Ted Poor photo by Daniel Sheehan.

Saturday, March 7, 8pm
Columbia City Theater
4916 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle

Presented by Earshot Jazz

One of the reasons we love jazz is the sheer joy of the drummer’s propulsion—call it swing if you like—but there’s also a lineage that runs from Max Roach to Brian Blade that exults in the drum kit as an intricate engine of melody, timbre, and even harmonic movement. Thirty-nine-year-old drummer Ted Poor, who can swing like mad when he wants to, is an esteemed member of that lineage. On March 7, Poor teams up with longtime musical partner and fellow University of Washington professor Cuong Vu at the Columbia City Theater in a duo that will showcase such intricate, subtle interplay. An added attraction is a live light/video show by Portland visual artist Abigail Portner, courtesy of a Mellon Faculty Fellowship grant.

This year marks the seventh year at the UW for Poor, who grew up in the Finger Lakes region of New York, graduated from the Eastman School of Music in 2003, then established himself in New York before coming west. In addition to his jazz and improv work, on display here last year in a lovely concert with pianist Kris Davis, Poor tours and records with Los Angeles singer-songwriter Andrew Bird, and is a regular on Chris Thile’s radio show Live From Here.

Poor and Vu have worked together since 2003 in both trio and quartet formats, but this time they present themselves as a stripped-down duo, much in the spirit of—and including material from—Poor’s exciting new album with ex-Seattle saxophonist Andrew D’Angelo, You Already Know, his debut with New Deal, a subsidiary of the historic Impulse! label.

“Part of my weekly routine is getting together with Cuong,” Poor explained one morning last month before heading over to the UW to teach. “We’ve played together 17 years now and it still feels as fresh as ever. We’re working up some of the songs from the record, but there’s also a lot of new music.”

You Already Know showcases postproduction studio techniques and contributions from many guest artists whose sounds hover in the background, creating what Poor calls a “ghostly halo” that is sometimes more felt than heard. For the Seattle concert, Poor will add one such electronic technique, which sends signals from the kit through a mixer and guitar pedal, which pitches the drums down an octave.

“It’s sort of processing the natural sound of the drums to play bass, essentially,” said Poor.

But it’s the natural sound of each carefully selected, individual drum and cymbal that is Poor’s specialty. On one track of the new album with D’Angelo, “At Night,” he creates an eerie, bell-like aura by hitting the thicker of his two hi-hat cymbals in a particular spot in a particular way.

“The drums can do all of these things but they rarely have the opportunity to sing in this way,” said Poor. “All of these details, if they’re not competing with something that’s more direct, they’re vaulted to the forefront and our ears are there to receive them.”

Nicely put, Ted! See you in Columbia City!

–Paul de Barros

$10-21 This show is 21+Tickets and information at earshot.org