Festival Previews, Week 1

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Danilo Perez performs at Earshot Jazz Festival 2017

Danilo Pérez photo by Daniel Sheehan

Festival Kickoff

Sunday, October 8, 4pm | KEXP Gathering Space
Free with registration

Co-presented with KEXP

This year’s Earshot Jazz Festival kicks off with a joyful evening that connects with the Seattle community in ways that promise to be deeply engaging and thoroughly satisfying. In creative collaboration with 90.3 KEXP, we’ll activate the large Gathering Space of their new Seattle Center location with an epic kickoff event. The Space is the place tonight!

The music begins at 4pm with an All-School Jazz Jam featuring top high-school players, with professional mentors anchored by the formidable tap-dancing saxophonist, Alex Dugdale.

At 6pm, in the captivating Soliloquies of Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, Om Johari (artist/vocalist/wordsmith/visual muse) pays tribute to Roberta Flack’s gorgeous work on the landmark 1972  duo recording. Johari has lovingly assembled a jazz-heavy lineup of instrumentalists: Ahamefule J. Oluo (trumpet), D’Vonne Lewis (drums), Evan Flory-Barnes (bass), Tim Kennedy (keys), Jeff Fielder (guitar), Hans Teuber (piano), and Skerik (sax), to complement her stunning vocal arrangements, featuring vocalists La Tanya Horace, Timothy Davis, Coreena Caine Coldnote, and Riz (DJ Riz) Rollins,  who will join Johari in a special duet.

At 7:30pm, Industrial Revelation, masters of a rainbow of moods, rocks the KEXP space, with Evan Flory-Barnes, D’Vonne Lewis, Ahamefule J. Oluo, Josh Rawlings (keys), and special friends. This award-winning ensemble’s music spans genres and eras, and virtually embodies a Seattle musical progression from Quincy Jones and Dave Lewis, through Hendrix, Mix-a-lot, Nirvana, Perfume Genius, and way beyond.

Tribute to Overton Berry

Monday, October 9, 7:30pm | Jazz Alley
$16 (Includes a $6 service fee)

Co-presented with Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley

Seattle jazz icon Overton Berry—the kind, gentlemanly, and beloved pianist—has seen it all, from out-of-the-way back rooms and lounges, to major jazz festivals. He joined the Seattle’s segregated “Negro Musicians Union,” AFM Local 493, in the 1950s, then joined the suddenly inclusive AFM 76 when integration arrived in 1958. The past 60 years has seen him nurture such young talent as Larry Coryell and Diane Schuur, perform USO shows in Vietnam, and be one of the few Seattle musicians to gain employment at Seattle’s Century 21 World’s Fair in 1962, as musical director for Peggy Lee. He played a now-legendary run at Seattle’s Doubletree Inn from 1969-1974, which produced the beloved album, The Overton Berry Trio at Seattle’s Doubletree Inn.

Still performing for his dedicated following that spans generations, Berry sees himself as a conduit through which the music flows. “I’m within the music, it’s not about me making the music, all the time I’m playing, in some ways, I’m asking for guidance,” he says. “Not any specific thing, just allowing the music to take over.”

Mr. Berry brings his seasoned trio of Rick Spano (drums) and Jeff Davies (bass) to the stage of Jazz Alley, joined by special musical guests, including Jay Thomas and Bruce Phares, and an audience of loving supporters. His presence denotes history in itself, being one of the few remaining links to Seattle’s fabled Jackson Street scene. This evening is an opportunity not to be missed, and one to be treasured forever.

Thelonious Monk Birthday

Tuesday, October 10, 7:30pm | Seattle Art Museum
$22 adults | $20 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military

To mark the 100th birthday of the iconic innovator, pianist Dawn Clement, the 2017 Earshot Festival Resident Artist, performs mostly solo, and the 16-piece Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble, under the conduction of Wayne Horvitz, reassembles several of Monk’s ensemble works.

“The first jazz tune I ever learned was Monk,” says Clement. “I have been playing Monk since the beginning. Obviously, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and the Monk competition continue his legacy. His legacy comes from the fact that his music is so accessible, everyone can identify with it. Why? Because of the ways his melodies and solos are so strong. The tunes get repeated, like in the blues. Playing his music, I am not an expert but I find new things to bring to it. It makes sense that his music is still performed on his 100th birthday.”

The Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble is a 16-piece band featuring Seattle’s finest and most innovative improvisers, including Beth Fleenor, Kate Olson, Ivan Arteaga, Levi Gillis, Greg Sinibaldi, and Samantha Boshnack, under the direction of composer Wayne Horvitz. The RRCME performs Horvitz’s compositions in a loosely constructed format which uses a combination of on-the-spot (re)arranging and various other techniques, some of which have come to be known as “conduction.”

Edmonds-Woodway High School Band w/ Roxy Coss

Tuesday, October 10, 7:30pm | Edmonds-Woodway High School Little Theater
$12 general admission

“Any artist can only be him or herself,” saxophonist Roxy Coss has stated. “So in that way we don’t have a choice in originality if we are honest with ourselves.” Now based in New York, Coss has not let her burgeoning sound and ascendant career sever her roots in her hometown of Seattle. So, as part of her “homecoming,” she joins the award-winning Edmonds-Woodway jazz band, under Jake Bergevin, at the Edmonds-Woodway High School theater to give back and get her groove on.

Raised in Columbia City, Coss graduated from the star-bright Garfield High jazz program, and was in the first two ensembles to consecutively win national championships at the Essentially Ellington Festival in 2003 and 2004. Coss has since played with Clark Terry and Joshua Redman, headlined major jazz festivals, released her third album as a leader (2017’s Chasing the Unicorn), and been yearly voted onto DownBeat Magazine’s prestigious critic’s poll. These lessons in artistry and honesty Coss will bring back to school for what is bound to be a lesson in style and grace.

Danilo Pérez with Ben Street & Adam Cruz: Panamonk

Wednesday, October 11, 7:30pm | Triple Door
$28 adult | $26 Earshot members & seniors | $14 students & military

As a singular diplomat of the African musical diaspora in Latin jazz, master pianist Danilo Pérez, is among the most influential and dynamic musicians of our time. The recent recipient of the Museum of Contemporary Arts (Panama) Excellence of the Arts Award, Pérez, was named Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF, and has received a variety of awards for his musical achievements, activism, and social work efforts. He serves as a UNESCO Artist for Peace, Cultural Ambassador to the Republic of Panama, and is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Panama Jazz Festival, bringing the music’s greatest artists into barrios to work with impoverished young musicians, and Artistic Director of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute in Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

An extraordinary composer and improviser, Pérez was a catalytic force in Wayne Shorter’s late-career resurgence. He was already one of jazz’s most widely acclaimed young pianists in 1996 with his work with Dizzy Gillespie when he released Panamonk (Impulse!/GRP), his influential synthesis of Thelonious Monk’s compositions and Afro-Caribbean rhythms. This tribute is considered by DownBeat magazine one of the most important jazz piano albums in history. Celebrating the composer’s centennial and commemorating the 20th anniversary of the album’s release, Pérez takes his Panama-centered global jazz to the stage with longtime collaborators drummer Adam Cruz, “pairing crystalline touch with a level of prophetic intuition that is awe-inspiring” (Modern Drummer), and the great bassist Ben Street, a genre-bending and sought-after musician, who most recently visited Seattle with the Aaron Parks Trio.

Art of Jazz: LaVon Hardison Quartet

Thursday, October 12, 5:30pm | Seattle Art Museum (Brotman Forum)

Co-presented with Seattle Art Museum

Multifaceted South Sound vocalist LaVon Hardison brings a background in opera, musical theater, and jazz to the stage, backed by her superbly versatile and sensitive bad featuring David Deacon-Joyner (piano), Osama Afifi (bass), and Jeff “Bongo” Busch (drums, percussion), as heard on her 2016 release, Come Together. A stylishly eclectic singer, Hardison evokes the warmth of Carmen McRae’s vocals with the adventurous improvisatory and storytelling spirit of Ella Fitzgerald. “She’s the type of interpreter who knows how to put across the emotion and subtlety in a melody without overselling it, and she has a talent for getting inside the story that each song tells” (Andrew Luthringer, Earshot Jazz).

Jemeel Moondoc, Nathan Breedlove, Jamael Nance / Gordon Grdina

Thursday, October 12, 8pm | The Royal Room
$16 adult | $14 Earshot members & seniors | $8 students & military

It was the music and teachings of Cecil Taylor that led a young Jemeel Moondoc into modern jazz, and he has remained a devoted disciple ever since. Moondoc studied with Cecil Taylor and played in his Black Music Ensemble at Antioch College in 1970–1971, becoming a featured soloist. His own early group, the Ensemble Muntu, which included William Parker and Rashid Bakr, had aspects of the Taylor sound, but deeply reflected other influences as well. Moondoc would become known as an interpreter of the legacy being created by Ornette Coleman during the New York loft scene of the 1970s.

For this anticipated Seattle performance, Moondoc reunites with long time New York colleague, now Seattle-area resident, trumpeter Nathan Breedlove.

“When I lived with Evelyn Blakey on 7th and Ave B, Moon and I were neighbors. He has a place on 5th and C. Butch Morris lived on the end of the block. Cats were all over the place, as you well know, those were the days,” recalls Breedlove about their days together in Greenwich Village. “Jemeel basically is a protege of Cecil Taylor and a true heir to Ornette.”

The Chicago-born saxophonist has continued producing in a post-free jazz mindset for many years, working with bassist William Parker and others on the adventuresome avant-garde fringes. In 2014, he released his first album under his name since 2003, the post-free progressive Zookeeper’s House (Relative Pitch, 2014). The five-track set captures a distinctly live vibrancy and vulnerability in the studio.

Moondoc and Breedlove will be joined by Seattle-based drummer Jamael Nance, forming a trio without bass. But when you consider that Louis Armstrong’s Hot Fives and Sevens and the Benny Goodman Quartet were ensembles without bass, the concept becomes less of a cutting-edge, avant-garde endeavor. There is where the truth lies, and on this evening, the concept will be launched into a new realm of musical discovery.

Opening will be Vancouver string master, Gordon Grdina. Grdina is an oud player/guitarist whose sound is a combination of mainstream jazz, free-form improvisation, and Arabic classical music. A protégé of jazz great Gary Peacock, he is a well-respected contributor to the jazz and world music scenes, constantly being sought out for projects that need an original, multicultural sound.

For this performance, he is teamed with legendary Seattle composer/pianist Wayne Horvitz and trailblazing clarinetist James Falzone.

“We will be doing a few solo pieces as well as group improvisation, digging into some Arabic Maqam and will possibly play a few Iraqi folk pieces,” says Grdina. “The concert is going to be largely freely improvised. I’ve been a huge fan of Wayne’s playing for years and am really looking forward to the opportunity to play with him. James I’d heard about for years but hadn’t heard live until recently at the Vancouver Jazz festival, and I was blown away by his ingenuity, depth and command of his instrument.”

Falzone may indeed be the X factor in this explosive commingling of musical genius. The multi-genre clarinetist and award-winning composer is Chair of Music at the distinguished Cornish College of the Arts, and has fully integrated himself into his new community since his arrival from Chicago a year ago. For one evening Grdina’s unique approach both musically and culturally will bond these three innovators into one harmonious contingent.

Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet / Happy Orchestra

Thursday, October 12, 7:30pm | Triple Door
$22 adult | $20 Earshot member & seniors | $10 students & military

Few drummers in recent years have experienced a more meteoric rise to the top of his field than Mark Guiliana. He has been making big waves in New York and has accumulated a dizzying list of impressive collaborators including songwriter and producer Meshell Ndegeocello, guitarist-vocalist Lionel Loueke, and jazz icon John Scofield, among others. He released a duo album entitled Mehliana with Brad Mehldau (who is also appearing at the Earshot Jazz Festival on October 25, in a rare solo piano concert).

Perhaps most notably, Guiliana worked with saxophonist Donny McCaslin’s band, leading to a central role on Blackstar, David Bowie’s multiple Grammy Award-winning final album.

Guiliana is steeped in eclectic electronic sounds as well as jazz, and has carved out a remarkable niche by integrating the innovations of programmed percussion back into the drum set, becoming one of the most influential drummers of his generation by pairing stunning technical facility with a sublime musicality.

In his Earshot appearance, Guiliana explores another facet of his talents with his all-acoustic Jazz Quartet, featuring saxophonist Jason Rigby, pianist Fabian Almazan, and bassist Chris Morrissey. Touring in support of the quartet’s stunning new album, Jersey, the band explores its intriguing, challenging originals while navigating the continuum between brash abandon and sublime control, driven by an explosive improvisational energy.

Opening the show will be the sublimely tight Happy Orchestra, led by drummer Tarik Abouzied. The groove-centric unit features top Northwest jazz and funk players: Thomas Marriott (trumpet), Stuart MacDonald (saxophone), RL Heyer (guitar), Tim Kennedy (keyboards), and Damian Erskine (bass).

Mostly Other People Do the Killing / The Bloodroot

Friday, October 13, 8pm | Barboza
21+ only
$18 adults | $16 Earshot members & seniors
$10 tickets available for students & military with ID. Cash at the door.

“We revere the classics,” bassist Matthew “Moppa” Elliott has tellingly written about his group, Mostly Other People Do the Killing (MOPDtK). “We parody the classics. We examine the classics. We obsess over the classics. We study the classics. We ignore the classics. We re-create the classics. We fail to re-create the classics. We become the classics?”

Elliott, drummer Kevin Shea, and pianist Ron Stabinsky’s intriguing dialogue with the practice of jazz as a musical tradition can be heard October 13 at Barboza, along with drummer Chris Icasiano’s similar-minded group Bloodroot, featuring bassist Kelsey Mines and vibraphonist Andria Nicodemou.

As NPR has written, MOPDtK “likes to take song forms and standards, cleave them into bits with exceptional virtuosity (and comic timing), and reconstitute them with Frankenstein-like references to any and every era of jazz.” Though co-founder and trumpeter Peter Evans and saxophonist Jon Irabagon have left the group, primary founder Elliott, a New York regular and graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, remains the backbone (as bassist, composer, and producer) to their modernist musical collages. Time-turning New York-based drummer Kevin Shea, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music named best drummer of 2012 by the Village Voice, also plays, along with pianist Ron Stabinsky, who added his precise musical renderings to the group for 2015’s release Mauch Chunk and filled the shoes of Bill Evans on their 2014 concept album Blue, a note-for-note recreation of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue.

Seattle standout Chris Icasiano brings the heavy energy of his heroic duo Bad Luck to his group The Bloodroot. His improvisatory ability to seamlessly step in and out of leading and supporting roles all while balancing a constant exchange of old and new ideas is well complemented by the dynamic vibraphone of Cyprus-born Andria Nicodemou and the subtlety of local bassist Kelsey Mines. A graduate of the New England Conservatory, Nicodemou has made her international reputation on interdisciplinary projects such as Amsterdam’s Royal Improvisers Orchestra and her own Thread Ensemble. Mines, who studied at the University of Arizona and the Prince Claus Conservatoire in Groningen, has lead numerous contemporary and classical ensembles since moving to Seattle, in addition to teaching throughout the city.

Joe Sanders Quartet

Saturday, October 14, 8pm | PONCHO Concert Hall
$22 adults | $20 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military

Co-presented with Cornish Presents

An electrifying and boundlessly creative young talent, the New York bassist Joe Sanders returns to Seattle showcasing his own powerhouse quartet. One of the busiest bass players of his generation, Sanders has played, recorded, and toured with Ravi Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Heath, Wayne Shorter, Dave Brubeck, Mulgrew Miller, Geri Allen, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Gerald Clayton (whose album featuring Sanders, Two-Shade, was nominated for a 2010 Grammy), and many others.

“Joe Sanders is an extremely talented bassist who has a captivating personality,” says Jimmy Heath. “He has played with the Heath Bothers on several occasions and it was always beautiful.”

Sanders leads his own brilliant new group with Blue Note recording artist Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, who earned praise for his chameleonic tone and muscular, forward-sounding tone. On piano is the riveting Taylor Eigsti, who amazes his audiences with the piano mastery of a seasoned authority. Rounding out the band is the formidable drummer Henry Cole, approaching music with supreme accuracy, imagination, and surprising innovation.

“I am fortunate to have found my calling,” says Sanders. “I hope to reach people’s hearts and make a difference in their life through the spirit of music.”




Posted on

September 30, 2017