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A Shot of Jazz in a Time of Need

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John Gilbreath smiling in front of jazz art poster

John Gilbreath photo by Bill Uznay.

Letter From the Director

Welcome to the 2021 Earshot Jazz Festival! We’ve missed you! We hope that you and yours are safe and healthy. We’re excited to be back with this 33rd festival edition, offering the thrill and inspiration of live jazz performances by some of the top masters and brilliant rising stars, from around the world and right here in Seattle. 

Building on our legacy as one of the most forward-thinking and inclusive festivals in the country, this year’s festival also focuses on being responsive and accessible. Out of an abundance of care for the artists, audiences, technicians and crew, we are offering this 33rd edition in a hybrid format by making the unique experience of live concerts safely available to those who would like to join us in the concert halls, while continuing to offer livestreaming options at most events to the homes of those who aren’t quite ready to rejoin live audiences. 

Headlining this year’s festival is a one-of-a-kind concert opportunity; a night of duets with Dianne Reeves, Chucho Valdés, and Joe Lovano, who will be appearing in the Great Hall of Town Hall Seattle on October 21. We’re excited to present Dianne Reeves for the first time in our history, and to welcome Chucho Valdés and Joe Lovano back to the Town Hall stage. This concert will be unforgettable. 

We are delighted that this year’s featured resident artist is the expansive genius, Marina Albero. A virtuoso instrumentalist and boundless improvisor, Marina Albero will appear in a variety of creative settings, with many guest artists, throughout the festival. 

Also featured this year are several of the brilliant young artists now enriching the New York scene. Appearing in collaboration with the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, trumpeter Giveton Gelin, and vocalist Samara Joy; all, remarkably, in their mid-20s, will lead their own groups in separate concerts.

Of course, this festival thrives on the vibrancy of Seattle’s own jazz community and the incredible artists who live and work here. This year we also welcome back beloved former resident artists and educators Dawn Clement and Jay Clayton at their respective concerts. 

It is often said that we can gauge the health of a community by its investment in arts and culture. While the past 18 months have been a time of upheaval beyond anything we could have imagined, this community’s commitment to its cultural vibrancy has been unwavering. 

Thank you to everyone who has maintained their memberships and supported us with donations through this period. Your support has allowed us to keep the jazz flames alive with a healthy schedule of live-streamed Seattle jazz and the valuable Earshot Jazz monthly magazine. Last year, Earshot was able to provide over $50,000 in direct financial support to Seattle artists seriously impacted by the COVID pandemic. 

We’re so grateful to be members of such a supportive community and we cannot wait to experience the joy of live jazz with you! Have fun!!

–John Gilbreath, Executive Director

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October 1, 2021

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