Feeling the Spirit
Welcome to the 2020 edition of the Earshot Jazz Festival. We’re proud to celebrate Seattle’s place in the dynamic world of jazz with a festival that reflects both the circumstances and the spirit of these extraordinary times.
Building this year’s program on the tangible pillars of Listen, Learn, and Improvise; we’ve also focused the artistic expression on the essential fourth corner of jazz’s foundation: Feel. Beneath the technical brilliance that we’ve come to expect in today’s artists, the essence of the music is in the personal expression of the artist and its impact on the listener. As Langston Hughes said, “Jazz is a heartbeat—its heartbeat is yours.”
The iconic saxophonist, John Coltrane, came to represent a musical movement in the 1960s that opened jazz as a path toward spiritual transcendence in a time of great cultural unrest. That path continued with the pianist and harpist Alice Coltrane, and burns brightly to this day in Ravi Coltrane and the project he’ll bring to this year’s festival, with the harpist Brandee Younger and the quartet (see page). The incredible young saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin carries that tradition further forward with her ensemble, named after a Coltrane composition, Pursuance (see page). Their opening weekend concerts will set the tone and the spirit of this year’s festival.
In his introduction to the Jazz Day program at the White House, in what now seems to be an almost utopian time, president Barack Obama referred to jazz as “fearless and true” and an “honest reflection of who we are in this time.” All of the artists on this year’s festival bring a great depth of skill and expressive spirit to the stage, though few have so rigorously shown the world who they are, as our featured Resident Artist, Ahamefule J. Oluo. We are delighted to present several of Aham’s recent projects in this year’s festival schedule, and we look forward to the arrival of his feature film, Thin Skin.
We hope you’ll check out all of the artists on the festival this year. Check the complete schedule in the following pages, and be sure to check for updates daily on earshot.org.
Earshot Jazz is Seattle’s non-profit jazz support organization and a treasured part of this city’s incredible cultural scene. Building on our 31-year legacy as one of the most organic, forward-thinking, and inclusive festivals in the country, this year’s schedule puts our mission into tangible motion and focuses on the spirit of Seattle’s incredible jazz legacy.
We are enormously grateful to all of our partners in this endeavor. We are committed to all of the health and safety protocols that will ensure the safety of festival artists and production crews. We are also committed to pay all artists a respectful wage and to encourage attendees to contribute to individual artists and buy recordings directly from artists whenever possible.
And please consider a gift to Earshot Jazz this fall. Your donations help us keep ticket prices low and bring incredible artists into creative engagement with the community through workshops and panels.
Keep in touch and give us your feedback. Have fun and enjoy! Jazz lives right here!
–John Gilbreath, Executive Director