Seattle Times: Drumroll, please: This is Matt Jorgensen’s week

From Paul de Barros’ Friday Seattle Times column:

It’s hard to imagine Seattle jazz these days without drummer Matt Jorgensen.

One of the partners behind Origin Records, not to mention the Ballard Jazz Festival,, Sunday jazz at the Hendrix Lounge (in Columbia City) … this guy never seems to run out of projects.

This week, however, is not about Jorgensen the playa, but the player. Thursday, the 35-year-old dynamo celebrates the release of “Another Morning” (Origin), the new album by his group, Matt Jorgensen + 451. But he’s also on the other two best jazz tickets in town.

“It’s rare that I get to do three really cool gigs in a week,” said Jorgensen in a phone interview from his car. “After that, 451’s going out on the road for a week, then I’m getting ready for the Ballard Festival. I’ll figure out the rest from there.”

Click here to continue reading at The Seattle Times.

Seattle Times: A powerful “Hunger”: The Donner Party as opera

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

For anyone who grew up in California — as I did — the story of the Donner Party is indelibly embedded in one’s psyche, an archetype of terrible possibility.

Though Seattle composer and free-jazz guitarist Tom Baker was raised in rural Idaho, his father was from the San Francisco Bay Area. Almost every summer, their family crested Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada range, where a monument stands to that fateful 1846 journey, marked by starvation, death and cannibalism.

“We would always stop and read the thing,” Baker said in an interview last week. “It really was frightening for me. I remember times after this, when we would be traveling and it would be snowing and I would get very nervous about not getting to where we were going.”

Continue reading at The Seattle

Seattle Times: “Kansas City Suite,” here we come

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

Jazz has historically flourished in cities that sanctioned and profited from vice and crime.

In Kansas City, during the 1920s and ’30s, jazz flowered under the powerful boss, Mayor Tom Pendergast, nurturing such giants as Count Basie, Joe Turner and Lester Young, to name just a few. (Later, Seattle’s Jackson Street era was a similar, if less important scene.)

During this period, 30 cabarets and ballrooms flourished within walking distance of the corner of 12th and The Paseo, a grand boulevard one block from Vine, made more famous by the lyrics of the 1959 blues/rock song “Kansas City.”

continue reading …

Seattle Times: Branford Marsalis among stars to play Bellevue Jazz Festival

From The Seattle Times:

The Bellevue Downtown Association has announced a major new jazz festival for this spring, culminating at the Meydenbauer Center Memorial Day Weekend with saxophonist Branford Marsalis performing May 23 and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra on May 24.

The festival will stretch for nearly two months in April and May, as on the six Wednesday nights leading up to Memorial Day Weekend, local artists will perform in a variety of Bellevue locales: Jovino Santos Neto (Bellevue Arts Museum, April 9); Gail Pettis (Bellevue Arts Museum, April 16); Pearl Django (Bellevue Arts Museum, April 23); Thomas Marriott (Bellevue City Hall, April 30); Ben Thomas (Key Center, May 7); and Greta Matassa (Civica Office Commons, May 14).

Bellevue hosted a jazz festival featuring Northwest performers exclusively from 1978 to 1993.

The new festival is being booked by Bill Royston, the force behind the highly successful Portland Jazz Festival.

Tickets are not yet available but information can be found at

Seattle Times: Roosevelt wins at jazz festival

From The Seattle Times:

MOSCOW, Idaho — Glittering streamers and confetti floated down from the rafters of the University of Idaho’s Kibbe Activity Center Saturday, as the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival celebrated the centennial birthday of its late namesake to a sold-out house of 5,000 fans.

This was one of many thrills in the 41-year-old, extravaganza Wednesday through Saturday, with student competitions and clinics at day, and concerts at night.

Seattle’s Roosevelt High School won the big band award, beating perennial rival Garfield. Eckstein Middle School’s big band and combo both prevailed. (See the accompanying list of winners.)

New features — some successful, some not — reflected the fest’s first year under the artistic direction of bassist and band leader John Clayton. His most obvious success was the integration on the main stage of new faces with veterans.

Read the entire article at The Seattle Times

Seattle Times: Roberta Gambarini at Jazz Alley

from Paul de Barros’ Friday column:

At the Umbria Jazz Festival two summers ago, in Italy, the great pianist Hank Jones strolled into the lobby of the illustrious Brufani Hotel one afternoon.

“You know,” said the piano master, now 89. “I’ve worked with a lot of singers over the years. But Roberta Gambarini is the best since Ella Fitzgerald.”

Excuse me?

“Yes,” he said. “Absolutely.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Wednesday Jazz

Lots of stuff happening tonight:

MEANY THEATER: Cuong Vu Trio with special guest Bill Frisell
University of Washington Campus, 7:30pm

GALLERY 1412: More Zero featuring Chris Stover

JAZZ ALLEY: Chris Botti
All shows are full except Wednesday and Thursday 9:30pm shows. Please call for assistance 206-441-9729.

TULA’S JAZZ CLUB: Rochelle House Quartet

THAIKU: Ron Weinstein Trio

NEW ORLEANS: The Legend Band featuring Clarence Acox

6pm – BMG Trio, with Brendan O’Donnell (guitar), Mack Grout (piano), and Greg Larson (trombone)
8pm – Vocal Jam with Carrie Wicks

TUTTA BELLA: Michael Gotz

SERAFINA: Passarim, bossa nova

WHISKEY BAR: Eric Verlinde & Friends


Seattle Times: Bellevue festival loaded with jazz stars of tomorrow

By Paul de Barros
Seattle Times jazz critic

Inclement weather, a flu bug and a Seattle band director’s “tough love” made the competition at this year’s Bellevue Community College Jazz Band Festival a bit unusual.

But the exciting music at BCC’s Carlson Theatre made it obvious, yet again, that the Northwest is a breeding ground for top jazz talent, with the emphasis decidedly on “young.”

{continue reading at The Seattle}

Seattle Times Cuong Vu Preview

From Friday’s Seattle Times: A couple of years ago, the sensational Bellevue-bred trumpeter and composer Cuong Vu played an unlikely double bill with the Edmonds-Woodway High School Jazz Band.

As emcee, and figuring the crowd was probably more comfortable with Count Basie than Vu’s grunge/jazz, I advised them to just “follow the sound, and the shapes it makes in space and time,” and everything would make sense.

You know what? The audience loved that show.

Vu’s trio — with special guest Bill Frisell (guitar) — performs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Meany Theater at the UW ($10-$15; 206-543-4880 or The trio also plays at 7 and 9 p.m. the following night at Egan’s in Ballard ($12; 206-789-1621 or

Fantastic “Songbirds” migrate to Bake’s Place

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

Bake’s Place, the cozy Issaquah supper club recently picked by Down Beat magazine as one of the nation’s top 100 jazz spots, kicks off 2008 with a dandy new concept — “Visiting Songbirds.”

The series starts Saturday with Northwest favorite Nancy King and continues with a string of first-rate vocalists, mostly from outside the club’s usual Northwest reach.

Portland-based King is a legend among other singers and a familiar face on the West Coast. Recently, her international profile has begun to rise, with a live album at New York’s Jazz Standard and career nudges from the late Ray Brown and Karrin Allyson.

Click here to read the entire article.