Remembering Overton Berry feat. Diane Schuur / Garfield High School Jazz Band
October 8 @ 7:30 pm
Saturday, October 8
7:30 pm PDT
Town Hall, Great Hall
In-person* and livestream
Remembering Overton Berry feat. Diane Schuur
Opening: Garfield High School Jazz Band
Thanks to the Raynier Institute and Foundation for its support of this presentation.
In a tribute to Seattle’s beloved pianist Overton Berry, vocalist/pianist Diane Schuur, and bassist Bruce Phares, come together along with an ensemble of local musicians, to celebrate the magic that was Overton Berry.
Berry’s career began during the waning years of the legendary Jackson St. scene of the 1950’s, and continued through 2020, with a bi-monthly residency at Tula’s Jazz Club. Berry was a pianist with a deep connection to the blues, and a penchant for enchanting a room with his ebullient personality, and gentlemanly demeanor. He carried a devoted gallery of longtime fans from his legendary trio residence at the Doubletree Inn in the 1960’s, to his time playing with bassist Bruce Phares at Tula’s in the 2010’s. Always the entertainer, Berry was a commanding presence in a room, and backed it up elegantly with his full, rich sound.
Berry was born in Houston, Texas in 1936, and moved to Seattle after the war and attended Garfield High School. His classmates included Quincy Jones for a short time. After studying classical piano at Cornish College of the Arts, he learned modern popular forms from Louis Wilcox. After brief tenures as a student at Linfield College, Oregon and the University of Washington, Berry dedicated himself to his music. Berry passed at the age of 84, in October 2020.
Tacoma-born Diane Schuur grew up steeped in traditional American jazz, courtesy of her parents’ formidable record collection full of LPs by Duke Ellington and Dinah Washington. Both an accomplished pianist and vocalist, Schuur has performed with Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea, and many others. Known for her pitch-perfect execution and three-and-a-half-octave vocal range, Schuur’s much-laureled career includes two Grammy Awards, and three Grammy nominations. Schuur and Overton’s paths crossed in 1975, when Berry hired Schuur. The duo traveled to Phoenix to perform at the new Doubletree Inn, and over a seven year period, performed regularly together in Seattle. “I just loved him so, he was like a father to me. He brought so much into my life. He taught me how to be independent and think for myself. He gave me lessons in stage presence, how to segue from song to song. I’m so grateful to have known Overton, and to perform with him last year at Jazz Alley. He is someone I love and revere, and will absolutely never forget,” offers Schuur.
Bassist Bruce Phares, best known for his four-decade duet-relationship with Overton Berry, which began in 1978, developed a harmonious musical relationship with Berry characterized by its warmth and marvelously well balanced dynamism that drew audiences in. Phares has also worked alongside other renowned jazz greats including Dianne Schuur, Larry Coryell, Roland Hannah, Frank Wess, George Cables, Bruce Forman, Charlie Bird, Ernestine Anderson, and many others. “It was magic to share the stage with OB. His engagement with the audience was genuine, real, and who he was in person. He loved every person that sat in an audience, and frankly, he loved every person he ever came in contact with. Every person he made contact with, and anyone who ever had a conversation with him, even just one, walked away touched by a feeling that he cared, he loved, he just simply loved,” recalls Phares fondly.
Opening: Garfield High School Jazz Band. The multi-prizewinning Garfield band (which will receive a donation from proceeds at Overton Berry’s request).
*Earshot Jazz COVID-19 Policy: Earshot recommends that all ticket holders be vaccinated. Masks are required unless actively eating or drinking. Policy subject to change. Full policy here.
Overton Berry photo by Alex Crick