Great Matassa photo by Ziggy Spiz.
BY RAYNA MATHIS
From the hidden nooks and intimate house concerts to the larger collaborative efforts between community businesses and city arts organizations, jazz is found in abundance all over the Puget Sound. Here is a glimpse into the broad diversity of concert series available in the region, many of them free of charge. Did we miss your favorite series? Let us know by emailing [email protected].
JazzVox House Concert Series
JazzVox is the brainchild of enthusiast, Nich Anderson, on a mission to bring audiences and artists to homes across Greater Seattle, Camano Island, and Bainbridge Island. JazzVox creates unparalleled, personal experiences by bringing jazz vocalists from around the world to the Pacific Northwest. With the limitations of the pandemic, JazzVox has temporarily shifted to a livestream format, but hopefully the cozy, intimate house series will return to in-person performances soon! Now in its 15th season, this year’s JazzVox series has most recently featured vocalists Jane Monheit and Ann Hampton Callaway, with more to come. For a complete list of artists and locations visit jazzvox.com.
The Jazz Project
1314 Harris Ave, Bellingham, WA
Bellingham’s Jazz Project was conceived in 1997 by drummer and community leader, Jud Sherwood, who founded The Jazz Project with the goal to promote jazz from a player’s perspective, linking local performers, educators, and students with opportunities to listen and play jazz, with the support of local businesses and the City of Bellingham. Performances are held at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center and are free to members, $20 at the door for non-members, with $10 tickets available for Western Washington University students with ID or students 18 and under. Donations are suggested at each show to continue to support the artists, educational opportunities, and local businesses that help forge what the Jazz Project stands for and embodies. The Art of Jazz series runs the last Sunday of each month (January–May and September–November) with evening concerts, while their Summer Jazz series runs on the second Sundays of June, July, and August at the Samson Estate Winery. Their spring series will be announced shortly. Their annual Bellhaven Jazz Festival usually takes place in late summer at the Samson Estate Winery, however details for the 2022 festival have yet to be announced. The Bellingham Youth Jazz Band has 1–2 shows scheduled every month between January and June, however the start of the season has been delayed momentarily due to rising COVID cases in Whatcom County. For more information about how you can support and learn more about other projects visit jazzproject.org.
First Sundays Concerts
First Sundays 4pm
370 Brien Dr SE, Bainbridge Island, WA
Held at Bainbridge Island’s Waterfront Park Community Center, eight professional concerts of jazz and classical music are presented year-round in partnership with the Bainbridge Community Piano Association. Now entering its 17th season, the series celebrates the passion and commitment its founder, Darden Burns, poured into it. Elisa Barston & Friends kick off the season on January 9 playing the works of Debussy’s G Major Piano Trio and Beethoven’s ‘Archduke’ Trio. Vocalist Greta Matassa and her quintet take the stage on February 6. The rest of the season will include fan favorites, such as pianist Bill Anschell, the Afro-Cuban jazz quintet of Duende Libre, and more. For more information on ticketing, prices, and performance times visit firstsundaysconcerts.org.
Seattle Jazz Vespers
First Sundays 6–8pm
1111 Harvard Ave
The Seattle Jazz Vespers—now in its 20th season at the Seattle First Baptist Church—is a secular concert series for those who love jazz with an inspirational message. The concerts occur on the first Sunday of the month October–June from 6–8pm and are open to the public. These donation-based performances take the form of an initial set, followed by a short nonsectarian inspirational message, and a second set, with light refreshments following. Enveloped in the acoustics of this historic sanctuary, fans of all ages can enjoy an evening of devotion to jazz and the community it inspires. In 2022, fans will be able to experience such treasured acts as the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra on January 2, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Miranda Kitchpanich on February 6, The family led jazz band Ranger and the “Re-Arrangers” will surely captivate audiences on March 6, the Afro-Cuban quintet Duende Libre performs on April 3, and Dmitri Matheny’s quartet plays on June 5. These are all the shows announced so far, but more are sure to be coming down the pipe! To stay up to date on the rest of the season visit seattlefirstbaptist.org.
Whatcom Jazz Music Arts Center
Second and Fourth Wednesdays
205 Prospect St, Bellingham, WA
Connecting rising and established jazz musicians across the nation, Whatcom Jazz Music Arts Center (WJMAC) has created an environment where mentorship, community, and creativity flourish harmoniously all year long. Founded in 2015 by drummer and educator Julian MacDonough, WJMAC hosts jazz events highlighting top Northwest musicians on Wednesday evenings at 7pm at the Sylvia Center for the Arts in Bellingham. Performances for 2022 have yet to be announced, but audiences can stay up to date at jazzcenterofbellingham.org.
Piano Starts Here
5000 Rainier Ave S
The Piano Starts Here series, presented by KNKX at the Royal Room, highlights the work of some of the most talented and prolific pianists throughout history. To honor those famous artists, Seattle’s finest pianists will perform their works on the Royal Room’s Steinway B grand paino, while Alex Guibert hosts the series. Past PSH performances have highlighted the works of Sonny Clark, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, Sun Ra, Bill Evans, Fats Waller, Keith Jarrett, Paul Bley, Herbie Hancock, and Herbie Nichols. Visit theroyalroomseattle.com for more information on 2022 performances and tickets.