The Harmony of Difference

John Gilbreath smiling in front of jazz art poster

John Gilbreath photo by Bill Uznay

A couple of weeks ago, a package arrived in the mail from an old Earshot friend, Jeff Ferguson. Inside were three old, but well-cared-for, Earshot design tee shirts, including the New Jazz New City 4 series shirt from 1988, the year before the first official Earshot Jazz Festival. I’ve always wanted one of those, and the timing was perfect; immersed as we were in finalizing this year’s festival lineup. 

That early Earshot series, which ran from October 25 to November 29, at Nippon Kan and New City Theaters, featured Sun Ra and his Solar Arkestra, Marilyn Crispell, Cecil Taylor, Different Voices (with Jay Clayton, Urszula Dudziak, and Rinde Eckert), and the Bobby Hutcherson Quartet featuring Julian Priester. It also included Seattle ensembles Ohio Howie, Michael Bisio Quartet, Dave Peck and Syzygy, and the Nathan Breedlove/Hadley Caliman Quintet. 

Though that series ran a couple of years before I arrived on the scene here, that shirt is a touchstone for the artistic direction that put Earshot on the map, and which I still hold as a guiding principle for our programming. Hats off to Gary Bannister for his artistic vision and courage, to Paul and Judy de Barros for getting the whole thing off the ground, and to Lola Pedrini and all of the early Earshot volunteers for digging in to make it stick. 

I believe that this organization, and the music we serve, is a perfect fit for this city. Jazz won’t sit still. It has a foothold in tradition but remains volatile, variable, and responsive to the changes that abound around us. It is the harmony of difference. And jazz is, as the author Nate Chinen once said, “Conspicuously healthy in Seattle.” 

With this issue, we extend our support and great respect to Eugenie Jones. Her tireless work on the Jackson Street Jazz Walk affirms the deep jazz tradition in Seattle’s historically Black Central District and Jackson Street corridor through performances by today’s artists of color. Seattle’s most recent recipient of the national Jazz Journalists Association “Jazz Hero” award, Eugenie Jones has built a true and valuable community event. 

We’re also excited to unveil the lineup for this year’s Earshot Jazz Festival and we can’t wait to dig in. You’ll find some details in this issue, with a lot more information coming your way soon.

Jazz is a dynamic cultural language that cannot exist in a vacuum. Thank you all for caring about jazz in Seattle. We appreciate your support!



Posted on

July 28, 2023