October 31st, 2012
I was really impressed with the Christian Scott Band last night at the Triple Door as part of the Earshot Jazz Festival. I had never heard Christian play and he has a wonderful tone and a high level of energy that was great.
The 2012 Earshot Jazz festival continues in it last week. Click on the schedule here 2012 Earshot Jazz Festival
Christian Scott grew up in a jazz family in New Orleans. His grandfather Clinton Scott was the host of “Sittin’ in with Clint,” a jazz program at the WWOZ radio station; his uncle, saxophonist Donald Harrison, is a modern jazz icon. Scott takes these traditional foundations and creates innovative compositions with his self-described style of “stretch music,” pushing the limits of traditional jazz by adding stylistic elements like rock and hip-hop. Bandmates Matthew Stevens on guitar, Lawrence Fields on piano, Kris Funn on bass and Jamire Williams on drums meet him at every beat.
Scott started playing the trumpet at 12 and within a year was performing alongside his uncle. When he was 18, he self-released his self-titled album Christian Scott. At 22, he signed with Concord Jazz and released the Grammy-nominated album Rewind That. With the release of sixth album Christian aTunde Adjua this year, Scott shows no signs of slowing down.
Christian aTunde Adjua’s two-CD, 23-track collection takes traditional New Orleans jazz to edgy territories. Trained in classic jazz, Scott says, “My uncle took me back to the very beginning of the music. He taught me stuff that Buddy Bolden was playing in the early 1900s.”
Scott’s provocative style goes a step further to illuminate current social and political issues. He reflects on the devastation caused by hurricane Katrina, racism, abortion and gay marriage. Song “The Last Broken Heart,” from his Yesterday You Said Tomorrow (2010), was inspired by debate over gay marriage. “It’s a very challenging song to play, but the small dissonances within the song make it very captivating,” Scott says. “What could be more beautiful than two people deciding to love each other? It’s better than two people deciding to hate each other, but somehow that’s more acceptable.”
Scott says, “There’s no better time than right now to fix all of the problems and issues that we face as individuals and as a society,” he says. “The problems that some of the musicians of the 60s addressed still exist. They may look a little different, but they’re still around.” – ST
October 18th, 2012
Last night at ILLSLEY BALL NORDSTROM RECITAL HALL AT BENAROYA HALL was a special treat. Comfortable seats, a great view and a wonderful sound of two great trios starting with Cuong Vu’s Triggerfish. The 2012 Earshot Jazz Festival continues and tonight completes the first week. It goes on until Nov 4th.
Cuong Vu is a leader of a generation of innovative musicians. As a youngster himself, Vu’s intense dedication and love for music led him to a full scholarship at the New England Conservatory of Music, then to New York in 1994 to begin an early career alongside other West Coast transplants Chris Speed, Jim Black, Andrew D’Angelo. Vu led various groups while touring extensively and performing with Pat Metheny, Myra Melford, Laurie Anderson, David Bowie.
2012 Earshot Jazz Festival continues. Click on the schedule.
As a leader, Vu has carved out a distinct sonic territory on the trumpet, blurring stylistic borders while developing his own compositional aesthetic. Now an assistant professor in jazz studies at the University of Washington, he was recently awarded the UW’s prestigious Distinguished Teacher Award and is a Donald E. Petersen Endowed Fellow. For this performance, he is joined by Ted Poor on drums and Eric Revis on bass.
2012 Earshot Jazz Festival continues. Click on the schedule.
July 2nd, 2012
New York-based composer and trombonist Andy Clausen joined former tongue-in-cheek cross-town rival Riley Mulherkar (now classmates at Juilliard) to present the complete Birth of the Cool suite with a Seattle nonet, including French hornist Tom Varner and alto saxophonist Mark Taylor last week at the Chapel Performance Space presented by Earshot Jazz.
To bring a faithful rendition of the classic 1949-1950 recordings, Clausen and trumpeter Mulherkar have compiled parts from various sources and transcribed and edited scores for the complete Birth of the Cool suite. Clausen “I find this music compelling enough to merit serious investigation … I have personally dedicated dozens of hours to copying out every part from the scores and preparing the music to be as accurate as possible. This music needs to be heard.”
If you haven’t heard Birth of the Cool, get it and listen immediately: the legendary nonet with Miles out front plays with the timbre and density of combinations of trombone, tuba, French horn, alto and baritone saxes and rhythm section – lasting as some of the most elegant approaches for groups of its kind. For Clausen, a personal investigation of this suite is not anachronism but a natural extension of his work for his Wishbone Ensemble, an acoustic group featuring his original music for trombone, clarinet, piano, accordion and drums.
Clausen graduated from Roosevelt High School and was the recipient of the 2009 Gerald Wilson Award for Jazz Composition from the Monterey Jazz Festival. An active composer, arranger and bandleader since the age of 14, Clausen has released two albums of original music to critical acclaim. The New York Times has described his work as “sleek, dynamic large-group jazz, a whirl of dark-hued harmony and billowing rhythm.”
Riley Mulherkar, a graduate of Garfield High School, was the recipient of the 2010 Ella Fitzgerald Outstanding Soloist award from the Essentially Ellington Competition; the New Yorker calls him a “brilliant teen-aged trumpeter”; and Wynton Marsalis named Mulherkar among a high-profile list of the Next Generation of Jazz Greats in a recent interview in JET magazine.
May 24th, 2012
Here is some belatedly coverage of the wonderful Ballard Jazz festival. I have been preoccupied for a while and apologize for just getting around to posting these shots.
Above is Human Spirit at Conor Byrne Pub. Human Spirit is Thomas Marriott – trumpet; Mark Taylor – saxophone; Orrin Evans – piano; Phil Sparks – bass; Matt Jorgensen – drums
Todd DelGiudice Quartet was playing next door on Ballard Ave the same night at LOCK ‘N KEEL. Above are Todd DelGiudice – saxophone; Jon Hamar – bass; Julian MacDonough – drums
Another highlight of the evening was Jovino Santos Neto Quarteto playing at PARATII CRAFT BAR on Leary Ave. Jovino Santos Neto – piano; Chuck Deardorf – bass; Ben Thomas – vibes; Byron Vannoy – drums
Pearl Django was great playing at the LEIF ERIKSON LODGE. Michael Gray – violin; Rick Leppanen – bass; David Lange – accordion; Ryan Hoffman – guitar; Troy Chapman – guitar
they had a good turnout and it was fun watching people dance to their tunes in the back of the hall.
Above is another shot from Human Spirit. Wish I could have seen more. Got to the COPPER GATE just as Jon Alberts / Tad Britton / Dean Schmidt finished their last set.
October 1st, 2011
Trio Commando made their public debut last noght at the chapel Performance Space opening up for Eric Barber, performing improvisations, excavations and conversations through a high powered trio configuration featuring Wayne Horvitz (piano), Samantha Boshnack(trumpets), and Beth Fleenor (clarinets/voice). Unexpected and brilliant set of music with exciting electronic and vocal intermixing.
Since arriving in Seattle in 1998, clarinetist/vocal percussionist/ composer Beth Fleenor has carved a place for herself as an energetic multi-instrumentalist and dynamic generative artist. Her robust sound, organic approach, and openness to experimentation in all forms, actively fuels a long and varied list of collaborations. Ranging from shows in nightclubs, festivals, schools and galleries, to prisons, parties and concert halls, Fleenor’s work has been featured in live music, theater, performance art, recordings, modern dance, film, sound art and art installations.
Samantha Boshnack has composed and performed with a plethora of Seattle-based musicians and groups since arriving from New York in 2003. The Bard College graduate uses a broad palette in her compositions, including jazz, rock, hip-hop, Balkan, and contemporary classical music influences. Her work has received acclaim from music critics around the world, and has received support from 4Culture, Jack Straw Productions, ASCAPlus, and the Seattle Mayor’s Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs.
Wayne Horvitz is a composer, pianist, electronic musician, and producer. He has toured widely, and has collaborated with musicians such as Bill Frisell, Butch Morris, John Zorn, Robin Holcomb, Fred Frith, Julian Priester, Michael Shrieve, Bobby Previte, Marty Ehrlich, William Parker, Ron Miles, Sara Schoenbeck, Peggy Lee, Briggan Krauss, and many others. A recipient of numerous commissions and awards, his various ensembles include The President, Pigpen, Zony Mash, The HMP Trio, The New York Composers Orchestra, The 4 Plus 1 Ensemble, Sweeter Than the Day and The Gravitas Quartet.
Presented by NONSEQUITUR, which supports a wide range of adventurous music and sound art through recordings, performances, and exhibitions since 1989. They currently sponsor the Wayward Music Series in the Chapel Performance Space at the historic Good Shepherd Center in the Wallingford neighborhood.
Another really wonderful performance by Thomas Marriott at the Chapel Performance Space on the next to last night of the 2010 Earshot Jazz Festival. What an amazing group of musicians he assembled to play his music from his 6th CD on Origin Records for which this was the release party.
As Thomas says about this CD “After many successful recording endeavors, this is my first album of all-original music and I am happy to say it is my favorite so far. This album represents my own beliefs and thoughts on music and I am happy to be joined by some of my favorite musicians.”
Of all the instruments associated with the “Third Stream,” the trumpet always seemed too blaring, with too many immediate blasts and incongruously declarative tendencies. In the era when post-bop melded with the post-classical, the blurring of genres seemed to need instruments that could be blurry overall. Think of Jimmy Giuffre’s clarinet, Gunther Schuller’s French horn, the way a cello can elide what a brass instrument blurts out.
Marc Seales transcendent and incandescent on piano.
Continue reading at: EarshotJazz Festival
Click here for the complete schedule for the rest of the upcoming shows at the 2010 Earshot Jazz Festival
September 14th, 2010
Ambrose Akinmusire at Tula’s September 11th, 2010
As Peter Monaghan wrote for Earshot Jazz “Ambrose Akinmusire has laid down a challenge for himself, and seems set on sweeping it away. Over the last few years, he has provoked expectations that he will be among the next big things in jazz – always a risky undertaking, and of course not one that the musicians who are lumbered with the tag often invite themselves.
Akinmusire has been, indeed, somewhat reluctant to accept the mantle. But you don’t do what he did in 2007 and not acquire it. That year, he won both the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition and the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition.
The Monk competition, open to any musician without a record release, has become a much-publicized bellwether of impending jazz stardom, with such winners as pianist Marcus Roberts, vocalist Jane Monheit, and saxophonist Joshua Redman. And Akinmusire steps along that path.
Before he was 18, the Oakland, California-raised Akinmusire (whose name is pronounced “ah-KIN-moo-SEE-ray,” and who was born in 1982) had already performed with saxophone legend Joe Henderson, Joshua Redman, saxophonist Steve Coleman, and drum legend Billy Higgins. After graduating from Berkeley High School, he moved to New York to attend the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied on a scholarship. He then completed a master’s degree at the University of Southern California, and next studied at the Thelonious Monk Institute, where his instructors included Terence Blanchard and Billy Childs. Through his attendance there, he also played with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Jimmy Heath, Jason Moran, Ron Carter, Wallace Roney, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter.
Not bad, all before one’s mid-20s. Akinmusire counts the Monk Institute as crucial to his development. “It really changed my life,” he says from his New York home. “I was in the program [then at the University of Southern California, now at Loyola University in New Orleans] before I won the competition. They set the combo every two years. That’s where I got to study with [composer and arranger] Vince Mendoza, [pianist] Billy Childs, Terence Blanchard every month, and Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter – we went on tour with them. It was just a life-changing experience to see the behind-the-scenes of all these people I really idolized. [Saxophonist] Jimmy Heath came, and [saxophonist] Benny Golson came. [Bassist] Ron Carter came twice, and I got to sit down with these masters, and really get to just observe them for a week straight.
“It’s an amazing program. It’s turning out people like [vocalist] Gretchen Parlato and [guitarist] Lionel Loueke. [Saxophonist] Walter Smith [who is in his current quintet] was in it, with me.”
With all that experience already under his belt, it is no wonder that Akinmusire’s 2007, debut album, Prelude … to Cora (Fresh Sounds), was a cut above the pack. It won him praise as “a resourceful player with a fat, crackling tone and a plethora of ideas” (San Francisco Chronicle) and a reputation as a “fiercely gifted young trumpeter” (New York Times).
Variety found him “fond of languid, rippling patterns that emerge, echo, and gradually fade into the distance. They certainly don’t fade from memory, however. Despite their lack of showiness, compositions like ‘Aroca’ … manage to work their way under the skin, delivering a tickle one moment and an electric jolt the next.”
During his still-ongoing apprenticeship, he has also recorded as a sideman with Steve Coleman, pianist Vijay Iyer, bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding, and two rising Seattle-reared musicians, pianist Aaron Parks, his close friend from the Manhattan School of Music, and vocalist Sara Gazarek, whom he praises as a “ball of positivity.”
Akinmusire has been, indeed, savvy in his selection of musical companions. His quintet’s pianist is Gerald Clayton, the Netherlands-born son of LA bassist John Clayton, who at 26 is another up-and-comer. He is winning renown for his seamless embrace of everything from stride piano to 21st-century neo-soul. The DownBeat 2008 Readers’ Poll named him one of the top up-and-coming pianists to watch. The Jazz Gallery in New York City has commissioned a composition from him, while the BBC Orchestra has performed another. He has been honored with a Level 1 award by the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts (NFAA), the title “Presidential Scholar in the Arts,” and second place in the Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Piano Competition.
Also in the Akinmusire quintet is the drummer in Clayton’s band, Justin Brown, who comes with a reputation as a killer player; as one reviewer put it, “He is a phenomenal drummer; a ‘simple’ press roll can be a shock to the listener, like a spike of electric current through a circuit.”
The saxophonist in the Akinmusire quintet is Walter Smith, a tenor saxophonist who was Akinmusire’s classmate at the Thelonious Monk Institute and has toured with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. Bassist Harish Raghavan graduated from the University of Southern California where he studied with Gerald Clayton’s father.
The tour that brings the quintet to Seattle is in preparation for his second album, his first on a major label, and the culmination of almost three years of playing together. The band will go into the studio in September to record for Blue Note, which will near guarantee that he will become a prominent jazz musician, world wide.
The selections on the recording will all be his own originals, but he’ll also include interludes by Osso, a New York-based string quartet, and he says it might have “some treats for the ears, like I’m thinking of having a couple of tracks with celeste or harp, or something else, to cleanse the palate between the tracks, or something like that.”
Akinmusire says his first album was in some senses the closing of the first part of his career. Prelude … to Cora included tunes he was playing regularly, and “I just wanted to record them, and put them to rest,” he says.
The albums reception, however, was so positive that the tunes did not lie down: “One day we went into the studio and played, and next thing you know, everybody had the album.”
He was 25 at the time and unaware, by his own admission, of what making a recording could mean in terms of presenting himself to the public.
That will be to his fans’ benefit when his second album appears, because he says that by comparison with his first outing, “I’m going to play, on this one.”
The popularity of Prelude was driven by Akinmusire’s wins in the 2007 Caruso and Monk competitions, and it took him completely by surprise. “It was a little shocking, a little scary, really,” he says.
He admits that he didn’t really know how to take the acclaim: “Me, on a personal level, I’m kind of to myself. I have a few friends who know me well, but I don’t like attention, and I definitely don’t play music for attention, or any of that other stuff. So, to have people all of a sudden calling me and wanting to interview me, and getting calls from labels, it was really weird. I actually stopped returning emails and phone calls.”
But, he chuckles, “then I got a manager to help me out with it.
“If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be gigging; I’d rather just stay in my house and practice and play with my friends.”
But he adds: “I’ve come to terms with it, now, being a little bit older. I find that somehow people out there get something from me, and it would be selfish of me not to give it to them.”
Is he consciously looking for new directions in his craft?
“I’m just trying to be honest. It sounds like a very hippie ideal, but we’re all different, we’re all individuals, and if we tap into who we really are, and express that 100 percent, then we all would be doing something new. I think people get caught up in wanting to impress others or wanting to be accepted. I don’t really have that, I’m sort of myself, and I don’t really apologize for that.
“Some people come up to me and say, ‘Ambrose, you’re the next innovator,’ and I just tell them, ‘Man, I’m just being myself.’ We’re all different; we all have different backgrounds, and that’s what I try to do.”
What are his ongoing influences?
“Everything influences me. This also sounds hippyish, but I learn resilience from trees, the importance of stillness from the flicker of a flame. People who enter and exit my life: from Jimmie Heath, the importance of maintaining your inner child; from Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, I’ve learned the importance of realizing that you’re a human being, first; I learned from Terence Blanchard that it’s OK for me to be myself.
“I just came back from Denmark, from being around all the best musicians in Denmark, teaching at a camp – their love for music was something that I’d forgot, or that I’ve been yearning for and I didn’t realize I was yearning for it. And I just felt like crying for a week, to see a culture where they were playing music just for the pleasure of playing music.
“I learned that from them.
“All of these things go into my music.”
June 25th, 2010
June 24th, 2010
Thomas Marriott celebrated the release of his new CD, “East-West Trumpet Summit“, which is currently #1 on the JazzWeek National Airplay Chart and was recently featured on NPR’s Morning Edition. The “East” portion of the Trumpet Summit is usually Ray Vega, but because of family commitments Vega wasn’t able to make this performance. In his absence, Vern Sielert (still “East” of Seattle as Sielert is now teaching in Idaho), joined the band which also featured Bill Anschell on piano, Phil Sparks on bass and Matt Jorgensen on drums. A great sound on a summer evening. Strange to see jazz in a club with daylight pouring in the window. More pictures to come soon.
April 5th, 2010
Tomasz Stanko performed Monday night at the Triple Door as Earshot Jazz Spring Series rolls on.
Tomasz Stanko and his quartet, featuring pianist Alexi Tuomarila, drummer Olavi Louhivuori, Anders Christensen on bass, and Jakob Bro, on guitar, put on a cool, mesmerizing and memorable performance. Playing smouldering Slavic soul music with a grainy-toned trumpet, the tunes were from his newest album Dark Eyes including the title track, The Dark Eyes Of Martha Hirsch. It was inspired by a painting by expressionist Oskar Kokoschka, Stanko saw in a New York art gallery. Stanko and Bro start the song by playing a muted jutting harmony, building up an intense tension which Tuomarila then exploits in a softly subversive solo. Echos of Miles Davis and Chet Baker his inspirational models were evident here and in a number of the other songs they played tonight, but there was a distinct Nordic influence surrounding their style of playing as well.
More photos will be posted later this week.