Saturday night at the Bellevue Jazz Festival was a special treat of Cyrus Chestnut Trio with Stefon Harris. I love to watch Cyrus play and this trio was really good, but when Stefon Harris came out and joined them it was a whole new ball game. Cyrus Chestnut on Piano, Eric Wheeler on Bass, Evan Sherman on Drums, Stefon Harris on Vibes.
Virtuosic and playful, pianist Cyrus Chestnut’s hard swinging, soulful sounds have become a staple in the jazz community. Blending contemporary jazz, traditional jazz and gospel, plus the occasional seasonings of Latin and samba, Chestnut gives himself plenty of freedom to explore different emotions, while keeping his music in recognizable form.
Chestnut has played with many leaders in the music scene including Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Branford Marsalis, Chick Corea, Dizzy Gillespie, Jon Hendricks, and Betty Carter, recording and performing live around the world. An extremely versatile pianist, Chestnut has also collaborated with Vanessa Williams, Brian McKnight, Kathleen Battle, Freddy Cole, Bette Midler, Jimmy Scott, Isaac Hayes, and Kevin Mahogany. His leadership and prowess as a soloist has also led him to be a first call pianist in larger ensembles including the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, and Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra.
Chestnut’s new album, Journeys, is his most compelling to date. His compositions are more mature than ever. Drawing from all facets of his life experiences, the result is a very unique musical journey for all to enjoy. Almost 20 years into his impressive career, Chestnut is further developing his musical voice: lyrical, timeless, and always deeply.
Vibraphonist-composer Stefon Harris is heralded as “one of the most important young artists in jazz” (The Los Angeles Times). He is unquestionably developing what will be a long and extraordinary career.
Harris’ passionate artistry, energetic stage presence, and astonishing virtuosity have propelled him into the forefront of the current jazz scene. Widely recognized and lauded by both his peers and jazz critics alike, he is committed to both exploring the rich potential of jazz composition and blazing new trails on the vibraphone.
His 2004 project Blackout, featuring a hybrid of acoustic music and progressive sounds, was praised for “pursing jazz on its own terms” (Washington Post), and was taken on tour to perform to sold out crowds at The Kennedy Center and North Sea Jazz Festival.
In addition to leading his own band, Mr. Harris has recorded as part of The Classical Jazz Quartet, a series of jazz interpreted classics with Kenny Barron, Ron Carter, and Lewis Nash. He has also recorded and toured with many of music’s greatest artists, including Joe Henderson, Wynton Marsalis, Cassandra Wilson, Buster Williams, Kenny Barron, Charlie Hunter, Kurt Elling, Cyrus Chestnut, Steve Coleman, and Steve Turre among many others.
June 1st, 2013
The Bellevue Jazz Festival presented a special treat Friday night with the Kendrick Scott Oracle, featuring Seattle’s Aaron Parks on keyboards. An interesting, complex and very moving performance. They are Kendrick Scott on Drums, Joe Sanders on Bass, Aaron Parks on Piano, Matt Stevens on Guitar, and John Ellis on Sax.
Kendrick Scott is highly regarded as one of the premier drummers of his generation as shown by the New York Times naming him one of “Five Drummers Whose Time Is Now.” His band, Kendick Scott’s Oracle (KSO) released its second recording, Conviction on Concord Records in January 2013. Conviction showcases Scott’s incredible subtlety and intensity and highlights his strengths as a drummer, composer and a leader. This personal narrative album is a snapshot of the band in its full emotive, unique and magnetic sound. The work focuses on what it takes to live, act and love with Conviction. Scott penned half of the album and the other compositions are by Herbie Hancock, Broadcast, Sufjan Stevens and more., Scott is a longtime member of the Terence Blanchard Band and is a rising star in his generation alongside Robert Glasper, Gretchen Parlato and Lionel Loueke. Sought after my may, Kendrick has shared the stage with a diverse and amazing list of artists including Herbie Hancock, Dianne Reeves, and currently backs fellow Concord Artist, Kurt Elling.
June 1st, 2013
As the 2013 Bellevue Jazz Festival continues, bassist and composer Evan Flory-Barnes opened for Kendrick Scott last night at the Theatre at Meydenbauer Center with a wonderful group of artists and played some beautiful new compositions. Evan Flory-Barnes played on Bass, Dawn Clement on Piano, Craig Flory on Winds, Art Brown on Winds, Ahamefule J. Oluo on Trumpet, Josiah Boothby on French Horn, Nathan Vetter on Trombone, Jon Hansen on Tuba, Jeremy Jones on Drums
Flory-Barnes cultivation in music started early on at Garfield High School where he was a member of an award-winning symphony orchestra. The young Seattle native envisions the creation of music with no barriers— he strives to compose music that reflects beauty, stirs emotions and enlightens the soul. Flory-Barnes’ musical span reaches across many genres having written music for the hip hop group Maroon Colony and collaborated with many renowned jazz musicians nationally and internationally.
The 6th annual Bellevue Jazz Festival started on Weds May 29th, and I began covering it on Thursday night at Bakes Place. Carlos Cascante y su Tumbao is a six-piece Latin Jazz band that plays a variety of rhythms from Boleros to Timba and Joropo to Danzón. This exhilarating group is comprised of some of the Puget Sound area’s hottest musicians who hail from all over the world.Tumbao is comprised of Carlos Cascante (vocal), Jeff Busch (drums), Julio Jáuregui (piano, musical director), Dean Schmidt (bass) and Pedro Vargas (congas). Known for keeping a firm foundation in Jazz but also exploring the realms of Caribbean and Latin genres, Tumbao keeps audiences moving and living in the music from the first note to the last.
June 14th, 2012
Hubert Laws performed at the the 5th annual Bellevue Jazz Festival at the Meydenbauer Center on Saturday June 2nd. Internationally-renowned flutist Hubert Laws is one of the few classical artists who has also mastered jazz, pop, and rhythm-and-blues genres – moving effortlessly from one repertory to another. Winner of the prestigious 2011 NEA Jazz Masters Award, Laws has appeared as a soloist with orchestras around the world.
Laws was selected as the Number 1 flutist in Down Beat’s readers’ polls ten years in a row and was the critic’s choice for seven consecutive years. As a classical performer, he has appeared as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, with the orchestras of Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Cleveland, Amsterdam, Japan, Detroit, and with the Stanford String Quartet. He has given annual performances at Carnegie Hall, and has performed sold out performances in the Hollywood Bowl with fellow flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal.
June 13th, 2012
Lary Barilleau and the Latin Jazz Collective performed at the the 5th annual Bellevue Jazz Festival at Bake’s Place on Saturday June 2nd. Lary Barilleau is a first-call percussionist on the regional scene and has performed widely on the West Coast as well as in New York. The Latin Jazz Collective includes multi-instrumentalist Jay Thomas, Marc Seales, piano, Jeff Norwood, bass and Ricardo Guity, congas. Lary Barilleau has recorded a new CD “Carmen’s Mambo” with musicians from Seattle, San Francisco and New York which will be released later this year. The quintet played music ranging from Latin Jazz classics to newer compositions by Lary Barilleau and Jay Thomas.
June 7th, 2012
Booker T Jones performed at the the 5th annual Bellevue Jazz Festival at the Meydenbauer Center on Friday June 1st. Yes this was the Booker T of the famous Booker T and the MGs. This set blew me away. I had no idea he was still around and and the music was grand and I love the new group of young musicians he has playing with him now.
Booker T. Jones is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, record producer and arranger, and four-time GRAMMY Award winner, but he is best known as the front-man of the band Booker T. and the MGs. The musical seed was planted early in Jones. Before he was even a teenager he hauled his stack of newspapers to Phineas Newborn’s front yard where, he folded the papers for his after-school delivery route, and listened to the jazz great practice piano. With those notes ringing in his head, he’d set out into the neighborhood, picking up the sound of the streets, the sound of the city, the sound of the people – and form new rhythms in his musical mind.
Jones first entered into the professional music scene at age sixteen, when he played baritone saxophone on Satellite Records’ first hit, “Cause I Love You,” by Rufus and Carla Thomas. Over the next few years, Jones divided his time between studying classical music composition, composing and transposition at Indiana University and playing with the MGs in Memphis on the weekends. For more than 15 years at Stax Records (formally Satellite), he explored the potential of soul and rhythm-and-blues with the MGs, both on their own albums and behind vocalists.
Jones was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement GRAMMY Award in 2007. In 2011, Jones released The Road from Memphis. The backing band included Questlove (drums), “Captain” Kirk Douglas (guitar) and Owen Biddle (bass) from The Roots, as well as former Motown guitarist Dennis Coffey and percussionist Stewart Killen. The album features vocals by Yim Yames, Matt Berninger, Lou Reed, Sharon Jones and Booker T. Jones himself, as well as lyrics contributed by his daughter Liv Jones. In 2012 The Road from Memphis won at the 54th GRAMMY Awards for Best Pop Instrumental Album. Jones now holds a total of four GRAMMY Awards.
June 6th, 2012
Tom Grant and his Trio played at Bake’s Place as part of the Bellevue Jazz Festival. I went over there after covering the Clayton Brothers and enjoyed Tom’s Trio. Here are some of my favorites from their performance.
June 6th, 2012
Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto played at Bake’s Place as the Bellevue Jazz Festival continued through June 3rd this year, and I caught Jovino and his group on Friday June 1st. It was my first time shooting at Bake’s and the red light is kind of overwhelming but the band sounds great. Managed to tame it a bit here for these images and here are some of my favorites from their performance.
June 2nd, 2012
The 5th annual Bellevue Jazz Festival started on Weds May 30th, and I began covering it on Thursday night at the Meydenbauer Center where the Clayton Brothers Quintet played a kick-ass set. The GRAMMY-nominated Clayton Brothers Quintet was formed in 1977 by brothers John and Jeff, and while their paths sometimes diverged, the brothers continue to share a common musical vision. Their album, Back in the Swing of Things, demonstrates their unique musical vision.
The album, as well as the songs “Expressions” and “Siblingity,” are bristling with surprises, delights, and the kind of musical telepathy that could only come from tuned in siblings. Their most recent recordings were nominated for GRAMMY Awards for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group. The brothers place a strong emphasis on sharing their knowledge and thus are dedicated jazz educators who travel extensively to participate in workshops and music clinics around the world.
The quintet also consists of John’s son and GRAMMY-nominee Gerald Clayton on piano, Obed Calvaire on drums, and Terell Stafford, a highly regarded trumpeter and band-leader.
Here are some highlights from the concert.
I had the privilege of meeting John Clayton before the set and watched as he warmed up on the 12o year old bass that once was the instrument belonging to legendary bassist Ray Brown.