April 7th, 2013
The Earshot Jazz Spring Series brought he ICPO live on Stage at the Seattle Art Museum on April 3rd to an almost full house. One of the most wonderful performances I can remember seeing in a long time. I always really enjoy seeing Han Bennink perform but the whole ensemble this time was memorable.
“Bit-by-bit zany and artistically and technically brilliant, the ICP Orchestra is likely the globe’s most startling and ear-stretching jazz ensembles. This lineup of the world’s greatest collaborative improvisers was minus it’s founding pianist Misha Mengelberg, now in his late seventies.
Mengelberg and drummer Han Bennink, along with Willem Breuker, formed the group in Amsterdam in 1967, in the full throes of the free-jazz movement. The ICP Orchestra was then, and remains now, a marvel of instant composition driven by the spontaneity and idiosyncrasy of its members. In that lineup of maverick contributors: trombonist Wolter Wierbos, bassist Ernst Glerum, clarinetist and saxophonist Ab Baars, tenor saxophonist Tobias Delius, multi-reeds hornman Michael Moore, trumpeter Thomas Heberer, violist Mary Oliver, and cellist Tristan Honsinger.” – Peter Monaghan Read more on Earshot Jazz
March 21st, 2012
In the second presentation of the Earshot Jazz Spring Series, Ben Williams put on a tremendously pleasing show last Saturday night. Rising-star bassist Ben Williams performed with his group at the Seattle Art Museum, downtown. The Washington DC-born, Harlem-based bandleader, musical educator, composer, electric and acoustic bassist was the winner of the 2009 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition, an award that helped the young artist produce his debut CD release State of Art. That record has galvanized Williams as an emerging and prominent voice in the jazz today.
State of Art is a mature statement stamped with his voice: “I wanted to make an album that regular nine-to-five people could enjoy,” Williams says, “and to make a deep artistic statement as well. I like music that grooves, and I make sure that my music feels good.” Even before the release of State of Art, Williams was one of the most sought after young bassists in the world; his resume is a who’s who of jazz wisdom: Wynton Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Terence Blanchard, Christian McBride Big Band, Nicholas Payton, Paquito D’Rivera, Cyrus Chestnut, Benny Golson, Roy Hargrove, and Mulgrew Miller, to name a few. Williams’ warm, woody tone, flowing groove, melodic phrasing and storytelling approach has found favor among musicians, but also a larger audience.
On the bassist’s appeal, Nate Chinen of the New York Times writes, “Williams took several long solos in his first set at The Jazz Gallery … and each one felt more like an entitlement than an indulgence.” He’s a natural who shares through his music what he sees happening in the world right now. From the liner notes of State of Art, by Williams: “This album is my honest and humble attempt at expressing (musically) what it feels like to be alive in 2011.” In this February’s issue of JazzTimes magazine, writer Giovanni Russonello reports on Williams and contemporaries in Harlem doing just that – Christian Scott, Gerald Clayton, Justin Brown, Jamire Williams. “It’s almost like a second coming of the Harlem Renaissance,” trumpeter Christian Scott says.
November 14th, 2011
The outstanding pianist/vocalist Robin Holcomb with the lineup from her entrancing recent CD Presenting the Point of It All: Ron Samworth (guitar), Wayne Horvitz (keyboards), Dylan van der Schyff (drums), Peggy Lee (cello), and Bill Clark (trumpet).
The work of outstanding pianist, composer and vocalist Robin Holcomb has been called “remarkable” (CMJ), “entrancing” (Billboard), “sensitive, descriptive, adventuresome and full of soul” (Washington Post). Her work evokes thoughts and moods of many facets – country, rock, Baptist hymns and Appalachian folk tunes, and according to the New York Times, “the music that results is as elegantly simple as a Shaker quilt, and no less beautiful.”
July 8th, 2011
Saturday Night, Earshot Jazz presented Kris Davis, Tyshawn Sorey, Ingrid Laubrock Trio at the Chapel Performance Space. Their creative collaboration in the unique venue was an wonderful event to witness.
“The trio is a truly collective effort. How and where it came about is a perfect reflection of the real world of working jazz musicians.
About two and a half years ago, shortly after Laubrock moved to New York, all three musicians got together for a session. Davis and Sorey had met earlier, playing together in another group. They were exploring a different context of collaboration, and Davis invited Laubrock to join them.
“It was an informal session,” Davis says in recent interview, “the kind of thing musicians do in New York possibly a couple of times a week as a way to meet people, have new music read, etc.” After improvising for almost two hours, it was clear the trio was something special and the music had to be explored further. Kris says there was “that instant connection and understanding, and we were excited to see where it could go.”
The trio met a few more times and began working with new music, each musician bringing original compositions. The music was written earlier for different groups, but the trio found new ways to make it their own. They soon began regular performances, interpreting the written material afresh each time.
In Davis’s words: “The way we play together … it feels like you can do no wrong – whether you are improvising or playing written music – it is wonderful.”
Continue reading story by Greg Pincuson on Earshot Jazz‘s website
April 14th, 2011
Billy Bang, a violinist whose gritty, expressive and spirited playing earned admiration in contemporary jazz circles, died on Monday at his home in Harlem. He was 63. The cause was complications of lung cancer, said Jean-Pierre Leduc, his friend and agent.
Photos of Billy are from his performance at the 2008 Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle October, 2008.
Prominent as a bandleader and a sideman throughout the 1980s and ’90s, Mr. Bang achieved his most substantial success with the 2001 album “Vietnam: The Aftermath,” which featured music inspired by his time serving in the Army during the Vietnam War, played with peers who had also served. The album — and a 2005 sequel, “Vietnam: Reflections,” which included Vietnamese musicians — in turn inspired “Redemption Song,” a 2008 documentary film about him.
Continue reading at The New York Times.
November 1st, 2010
Just got back from THE CROCODILE where Dafnis Prieto Proverb Trio performed and with Cuong Vu / Andrew D’Angelo: Agogic doing the opening set. What a night. It is late so I will post a brief and add more on Tuesday.
When the 25 year old Cuban born percussionist Dafnis Prieto’s arrived on the New York scene back in 1999 it sent shock waves throughout the jazz world. His subsequent years of performing, composing and recording have gone a long way toward cementing his place as one of the world’s preeminent percussionists. If fact, many believe he is revolutionizing the art of drumming.
Continue reading at: EarshotJazz Festival
Click here for the complete schedule for the rest of the upcoming shows at the 2010 Earshot Jazz Festival
November 3rd, 2009
Edward Simon (piano), Kenny Davis (bass), Don Byron and Billy Hart (drums) on stage at the Triple Door tonight as the Earshot Jazz Festival carries on in its last week.
For me, the Don Byron Quartet performance was one of the most enjoyable of the Festival so far. Maybe it was the way he sang a Hank Williams tune or how he referenced one of his compositions to the 1968 Olympics high jumper who first took the plunge backwards, but the performance felt very satisfying and complete. I like his eyeglasses too.
Conceived as a means of expressing gratitude to Lester Young, Don Byron’s 2004 release Ivey-Divey convened an all-star trio with Jason Moran and Jack DeJohnette to revisit and reinterpret some of Lester Young’s finest works. Taking its name, orchestration, and much of its repertoire from Young’s great 1940s trio with pianist Nat King Cole and drummer Buddy Rich, Ivey-Divey was immediately recognized as a masterwork. Reflecting Young’s gifts as a communicator, Byron’s ensemble combines the same unbridled joy and enthusiasm of Young’s classic lineup with the innovations and technical advances of the last half century. With Byron playing clarinet and tenor sax, this expanded version of the Ivey-Divey project features Edward Simon (piano), Kenny Davis (bass), and Billy Hart (drums). As with many of Byron’s diverse forays, the Ivey-Divey Quartet is a wholly compelling and at times unpredictable vehicle for Byron and his peers to let loose. From the Earshot Jazz Festival guide.
November 1st, 2009
Jim Knapp, one of the most respected composers and arrangers on the West Coast, has evolved his concept of ensemble music into a uniquely identifiable sound. Jim lead his orchestra in a performance last night at Poncho Hall at Cornish as part of the Earshot Jazz Festival.
His 15-piece orchestra featured many of the finest jazz soloists in the Northwest, and has appeared in collaboration with Lee Konitz, Jay Clayton, Julian Priester, Jovino Santos Neto, Robin Holcomb, Kirk Nurock, Carla Bley, and Steve Swallow. Knapp has also served as director of The Composers and Improvisors Orchestra and has led various small jazz groups such as Ohio Howie and the Temple of Boom and the J-Word. Knapp founded and developed the jazz program at Cornish College of the Arts in the late 1970s, where he continues to teach and currently serves as a professor of music. In 2006, he was honored by Cornish College with a special “35 Years of Jazz” award in recognition of his many years of service to that institution.
Photographs by Seattle photographer Michael Craft
October 30th, 2009
Tom Varner conducts his tentet through some of his compositions and seem to be transported to a far away place. His music is so sublime.
From Earshot Jazz Festival we continue to see and hear such wonderful groups and performances. Tom Varner presented his new tentet and new CD, Heaven and Hell.
“Varner calls the piece “my big meaty work for tentet,” something he’s incubated and worked on since September 11, 2001. He notes that the piece mixes “My … hell … being in New York City on 9/11,” with that most incongruous thing, a sort of heaven, as he and his wife adopted their son in Vietnam a short 8 days later. That contrasting mix of elements and imperatives is a Varner specialty, something he did with magnificent ease on The Window Up Above, a take on the American song-book, in 1998. The free-ranging French horn, hardly something one associates with George Jones, made fabulous, slippery improvisational material out of, well, George Jones and other American staples on Window. The point? Varner’s got no fear of steep material, of flowing free, of going “big and meaty.” Varner’s discography shows him using his horn as if it were always an improviser’s mainstay, something that shone as it seemed to smear across notes, slowed brilliantly even as it sped (it is a French horn, after all). His 2001 look at Don Cherry’s Second Communion is nothing short of a master-work, a tribute, of course, but also something that takes the trumpeter’s clipped execution and makes it pliable and all-encompassing. That’s what Heaven and Hell promises, the orchestration of Varner’s elastic harmonics, his use of the ensemble as an instrument, his Ellingtonian ability to animate against the instruments’ limitations.”
from Earshot Jazz Festival Program
October 7th, 2009
I heard this story from the Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie on the danger of depending upon the single story and it hit a nerve. Listen to her on this video from TED.