bassist Michael Glynn and drummer Xavier Lecouturier. 

Vancouver alto saxophonist Cory Weeds opens the show with a band featuring trombonist and Jazz Messenger, Steve Davis. Tony Foster joins on piano with drummer Matt Jorgensen and bassist Michael Glynn pulling double duty. Excellent trombone night, with Seattle’s best in Marriott, and New York’s Davis. Nothing but fun here. https://www.strangertickets.com/events/142022678/the-marriott-brothers-revival-cory-weeds-quintet-w-steve-davis

In Photos: Maria Schneider Orchestra at Town Hall Seattle

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

When the Covid-10 pandemic shut down the world as we know it in the spring of 2020, the jazz scene in Seattle retreated into isolation, including dates that would have seen top touring bands appear in the city. Perhaps most notable of these missing dates was the Earshot Jazz presentation of the seven time Grammy winning Maria Schneider Orchestra, slated to appear in the Great Hall at Town Hall Seattle. It served then, as a large measure of social healing when the orchestra at last appeared in the historic hall on February 28, 2023, some three years delayed by the hundred year pandemic. An enthusiastic house of seven hundred patrons greeted the full New York ensemble, led by NEA Jazz Master, Maria Schneider, herself.

While hosting jazz legend is not a foreign entity to the city of Seattle, the receivership of the entirety of an eighteen member ensemble such as this is a rarity indeed. The price tag for a national tour of a large ensemble of this magnitude is indeed high, making such a phenomena practically non-existent. With Earshot picking up the tab, the Seattle audience needed to do its share by purchasing tickets, which in fact, it did. The stage was set for a historic evening that seemed to arrive at the perfect time, hastening our recovery from post-pandemic lethargy.

Schneider led the band through her highly visual compositions, including those on her Pulitzer nominated most recent release, Data Lords, and her pastoral masterpiece, The Thompson Fields. The band roster was full of some of the genre’s most notable stars, most of whom have been constants in Schneider’s band for more than a decade. The band in full: Saxophones: Rich Perry (tenor), Dave Pietro (alto), Steve Wilson (alto), Donny McCaslin (tenor), Scott Robinson (bari); Trombones: Ryan Keberle, Keigth O’Quinn, Marshall Gilges, George Flynn (bass); Trumpets: Mike Rodriguez, Greg Gisbert, Michael Dudley, Nadje Noordhuis; Accordion: Julien Labro; Guitar: Ben Monder; Piano: Gary Versace; Bass: Jay Anderson; Drums: Johnathan Blake; Sound Engineer: Fred Vogler.

Captured vividly by ace stage photogs Jim Levitt and Lisa Hagen Glynn, one can almost hear Schneider’s highly visual melodies emanating from the images. Many thanks to Jim and Lisa for generously and graciously lending us their time and talents. While many decades of Seattle’s vibrant jazz history is shrouded in mystery in lacking photographic documentation, the current era of Seattle jazz bears no such distinction. Jim and Lisa seem to be everywhere, and at the same time, respectfully hidden in the shadows of a performance. They have perfected the art of non-intrusion as far as the audience is concerned. Their colorful and emotive images add a dimension to written documentation of the scene that brings the events and characters of subject to vivid life. If you attended the concert, allow these images to refresh your memory. If unable to attend, witness some of the energy and beauty that filled the Great Hall on this one, very special evening.

Drummer Jonathan Blake (Jim Levitt)
Steve Wilson (Clarinet), Donny McCaslin (tenor saxophone)- (Jim Levitt)
Guitarist Ben Monder (Jim Levitt)
Baritone Saxophonist Scott Robinson (Jim Levitt)
Saxophonist Steve Wilson on soprano (Jim Levitt)
Photo Credit: Jim Levitt
Rich Perry tenor solo (Jim Levitt)
The rhythm section- Julien Labro (acordion), Ben Monder (guitar), Johnathan Blake (drums), Jay Anderson (bass). (Jim Levitt)
The Maria Schneider Orchestra (Jim Levitt)
Maria Schneider (Jim Levitt)
Trumpeter  Nadje Noordhuis (Jim Levitt)
Steve Wilson soprano solo (Jim Levitt)
Donny McCaslin and Maria Schneider (Jim Levitt)
Pianist Gary Versace (Jim Levitt)
Maria Schneider (Jim Levitt)
Trombonist Ryan Keberle (Jim Levitt)
Ryan Keberle solo (Jim Levitt)
Trombonist Marshall Gilges (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Acordionist Julien Labro (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Maria Schneider (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Saxophone section: L to R- Dave Pietro, Steve Wilson, Donny McCaslin, Scott Robinson (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
All eyes on the director (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Alto saxophonist Dave Pietro (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Maria Schneider (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
The Maria Schneider Orchestra at Town Hall. Best shot of the lot! (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Alto saxophone master, Steve Wilson (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Drummer Johnathan Blake (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Pianist Gary Versace (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Guitarist Ben Monder (Lisa Hagen Glynn)
Maria Schneider and Earshot director, John Gilbreath (Jim Levitt)

Thomas Marriott Album Release: “Live From the Heatdome”

The Thomas Marriott Quartet featuring Orrin Evans, Essiet Essiet and Mark Whitfield, Jr. play to a full house at Jazz Alley

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Night after night, week after week, jazz performances take place in the city of Seattle that inspire the local jazz community. They take place in clubs, dive bars, theaters and concert halls, featuring national and international jazz artists as well as prominent resident artists from the dynamic Seattle jazz scene. On occasion, an individual jazz performance serves as a signpost of things to come. The September 26 performance of the Thomas Marriott Quartet at Jazz Alley was all of the above. Marriott had assembled a stellar quartet to celebrate the release of his fourteenth album as a leader, Live From the Heatdome (Imani, 2022).

The stage at Jazz Alley has seen the best of the best since its opening in 1980 as an intimate bistro in the University District. For the first six years of the club, it was common to see an artist of international prominence perform with a supporting cast of Seattle jazzers such as Chuck Deardorf, Dean Hodges, Marc Seales and Jerry Granelli among others. After moving to its more spacious digs downtown in 1986, full touring bands were and are featured, with Seattle based performances becoming less common. Over the years, there have been periods when Monday nights were reserved for the local scene, either in the form of an individual artist’s show, or a jam session that featured top Seattle players such as Hadley Caliman and Don Lanphere. Taking on Marriott’s album release was a rarity that needed support from the Seattle jazz community. That support was received in abundance with the club nearly full house. 

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Marriott has had a musical connection with Philadelphia based pianist Orrin Evans since a chance meeting at a jazz festival in Idaho over a decade ago. Live From the Heat Dome is the fourth release from the trumpeter that features Evans. His appearance, along with legendary bassist Essiet Essiet and sensational drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr., gave the performance a huge kickstart, with Marriott delivering a top flight performance of original tunes and a triad of well chosen standards. 

The quartet started with Marriott’s “Tale of Debauchery,” extracted from his Urban Folklore (Origin, 2014) album that featured Evans on piano. On this evening, it served as a vehicle for Marriott to find his sound and cadence, serving up a long solo that began with longer tones and finished with a flurry of rapid fire runs. Evans, Essiet and Whitfield were immediately playful with the tune, something that would continue throughout the ninety minute set in plenitud. 

Orrin Evans and Thomas Marriott. Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

“Front Row Family,” an ode to Marriott’s uber-supportive family over the years, was a mood changer that featured his ultra refined trumpet tonality that served as a warm invite for the audience to join in the intimacy of the moment. Essiet’s solo was a telltale sign of his unique artistry, his exquisite sound framing intricate passages and chordal brilliance. Marriott for his part appeared to be just getting started, not quite unleashing the hounds, so to speak. 

“Mo-Joe,” Marriott’s homage to vibraphonist Joe Locke pushed the set forward into an uptempo, swinging foray into his post-bop, modernist leanings. His solo and that of Evans were telltale statements of their deep connection to the blues and the swing rhythm that defines the Black American art form they so ably express. Just as strongly, Evans launched into a quiet, beautifully harmonic intro to Marriott’s “Chick’s Lullaby,” serving as a beautiful interlude of quiet focus and meditative thought. In a tune dedicated to his wife, Marriott’s muted soliloquy was embracingly romantic and had a magical impact on the audience, roping them into the emotional aspect of the performance.

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Essiet’s thunderous intro to Wayne Shorter’s “General Assembly,” served as a passageway to melodic freedom for the quartet, with Marriott’s searing solo setting the bar high for his positively respondent bandmates. Evans has always had a percussive aspect to his playing that has supplied a degree of separation between him and the majority of pianists in modern jazz. His solo seemed to ignite Whitfield on drums, whose focused intensity and supportive dynamics were unabashedly a highlight of the entire performance. In essence, Shorter’s thunderous composition seemed to light the fuse for the next few tunes. Easing into Vernon Duke’s classic, “I Can’t Get Started,” the quartet seemed to settle into a comfortable place with Evan’s playfully daring solo and Essiet’s beautifully pensive offering leading the way. 

Jazz great Julian Priester stageside at Jazz Alley Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

“The Joint Chiefs,” which appears on Live From the Heatdome, and “Both Sides of the Fence,” the title track from Marriott’s 2007 release, operated at an elevated degree of intensity and featured Whitfield’s spirited playing. Marriott and Evans exchanged glancing blows back and forth with the young drummer, the spirited response of the near capacity crowd seemingly lifting the roof off the place. The finale, Duke Ellington’s “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be,” was a fitting ending for the band, wrapping up their fourth consecutive night on a high. The foursome had spent two nights at Frankie’s in Vancouver, followed by a night in Bellingham. They had earned their repose. 

Thomas Marriott Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

Jazz Alley has never been much of a “hang” spot after a gig since the U District days when it was all of that. This evening was an exception, with an audience that represented a broad cross-section of the Seattle jazz community. It seemed everyone wanted a piece of the trumpeter, a prime indicator of the love and respect that Marriott inspires in his home town. With community elders like Julian Priester, Jim Wilkie and Marvin Thomas in the room and many of the city’s prominent jazz musicians as well, the respect factor was plainly evident. As far as the love factor, that was something felt upon entering the room, was elevated by the performance, and expressed with warm embraces post-show. For anyone that has spent any amount of time on the Seattle jazz scene, and at Jazz Alley in particular, this was a beautiful and welcoming sight. Let’s hope it portends to a re-ignited relationship between Seattle’s best jazz musicians, and its city’s most renowned stage. 

On the hang: Thomas Marriott, Lisa Chick, Orrin Evans. Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

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 https://www.allaboutjazz.com/seattle-jazz-fellowship-presents-orrin-evans-and-the-captain-black-big-band-captain-black-big-band

Seattle Jazz Fellowship’s Saturday Jazz Matinee

The jazz non-profit hits it out of the park presenting piano great George Cables and his trio, with the Fellowship ‘Ceptet

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn



Trumpeter and Seattle Jazz Fellowship founder Thomas Marriott is always on the lookout to bring to life ideas that further the goals of the Fellowship. The principle of lowering barriers to access was practiced in booking The George Cables Trio alongside the non-profit’s Fellowship ‘Ceptet for a 1 PM jazz matinee, a promotional risk of sorts. The Saturday tilt would allow more students to attend, as well as families. Then there are those that are reticent about venturing out at night, when most of the music takes place on the Seattle jazz scene, or for that matter, any local jazz scene. 

The show was made possible by a generous donation from Bob and Sue Frause, friends of Marriott’s late parents David and Helen Marriott. The Marriotts were hugely influential in their support for jazz in Seattle, and the Frause family wanted to both support the Fellowship and memorialize David and Helen in some way. Cables was a favorite of theirs, and a dear friend. There was never any doubt as to who their son wanted to bring in to perform. Cables would add drummer Jerome Jennings from New York, and Seattle jazz legend Chuck Deardorf on bass, a long-time friend. Marriott decided to include a key mentorship project of the Seattle Jazz Fellowship in the billing–the Marriott led Fellowship ‘Ceptet.

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

“We decided to include the ‘Ceptet in the event and to keep the price of the ticket down (and make it early) so we could use the event to further our goals of building community, increasing mentorship, incentivizing excellence and lowering barriers to access,” says Marriott.

The 1 PM start turned out to be agreeable to the Seattle jazz public, as the room filled to capacity in anticipation of two superb sets. The sun washed through the club’s windows looking out onto Rainier Ave, shadows cast across the room seldom seen before by patrons more accustomed to the club’s typical late night persona. The crowd was decidedly cross-generational, with families and students not normally associated with evening sessions at the club in attendance. They came for the music, as the Royal Room itself was not quite accustomed to an afternoon happening. The kitchen was closed, and one bartender was left to attend to the needs of a full house.

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

The Fellowship “Ceptet opened, featuring a line-up that spoke well to the non-profit’s premise. Marriott, along with drummer John Bishop, pianist Marc Seales and alto saxophonist Mark Taylor are four of the finest jazz musicians to emerge from the Seattle scene historically. Tenor saxophonist Jackson Cotugno, trombonist Beserat Tafesse and bassist Grace Kaste represented the new wave of jazz artistry in the city, with Kaste still a senior at Roosevelt HIgh School. All three would demonstrate to the audience that their inclusion was merited in terms of artistic facility. 

The band played a selection of Marriott originals, and a cover of Thelonious Monk’s “Ask Me Now.” Throughout the seven tunes selected, the band offered crisp arrangements and imaginative soloing. Immediately noticeable was the rhythm section, with Seattle stalwarts Bishop and Seales working seamlessly with Kaste. Kaste performed with the refinement and elegance of a veteran, much to the delight of Deardorf, her mentor since the age of thirteen in attendance. The front line responded to the strong vibe in the room with fire, queued by Marriott’s leadership, and most importantly his brilliant solo work. Taylor, who has been somewhat invisible the past few years from live performance in Seattle, played beautifully, with his trademark, original style on alto. Cotugno continued a somewhat meteoric visibility on the Seattle scene offering a modern approach, with a pre-bop sound that speaks to Ben Webster. Tafesse, who has been ever-present post-pandemic at area jam sessions, was in a way introduced to the jazz public at large, providing harmonic depth and spirited soloing. 

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

The set had a dynamic arc from start to finish. opening with “Fellowship Blues,” and delving into Marriott’s “Human Spirit,” and O.D.A.A.T (One Day at a Time). The Monk interlude was lush and spacious. It stood out in terms of arrangement, featuring a commonality between Marriott and his saxophone counterparts in Taylor and Cotugno–all three produce a rich tonality that fares well in moments of intensity, or those of melancholy. By the time the band arrived at Marriott’s “Stupor in D,” and “The Tale of Debauchery,” they had found a connective spirit that resonated well with an audience that was pleasingly dialed in. 

Pianist Cables at 78 years of age, still not only performs at a high and inspired level, but maintains the prowess he has demonstrated throughout his career without any signs of slowing down. His playing is crisp, brilliantly articulated and radiating with the joy that is an integral part of his personality both on and off the bandstand. 

The trio offered in depth interpretations of Wayne Shorter’s “Speak No Evil,” and Bill Strayhorn’s gorgeous “Lotus Flower,” with Cable’s playing accented perfectly by Deardorf’s seemingly effortless style. Jennings played as though delighted to be in the presence of the two jazz elders he would converse with over the ninety minute set. 

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt
Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

The standards “Too Close For Comfort,” and “Who Can I Turn Too” brought the audience to Cables’ romantic side, perhaps prepping them emotionally for his two originals he silently dedicated to his late wife. “Song For Helen,” and “My Muse” brought more than melancholy to the audience. Cables’ lush harmonies and sweeping, melodic runs spoke to fond remembrance, joy and gratitude. It reminded the attentive audience that they were in the company of one of the true giants of jazz music. The elders in the audience could think back to seeing the master as a sideman with the likes of Dexter Gordon and Art Pepper. With that, came the realization that Cables had joined the two saxophone icons as a true master of the form. His graciousness and humility was a true gift to the younger members of the audience, many of them musicians themselves. As young bassist Kaste learned on the bandstand, and many of her contemporaries witnessed in the audience, true mentorship and the process of paying dues in this music is done in the presence of the masters of the form. For this one afternoon, those lessons were communicated with unusual clarity. 

Photo Credit: Jim Levitt

The matinee portends good things for SJF, for what is to come down the road. With their weekly “Fellowship Wednesdays” commencing on April 20, the non-profit moves front and center in support of the resident jazz scene in Seattle. 


Seattle Jazz Fellowship Photo Gallery: Alex Claffy Quintet and The Fellowship ‘Ceptet at the Royal Room

The Seattle Jazz Fellowship, the city’s 501 (c) (3) jazz non-profit, has taken a hiatus from their weekly dates at Vermillion until April 20, when the Wednesday night program will re-ignite for another six week run. In the meantime, the organization founded by Thomas Marriott has turned its focus to presenting performances featuring the Fellowship ‘Ceptet, a rotating gathering of the best of the Seattle jazz scene. The seven piece ensemble opened for New York based bassist Alex Claffy and his quintet on Tuesday, February 8 at the Royal Room in Columbia City. 

The ‘Ceptet performed compositions by trumpeter Marriott, along with a Thelonious Monk classic. Marriott was joined by a front line of altoist Alex Dugdale, tenorist Jackson Cotugno and trombonist David Marriott, Jr.. Pianist Marina Albero, bassist Trevor Ford and drummer D’Vonne Lewis held down the rhythm section.

Claffy’s quintet featured Portland born and raised tenorist Nicole Glover, and trumpeter Benny Benack III. The New York based band was all in on the hang in Seattle as well, attending both the Monday night jam at the Royal Room, and the Tuesday night jam at the Owl ‘n Thistle. 

Photographers Jim Levitt and Lisa Hagen Glynn were there to document the event with their stellar photographic skill sets. Enjoy the results! To further explore the goings on with the Seattle Jazz Fellowship, visit their website at https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/

Photo Credit:
Lisa Hagen Glynn
Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn
Saxophonist Jackson Cotugno
Photo Credit:
Lisa Hagen Glynn
l to r: Alex Dugdale, Thomas Marriott, Jackson Cotugno, David Marriott
Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn
l to r: Nicole Glover, Alex Claffy
Photo Credit:
Lisa Hagen Glynn
Bassist Alex Claffy
Photo Credit:
Lisa Hagen Glynn
pianist Marina Albero
Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn
Trunmpeter Benny Benack III
Photo Credit:
Lisa Hagen Glynn
Photo Credit:
Lisa Hagen Glynn
Guest drummer Ted Poor
Photo Credit:
Jim Levitt
Drummer D’Vonne Lewis
Photo Credit: Jim Levitt
Pianist Marina Albero
Photo Credit:
Jim Levitt
Trumpeter and SJF founder Thomas Marriott

Jazz Returns to Seattle’s Central District: Two Evenings of Black Brilliance

Giveton Gelin                                                          Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

There is a miracle on the corner of 12th Avenue and Jackson St. in what is now Seattle’s “Little Saigon.” In what was a traditional African American and Jewish community before the influx of Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian immigrants after the war in Southeast Asia in the early 1980’s, this urban crossroads was the main pulse of an integrated nightclub scene in the 1930’s, ’40s and ’50s that featured dozens of late-night jazz clubs that not only housed the city’s thriving African American musicians, but attracted many musicians after hours from their respective gigs Downtown that featured only white audiences. 

A fully integrated jazz nightclub scene was a rarity on a national scale, perhaps only fully realized along Jackson Street in Seattle, and Central Avenue in Los Angeles. The respective scenes attracted Black musicians from the Jim Crow south, in search of work and the ability to achieve artistry untethered by the tyranny experienced in southern music cities such as Atlanta, Memphis and New Orleans. Even Jelly Roll Morton lived a spell in Seattle, as early as 1919. Neither prohibition, nor the Great Depression could cap the enthusiasm of the city’s bottle clubs along Jackson Street, many of which were operated by Black entrepreneurs. The most notable of these club owners was E. Russell “Noodles” Smith, who along with partner Burr “Blackie” Williams would operate the legendary Black and Tan nightclub in the basement of the aforementioned “miracle” on the corner of 12th and Jackson. In 1920, they opened The Entertainers Club in the upstairs portion of the building, and the late night Alhambra club in the basement. The downstairs nightspot then was renamed the Black and Tan, noted for its integrated, black and white clientele. Smith had arrived in Seattle in 1909, and had a sharp eye for business. With the town rife with cash from the shipyards and lumber mills following the Great War, Jackson Street was able to withstand the onslaught of prohibition, and later as mentioned, the Great Depression. To continue reading, click this link
https://www.allaboutjazz.com/jazz-returns-to-seattles-central-district-two-evenings-of-black-brilliance-immanuel-wilkins




Seattle Jazz Fellowship: One Small Step at Vermillion, One Giant Step for the Seattle Jazz Scene

Xavier Lecouturier Group performs at the first Seattle Jazz Fellowship “Fellowship Wednesday” event, at Vermillion Art Bar.Matt Williams, vibes;Noah Halpern, trumpet;Martin Budde, guitar;Dylan Hayes, piano;Xavier Lecouturier, drums;  Jinm Levitt photo

History and historical change happens incrementally. An able writer could expound exponentially about the life changes that added up to Louis Armstrong being the first great messenger of jazz music, step by step, before ever mentioning Duke Ellington. In the history of jazz in Seattle, one evening last week has the huge potential of being the first incremental phase of live, local jazz moving forward in the new jazz century, in such a way that allows more meaningful access for the fans, and a creative outlet for artists that compensates them fairly. It has the potential of uniting in a meaningful way, the musicians of this very social art form, and the patrons that support it. For those patrons, it as well allows them to put their hard earned dollars more directly into the musician’s pockets, impacting the creative process in such a way that positively leads to innovation in the music itself. For those of us who love the music, and see it as an integral part of our lives and culture, October 20, 2021 is the date where a giant step was taken towards a goal of vibrance and stability for the Seattle jazz scene. It was the first live incarnation of the Seattle Jazz Fellowship, and its weekly affair at Vermillion on Capitol Hill.

Trumpeter Thomas Marriott welcomes the audience to the first “Fellowship Wednesday” at Vermillion Art Bar, on behalf of the Seattle Jazz Fellowship. Jim Levitt photo

Trumpeter Thomas Marriott, one of the most impactful jazz musicians in recent Seattle memory, has envisioned a movement like this for a number of years. During the deepest, darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, he put his ideas on paper, effectively charting the future for post-pandemic, live, resident jazz in Seattle. With the eventual goal being a five night a week venture in a permanent home, the Seattle Jazz Fellowship has taken its first incremental step towards that goal, forming a Wednesday night partnership with Vermillion, an art gallery and bar that has mainly hosted music from the city’s avant-garde and improvised music community. Marriott purchased a piano and a PA system, and began operations in Vermillion’s brick lined digs. The room is quite vibrant acoustically, and the music was able to take place without electronic assistance with the exception of light amplification for bass and electric keyboards. The piano was not mic’d. 

The Marc Seales Group opens the first Seattle Jazz Fellowship “Fellowship Wednesday” event, at Vermillion Art Bar. Thomas Marriott, trumpet; Marc Seales, keyboards; Chuck Deardorf, bass; Gary Hobbs, drums;

As a 501(c)3 non-profit, the fellowship cannot charge a cover, but has a twenty dollar suggested donation that includes two sets of music from the best Seattle jazz has to offer. The programming however, actually starts in the afternoon at 5 PM, with a free listening event designed for students and jazz fans alike. Historic trombonist and jazz icon, Julian Priester, spends an hour playing albums he appears on, and discusses the historical aspects of that recording. Mr. Priester has appeared on albums and toured with Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, John Coltrane, Sun Ra, Herbie Hancock, Duke Ellington and more. His own records on ECM and Riverside will be explored as well. 

On his first go-around, Priester played and expounded on his 1960 Riverside date, Keep Swingin’, and shared wonderful stories about his time with such greats as Roach, Lincoln, and Tommy Flanagan. To sit in a quiet room, talking about a session that took place over sixty years ago with one of the participants was magical, an opportunity not to be missed. Unfortunately, the audience consisted of twenty six musicians, and not a single high school student. The hope is certainly that students will begin to take advantage of this rare opportunity to share time with Priester.

Gary Hiobbs (d), Chuck Deardorf (b)        Jim Levitt photo

At 7 PM, the club opened officially for an hour of hang time prior to the first set. Vermillion had been shuttered since the beginning of the pandemic, and it took a little work to create the space the event required. Many familiar faces checked in, as well as many new, young faces, all covered in masks. Vaccination ID was checked at the door, adding a layer of social comfort to the event. 

Xavier Lecouturier         Jim Levitt photo

From the first note, the room was resonant, the sound projecting out of the bar, and down the long corridor that is the art gallery. People walking through the front door could hear the acoustical brilliance of the room, with the piano of Marc Seales coloring the sound with gorgeous voicings. Drummer Gary Hobbs, up from Portland for the evening, chimed in at first, and then dug in, being his usual swinging self. So appropriately, bassist Chuck Deardorf was on the gig, and sounding better than ever, literally. Deardorf has been a first-call musician in this town since the early seventies, playing often at clubs like the original Jazz Alley in the U District, Parnell’s, The Rainbow and the Pioneer Banque, all of which are swept away into the dustbin of history. Marriott’s trumpet sound was in perfect tune with the physical aspects of the room, his resonant tone rising and projecting immensely. The quartet was in perfect tune with the human vibe in the room, as fifty people filled the tiny, brick lined digs at the Capitol Hill club. 

Noah Halpern                           Jim Levitt photo

A short break between sets provided more time for people to enjoy the fellowship of community, in many cases, greeting long time friends not seen since the pandemic shut down live music eighteen months ago. The diversity of the crowd itself was stunning in terms of age–being so indicative of the long term multi-generational nature of jazz scenes around the globe. Those attracted are not done so by generational trends, or corporatized marketing. The music is the thing, the appreciation of beauty, the immersion into something that elevates us emotionally and spiritually. There were no expensive dinners to buy, no craft cocktails required. Hungry patrons took advantage of Mario’s across the street. Vermillion owner Diana Adams provided drinks and friendly service. It was obvious she was there for the art, the music itself, just as everyone else in her bar. 

Xavier Lecouturier (d), Matt Williams (v), Noah Halpern (t)

Drummer/composer Xavier Lecouturier led his quartet the second set, a bassless ensemble that morphed into a quintet with the last minute addition of trumpeter Noah Halpern. Some of the usual suspects were on the gig, with Meridian Odyssey bandmates Martin Budde (guitar), and Dylan Hayes (piano, keyboards). Vibraphonist Matt Williams, known more prominently as a pianist, but as well highly skilled on vibes, completed the band. With the bassline maintained collectively by Hayes, Budde and Halpern, soloists were free to explore with less visible and audible parameters, creating a unique, orchestral sound. Halpern’s ardent tonality was rich and warm, giving the evening an extraoridinary two trumpet hit. Budde’s playing was free, probing yet thoughtful, as his evolution continues to unfold before us. Lecouturier acted as a leader should, often kicking rhe music in another direction with his confident playing that embraces the entirety of the jazz tradition. Noticeable of course, was like the audience, the group of musicians playing that evening spanned four generations. If you include Priester into the mix, there was sixty five years of separation between the most highly regarded elder, and the youngest player on the gig. There is beauty and value in that beyond measure. 

Guitarist Martin Budde                          Jim Levitt photo

The Seattle Jazz Fellowship could not have hoped for a better result the first time out of the gate. The evening was competing with the Earshot Jazz Festival and Jazz Alley, and received an audience that was attentive, mature, joyous, engaged and aware of the value of masking and being vaccinated. The music was thrilling, the vibe generous and positive and our hosts at Vermillion, kind, helpful and all in on the music.

Gary Hobbs (d), Thomas Marriott (t)

The Seattle Jazz Fellowship offers a weekly opportunity to show your support for local Seattle jazz, hear vibrant and important music and gather in fellowship with friends. Best of all, it won’t cost you half your weekly paycheck to attend. It is an organization for the music, and the community that embraces it. Musicians and patrons alike are equal partners in this most social music. October 20, 2021, mark it down. It is step one of a journey that very well could determine the future of the Seattle jazz scene. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/


Live Review: East-West Trumpet Summit at Meydenbauer Center Theatre- Oct 9, 2021

Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

Two trumpet quintets in jazz are rare, historically and presently. The alliances most commonly mentioned are the bop era tandem of Fats Navarro and Howard McGhee and their post-bop descendents, Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw. The individual players in both these pairings had similar qualities in terms of style and approach.

Ray Vega                   Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

The pairing of Bronx born trumpeter Ray Vega, and his younger partner, Seattle’s Thomas MarriottT, as well have their musical commonalities. It is where the differences lie between the two that provides the intrigue around their recordings and live performances.The age-old belief that the east coast version of jazz is commonly more intense, and the west coast approach more laid back, has not been completely eradicated by modern travel, and in recent times, social media. Vega’s move from the Bronx and New York City to Burlington, Vermont has certainly redefined the “east” portion of the equation, while Marriott is now suddenly the more urban of the two, residing in the city of Seattle. Musical styles aside, the true story of this historic pairing has much more to do with friendship, with mentorship, and a long time friendship and bond that has seen Vega name his youngest son after Marriott. A little background therefore, is necessary to be able to appreciate the magnitude of this latest meeting in Seattle, performing at the Bellevue Blues and Jazz Festival. To continue reading, click on this link:https://www.allaboutjazz.com/east-west-trumpet-summit-at-meydenbauer-center-theatre-thomas-marriott-and-ray-vega

Thomas Marriott              Lisa Hagen Glynn photo
Roy McCurdy                         Lisa Hagen Glynn photo
Lisa Hagen Glynn photo
L to R- Thomas Marriott, Ray Vega                    Lisa Hagen Glynn photo
L to R- Ray Vega, Orrin Evans, Thomas Marriott
Roy McCurdy, Michael Glynn                        Lisa Hagen Glynn photo
The rhythm section- Orrin Evans, Roy McCurdy, Michael Glynn
L to R- Orrin Evans, Thomas Marriott, Michael Glynn, Ray Vega, Roy McCurdy

A Night On the Town with The Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

DLO 3 on stage with friends at Jazz Alley. Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn


The stage at the esteemed Seattle jazz club, Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, holds special meaning for local musicians who are brought up through the traditions of the city’s historically vibrant jazz scene. The majority of the performers who grace the Belltown nightspot’s hallowed podium are national and international touring artists, who over the years have included Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Chick Corea, Branford Marsalis, Betty Carter and Cecile McLorin Salvant to mention but a few. On occasion, the club has set aside nights for its resident jazz elite, including the great Ernestine Anderson.

Delvon Lamarr at Jazz Alley. Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

Before the worldwide pandemic brought the live performance world to a screeching halt, Jazz Alley began featuring resident artists on Monday nights (the reference to ‘resident’ artists as opposed to ‘local’ was inspired by Seattle jazz great Julian Priester, who explained that the term local could be interpreted as pedestrian). With live music at the club re-igniting in the summer of 2021, the club decided to take a chance on Seattle’s best, booking Thomas Marriott, Greta Matassa, Marc Seales and Ari Joshua with positive results both in terms of performance and attendance. It was quite striking to see a full club in on every note for Seattle veteran pianist Seales for example, with a band that featured Seattleites Marriott and Jeff Johnson. 

The Seattle based Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio took to the Jazz Alley stage to begin a two night, sold out engagement on August 24th, a Tuesday evening with a full house on hand. Many in the audience were about to experience live music for the first time since the pandemic induced shutdown. There was a sense of rejuvenation, of celebration in the room, as Lamarr escorted his mother, brother and sister in law to their table suspended over the stage in the front of the balcony. The soulful R&B and blues guitarist Jimmy James was his usual sharp witted and comical self. “Do you know how to tell if someone is not from Seattle,” he quipped. “When they ask how to get on THE five!” James is all south end Seattle, just as Lamarr’s roots run deep in the Emerald City. New drummer Dan Weiss, who hails from Reno, was getting a full dose of the immensity of the moment, of his Seattle bandmates about to take stage on the city’s most prestigious jazz precipice. The trio had enjoyed a degree of commercial success prior to the shutdown, and had drawn well in their previous visit to the club. 

DLO3 at jazz Alley. Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

Seattle’s reputation of being a remote and unique cultural outpost is perhaps a bit outdated in its modern incarnation, but nonetheless steeped in historical accuracy. When Jazz Alley opened, it would often feature a national touring artist accompanied by Seattle musicians. In the seventies and eighties, it was common to see such Seattle stalwarts as Chuck Deardorf and Dean Hodges manning the rhythm section for notables like Kenny Burrell or Mose Allison. The resident artists could be found full time at clubs like The New Orleans, or Tula’s beginning in the nineties. But headliners at the old Jazz Alley on University Way, or the current Belltown location, were clearly the exception, not the rule.

Lamarr is what some might refer to as a “natural” musician, one that has an innate understanding of music as a base point for his personal musical progression. In middle school, he came to play in the band by chance, by clearly showing his teacher and mentor Sam Chambliss his ability. 

“One day I saw a horn on the floor, and didn’t even know what it was. I told Mr. Chambliss, ‘I can play that.’ He said, ‘Good, I’ll put you in band.’ It was a baritone horn. I picked it up and played it naturally right away. I couldn’t read music, so I would just copy the person next to me. Whatever they played, I played,” he recalls. 

Lamarr settled on B-3 after playing drums in the band of Seattle B-3 master, Joe Doria. A year of simply observing his bandleader from behind the kit, allowed him to casually sit down and play the complex instrument.

“I had been watching Joe play it for a year, and literally sat down and played it like I had been playing it my whole life,” says Lamarr.

Lamarr was, and is, a jazz first musician no matter what musical tradition he employs. There is an intuitive eclecticism about his art that transcends form. The influences of his first love, R&B and soul, speaks through his music as well. Taking those elements of his musical personality, and creating a concept that not only would be sufficiently expressive for a genius musician like Lamarr, and as well supply ample opportunity to make a living, eventually became the domain of Amy Novo, Lamarr’s wife, life partner and manager. 

“She literally owns DLO3,” exclaimed Lamarr from the Jazz Alley stage that night. “She came up with the idea, and made it happen in every way. I just have to play music.”

Novo worked tirelessly, while her husband created music that would land them with the esteemed Kurland Agency. They found an audience that, like the music, transcended genre. The potent recipe of jazz, rhythm and blues and rock pulled in a sizable crowd that enabled the band to play venues like the Blue Note in New York, worldwide festivals and of course, Seattle’s Jazz Alley. Guitarist James provided the punch that incorporated that which encompasses all of Lamarr’s stylistic indulgences- the blues. The band’s sound has been represented well on the studio albums Close But No Cigar (Colemine, 2018) and I Told You So (Colemine,2021) for Colemine Records, and the live offering Live at KEXP (Colemine, 2018). 

Guitarist Jimmy James and drummer Dan Weiss at Jazz Alley with DLO3. Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

That “sound” has a historical lineage, perhaps unknown to Lamarr at the beginning stages of the band’s development. In the fifties and sixties, Seattle Hammond B-3 artist Dave Lewis had a multitude of hit records with what was being referred to at the time as the “Seattle Sound.” It was instrumental, organ based music, that had markings of  jazz, rhythm and blues and the hybrid form taking hold of the airwaves in those days– rock and roll. Lewis’ band would eventually have a huge impact sociologically by playing north end gigs that were the exclusive domain of white bands. This would put an end to musical segregation in the city, which included separate unions for white and black musicians. The unity exhibited by late night jam sessions on Jackson St., now had legal and ethical legitimacy by practice among venue owners. The “sound” would have an impact on Seattle jazz, as well as artists in all blues based styles, including Jimi Hendrix. DLO3 has received a large degree of popularity and commercial success with their own unique organ based sound, that much like Lewis’ combo, is an open door for guest artists to enter and leave their mark. It is a style that is constantly in motion and inviting new musical notions. Whether performing for a sit down audience at Jazz Alley, or accommodating a dance crowd, the band has the unique ability to satisfy multiple audiences, a luxury seldom afforded by jazz artists. 

Lamarr’s solo work, and his minimalist comping style, are unmistakingly tied to his roots as a jazz musician. His dual persona in a way, is like an artistic aperture allowing the entire blues tradition into the mix. So much is the same, so much is different. “When I play DLO3 music versus swinging jazz, the approach is completely different. I intertwine the soul with jazz and make sense of it,” he explains. It is not, however, groove dance music, no matter how thick and comfortable drummer Weiss makes that pocket seem. Lamarr’s thought processes arrive musically from the jazz lexicon, smothered in blues based soul and funk. “It’s undeniable that music is better when it speaks to somebody’s soul instead of just hearing a beat,” he points out. 

The trio’s open door welcomed in India Arie bassist Khari Simmons, and Polyrhythmic’s guitarist Ben Bloom on this Tuesday evening engagement in Seattle. Relieved of bass line duties, Lamarr is able to ascend as a soloist to new heights, and for two tunes, as a vocalist. Until this opening night in Seattle, Lamarr had never dared to sing in public. He soulfully rendered two new compositions to accommodate this new, very personal revelation. “No Walk in the Park,” and “Can’t Win For Losing,” unmasked the organist’s inner creative sanctum, leaving himself completely vulnerable to an audience that included family, long time friends and some of the city’s top music scribes. That comfortable vibe, that which one feels when surrounded by loved ones, by being home, gathered all the loose ends of the evening into one, enlightened space. The jovial nonchalance of Lamarr’s outward personality, and his deep, soul searching inner musical self came to a singular state of being. This wasn’t another ordinary stop on a long tour–it was Seattle, it was Jazz Alley, this was about neighborhood and being home.

Delvon Lamarr at the Owl jam session. 8/24/21

The afternoon preceding DLO3’s opener at Jazz Alley, Lamar and Novo set up a B-3 at the Owl ‘n Thistle, an Irish dive bar in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, with intentions of returning after the Jazz Alley hit to attend a weekly jam session that has taken place at the Owl for more than two decades. The jam is the social focal point of the Seattle jazz scene, and where Lamarr would come to match his chops with the best players in town. In those days, the young Lamarr would play trumpet and drums at the session. Two weeks prior, he had dropped in at the Owl after a gig at Woodland Park, with Novo and Simmons in tow. He played drums a bit, but mostly just enjoyed the hang tremendously. He realized how shut in socially he could be, between touring and ultimately, due to Covid-19. Knowing that he would be playing the house B-3 at Jazz Alley, he set up his own equipment at the Owl, and arrived around 10 PM, just as the house band led by pianist Eric Verlinde was finishing up its set. The trio played a few tunes for the jam packed (pun intended) audience in the small, brick lined room. Soon, Lamarr was at the organ with a rapidly changing cast of musicians at the open session, clearly enjoying himself. While Lamarr is an affable sort, his normal positive self seemed to play into a state of heightened joy and repose. Novo as well sported a look of knowing she was in the right place at the right time. Normally a whirlwind during a gig, dealing with the business portion of the band, she as well could just revel in the sense of normalcy, of fellowship and community, that was so clearly at hand. 

DLO 3 plays the Owl jam session, after their opening night set at Jazz Alley 8/24/21 Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

Of course, the evening would end with Lamarr and Novo once again loading one hulk of a musical instrument into their van. There was another night at Jazz Alley to traverse, and whatever else comes literally down the road as things slowly return to normal. There is the uncertainty of the Delta variant, of course, yet over two nights at their city’s most esteemed club, every seat is full, every audience member engaged and content. There is hope in the air, that we will rise above a two year pandemic hiatus, and find our stride musically, and inevitably, socially.

Drummer Dan Weiss in the pocket at Jazz Alley with DLO3 Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn


A single evening saw the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio in front of a full house, and then immersed in the hang, that which in the end really matters. A return to normalcy means so much more than audience being reunited with artist. Rising above the fray of a worldwide pandemic, that place where none of us had ever resided, is more about being reunited with each other. Of feeling that embrace. On one Tuesday evening in Seattle, the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio and family felt the embrace that only home can bring. —Paul Rauch

Photo Review: Marc Seales Quintet at Jazz Alley- 8/17/2021

Pianist Marc Seales. Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

One of the recent positive marks on the Seattle jazz scene is that Jazz Alley, the city’s premier spot for touring acts, has been featuring some resident artists. The shows have been well attended, featuring iconic Seattle artists such as Greta Matassa, Marc Seales, Thomas Marriott and Delvon Lamarr. 

The Seattle jazz community has been well documented in recent years photographically, thanks in large part to veteran jazz photog, Jim Levitt. Long known for his work for the Ballard Jazz Festival, Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Port Townsend, Levitt can often be found at a gig near you. He may be hiding behind a curtain, or slithering along the ground like a shutterbug snake. He may find the empty chair at your table, taking a few shots before disappearing again, toting his stuffed to the gills bag of camera equipment. 

Levitt has mentored the next gen photog on the scene, Lisa Hagen Glynn, who as well can often be found working around stages and audiences in several genres of the city music scene, most notably the jazz world where she typically resides. Her initial interest in photographing jazz performances came by attending gigs played by her husband, Seattle first call bassist, Michael Glynn. She has a unique, perhaps innate sense of the moment, often catching musicians at the height of their emotional arc. Her remarkable ability to seem almost invisible, yet find superior angles to shoot, makes her work stand out much in the way of her mentor. Many thanks to Jim and Lisa for bringing the music to life in pictures. 

L to R- guitarist Jesse Seales, drummer Moyes Lucas, bassist Jeff Johnson, pianist Marc Seales and trumpeter Thomas Marriott. Lisa Hagen Glynn photo’

The tall stranger- bassist Jeff Johnson. Lisa Hagen Glynn photo


Thomas Marriott on flugelhorn. Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

Marc Seales and Thomas Marriott. Jim Levitt photo

Jeff Johnson and Marc Seales. Jim Levitt photo

The always expressive Marc Seales. Jim Levitt photo

Drummer Moyes Lucas. Lisa Hagen Glynn photo.


Guitarist Jesse Seales and drummer Moyes Lucas. Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

Marc Seales Quintet at Jazz Alley

All eyes on the leader. Jim Levitt photo


John Coltrane Birthday Celebration: Charles Owens Interview

The annual John Coltrane Birthday Celebration at Tula’s has become a symbolic jazz new year of sorts. It is performed in a time of transition in the northwest, when we begin to seek a bit more shelter both without and within.

The music of Coltrane is a spiritually unifying force of nature, a gust of wind to push our humanity ever forward to each new day.

Each year, event organizer Matt Jorgensen brings in special guests to offer their interpretations of Coltrane’s art. This year saxophonist Charles Owens is our guest, arriving from Charlottesville, VA. along with New York-based bassist Ben Shapiro. The two will form a quartet with Jorgensen on drums and pianist Marc Seales. In a way, it continues a tradition that began on Jackson St., and continues to this day of welcoming great players from yonder scenes and surrounding them with the best the Seattle jazz scene has to offer.

Owens was so kind as to answer a few questions, and provide some insight as to who he is as an artist, and what we might anticipate at this year’s performances.

You spent 12 years on the scene in New York City and moved to Charlottesville VA. Talk about your reasons for the change, and how that transition has been for you musically.

The year 2002 was a big one for me. I got married, turned 30, and my wife became pregnant with our first child. I was looking for a better life for myself and my family, I was looking for some space and some quiet. I grew up in VA and my mom has some property out in the country. So we moved out there to get our footing and then shortly thereafter moved to Charlottesville. Being in VA as a musician has been beautiful! I am a big part of the scene in Cville but also in Richmond which is a short drive away. I play and record with guys in Butcher Brown like Devonne Harris (DJ Harrison) Corey Fonville, Andrew Randazzo, Morgan Burrs, and Marcus Tenney as well as guys like Kelli Strawbridge on drums Cameron Ralston (Matthew E White) on bass.  Also, there’s a great bunch of cats in Richmond that are in a band called Future Prospect. I love to gig with them. Cleandre Foster, Brandon Lane, Jacob Ungerleider, Trey Sorrels. In Charlottesville, I have the pleasure of playing with guys like Dane Alderson who’s the bass player in the Yellowjackets and John D’earth who is a master trumpeter and improviser. He was really close with many people in the Brecker generation in NY. All of these people and more have indeed changed my playing. Virginia has a laid back, funky, and soulful vibe. Virginia music is greasy and sexy and hot. It’s got its own special sauce that everybody needs to experience. I treasure what its done to my saxophone playing, improvising, writing and arranging.

You are often linked stylistically to John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Wayne Shorter. How do you use those voices to create and impact your own voice as a player?

Well, those men had a huge hand in creating Charles Owens the improvising saxophonist, so the voices have created, and continue to impact my sound. I don’t just study their playing but I also study the spirit in which they bring forth their truth. These men played in a way that spoke to humans through key facets of their humanity. Their music appeals to people on a visceral level because they are accessing the most truthful regions of their muse, and bringing to fruition sublime improvised musical art. I want to create at this level 100% of the time.

You are coming to Seattle to be featured at the annual John Coltrane Birthday Celebration at Tula’s Jazz Club. First off, how did this association with Seattle come to be?

I was lucky enough to attend the New School for Social Research (Jazz performance and composition)  in NYC alongside the amazing Seattle drummer Matt Jorgensen and the great Seattle based bassist Ben Shapiro. Matt and I had been talking for a while about playing together again and when the Coltrane celebration came up, we all thought it would be a perfect fit and opportunity for us to make it happen. I’m so grateful! This will be my first time in Seattle and I’m thrilled.

Coltrane was a primal force that forged so many creative pathways through the music. How will you approach this performance as a saxophonist? Will it be more of a repertory approach, or will you seek more personal insights into the music?

I’ve been playing Coltrane’s music since I was a teenager. These songs are simply part of the Black American Music Canon. We will certainly choose compositions that span his career and make sure that the repertoire is varied in tempo, tone, and timbre. I will approach this music saxophonistically the same way I approach all music. I will be calm, clear and confident. I will gain my inspiration from a mix of spirituality, intellect, and passion. I will treat this and every opportunity to play music for my fellow humans as a sacred and rarified privilege. I will have an open heart and mind and proceed without fear.

With so much material to choose from, how do you go about selecting a set of music from the vast Coltrane library?

For me, it’s the compositions that have meant the most to me personally over the years and also the ones that I enjoy improvising on. But we will also rely on the tried and true method of putting a good set together which is to not have songs with a varied tempos, feels and forms.  We want to produce a different mood and vibration on every song so as to make it a rich and satisfying experience for us and the audience. Luckily we have a wide range of genius material from which to choose. We will also put in a couple of songs from the American songbook that were favorites of Coltrane’s.

You performed “A Love Supreme” in Charlottesville last year at UVA. In preparing for, and performing this music, did it at all impact your personal view of this classic?

It had a huge impact on my personal view of the album. I actually performed the suite in Richmond two years before the Charlottesville performance. I never dreamed I would be in a place where I could convincingly perform the Suite. So when the opportunity arose I made sure to prepare thoroughly. I studied the transcriptions heavily and memorized passages that I thought were classic parts and then improvised other parts. This was his ultimate opus. He is thanking God for his life and acknowledging that to him God is the only thing he is doing anything for forever.

This is going to be your first visit to Seattle. The city is noted for its eclectic music scene.  What have you learned about Seattle, and what do you anticipate encountering on the scene here?

I know little about the music scene in Seattle other than every musician I’ve played with from there has been great. Matt Jorgensen, Shawn Schlogel, and Max Holmberg.

Coltrane transitioned his sound towards the end of his life, employing what he saw as a spiritual approach, a soul cleansing series of cries and vocalized effects. Some in the audience did not receive the music in the same light in which Coltrane created and performed it. What is your personal perception of this period of Coltrane’s sound, and what impact did it have on your approach to playing?

Coltrane always pushed himself forward and never seemed to want to stay in the same place for long. This is one of the normal hallmarks of an artist/creative person. It’s really the same old story. An artist becomes popular by doing their art in a certain way. That art lives in the fans heart as sublime. Then the artist pushes themselves to create something new (again) with the same energy, focus, and attitude that they used in the past. The established fan usually reacts in 1 of 2 ways- they move forward with their artist despite the fact that things are different, or they stop and stick with what they like about the artist and pine away for “the old stuff.” This is what happened with Trane. I don’t listen to as much of his avant-garde as I do Crescent, A Love Supreme, Coltrane’s Sound etc., but I still do listen. The thing that has most influenced me from his later work is how much his tone continued to evolve, Listening to his tone on the Olatunji Concert recordings makes me feel that he had transcended the saxophone and turned it into his interstellar voice of his worship. No one has ever evoked the universal power of love through a saxophone like him. I learned a lot from the vocalized effects as well. One of my first gigs in NYC was with Reggie Workman’s ensemble at the Knitting Factory. We were playing free, free, free as a bird. Many of the things I’d heard Trane doing, I did especially on those gigs.

Jazz education has become largely institutionalized in modern times, much like classical music in the twentieth century. So many giants of the form learned through the oral tradition, with mentorship provided by the experienced players of the day. Talk about your own personal experience learning the saxophone and jazz music, and how that experience has impacted your approach as an educator.

I’ve been quite lucky to have great saxophone teachers. Ralph Lalama, Joe Lovano, Grant Sewart, Eric Alexander, Makanda McIntyre, Arnie Lawrence. I’ve never had a “big break” gig with a master. The people that I learned the most about actual improvisation though were John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, and Charlie Parker. I learned a lot about swing from Duke Ellington and Count Basie.  I also came up in NYC in the 90’s at my home club, Smalls. I met, and hung out with, listened to, and learned from just about every great jazz musician you could think of that was still around at the time. Smalls was the place where I really learned what the music should sound like, and more importantly, the attitude and ethos one needs in order to be a successful improviser, performer, bandleader, and composer. My first gig in NYC was running the Sunday jam session at the Village Gate. That’s where I first met people like Brad Mehldau, Dwayne Burno, Ben Wolfe, Leon Parker, Gonna Okegwo, Ari Roland, just to name a VERY few. I also learned a lot during my time at the New School. Some of my teachers there included Jim Hall, Buster Williams, Jimmy Cobb, Bernard Purdie, Peter Bernstein, Reggie Workman… I also was lucky enough to take some advanced jazz harmony classes with Kenny Werner. But I also never stop learning and growing and pushing myself to be better. So I woke up this morning with the same attitude towards music and saxophone that I’ve always had. How can I be better? When I educate people on the tradition of Black American Music, I am very careful to point out that the concepts that we cover are intellectual, but this music needs more than just intellectuality. The other essential ingredients are spirituality and passion.

Environment and lifestyle impacts culture on all levels, including music. New York is like an incubator for new talent, and is unquestionably the living gathering place for jazz, convening sounds from all over the world. The energy and whirlwind of cultural activity drives the music and seems to give it an ardent physicality like nowhere else.  Seattle is a touch more relaxed, reflecting the physical beauty and lifestyle of the Pacific Northwest. Talk about the musical environment in Charlottesville, your current residence, and how it differs from other musical scenes you have encountered.

Charlottesville has a wide variety of bands in different genres. It reminds me a lot of other scenes in other cities, just smaller. The energy is, of course, more relaxed and certainly reflects the terrain of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I love the scene here though. Being in Cville and Richmond has taught me that it’s cool to relax and not go for the “touchdown” solo every time. It’s helped me to let go of my ego and not play solos where I’m “checking boxes” i.e the out part, the fast part, the part, the altissimo part, where I trick the audience into clapping more etc… It’s taught me that it’s ok to groove and be sparse and play longer notes. That VA grease!

What projects are you currently engaged in?

I am of course busy with my trio and quartet but I also play in a wide variety of bands here in VA and NYC.

Jack Kilby and the Front Line. Drummer Jack Kilby is about to release his debut album and it’s gonna be amazing. I wrote a song for the Album titled “Love Is A Song Anyone Can Sing.” Jack liked the tune so much that he named the album after it and has taken the concept and run with it. We have a couple of release shows in October and the album is just fantastic. Allyn Johnson, Kris Monson, John D’earth, and Antonio Hart are playing on it.

I am in a band called The ATM Unit that plays every Monday at a club called Rapture here in Cville. The band is lead by Australian electric bass virtuoso Dane Alderson who is also currently in the Yellowjackets. It’s a fusion sound coming out of bands like Yellowjackets, Weather Report, Steps Ahead, etc. It is such a killer band and it’s been a fun challenge learning all the new music.

Reginald Chapman is a great bass trombonist and composer formerly with No BS Brass Band. He has just released a fantastic album called Prototype, and I will be playing his VA release shows in September.

I also play with a ton of great rock, funk, and should bands. I stay very busy with recording sessions, and I have a full studio of wonderful private saxophone, theory and improvisation students. I’m also a pianist and stay busy with solo piano work and duo work with singers.

What can we expect from Charles Owens in the near future in terms of recordings and live performances?

Well, Jack Kilby’s album is on deck next. I just recorded a live album at Smalls with the great Joel Frahm on tenor saxophone, Ari Hoenig on drums and Alexander Claffy on bass. That was released back in April. The next record I want to do will be a trio record with electric bass, drums, and saxophone. I am currently compiling repertoire and testing it out on gigs. My M.O. for recording is to gig with material/band for a year then go to the studio for one day and record it all. I just got a new horn so I will be playing a lot on it before I decide to go back to the studio again.

 

Steve Wilson at Tula’s – July 17-18

Tula’s Jazz Club is proud to announce that they will be presenting New York saxophonist Steve Wilson two nights, Friday – Saturday, July 17-18. Make your reservations now to hear this group in the intimate setting at Tula’s Jazz Club (Reservations: 206-443-4221).

Joining Wilson will be an all-start Northwest group featuring Thomas Marriott (trumpet) , Marc Seales (piano), Michael Glynn (bass) and Matt Jorgensen (drums).

JULY 17-18: STEVE WILSON QUINTET
TULA’S JAZZ CLUB
2214 Second Ave
Seattle

Reservations: 206-443-4221
http://tulas.com

About Steve Wilson:
Steve Wilson has attained ubiquitous status in the studio and on the stage with the greatest names in jazz, as well as critical acclaim as a bandleader in his own right. A musician’s musician, Wilson has brought his distinctive sound to more than 100 recordings led by such celebrated and wide-ranging artists as Chick Corea, George Duke, Michael Brecker, Dave Holland, Dianne Reeves, Bill Bruford, Gerald Wilson, Maria Schneider, Joe Henderson, Charlie Byrd, Karrin Allyson, Don Byron, James Williams, and Mulgrew Miller among many others. Wilson has seven recordings under his own name, leading and collaborating with such stellar musicians as Carl Allen, Steve Nelson, Cyrus Chestnut, Greg Hutchinson, Dennis Irwin, James Genus, Larry Grenadier, Ray Drummond, Ben Riley, and Nicholas Payton.

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

cover

“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.

On The Scene with Howard Londner: Three groups at The Royal Room

On The Scene with Howard LonderJanuary 13, 2013
Three Bands (or musical groups) at the Royal Room.

Storm D’Angelo’s All Star Big Band
Storm D’Angelo – tenor sax, bass clarinet
Rubin Hohlbein – trumpet
John Otten – trumpet
David Klein – baritone sax
Lise Ramaley – bass
Daniel Arthur – piano
Quinn Anex-Ries – alto sax, clarinet
Noah Halpern – trumpet
Adam Shimabakuro – guitar
Kenzo Perron – drums
Porter Jones – trombone
Logan Pendergrass – bass trombone

Some of Roosevelt High’s finest, these kids are just great!

They could be tighter (how perfect were you in high school?), so what! These kids played great, were a lot of fun.
Support the kids… they’re doing something positive!

I was especially impressed with, Mr Hohlbein, Mr Arthur, Ms Anex-Ries, and Mr Jones. If Mr Storm D’Angelo was a baseball player he’d be like Ken Griffey Jr. This kid is killer! He composes, plays great, and leads the band with a poise and grace and talent well beyond his years. You better be listening to these kids now, before they head off to NY.

This was the first band of the night, the last band was …

Nelda Swiggett Stringtet
Nelda Swigett – piano, voice, composer
Rachel Swerdlow – viola
Walter Gray – cello
Chris Symer – bass
Byron Vannoy – drums

Tonight’s performance was a tune-up for a CD they will be recording soon.

All the compositions were originals by Ms Swiggett, who played piano and sang well. All the tunes were pleasant, enjoyable.
Ms Swerdlow and Mr Gray are from the Seattle Symphony, so I’ll just shut up about them and you listen. Mr Symer played a great solo bowing (keep bowing, man, it sounds great.). Mr Vannoy and D’vonne Lewis both remind me of my favorite drummer, Ed Blackwell. Byron always has impecable time keeping, and always makes great statements concisely, that is, he doesn’t need a lot of flash and jive, he just plays the right amount of notes the right way! (Byron was my drum teacher, ’till he fired me because I was a lousy drummer and a lousier student.)

The band has a blend of third stream music with a touch of Stephan Grappelli.

The large group of musicians playing between these two bands call themselves Scrape.

Mostly classiacal folks, with jazz’s own Chris Symer on bass, and Gregg Belisle-Chi on guitar. Exquisite harmonies, interesting compositions (these aren’t quick little ditties). All of the compostions except two were by local jazz trumpeter, educator, and composer, the great Jim Knapp. If you want to hear classical music without paying the high ticket prices classical music usually charges … come see this band. A couple of drinks and a donation, and you’ll still be money ahead.

Thank you to all the musicians and composers tonight.
Thank you.

Shout Out: Jazz Now! Seattle

By Katy Bourne

It is with great enthusiasm that I send a virtual high five and a holler out to Seattle jazz musicians Jason Parker and Dave Marriott for their spanking new podcast Jazz Now! Seattle. Jazz Now! Seattle is a weekly podcast that features music from local artists in the Seattle community. The mission of the podcast is twofold: (1) To put the spotlight on Seattle musicians and their projects and to help publicize their performances. (2) To present the thriving Seattle jazz scene to the rest of the world. Now in its fifth week, Jazz Now! Seattle has already been downloaded 1000 times

Jason and Dave are working jazz musicians and both have backgrounds in broadcasting. Jason is a trumpeter, blogger, bandleader and one half of the production and booking company J & J Music. Jason worked in radio for several years and is the former musical director for KMTT radio in Seattle. He is an occasional guest host on KPLU. Dave is an award-winning trombonist and plays with a variety of groups including the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, the Emerald City Jazz Orchestra and his own band Septology. Dave was also the force behind the “original” Seattle jazz podcast “Seattle JazzScene.” Jason and Dave combine their experience and knowledge with sheer enthusiasm to create podcasts that offer a unique view of Seattle jazz. They highlight music from “every corner of the jazz spectrum in Seattle.”  So far, the podcasts have included a wide-range of music from artists such as Richard Cole, Wayne Horvitz, Matt Jorgenson, McTuff, Zubatto Syndicate, Gail Pettis, Nelda Swiggett and many, many more. The podcasts are presently focused on artists that are appearing in the Earshot Jazz Festival, which runs until November 7th. In Dave’s words, “We’re both fans of the scene that we’re a part of.”

Jason and Dave record new episodes every Monday and spend the rest of the week editing and also going through music for future podcasts. For two musicians who already have their hands in numerous other ventures, their efforts on behalf of the local scene are amazing. While it would be easier to stay focused solely on their own pursuits, Jason and Dave choose to cheer on other artists and help them get attention for their music. Jason and Dave are true ambassadors for Seattle jazz, and our community is all the better for it. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend checking out Jazz Now! Seattle. While you’re at it, maybe send a message of thanks to Jason and Dave for their time, work and generosity. They deserve it.

“We’ve figured out a way to make something that’s going to be a good contribution.”
– Dave Marriott

For more information, visit: http://jazznowseattle.com/

Weekend of Rising Stars at Bake’s Place

Trumpeter Riley Mulherkar and vocalist Siobhan Brugger are the featured performers for “A Weekend of Rising Stars,” which takes place July 16 & 17 at Bake’s Place.

The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the most outstanding high school jazz programs in the country and has long been the starting point for some of the brightest musicians and vocalists entering the national jazz scene today. In recognition of the wealth of emergent talent in our own backyard, Bake’s is dedicated to supporting these new artists and providing them an opportunity to perform. “We are excited about the talent of these up and coming young people,” says owner Craig Baker. This weekend marks the first of what will be a regular series at Bake’s.

Trumpeter Riley Mulherkar graduated in June from Garfield High School, where he was a member of the prestigious Garfield Jazz band. The band recently took top honors at the Essentially Ellington Competition in New York, and Mulherkar was named the Ella Fitzgerald Outstanding Soloist. Over the past few years, Mulherkar has received numerous awards and accolades, including being recognized as an “outstanding soloist” in DownBeat magazine’s 30th Annual Student Musician Awards. Mulherkar will be attending the Julliard School of Music in the fall. Joining Riley on the bandstand will be Gus Carns on piano, Carmen Rothwell on bass, Zach Para on drums and Carl Majeau on tenor sax. Riley and his band will be performing on July 16.

Siobhan Brugger has been singing jazz standards since she was 12 years old and has appeared at jazz clubs in Edinburgh, Scotland and Kobe, Japan. She has received numerous accolades including:winner of the 2009 Downbeat Magazine Best High School Jazz Vocalist, two –time winner of the “Outstanding Alto Soloist” award at the Lionel Hampton jazz Festival, winner of the student division of the Seattle-Kobe Jazz Vocalist competition, selection for the 2008 All-State Jazz Choir and also a two-time finalist for the Gibson/Baldwin Grammy Jazz Festival. She is a longtime student of Greta Matassa and her performed at such great venues as Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley and Bake’s Place. Siobhan is presently a student at USC, where she is continuing her education in jazz studies. Siobhan’s band features Devon Yesberger on piano, Chris Copland on drums, Colleen Gilligan on bass and Daniel Hipke on guitar. Siobhan will be appearing on July 17.

For both of these performances, dinner service starts at 6pm and the show starts at 7:45pm. For reservations, please call 425-391-3335 or send an email to [email protected]. For more information, please visit www.bakesplace.org.

Bad Monkey Bistro: Live Jazz in South Lake Union


Situated between the glittering high rises of the downtown core and the busy waters of Lake Union, the South Lake Union neighborhood is Seattle’s new mecca for contemporary urban living. With all the hustle and bustle there, it is the perfect location for a spanking new live music venue; welcome the Bad Monkey Bistro

Last Friday, my teenage son Emmett and I dropped by to check things out. We had just come from the last day performances of the University of Washington jazz workshop and were looking to grab a bite to eat. The room was popping with activity and felt immediately inviting. We landed during happy hour; the bar was full of cheerful, chatting patrons, and a pianist was playing away in the dining room, where we were seated.

The layout of the space allows it to successfully accommodate both sports fans and music lovers; this is certainly not easy to do, and many establishments fail at this particular kind of multi-tasking. As you walk in, there is a sports bar with high tables and stools to the immediate right. Straight on is the dining room with traditional tables and chairs and also the piano. Adjacent to the bar is an enclosed room-the “Socialing Lounge”- with leather chairs and a fireplace. On the other side of the bar is an area with a pool table. Both the bar and the Socialing Lounge have large, flat screen TV’s, which were turned on but with the sound muted. I appreciated the respect shown to Martin Ross, who happened to be the pianist working that set. Although the bar was very busy, it in no way detracted from the music. I felt like the balance was well executed. Hats off to Bad Monkey for that.

The musical setting at the Bad Monkey is a combination of piano bar and jazz joint. The glass top on the table with surrounding stools certainly indicates the former. Martin Ross played a variety of music from “Popsicle Toes” to Tom Wait’s boozy anthem “My Piano Has Been Drinking.” While we were having dinner, a trio of giggling women came in and sat around the piano. Ross engaged them accordingly, mixing song with playful banter. Bad Monkey has live music a few nights a week. They have two sets; a 4-7pm set for happy hour and an 8-11pm set for the dinner service. In addition to solo piano, they present jazz combos from a variety of genres, with or without vocalists, depending on the particular group.

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The owners of the Bad Monkey Bistro are Daniel Poe Gale and Christopher Williams. Even though he was clearly busy taking care of customers, Daniel kindly took a few minutes to chat it up with us. He told us a little bit about the history of the building, which used to be an office for a paper manufacturing company. When they were remodeling the space, they used much of the original wood, especially in the bar area. We talked a little bit about the music; Daniel is clearly a piano aficionado and is very enthusiastic about the potential of the room and about musical things to come. (Sidebar: It came up in the conversation that Emmett plays guitar and performs with his own jazz group. Daniel offered him a gig on the spot. I found his openness surprising yet refreshing.) There is no question that he is committed to creating a welcoming scene for live jazz at the Bad Monkey. You gotta love that.

Our dinner was yummy. I had the smoked salmon pasta, which was creamy and smooth and full of lightly cooked, fresh vegetables. Emmett had the calamari stuffed with artichoke, garlic and crab, which he gobbled up in mere minutes. Our waitress was sweet and laid back. The Bad Monkey experience is probably best done when you’re in the mood to kick back, relax and hang awhile. The vibe seems to lend itself to that, and that’s just fine.

The Bad Monkey Bistro is located at 400 Boren Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109, on the corner of Boren and Harrison. Please note that it can be slightly tricky to find because there are actually two Boren Avenues that run parallel to each other. Construction in the area can add to the confusion. However, don’t let this dissuade for one minute. There are directions on the website (http://www.badmonkeybistro.com/), and once you arrive, there is plenty of available street parking. The Bad Money Bistro is open daily from 10am to 2am, serving lunch, dinner and late night bites. There is a happy hour menu as well. Phone is 206-467-1111.

By Katy Bourne

The Jazz Hang: Sandy Cressman & Homage to Brazil

Sandy Cressman

Sandy Cressman is a San Francisco jazz vocalist, who has devoted the majority of her career to the study and performance of Brazilian music. This Saturday, Sandy will be appearing at  along with the Jovino Santos Neto Trio and together they will perform her Homage to Brazil- a “musical journey through the world of Brazilian jazz” at Bake’s Place. Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sandy about her career and about Brazilian music. She was warm and engaging and clearly very passionate about what she does. The following are excerpts from our conversation:

It is clear from your bio that you’ve had a natural affinity for Brazilian music almost your entire life. What about it resonates with you?

In knew the first time I heard it, there was something about the passionate nature of the music that was appealing. Performing it myself really suited my own personal expression. Early on in junior high, I heard a girl sing Sergio Mendes’s hit “Mas Que Nada” and it totally floored me.  I didn’t know how to go out and seek the music at that time. But by the time I was into college and into jazz, I heard it again…..Tania Maria, Flora Purim….and was really excited. One time I was at a Pat Metheny concert, and the music that was playing on the break was so beautiful that I walked to the soundboard to find out who it was. It was Ivan Lins. I went out and bought as much as his music as I could.

Later, I was on touring Japan with a Japanese group. The guitarist for that group gave me recordings of Djavan to listen to. I was overwhelmed. When I got back from Japan, I bought all the Brazilian music I could find. At one point, the pianist Marco Silva sat in as a sub for Pastiche. He brought me cassettes of Brazilian music and fed my addiction further. In 1995, Marco asked me to come and sing Brazilian music with him. It was a little café duo gig. Each week we would bring in new tunes to try out. That was really the start for me.

Why do you think the popularity of Brazilian music is so enduring?

I think the rhythm is infectious. There’s a feeling of passion that’s very Brazilian yet not restricted to Brazil. A lot of people feel that passion. It makes you feel really good. It really takes you somewhere.

Tell me about putting together the music for “Homage to Brazil.”

Well, my first record was “Homenegem Brasileira”. I have known Jovino for fourteen years. We met at California-Brazil summer camp. He’s one of the rare pianists that can play the broad repertoire of Brazilian music that I like to sing with authenticity and freshness. The last time we played at Bake’s, it was Jobim’s 80th birthday. At that time, we decided to do a tribute to Jobim. This time, we decided to mix up composers. We came up with some songs that our quartet can explore and have fun with. Basic arrangements but not everything is planned.

Tell me a little bit about playing with Jovino.

Jovino is just a stellar musician. He knows his craft, knows Brazilian music and knows jazz. He has a certain openness to the unexpected and he’s non-judgmental, which makes it such a comfortable experience to play music together. I’m a guest on his soil. He respects the work that I’ve done to do it as well as I do. It feels like I’m being collaborated with and respected.

How do you think your approach to the music differs from other vocalists and musicians?

I’m not Brazilian but I try to be true to the spirit of the music. The musicians I use, the way I sing and phrase it. I typically sing to a non-Brazilian audience and I am able to give them a background on the tunes and why I like them. They get a history and exposure to things they might not have heard before.

To someone who is new to Brazilian music and wants some ideas as to what recordings to check out, what suggestions would you make?

Joao Guilberto. Also, I have a Brazilian music discography on the teaching page on my website.

What is playing on your i-Pod right now?

Chico Pinheiro. Really cool, modern Brazilian music.

For more information about Sandy, please visit http://www.cressmanmusic.com/.

For information about Bake’s Place, please visit the website at www.bakesplace.org. To make resvervations for the show, please call 425-391-3335 or send an email to [email protected].