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

Live Review: The Cookers at Jazz Alley- 9/22/2021

Performance Photos by Lisa Hagen Glynn

The Cookers at Jazz Alley on 9/22/2021

The third week of September turned out to be quite the week for jazz in Seattle. On Tuesday September 21, Herbie Hancock appeared at the Paramount Theatre, performing a thrilling two hour set with bassist James Genus, flutist Elena Pinderhughes and drummer Justin Tyson. The following night, The Cookers were at Jazz Alley, and I went not only to hear some great jazz music, put to pay homage to a group of jazz elders that are hugely influential in the music I had come to be passionate about. This was personal and I wasn’t alone in that feeling. Pianist George Cables is not only one of the great jazz pianists of our time, he is a man with tremendous humility and humanity. Eddie Henderson is on the list of most underappreciated trumpeters historically, with his brilliant melodic sense and tonal elegance. Drummer Billy Hart is still, at age eight one, a force of nature. Mr. Cecil Mc Bee? The master bassist is on records I have come to treasure that date back to the early sixties. Just seeing the great McBee enjoying a glass of wine after the gig was a bit of a surreal experience in itself for an admittedly over-the-top jazz fan like myself. 

I was insistent on attending the performance as a civilian–I wanted to enjoy these master musicians without checking on a set list, without jotting down notes. I was however, accompanied by photographer Lisa Hagen Glynn, who wanted to document the event with her very fine skills as a live performance photographer. She knew the room well, so her plan of attack would no doubt bring excellent results. As you can see from the photgraphs below, that indeed was the case. 

A review might simply point out that Billy Harper is still letting it fly on tenor, that Cables is playing as well, or better than he ever has. It would state the obvious that Hart would set the pace with his physical and articulate style. It would cite McBee as the foundational impulse of the band, playing with understated elegance. It would mention that Donald Harrison would bring a bit of New Orleans with him, acting as a tonal counterpoint to Harper’s snarling, biting attack. David Weiss would fill in the gaps, solo madly and be the band’s designated spokesman. 

For the audience, there was a prominent feeling of  rebirth, that somehow through the fog of now almost two years of social isolation, these jazz apostles are still on the road, still sharing their gifts with us. We felt not only joyous, but fortunate to be sharing space with them. 

Our friend, the iconic trombonist Julian Priester, sat at a table right up against stage left. It occured to me that three members of Hancock’s Mwandishi Band would be in the house, after having seen Hancock the night before. Priester was there unbeknowst to his Mwandishi brothers, Hart and Henderson. As the Cookers were being announced and entering the stage, Hart spotted Priester and got down on his knees to lean over the stage and embrace his old friend. The emotion of the moment was only surpassed by its beauty. 

Julian Priester (L) and Bill Hart (R)    Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

The hang is always the thing–an unequivocal fact in the jazz community, that somehow felt even more relevant that evening. To be seated with Priester, Hart and Henderson, or sharing a drink with McBee is an honor. Young musicians, such as saxophonist Jackson Cotugno, were able to meet and briefly chat with these legendary and historic musicians. That generational bridge is always something wonderful to behold. 

As for my friend Lisa Hagen Glynn, she captured the energy of the evening perfectly. Many, many thanks to her for sharing this treasure trove of jazz history with us. You can catch and support her fine work covering the music scene in Seattle, both inside jazz and out, at her new blogsite https://hardlyraining.com

Tenor saxophonist Billy Harper and bassist Cecil McBee      Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

The great Billy Hart                            Lisa Hagen Glynn photo 

Alto saxophonist Donald Harrison       Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

Bassist, the great Cecil McBee           Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

George Cables with the Cookers at Jazz Alley, 9/22/2021          Lisa Hagen Glynn photo
L to R- George Cables, Billy Harper, David Weiss, Eddie Henderson, Cecil McBee, Donald Harrison, Billy Hart  at Jazz Alley 9/22/2021         LIsa Hagen Glynn photo
Cecil McBee (bass) and Eddie Henderson (trumpet)     Lisa Hagen Glynn photo
Billy Hart drum solo at Jazz Alley with the Cookers- 9/22/2021    Lisa Hagen Glynn photo
Dr. Eddie Henderson        Lisa Hagen Glynn photo

The great George Cables       Lisa Hagen Glynn photo


Mwandishi brothers- Julian Priester, Billy Hart, Eddie Henderson       Ken Steiner photo

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


Live Review: Xavier Lecouturier Quintet/ Noah Halpern Trio- Jan 7/ Royal Room

Jazz music continually renews itself generationally with young and inspired talent, presenting an evolving and original approach to the art. The vibrant jazz scene in and around the city of Seattle is a recipient of that renewal at an accelerated pace. The city’s nationally acclaimed high school and university programs continue to churn out accomplished practitioners of the art, in some cases revealing game-changing talent that either remains in the area, or journeys to jazz meccas such as New York. Certainly, drummer/composer Xavier Lecouturier, and trumpeter/composer Noah Halpern fall into that category.

On a crisp Tuesday evening on January 7, the eclectic pair appeared in Columbia City at the Royal Room for two sets featuring their original compositions. Lecouturier’s quintet, and Halpern’s trio as well featured young trailblazing bassist/composer Ben Feldman, pianist/composer Dylan Hayes, saxophonist Rex Gregory and guitarist Ari Joshua. 

Xavier Lecouturier

To be fair, the time to refer to Lecouturier, Halpern, Feldman and Hayes as “young talent” has run its course. While Halpern would be the senior contributor of the bunch at age 23, the accomplishments of these four young men both on stage and in the studio more alludes to veteran accomplishment. Lecouturier released an album of original compositions on the respected Origin label this year titled Carrier (Origin, 2019). As well, he spent a year behind the kit for the Thomas Marriott Quintet while still a student at Cornish. All six musicians have been wise beyond their years in terms of getting real life education on the bandstand, outside of the clutches of academia. 

Rex Gregory

The first set featured Lecouturier’s quintet with Halpern being the lone non-participant. The opening salvo was Lecouturier’s composition “Aube,” a piece that well personifies his work as a composer. Each movement featured a melody built through a thick harmonic structure traversed by each soloist. Gregory’s work was especially insightful, with angular lines gaining ground through the dense ground laid before him by his bandmates. For those who have witnessed this music being performed live over the past year, it became immediately evident that the musicians were freer within the flow, Gregory’s solo personifying this new found comfort zone. Lecouturier’s polyrhythmic work behind the kit clearly pushed the music forward, acting as a de facto conductor.

Ben Feldman

The band’s interpretation of Lecouturier’s “Tempest” definitively stated that this music is finding a true identity as it is played, and played again by a contingent of players now familiar with the nuances of the work. As the piece began to swing, a deeper connection with the blues and jazz tradition evolved, creating space for off the rails solos by Gregory, Feldman, and Hayes.

Dylan Hayes

Ari Joshua

Set two featured Halpern in trio with Feldman and Lecouturier. The Seattle born trumpeter is now a New York resident, as is Feldman. Halpern performed seated, playing Wurlitzer electric piano along with his horn. Aside from a brief electronic repose, and an even briefer vocal daliance, the three long time friends demonstrated a warmth and familiarity throughout the set that spoke well to a sizeable crowd at the Columbia City nightspot. 

While Halpern offered finely tuned compositions, a three tune swing through brilliantly interpreted standards stood out above the fray, providing the audience with their most energetic support of the evening. Dizzy Gillespie’s “Dizzy Atmosphere” became a vehicle for Halpern to express his deep, rich voice, spoken freely with a vivid imagination, at one point referencing classic Gillespie. Feldman as well chimed in with a solo that included tonal clusters interspersed with agile melodic runs. He once again made the impression on the audience that they were witnessing something special from this young bassist not yet of legal age. 

Noah Halpern

An interpretation of “Body and Soul” followed, with Halpern offering in ballad mode, weaving in and around the melody. If you are of the school that believes a jazz musician truly shows their worth when interpreting a ballad- and I am- Halpern’s stark tonality, and Lecouturier’s deft brushwork spoke volumes to you. 

The highlight of the evening was Duke Pearson’s classic, “Gaslight,” adding another Seattle born musician currently making his residence in Gotham- tenor saxophonist Santosh Sharma. Sharma came out of the gate unhinged, playing an unrelenting solo in this chordless quartet format. Feldman and Lecouturier managed to lay down the foundation for the piece, while at the same time dodging in and out of Lecouturier’s polyrhythms. In all, it was a fine example of modern, forward thinking playing within the hard bop tradition. Hayes, whose reputation is more centered around his brilliant composing and arranging skills, comped and soloed on this piece sounding like a young McCoy Tyner. His star in Seattle continues to rise as a pianist aside from his compositional prowess. 

Santosh Sharma

It is an ongoing story in the history of Seattle jazz, that our young musicians take residence in New York City, the center of international jazz. We can look back generations, then moving forward and see that nothing in this fashion has changed. Many, or most, return. This evening represented a homecoming for these fine young players, performing on a respected stage in front of an engaged audience. As I stated earlier, the time to refer to Halpern, Lecouturier, Feldman, Santosh and Hayes as “generation next,” or “young guns” has past. Give these cats their due.  


Review: Ply at Cafe Racer

 

ON THE SCENE WITH HOWARD LONDNER

On The Scene with Howard Londer

Jan 06, 2013
The Racer Sessions, Cafe Racer

Curators:
PLY
Michael Owcharuk- keyboard
Beth Fleener – clarinet
Paul Kemmish – double bass

The compositions were a M. Owchurak gig. The music was carefully crafted.
Mr Owcharuk played ok, helping give the music a little more fullness, that is, rounding it out. Giving the sound more depth. It didn’t need much of that as Mr Kemmish and Ms Fleener owned the place.

I’ve heard PK (Paul Kemmish) play double bass before, and I wasn’t really paying a whole lot of attention. I have heard him play bass guitar, and that’s very good. Now I just want to hear him play double bass. ‘Cause, man, he sounded very, very good. One solo he took was exciting, excellent.

Ms Fleener plays clarinet like a dream. Enjoyable, with substance, drive, as beautiful art. Great tone, clear, crisp and deep as appropriate.Wonderfully expressed. If you get a chance to hear her play, do it! She writes a whole new page for clarinet.

The way they do things at the Racer Sessions… after the evening curator(s) give an initial presentation (usually btween 15 to 30 minutes) things open up for anyone to come up and play. Music starts at 8, quits at 10. After the curator it’s no holds barred. Usually one person will start playing and others will join in, completely spontaneous.

You can take this to the bank… the Racer Session is the most happening weekly gig in Seattle! These are good kids, trying to make a difference in this world, their way, with music. I hang there almost every Sunday night if I’m not at the Royal Room. Sometimes I don’t care for the music,sometimes it’s kinda disjointed. After doing it for three years, these kids are starting to really get it together and play stuff harmoniously, with a lot of pop, spirit, and excitement. The slower tunes are making more sense. Later this night Jacob Zimmerman playing alto and Neil Welch on tenor did a great wonderful duet.

Ya better get down here. ‘Cause the next round of great jazz and music in general, in Seattle, will be coming from here. And no cover, always good. Thanks to all the great musicians at the Racer, and thanks for reading.

Review: Free Funk Union at The Triple Door

On The Scene with Howard LonderON THE SCENE WITH HOWARD LONDNER

Free Funk Union
Evan Flory-Barnes – bass
Darrius Willrich – keyboard, vocals
D’vonne Lewis – drums

The Triple Door
Jan 14, 2013

I went see the Mr Lewis’ gig expecting to hear the great and fun jazz one usually gets from D’vonne and the cats he rotates in and out for his trios. Tonight they were playing most pop songs, and that was a big disappointment for me.

Years ago I saw Mr Lewis play with a quartet, he was driving the band, and got way out in front … and I hate when drummers do that. Since then, every time I hear D’vonne he sounds better and better. More and more brilliant. I stated in a previous review that Byron Vannoy and D’vonne remind me of favorite drummer, Ed Blackwell. Just like Mr Blackwell D’vonne has a timing that is inherently superior to most, and he never forgets where the music and drumming came from. No matter what type of music, D’vonne always brings a lot of spark, funk, soul, excitement, and fun to the party.

Review: Gregg Belisle-Chi Trio at The Triple Door

On The Scene with Howard LonderON THE SCENE WITH HOWARD LONDNER

Jan 10, 2013 – The Triple Door
The Gregg Belisle-Chi Trio

Gregg Belisle-Chi – guitar
Chris Symer – double bass
Evan Woodle – drums

The only problem I have with tonight’s gig was the song list for the first set (three sets total.). Too many mellow songs in a row ( when you’re old like me you want some more excitement.).

About Mr Belisle-Chi… this kid can play! He is very good. If I was all about competition like downbeat or earshot I would vote this kid as one of the up and coming superstars of the Seattle jazz scene.

While the first set was mellow, Gregg always tried to give the songs that all important emotional extra that great musicians do. The next set was great! All the songs were either more up tempo than before, or if as slow or slower than before, much more interesting. That is, most weren’t just tunes, they intricate and more complex pieces to perform and listen to. The same was almost true of the third set,  just not as much as the second.

Gregg plays with a lot of skill, always tries new ideas and techniques, always trying to present the music as artfully as possible, always striving for the listener to feel as if Gregg played this music just for him.

Evan Woodle also played great. Always good fills, solos, and accompanying the others. Mr Woodle is a racer session kid. Evan, like Gregg, have both learned all the vocabulary of their art and are writing the verses their way. Good! Because it sounds so good!

Mr Symer really had it all going on tonight. No matter if he was plucking or bowing the bass, he sounded great. His accompanying always insightful, his bass lines always interesting, often making outstanding statements, always harmonizing well, solos, killer great. Chris did more bowing than I’ve heard him do in a gig before. Sounded awesome. Hope he does more
of it.

I want to write about this one song of the second set, Ornette Coleman’s Lonely Woman. Their presentation was knock out, light’s out, everybody else can pack up their stuff and go home. It seemed as if the three (I’m not a musician and I might be getting this wrong.) were playing at different tempos, so the trio was like a polyrhythm all it’s own, everybody serving up the music a little differently, all together. Yeah, man! That’s the best kind of jazz!

Thank you Gregg, Evan, and Chris

Review: Eastside Jazz Club / Owl ‘n Thistle

On The Scene with Howard LonderON THE SCENE WITH HOWARD LONDNER

Tom Marriott and Friends
Tom Marriott – trumpet
Mark Taylor – alto sax
Eric Verlinde – electric piano
Phil Sparks – double bass
Greg Williamson – drums

Eastside Jazz Club
Marriott Hotel, Bellevue
January 15, 2013

Started the night listening to this all-star quintet. As usual Phil Sparks was playing great bass.

Tom Marriott also played very well. His leadership was evident with the song selection,and the band’s balance. When I go to the Racer Sessions I feel like everyone’s Dad or Grandpa … Here I felt like a kid. The songs were all pretty straight ahead stuff or  recognizable ballads.

Eric Verlinde is a great piano player. As in any community or industry, some people get all the hype, some don’t enough. Unfortunately Eric may be in the latter category, not that others don’t deserve what they get (and some don’t), I just believe Mr Verlinde deserves more. He played some solos that really wowed the crowd.

Mark Taylor is a special musician. His is a unique, great tone. His presentation is mature, professional, thoughtful, and honest. He KO’ed everyone on “body and soul” during the second set.

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Review: Eastlake Trio at Hiroshi’s

On The Scene with Howard LonderON THE SCENE WITH HOWARD LONDNER

Magic Jazz…
The Tom Marriott Trio
Tom Marriott – trumpet
Phil Sparks – double bass
Greg Williamson – drums

becomes The Eastlake Trio
Tom Marriott – trumpet
Phil Sparks – double bass
Bill Anschell – electric piano

Originally Greg Williamson was to play drums. He was ill, and replaced with Bill Anschell.

Hiroshi’s
2501 Eastlake Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98102
(206) 726-4966

Being the elite, professionals that the are, the transition from one trio to the other was not a problem. The set lists were enjoyable, and the balance of the different instruments was very good.

Bill Anschell is one of my favorite pianists in the PNW. Always a pleasure, always comps his band mates appropriately, energetically, always solos well. Helped keep time for Mr Sparks when he took a solo. Always a professional, always very good.

One may think, ok, who’s going to keep time without a drummer. A lot of people listen to the drums, as do some horn players. A lot of drummers will tell you they listen to the bass. Phil Sparks, the swing maestro, had everything under control. Good solos, good swinging base lines, making it easy for the others to hear him and dig the time… the cat shoulda got paid double.

Hiroshi’s is a restaurant, not a jazz joint. Tom Marriot was considerate of the patrons who came to eat not listen. He showed what a master of the dynamics he is. And it’s harder to play trumpet that way, having to control your breathe and chops like that. That was no problem for Mr Marriott, always a great musician. there’s a reason why he’s so well respected around here. I hope he considers playing cornet.

Thanks Tom, Phil, Bill.
Thank you.

Review: Analog Honking Device at The Chapel

On The Scene with Howard LonderON THE SCENE WITH HOWARD LONDNER

Analog Honking Device
Cynthia Mullis – tenor sax
Brent Jensen – soprano sax
Steve Kim – electric bass
Chris Symer – acoustic bass
Chris Icasiano – drums

presented by:
Wayward Music Series
Chapel Performance Space

Let’s begin by thanking the Wayward Music Series for presenting this fine concert, other past performances, and music that will be forthcoming.

Also, if anyone knows of another venue, or hall, or space that regularly has jazz, and has better acoustics, and depth and definition for the performer’s instruments in the PNW, please tell me about it.

The harshest criticisms I can make about tonight concert are that Mr. Kim was sometimes too loud during his solos, and that the band played the Girl from Ipanema … I hate that tune!  Otherwise, this concert was just GREAT!

There was a set list, Monk tunes, etc.The thing is, the band would start playing the head, their way, still very recognizable, and go from there. It was free, and it had swing. This music was free, and didn’t disrespect itself or where it came from.

The harmonies were incredible. Ms. Mullis and Mr. Jensen had some fantastic harmony going on. Brent, how do you get such a big full sound out of that little horn? Steve Kim and Cynthia also had some good melodic harmony happening.

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Review: Collabrations at The Chapel

On The Scene with Howard LonderONE THE SCENE WITH HOWARD LONDNER

Collaborations:
Briggan Krauss – alto sax
Wayne Horvitz – electronics and electronic keyboards
Robin Holcomb – piano and voice
Peggy Lee – cello
Dylan Van Der Schyff – percussion

January 05,2013
Wayward Music Series
The Chapel Performance Space

Wayne, I enjoy when you play hammond B3 or piano, and I like a lot of the things you write, I’m sorry Man, I have a lot of trouble with electronics. And since I don’t like to watch tennis, my opinion of a match wouldn’t be any good, so I’m not going to say anything about the electronic end of the gig.

That, and I thought some songs ended too abruptly, should have stretched out further are the only things I didn’t care for…

Overall I think the music was either very good, or very excellant. The first part the ladies, Ms Holcomb and Ms Lee performed. Second part, only the gentlemen, Mr Krauss, Mr Horvitz, and Mr Van Der Schyff. The third and final part all five played together.

Someone told me once that Berg, the modern classical composer was erasing some of a composition students’ notes on the sheet music.When the student asked why he was doing that, Berg replied that the silence between the notes were as important as the notes themselves. I think Ms Holcomb has a pretty good handle on that. She and Ms Lee had the right amount of harmony and disharmony. I also thought there was some classical style impressionism involved. They did about six or seven songs (I don’t remember exactly. ) and Robin sang on about half of them. She has a nice pleasant voice. Both ladies are excellant musicians.

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