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Last night was a most special event at Benaroya Hall. What does the evocative work of African American painter Jacob Lawrence have to do with jazz, have to do with the Seattle Symphony, have to do with the Roosevelt High School Jazz Band? It’s all about influences.

Jacob Lawrence, a longtime professor at the University of Washington, created a body of work called The Migration Series, depicting the Great Migration of African Americans out of the South. Derek Bermel, a noted composer and clarinetist, saw Lawrence’s work and wrote a piece that was hailed by the New York Times as “riveting” and “wondrous.” Now, add the performers, acclaimed Roosevelt High School Jazz Band and the Seattle Symphony, and you have the cornerstone work for this Sonic Evolution.

More influencing: the renowned jazz guitarist and Seattle transplant Bill Frisell, along with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (directed by Ludovic Morlot), took on a wonderful new work by the prolific jazz pianist and composer Wayne Horvitz. Seattle-born, nationally rising vocalist Shaprece closed the evening with new orchestral arrangements of her soulful blend of modern jazz, R&B and electronica.

Presented by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.
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Mimi Fox

October 29th, 2015

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Joe Pass, one of the greatest 20th-century guitarists, once said that Mimi Fox “plays with tremendous fire” and “can do pretty much anything she wants on the guitar.”

Fox’s “firm control, clarity and concept” (AllAboutJazz.com) will provide an evening of both rich musical texture and passion. Winner of six consecutive DownBeat Magazine’s international critic’s polls, Fox is not only a world-renowned guitarist but composer and recording artist as well. Her introduction to the international jazz scene in the 1990s with a pair of CDs on Monarch records was followed by eight more, many critically acclaimed. Perpetually Hip, a 2006 double CD, was called a “masterwork” by the San Francisco Chronicle. Of her most recent album, Standards, Old & NewGuitar Player Magazine proclaims, “Beyond her passion and virtuosity, Fox plays with a profundity that only comes from a lifetime devotion to ones art.”

Touring extensively throughout the Caribbean, Japan, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, her schedule includes major festivals from Tokyo to New York, including Montreal, Guinness Cork, Perth International, and Monterey Jazz Festivals. In addition to her breakneck performance calendar, Fox has composed and performed original scores for orchestra, documentary films, and dance, and has received prestigious grants from organizations including the California Arts Council and the William James Association.

“A remarkably accomplished straight ahead player with flawless time, pristine execution, serious chops…and an inner urge to burn” (JazzTimes), Fox will provide a profound evening of both rich virtuosity and passion.

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Reared in Cadiz, steeped in his father’s passion for flamenco, and remarkably fluent in a number of styles, this flamenco-jazz pianist has become a favorite of European audiences for his earthy, flamenco- and bolero-infused style. Now a Seattle-area resident, Chano Domínguez debuts a new ensemble featuring percussionist Jose Martinez, bassist Jeff Johnson, and special guest musician on woodwinds, Hans Teuber.

Renowned pianist and composer Domínguez has pursued expression of his flamenco origins in jazz from his youngest days, on guitar and then piano. After 25 years on the piano, he has dazzled all kind of audiences and great musicians including Wynton Marsalis, Paquito D’Riveria, Herbie Hancock, Paco de Lucia, Tomatito, and many others. His compositions have been played by WDR Big Band, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Latvia Symphonic Orchestra, and Ballet Nacional de Espana. Domínguez won a Latin Grammy for the soundtrack of the movie Calle 54 (2001), directed by Fernando Trueba, as well as a Grammy nomination for best Latin Jazz Album category with Flamenco Sketches (Blue Note Records 2012).

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Last night Earshot Jazz presented trumpeter Nate Wooley teamed up with free jazz percussionist Paul Lytton to form a textural, avant-garde duo. Wooley uses amplifying effects on his instrument, and impresses with virtuoso playing, using experimental registers and sentimental phrasing. Lytton creates lush, minimalistic sounds with electronics and obscure tones. The adventurous percussionist incorporates a clutter of objects like water, a flour sifter, and wooden blocks into his kit playing. While British Lytton and American Wooley have a 27-year age gap, the musicians have found a commonality in their improvising styles, making for a collaboration that organically avoids a repetition of ideas.

Lytton has worked extensively on the London free improvisation scene in the 1970s and was a founding member of the London Musicians Collective. The percussionist has appeared on over 40 recordings and worked with Roscoe Mitchell, Barry Guy, and the London Jazz Composers Orchestra.

Wooley has released multiple records under his own name since 2009 and has been gathering international acclaim for his playing for the last three years. The “iconoclastic trumpeter” (Time Out New York) has had his compositions featured in art festivals in New York, Copenhagen, and Poland. Wooley also acts as the curator of the Database of Recorded American Music.

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Last night at The Royal Room was a great party with the thriving Northwest collective, and the joy of its fostering the expansive projects of many of the region’s leading voices in adventurous and entertaining music – and doing all of that in a sustained and still-expanding way.

 

For 15 years, the Monktail Creative Music Concern has fueled innovation in Seattle jazz and jazz-related music through its many member bands. It’s time to celebrate a collective of composers, musicians, and artists who live by a simple credo: “Thrive o­n the atypical and exigent; the real weirdo stuff.”

The MCMC was founded in 1990 by John Seman and Mark Ostrowski, two jazz musicians who sought to explore improvisation in jazz and contemporary music. Seman started the organization after he graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and moved to Seattle, soon followed by high school friend Ostrowski, who had studied at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. By 2000, the pair were admitting to having “abducted performers, artists, and other nogoodniks from Seattle’s seedy underbelly” to fuel the Monktail cause. Today Monktail musicians hail from Whidbey Island and Long Island to the UK and beyond.On show are two of Monktail’s many member bands. In the sonic-spelunking noise guerrilla trio Special O.P.S., Bay Area electric guitarist Stephen Parris joins Seattle’s John Seman on contrabass and Mark Ostrowski on drums to engage and skirmish with all elements of timbre, volume, and electrical resistance.

Non Grata is Monktail’s flagship big band. It doses its large-scale free improvisation with cued material, comet chasing the cosmic trails of Sun Ra’s Arkestra, The Mothers, and Globe Unity Orchestra. It features Darian AsplundRobby BeasleyKenny MandellBilly MontoPat HolenGreg CampbellBob ReesMark OstrowskiStephen FandrichDavid MilfordScott AdamsStephen ParrisSimon Henneman, and John Seman.

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Earshot Festival 2015

Seattle- and Brooklyn-based Jessica Lurie is one of the elite artists to come out of the Seattle 1990’s explosion of jazz and improvisational music. An award-winning multi-instrumentalist, composer, and improviser, Lurie performs on saxophones, flute, accordion, electronics, and voice. Growing up under the influence of an inquisitive musical household and Seattle’s divergent yet crossover-rich music community, she calls on a wide range of musical influences from around the globe as a composer and performer. Known for “melding lyrical pop, stinging rock, rhythmic Eastern European folk music and improvisation-heavy jazz with a dose of free-wheeling avant-groove-meets-grind” (Dan Oulette), her performances are dynamic, full of high-energy interaction between band members. In fact, 2015 has been a watershed year for Lurie, with multiple European tours with The Tiptons Saxophone Quartet and as a soloist, ongoing development, and groundbreaking performances with the NYC Jewish Afrobeat group Zion80, creative growth with her Ensemble, the founding of improvising funk group Full Fathom Five, and the revitalization of the Living Daylights with Arne Livingston and Dale Fanning.

At this year’s Earshot Jazz Festival, she presents her Instant Light Ensemble. The name of the group and many of her new compositions are inspired by polaroids and memoirs by Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky. Performing with her will be Rene Hart on bass, dynamic improvisor Bill Horist on guitar, and high-octane drummer Tarik Abouzied, with special guest Alex Guy on violin.

Photographs by Michael Craft 

Earshot Festival 2015

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Also on the Sunday night bill with The Westerlies was the genre-defying saxophonist Skerik. Performing with electronics and looping, the Seattle native is a pioneer of a playing style dubbed “saxophonics.” The 2003 Earshot Jazz Northwest Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year was an original member of Les Claypool’s Fancy Band and Frog Brigade and a founding member of Critters Buggin and Garage a Trois. Skerik’s current projects include the rhythmically driven Bandalabra with revered Seattle players Andy Coe, Evan Flory-Barnes, and D’Vonne Lewis.

Photographs by Michael Craft 

Earshot Festival 2015

Earshot Festival 2015

On Sunday Earshot Jazz presented the Westerlies, a New York-based brass quartet comprised of four Seattle natives: Riley Mulherkar and Zubin Hensler on trumpet, and Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch on trombone. The players have followed similar musical veins, all products of one of two of the best US high school jazz programs – Garfield and Roosevelt – and further training in New York City at either the Manhattan School of Music or Juilliard.
Last May, The Westerlies released their praised debut album Wish the Children Would Come On Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz, a brass reinterpretation of a collection of compositions by Seattle-based composer and mentor to the ensemble, Wayne Horvitz. With an unorthodox instrumentation and exceptional precision, the collaboration of Horvitz’s music and The Westerlies has been called “a perfect fit” (NPR’s Kevin Whitehead) and “one of the very best things released in 2014” (jazz blog Bird Is The Worm).

Photographs by Michael Craft 

Earshot Festival 2015

 

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Saturday night at Cornish was a special event in the 2015 Earshot Jazz festival hosted at Cornish College Poncho Hall. The trombone legend’s many Seattle-area friends paid tribute to his long career, which included spending the years 1979 to 2011 teaching at Cornish College of the Arts. His own quartet will be on hand, as will such friends as fellow trombonist Stuart Dempster, with a trombone choir.

Julian Priester grew up in Chicago, where his skills were apparent early and saw him playing with the likes of Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, and Sonny Stitt. He joined the renowned Sun Ra Arkestra while still in his teens, and then from 1956 toured with Lionel Hampton and Dinah Washington. In New York, he worked in Max Roach’s band, and became a first-call trombone player for session work with many jazz greats, among them John Coltrane (including on the Africa/Brass sessions), Stanley Turrentine, Blue Mitchell, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Art Blakey, and Abbey Lincoln. Starting in the late 1960s, he toured with Duke Ellington and Herbie Hancock, and later played with Sun Ra again, as well as Dave Holland, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, and Lester Bowie’s New York Organ Ensemble.

In Seattle he has added to his long list of projects and recordings as a leader while also collaborating with a host of area innovators, among them Jerry Granelli, Wayne Horvitz, and Tucker Martine.

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At the Royal Room last night was a very special treat. It was wonderful. A rare, festival-only opportunity to see Marc and Jesse Seales, brothers and leading figures of separate Seattle scenes. Jesse Seales, a blues- and rock-drenched jazzer, takes the stage with distinguished pianist Marc Seales, an inductee into the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame.

Jesse Seales, a Bellingham blues- and rock-drenched jazzer and educator, was a founder of Stypes, one of the most notorious bands based out of Tacoma at the time. They worked the circuit for 15 years. As an avid traveler and Francophile, he has lived and studied in France, and expanded his knowledge of non-Western musical forms over the past two decades, further broadening his experience as a recording artist. He joined the pop-rock cover outfit Notorious 253 in May 2014.

Joining him is the celebrated Marc Seales, jazz professor at UW, bandleader, and recent inductee into the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame. The force behind the Marc Seales Quartet’s expansive trilogy, American Songs, he has been described as sounding like a pre-funk Herbie Hancock, with hints of Bill Evans. Adding gas to the fire tonight are trumpeter Thomas Marriott, bassist Evan Flory-Barnes, and LA drummer Moyes Lucas Jr.

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