Festival Previews, Week 1

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Terri Lyne Carrington, Kris Davis, and Val Jeanty photo courtesy of Company of Heaven.

Kris Davis’ Diatom Ribbons w / Terri Lyne Carrington & Val Jeanty

ADVANCE TICKET PRICES: Adult $28, Senior (60+) $26, Earshot Member $26, Student $10, Military $10
DAY OF SHOW TICKET PRICES: Adult $33, Senior (60+) $31, Earshot Member $31, Student $10, Military $10

The opening night concert synchronizes—to the day—with the highly anticipated album release of Diatom Ribbons by rising pianist Kris Davis. This album is the first recorded collaboration to place the ceaselessly inventive Davis next to superlative drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and the Haitian exponent of Vodou electronica and drumming Val Jeanty.

Her first release since being named a 2017 DownBeat Rising Star, Diatom Ribbons marks Davis’ 14th studio album as a leader. It is the realization of nearly two decades of collaboration, a homage to piano giants, and a compositional and improvisational marvel.

Inspired by the micro and macro zigzag patterns of unicellular microalgae called diatoms, Davis drew a connection between the process of composition and the experience of nature: “Changing your proximity to the same object or idea can dramatically alter your experience of it, often yielding unexpected and inspiring results.”

Three-time Grammy Award-winning Terri Lyne Carrington is well known for her multifaceted career confronting a wide array of social justice issues through her art and education, including founding the Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Her newest project as a leader, Social Science, features pianist Aaron Parks and emcee Kassa Overall.

Sound artist Val Jeanty incorporates Haitian traditional ritual music with electronic instruments into a genre she defines as “Afro Electronica.” Jeanty has spent the last decade in New York City sharpening her unique and revered talents. On Jeanty’s contributions to Diatom Ribbon, Davis says “her hip-hop influence, being able to shape the music using words and also ‘nature’ sounds and percussion—it opened a whole new palette for me to consider when I was conceptualizing this project.” Seattle audiences would be remiss to miss this performance. As the New York Times states, “One method for deciding where to hear jazz on a given night has been to track down the pianist Kris Davis.” $10-33. For details visit earshot.org.

Seattle Jazz Showcase: Marina Albero / Jacqueline Tabor / Mandyck ,Johnson, Bishop

ADVANCE TICKET PRICES: Adult $20, Senior (60+) $18, Earshot Member $18, Student $10, Military $10
DAY OF SHOW TICKET PRICES:  Adult $25, Senior (60+) $23, Earshot Member $23, Student $10, Military $10

In the first of two Seattle Jazz Showcases, three divergent voices merge for an evening reflective of both today’s vibrant jazz scene, and the rich history of jazz music in Seattle.

Marina Albero burst on the scene in Seattle in 2014 with a thrilling duo performance on vibraphone at the Ballard Jazz Festival with legendary flamenco jazz pianist Chano Domínguez. From that point forward, audiences in Seattle have been the fortunate recipients of her music that reflects the astonishing diversity of her life in music. The daughter of legendary Catalan musician/composer Mariano Albero, she has been performing since early childhood. Her music connects the different strands of her life including experiences with her family band, along with her training in percussion, classical piano, flamenco, and American jazz. While her prodigious talents are largely focused on piano, she’s known for pioneering new sounds and techniques on the hammered dulcimer. Her infectious sound refutes the notion of musical categorization, strongly communicating the unity that music can bring to humanity.

Vocalist Jacqueline Tabor conjures images of the blues, and of the gospel roots from which American jazz music blossomed. Riding the wave of her most recent release, The Lady In The Gown,  Tabor has been engaging jazz audiences around the Northwest with her original interpretations of jazz classics. Her audacious, bold musical personality has created a strong following for her much anticipated dates in area clubs and concert halls.

Origin Records recording artists Rick Mandyck (tenor saxophone), Jeff Johnson (bass), and John Bishop (drums) reinterpret the art of the trio in sonic fashion. Mandyck recently returned to music after a 14-year hiatus due to injury. While his sound evokes images previously illuminated by John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter, his approach to melodic improvisation is chant-like, possessing elements of spirituality.

Trailblazing bassist Johnson is an icon to those hip enough to know. His use of chordal clusters and lush vibrato are markers of his true originality. His compositions are transcendent, providing for this perfectly matched trio, an open canvas. 

Drummer and Origin founder John Bishop has been described as having an approach that is symphonic in nature, projecting a rhythmic wash of sound that moves time and space to its outer boundaries. Playing here with the same trio with whom he recorded his 2005 release on Origin, Nothing If Not Something, Bishop’s imagination will set the outermost parameters of this session.

Between sets, Stuart MacDonald’s Trace Generations project pairs Seattle jazz veterans with up-and-comers. $10-25. For details visit earshot.org.

Jamaaladeen Tacuma Trio feat. Gary Bartz

ADVANCE TICKET PRICES: Adult $28, Senior (60+) $26, Earshot Member $26, Student $10, Military $10
DAY OF SHOW TICKET PRICESAdult $33, Senior (60+) $31, Earshot Member $31, Student $10, Military $10

Co-presented with Langston. Welcomed by Rainier Avenue Radio. In a collision of jazz innovation, electric bass pioneer Jamaaladeen Tacuma, and transcendent saxophonist Gary Bartz are joined by highlyregarded drummer Ronnie Burrage to form a musical conversation with ever-expanding boundaries. Performing at the historic Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute provides the evening with a true neighborhood vibe. 

A legendary avant-garde bassist, Tacuma speaks or sings through his instrument with sophistication and intelligence, all the while immersed in his deep roots in the Philadelphia music idiom. He has performed with Pharoah Sanders, Odean Pope, and The Roots, but it was his time with Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time that his musical identity morphed into a state of originality.

“Ornette thought of the music as being compositional improvising with each instrument being equal in its own right, with everything stemming from the composition. The improvising you did was based on that,” recalls Tacuma.

Saxophonist Gary Bartz’ personal legacy is tied to jazz legends, having performed with Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, Charles Mingus, McCoy Tyner and Eric Dolphy before he joined Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers.  By 1970, he was a foundational member of Miles Davis’ band, performing with him famously at the Isle of Wight Festival in August of 1970.

Bartz has a sound steeped in the experience of playing with these masters, as is aptly displayed on his 2012 release, Coltrane Rules: Tao of a Music Warrior. Focusing mainly on alto, his sound, approach, and musical soul is more drawn from the great tenor players, with Coltrane standing front and center. Bartz’ 45-year association with Coltrane’s pianist, the great McCoy Tyner, has further strengthened his tie to that legacy. Bartz was awarded the BNY Mellon Jazz 2015 Living Legacy Award, presented at a special ceremony at The Kennedy Center.

Tacuma and Bartz both have placed tap roots into a diverse spiritual amalgam of the jazz tradition. Their combined fusion on this evening represents not a look into their storied past, but a deep journey into the unknown, of what ‘s next to come. $10-33. For details visit earshot.org.

Bria Skonberg

ADVANCE TICKET PRICES: Adult $28, Senior (60+) $26, Earshot Member $26, Student $10, Military $10
DAY OF SHOW TICKET PRICES: Adult $33, Senior (60+) $31, Earshot Member $31, Student $10, Military $10

Welcomed by KNKX. A sparkling performer who deftly combines traditional jazz chops and old-school entertainment savvy inspired by Louis Armstrong, the Canadian trumpeter/vocalist has been characterized by the Wall Street Journal as “poised to be one of the versatile and imposing musicians of her generation.” Skonberg won a Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy) in 2017 for her debut release, Bria. She also represented the Monterey Jazz Festival this year on an all-star tour with Cécile McLorin Salvant and others, which came through Seattle this past April. Her trib – ute at the Monterey festival in 2018 to the great trumpet player Valaida Snow, “High Hat,” was the high point of a set that showcased her graceful mastery of early jazz.

Skonberg, 36, is practically local, having grown up in the Fraser Valley town of Chilli – wack, BC. She got a music degree at Capilano College, in North Vancouver, then moved to New York in 2010, where she studied with the great trad trumpet player Warren Vaché. A ma – jor player in the trad jazz revival back east, she is a co-founder of New York’s Hot Jazz Festival. A longtime favorite at Jazz Port Townsend, where she also has served as an instructor, Skonberg was voted a “rising star” by the critics at DownBeat magazine.

Skonberg sings in a slightly raspy, full-throated alto and knows how to spin a lyric with just the right emotional sass. Seattle jazz patriarch Quincy Jones has said of Skonberg, “It’s such a groove watching my skol sister follow in the path of Pops, Louis Armstrong, the one who started it all…She even follows his motto, ‘Play it, don’t say it!’” Skonberg has appeared at the Apollo Theater alongside U2 and has performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the Montreal Jazz Festival. On November 1, Skonberg will release a new album, Nothing Never Happens. $10-33. For details visit earshot.org.

Trey McLaughlin & The Sounds of Zamar

TICKET PRICES: $46-55 Available through Triple Door

Presented by Triple Door.
The dynamic gospel choir, Trey McLaughlin & The Sounds of Zamar, grace The Triple Door stage for an enchanting and uplifting evening.

McLaughlin, founder and leader of The Sounds of Zamar is a jack of many trades, including vocalist, educator, composer, performer, and master clinician. For the Augusta, Georgia born McLaughlin, community reigns supreme McLaughlin serves as Director of Worship and Arts at Tabernacle Baptist Church of Augusta, as well as the Artistic Director and Student Director at Creative Impressions, the choral nonprofit from his youth committed to educating and empowering young folks to “seek higher educational goals and other positive life experiences.”

Uniquely but unmistakably a gospel choir, Trey McLaughlin & The Sounds of Zamar masterfully arrange harmonies and ballads that whisk the listener through an active spiritual journey. The 26-piece choir, formed in 2009, has performed with modern gospel pioneers including William McDowell, Kierra “Kiki” Sheard, Richard Smallwood, VaShawn Mitchell, Earnest Pugh, and James Fortune. “A lot of people call us gospel because of the message,” says McLaughlin, “But our concerts don’t sound like anything most people would consider to be gospel. You’ll hear something of everything with this show…rock-and-roll, jazz, contemporary pop and R&B and some theatrical and classical elements as well.” (South Coast Today). In 2012, the ensemble released their debut album, Limitless.

The ensemble has found a global audience, leading to tour stops in Paris, France; Krakow, Poland; and Menorca and Rajadell, Spain. The Sounds of Zamar speak to the power of unification. Come prepared to feel invigorated, revitalized, and restored. $46–55. Tickets available through Triple Door. For details visit earshot.org.


TICKET PRICES: $42-62 Available through Benraoya Hall

Presented by Live at Benaroya Hall.
Performing entrancing North African desert blues, Tinariwen are the beloved guitar-bards of two generations of exiled Tuaregs of West Africa. The band’s name translates as the people of the desert. In Tinariwen’s case, it’s the Sahara of northern Mali.

While exiled in Algeria, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, a self-taught musician who cobbled together a guitar, formed the band in 1979 among fellow exiles there and in Libya. Tinariwen went on to become “a grassroots voice of rebellion” (AllMusic).

The band performs swirling traditional melodies and rhythms of their desert roots, normally played on the shepherd’s flute, one-string fiddle, and tindé drum, but adapted to electric guitars and thrillingly merged with music from elsewhere. It includes strains of other north African traditions, as well as Western styles that inspired them: from electric bands like Led Zeppelin and the Jimi Hendrix Experience to neo-folk icons like Bob Dylan, and country star Kenny Rogers.

Tinariwen’s fame and fortunes increased after a 1991 peace accord and the establishment of Mali as a democratic state, but political and military troubles have recurrently caught up with them. That has created a résumé that very few globally popular bands could lay claim to, one with both musical and military components. In the early 2000s, they opened for the Rolling Stones—it was a natural pairing, as the American blues within the Stones’ rock shared West African roots with Tinariwen’s Tuareg riffs. But at times some members of the band have had to lay down their guitars to take up arms as Tuareg rebels. In 2012, several members fled to the American Southwest when a rebellion in northern Mali resulted in a rival group seeking to impose fundamentalist sharia law, and to target music like Tinariwen’s.

Their recent, ninth album  Amadjar, meaning “the unknown visitor” speaks of inner exile and journeying, but Tinariwen’s musical path is now more triumphant and liberated than troubled. They recorded the album while encamped for 15 days in the desert near Nouakchott, the ancient seat of Berber life in West Africa. Accompanied on some tracks by the likes of Warren Ellis, the violinist in Nick Cave’s bands, they captured soaring songs in a few live takes, without effects, under the stars. $42-62. Tickets available through Benaroya Hall. For details visit earshot.org.

Gerald Clayton Quartet / The Westerlies

TICKET PRICES: $10-37 Available through Triple Door

Presented in cooperation with Western Jazz Presenters Network and NEA. Welcomed by KBCS.

The flowering of pianist Gerald Clayton, son of the great bassist, composer, and producer John Clayton, has been especially astonishing to witness. The 35-year-old pianist and composer has been catching ears on the West Coast since he was a teenager, when he debuted at the Monterey Jazz Festival and worked as a sideman at Los Angeles’ Jazz Bakery.

Born in Holland, Clayton grew up in L.A.. He received a B.A. at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, studying with Billy Childs, and was subsequently mentored by Kenny Barron at New York’s Manhattan School of Music. In 2006, Clayton came in second at the Thelonious Monk Institute piano competition and his first album, Two Shade (2010), netted the first of four Grammy nominations.

Clayton has gone on to work with a host of A-list artists, including Diana Krall, Roy Hargrove, and saxophone legend Charles Lloyd, who once called Clayton “a poet of the piano.” Clayton plays with muscular energy and harmonic density and is comfortable in traditional settings as well as coloring outside the lines.

This past summer, Clayton offered the Northwest debut of his music theater epic, “Piedmont Blues, A Search for Salvation,” at Jazz Port Townsend. His excellent 2017 album, Tributary Tales, features two stunning musicians who will appear here with his quartet: alto saxophonist Logan Richardson (who appeared at last year’s Earshot Jazz Festival) and bassist Joe Sanders. Drummer Kendrick Scott “one of the finest drummers of his generation” rounds out the band (JazzTimes).

Opening the show for Clayton are The Westerlies, the Seattle-born, New York-bred brass band of trumpeters Riley Mulherkar and Chloe Rowlands and trombonists Willem de Koch and Andy Clausen.

The Westerlies have recorded two albums for the Vancouver, B.C. label Songlines, Wish the Children Would Come On Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz and The Westerlies. The great trumpeter Dave Douglas featured them on his album Little Giant Still Life. The band is set to release its third full-length album, Wherein Lies The Good, in early 2020, a year that will also bring the group back to Seattle, in February, for the second annual Westerlies Fest, which includes concerts, a workshop, and school performances. $10–37, available through the Triple Door. For details visit earshot.org.

Kneebody / Trio Subtonic: Galen Clark, Dan Balmer, D’Vonne Lewis

PRICES:$10-22 Available through Nectar Lounge

“One of the smarter bands blenderizing postbop, indie rock, hip-hop and classical music” (New York Times), Kneebody returns to the Earshot stage in anticipation of their latest release,  Chapters, out October 18 on Edition Records.

Since the departure of bassist and founding member Kaveh Rastegar earlier this year, the now-quartet of some of today’s most dazzling, innovative musicians continues to slam in pinpoint ensemble work powered by the extraordinary drummer/multi-instrumentalist Nate Wood, who “has been stunning audiences with [his] multitasking wizardry for years” (WBGO). Saxophonist Ben Wendel, trumpeter Shane Endsley, and keyboardist Adam Benjamin, each bringing their own masterful command of their instruments and inventive explorations of sound, round out the Grammy-nominated outfit that, year after year, demonstrates a keen “ability to appeal to a diverse audience while confounding anyone trying to put them in a single stylistic box” (Earmilk). 

After nearly two decades of performing together, this collective creative spirit shines whether playing in their longstanding ensemble form or when collaborating with fellow genre-bending artists, including producer Daedelus in an incredible “display of bionic jazz” (Vice). In the continuing spirit of collaboration, Kneebody’s new album  Chapters  will also feature guest appearances from artists including Gretchen Parlato, Gerald Clayton, and Becca Stevens. While their Earshot appearance remains the foursome, Kneebody is sure to be at the height of their musical game, continuing to push boundaries and exemplify collaborative musicianship in the 21st Century.

Opening the evening is Trio Subtonic, a groove-heavy local outfit that blends genre-bending funk with slowburning underground soul jazz. Comprised of keyboardist Galen Clark, guitarist Dan Balmer, and drummer D’Vonne Lewis, these musicians have “made their mark on the Northwest independent and jazz music scenes” (KNKX). 21+ $10–22. For details visit earshot.org.

Jazz Up Jackson Street: A Benefit for Washington Middle School & Garfield High School


Presented by Jazz Up Jackson Street.

What would happen if you put an instrument in the hands of every 6th grader? Washington Middle School wants to find out. It’s one of the initiatives behind Jazz Up Jackson Street— a community celebration benefiting public school music programs at Washington Middle, Garfield High, and elementary feeder schools.

The evening showcases performances by future jazz greats from the two school bands, and special guest alumni artists.

The school music programs in the Central District and the channel flowing between them have a long history of excellence that has been recognized both regionally and nationally. However, the student musicians in these programs have historically underrepresented the diversity in the schools and neighborhood. To counter this, Washington Middle School is striving for a five-year goal of reaching more equal demographic representation across their music programs, particularly in advanced ensembles. The first step—enrolling all 6th grade Washington Middle School students in a performing ensemble for the 2019-2020 school year.

Proceeds from Jazz Up Jackson ticket sales and donations will help in the necessary purchase of new instruments, method books, and sheet music to ensure that all students can participate fully. Attending Jazz Up Jackson helps push forward the ongoing work of building equity and creating more sustainable and demographically representative music programs at these schools.

Jazz has been an important part of Seattle’s school music community for well over 40 years, and the greater Seattle community long before during the height of Jazz on Jackson street. And it’s community that’s at this distinctly American art form’s core— come celebrate its power and potential. $5–100. For details visit earshot.org.

Art of Jazz: Clave Gringa


Co-presented by the Seattle Art Museum and KNKX.

Fusing American jazz with Cuban and Afro-Cuban music is the Seattle-based band Clave Gringa, led by composer, vocalist, and pianist Ann Reynolds. Reynolds regularly visits the island to immerse herself in its rich music scene. Her musical exploration reaps rich rewards, as she recreates Cuban music forms such as son, danzón, mambo, and rumba with flair and elegance.

Her latest release, Joy, came out earlier this year. Latin Jazz Net praises the release, “Afro-Cuban forms such as ‘son cubano’ ‘danzón’ and ‘guaguancó’ are worked into this sublime music as if they were written by a native of the region… the ‘feel’ comes only to those who don’t simply inhabit the art, but embrace it as one does a member of the family; not simply a loved one, but one who is ‘especially loved.’”

Reynolds formed Clave Gringa with musicians either from Cuba or experienced in its diverse musical forms and styles. For the group’s name, she fused “gringa,” the female form of “gringo,” and “clave,” which refers to both a percussion instrument consisting of two wooden sticks commonly used in Cuban music, as well as to a rhythmic pattern.

“Cuban popular music is really about getting people to dance,” says Reynolds, a dancer herself. Expect to hear originals and the band’s take on Cuban classics, from the charm of the cha-cha-cha to deep veins of less familiar AfroCuban rhythms.

For her 2019 festival appearance, Reynolds is joined by ubiquitous bassist Kelsey Mines, Daniel Barry on trumpet, Steve Smith on congas, and Ricardo Guity on drumkit/timbales. Free. For details visit earshot.org.

Wally Shoup

ADVANCE TICKET PRICES: Adult $14, Senior (60+) $12, Earshot Member $12, Student $10, Military $10
DAY OF SHOW TICKET PRICES: Adult $19, Senior (60+) $17, Earshot Member $17, Student $10, Military $10

Wally Shoup has long been a devoted explorer of the outer edges of improvised music—except, of course, that for a musician like Shoup, the outer edges are at the core, or the vanguard, of where he locates his vital musical practice. For decades, the alto saxophonist has pursued his own aesthetic so impressively that earlier this year he was elected to the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame.

Early in his career, Shoup set a benchmark for non-idiomatic freely improvised music that was in the British mode championed by the likes of guitarist Derek Bailey, saxophonist Evan Parker, and others associated with the Music Improvisation Company. But Shoup’s playing was also laced with the strains of his Southern upbringing amidst blues, R&B, and jazz.

It was in North Carolina, Georgia, and then Colorado and Birmingham, Alabama, that he first plied his trade. He came to Seattle in 1985 and with cellist Brent Arnold formed Project W. Its 1994 album of the same name was “the stuff of legend,” as Andrew Bartlett wrote for Earshot Jazz.

Also in the 1990s, Shoup was one fourth of the juggernaut quartet Stackpole. Comprised of drummer Gregg Keplinger, bassist Geoff Harper, and electric guitarist Dennis Rea, it seared, unleashed and uncompromising, into the memory of many an astonished Seattleite.

By the time the eponymous  Stackpole  appeared in 2001, Shoup had won national notice. His CD with Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore and idiosyncratic Japanese drummer Toshi Makihara had appeared the year before, and in 2003 and 2004 the fabled Leo Records released three of his albums with such collaborators as Moore, Arnold, Makihara, and renowned American free improvisers, saxophonist Paul Flaherty and drummer Chris Corsano.

Shoup has long been an organizer and instigator of free improv, free jazz, and other approaches to music-making, including organizing installments of the Seattle Improvised Music Festival, the longest running such gathering in the country.

Some of Shoup’s exploratory range is on show during this evening, a tribute to his tireless pursuit of a personal musical expression. He appears with three of his projects: with Dom Chiavereni (electric bass) and Al Hashimoto (drums); with Tom Scully (electric guitar) and Casey Adams (drums); and with Bob Rees (vibes), John Seman (bass), and Mark Ostrowski (drums). $10–19. For details visit earshot.org.

Tribute to Tony Williams Lifetime

TICKET PRICES: $15-20 Available through the Royal Room

Presented by the Royal Room.

Tony Williams Lifetime was a power fusion trio formed in 1969 upon Williams’ departure from the Miles Davis Quintet. It featured organist Larry Young and electric guitarist John McLaughlin, and in later incarnations, ex-Cream bassist Jack Bruce. Emergency was the original trio’s debut album, which was initially rejected by jazz listeners as being too heavily rock influenced.

That attitude changed in time, with the now 50-year-old recording being looked upon as a jazz, rock, and fusion classic. Three Seattle musicians—organist Joe Doria, drummer D’Vonne Lewis, and guitarist Cole Schuster— take to the Royal Room stage in homage to this groundbreaking music. As one would expect, this trio will infuse their tribute with their signature souloriented and funk sound, staying true to themselves as well as honoring the unique approach of the original Lifetime band.

Emergency was an interpretive work in its time, a radical departure from the jazz world, a groundbreaking innovation in the rock world. That aspect of the work continues for this performance, as this formidable Seattle trio takes on Williams’ vision a half century after its making.  Tickets available through Royal Room. $15–20. For details visit earshot.org.

Orrin Evans Trio w/ Jeff “Tain” Watts


ADVANCE TICKET PRICES: Adult $28, Senior (60+) $26, Earshot Member $26, Student $10, Military $10
DAY OF SHOW TICKET PRICES:  Adult $33, Senior (60+) $31, Earshot Member $31, Student $10, Military $10

Welcomed by KNKX.

Across over 25 albums as a leader or co-leader, endless miles on the road, and countless hours in the studio, pianist Orrin Evans has always followed an original path. While the past year has seen him receive accolades as both the newest member of The Bad Plus, and leader of his Captain Black Big Band, his brilliance as a pianist and composer has been plainly evident from the very beginning of his career.

Evans is also a widely respected bandleader with a gift for finding young, meteoric talent. With a Grammy-Award nomination for his album Presence, and his newfound adventure in The Bad Plus, Evans’ prodigious talents are finally being recognized broadly, and given their due.

Drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts may be the best known drummer in jazz. He gained great visibility at a young age, playing in the dynamic and groundbreaking quintet of Wynton Marsalis in the 1980’s. His 25-year association with saxophonist Branford Marsalis yielded a treasure trove of recordings, as well as a three-year stint as the drummer on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Watts’ solo projects tend to be adventurous in a polyrhythmic sense, as are his musical partnerships over the years with the likes of McCoy Tyner, Geri Allen, and George Cables to name but a few.

he piano trio is perhaps the most expressive format in jazz. It strips the music down to its core elements, making rhythmic and melodic movement and shapes more pliable and movable. In the wrong hands, it can sound like a retread of piano trios since the dawn of Bill Evans. In the right hands, as in those of Evans, it can be a potent force illuminating paths of imagination and invention. The often percussive nature of Evans’ playing, and the iconic rhythmic impulses of Watts should result in many revolutions around a common center. $10-33. For details visit earshot.org.

Makaya McCraven

ADVANCE TICKET PRICES: Adult $24, Senior (60+) $22, Earshot Member $22, Student $10, Military $10.
DAY OF SHOW TICKET PRICES:Adult $29, Senior (60+) $27, Earshot Member $17, Student $10, Military $10.

One of the most talked-about musicians in jazz, 36-year-old, genre-bending drummer Makaya McCraven has been doing what few jazzers can do these days—draw a young crowd. Deeply steeped in hip-hop, straight-ahead jazz, the avant-garde, and R&B, McCraven has been called “urgent and fresh” by Rolling Stone, which rightly dubbed his work “brainy beat music.” McCraven wowed crowds at his Earshot concert at the Royal Room this past April, seemingly inspired by the hard-hitting rock drumming of Tony Williams of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, as well as hip-hop and African drumming.

Born in Paris and raised in Western Massachusetts, McCraven was mentored as a young man by jazz avantgardists Archie Shepp and Yusef Lateef, who played with his father, drummer Stephen McCraven.

By middle school, he’d formed a band with friends which backed up his mother, Agnes Zsigmondi’s Jewish folk songs. In high school, Makaya led a band that played jazz-influenced hip hop and once opened a show for Digable Planets, the groundbreaking hip-hop group founded by now Seattle-based Ishmael Butler (Butler performs with his latest project, Knife Knights, on October 16 at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute).

McCraven attracted a lot of early attention in the U.K. and has collaborated with Sons of Kemet sax man Shabaka Hutchings. The New York Times has called McCraven, “one of the best arguments for jazz’s vitality.” While that may be true, McCraven does not see himself as part of any movement meant to make jazz “more relevant” by mixing it with club beats. On the contrary, he approaches the genres as equally primary.

After a stint at the University of Massachusetts, he moved with his wife to Chicago and found his aesthetic home at the jam sessions at the Velvet Lounge, Fred Anderson’s fabled southside club, where many musical languages were spoken fluently. By 2012, The Chicago Reader was calling McCraven “one of the city’s most versatile and in demand drummers.” Since then, he has produced five albums: Split Decisions (2012), In the Moment (2015), Highly Rare (2017), Where We Come From (CHICAGOxLONDON Mixtape) (2018) and Universal Beings (2018).

In the Moment, composed of meticulously edited, looped and altered tapes of his band’s live performances, was a breakthrough. It was named album of the week on BBC 6 Radio and wound up on 2015 “best of” lists at the Los Angeles Times, the NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, and Apple Music. Universal Beings was named one of the best albums of 2018 by the New York Times.

Though editing and electronics are significant parts of his process, McCraven is fanatically committed to the sound and feel of live music bouncing off the walls and the crowd. At his spring performance in Seattle, he created an intense vibe that recalled the spirit if not the letter of Pharoah Sanders, hooking up ferociously on the one with bassist Junius Paul. Personnel for this festival gig have not yet been announced, but you can count on McCraven and his band to set the vibe. $10–29. For details visit earshot.org.

Julian Lage Trio

TICKET PRICES: $22-25. 21+

Presented by Seattle Theatre Group.

From an early age, guitarist Julian Lage has wowed audiences as someone “who can enact thoughts and impulses as they receive them” (The New Yorker). For his newest album, Love Hurts, recorded with Dave King (drums) and Jorge Roeder (bass), he makes his own explorations of American music in the 1960s and 70s. Among his many projects as a leader, Love Hurts completes his trilogy of Americana recordings, following Arclight (2016), and Modern Lore (2018).

Classically trained at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a graduate of Berklee College of Music, Lage has developed from a Mozartian prodigy to mature maestro, matching minds in high-profile duos with experimental guitarist Nels Cline, bluegrass guitarist Chris Eldridge, and pianist Fred Hersch. He’s joined Gary Burton, John Zorn, Kris Davis, and others, with what DownBeat describes as an “incisive musicality and clean fretwork [that] go a long way to bridging aesthetic divides.”

For his Seattle performance, Lage is joined by King on drums and in-demand New York bassist Chris Tordini. King’s energies overflow across New York’s downtown scene, in projects including The Bad Plus and Broken Shadows with saxophonist Tim Berne. He and Tordini collaborated with saxophonist/clarinetist Chris Speed, whose album Platinum on Tap (Intakt) was a DownBeat Editor’s Pick in 2017. Tordini, longtime low-end theorist with drummer/composer Tyshawn Sorey, has played and recorded in bands led by Steve Lehman, Ari Hoenig, Jim Black, and others. 21+ $22–25. For details visit earshot.org.

Afro-Electric: Val Jeanty & Ravish Momin / Fay Victor & Myra Melford

ADVANCE TICKET PRICES: Adult $28, Senior (60+) $26, Earshot Member $26, Student $10, Military $10
DAY OF SHOW TICKET PRICES:  Adult $33, Senior (60+) $31, Earshot Member $31, Student $10, Military $10

Welcomed by KBCS.

Turning Jewels Into Water is the transformative project between Indian-born drummer and producer Ravish Momin and Haitian percussionist and spinner of “Vodou electronica,” Val Jeanty (Val-Inc). The two met in New York City in 2017 at Pioneer Works, while Momin was an artist-in-residence, and have since recorded two EPs, Which Way Is Home? (2018) and Map of Absences (2019).

While the duo’s process is forward-thinking— plumbing the creative depths of digital potential through techniques like outfitting acoustic drums with Sensory Percussion triggers and using Force Sensing Resistor drum pads—the resulting layers of electro-acoustic beats create a hypnotic soundscape that emphasizes the ancient relationship of ritual to creation.

Momin received private instruction from master-drummer Andrew Cyrille while working as a civil engineer in New York in the late 1990s. In 2003, Momin switched focus full time to being a professional musician and has since worked with such legends ranging from avant-saxophonist Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre to pop-icon Shakira.

Jeanty was raised in Bizoton Fontamara, Haiti. Speaking on her practice, Jeanty told Voices from Haiti, “I use these electronic tools, but the music is spiritual…It’s the kind of sound that gives your spirit freedom to roam.”

Through improvisational traditions rooted in jazz and Indian folk music, Jeanty and Momin reflect on “the regressive state of human rights, deepening refugee crises and the worsening impacts of climate change worldwide” and imagine a better, free-flowing future.

Opening: Avant-garde vocalist Fay Victor and pianist Myra Melford.
$10–33. For details visit earshot.org.

DJ J-Justice / Afrocop w/ visuals by blazinspace

TICKET PRICES: Adult $16, Senior (60+) $14, Earshot Member $14, Student $10, Military $10

Arguably, there’s no one more qualified to kick-off this Sunday night DJ series than Seattle’s J-Justice, who has dedicated twenty years to “music with soul”—from house to boogie, disco to jazz, techno to hip-hop. J-Justice has become an indispensable participant in Seattle nightlife. Best known as a founding member of acclaimed DJ crew SunTzu Sound and co-host of the 91.3 KBCS Friday night radio show “City Soul,” J-Justice is driven by a faithful following in Seattle and beyond.

Then, it’s a spacey synth-and-beats journey with Seattle composer and keyboardist Noel Brass Jr. and his Afrocop trio: Carlos Tullos (bass and baritone guitar) and Andy Sells (drums and percussion).

The trio explores ambient realms that veer toward intuition, and sublime dreamy movements. The improvisational aspects of jazz are as much an element of inspiration as are elements of punk, electronic music, gospel, afrobeat, funk, soul, and psych.

“We make people feel psychedelic,” says keyboardist Noel Brass Jr. The jazz-ish trio has garnered plenty of attention, The Stranger comments that Brass Jr.’s kaleidoscopic tone poetry is a range from beatific to strident, touching on the crucial work of Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett during their Miles Davis tenures, John Medeski, and Wolfgang Dauner.

A favorite from last year’s festival, Afrocop is back with loud splashes of light and color by “Video Jockey” blazinspace. 21+. $10 –16. For details visit earshot.org.

Youn Sun Nah

TICKET PRICES: Adult $34, Senior (60+) $32, Earshot Member $32, Student $10, Military $10. Available through the Triple Door.

Welcomed by KBCS.

The daughter of a choir conductor and a musical actress, South Korean singer Youn Sun Nah is at home on stage. Through worldwide tours, gold records, and accolades from the governments of France and Korea, she is celebrated by audiences and critics alike.

Her education includes time spent in France at the National Institute of Music at Beauvais. It was through competitions and festivals where she steadily garnered accolades playing in a trio with guitarist Ulf Wakenius, accordionist Vincent Peirani, and bassist Simon Tailleu.

Her newest release, Immersion, continues her eclectic approach covering everything from American folk music, to Leonard Cohen, to the Supremes. Of her 2013 release Lento, Medium wrote that “there are moments… that take the listeners breath away…every jazz singer should give this album a listen.”

She is joined by producer Tomek Miernowski (guitars, piano, synthesizer) and Brad Jones (bass). Miernowski shares Sun Nah’s showbiz savvy, having produced and performed for TV and radio and worked with the likes of Mos Def, Chris Thile, and others.

Youn Sun Nah sings with stylistic abandon that reflects her expansive personality and wide experience, uniting traditions from Korea, French chanson, and her own take on hits that range from Joni Mitchell to Nine Inch Nails. She’s able to move “seamlessly… between impressionistic high drama, abstract improv, or a folk artist’s candid simplicity” (The Guardian). $10–39. For details visit earshot.org.


Posted on

October 3, 2019