Kareem Kandi, the Tacoma-based saxophonist’s funk- and blues-drenched style was showcased to fine effect in this trio with organist favorite Delvon Lamarr and drummer Adam Kessler last night at Tula’s, as the 2015 Earshot Jazz festival goes on.

Tenor saxophonist Kareem Kandi teaches 35-40 private lessons per week and gigs three to five nights a week, from Bellingham to Olympia and beyond. He’s in his 14th year as artist-in-residence at the Tacoma School of the Arts and his ninth at Pierce College, where he teaches saxophone and, until this year, directed its big band ensemble. He also plays and tours with the folk super-group The Paperboys, from Vancouver, BC. In recent months, Kandi has expanded his bandstand leadership and teaching into a south Sound venture with Boxley’s proprietor Danny Kolke. Together, the two have launched the non-profit Tacoma Jazz Association. Kandi is a class act and a great, gigging bandleader who charms on the microphone and astounds audiences with long, muscly tenor runs, riffs, and hits: an excellent trio instrumentalist.

Organist Lamarr learned the instrument by watching bandleader Joe Doria, while subbing as a drummer on the gig. Today, the fluidity of his feet on the foot pedals, his left hand handling the walking bass lines, and his right hand oscillating between comping and soloing – he’s like a well-rehearsed chamber ensemble unto himself. Lamarr was born in 1978 and grew up in a house where his mother listened to gospel and blues while he and his older brother spun hip-hop and Van Halen records. Today, he works in his own funky groove trio, Rippin Chicken, and works regularly with saxophonist Kandi.

Drummer Kessler is a leader in his own right, from the drum throne at club Barca’s weekly Thursday jazz hang. Tight, clean chops and a mastery of the grammar of the jazz trio allow Kessler to sit deep in the pocket. The percussionist and educator was born in Seattle, 1982, and learned about swing in the Roosevelt High School Jazz Band. He received a BA in Music from Cornish College of the Arts, where he studied jazz, Brazilian, electronic, Middle Eastern, and gamelan music, as well as musicianship and composition training with multi-instrumentalist Denney Goodhew.







Seattle’s hippest and most elegant jazz mainstay Marc Seales celebrated a new CD release in this Earshot Jazz Festival presentation at Tula’s on Friday night to a packed house. The music was great.

Here is a link to the Earshot Jazz Festival website  schedule for the rest of the Festival.

marc-sea;es-group-2 marc-sea;es-group-3 marc-sea;es-group-4 marc-sea;es-group-5



Saturday and Friday night at Tula’s I saw the George Colligan Trio, part of the Earshot Jazz festival.
Portland keyboardist George Colligan holds down Seattle’s favorite jazz hang on the Hammond B-3. Currently on the faculty at Portland State University, Colligan was born in New Jersey and raised in the Baltimore area. Colligan studied classical trumpet at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, eventually moving to New York and playing with Cassandra Wilson, Don Byron, Jack DeJohnette and Ravi Coltrane. In New York, Colligan joined the faculty at Juilliard. He left to teach at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, before landing on PSU’s faculty in 2011. There, he leads small ensembles and big bands with longtime professor Charles Gray. Best known as a pianist and composer, Colligan has more than 70 credits as a sideman. Colligan also writes a blog called Jazz Truth  (jazztruth.blogspot.com).

Here is a link to the Earshot Jazz Festival website  schedule for the rest of the Festival.






Here is a link to the Earshot Jazz Festival website  schedule for the rest of the Festival.

Trumpet Madness

October 5th, 2013

Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle

Friday night at Tula’s saw a return of Jay Thomas this time with his Trumpet Madness.  Jay Thomas brought Willie Thomas (trumpet), young Seattle trumpeters, John Hansen (piano), Chuck Kistler (bass) and Adam Kessler (drums) to Tula’s.

A versatile multi-instrumentalist, Thomas began to develop his lyrical and bluesy tone as a teen on scholarship to Berklee. He then worked and studied for several years in New York, then, the Bay Area. Later, in Seattle, Thomas became a frequent member of the house band at Parnell’s Jazz Club, working with artists George Cables, Charles McPherson, Bill Mays, Ralph Penland, Harold Land, Diane Schuur, Slim Gaillard and many jazz greats as they traveled through Seattle. Today, he is a member of one of Japan’s leading big bands, where he records and performs several times a year. Often, he shares those star players with audiences in the States.

Here is a link to the Earshot Jazz Festival website  schedule for the rest of the Festival.

Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle

Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle

Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle

Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle

Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle


Here is a link to the Earshot Jazz Festival website  schedule for the rest of the Festival.

Thomas Marriott plays with his jazz band Flexicon at the Seattle Jazz CLub Tula's.


Thomas Marriott’s Flexicon with Rick Mandyck on piano, Paul Gabrielson on bass, John Bishop on drums.
The 2012 Golden Ear Awards, celebrating the contributions and achievements in Seattle jazz, were presented at Tula’s on March 20 and Flexicon opened the evening. Here are some images from the evening of great sounds from some guys who have been around for a while.


Thomas Marriott plays with his jazz band Flexicon at the Seattle Jazz CLub Tula's.

Thomas Marriott plays with his jazz band Flexicon at the Seattle Jazz CLub Tula's.

Thomas Marriott plays with his jazz band Flexicon at the Seattle Jazz CLub Tula's.

Thomas Marriott plays with his jazz band Flexicon at the Seattle Jazz CLub Tula's.

Human Spirit

October 17th, 2012

Trumpeter Thomas Marriott, saxophonist Mark Taylor and drummer Matt Jorgensen joined pianist Orrin Evans (Bobby Watson’s former pianist) and bassist Essiet Essiet (Art Blakey’s last bassist) under the Human Spirit banner for two nights of  performances at Tulas in the 2012 Earshot Jazz Festival.

The East Coast artists vivified the harmonies while the Emerald City performers moistened the melodies and rhythms. Selections from the live performance were released as Dialogue (Origin, 2012). The program for this year’s festival performance includes original compositions by Marriott, Taylor and Jorgensen from Dialogue, plus new material.

Tula’s last night was the venue for a return of Human Spirit. If you missed them on Tuesday be sure to catch them on Weds. I was there last year when they recorded their album there at Tula’s and the music continues to feel great and more comfortable after repeated listenings over the past year.

2012 Earshot Jazz Festival  continues. Click on the schedule.

Saxophonist Taylor looks forward to the group because of the unknown elements and fresh surprises that can come from performing with two frequent collaborators and two new collaborators. He says, “Their interpretation and stylistic contributions to our tunes, and how that invariably steers us in different directions than we might otherwise go, is always intriguing to me.”

That sweet spot of social intimacy within artistic teams for maximum creativity also intrigues Brian Uzzi, a sociologist at Northwestern. In a study of Broadway musicals, Uzzi’s data revealed that the most successful work came from teams that “had some old friends, but they also had newbies. This mixture meant that the artists could interact efficiently – they had a familiar structure to fall back on – but they also managed to incorporate some new ideas. They were comfortable with each other, but they weren’t too comfortable.”

Check them out tonight.

– Steve Griggs

2012 Earshot Jazz Festival  continues. Click on the schedule.

So for my final set of the evening on Sunday I ended up at Tula’s and got to enjoy the Jon Hamar Quintet.the top-flight Seattle bassist Jon Hamar explored new music with tenor-sax titan Rich Perry, virtuoso multi-reedist Todd DelGiudice , pianist John Hansen and drummer Julian MacDonough,

Here is the  2012 Earshot Jazz Festival schedule

Hamar released his third CD, Hymn (Origin), in September to stellar reviews. DelGiudice features on the release, which eschews the traditional trio format to explore the melodic possibilities sans drums. Bolstered by the lithe alto sax of DelGiudice and Grammy-nominated Geoffrey Keezer on piano, Hamar presents a diverse collection of originals and arrangements that highlights the spirited interplay of these three voices.

Kennewick-born Hamar began playing string bass at age 11. He earned a bachelor’s degree in classical bass performance from Eastern Washington University and a master’s degree in jazz from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He teaches at Central Washington University, Northwest University (Kirkland), Edmonds Community College.

Hamar welcomes Rich Perry, a colossal jazz talent appearing on over 70 CDs. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Perry became interested in jazz in high school, then studied briefly at Bowling Green State University before moving to New York City. In 1977, he joined the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra and spent two years touring the U.S. and Europe, and then continued with Mel Lewis. The band is now known as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and has three Grammy-nominated CDs. Perry is on the jazz faculty of William Paterson University in New Jersey.

Also making up the group tonight: the fluid clarinet and sax tones of Florida-native Todd DelGiudice, assistant professor of clarinet and saxophone at Eastern Washington University and member of the Spokane Symphony Orchestra; gem of the Northwest jazz scene, pianist John Hansen, an ensemble player with an attentive ear; drummer Julian MacDonough, the energetic timekeeper behind an eclectic mix of bands and instructor in Western Washington University’s jazz department.

– GB

Here is the  2012 Earshot Jazz Festival schedule

Also opening the 2012 Earshot Jazz Festival last Friday at Tula’s was the deliciously savvy, flawless, quirky, stratospheric – Grammy- and Emmy-nominated vocalist, lyricist and songwriter Lorraine Feather appeared with pianist and composer Russell Ferrante, a founder of smooth-fuse mainstay the Yellowjackets.

Feather calls her Tales of the Unusual (Jazzed Media, 2012), with Ferrante, “a collection of songs about unusual adventures both real and surreal; odd people; and in some cases, ordinary people suddenly overwhelmed by a new emotion of one kind or another.” The CD follows Ages (Jazzed Media, 2010), Grammy nominee for Best Jazz Vocal Album, also with Ferrante.

Californian Russell Ferrante started piano lessons at age 9 and by high school was performing professionally with local groups. In 1973, he dropped out of college to tour with blues singer Jimmy Witherspoon’s band, including guitarist Robben Ford. After this stint, Ferrante moved to Los Angeles and worked with Ford and other artists, including Joe Farrell, Tom Scott, Joni Mitchell, Bobby McFerrin and Al Jarreau. Soon after, Ferrante, Ford and bassist Jimmy Haslip formed fusion jazz group the Yellowjackets, who has released an impressive string of well-received albums in its 30-year history. The group’s twentieth release, Lifecycle (Heads Up Records, 2008), was nominated for a 2009 Grammy Award, and Ferrante also was personally nominated.

In college, Feather was a theater arts major and later worked briefly as a stage actress, landing a role in the Broadway production Jesus Christ Superstar. During this time, she sang with various bands around New York, including backup for Grand Funk Railroad.

In Los Angeles, she developed her talent for writing lyrics, recorded by artists such as Patti Austin, David Benoit and Diane Schuur, and worked in the television and movie industries as a songwriter and lyricist. She’s received seven Emmy nominations; wrote the lyrics for Disney’s Dinosaurs and feature film The Jungle Book 2; and features on soundtracks Dick Tracy and For The Boys.

Feather lives in the San Juan Islands with husband Tony Morales, former drummer for The Rippingtons, David Benoit and Rickie Lee Jones.

– Gregory Brusstar


Here is the  2012 Earshot Jazz Festival schedule to see what is coming up next.

Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio

July 2nd, 2012

Pianist Sunna Gunnlaugs performed with bassist Thorgrimur Jonsson and drummer Scott McLemore at Tula’s last month in an Earshot Jazz presentation that was sublime and delightful.

 Also the trio on Gunnlaugs’ latest release, Long Pair Bond (2011), the patient and measured group works in a sonic space redolent of familiar environments – dynamic and sometime dusky Reykjavik, Iceland, bordered by sea and mountains. On her first trio album since her debut in 1997, a now more mature Gunnlaugs presents this music with a humble awareness and connectedness.

Gunnlaugs writes about her recent experience at performance hall Sendesaal at the jazzahead! conference in Bremen, Germany: “It was humbling to sit down at the Steinway D in this beautiful room and think that this was where Keith Jarrett played his solo concert (the Bremen part at least) and that Thelonious Monk had played there and also Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Jan Garbarek with Bobo Stenson and the list goes on. Holy moley. Humbling? Yes sir! We all just loved the sound in there.”

As a child on the small Seltjarnarnes peninsula not far from Reykjavik, Gunnlaugs began taking lessons on the organ. It was the gift of a Bill Evans trio record, You’re Gonna Hear from Me, that brought her to modern jazz. Not long after, in Brooklyn, fresh from the William Patterson University jazz program in New Jersey, Gunnlaugs featured connections with Tony Malaby, Drew Gress and drummer-cum-husband McLemore on the 1999 recordings Mindful and Songs from Iceland. Mindful was chosen as one of the top ten CDs of the year by the Virginian Pilot; Songs from Iceland, released a decade later, features Gunnlaugs’ special relationship with the material – five Icelandic folk songs that Gunnlaugs grew up with. “These were tunes that we were playing on concerts … it seemed important to document,” she says.


Gunnlaugs enjoys touring and has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. Seven releases as a leader have consistently met critical praise. Now living in Iceland, she frequently performs with her Iceland trio featuring bassist Jonsson and drummer McLemore. More about Sunna Gunnlaugs at sunnagunnlaugs.com and sunnagunnlaugs.bandcamp.com.

Travis Shook Trio

November 1st, 2011

Travis Shook Trio at Tula’s

Earshot Jazz Festival 2011 presented the Travis Shook Trio at Tula’s last Friday and Saturday nights. this was one of my favorite performances of the festival so far. Travis with Matt Jorgensen (drums) and Essiet Essiet (bass) played some really cool sounding jazz from some standards, to Beetles tunes to his own compositions. Travis – a former Seattleite who was Earshot Golden Ear Award winner for best emerging jazz artist in 1992 and 1993 – gained early notoriety with drum legend Tony Williams, vocalist Betty Carter, and his own brilliant trio releases. Check out the Earshot Jazz Festival Schedule to see what’s next in the last week of the 2011 Festival lineup.

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A former Sony/Columbia recording artist, Travis Shook has been called a “man of mystery” by JazzTimes, “pianist-in-exile” by Time Out New York, and he has been highly praised by the likes of Tony Williams and Ahmad Jamal. Shook’s playing demonstrates an unusually wide scope of feeling from the simple to the complex, the conventional to the unconventional, and from the softest, most lush ballads, to the fiercest, hard-driving jazz.

Born in Orville, California, on March 10, 1969, Shook (who began studying the piano at the age of 7) moved to Olympia, Washington, with his parents when he was 10 and spent his adolescent years in the Pacific Northwest. At 18, Shook moved to New Jersey to attend William Paterson College, graduating in 1990 with a BA in jazz performance. He then returned to Washington State and spent three years in the band of veteran bassist Buddy Catlett (famous for his work with Count Basie and Louis Armstrong, among others). In 1993 – the year Shook moved to New York City – Columbia released his self-titled debut album, which boasted the late Tony Williams on drums, Bunky Green on alto sax and Ira Coleman on bass. (But Shook’s association with Columbia turned out to be short-lived. When Columbia’s jazz department went through a major regime change, Shook was dropped from the label along with Horace Silver, Joey DeFrancesco and many others.)

Then in 1994, jazz vocal innovator Betty Carter hired Shook as her pianist, and he ended up touring Europe extensively with her. The future looked promising for Shook, but not long after that European tour concluded, he entered a very dark period of his life and struggled with addiction for a few years, reaching sobriety in the late 1990s with the help of his wife, jazz vocalist Veronica Nunn. In 1999, he and Nunn started their own company, Full Gallop Entertainment, which includes his label, Dead Horse Records. They have released a trilogy of albums on Dead Horse: Nunn’s debut album, American Lullaby; Shook’s second album, Awake; and his third album, Travis Shook Plays Kurt Weill.

Reggie Workman, Eddie Harris, Joe Lovano, Toots Thielemans, Rufus Reid, Chuck Israels, Ernestine Anderson, Branford Marsalis, Benny Golson and Clifford Jordan are among the many jazz greats Shook has played with along the way. He maintains a busy performance schedule in New York, and Earshot Jazz is pleased to welcome him back to Seattle for tonight’s concert. – Danielle Bias from the Earshot Jazz Festival Schedule

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