John Gilbreath photo by Bill Uznay
I’ve always loved Michel Legrand’s song, “You Must Believe in Spring,” as much for the uncomplicated certainty of its title, as for the poignant optimism of its lyric. It is not a happy-go-lucky blow of sunshine. Far from it. The song comes from a world-weary place to remind us “of things that come and go / where what you think you know / you can’t be certain of.” With these grey COVID winters around us, we need some gentle reminders to believe in better times.
But our collective march forth has yielded positive change, despite the chill still in the air. Hunkered in the creative flow of jazz, we expect the sound of the music to change as a matter of course, but the face and soul of the music are also changing, and that’s a good thing.
With this March issue of Earshot, we celebrate the women artists who, in increasing numbers, are enriching the art form. The growing number of women on the bandstands today is very good news, but the incredible number of young women coming up through the educational systems can only bring positivity to the long-range forecast.
We’re delighted to present the brilliant, young vocalist Samara Joy in a sold-out concert in the Great Hall of Town Hall Seattle on March 17. It was our pleasure to present the then twenty-year-old Joy to 200 people in a show at Langston on our 2021 festival alongside the pianist Sullivan Fortner. Now, with two recent Grammys under her belt and a seven-piece band on the stage, she’s going on to embody the continuing spirit of the art form, honoring the past with a steady gaze and a sure-footed stride to the future.
We’re also looking forward to the return of the brilliant young saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, appearing with his quartet on April 1 in the gorgeous new concert room at the downtown campus of Cornish College of the Arts. His festival show in 2021 was one for the ages. Wilkins, like Joy, is in his early 20’s; his Blue Note Records release, The 7th Hand, won huge praise as the top jazz release of 2022.
So, there is a spring! There is so much great music out there right now, and there is much more to come. And, most rewarding, the incredible technical skills that these artists bring to the stage are wrapped in a deep, spiritual connection to the source. Because, as the song says, “You must believe in spring and love.”
See you out there.
–JOHN GILBREATH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR