On the Scene: Live Jazz Previews for June

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn Pianist Orrin Evans

Live jazz carries with it a social component that is every bit as important as the music itself. The fellowship and celebration of community is the life affirming aspect of the live jazz experience, something sorely missing during the past two and a half years. The month of June provides many opportunities to get out and be a part of it all. Below is a cross-section of those dates, selected by seattlejazzscene.com. Look them over, and look beyond. In any case, get on out the door and support jazz music and community.

Tom Baker Quartet

Wed June 1, 7:30 PM/ Royal Room

Back after a ten year hiatus due to geographical obstacles, guitarist Tom Baker reconvenes this exploratory quartet that notably includes Seattle drummer/percussionist Greg Campbell. Clarinetist Jesse Canterbury, and bassist Brian Cobb add to the eclectic mix. The foursome has authored a pair of albums, the last being SAVE in 2009. Terms such as “jazz adjacent” and “jazz-hued soundscapes” have been bandied about in attempting to describe the band’s sound. That is left up to interpretation, but jazz audiences will no doubt appreciate the quartet’s ultimate mission statement. https://theroyalroomseattle.com/event/tom-baker-quartet/?instance_id=3846

Mc Tuff V3

Fri Jun 3, 7:30 PM/ North City Bistro

The latest iteration of Joe Doria’s B3 trio features guitarist Cole Schuster and drummer Ehssan Karimi. Doria’s virtuosity is sometimes taken for granted around town, with his long term installment at the Seamonster in Wallingford offering weekly engagement with the soulful keyboardist. At NCB, the gig is a classic jazz supper club, with an attentive audience at hand, dining and enjoying the bistro’s impressive wine selection. Schuster’s style is steeped in the jazz tradition, with tentacles reaching into a cross section of blues based forms. Karimi can match Doria’s energy point by point, providing a firm push forward in straight ahead fashion. Once again, one wonders if Doria’s Leslie driven wizardry and the trio’s dynamic, voluminous presence will challenge the limitations of the room. Lift off is sure to happen. https://northcitybistro.com/event/mctuff-v3/

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

Marina Albero Quartet

Sat Jun 4, 7 PM/ Frederick Holmes Art Gallery

The Hot Jazz at the Gallery series continues at the Frederick Holmes Gallery in the Pioneer Square with Barcelona born, now eight year Seattle resident, Marina Albero. Albero’s piano style reflects her journey in music, with jazz, flamenco, Catalan and Cuban influences. Her work on hammered dulcimer is groundbreaking and visionary. In this iteration of her quartet, she features long-time associate Hans Teuber, an inventive multi-reedist, along with bassist Evan Flory Barnes and drummer Jeremy Jones. The series is new and welcome addition to the city’s jazz landscape. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hot-jazz-at-the-gallery-with-marina-albero-quartet-tickets-344300811997

Rogerio Boccato Quarteto

Mon Jun 6, 7 PM/ Royal Room

Hailing from Sao Paulo, Brazil, percussionist Rogerio Boccato has performed with Maria Schneider, Kenny Garrett, John Patitucci, Brian Blade and Danilo Perez among others. He brings his Brazilan jazz legacy to the Royal Room, accompanied by saxophonist Dan Blake, pianist Nando Michelin and bassist Jay Anderson. The performance will feature music from his first solo album, No Old Rain, an exploration of four post- bossa Brazilian composers- Toninho Horta, Milton Nascimento, Egberto Gismonti, and Edu Lobo. Stick around after the show for the Monday jazz jam with Thomas Marriott at 9 PM. https://theroyalroomseattle.com/event/rogerio-boccato-quarteto/?instance_id=3901

Seattle Jazz Fellowship Presents: Orrin Evans &The Captain Black Big Band

Tue Jun 7 & Wed Jun 8, 7:30 PM/ Royal Room

The twice Grammy-nominated Captain Black Big Band blows into the Royal Room for a two night engagement presented by the Seattle Jazz Fellowship. Led by Philadelphia based pianist Orrin Evans, the band features a sampling of top New York and Philly musicians. Evans has become a true friend of the Seattle jazz scene via his personal friendship and musical connection with trumpeter and Seattle Jazz Fellowship founder Thomas Marriott. The June 7th performance is for SJF members only, with the June 8 performance open to the public. Memberships start at $50, a fee that will include the show, a Julian Priester “Spontaneous Composition” t-shirt, and discounts at all SJF events for the calendar year of 2022. 

Band members include bassist Luques Curtis, drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr., trombonists David Gibson and Reggie Watkins, saxophonists Troy Roberts and Caleb Wheeler Curtis and trumpeters Marriott and Charlie Porter. Evans is the leader of the band, and one of the most innovative of modern jazz pianists. The opportunity to see a band of this quality, in the intimate confines of the Royal Room is not to be missed. https://theroyalroomseattle.com/event/seattle-jazz-fellowship-presents-orrin-evans-and-captain-black-big-band-2/?instance_id=3923

Dave Weckl/Tom Kennedy Project

Tue Jun 7, 7:30 PM/ Jazz Alley

High energy fusion is coming to the Alley, with one of the greats behind the kit in Dave Weckl. Bassist Tom Kennedy adds an extra push on both acoustic and electric bass, along with a compositional prowess that has his nearly 25 year tenure in Weckl’s band in mind. Saxophonist Bob Franceschini and pianist Stu Mindeman join the eclectic duo to create a formidable fusion force. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=6324

Photo Credit: Lisa Hagen Glynn

Monday Night Jam at the Royal Room with Thomas Marriott

Mon Jun 6,13,20,27. 9 PM/ Royal Room

The Monday night jam at the Royal Room has attracted a number of the city’s best musicians, along with newcomers, upcomers and younger players. Host Thomas Marriott has done a great job curating the session, promoting participation and mentorship in the process. The 9 PM session often follows a first set featuring the Wayne Horvitz led Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble. All ages are welcome, and all are encouraged to do so. Better yet, the hang is first rate! https://theroyalroomseattle.com/event/royal-room-jazz-jam-session-hosted-by-thomas-marriott/?instance_id=3066

Thana Alexa

Sun Jun 12, 6 & 8:30 PM/ Royal Room

Grammy nominated vocalist/composer Thana Alexa descends on Columbia City to play two shows at the Royal Room. Alexa is a vocal artist that uses her voice both as a lyrical and experimental instrument. She arrives in Seattle with a stellar band that includes drummer Antonio Sanchez, bassist Matt Brewer and pianist Rachel Eckroth. Alexa’s music invites exploration, and necessitates a band that can support that vision. The presence of Sanchez is reason enough to attend, but do not underestimate Alexa’s virtuosity. Brewer’s artistry on both double bass and electric is the jazz tie that binds here. This continues what amounts to a stellar month of June on the corner of Rainier and Hudson. https://theroyalroomseattle.com/event/thana-alexa-ona-early-show/?instance_id=3747

Christian McBride

Tue & Wed Jun 14&15, 7:30 PM/ Jazz Alley

Bassist Christian McBride has become a major force in the jazz world. Musically, he finds time to front a big band, his New Jawn Quartet and Inside Straight, all the while hosting Jazz Night in America on NPR and acting as creative director of the Newport Jazz Festival. For this run at Jazz Alley, he leads a new band with a northwest twist- Portland born and raised tenor saxophonist Nicole Glover is on the front line, paired with guitarist Ely Pearlman. Glover has been touring with Artemis, replacing Melissa Aldanna in the all female supergroup. Her probing style is powerful, assertive and melodic. Mike King joins on piano, with Savannah Harris on drums.  https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=6310

Greta Matassa Quintet

Sun Jun 19, 7 PM/ Aurora Borealis

Seattle’s finest jazz singer since the great Ernestine Anderson (yes, I’ve mentioned this a few times over the years), Greta Matassa hits the north end for a night at Aurora Borealis. While Matassa sets her sights continually towards newer and more innovative arrangements, her core values as a jazz singer have remained steadfast. More importantly, the quality of her voice has remained world class, giving her the instrument to explore new horizons not unlike any jazz instrumentalist. Matassa is a veteran bandleader as well, and always maintains a light grip on the band, allowing it to hit on all cylinders as a unit. https://borealisonaurora.com/event/greta-matassa-quintet-2/

Duende Libre Trio- A Tribute to Chick Corea

Thu Jun 23, 7:30 PM/ Royal Room

While Duende Libre has recorded and performed as a quintet with vocals the past few years, the band’s roots lie as a trio. Pianist Alex Chadsey, electric bassist Farko Dosumov and drummer/percussionist Jeff Busch possess a unique quality that uses the jazz piano trio as a launchpad into world rhythms and cultural exploration. These qualities well describe much of Chick Corea’s work as well, setting up an evening of tribute to the recently passed master. Chadsey is an accomplished pianist, and certainly worthy of the challenge. Dosumov has the unique ability to fit into different musical elements in chameleon-like fashion, yet maintain his singularly unique approach to electric bass. Busch is the color that decorates the sound, doing so much more than being the caretaker of rhythm. https://theroyalroomseattle.com/event/knkx-presents-duende-libre-trio-a-tribute-to-chick-corea/?instance_id=3889

Lizz Wright

Thu Jun 23- Sun Jun 26, 7:30 & 9:30 PM/ Jazz Alley

Jazz Alley has strayed a bit from presenting modern jazz, often staging rhythm and blues and world sounds. Vocalist Lizz Wright fits right in between those two approaches to presentation. A soulful, blues based alto, Wright has sifted through much of American Black music in intricate fashion. Grace, her latest release for Concord is no exception. The music reaches back to the roots of blues based music, her voice blending those sounds into a highly organic, soulful mix. Wright is joined by guitarist Adam Levy, pianist Ken Banks, Sr., bassist Ben Zwerin and drummer Ivan Edwards. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=6338

Samara Joy with the Pasquale Grasso Trio

Mon Jun 27, 7:30 PM/ Jazz Alley

Vocalist Samara Joy has been recognized in all the ways one has come to expect in this day and age–by opening eyes at JALC’s Essentially Ellington Competition, and winning the Sarah Vaughn International Jazz Vocal Competition. Her roots are in gospel, her training in church choir, lending to a very natural and unforced approach to jazz vocals. Joy passed through town last year in duo with pianist Sullivan Fortner, this time around accompanied by guitarist Pasquale Grasso, bassist Ari Roland and drummer Keith Balla. A must attend gig for the jazz vocal community in Seattle. https://www.jazzalley.com/www-home/artist.jsp?shownum=6330

Charlie Porter Quintet

Mon Jun 27, 7 PM/ Royal Room

Trumpeter Charlie Porter is a bi-coastal musician these days, spening time in Portland and New York. He comes to the Royal Room to play music from his soon to be released album, Cypher, drawing musicians from both his east and west coast bands. Personnel TBA. Porter’s new music explores the folklore and history of the Pacific Northwest. 

Porter is a player of the highest caliber who can perform in both the jazz and classical worlds. He has performed with many modern masters, including Ira Sullivan, Pacquito D’Rivera, Joe Zawinul, Jay Thomas and Jimmy Greene. His last two releases on the Origin Records label, Hindsight and Immigration nation received accolades from Downbeat and All About Jazz. https://theroyalroomseattle.com/event/charlie-porter-quintet/?instance_id=3917

Amendola vs. Blades featuring Cyro Baptista & Skerik

Fri Jun 24, 7:30 PM/ Triple Door

Finally a flicker of light at the Triple Door, as Hammond B-3 organ wizard Will Blades teams up with drummer Scott Amendola to present the first actual jazz performance at the Trip since the dawn of the pandemic. The twosome has extensive history together, resulting in a read and react quality to their music. Add eclectic saxophonist Skerik, Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker and percussionist Cyro Baptista to the mix and you have an explosive ensemble, capable of going virtually anywhere musically.  https://thetripledoor.net/mainstage-calendar

Calluna Supper Club

Calluna, on the north end of University Way, has been the site of some of the most memorable jazz performances in the city since owners Jason Moore and Heather Bourne decided to go in the direction of live jazz. Of course, both Moore and Bourne are well acquainted with the players on the scene from their eight year assoication with the now legendary Tula’s Jazz Club.

The June calendar is littered with the city’s jazz elite, featuring performances from Thomas Marriott, Bill Anschell, Greta Matassa, Stephanie Porter, Marc Seales and Gail Pettis. Brazilian jazz master Jovino Santos Neto appears in trio with Chuck Deardorf and Mark Ivester, with the art of the trio being explored as well by trailblazing bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John BIshop. Vocalist/guitarist Robert Vaughn will perform with bassist Clipper Anderson, adding to a vocal lineup that includes Matassa, Pettis, Porter, Kelley Johnson, Nicole Walters and Joan Penney. Follow the link here to check out the full music calendar. https://callunaseattle.com/music-calendar/

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: Why in one evening,”Fellowship Wednesdays” became the most important jazz hang in Seattle

Pianist Dylan Hayes leads a tribute to Jim Knapp, for Seattle Jazz Fellowship. Dylan Hayes, piano; Jay Thomas, trumpet and sax; Michael Glynn, bass; Xavier Lecouturier, drums;

It was 5 PM on a crisp Wednesday afternoon on December 1, and thirty people sat casually in the brick lined digs of Vermillion Art Gallery and Bar on Capitol Hill, intently listening to the soft spoken musings of jazz legend, Julian Priester. The historic trombonist was playing selections from his storied career that continually over the course of seven decades has stood at the progressive forefront of the music. This afternoon it was his work with Dave Holland and Herbie Hancock that was featured. His historical and cultural anecdotes were thrilling to hear, providing weekly attendees a unique perspective on the music that they had become passionate about.  

There are a variety of ways to enjoy jazz music performed at its highest level of artistry in Seattle. Many of those options include a cover and a high end price tag for dinner and drinks. Those venues tend to lack a major component of jazz culture- the hang. It is during that time before, between and after sets that cultivates community and enables fellowship. 

The Seattle Jazz Fellowship weekly offers Priester’s free listening session, and two sets featuring two separate ensembles of the finest resident jazz musicians in Seattle for a reasonable cover. Vermillion serves fine drinks at a very reasonable price. If you need to eat, you can pop over to Mario’s for a slice, or head around the corner to grab a burrito. The music is the focus, and because of the organization’s non-profit status, it can book and curate music that is not ruled by the age old “butts in the seats” mentality, but with the idea of artistry in music first and foremost. At the front door, vaccination status is checked, and a twenty dollar cover charged. Fellowship founder Thomas Marriott remarked at one point, “It’s a twenty dollar cover, if you can swing it.” The important thing to Marriott and the Fellowship, is that you are there in the first place, that the evening is treated as a sacred place of music for the entire community. 

The seventh edition of “Fellowship Wednesdays at Vermillion” featured young pianist/arranger Dylan Hayes performing a set of his quartet arrangements of the music of recently departed composer Jim Knapp, followed by the Nathan Breedlove Quartet. Hayes was joined by Seattle jazz icon and Knapp associate, Jay Thomas, first-call bassist Michael Glynn and drummer Xavier Lecouturier. Thomas, a 55 year veteran of the Seattle scene, played brilliantly, putting a shine on Hayes’ perfect arrangements. The focus and drive of the band revealed what has been a commonality with all fourteen sets presented thus far by the SJF–that the musicians bring their “A” game to the set, that the vibe of the room was one that invites and appreciates artistry. 

l to r: Xavier Lecouturier, Michael Glynn, Dylan Hayes                 Jim Levitt photo
Jay Thomas                                                 Jim Levitt photo
l to r: Xavier Lecouturier, Michael Glynn, Jay Thomas             Jim Levitt photo

Between sets, the hang was thick, with many of the city’s top musicians present, as well as a jazz audience that spanned generations. New players on the scene, now especially unknown due to the pandemic, emerge and become acquainted with their new community. Younger players are mentored by the more experienced players. The audience is able to interact with the musicians in a meaningful way. They are truly a part of the performance, of the evening’s activities. The room itself has a warm glow, an intimate, welcoming vibe. The all ages policy invites younger players and fans, and allows parents to share the music with their children. 

Just before hitting the stage for his set, veteran trumpeter Nathan Breedlove informed us that Delfeayo Marsalis would be dropping by. Indeed he did, playing most of the set with this assemblage of veterans that included pianist Ron Perrillo, bassist Phil Sparks and drummer Brian Kirk. Marsalis and Perrillo played both dynamically and melodically, with the live nature of the room projecting the sound through the narrow gallery to the rear of the club, through the doors, and out into the Capitol Hill night. Marsalis’ presence brought the striking realization that in only seven total nights of operation, the hang at Vermillion was gaining significant notoriety for all the right reasons. 

Delfeayo Marsalis                                              Jim Levitt photo
l to r: Brian KIrk, Phil Sparks, Nathan Breedlove                                    Jim Levitt photo
Brian Kirk                                                 Jim Levitt photo
l to r: Nathan Breedlove, Phil Sparks, Delfeayo Marsalis

With the playing of the last note of the evening, the room was electric, the vibration of the music still stirring in the room and in the souls of all those that attended. Old friends and new acquaintances were united in fellowship, which of course, is the point. SJF wants you to be there, to help create a sacred place for the music. One departs the room with an overwhelming sense of community, a true feeling of belonging to something sacred, historic and sustainable. With current economnic times in direct conflict with the proliferation of art, the model presented by Marriot and the SJF is proving to be one that promotes artistry and accessibility. It is a foundational source of fellowship as its name portends, within the framework of a community that has sustained itself over a century of time. The ambitions of the group to expand to five nights a week in a permanent home is the light that shows the way to the present and future of the Seattle jazz scene. The music, the gathering of friends and the emotional and spiritual high experienced by those fortunate enough to attend speaks loudly and clearly to that. 

Scroll down to On the Scene: Live Jazz Previews for December to see the full schedule of the Seattle Jazz Fellowship. Next week: Iconic jazz vocal artist Greta Matassa, and Latin Jazz piano firebrand Julio Jauregui lead their respective bands to the Vermillion stage. https://seattlejazzfellowship.org/

Nathan Breedlove                                        Jim Levitt photo
Phil Sparks (b), Ron Perrillo (p)                               Jim Levitt photo