John Gilbreath smiling in front of jazz art poster

John Gilbreath photo by Bill Uznay

Black history runs deep in any celebration of jazz. Jazz was born in the Black American experience and gratefully carries that bloodline forward. The strongest threads of the growing tapestry of jazz have always been tied to Black experience and Black innovation. As we’ve said before: no Black America, no jazz.

The Earshot Jazz organization is entering its 40th year of service in documenting and embellishing the breadth of jazz in Seattle, proudly honoring Black culture as its source. 

With this issue, we highlight the work of pivotal elders and celebrate some of the individuals and performance opportunities that feed the fire of the Seattle jazz community. 

We’re sad to note the passing of Seattle jazz legend Jay Clayton. Through her years as a guiding force on Seattle’s jazz scene, Jay influenced and inspired countless others through her unwavering dedication to creative discovery and artistic expression. She was respected internationally and cherished locally. Her 1990s work with Floyd Standifer, Buddy Catlett, and others on Earshot’s “Roots of Jazz” educational program helped bring the jazz spirit to over 20,000 public school students. 

On the “good news” front, we extend massive thanks and congratulations to Thomas Marriott and the team at Seattle Jazz Fellowship on the opening of their new performance space in the Globe Building, at 109 S Main Street, in the heart of Pioneer Square. Dedicated to providing ongoing performance opportunities for Seattle artists and audiences, this move for the Jazz Fellowship is a major accomplishment and a boon to Seattle jazz. We are grateful for their leadership in this work!

Congratulations, too, to Seattle Jazz Vespers (now in the midst of their 22nd(!) season), for presenting Seattle artists in free, monthly concerts on the first Sunday of every month, at Seattle First Baptist Church. Saxophonist Tobi Stone, who studied at Cornish College of the Arts when Jay Clayton was on faculty there, brings in her quartet on February 4. 

You can do your part in supporting Seattle jazz artists by voting in this year’s Golden Ear and Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame Awards program. You’ll find the ballot in these pages. And join us for the awards program on March 11 at The Royal Room in Columbia City. Trumpeter Jun Iida kicks off the music at 6:30pm, and emcee Alex Dugdale hosts the awards program at 7:30pm. We’ll see you there.

Finally, mark your calendars for our May 25 concert by Samara Joy and her band at Benaroya Hall. We’re going downtown with this one! It’s going to be big fun. Tickets are on sale NOW!!

As always, we appreciate your support. Drop us a line and get involved!




Posted on

January 29, 2024