Tom Varner’s “heaven and hell” premier at SAM

From Paul de Barros’ Friday column in The Seattle Times:

Musician-composer Tom Varner’s “heaven and hell”: life’s highs and lows set to music
by Paul de Barros
Seattle Times Jazz Critic

“Heaven and Hell,” a major new work by French horn player Tom Varner, premieres Thursday as part of the Earshot Art of Jazz series at the Seattle Art Museum.

The title, said Varner in a phone interview, refers to the “hell” of having experienced Sept. 11 while living in New York, and the “heaven” of becoming a father, in particular when he and his wife flew to Vietnam nine days after Sept. 11 to adopt their son.

Easily the most highly regarded jazz French horn player in the world, Varner moved to Seattle two years ago and has been a wonderful addition to the scene.

“The older we get, we know life is more of a combo platter of heavens and hells we live through,” he said.

Varner started writing “Heaven and Hell” in 2003, during a three-week residency at the prestigious MacDowell Arts Colony.

“I sat there where Leonard Bernstein worked on his mass,” said the effusive Varner. “It was just a few cabins away from where [Aaron] Copland worked on “Appalachian Spring.”

The new, 13-movement piece is written for tentet — five reeds, three brass, bass and drums (no piano) — the largest ensemble he has written for and also his most ambitiously through-composed work.

In addition to Varner, the lineup features Jesse Canterbury, clarinet; Saul Cline, soprano sax; Mark Taylor, alto sax; Eric Barber, tenor sax; Jim DeJoie, baritone sax; Russ Johnson, trumpet (from New York); Chris Stover, trombone; Phil Sparks, bass; and Byron Vannoy, drums.

SAM Art of Jazz Concert Series:
The world premiere of Tom Varner’s “Heaven and Hell,” a new work for tentet
Thursday, April 10, 2008, 5:30 p.m., Seattle Art Museum, 1st Ave and Union St. Free with museum admission.  All ages.

The Stranger Reviews Thomas Marriott’s “Crazy: The Music of Willie Nelson”

Seattle newspaper The Stranger has a nice review of Thomas Marriott’s Crazy: The Music of Willie Nelson:

I phoned Seattle trumpeter Thomas Marriott with just one question about his latest disc, Crazy: The Music of Willie Nelson (Origin): Why Willie Nelson?

As if anticipating my question, Marriott reflected, “In jazz, we have a lexicon of songs—the repertory of standard tunes. Many of them,” he added, “come from movies made in the 1930s. The repertory needs updating.”

It’s rare to see jazz coverage in any of our mainstream media here, so this article is an especially nice nod to both the new and old in Seattle’s jazz scene, also mentioning today’s Buddy Catlett concert.

To read the entire article online, click here, or pick up a print copy today.

Seattle Times: Cellist and all-around artist seeks beauty in improv

From The Seattle Times:

When Paul Rucker calls himself a cellist, bassist, composer, band leader and visual artist who plays pop, rock, jazz and classical music, he’s not padding his résumé. He’s just being honest.

In July, this brilliant polymath added yet another tag to his name: community arts liaison for the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.

“It’s been an interesting year,” reflects the 39-year-old musician in a mellow, measured voice reminiscent of his primary instrument, the cello. “The weird thing is that I’m playing more than I’ve ever played in my life.”

Read the complete article at The Seattle Times

Jeff Johson & John Bishop to NYC with Hal Galper

Bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John Bishop will be heading to New York City later this week to perform with pianist Hal Galper at the Jazz Improv Convention on Saturday, October 27th, at 9:00pm at the Herald Square Suite at the New Yorker Hotel.

Johnson and Bishop recorded a CD with Galper this past summer entitled Furious Rubato which was released on Origin Records.

Click here for tickets and information about the Jazz Improv Convention.

Seattle Jazz Scene Featured In The Seattle Times

Our website was recently featured in the Seattle Times talking about the launch and the Seattle Jazz Showcase which starts on Monday:

Gig-abyte: New Web site leads to jazz showcase
By Raina Wagner
Seattle Times jazz critic

Maybe we should just call October Jazz Month and be done with it.

The 2007 Earshot Jazz Festival is on the horizon (Oct. 19-Nov. 4), and as if that weren’t enough, a host of local jazz musicians have come together to present the Seattle Jazz Showcase, three weeks of concerts starting Monday and continuing through Nov. 1.

The concert series actually grew out of a new Web site,, said drummer Matt Jorgensen, one of the musicians behind the new endeavor.

“The jazz scene can get kind of fractured” in this city, said Jorgensen, who also co-produces the annual Ballard Jazz Walk. Through the new Web site, the local scene has a single venue that publicizes everything going on around town.

“And what better way to get the word out [about launch of the site] than to have a bunch of gigs around it?” Jorgensen asked.

Read the complete article at The Seattle Times