Preview: May 2013

2013 Bellevue Jazz Festival

By Steve Griggs

Now in its 6th year, the Bellevue Jazz Festival returns May 29 through June 2 at 12 venues with 40 performances by regional and national artists. At press time, the program includes McTuff and Michael Shrieve’s Spellbinder, singers Isabella Du Graf, Stephanie Porter and Danny Quintero, pianists Bill Anschell, Overton Berry, Hans Brehmer, Darin Clendenin, Karin Kajita and June Tonkin, guitarists Neil Andersson, Marco de Carvalho and Dave Peterson, bassists Clipper Anderson and Evan Flory-Barnes, vibraphonist Tom Collier, trumpeter Jason Parker and trombonist Andy Clausen. Local student ensembles will be featured on a student showcase at the Bellevue Arts Museum. Downtown Bellevue venues include 1Hundred Bistro & Bar, Bake’s Place, Black Bottle Postern, Cypress Lounge at The Westin, El Gaucho, Lot No. 3, Paddy Coynes, and Rock Bottom Brewery. For a complete schedule of artists, venues and performances go to

Carlos Cascante y su Tumbao
Thursday, May 30, 7pm & 9:30pm
Bake’s Place

Singer Carlos Cascante and Tumbao will appear for two evenings at Bake’s Place on the corner of 108th Avenue NE and NE 2nd Street. In Tumbao, Pedro Vargas performs on tumbadora (Cuban for conga) with pianist Julio Jáuregui, trumpeter Thomas Marriott, bassist Dean Schmidt and percussionist Jeff Busch. Tumbao plays authentic Latin music – Cascante grew up in Costa Rica, Vargas in Cuba, Jáuregui in Mexico and Busch studied in Brazil. For more than nine years, the ensemble has been thrilling audiences with its recordings (Recuerdos, Hablando en Serio) and live performances.

According to, the Spanish word Tumbao can translate as slang for bass notes, mean booty, swagger or African sexiness. Technically, it refers to a specific Latin dance rhythm played by congas and basses that gyrates centers of gravity and boosts animal magnetism of everyone listening. The bass line hides the strong downbeat of funk and anticipates the harmony to create a forward motion against the steady conga. Dancing inevitably ensues.

Kendrick Scott Oracle | Evan Flory-Barnes “On Loving, The Muse, and Family”
Friday, May 31, 7:30pm
Theatre at Meydenbauer Center

The last time 32-year-old drummer Kendrick Scott appeared in the Pacific Northwest he performed at Seattle’s Jazz Alley with singer Kurt Elling to promote the release of Elling’s 1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project. On Friday, May 31, Scott takes a break from the worldwide tour schedule with Elling to appear in the Meydenbauer Center, featuring music from his own Oracle ensemble and new recording Conviction.

The 2005 debut recording of Oracle, The Source, included former Seattle pianist Aaron Parks. The current version of Oracle consists of guitarist Mike Moreno, pianist Taylor Eigsti, saxophonist John Ellis and bassist Joe Sanders.

Scott embodies the name of his band Oracle by striving to transcend the technical. “Learning my instrument and getting it out of the way is really key to playing music,” Scott said in a 2010 interview with Jazz Houston. “The more that you know your instrument, the more you can speak your mind and not worry about things. I also have a saying that I write on my sticks that says, ‘Lord make me an instrument of thy peace,’ so whenever things get out of hand or I’m not thinking of musical things, I look at my sticks and it puts everything right back into perspective. … When I see my sticks it’s like, ‘oh that’s really why I’m playing! I’m showcasing my life through the instrument.’”

Opening for Scott is Seattle bassist Evan Flory-Barnes with pianist Dawn Clement, saxophonists Art Brown and Craig Flory, French horn player Josiah Boothby, trombonist Nathan Vetter, tuba player Jon Hansen and drummer Jeremy Jones playing a program entitled “On Loving, The Muse and Family.”

Cyrus Chestnut Trio with special guest Stefon Harris
Saturday, June 1, 7:30pm
Theatre at Meydenbauer Center

Pianist Cyrus Chestnut will tap his gospel roots when his trio performs with vibraphonist Stefon Harris on Saturday, June 1, at the Meydenbauer Theatre. “I believe the ability to play music is a gift from God and every time I play, I’m thankful,” Chestnut was quoted in DownBeat magazine. “Every time I sit down to play, for me, is worship and expression.” The link between worship and jazz can be so intimate that some nightclubs even refer to the stage as an altar.

In a 2010 YouTube interview with Brian Pace, Chestnut echoes Kendrick Scott’s emphasis on channeling the divine during performance: “This music is not just thought in the head. It’s felt in the heart and soul.” Chestnut goes on to highlight music’s connection to the physical. “You don’t just play notes for the heck of it. You play notes to get a reaction. This music is about motion, you know?” Chestnut underscores the main goal. “When the note goes down, it’s got to feel good. Whether it’s a sharp nine, or altered, augmented or whatever, it’s got to feel good.”

Make reservations for Thursday at Bake’s Place at or (425) 454-2776. Tickets and info for performances at the Theatre at Meydenbauer Center at


Earshot Jazz is a Seattle based nonprofit music, arts and service organization formed in 1984 to support jazz and increase awareness in the community.  Earshot Jazz publishes a monthly newsletter, presents creative music and educational programs, assists jazz artists, increases listenership, complements existing services and programs, and networks with the national and international jazz community.
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