As Goes New York…So Goes Jazz
And, man, it is so strong!
A trip to New York in January offers clear evidence of how brilliant and multi-faceted jazz has become, and how inextricably linked it is to America’s most vibrant city. The indisputable center of the jazz universe, even in the normal course of life, New York’s jazz scene absolutely explodes for two weeks each winter. Between hundreds of the artist showcases for the annual Association for Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) and Chamber Music America (CMA) conferences going on around the city, the massive NYC Winter Jazzfest blitzing a dozen Village locations over one weekend, and the two-day Jazz Connect conference in mid-town Manhattan, any prevailing arguments about jazz being in perilous times are easily forgotten. And, as always, Seattle artists and industry folks are prominent in the mix.
Earshot founder Paul de Barros was on the Winter Jazzfest scene, and filed a great overview of Seattle jazz artists in the NYC WJF for the January 18 Seattle Times. The entire staff of Seattle’s Origin Records was working the floor of the global Jazz Connect conference at St. Peter’s “jazz church” on Lexington Ave, just down the street from the site of the late lamented JazzTimes conference. And one of the featured showcases of this year’s APAP conferences, which draws thousands of arts professionals from around the world, was a performance of Seattle trumpeter Aham Oluo’s “Now I’m Fine,” which features Seattle artists Samantha Boshnack, D’Vonne Lewis, Evan Flory-Barnes, and others.
And, of course, Earshot Jazz was on the scene as well. It has been my pleasure to host one of the WJF stages since the festival’s inception at the Knitting Factory, 12 years ago. This year, between the performances at my stage (The New School’s 12th St Auditorium) and other concerts I saw around the city in and out of WJF, I was fortunate to hear 25 performances by top jazz veterans and exciting emerging artists. Earshot writer/production manager and Seattle jazz saxophonist Levi Gillis was also deep in the mix, gathering ideas and perspectives from several Seattle/NYC jazz artists.
But jazz is alive and thriving on both coasts! You can get a taste of this exciting breadth of creative expression this month as Earshot hosts compelling concerts – February 11, 16, 20, and 26 – by Seattle’s Industrial Revelation, the compelling New York trio of the drummer Ches Smith, the return of the masterful bassist Gary Peacock’s trio, and the soul-warming music of Brian Blade’s Fellowship Band.
This issue of “listener-supported” Earshot Jazz has all of the details, and much more. We look forward to seeing you out there. And thanks!
– John Gilbreath