Seattle Times: New Orleans sound takes a trip to Seattle, courtesy of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band

from The Seattle Times:

Everyone should experience Mardi Gras at least once, but if a trip to New Orleans isn’t in the cards, rest assured that the Dirty Dozen Brass Band is bringing a potent jolt of Crescent City soul to Seattle.

A New Orleans institution for more than 30 years, the Dirty Dozen revolutionized the brass-band tradition in the late 1970s by adding a bracing shot of bebop into an already savory musical gumbo. Born out of the Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band (a program created by the great banjoist and rhythm guitarist Danny Barker when he returned to New Orleans after decades as a top player on the New York jazz scene), the Dirty Dozen soaked up brass-band history while rubbing shoulders with jazz legends. The band, which tours as an eight-piece combo, plays Neumo’s on Thursday.

Continue reading at The Seattle Times.

Seattle Times: Kat Parra, a voice with personality and soul

FRI – SAT, Nov 14-15 – Kat Parra Quartet

4135 Providence Point Dr. SE
Issaquah, WA 98029
phone: 425-391-3335

from The Seattle Times:
by Andrew Gilbert
Special to The Seattle Times

At first listen, Kat Parra’s recent CD “Azucar de Amor” seems like a typical well-played session of Latin jazz. A veteran of the Bay Area salsa scene, Parra knows her way around clave, the fundamental pulse of Afro-Cuban music. The album’s title track, for instance, puts a mambo spin on “Sugar,” a funky jazz hit for Stanley Turrentine.

But Parra isn’t content with tried-and-true formulas. Since the release of her impressive 2006 debut “Birds In Flight,” the Oakland-based singer has created an ambitious repertoire based on a treasure trove of Ladino songs written when Sephardic Jews lived in Muslim-dominated Spain more than five centuries ago. The rhythmically expansive arrangements give a whole new meaning to Latin jazz.

“When I started digging deeper into the Golden Age of Spain, when Jews and Muslims lived closely together and shared innovations, I was blown away and fascinated by the period,” says Parra, who performs Friday and Saturday at Bake’s Place as part of the Visiting Songbirds Series; she brings her superlative working band featuring bassist Peter Barshay, drummer Paul van Wageningen and pianist Murray Low, who’s responsible for many of the charts.
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Seattle Times – Bake’s: a friendly place for jazz and more

From The Seattle Times:

… I’d had the wrong idea about Bake’s Place when I recently described it in print as a living room in a house. It used to be that five years ago, before it moved to its current locale, inside a building called Town Hall. Even post-move, people said it still felt like a living room; seeing it now, I think it’s more like a cozy restaurant dining room. A recent remodel knocked out the fireplace and shows off wraparound windows — outside there are up-close trees and faraway mountains — and the bar’s new. “Just put it in last week,” says Baker.

It’s all very tranquil and unforced. Baker’s right: I did have to come here to “get it.”

“It’s an awesome community,” says Baker of the Providence Pointers, though he could just as easily be talking about his family (his kids also work here) and everybody else who comes to Bake’s Place.

Different from Seattle jazz clubs by size (it only holds 85 people) and vibe, Bake’s Place is a sanctuary of love — of music, of people. And if you can’t respect that, see ya later.

continue reading at The Seattle Times.

Seattle Times: Jazz singer’s long road to intersection with destiny

from The Seattle Times

Now 79, Reed will return to Seattle for the first time since 1946, performing Tuesday and Wednesday night at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley with the man who could be fairly credited for discovering Reed: reed and trumpet player Peck Allmond.

“The first thing I thought when I heard him [at Jazz CampWEST] was, ‘Why don’t I have all his recordings?’ ” said Allmond, who played on both of Reed’s albums and produced Reed’s 2008 work, “The Song Is You.”

Reed, who lives in Richmond, Calif., and Allmond will perform with the other members of Allmond’s quartet, drummer Todd Strait, bassist Scott Steed and pianist Randy Porter. Empathetic and personal, Reed’s voice tells a story as much as it sings a song. Reed’s cinematic back story has attracted a lot of attention in a short time. He has played clubs in New York, Boston and San Francisco. And he recently recorded a segment of Marian McPartland’s radio show, “Piano Jazz.”

Seattle Times: Jeanie Bryson Quartet plays Bake’s Place

From The Seattle Times:

Head to Bake’s Place this weekend, and you’ll find yourself feeling it three ways: in the food, the alcohol and in Jeanie Bryson’s voice.

In fact, Bake’s Place in Issaquah might just be the best place to slip into a jazz coma. It’s called a “place” because it’s a repurposed house where you can eat dinner, drink or just watch and hear jazz artists in a “living room” where ghosts of families past watched TV and played Scrabble.

And Jeanie Bryson is the aural equivalent of a giant throw pillow. The daughter of Dizzy Gillespie sings in a gauzy romance voice, mixing the sexy with the Latin with the understated; she pulls you into her lovely haze with taste enough not to needlessly flit and float. Her business is soft-focus, misty-eyed romance. And business is good.

The Jeanie Bryson Quartet plays as part of Bake’s Place’s Visiting Songbirds Series. See the full three-course menu at

Seattle Times: Yes, there’s jazz at Bumbershoot — and even a jazz legend

From Hugo Kugiya’s story in The Seattle Times:

The outdoor stage upon which tenor saxophonist Hadley Caliman and his group will play Sunday at the Bumbershoot music and arts festival is among the more intimate at the event, a cozy nook with room for about 800, surrounded by exhibit rooms, sheltered from the rock-thirsty crowds the event is known for.

One of the oldest and most revered performers at the festival, the semiretired Caliman, 76, is among a relative handful of acts that comprise jazz at Bumbershoot this year. Most, if not all, of them (depending on your definition of jazz) will perform Sunday on the Wells Fargo Stage in the Northwest Court, the traditional venue for jazz at Bumbershoot.

While jazz is not the main reason that thousands mob the Seattle Center every Labor Day weekend, Caliman and musicians like him are what make Bumbershoot the unique event that it is, a true mix of forms, genres and interpretations.

Opportunities to hear Caliman play live are precious and becoming more so in the autumn of his career. His local shows, like those at Tula’s, typically sell out. He is about as old as the art form itself, coming of age in the era of big bands, when jazz music was the popular music of its time.

Born in Oklahoma and raised in Los Angeles, he studied with Dexter Gordon (Caliman’s nickname was “Little Dex”), and played with Bobby Hutcherson, Freddie Hubbard, Gerald Wilson, Joe Henderson, Nancy Wilson and Earl Hines, with whom he last played as a touring musician. He spent his 50s and 60s teaching at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts before retiring in 2000.

For the first time in decades, he said, “I could devote time to my own music.”

Earlier this year, he released his first album in more than 30 years, “Gratitude,” the fruit of what he called his “second career,” playing with musicians a generation younger. Some of the songs on the album, “Kickin’ on the Inside” and “Comencio,” he also recorded when he was a young musician.
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Seattle Times: Mark Taylor Quartet: A four-part fusion of friendship and music

From today’s Seattle Times:

Jazz musicians — and, more broadly, boys — bond over predictable things, so the collaboration between pianist Gary Fukushima and saxophonist Mark Taylor started with a question that went something like this:

“Hey Mark, you want to watch the Sonics game with me?”

About 15 years after they met as music students at the University of Washington, Taylor and Fukushima, both products of the area’s extraordinary high-school jazz programs, have just recorded their first album together as the Mark Taylor Quartet. The group, fresh out of the studio, will perform three sets tonight at Tula’s with bassist Jeff Johnson and Byron Vannoy on drums.

Continue reading at Seattle Times.

Seattle Times: Students dazzle in big-stage debuts at jazz fest

Pt. Townsend Jazz Festival review by Hugo Kugiya in The Seattle Times:

PORT TOWNSEND — The defining moment of Jazz Port Townsend was perhaps the one that was not planned.

On the last day of the jazz festival, a few hours before clouds and a sudden chill set in, a young woman in a floral print dress and white sandals, her toenails painted bright green, stepped onto the big stage with her acoustic bass.

Behind her was the festival big band, before her an audience of more than 1,200 who had never before heard of Kate Davis.

Plucked from one of the week’s many student workshops, Davis, 17, a senior-to-be at West Linn High School in Oregon, sang “Sometimes I’m Happy.” The arrangement was spare but perfectly balanced and suited to her talents. The song ended and the audience roared.

Continue reading at The Seattle Times

Seattle Times: Jazz Port Townsend: a touch of New Orleans and the Caribbean

by Hugo Kugiya in today’s Seattle Times

Tonight, in a former blimp hangar on the grounds of Fort Worden State Park, a rite of the Crescent City will be performed when New Orleans trombonist Wycliffe Gordon leads his band in a set of dance music from his hometown, bringing the second line to Jazz Port Townsend for the first time.

“Dances have always been popular at the festival,” said Jordan Hartt of Centrum, the local arts organization presenting the annual jazz festival. “We’ve done blues and jazz, but this is the first time we’ve had New Orleans dancing.”

Playing with Gordon’s band is guest trombonist Andre Hayward, a Houston native. Chairs will be moved and a large space cleared in front of the stage in McCurdy Pavilion for dancing that is part of the jazz tradition in New Orleans.

Continue reading at The Seattle Times

Seattle PI: His music may have rests, but Wayne Horvitz doesn’t

From The Seattle Times

Wayne Horvitz’s Very Busy Year continues with a performance by the Gravitas Quartet at the Chapel Performance Space in Wallingford on Saturday. Gravitas — just one of the Seattle-based composer/keyboardist’s many projects — is something like an improvisatory jazz combo colored by classical instrumentation: piano, cello (Peggy Lee), trumpet (Ron Miles) and bassoon (Sarah Schoenbeck).

The quartet’s second release, “One Dance Alone” (on the Songlines label), has received good reviews for its melancholy atmospherics punctuated by occasional bursts of melody. It’s one of at least four albums Horvitz is issuing with various collaborators this year.

Horvitz is a familiar figure locally and internationally. As a composer, he’s received commissions from the Kronos Quartet, Seattle Chamber Players and Earshot Jazz. He was a sound designer for Gus Van Sant’s “Psycho,” and has recorded with numerous artists, including John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, Bill Frisell, Fred Frith and composer Robin Holcomb, his wife.

Gravitas plays the Chapel after a one-night appearance at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival and will undertake a European tour in winter 2009.

Read the full article at The Seattle Times.

Seattle Times: Lucky Vancouver, B.C., gets Herbie Hancock next at Jazz Festival

From Paul de Barros’ Friday Seattle Times Column:

The 10-day Vancouver Jazz Festival, which starts Friday, is too good to need much hype, but this year Seattleites had the luxury of previewing the celebration’s stellar festival opening show.

Riding the wave of his Grammy-winning Album of the Year, “River: The Joni Letters,” Herbie Hancock delivered a tight, energetic and surprisingly hard-edged concert Wednesday at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall.

Though the 7:30 p.m. Seattle show started late (due to reported sound problems) and a few people walked out because of excessive volume, the venerable ex-Miles Davis keyboard man’s all-star band played past 9:30, and earned a well-deserved standing ovation.

Click here to read the entire story.

Seattle Times: Esperanza Spalding is turning the jazz world on its ear

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

Spalding is clearly breaking barriers, not just for her own career, but for jazz. A perceptive young woman, she understands all too well the retro niche the music has dug for itself. She said in our January interview, “Jazz has been evolving, it’s just that most cats are looking in the wrong places for it.”

One obvious place you can look for Spalding right now is at Jazz Alley Tuesday and Wednesday. Spalding appears with the rhythm section on her album — Leo Genovese (piano) and Otis Brown (drums) — plus Richard Vogt (guitar). Don’t miss this opportunity. She may not be playing clubs long.

and some info about other shows to catch this week …

Spalding is not the only singer worth hearing in town. Karrin Allyson, whose excellent new album, “Imagina,” also takes her to Brazil, plays the Alley Thursday through Sunday. Kate McGarry, a moody, jazz-ish new singer-songwriter whose album “The Target” (Palmetto) made a huge critical impression last year, performs on the Visiting Songbirds series at 8 p.m. today at Bake’s Place, in Issaquah ($59.50 with dinner, 6-7:15 p.m., $27 show only; 425-391-3335 or

Seattle Times: Spanish Harlem Orchestra gets people dancing at new Bellevue Jazz Fest

From The Seattle Times:

Things looked dicey Saturday evening for the Bellevue Downtown Association’s ambitious revival of the Bellevue Jazz Festival.

But at the eleventh hour, a wildly enthusiastic salsa dance crowd suddenly materialized for the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, the second-night main-stage show, in the downstairs hall of the Meydenbauer Center. The festival took place Friday and Saturday.

Couples dressed to the nines packed a temporary dance floor at the center of the room, stepping stately through cha-chas, mambos and danzones, or slow-dancing to a romantic bolero. A shout out from pianist and music director Oscar Hernández revealed a crowd from all over the Latin America and beyond — Colombia, Venezuela, Panama and Brooklyn.

Continue reading at The Seattle Times

Seattle’s Roosevelt, Garfield top two at Essentially Ellington festival

by Paul de Barros, The Seattle Times

NEW YORK CITY — Roosevelt High School placed first and Garfield got second place at this weekend’s Essentially Ellington high-school competition, widely regarded as the Cadillac of jazz competitions.

Shorewood (from Shoreline) won an honorable mention.

Some had wondered if the Puget Sound area would sweep the contest this year; out of 15 finalists chosen nationally, five were local. No region has ever sent five bands to Ellington before.

Roosevelt won the competition for an unprecedented third time; by winning the competition twice in a row, it matched Garfield’s first-place repeat in 2003-04.

The rivalry between the two schools has played out on this national stage for the past decade — Roosevelt and Garfield also finished 1-2 in 2002 — and this year’s judges said the contest was extremely close.

Continue reading at The Seattle Times.

Region’s jazz legacy in spotlight again at Essentially Ellington

From Paul de Barros in today’s Seattle Times:

Chris Harshman and his brother, Paul, have always been “friendly competitors,” says Chris.

When they were in high school in the late 1970s, they both played in jazz band, both ran track and marched side by side in an out-of-school marching band. In college, they flourished in the jazz band, roomed together and ran on the same cross-country team.

Just one year apart — Paul is 47; Chris, 46 — they had some sibling rivalry, but were careful not to get in each other’s way, playing different instruments (Paul, trumpet; Chris, reeds) and rarely competing in the same sporting events.

“It has never been me versus him,” insists Paul Harshman.

Not until this week, that is.

Continue reading at The Seattle Times

Seattle Times: It’s a clash of the jazz titans

From The Seattle Times:

The Ballard Jazz Festival climaxes Saturday with a main-stage concert featuring alto saxophone icon Lee Konitz. (See sidebar on page 5 for schedule.)

Unfortunately, Earshot is presenting the equally compelling reed man Gebhard Ullmann in a quartet with trombonist Steve Swell the same night, at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

If you haven’t had a chance to hear Konitz in concert, then he’s the obvious choice. But if you have, and your tastes run to the wild and woolly, I highly recommend Ullmann.

Continue reading at The Seattle Times.

Seattle Times: Oregon adapts, thrives and finally returns to Seattle

From The Seattle Times:

Of the many legendary jazz-fusion supergroups spawned by the ’60s rock explosion — Weather Report, Return to Forever, Headhunters — only one comes to mind that has continuously survived.

That is the quartet Oregon, which has recorded 25 albums and played all over the world, from Carnegie Hall in New York to Sri Lanka, Berlin and Bangladesh.

Absent from the Seattle stage for a decade, Oregon makes a rare and welcome appearance to celebrate last year’s Grammy-nominated album “1000 Kilometers” at Jazz Alley on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Read more from The Seattle Times.

Reserve tickets at Jazz

Seattle Times: Multilingual Jackie Ryan sings with conviction, emotion and clarity

from Paul de Barros’ Seattle Times column:

Jazz critics tend to be cynical about female singers — there are so many bad ones! — so when a CD like Jackie Ryan’s “Passion Flower” arrives, as it did five years ago, it’s an occasion for cheering out loud.

Ryan’s the real item. She doesn’t just sing beautifully and in tune, but with the kind of conviction that makes you feel her life depended on your understanding what she was saying.

Back in 2002, there were only a few of us cheering.

With her most recent disc, “You and the Night and the Music,” this outstanding San Francisco Bay Area artist has finally started to get some traction.

The disc perched atop the 2007 radio airplay charts for six months and catapulted her to appearances at Dizzy’s, the wonderful New York nightclub, and — better for us — finally, to Seattle.

Continue reading at The Seattle Times.

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.

Seattle Times: Lloyd’s music springs from heartfelt influences

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

Many jazz fans dismiss saxophonist and flutist Charles Lloyd as a poseur, a “Coltrane lite” flower child who capitalized on an aura of spiritualism when it was fashionable in the ’60s but never acquired the chops or individuality of the master he was imitating.

In some ways these people have it right. Lloyd can definitely sound like a noodler, and he uses a number of Coltrane gestures. There is the metallically shimmering cry on tenor, the Middle Eastern exoticism on taragato (a Hungarian double reed) that mimics Trane’s keening soprano saxophone and the habit of running up to an accented melody note with a dramatic flourish. There’s also a lot of Eric Dolphy in Lloyd’s flute playing, particularly his sudden flurries and use of odd intervals.

But Lloyd’s quartet connects with audiences in a way that somehow makes such purist objections seem merely petulant. His upcoming appearance in Seattle with a new quartet featuring pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland, courtesy of Earshot Jazz, is most welcome. Lloyd’s quartet performs Monday at the Triple Door.

Continue reading at The Seattle Times.