August 6th, 2014
Earshot Jazz presented Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio at the Seattle Art Museum June 28th in a wonderful performance.
From Iceland comes a lyrical pianist with impeccable touch and time who, as The Washington Post said, “elegantly bridges soul-searching passages with uncluttered swing.” Three highly praised albums into a now-globetrotting career, Sunna demonstrates qualities that keep that lifestyle pleasurable: Her work is contemplative and unhurried, and yet fully capable of evoking great emotion and tension in her spacing and intonation. She counts as her influences the likes of Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett – the former echoes in her touch, the latter in a yearning lyricism – as well as Scandinavians like Bobo Stenson and Jon Balke. Like the last two, her accomplishment is in imbuing drama and feeling into measured playing, as well as relating a complexity of soul and spirit in glimmers as if through a drawn-out far-Northern gloaming. She has steeped her responses in both schools. After coming to the U.S. in 1993 to attend William Paterson, Sunna ventured to close-by New York City. There she eventually teamed with the likes of saxophonist Tony Malaby and bassist Drew Gress. She wins high praise for a style at once highly personal and compellingly inclusive of her audiences. She interpreted her repertoire with truly accomplished trio-mates, fellow Icelander Thorgrimur Jónsson on bass, and her and long-time collaborator (and husband) Scott McLemore on drums.
August 6th, 2014
One of the Northwest’s premiere jazz artists, pianist/vocalist/composer Dawn Clement is a sought after collaborator who has worked with the likes of Pharaoh Sanders, Nancy King, Ingrid Jensen, Jay Clayton, and more. The Seattle native is currently a member of the jazz faculty at Cornish College of the Arts, where she has served since 2000. Her fourth album, Tempest Cobalt, marks her debut as composer.
Joining Dawn will be Byron Vannoy on drums and Geoff Harper on bass. The Dawn Clement Trio performed original compositions, as well as some music they’ve written for Priester’s Cue.
July 23rd, 2014
LAst month Earshot Jazz presented in concert Human Feel at the Seattle Art Museum. This collective, after its start in Boston, in the 1990s became a quintessential representative of new directions in New York area jazz. Andrew D’Angelo (alto sax, bass clarinet), Chris Speed (tenor sax, clarinet), Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar), and Jim Black (drums) played sparkling, angled jazz with jazz-rock energy, improvisers’ intuition, and contemporary chamber music chops.
It has always commanded the attention and affection of Seattle jazz fans because Black, D’Angelo, and Speed all ventured East from Seattle. They are certainly among our city’s finest musical exports. During the last 20 years, they and the band’s fourth stellar member, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, have been present at, if not generative of, some of the major turns in modern jazz – sometimes referred to as the “Downtown Jazz Scene,” perhaps misleadingly, particularly now that the band is very much ensconced in Brooklyn. The quartet’s mid-90s recordings, Welcome to Malpesta in 1994 and Speak to It in 1996, gained attention and wrought influence at the same time as the members of the quartet all branched out into other highly considered outfits. Speed and Black began long tenures with Tim Berne’s Bloodcount and two of Dave Douglas’s numerous. They performed together in Pachora, Speed’s yeah NO quartet, and Black’s AlasNoAxis quartet. Black played with Ellery Eskelin’s trio and with Laurie Anderson, while D’Angelo joined Matt Wilson’s quartet and Rosenwinkel landed an enviable contract with Verve. Still, as Human Feel they remained a touchstone of small-group collaboration, and their approaches influenced rising jazz experimenters the world over.
In its latest orbit, says Black, the band is intent on “balancing lyricism, aggression, order, and chaos, discipline and anarchy.” A new album, Human Feel’s sixth, is expected soon from Skirl Records.
June 27th, 2014
Alto saxophonist Darius Jones has a deep-soulful sound that can pur, bark, soothe, and savage. The Brooklyn-based hornman is emerging as a one of the most talented and exciting leaders in an increasingly packed field. As a leader and composer, he displays savvy, intuitive skills that are equally moving and thrilling. Fittingly, then, he teams here with Tarbaby, an “expandable, organic situation” that Ben Ratliff explained in the New York Times: They are “loud and authoritative and elastic within composed boundaries,” and listening to them “you feel they’re in a continuous tradition — you can hear the learning in their hands — and yet they’re all over the place.” They’re that good. No wonder, when they boast as core members the Grammy Award-winning bassist and composer Eric Revis, on keyboards Aruán Ortiz, and on drums, one of their most riveting current exponents, Nasheet Waits.
June 27th, 2014
Last night at the Seattle Art Museum, Ambrose Akinmusire kicked off the Earshot Jazz 2014 Summer Concert series.
Blue Note recording artist Ambrose Akinmusire is a trumpeter and composer who has gone from strength to strength since winning the 2007 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and the 2007 Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition. He has since taken such honors as DownBeat’s 2012 trumpeter of the year title, and several others. As that would suggest, his albums, including When the Heart Emerges Glistening and the imagined savior is far easier to paint, both on Blue Note, have won critical acclaim. His forward-reaching compositions have earned him a commission from New York’s Jazz Gallery and grants from the Rockefeller Foundation’s MAP Fund and Chamber Music America’s French-American Jazz Exchange Program. In 2011, he debuted his star-studded Big Band on one of the world’s most renowned stages, Carnegie Hall. The following year he was named Artist-in-Residence at the 55th annual Monterey Jazz Festival. The latest Blue Note album of the forward-thinking, Oakland-raised musician “with a bent toward atmospheric post-bop,” as Blue Note puts it, was out in March: the imagined savior is far easier to paint. His quintet collaborators are Walter Smith (tenor sax), Sam Harris (piano), Harish Raghavan (bass), and Justin Brown (drums).