As deep into this year’s jazz festival as we now are, it has become obvious that the music and the culture of jazz are as vibrantly inventive, deeply expressive, elegantly funky, communally personal, joyfully serious, expertly loose, and widely diverse as at any time in jazz history. “And beautiful,” as Billie Holiday has said.
Jazz has been called “the sound of surprise.” Given that there is no longer any single definition of “jazz,” this year’s festival has been an invigorating and satisfying immersion into a world in fluid motion. And while this year’s festival has included all of the creativity and technical brilliance we’ve come to expect in jazz performance, it has been perhaps most notable for the sheer amount of heart and soul in its storytelling. Whether because of the hardships we’ve shared in recent years, or the current state of the human condition, it seems that both artist and audience are bringing more to the exchange, and that has been truly satisfying.
Another aspect that continues to be affirmed each year is the high caliber of our own resident artists. Seattle’s community of artists, educators, and students can hold their own alongside any city in the world. And again, the diversity of expression is astounding – from Alex Dugdale’s engaging residency concerts to the breadth of Marina Albero’s artistry in the ensembles of other artists, and from the touching tributes to Overton Berry, to the Drum Orbit of Vitamin D and Kassa Overall, and on to Christian Pincock’s Scrambler – the scope has been incredible.
Seattle’s resilient jazz continuum also revealed itself in main stage sets by the Garfield and Roosevelt High School Jazz Bands, both under new leadership and both as strong as ever. Instructors from Seattle JazzED also shared the joy and excellence of their program with a rousing set at Town Hall. All in all, proving that the future of Seattle jazz is in good hands.
With this issue, and the changing seasons, we also lament the passing of bassist and educator Chuck Deardorf, who proved, time after time, the importance of professionalism and the wide intrinsic value of jazz education. His inspiration will continue to manifest through countless others.
We thank you all for your support. Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of this festival has been to see you all in the audience and on the stages for live jazz in Seattle. We’ve got a beautiful gift in this music. Let’s all do our part to keep it alive and thriving.
–JOHN GILBREATH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR