Album Review: Ray Vega & Thomas Marriott/ East West Trumpet Summit- “Coast to Coast”

For some people, the whole notion of an east-west summit of anything in jazz brings up the perceived differences over time between American west coast jazz and its east coast counterpart. The basic premise is that jazz on the American west coast is a cousin to the cool jazz movement, a calmer, less soulful part of the tradition that relies more on composition and arrangement than the playing of individual improvisers. East coast jazz is seen more as hard driving, soulful and rooted deeply in the blues. All of these perceptions have been eclipsed in great part by among other aspects of modern living, the internet and efficient commercial air travel. Follow link to All About Jazz to continue

Album Review: Jeff Johnson- “My Heart”

What could possibly be so interesting about a thirty-two-year old session of first takes, recorded live to 2-track DAT by a quartet led by a Seattle- based bassist who is not exactly a household name? A quick answer would include superlatives such as “masterful,” or “historic.” A brief history of bassist and composer Jeff Johnson creates a better sense of understanding. Johnson is perhaps best known as a pioneering member of pianist Hal Galper’s revolutionary rubato trio of the ’90’s, and ’00’s. His education in music was not from an institution of higher education, but from the fertile jazz scene of the early ’70’s in his native Minneapolis. His original sound would later be nuanced by time spent in Texas and Oklahoma, and by time spent alongside masters, including such greats as Philly Joe Jones, during a brief tenure in New York. Follow link to All About Jazz to continue

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

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

CD Review- Chamber 3: Transatlantic

Chamber 3 began as a trio effort started by German guitarist Christian Eckert, and Seattle based drummer Matt Jorgensen, who forged a friendship while studying at the New School in New York in the early nineties. Over the years, they engaged in many projects and tours together, culminating in this project that includes German tenor saxophonist Steffen Weber. The band added a fourth member in the person of Seattle bassist Phil Sparks for their last release, Grassroots (OA2, 2017), and returns the same lineup for the new Origin release, Transatlantic (OA2, 2018).

Continue reading here

CD Review: Bill Anschell- Shifting Standards (Origin)

Seattle based pianist Bill Anschell has created a tremendous body of work over the past 30 years, as a composer, musical director, and pianist. He returned to Seattle in 2002 after 25 years abroad and formed a relationship with Origin Records, releasing more than a dozen records both as a leader and co-leader. Whether composing and performing original pieces, or interpreting standards ranging from Cole Porter to Lennon/McCartney, Anschell has consistently upheld a rare standard of excellence.

Anschell’s musical personality can perhaps be best experienced within the confines of Tula’s Jazz Club, an intimate jazz spot in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. He typically performs with two separate combos, a quartet that performs his own works, and a standards trio featuring trailblazing bassist Jeff Johnson, and wonderfully talented drummer D’Vonne Lewis. The trio has been performing on and off since 2007, and have achieved an intuitive, almost telepathic musical relationship that produces moments only attained through the one-mindedness of the piano trio format. They perform in the area of 80 standards, never play from a set list, and are subject to the momentary whims of Anschell’s inventive curiosity. At long last, the trio has released a definitive collection of standards aptly titled Shifting Standards on the Origin label. To continue reading, please follow this link-

Photos: Kendra Shank and John Stowell in Bellingham

By Jim Levitt

Photos from the Bellingham show which concluded the Kendra Shank/John Stowell West Coast tour supporting the release of their “New York Conversations” recording on TCB.

This show, at the Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth, was part of the Jazz Project “Art of Jazz” series. Kendra (vocals and looper) and John (guitars) performed the first set as a duo. In the second set, they were joined by Jeff Johnson on bass, and Jud Sherwood on drums.

Kendra and John kicked off their East Coast tour with a show at Roulette, in Brooklyn, on Sunday, May 4th.

Vocalist Kendra Shank and guitarist John Stowell finished their West Coast tour with a concert in Bellingham, WA, part of the Art of Jazz series put on by the Jazz Project.

Vocalist Kendra Shank and guitarist John Stowell finished their West Coast tour with a concert in Bellingham, WA, part of the Art of Jazz series put on by the Jazz Project.

Vocalist Kendra Shank and guitarist John Stowell finished their West Coast tour with a concert in Bellingham, WA, part of the Art of Jazz series put on by the Jazz Project.

Vocalist Kendra Shank and guitarist John Stowell finished their West Coast tour with a concert in Bellingham, WA, part of the Art of Jazz series put on by the Jazz Project.

Vocalist Kendra Shank and guitarist John Stowell finished their West Coast tour with a concert in Bellingham, WA, part of the Art of Jazz series put on by the Jazz Project.

Photos: Yosvany Terry Quintet – Earshot Jazz Festival

Photos by Daniel Sheehan,

The 2013 Earshot Jazz Festival prsented the Yosvany Terry Quintet at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute.

The Harlem-based Cuban saxophonist Yosvany Terry addresses both the ancient and the immediate, working in a sonic world of Afro-Cuban polyrhythms and sophisticated jazz structures – with Michael Rodriguez (trumpet), Osmany Paredes (piano), Matt Brewer (bass) and Clarence Penn (drums).

See more photos at

Photos: Trumpet Madness at Tula’s

from Daniel Sheehan’s

Friday night at Tula’s saw a return of Jay Thomas this time with his Trumpet Madness.  Jay Thomas brought Willie Thomas (trumpet), young Seattle trumpeters, John Hansen (piano), Chuck Kistler (bass) and Adam Kessler (drums) to Tula’s.

A versatile multi-instrumentalist, Thomas began to develop his lyrical and bluesy tone as a teen on scholarship to Berklee. He then worked and studied for several years in New York, then, the Bay Area. Later, in Seattle, Thomas became a frequent member of the house band at Parnell’s Jazz Club, working with artists George Cables, Charles McPherson, Bill Mays, Ralph Penland, Harold Land, Diane Schuur, Slim Gaillard and many jazz greats as they traveled through Seattle. Today, he is a member of one of Japan’s leading big bands, where he records and performs several times a year. Often, he shares those star players with audiences in the States.

For more photos from the Earshot Jazz Festival, check out

Photos: Bill Ramsay Tribute at Earshot Jazz Festival

Photos by Daniel Sheehan,

Earshot Jazz Festival presented the Bill Ramsay Tribute and it was wonderful. Featuring his septet – with Jay Thomas (trumpet), Travis Ranney (sax), Dan Marcus (trombone), John Hansen (piano), Greg Williamson (drums), Chuck Deardorf (bass) – legendary Northwest saxophonist Bill Ramsay (baritone saxophone) is among Seattle’s best.

A former member of the Count Basie Orchestra, and a veteran of many of the nation’s outstanding big bands, including the bands of Thad Jones, Cab Calloway, Mel Lewis, Gene Harris, Quincy Jones and the Benny Goodman Octet, Ramsay recently toured the western United States with the Duke Ellington Orchestra (under the direction of Paul Ellington). He was inducted to the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame in 1997.

View more photos of this show, and all Earshot Jazz Festival events at

Photos: Industrial Revelation at Tula’s


The 2013 Earshot Jazz Festival kicked off with two shows, Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette at BENAROYA HALL and Industrial Revelation at TULA’S. They were both formidable performances. Here are pictures from Industrial Revelation since Keith Jarrett is camera shy.

Widely regarded as the best drummer in Seattle, D’Vonne Lewis proppeled Seattle’s homegrown, hard-hitting post-genre quartet – with bassist Evan Flory-Barnes, Rhodes pianist Josh Rawlings and trumpeter Aham Oluo.

See more photos from this event and other Earshot shows at

Photos: Dawn Clement LP release show at Columbia City Theater

Photos by Jim Levitt

Dawn Clement marked the release of her Tempest/Cobalt LP with a show at the Columbia City Theater on Thursday, September 12th.

Dawn Clement – piano, Nord, vocals;
Johnaye Kendrick – keytar, voice;
Isacc Castillo – guitar and voice;
Ryan Burns – Moog, bass;
Jacques Willis – drums

Seattle Times: Jazz Port Townsend’s sweet Saturday afternoon

from The Seattle Times Blog:

The Clayton Brothers with Special Guest Stefon Harris at the 2013 Centrum Jazz Port Townsend Festival.
Photo by Jim Levitt

The Saturday afternoon triple bill at Jazz Port Townsend’s McCurdy Pavilion fired on all cylinders, unusual for a three-and-a-half hour show featuring three distinctly different acts.

Up first was the Clayton Brothers band — more accurately the Clayton family band, since it featured not only festival artistic director and bassist John Clayton and his brother, alto saxophonist Jeff, but John’s fiery, dredlock-bedecked son, Gerald, who plays piano. This was essentially the same sextet that tore up the Public House in Port Townsend Friday, with the difference that John Clayton replaced Joe Sanders and that the group played a prepared set, including a world premiere.

With Terrell Stafford on trumpet, Stefon Harris on vibes and Obed Calvaire on drums, the band had firepower to spare, and they took no prisoners in a set characterized by thick textures, high pressure, sizzling cross-rhythms, soulful swing and a refreshing variety of tempos, instrumentation and solo order. On the opening tune, a rhythmically tricky original by Jeff Clayton titled “Cha Cha Charleston,” Stafford let fly a bravura circus of high notes and muscular, percussive phrases, then continued to outdo himself all afternoon. Jeff, whose girth and mustache recall Fats Waller, mugged with minty surprise at Stafford’s virtuosity, one arm akimbo, as if to say, “Get a load of that!”

Continue reading at The Seattle Times

Review: Human Spirit, Dialogue

from All About Jazz | Buy Dialogue at Human Spirit’s website

The three players who now call themselves Human Spirit—drummer Matt Jorgensen, trumpeter Thomas Marriott and alto saxophonist Mark Taylor—have a very successful track record of recording together. They teamed up on Jorgensen’s magnificent Tattooed by Passion (2010) and Another Morning (2008), and on Marriott’s strange and splendid Crazy: The Music of Willie Nelson (2008) and Flexicon (2009), all on Seattle’s Origin Records. But the idea of the group’s name came certainly from Marriott’s Human Spirit (Origin Records), teaming the trio with organist Gary Versace for one of 2011’s most dynamic and modern-sounding recordings.

Dialogue finds the group—with special guests sitting in on piano and bass—in a live setting at the Earshot Jazz Festival, and sounding very spirited indeed. Jorgensen, Marriott and Taylor have a special genius for for taking the standard jazz quintet—sax, trumpet and rhythm section—and breathing new life into the format. The distinct ensemble sound comes, in part, from the melding of Taylor’s tart tone, with its “lemonade a couple of teaspoons short on the sugar” tang blending with Marriott’s clean, pure timbre. A vibrant simpatico rises up, whether the horn men are playing unison lines or interweaving long notes, leading to always-inspired soloing. Jorgensen, in the drum chair, channels tumultuous grooves and—as the best of the best drummers seem to do (like the late Paul Motian, and Al Foster)—makes everyone sound better, as he subtly boosts the music and catches the ear with the unexpected.

Dialogue‘s tunes are all originals: two by Jorgensen; two from Taylor; and four from perhaps nominal leader Marriott. It’s a live show, and the energy level is high, with mostly up-tempo workouts and lots of fire. And the special guests are inspired choices, as they’ve always been with Human Spirit—whether, as on previous recordings, it was guitarist Corey Christiansen and keyboardist Ryan Burns, or bassists Geoff Harper, Dave Captein or Jeff Johnson. The guest slots on Dialogue go to pianist Orrin Evans, who plays with percussive gusto, and bassist Essiet Essiet, who supplies a solid foundation for the horns’ soaring free flights.

Human Spirit offers up high wire jazz quintet sound with Dialogue, an outing that takes a standard lineup and shifts it into a different dimension.

Track Listing: In Unity; Stepford and Son; Reversal of Fortune; Song for Samuel; After Hours; 148 Lexington; Pelham Gardens.

Personnel: Thomas Marriott: trumpet; Mark Taylor: alto saxophone; Matt Jorgensen: drums; Orrin Evans: piano; Essiet Essiet: bass.

Gifting the Hammond B3 on CD

from the December Issue of Earshot:

If you’re in need of a gift for a Hammond B3 fan, multiple 2011 releases by Northwest artists feature the organ:

McTuff Trio
McTuff Volume 2: After the Show

Joe Doria Music
Dynamic, inventive music conversations by Joe Doria on the B3, with Andy Coe on guitar and D’vonne Lewis on drums.

The Nightcrawlers
Down in the Bottom

Cellar Live
Vintage B3 sounds out of Vancouver, BC, featuring a handful of local guest artists with Cory Weeds, alto saxophone; Steve Kaldestad, tenor saxophone; Chris Gestrin, Hammond B3; and Jesse Cahill, drums.

Thomas Marriott
Human Spirit

Origin Records
Hammond B3 artist Gary Versace joins an evident and expanding musical rapport shared by trumpeter Thomas Marriott, alto saxophonist Mark Taylor and drummer Matt Jorgensen.

The Young Lizards
Our Modern Lifestyle

Pony Boy Records
Smart, clean, fun B3 quartet with Greg Williamson on drums, Ty Bailie on Hammond B3, Dave Petersen on guitar, and Chris Fagan on saxophone; features John Coltrane’s “Mr. Day,” from Coltrane Plays the Blues, Joe Henderson pieces, and “Three Views of a Secret” by Jaco Pastorious. Hip!

Matt Jorgensen featured in December DownBeat

Seattle drummer Matt Jorgensen is featured in the Players section of the December issue of Downbeat magazine (with Trombone Shorty on the cover). The issue is currently on newsstands so pick up your copy before the month is out.

The story details Jorgensen’s time in New York, his move back to his hometown of Seattle, the start of Origin Records and some of his recent projects.

Returning to Seattle in 2002, Jorgensen not only established a reputation as a versatile sideman throughout the West Coast; he also helped operate a record label that was starting to receive attention. “The attraction of moving back to Seattle was being able to stay in one town and really have more of a home base,” he said.

… Jorgensen and John Bishop, another Seattle drummer, began Origin Records in 1997 as a means to document their own work, in addition to the music of their friends and peers in the Pacific Northwest. It has developed into an imprint whose catalog includes 340 albums, many featuring nationally recognized artists. After producing a series of bookings at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, the two established the Ballard Jazz Festival in 2003, a five-day event showcasing regional and national artists.

You can read the article online or pick up the December issue of DownBeat (and see the snazy color photo!)

Review: Mordy Ferber at Jazzscapes

By Carolyn Graye

Israeli-born guitarist and composer, Mordy Ferber, completed a West Coast tour earlier this month. He teamed up with drummer Greg Williamson and bassist Chris Symer for a run of Seattle area gigs that included Boxley’s in North Bend, the Jazz and Sushi series at Hiroshi’s, and a set at the Pony Boy Jazz Picnic. In addition, Mordy and Chris also played an intimate duo house concert that was interesting on several levels.

Ivy Nugent and Julie Olson have been presenting musicians at Ivy and Jamie Nugent’s West Seattle home under the auspices of Jazzscapes. This show wasn’t part of their regular programming, but the setting was just as spectacular. A beautiful garden overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains, great live music, wine, appetizers…really, what’s not to love? And the story behind the event is just as unique.

In May, Ivy was walking on a beach in Tel Aviv and noticed a guy wearing a Pony Boy tee shirt. She got to talking with him, found out he was a jazz guitarist, and invited him to do a gig at her home the next time he came to Seattle. Four months later, Mordy was serenading her guests, her neighbors, and the fish in her lily pond.

Ferber uses an artful combination of effects to create a distinctly personal sound. His early love of rock and roll combines with a jazz sensibility that makes arrangements of standards anything but routine. Ballads (Peace, When Sunny Gets Blue, Blue in Green,) blues (Turn Around, Blue Monk,) and up tempo tunes (In Your Own Sweet Way, Sweet and Lovely,) were all deftly dismantled and reassembled with skill and sensitivity.

But as nice as the standards were, the highlight of the evening was a short, haunting original, ‘River of Life,’ from a yet-to-be released recording titled Reflection. When we chatted during the break, Mordy mentioned that he missed hearing the piano and drum parts on the CD (which features Portland-based musicians Greg Goebel, Todd Strait, Rob Davis, and Dave Captein.) But from the audience’s perspective, the duo version was a knock out.

Ferber won a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music, and moved to the U.S. when he was twenty-three. He graduated in 1987, built up a following in Boston, and moved to New York in 1990. Since then he’s performed and recorded with Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, Billy Hart, Richie Beirach, Richard Bona, and a host of other internationally known artists. He’s currently on the faculty of the New School and continues to tour internationally, record, and compose for TV and film.

Go hear him the next time he’s in town. And if you get a chance to do that on a beautiful summer evening with a magenta sunset, all the better.

Review: Thomas Marriott, Constraints and Liberations

from the October 2011 issue of Downbeat magazine:

Thomas Marriott, Constraints & Liberations
Origin Records 82577
4 1/2 Stars

The music on Constraints & Liberations operates and resides in that state between dreams and reality. The record slowly simmers with a restrained intensity and rarely comes to a boil.

The soloists are stellar and never fail to tell engaging stories. Thomas Marriott’s trumpet sound is as lush and inviting as it comes. “Up From Under” and “Clues” give him plenty of room to slowly stretch out, like a tall man coming to from a deep sleep and remembering how to walk. Pianist Gary Versace is a master at taking simple ideas and developing them until he’s exhausted all possibilities. His solo on “Clues” is exciting, as his increase in dynamics and intensity coincides with the most fruitful developments of his initial statement. Hans Teuber possesses a complex subtone sound and one of the fresher tenor approaches today.

Marriott’s rhythm section kills. The bass/drums tandem of Jeff Johnson and John Bishop holds down the Hal Galper Trio and is twothirds of the trio Scenes. Their significant time together has allowed them to share a common musical consciousness and approach.
—Chris Robinson