Earshot Jazz Festival Previews

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Earshot Jazz Festival Previews

Wednesday, November 1, 7:30pm | Moore Theatre

Gregory Porter

$41.50–52.50 + fees
Presented by Seattle Theatre Group

Singer and songwriter Gregory Porter has a unique relationship with his audiences. A vocalist who subtly crosses the boundaries of jazz, blues, and R&B, Porter is a sophisticated, soulful, and consummately stylish performer whose last two albums, 2016’s Take Me to the Alley and 2013’s Liquid Spirit, won Grammys in the category of Best Vocal Jazz Album.

Porter’s singing, recalling the melodic intuition of Marvin Gaye, the honest and emotional touch of Bill Withers, and the dramatic depth of Johnny Hartman, has a musical poetry all its own. This sensibility shines through particularly in his songwriting, recalling his humble origins as one of eight siblings to a minister mother and a largely absentee father.

As a young man, Porter sang gospel on his own time, reserving his ambitions for the NFL. He received a full-ride scholarship to San Diego State University playing football until a career-ending injury in his junior year left him at a crossroads. Working relentlessly on his repertoire and writing, Porter gigged, workshopped, and networked his way into success, first as a singer for artists such as David Murray and Dianne Reeves, then on his own with 2010’s Grammy-nominated Water, before signing with Blue Note Records.

Porter has toured on stage and in festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe, collaborating with artists such as the electronic group Disclosure, Jamie Cullum, Buddy Guy, and Renée Fleming.
“To me, if I contribute anything to jazz, it’s my vulnerability and really thinking about the emotion in each song,” he has said.

Thursday, November 2, 8pm | Crocodile

Black Rock Coalition Get-Down Revue / Burnt Sugar Arkestra “Caramelizes” Prince

$20 adults | $18 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military

Tonight and tomorrow, Seattle gets a chance to experience the singular fire and funk of the Burnt Sugar Arkestra and Black Rock Coalition in three unforgettable, earth-shaking settings. As David Fricke, writing in Rolling Stone, said, “The BRC’s shows have been a great fact of New York life since the activist group’s founding in 1985. The BRC has long been rich in underestimated talent.”

Kicking off tonight is the Black Rock Coalition’s booty-shaking, finger-snapping Get-Down Revue, an all-star repertory jump through worlds of music, dance, legacy, future, blues, rhythm, rock, and soul. Based in The Atlantic Rhythm and Blues, 1947-1974 box set, BRC respects the artists who gave birth to rock and roll, but were often limited by racism, culture, geography, economics, and circumstance. BRC notes, “The music they recorded was often allowed to escape those boundaries and dance its way into the hearts of people around the world, calling disparate communities to move on the one—crossing lines and expanding humanity 8 bars at a time.”

Helmed by 25-year crowd-pleaser Luqman Brown (Dope Sagittarius, FunkFace), and never far from co-founder Greg “Ionman” Tate, BRC’s Get-Down Revue includes Shelley Nicole, V. Jeffrey Smith, Lewis “Flip” Barnes, Ben Tyree, Leon Gruenbaum, Greg Gonzalez, and Jared Michael Nickerson.

Founded by musician and iconic Village Voice writer Greg Tate, producer Konda Mason, and Vernon Reid, guitarist for Living Colour, BRC’s founding members initially gathered in an art gallery named “Jams” on Broadway to meet and, according to Tate, “air out certain gripes that people had about the ‘glass ceiling’ in music for Black musicians….Recording contracts and performances pigeonholed black artists playing rock, metal, thrash, and other forms of modern rock music into preset categories, creating a vicious cycle of misinformed consumers and misrepresented performers.” Their growing circle of musicians, artists, critics, and music professionals found a common cause. “When we started to think about this whole tradition of people in jazz, like Lester Bowie, Art Ensemble of Chicago, when they started their organization in Chicago, the AACM, they just put on their own concerts…in different meeting spaces,” Tate said.

Next up is the Burnt Sugar Arkestra’s “avant-funk and roll splinter cell,” Rebellum, featuring vocalists Shelley Nicole and Mikel Banks, in “caramelized” tribute to the late, great Prince.

Since its inception in 1999, Burnt Sugar has been a “maximum blend” multiracial crew of Sisters and Brothers from around the world, espousing to the motto “it takes a village” to succeed.

Earshot Jazz is proud to present what Rolling Stone calls “a multiracial jam army that freestyles with cool telekinesis between the lustrous menace of Miles Davis’ On The Corner, the slash-and-om of 1970s King Crimson, and Jimi Hendrix’ moonwalk across side three of Electric Ladyland” for two evenings of two distinctively legendary and different songbook performances.

Thursday, November 2, 8pm | Chapel Performance Space

Jovino Santos Neto & Martin Kuuskmann

$5–15 sliding scale
Presented by Nonsequitur

Rarely does the fortepiano meet mano a mano with the bassoon—though composer/pianist Jovino Santos Neto and virtuoso concert bassoonist Martin Kuuskmann will certainly have a few things to say about this marriage of winds and strings when they perform as a duo for this year’s festival.

Born in Brazil, Neto is a top-tier composer, pianist, flutist, and educator based out of Seattle. From his native Rio de Janeiro, Neto earned his bona fides touring and recording with Hermeto Pascoal and his group. In 1993 he moved to the U.S., and has toured, recording, and composed music in a bewildering variety of settings without losing his signature musical humor, inventiveness, and scholarly respect for the various traditions of South American music.

Neto has earned Grammy nominations through his Seattle-based Quinteto, composed music performed by the Seattle Symphony, and played with the likes of Paquito D’Rivera, Bill Frisell, and more, all earning him a spot in the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame—and in the hearts of listeners worldwide. He is currently a professor of jazz composition at the Cornish College of the Arts, and also teaches in music camps in California and Brazil.

“He’s a star,” conductor Paavo Järvi has said of Grammy-nominated bassoonist Martin Kuuskmann. “His playing is world-class virtuoso playing…but I would say that his presence is his real strength as a soloist.”

Combined with this strength, Kuuskmann, a graduate of Yale and the Manhattan School of Music, has furthered the musical conception of his instrument through his modernization of bassoon technique, making one wonder why the instrument doesn’t take its place beside the tenor of Coltrane or the guitar of Hendrix. Modern composers such as Erkki-Sven Tüür, David Chesky, and Christopher Theofanidis have dedicated concertos to him, and, in addition to premiering these, he has performed works written for a variety of modern ensembles by composers such as John Patitucci and Daniel Schneider.

Aside from playing and recording with world-class orchestras and his own Absolute Ensemble, Kuuskmann has found time as an educator to give back to his musical communities, serving as the woodwind coach for the Baltic Youth Philharmonic, teaching at the Arosa Music Academy in Switzerland, and more. Currently he teaches at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver.

Friday, November 3, 7pm | Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Washington,

Paul Kikuchi: 9066

$16 adults | $14 Earshot members & seniors | $8 students & military

Marking the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which led to the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, this performance—in a building used as temporary housing following the internment—uses pre-War music sourced from the Center’s collection of hundreds of 78rpm records, to create soundscapes incorporating live performance. The shellac platters came to Seattle with Japanese immigrants, or Japanese Americans bought them from stores in the city’s Japan town, which thrived until thousands of Seattleites, among 120,000 Japanese Americans, most U.S. citizens, were forced into concentration camps in the interior of the western United States.

Kikuchi says he wants his production to answer the question: “How can the music of a community help us to get an idea of who people were, and humanize immigrant populations, which is pretty important in the politics of today? But also, I’m just interested in what people’s musical collections were like.”
Kikuchi’s group includes him on percussion and vocalist Haruko Crow Nishimura (Degenerate Art Ensemble).

Presented with support from 4Culture.

Friday, November 3, 8pm | Seattle Art Museum

Burnt Sugar Arkestra: We Insist! Freedom NOW

$24 adults | $22 Earshot members & seniors | $12 students & military

In homage to Abbey Lincoln, Max Roach, and Oscar Brown Jr, the Burnt Sugar Arkestra Chamber revives and reimagines the legendary 1960s canon of Liberation music, with compositions specifically from the We Insist! Freedom Now Suite, Percussion Bitter Sweet, and It’s Time, as well as selections from some of Ms. Lincoln’s later solo work and from the Max Roach Quartet.

Under the conduction baton of founder Greg Tate (in gesture and spirit, continuing the flow of Butch Morris), the Burnt Sugar Arkestra includes Shelley Nicole (vocals), Mikel Banks (vocals), V. Jeffrey Smith (sax), Lewis “Flip” Barnes (trumpet), Ben Tyree (guitar), Leon Gruenbaum (keys), Greg Gonzalez (drums), and co-leader Jared Michael Nickerson (bass).

The Burnt Sugar Arkestra Chamber, founded by Village Voice sage Greg Tate and co-led with bassist Jared Michael Nickerson, was originally conceived in 1999 as a forum for the New York area improvisers to compose, record, and perform material, often through deployment of Butch Morris’s “Conduction” system, reflecting the breadth and depth of American diaspora music in the 21st century.

With an alumni that includes Matana Roberts, Vijay Iyer, Julia Kent, Graham Hayes, Okkyung Lee, and Qasim Naqvi, Burnt Sugar’s prodigious collective chops allow a wide swath through the avant-soul-jazz-hip-hop and rock spectrum along with a variety of songbook performances from Sun Ra to Steely Dan.
Gregory “Ionman” Tate likes to say the Burnt Sugar Arkestra is “a territory band, a neo-tribal thang, a community hang, a society music guild aspiring to the condition of all that is molten, glacial, racial, spacial, oceanic, mythic, antiphonal and telepathic.”

Friday, November 3, 8pm | PONCHO Concert Hall

Steel House: Edward Simon, Scott Colley, Brian Blade

$30 adults | $28 Earshot members & seniors | $15 students & military
Co-presented with Cornish Presents

Three world-class instrumentalists—Edward Simon (piano), Scott Colley (bass), Brian Blade (drums)—who met in New York in the early 1990s, convert their shared histories into nimble, poetic, genre-leaping music. This collaboration of visionary artists, each with their own robust composing, recording, and performing careers, promises to be a compelling evening of musical communication that stays deft and spell-binding, focused on moment-to-moment interaction.

Venezuelan pianist Edward Simon, a formidable recording artist, educator, and bandleader, is at the top of his game. His musical approach is to get to the essence of the message, communicating by making every note count. In 2010, Simon was named a Guggenheim Fellow and joined the all-star SFJAZZ Collective, which comprises top jazz performer/composers in jazz today.

On bass is Scott Colley, “one of the leading bassists of our postbop era, and a composer-bandleader of quietly serious resolve” (The New York Times). Embracing the unknown, searching for the unexpected, stands as a career-defining aspect of Colley’s musical path—one that continues to balance his role as a leader and a band member, as a creative collaborator.

Brian Blade, one of today’s leading jazz drummers, composers, and bandleaders, makes music that exists beyond borders, as demonstrated in his last Earshot appearance in February 2016 with his Fellowship Band. Sensitivity, honesty, and loyalty all inform his creative expression, but it’s perhaps his sense of spirituality that is most of all conveyed in every context. “When there’s a listener, when there’s someone to receive all your vulnerability and all your hopes and all your open heart,” Blade has said, “it completes something.”

Saturday, November 4, 8pm | PONCHO Concert Hall

Amina Figarova Sextet

$24 adults | $22 Earshot members & seniors | $12 students & military
Co-presented with Cornish Presents

Proving that many of the leading composer-arranger-orchestra leaders in jazz are women, Amina Figarova joins the likes of Carla Bley, Maria Schneider, and Mary Halvorson, adding her own independent voice to modern music, “one of the most important composers to come into jazz in the new millennium,” according to JazzTimes.

Born in Baku, the capital of the former Soviet state Azerbaijan, Figarova began her studies in classical piano, later studying jazz at the Rotterdam Conservatory in the Netherlands and eventually graduating from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Now a Manhattanite with her husband, Belgium-born flutist Bart Platteau, she has over 20 years of composing, arranging, performing, and touring under her belt, as a solo performer and with her sextet, founded in Holland but based in New York since 2010.

Her phenomenal sextet includes Platteau on flutes, as well as New York-based Alex Pope Norris (trumpet/flugelhorn) and Wayne Escoffery (tenor saxophone). Escoffery, who has also worked with Eric Reed, Ron Carter, Ben Riley, and the Mingus Big Band, adds moments of inspired virtuosity to the Ellingtonian harmonies of Figarova’s compositions, backed by a fresh rhythm section including Jason Brown (drums) and Marcos Varela (bass). Their elastic ease in switches of mood, tempo, and texture are characteristic of the group’s remarkable longevity and testified in their rapid and unique musical communication, making the distinctive personalities in Figarova’s music shine all the more.

Saturday, November 4, 7:30pm | Nordstrom Recital Hall
Sunday, November 5, 2pm | Kirkland Performance Center

Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra with Wycliffe Gordon: The Art of the Trombone

$15–49
Presented by Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra

Listeners looking for living proof of the big band tradition can look no further than the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra (SRJO), which will be renewing its collaboration with composer, bandleader, and trombonist Wycliffe Gordon for a bill that’s sure to be a blowout.

Georgia-born Wycliffe Gordon was born into a musical family; his father was church organist and classical pianist, and he inherited a record collection from his great-aunt that included the recordings of Louis Armstrong and his hot groups. After shooting through the ranks of elementary and college-level bands, Gordon hit his stride with traditionalist Wynton Marsalis.

Gordon has toured worldwide as a performer, educator, and ambassador of jazz, teaching clinics and workshops to audiences throughout the U.S. With over 20 record dates as a leader under his belt, Gordon has earned the authority to play with brash and abandon in musical settings both large and small.

For those new to town, the SRJO is a Basie-ite supergroup of who’s who in Seattle music, a 17-piece big band founded in 1995 to wield an immense arsenal of swinging American music, from Fletcher Henderson to Gil Evans to works hitherto heard only on vinyl. SRJO is currently co-directed by Clarence Acox, director of Garfield High School’s acclaimed band, and saxophonist, educator, and composer/arranger Michael Brockman.

Having spearheading projects such as a recording of Jimmy Heath’s arrangements on 2010’s Jimmy Heath: The Endless Search, or their epic concerts of Duke Ellington’s sacred music at Town Hall, SRJO represents the best of the Northwest. Active in jazz education like Gordon, they will be sure to make this concert a lesson in rhythm and blues.

Sunday, November 5, 7:30pm | Columbia City Theater

Anton Schwartz Quartet: Tribute to Stanley Turrentine

$20 adults | $18 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military

The jazz organ quartet, with saxophone, guitar, and drums, is an efficient concept in terms of musical identity; it exposes the members to the core of their collective musical being, laying bare the total expressiveness of the players, and the strengths and weaknesses of the collective. It’s like a mini-big band, with B-3 sounds swirling and creating foundational remnants from which the rhythmic aspects and melodic input of the drums, guitar and saxophone give rise to musical adventurism.

The late, great Stanley Turrentine knew this concept well. He married the organist Shirley Scott in 1960 and the two frequently played and recorded together. In the 1960s, he started working with organist Jimmy Smith, and made many soul jazz recordings both with Smith and as a leader.

Tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz has long been an admirer of both the soul jazz phenomenon, and of Turrentine himself, both as a composer and improviser. Schwartz utilized the more standard quintet format of piano, bass, drums, trumpet, and saxophone for his latest release, Flash Mob, a release that spent eight weeks in the jazz radio top 10.

For his performance at the Earshot Jazz Festival, Schwartz is given the opportunity to explore the B-3 world, and pay homage to Turrentine utilizing a top shelf group of Northwest musicians.

“Unlike the other saxophonists whom I listened to a lot early on, like John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Turrentine wasn’t considered essential listening,” says Schwartz. “But when I discovered him I was quickly and insufferably addicted. His ridiculously soulful phrasing, his sound that’s at once huge and perfectly detailed, his playing that is so powerful, honest and uplifting.”
Schwartz’ collaborators are a who’s who of the soul-jazz movements in Seattle and Portland. Organist Joe Doria has maintained a legendary residency at Seattle’s Seamonster Lounge with his band McTuff.

He is also the keyboardist for Michael Schrieve’s Spellbinder, and has performance and recording credits that include Carlos Santana, King Sunny Ade, and Jeff “Tain” Watts. Guitarist Dan Balmer, acclaimed by the Los Angeles Times as, “the model of what a contemporary guitarist should be,” returns to Seattle after being featured this past May at the Ballard Jazz Festival. In 2009 Dan became one of only five Oregonians to be honored with membership in both the Oregon Music Hall of Fame and the Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Fame.

Drummer D’Vonne Lewis may be the most active and visible musician on the Seattle jazz scene. He is a fourth-generation Seattle musician, the grandson of Seattle rock and roll pioneer, Dave Lewis, himself a Hammond B-3 legend. Lewis leads two trailblazing fusion ensembles, Industrial Revelation and D’Vonne Lewis’ Limited Edition.

While much of the acclaim bestowed on Schwartz has been attributed to his compositional prowess, for one special evening at the historic Columbia City Theater, the focus will be on his resourceful and powerful approach on the tenor saxophone. This show will be his first live encounter with Doria, and should dig deep, in a very soulful and explosive way.

Monday, November 6, 7pm | Paramount Theatre

Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto: The Unknown

$7–10
Presented by Seattle Theatre Group

Paris, France. Among hundreds of loose film canisters marked L’Inconnu (“Unknown”), archivists unearth from the massive collection of the Cinémathèque Française a silent horror film once thought lost: Lon Chaney’s The Unknown. A lurid tale of love, lust, and murder, the 1927 picture features man-of-a-thousand-faces Lon Chaney and silver screen vixen Joan Crawford in lead roles.

November 6, at the Paramount Theatre, Brazilian jazz pianist Jovino Santos Neto and his Quinteto will accompany this intriguing film live with an equally extraordinary original score by the pianist.

Golden Ear Award-winner and Seattle Jazz Hall of Famer Jovino Santos Neto has been nominated thrice for Grammy Awards, recognition for his immense work as a performer (on piano, recorder, melodica, and percussion), recording artist, composer, and creative collaborator. A student and bandmate of Hermeto Pascoal from 1977 to 1992, Neto has made Seattle his home, teaching at the Cornish College of the Arts and endearing himself to audiences worldwide with his adventurous Brazilian- and jazz-influenced work. In addition to working with Flora Purim, Bill Frisell, Anat Cohen, Marco Granados, Paquito D’Rivera, his music has been played by the Seattle Symphony and orchestras worldwide.

Neto’s award-winning chamber ensemble has long been a groundbreaking and standout creative force in West Coast jazz. Educator and bandleader Ben Thomas (vibraphone, bandoneon) fits his inclusive productivity in tango and classical styles to the group, while fellow Origin Records recording artist Mark Ivester (drums) matches wits with Neto in his command of African and Afro-Cuban styles. A member of Cuban groups Rumba Abierta, Tumbao, and Mango Son, Jeff Busch (percussion) completes the group’s unbreakable dance, which Seattle’s first-call session player and fellow Seattle Jazz Hall of Famer Chuck Deardorf (bass) keeps grounded.

Tuesday, November 7, 7pm & 9:30pm | Triple Door

The Bad Plus

$30 adult | $28 Earshot members & seniors | $15 students & military

The Bad Plus is inarguably one of the defining jazz groups of the 21st century. The iconoclastic trio, consisting of pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King, has been performing together for 17 years. And unless you can make it to New York for their closing finale at the Village Vanguard on New Year’s Eve, this will likely be your very last chance to see them in their original form.

The Bad Plus is renowned for their radical deconstructions of pop and rock staples such as Queen, Nirvana, and Tears for Fears, as well as more left-field fare like Aphex Twin and intriguing oddities like “(Theme from) Chariots of Fire.” However, the group’s more important contributions have arguably been the tremendous output of original music from all three members, and their telepathic and unique interplay on the bandstand. The trio’s improvisational sound was remarkable even in the beginning of their reign, but 17 years on, it is beyond the level of all but a very few of the finest performing units in jazz history.

The Bad Plus explore unusual textures, juxtapositions, and transitions far removed from the typical jazz structure of head-solo-head, opting instead for a collective approach to improvisation around dynamics and structure. Their shows are fiery, with an unpredictable yet rigorously consistent energy.

Why is this your last chance to see the band? Because Iverson is departing to explore his deepening interest in modern classical music and realms of jazz that involve collaborating with older masters of the form (Ron Carter and Billy Hart, to name just two). Iverson also has an increasingly mature and influential role as a critic and journalist through his extensive website, Do the Math. Reid Anderson and Dave King will carry on The Bad Plus with the intriguing choice of Orrin Evans taking over the piano seat.

Evans is a long-time musical associate of bassist Anderson’s, and the future direction of the group will no doubt be quite a different manifestation, and worth watching out for. But for now, come down to The Triple Door and grab your last chance to see this edition of what is arguably one of the most important piano trios in jazz history.

Wednesday, November 8, 7:30pm | Chapel Performance Space

Gato Libre

$16 adults | $14 Earshot members & seniors | $8 students & military

If you’re searching for a space in music to search and meditate, to come to terms with the careful nuances of emotions sudden or long coming, then the trio Gato Libre, playing November 8 at the Chapel Performance Space, is the right ensemble to get to know.

Gato Libre is pianist, composer, and accordionist Satoko Fujii joined by trumpeter Kappa Maki and trombonist Neko Jaras. The group was originally founded by Fujii’s husband, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, and the late bass player Norikatsu Koreyasu, who, along with the late guitarist Kazuhiko Tsumura, completed the group’s early sound: a sparse, folkish, Europe-evoking atmosphere full of intoning orchestral chords, sparkling flamenco strings, and plaintive trumpet melodies, all on the cutting edge of Japanese improvisation.

Now, in reflection on, rather than in spite of, their losses, Fujii and her new group have found a new dynamic to the core simplicity of their ensemble, put to record on this year’s release Neko. While Fujii’s church-like accordion has taken on the lower end of the ensemble’s sound, the addition of the trombone’s proud, round tone adds a new meaning to the pathos of the group’s breathy and lyrical trumpet melodies.

This adds also to the intense, sometimes humorous interplay sparked by Fujii, a world-class composer and improviser whose grasp of extended techniques and extraordinary compositional intuition can be heard along that of Natsuki Tamura’s and Wadada Leo Smith’s on 2017’s Aspiration. Together their music resembles “the ingenuous, unselfconscious improvisations childhood…both playful and sincere, ecstatic, and melancholic,” according to the BBC.

Wednesday, November 8, 8pm | PONCHO Concert Hall

Giulia Valle Trio

$18 adults | $16 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military
Co-presented with Cornish Presents

After a successful outing in 2015, composer and bassist Giulia Valle will revisit Earshot Jazz audiences this year with her trio, which includes stars Aruán Ortiz on piano and Kush Abadey on drums. A bold, dynamic, and percussively ingenious group, the Giulia Valle Trio combines Argentine, Brazilian, and Spanish influences with the melodic brashness of punk and the big band bop of Charles Mingus’ innovative ensembles.

Italian-born, Barcelona-raised composer, double bassist, and bandleader Giulia Valle began her classical education at the Liceu Conservatory in Barcelona, followed by studies in Paris with bass virtuoso François Rabbath. From there on she pursued jazz, studying under Ben Street, Bruce Barth, and Scott Colley.

Valle’s international career has encompassed performances with Jason Lindner, Guillermo Klein, Antonio Canales, and Mayte Martín, among others. Aside from recording as a leader, she currently leads a 16-piece ensemble, Líbera, a symphonic-electric experimental group, as well as the Giulia Valle Group, whose recording Danza Imprevista was described by critic Farrell Low as “an excellent example of a quintet speaking as one voice.”

Cohorts in Valle’s unpredictable storytelling, Ortiz and Abadey add their own international experiences to the trio.  Kush Abadey, son of premier drummer Nasar Abadey, got an early start touring with the Wallace Roney Quintet, with whom he continues to tour and record. His studied yet expansive playing has since stretched from studies at the Berklee College of Music to playing at the White House with Paquito D’Rivera featuring Wynton Marsalis, as well as work with Ravi Coltrane, Barry Harris, Chris Potter, and Tomasz Stańko.

Aruán Ortiz is a Cuban-born, Brooklyn-based composer, violist, and pianist, who has been called “one of the most versatile and exciting pianists of his generation” by DownBeat Magazine. From collaborating with Esperanza Spalding, Don Byron, and Wadada Leo Smith to 2012’s Santiarican Blues Suite, a Afro-Cuban-Haitian contemporary classical suite, Ortiz has amply shown his brilliant touch as an avant-garde performer and a formidable orchestrator. Hidden Voices, the last release of his critically acclaimed trio including Eric Revis and Gerald Cleaver, was one of NPR’s top ten jazz albums of 2016.

Thursday, November 9, 5:30pm |
Seattle Art Museum (Brotman Forum)

Art of Jazz: Dawn Clement Group

Free
Co-presented with Seattle Art Museum

Festival Resident Artist, pianist Dawn Clement, investigates the progress of her trajectory. Join one of our most admired creative spirits as she rounds up top Seattle players, including bassist Chris Symer and drummer D’Vonne Lewis, for an impeccable performance at the monthly Art of Jazz series. Both as a traditionalist and a progressive artist, Clement is ready to pull up a chair to the table of Seattle jazz greats.

Thursday, November 9, 7:30pm | Chapel Performance Space

Lori Goldston & Judith Hamann

$16 adults | $14 Earshot members & seniors | $8 students & military
In support of the Seattle Improvised Music Festival

When asked if she played and composed music according to any motto or ideal, cellist Lori Goldston has stated, “It’s supposed to be about freedom.”

This theme—the search for and expression of liberation from constraints both positive and negative—courses through the movement of Goldston’s bow over the sounding board of her cello, inciting passionate answers in contexts as loud as electrified rock or intimate as a solo elegy. Audiences will have a chance to encounter Goldston’s musical investigations in dialogue with that of another acoustic philosopher, cellist Judith Hamann, at the Chapel Performance Space, in what’s sure to be a many sided conversation.

Electro-acoustic cellist and composer Judith Hamann comes from San Francisco via Melbourne, a student of classical performance who studied under Charles Curtis and Séverine Ballon. Her work with modern composers such as La Monte Young and Natasha Anderson pairs with improvisation and experimentation on classical, avant-garde, and popular themes in groups such as Hammers Lake (with Carolyn Connors) or her duo with cellist Anthea Caddy, CELLO II. She has performed internationally, including the Tokyo Experimental Festival and the Ausland Summer Festival.

New York-born composer, cellist, and teacher Lori Goldston has now long been a part of the Seattle scene, throwing her all into projects playing with Nirvana, Mirah, Earth, Cat Power, Eyvind Kang, Terry Riley, and a bevy of others. Her works, including those composed for film, both silent and talking, have been commissioned by the Kennedy Center, Northwest Film Forum, and Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and received awards from the Seattle Arts Commission, leading Artforum to describe her performance style as “constituting a kind of physical act of listening.”

Friday, November 10, 7pm & 9:30pm | Triple Door

Ranky Tanky

$28 adults | $26 Earshot members & seniors | $14 students & military

Off the coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and Northeast Florida lies a chain of barrier islands known as the Sea Islands. There, a population of African Americans speaks Gullah, an English Creole retaining elements of its West and Central African heritage. The Charleston-based quintet Ranky Tanky, whose name translated from Gullah loosely means “Work it” or “Get Funky!” visits us this year to celebrate the music, dances, and legacy of Gullah culture.

Ranky Tanky is a collaboration of musicians who have known one another in the Charleston music scene since the early ‘90s. Vocalist Quiana Parler has brought her joyful, expressive voice to TV shows including Saturday Night Live, Good Morning America, and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Along with projects in her hometown of Charleston, Parker has toured with the likes of Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson.

Trumpeter Charlton Singleton, a music educator and recording artist, is the artistic director and conductor of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, South Carolina’s premier jazz ensemble. Jimmy Heath has described Singleton as “a talented trumpeter, composer, arranger, and bandleader cut from the same cloth as Dizzy Gillsepie [and] Thad Jones.”

Bassist Kevin Hamilton has toured with Houston Person, Gregory Hines, and René Marie, and is a steady member of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra. In 2012, Hamilton joined the U.S. Department of State’s OneBeat Program, a residency for international musical collaboration.

On drums and percussion is Quentin E. Baxter, a Grammy-nominated educator, composer, and producer who has toured worldwide with vocalist Freddy Cole, including a 2016 festival performance at the Triple Door. He has worked and recorded with artists such as Joey DeFrancesco, Terry Gibbs, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Donald Byrd, Fred Wesley, and more.

Guitarist, songwriter, composer, and vocalist Clay Ross has played in a variety of styles and contexts: tours with Cyro Baptista’s percussion ensemble Beat the Donkey, with Canadian folk star April Verch, as a U.S. cultural ambassador worldwide, and as the leader of his own group, the American roots band Matuto. Based in New York, Ross also has a wide recording output with five albums as a leader.

With its hard-working rhythms, ecstatic ensemble vocals, and authentic Southern style, Ranky Tanky rewrites the history of American Music, tying the gut of gospel with the sound of blues, bluegrass, and jazz—the Gullah style of the Sea Islands.

Friday, November 10, 7:30pm | Seattle Art Museum

Lucian Ban & Elevation: Songs From Afar / Angela Draghicescu

$35 adults | $33 Earshot members & seniors | $17 students & military
Presented in partnership with The Romanian Cultural Institute in New York

Earshot Jazz is excited to welcome back the Romanian-born pianist Lucian Ban, whose evocative duo with violinist Mat Maneri at the Chapel Performance Space awed and enchanted last year’s audiences.

This year, in concert with the fourth annual Romanian Film Festival in the Pacific Northwest, Ban will be joined again by Maneri, as well as collaborators Brad Jones (bass) and Billy Hart (drums), and Abraham Burton (sax) in addition to the traditional Romanian singer Gavril Tărmure to present music infused with the classical repertoire and folk music of Romania along with American jazz and improvisation.Composer and pianist Lucian Ban was born in Cluj-Napoca, considered by some to be the unofficial capital of the famous Transylvania region. After studies in composition at the Bucharest Music Academy, he established his own group Jazz Unit, and in 1999 moved to New York to study at the New School.

Through ensembles with the likes of Barry Altschul, Sam Newsome, Nasheet Waits, Mark Helias, and Pheeroan akLaff, and his own projects such as his collaboration with Sam Newsome on 2008’s The Romanian-American Jazz Suite or with John Hébert on 2010’s Enesco Reimagined, Ban has consistently redefined the canon and context of jazz.

Through recordings such as 2016’s Songs from Afar with his band ELEVATION, Ban has fluidly combined in improvisation the formal strategies of European concert music with the complex emotional planes of traditional Romanian music. Ban’s cinematic music, infused with intense narratives of place and time, will enliven and engage this year’s festival in a way not to be missed.

This performance also features classical pianist Angela Drăghicescu, a Romanian native and professor of music at the University of Puget Sound. The renowned Romanian and a string quintet performEnescu’s Romanian Rhapsody.

Saturday, November 11, 8pm | PONCHO Concert Hall

Dawn Clement: LineUp! / Dawn Clement Duos

$18 adults | $16 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military
Co-presented with Cornish Presents

The 2017 Earshot Jazz Festival Resident Artist presents her focused group compositions and performances, with Mark Taylor (saxophones & co-leader), Michael Glynn (bass), and Julian MacDonough (drums), in what Jazz.com calls “a full-fledged four-way exchange between master musicians preternaturally attuned to one another.”

Since its conception just a few years ago, Clement’s and Taylor’s LineUp! has delighted audiences from its monthly engagement at Tula’s Restaurant & Jazz Club to the 2016 Ballard Jazz Festival, for which they earned the Golden Ear Concert of the Year, with special guest Julian Priester. The two award-winning Pacific Northwest artists bring listeners a lineup of new, collaborative compositions, and, in tonight’s performance, feature bassist Michael Glynn, a regular player on the Seattle scene, and Bellingham-based drummer Julian MacDonough, known for his impeccable balance of precision and improvisation.

Mark Taylor is a creative improviser and impeccable ensemble player. He performs and records with Matt Jorgensen +451, Jim Knapp Orchestra, Tom Varner, Thomas Marriott, Wayne Horvitz, Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, and the Randy Halberstadt Quintet. Taylor has two acclaimed Origin Records releases: After Hours (2002) and Spectre (2009).

Dawn Clement began playing piano when she was 10 years old, with early lessons with ragtime pianist and church organist Keith Taylor. Her career today includes playing at the Mary Lou Williams Piano Competition at Washington DC’s Kennedy Center and Paris’ International Martial Solal Jazz Piano Competition, teaching at Cornish and at Port Townsend’s Centrum Jazz Workshop, and releasing five CDs.

Opening is Dawn Clement in duo with vocalist and fellow Cornish College educator, Johnaye Kendrick, whose warmth, grace, and personality have made her a Seattle favorite.

Saturday, November 11, 8:30pm | Nectar Lounge

Taylor McFerrin / SassyBlack / Noel Brass Jr.

21+ only
$20 adults | $18 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military

Rising Brooklyn DJ, keyboardist, and beatboxer Taylor McFerrin bridges many musical worlds, including golden-era soul, sample-heavy hip-hop, free-form jazz, and electronic beats. Following his beloved debut full-length album Early Riser, McFerrin has toured worldwide (including at the 2014 Earshot festival) as a one-man show, landing impressive opening slots for artists such as Erykah Badu, The Roots, Nas, and Robert Glasper. McFerrin’s forthcoming music is highly anticipated in the Future Soul scene and rumored to cue up cutting-edge collaborations with members of polyrhythmic soul group Hiatus Kaiyote and buzzworthy drummer Marcus Gilmore, grandson of jazz legend Roy Haynes.

Opening is Seattle’s blossoming hypno-funk frontwoman SassyBlack (Catherine “Cat” Harris-White). Fresh off releasing her self-produced full-length solo album No More Weak Dates, the always-busy muse went back to the studio for her decade-defying summer release New Black Swing. Tapping into a smoky ‘90s jazz-lounge texture, the classically trained jazz vocalist possesses “an earthy vibe with a cosmic outlook, balancing emotional vulnerability with confidence and swagger” (Earshot Jazz).

Another Seattle soul master joins the lineup: Noel Brass Jr. (keys), of psychedelic trio AfroCop. Drawing as much from punk, gospel, Afrobeat, electronics, funk, and soul, as from jazz, Brass celebrates his solo keyboard record release with local specialty label Wax Thematique, backed by Seattle guitarist Andy Sells.

Sunday, November 12, 7:30pm | Triple Door

The Baylor Project

$28 adult | $26 Earshot members & seniors | $14 students & military

Husband-and-wife duo The Baylor Project, consisting of vocalist Jean Baylor and drummer Marcus Baylor, has been surprising and exciting audiences with its effortless blend of classic jazz, gospel, blues, and funk since forming in 2013.

Originally from New Jersey, mezzo-soprano Jean Baylor found her musical beginning in R&B, forming the Billboard-charting duo Zhané after studying jazz vocal performance at Temple University. In the world of jazz she has performed with the likes of Kenny Garrett, Marcus Miller, and Buster Williams.

Hailing from St. Louis, composer, arranger, and bandleader Marcus Baylor was the house drummer in his father’s church before he studied at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. Before pursuing his own career in music he was a member and drummer for the Grammy-nominated group The Yellowjackets. He has toured extensively with Kenny Garrett and Cassandra Wilson, sharing the stage with Regina Carter, Freddie Hubbard, Olu Dara, and more.

This year Earshot is proud to present the Baylor Project following their successful 2017 recording debut The Journey, a Top Ten Billboard and #1 iTunes jazz charting album.

With touchstones ranging from church revival meetings to the Gershwin songbook, The Journey combines the Baylors’ skills as urban improvisers and down home traditionalists, “encompassing the musical and cultural reflections of their lives, from family to church to a life in jazz” (James Nadal, All About Jazz).

Skills

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November 1, 2017