Big Band Thing: Ascension Northwest CD Release


Don Berman photo courtesy pf the artist.

Saturday, February 23, 8pm
Chapel Performance Space
4649 Sunnyside Ave N

The advent of John Coltrane’s 90th birthday, as well as the recent release of his “lost album,” have ignited new buzz far and wide, stimulating fresh creative energy in the ever-evolving art of jazz. Don Berman, Seattle bandleader and drummer, is profoundly moved and affected by the transcendence of Coltrane’s music. Inspired by Trane’s iconic masterwork Ascension, Berman composed Ascension Northwest. Berman and his group of heavy-hitting Northwest musicians, Big Band Thing, celebrate the release of Ascension Northwest February 23 at the Chapel Performance Space.

In bringing his composition to life, Berman employed the same instrumentation as Coltrane’s original recording, which is widely considered a cornerstone in the jazz icon’s artistic legacy. Ascension signaled Coltrane’s interest in moving away from the quartet format to a larger ensemble, although it resembles no big band recording made before it. Similarly, for this CD, Berman recruited an elevenplayer representation of Seattle’s premier improvisers to create this captivating tribute to the legendary recording. The ensemble’s name is a playful nod to Coltrane’s response when asked during a radio interview what his Ascension project plans were. He simply stated: he was going to do a “big band thing.”

Berman’s composition is comprised of original motifs for all musicians to collaborate in whole group settings, as well as opportunities for each band member to improvise through individual contributions within various orchestrations. Members of Big Band Thing are Kenny Mandell (tenor sax), Dick Valentine (tenor sax), Jenny Ziefel (tenor sax/bass clarinet), Seth Alexander (alto sax), Jim Paul (alto sax), Jim Knodle (trumpet), Christian Pincock (valve trombone), Matt McCluskey (piano), Abbey Blackwell (bass), Jeff Johnson (bass), and Don Berman (drums). Do not miss this unique opportunity to immerse yourself in an evening filled with spiritual creativity, set in one of the city’s finest performance spaces.

Opening the evening is CHA!, a terrific trio of impassioned improvisers. Featuring Carol J. Levin on electric harp, Heather Bentley on violin, viola, and electronics, and Amelia Love Clearheart, spontaneous poet, vocalist, and dancer. Each artist incorporates loops and effects, interwoven in a synergistic, immediate performance ranging from tender to wild. All proceeds of this evening’s concerts will go to the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center. This event is a part of the Wayward Music Series, which presents unconventional, adventurous and experimental music.

–Marianne Gonterman

Tickets are $5–20 sliding scale at the door. For additional details and other upcoming concerts in the Wayward Music Series visit waywardmusic.org.


Posted on

January 28, 2019