Festival Previews, Week 3

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Festival Previews, Week 3

Jazmmeia Horn photo by Jacob Blickenstaff

An Evening with Pat Metheny w/ Antonio Sánchez, Linda May Oh & Gwilym Simcock

Sunday, October 21, 7pm | Admiral Theatre, Bremerton
$105 main floor | $85 Loge | $55 balcony | $35 upper balcony

Presented by Bremerton’s Admiral Theatre.

The incomparable jazz legend Pat Metheny has an uncanny ability to assemble stellar bands. His latest features longtime drummer Antonio Sánchez, star bassist Linda Oh, and British piano revelation Gwilym Simcock.

First inspired by Wes Montgomery (he credits the live 1965 collaboration with Wynton Kelly Trio, Smokin’ at the Half Note, for teaching him how to play), it wasn’t until Metheny heard Ornette Coleman’s 1968 album New York Is Now! that he was inspired to branch out from Montgomery’s signature style and truly find his own voice as a guitarist.

The winner of 20 Grammy awards (the only person to win Grammys in 10 categories) and in 2018 the recipient of title of NEA Jazz Master, Metheny is a musical force of nature. He has been dazzling jazz fans since the 1976 release of his debut album, Bright Size Life.

He began performing with the Pat Metheny Group in 1978, and the band had their first major success when their second album, American Garage, made it to the top of the Billboard Jazz chart.

Metheny has worked in numerous styles and settings with apparent ease. In 1985, for example, his Pat Metheny group collaborated with David Bowie on the single “This Is Not America” for the soundtrack of the film The Falcon and the Snowman. The single was another hit; it reached number 14 in the British Top 40 in and made it to number 32 in the U.S.

His collaborators are numerous and include Joni Mitchell, Bill Frisell, Lyle Mays, Billy Higgins, Brad Mehldau, Charlie Haden, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Dewey Redman, Eberhard Weber, Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette, Jaco Pastorius, John Scofield, Joshua Redman, Marc Johnson, Michael Brecker, Mick Goodrick, Roy Haynes, Steve Swallow, Tony Williams… The list goes on and on.

Metheny also has a long history of impressive guitar experimentation. In addition to mastering the standard 6-string and 12-string guitars, he has played a custom-made 42-string “Pikasso I” created by Canadian luthier Linda Manzer. An astonishing instrument, the Pikasso is featured on Metheny’s albums Quartet, Imaginary Day, Jim Hall & Pat Metheny, and Trio Live, and the live DVDs Speaking of Now Live and Imaginary Day.

He was also at the forefront of synthesizer use among jazz guitarists, pioneering use of the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synthesizer, of which he said: “You have to stop thinking about it as a guitar, because it no longer is a guitar.”

Since 1976, Pat Metheny has created nearly 50 albums of music. Most recently, he released Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny with jazz trumpeter Cuong Vu (and fellow Earshot Jazz Festival 2018 performer—see October 22, below). The collaboration was regarded warmly, landing on the AllMusic list of Favorite Jazz Albums of 2016, which noted, “Together, the quartet plays a set of original songs that straddle the line between ambient tone poems, exploratory modal jazz, and punk-inflected noise jams.”

Clave Gringa

Sunday, October 21, 7:30pm | The Royal Room
$18 adults | $16 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military

Fusing American jazz with Cuban and Afro-Cuban music is the Seattle-based band Clave Gringa, led by composer, vocalist, and pianist Ann Reynolds. She 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.

“As a pianist she has a distinct light and airy voice marked by brightness and a genteel tone… Her playing is informed by an ability to turn the most complex phrases into beautiful and simple acts of music” (Latin Jazz Network).

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.

Expect to be entranced and invigorated by dance-provoking music (“Cuban popular music is really about getting people to dance,” says Reynolds, a dancer herself) with both original compositions by Reynolds as well as the band’s take on Cuban classics, from the charm of the cha-cha-cha to deep veins of less familiar AfroCuban rhythms.

Reynolds’ project, she says, is part musical, part friendship between peoples, beyond politics: “Although we have been separated by embargo for so many years, the Cubans have always made it clear to me that they love Americans (and all things from the US) and want to be friends–it is our governments that don’t get along.”

Tribute to Dave Lewis featuring D’Vonne Lewis and Friends

Sunday, October 21, 8pm | Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center
$22 adults | $20 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military

Co-presented with Langston.

Drummer/composer/bandleader D’Vonne Lewis is like a whirlwind—seamlessly surging from project to project, from gig to gig, like no other musician in Seattle. While he may be the most in-demand player on the Seattle jazz scene, he manages to uphold a standard of artful creativity, as well as a family tradition of musicianship that spans four generations.

Lewis’ grandfather, Dave Lewis, was a transformative figure in the history of music in Seattle, both for his impact as a musician and as a pioneering force to integrate music in the city. On this evening at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, his grandson pays tribute to his musical and sociological impact in a very personal way.

The elder Lewis made his mark with an instrumental brand of rock and roll that found its way into West Coast dance halls in the ‘50s and ‘60s. His trademark style on the Hammond B-3 organ produced regional hits such as “Little Green Thing” and “David’s Mood,” but never received acclaim on a national level. His sound is largely unknown to younger generations. For D’Vonne, this performance not only aims to bridge that generational gap, but provides an avenue for him to express his respect and love for his grandfather’s legacy.

Seattle B-3 master Joe Doria will take the elder Lewis’ chair for this performance, joined by guitarist Andy Coe and Lewis on drums. Special guests are anticipated for this performance set in the very neighborhood that spawned the “Seattle Sound” of Dave Lewis. For one evening at Langston Hughes, the musical legacy of the Lewis family takes center stage.

Garfield High School Jazz Band

Monday, October 22, 7:30pm | Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute
$20 adults | $18 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military

The Garfield High School Jazz Band returns for the 2018 festival as part of this year’s Jazz at Langston series. The presentation brings together two cultural forces of the Central District and city of Seattle.

Thanks to the leadership of Director Clarence Acox over the last 45 years, the name Garfield has become synonymous with excellence in high school jazz. An instrumental figure within the Seattle jazz scene, Acox has won many accolades including induction into the DownBeat Jazz Education Hall of Fame last year. He was inducted into the Earshot Jazz Hall of Fame way back in 1994.

A hallmark of his conducting style — equal parts musical inspiration and inspirational teaching — is to give every one of his teenage charges their moment in the spotlight, all while each of them contributes to the glorious unit that is a big band in full flight.

Since Acox founded the jazz program in 1979, the Garfield Jazz Ensemble has won nearly every major competition on the West Coast, and taken first place four times (2003, 2004, 2009, 2010) at New York’s Essentially Ellington National Jazz Band Competition at New York City’s Lincoln Center—the country’s most prestigious high school jazz competition.

Each year he turns out a polished band, and each year he turns up some stellar instrumentalists.

Cuong Vu & Indigo Mist featuring George Garzone

Monday, October 23, 7:30pm | The Royal Room
$20 adults | $18 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military/veterans

Initially the brainchild of electroacoustic pioneer/composer Richard Karpen and trumpeter Cuong Vu, Indigo Mist has expanded to become a vehicle for the musical explorations of a group of forward-reaching artists who embrace experimentation.

In addition to Karpen, a pianist, renowned electro-acoustic composer, and director of the School of Music at the UW, and Cuong Vu, the group includes fellow members of the University of Washington music faculty whose musical interests, while disparate, somehow magically jell in this setting: Juan Pampin, electro-acoustic composer and director of the university’s cutting-edge DXArts program; Ted Poor, a prodigious drummer with a vast array of credits including Bill Frisell; and, remarkably, Steve Rodby—a 15-Grammy Award-winning bassist and producer best known for his three decades with the Pat Metheny Group beginning in 1981, who is now artist-in-residence at the UW music program.

Invited into Indigo Mist’s UW fold, for this concert, is world-renowned tenor saxophone improviser George Garzone, whose musical concepts and immense impact have had a profound influence on generations of jazz saxophonists. Garzone, also a leading jazz educator in the Boston area, is celebrated for, among other accomplishments, carrying forward the innovations of the late saxophone titan John Coltrane. “Like Trane,” Mark Corroto write on All About Jazz, “his music resonates from what must be a warm and beautiful soul.” Expect Garzone to push the group into unchartered, exhilarating territory.

Indigo Mist already is out in unchartered terrain. Critics described its 2014 recording as “gorgeous, far out, haunting, and evocative…in a word: special” (Outside Inside Out) and “mysterious, provocative, fanciful” (Something Else).

Jazzmeia Horn

Tuesday, October 23, 8pm | Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center
$22 adults | $20 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military

Co-presented with Langston.

“Jazzmeia Horn IS the future of Jazz!” the legendary, late producer Larry Rosen once proclaimed of the superb vocalist, whose electrifying stage presence has won her the Thelonious Monk Vocal Jazz prize and the hearts of every audience she’s regaled.

Reared in Dallas churches and steeped in the spirit of Betty Carter, “every word, gesture, and ornament becomes an expression of her total conviction” (London Jazz News). Following a stellar appearance at this year’s Jazz Port Townsend, Jazzmeia Horn returns to the Pacific Northwest, along with her band of Victor Gold (piano), Barry Stephenson (bass), and Henry Conerway III (drums).

Winner of the 2015 Thelonious Monk International Vocal Jazz Competition and 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, Jazzmeia Horn has a name that captures her essence. Intent on pursuing a solo career, Horn graced the New York scene from 2009 and earned her degree in jazz and contemporary music at The New School in Manhattan. Sooner after, she began performing with Winard Harper, Junior Mance, Billy Harper, Vincent Gardner, Delfeayo Marsalis, and many others. She then began to appear at leading jazz festivals and legendary jazz clubs such as The Blue Note, Minton’s, and The Jazz Standard. Her accolades include DownBeat Student Music Award Recipient 2008 and 2009 and Best Vocal Jazz Soloist Winner 2010, The 2013 Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program at The Kennedy Center, the Rising Star Award for the 2012 Sarah Vaughan International Vocal Jazz Competition, Finalist for Mid-Atlantic Jazz Vocal Competition 2014, and the 2015 16th Annual Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium’s Young Lioness Award.

Currently, Horn is a teaching artist in The NJPAC Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens Program and Jazz In The Schools Program in Newark, New Jersey. She also appears in various clubs on the jazz scene nationally and internationally leading her dynamic group The Artistry of Jazz Horn.

Neil Welch: Concepcion Picciotto

Tuesday, October 23, 8pm | Chapel Performance Space at Good Shepherd Center
$18 adults | $16 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military

For many people, the name “Concepcion Picciotto” might not ring a bell. Yet from August 1981 until her death in 2016, at the age of 80, Picciotto, a Spanish-born activist, camped on a street right outside the White House in a vigil—the longest standing protest in US history—protesting the proliferation of nuclear arms.

Inspired by Picciotto’s life-sized act of conviction, Seattle-based saxophonist and composer Neil Welch presents a new work for large ensemble; he opens his program with his solo work Puhpohwee.

One of Welch’s most ambitious works to date, Concepcion Picciotto is scored for an ensemble of saxophones, rhythm section, and string trio, with mezzo-soprano vocal and tenor saxophone soloists. Contrasts between solo and ensemble sections are accented with Welch’s dynamic orchestral mimesis of Picciotto’s vigil, while saxophone multiphonics—multiple notes produced as a chord on a single pitch instrument—are written as part of the orchestration itself.

It’s easy to expect such thoughtful innovations from Welch, half of longtime Seattle avant-jazz duo Bad Luck with drummer Chris Icasiano, and member of Luke Berman’s Haitian Voodoo-inspired group King Tears Bat Trip. After thriving in the music program at the University of Washington, Welch traveled to India where he studied traditional classical music with Pandit Debi Prasad Chatterjee. With six albums released on Table & Chairs, where he was once an organizer, Welch has managed to tour nationwide all while keeping a remark- able presence in the local scene as an artist and educator.

Awarded Golden Ear Emerging Artist of the Year in 2009 and a Jack Straw Residency in 2017, Welch has embarked on previous solo projects, including 12 Moons, a recording documenting solo improvisations daily over the course of a year. Concepcion Picciotto forms a new musical extension to his unmistakably fervent and endlessly exploratory voice, usually heard on soprano, tenor, and C melody saxophones.

Audiences can expect a new, rebelliously political expression of “an impassioned tenor player” (DownBeat) of “an impassioned tenor player” (DownBeat) stretching out in new directions.

Tom Harrell Quartet

Wednesday, October 24, 8pm | Seattle Art Museum, Plestcheeff Auditorium
$24 adults | $22 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military/veterans

The legendary Tom Harrell, instantly recognizable for the burnished sound of his trumpet and flugelhorn, presents the unparalleled harmonic and rhythmic sophistication of his playing and writing with regular bandmates Ugonna Okegwo (bass) and Adam Cruz (drums).

This time around, the quartet is completed with a true emerging giant of Cuban piano jazz, Da- vid Virelles, DownBeat’s 2017 piano Rising Star.

“A supreme trumpet/flugelhorn player, Tom Harrell has an endless flow of bubbling, intricate ideas conveyed with an almost serene delivery,” said Mojo Magazine. His recordings prove his “equal ability as a formidable post-bop composer”—“from dangerous tear-ups…to near abstract… to conventional balladry…Harrell is a master.”

His selection this year as the Jazz Journalists Association Trumpeter of the Year comes as no surprise, more than five decades and 280 recordings into a stellar career. The innovative and resourceful Harrell paid his dues with the likes of Horace Silver, Bill Evans, Phil Woods, and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Orchestra, to name but a few. From there, his career has flowed along multiple currents of the jazz tradition. He has been acclaimed for his prolific abilities as an arranger and composer for larger ensembles and small. His performance at Earshot 2018 allows us to experience his dynamic sound in a quartet setting. “Being the only horn gives me the opportunity to take a different approach to phrasing,” says Harrell.” It allows for some freedom to embellish the melody. As a writer, I wanted to explore the resources of the quartet with piano, bass, drums and trumpet.”

So deep now into a fabled career, Harrell has managed to stay fresh, current, and active. His music is at once intelligent, soulful, fresh, and accessible. No matter the size of the group he works with, he deftly weaves complex and innovative harmonies with daring rhythmic concepts and unforgettable melodies.

For any great bandleader, playing with young, on-the-rise musicians can be a creative breath of fresh air. The addition of pianist Virelles to the band promises to be a new jumping-off point for Harrell’s warm and imaginative trumpet style. Virelles represents a new school of modern Cuban pianists. Combined with the far-reaching modernism of Harrell, the results should be magical.

James Brandon lewis Trio/ Gary Hammon’s Last of the Tribe

Wednesday, October 24, 8pm | Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center
$18 adults | $16 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military

Co-presented with Langston.

The powerful New York City-based tenor saxophonist carries the torch of today’s Black avant-garde with the verve and drive of bassist Luke Stewart and drummer Warren “Trae” Crudup III. Raised in the church in Buffalo, New York, James Brandon Lewis has earned a reputation not only in jazz but also gospel and R&B. Ebony Magazine hailed him as one of the “7 Young Players to Watch” and it is his versatility as well as passionate approach that have drawn attention.

In jazz, he leads several groups and has also worked with a stylistically diverse range of well-known figures, many of them among the more adventurous, such as William Parker, Hamiet Bluiett, Ravi Coltrane, Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas, and Marc Ribot. He echoes other champions of independent musical thought and performance like James Blood Ulmer and Ornette Coleman, all while “not clearly evoking a particular past” (New York Times). He is steeped in the tradition so profoundly that tenor legend Sonny Rollins has observed that he had the “potential to do great things, having listened to the elders.”

Drummer Warren “Trae” Crudup III, who also came up playing in church, told The Washington Post that his models were diverse, including not Elvin Jones, Milford Graves, and Paul “Buggy” Edwards. Crudup and Mississippi-raised, Washington, DC-resident bassist Luke Stewart work as a “heady yet emotionally transcendental duo” (DownBeat) that thrives on “scalding, cathartic surges of energy.”

Opening the evening are five Seattle masters who are kindred souls of Lewis and Co. In his Last of the Tribe, veteran saxophonist Gary Hammon features fellow saxophonist Booker T. Williams and trumpeter Nathan Breedlove, with a rhythm section of bassist Phil Sparks and drummer Adam Kessler. Hammon, a renowned Seattle “saxophone colossus,” grew up in the Central District and began playing tenor saxophone as a junior at Garfield before gigging around Seattle clubs. He then was in the first cohort of African-American jazz students admitted to the New England Conservatory of Music, in 1969, and went on to work in New York with the likes of Big John Patton, Ray Charles, Jaki Byard, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Stevie Wonder, and many other key figures in jazz and R&B. He has been back in Seattle for several years, teaching jazz at Ballard High School and performing relatively infrequently. In recent months, however, he has been back on the scene, encouraged by Nathan Breedlove, who says of Hammon’s reemergence: “People really sense the real thing when they see/hear it.”

Memphis-reared, two-time Grammy-nominated trumpeter/composer Nathan Breedlove has performed over the years with a vast array of the more adventurous and original figures in jazz, including statesmen like Art Blakey and adventurers in the Black avant-garde such as Cecil Taylor. He spent several years working in European cities, and has also been a traveler among musical styles, at one time a member of the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, and a frontman for the The Skatalites. Over the years, Breedlove has also spent long stretches in or near Seattle, and has worked here memorably with the likes of Hadley Caliman, Julian Priester, Buddy Catlett, and Bert Wilson. Seattle owes him huge gratitude for getting Gary Hammon back on the scene, too. He has done that so successfully that another icon, Booker T. Williams Jr., tenor saxophonist and flutist, also has joined their band. With Last of the Tribe, the pulse of a rich, deep vein of Seattle cultural life beats strong.

Allos Musica

Thursday, October 25, 7pm & 9:30pm | Seattle Art Museum
$22 adults | $20 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military/veterans

“I’m interested in the space where freedom liberates form and form contextualizes freedom,” Chicagoan-turned-Seattleite clarinetist, composer, and educator James Falzone has remarked on his approach to music. Chair of Music at Cornish College of the Arts since 2017, Falzone’s spiritual depth and intellectual curiosity have affected students and audiences alike, and takes living form with his acoustic group, Allos Musica.

Founded in 2006, the group features Falzone (clarinet and launeddas, a Sardinian three-pipe woodwind), Jeremiah McLane (accordion), Ronnie Malley (oud, harmonium, voice), and Tim Mulvenna (percussion). Drawing from the improvisational structures of jazz, the formal challenges of contemporary classical music, and the scales, modes, and moods of the Middle East and Europe, the quartet finds cross streets that are continents away. “When they launch into a tune,” writes Robert Rodi for Newcity, “the time zones drop away, the centuries, too.”

Allos Musica’s first release, 2010’s Lamentations, grew compositionally from Falzone’s interest in Arabic aesthetics, and drew on Malley’s and Mulvenna’s sympathetic graces. Malley, a multi-instrumentalist, educator, and theatrical performer, understood well the material’s dramatic yearning and mounting joy. A composer of plays such as Ziryab, the Songbird of Andalusia, he has also produced and performed in works such as The Sultan’s Dilemma. Mulvenna, another maestro of Chicago, marks fine nuances with the touch of a veteran who has played with the likes of Ken Vandermark, John Abercrombie, and Roscoe Mitchell.

Falzone’s rotating ensemble expanded for 2016’s Gnossienne, for which, in a nod to the Eastern-inspired French composer Debussy, the trio was joined by Jeremiah McLane. Born in New England and raised on jazz before studying the gamelan and traveling Europe, McLane’s taste for folk—his band Le Bon Vent specializes in Breton and French music—shifts the ensemble’s sphere into new directions. From these disparate pieces, the mysterious draw of Allos, Greek for “other,” emerges in the new synthesis of Falzone’s ensemble—an unknown worth getting to know.

Allos Musica’s “emotional clarity and lyrical grace are universal,” said the Chicago Reader.

Michael Powers / Deems Tsutakawa

Thursday, October 25, 8pm | Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center
$18 adults | $16 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military/veterans

Co-presented with Langston.

For more than three decades and across over half a dozen albums as a bandleader, Seattle contemporary jazz legend Michael Powers has dazzled music fans with his chops and his grooves, which sway from easy blues to funk and jazz. His current band features Ronnie Bishop on drums and Douglas Barnett on bass.

Guitar wasn’t Powers’ first love— that was skateboarding. Powers picked up the guitar as therapy after a skateboarding injury as a teenager and it’s been a focus of his life ever since. He left his native New York City for Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts, where he studied under Gil Evans and Sam Rivers, bassist Gary Peacock, pianist Art Lande, and trombonist Julian Priester. In 1982, he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Composition and Performance.

Since then, he’s performed and recorded with some of the biggest names in music across a variety of genres, including Herbie Hancock, Eddie “Clean Head” Vinson, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Gil Scott Heron, Keiko Matsui, Nancy Wilson, Les McCann, Najee, and many, many more.

The Tacoma News Tribune said of Powers: “His technique is stunning, but he never employs it at the expense of the musicality of the melodic line. Blues has always been at the core ofMichael’s inspiration and expression.”

Opening is another Seattle institution, keyboardist Deems Tsutakawa, a performer who has carved his own place in Seattle’s music scene while continuing his family’s long, prized dynasty in Seattle art and culture.

A true Seattle native, Tsutakawa has been playing piano since the age of five and won his first award for performing when he was just nine years old. He has performed with Kenny G, Roy Ayers, Tony Gable, and Julian Priester, to name a few, and has opened for Spyro Gyra, Hiroshima, Maynard Ferguson, and more.

Deems says: “My music is accessible to most people because it’s not harsh or frantic. It’s a smooth groove, a style of music that comes across peaceful and makes you feel good.”

Brandee Younger / Gretchen Yanover

Friday, October 26, 8pm | Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center
$22 adults | $20 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military/veterans

Co-presented with Langston.

Of harpist Brandee Younger, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane has said: “No harpist thus far has been more capable of combining all of the modern harp traditions—from Salzedo, through Dorothy Ashby, through Alice Coltrane—with such strength, grace, and commitment.” Young shares a double bill with the extraordinary cellist Gretchen Yanover.

Born in Hempstead, New York, Younger studied classical music at The Hartt School, but moved to improvised music at the behest of the late Jackie McLean. Since then, she has blazed a trail of her own, working with popular artists such as Lauryn Hill, John Legend, Drake, and Mack Wilds, along with jazz legends Pharoah Sanders, Charlie Haden, and Reggie Workman. Produced by Casey Benjamin of the Robert Glasper Experiment, her 2016 album Wax and Wane (featuring Seattle-reared flutist Anne Drummond) paid tribute to Coltrane and Ashby through a contemporary lens.

Benjamin said of the project. “I can’t think of a better person than Brandee to channel the true essence and continue the lineage of Ms. Ashby’s work through her own voice, spirit, and experience.

Younger said: “I wanted to place the harp in a totally different context than what listeners are generally accustomed to and continue to position the harp in a way that’s relevant today.”

Like-minded cellist Gretchen Yanover, a Seattle native, moved similarly from the classical world into improvisation, pairing her daring instrumental skill with electronic looping to poignant and transformative effect. She has brought the emotional depth of her playing to varied projects: recording classical symphonies with the Northwest Sinfonietta, playing with the indie rock band Built to Spill, and advancing the singular vision of violist Eyvind Kang. She plays in the multi-chamber project, Different Drummer, and has released three solo albums to date.

“The invention is wonderful, the textures meltingly beautiful,” conductor David Lockington said of her first album, Bow and Cello.

Randy Halberstadt Septet: Open Hear CD Release

Friday, October 26, 7:30pm | Poncho Concert Hall, Kerry Hall, Cornish College of the Arts
$18 adults | $16 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military/veterans

Co-presented with Cornish Presents.

Pianist/composer Randy Halberstadt has been a major force on the Seattle jazz scene for over 40 years, both as an educator at the esteemed Cornish College of the Arts and as a highly regarded pianist. His tenure at Cornish, and his time holding down the piano chair with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra have been his most visible contributions to the jazz scene in Seattle.

His performance at the festival is, as Halberstadt calls it, a “harmonic convergence” of happy coincidences. The concert will celebrate his first CD release in eight years, occurring just after his announced retirement from Cornish, and, in fact, taking place at PONCHO Concert Hall on the Cornish campus.

Halberstadt will perform original music from his upcoming release, Open Heart (Origin, 2018), as well as a variety of standards. Joining him will be six of the city’s best, creating a formidable septet. Included is bassist Chuck Deardorf, a longtime colleague at Cornish, as well as a valued musical collaborator. “My relationship with Chuck Deardorf goes back to even before I started teaching at Cornish in 1977,” says Halberstadt. “I kind of alternate between thinking of him as a colleague/friend/brother and thinking of him as a god.”

The frontline features three of the true giants of Seattle jazz. Jay Thomas has been amazing jazz audiences internationally for over 40 years, and does so with the rare ability to play brilliantly on both brass and woodwind instruments. Saxophonist Mark Taylor has gained international prominence both as a leader and sideman. Trombonist David Marriott Jr. has thrilled audiences with his compositions and arrangements, as well as his adept skills on trombone. Cornish alumnus Adam Kessler adds his intuitive skills on drums, while vibraphonist Ben Thomas brings another dimension, previously unexplored by the veteran pianist.

Halberstadt’s acute listening skills, and unquestioned sense of swing has made him the perfect pianist for vocalists. His skills have accentuated the talents of such notable vocal artists as Greta Matassa, Ernestine Anderson, Dee Daniels, and Jay Clayton. Open Heart marks his first recording strictly as an instrumentalist since his 2010 release Flash Point (Origin, 2010). His performance at the 2018 Earshot Jazz Festival is indeed a convergence—one not only of happy coincidences, but of varied aspects of Halberstadt’s brilliant career coming home to roost.

Naomi Moon Siegel + Birch Pereira’s Haden Bley Liberation Music Orchestra Tribute

Friday, October 26, 8pm | The Royal Room
$18 adults | $16 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military/veterans

Naomi Moon Siegel, a trombonist and composer of great style and distinction, presents a performance of her small group works, and then collectively with bassist Birch Pereira, delves into the critically acclaimed arrangements of Carla Bley for The Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra.

Siegel, a former Seattle resident, now lives and works in rural Montana. Her latest compositions reflect that major change in lifestyle inspired by closeness to the natural world.

“I’m thrilled to be coming back to Seattle with a new band debuting some brand-new pieces of music from a body of material I’m working on for my next live studio album,” she says. “This new material is a stream-of-consciousness response to living in a small-town closer to the natural world, holding paradox, and all the broken parts that make up wholeness. Playing at The Royal Room feels especially apropos, because it is like my home turf, my musical home. It is a place where I have felt supported to express, reach, collaborate, and connect.”

Her quintet features sensational Barcelona-born pianist Marina Albero, guitarist Andy Coe, Bad Luck drummer Chris Icasiano, and bassist Pereira. For Seattle fans, this performance is an opportunity to catch up with the ever-evolving Siegel, who thrilled festival goers in 2017 in her duo with saxophonist Kate Olson, Syrinx Effect. Her work connects with her audience authentically and honestly.

Bassist Birch Pereira has become largely known for his band The Gin Joints, who explore Prohibition Era jazz and swing. But Pereira’s musical foundation is extensive, beginning as a classical cellist, and then morphing into the jazz world, studying with bass titans Doug Miller and Phil Sparks.

For this performance, Pereira turns to the inspiration he experienced from the groundbreaking 1983 release, The Ballad of The Fallen, by The Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra. The album featured the arrangements of the amazing Carla Bley. “I’m calling it the Haden/Bley LMO because I don’t think she got enough credit for arranging this record,” says Pereira. “I’ve been very inspired by the album, specifically drawn to the arrangements Bley made. She worked traditional and modern songs from countries like El Salvador, Portugal, Chile, and Catalonia seamlessly, with originals by herself and Charlie Haden. I’m presenting side A of the LP, which has seven songs that seamlessly move from one to the other.”

The Liberation Music Orchestra focused on oppression and injustice in different areas of the world, within multiple cultures. Pereira explores the musical expressionism forged by Haden and Bley, utilizing the talents of Albero, Siegel, Icasiano, and Coe, as well as saxophonist Kate Olson.

Featuring original compositions and groundbreaking historical arrangements, Siegel and Pereira seek the commonality between the two, and the inspiration they both proclaim.

Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra w/ Sheryl Bailey

Saturday, October 27, 7:30pm | Rainier Arts Center
$20 adults | $18 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military/veterans

A tribute to guitar virtuoso Emily Remler (1957-1990) with special guest Sheryl Bailey who “combines an astonishing command of the fingerboard with a seemingly endless flow of melodic invention” (Soundstage), this performance by the beloved Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra also features the world premiere of the 2018 Composition Contest winner, A Step To My Dream, by Tracy Yang.

Barbara Hubers-Drake and Ellen Finn formed SWOJO to encourage women to become involved in jazz performance and composition as a career. Since the first rehearsal in January of 2000, the band has appeared at clubs, jazz festivals, and concert halls on two continents and performed with many distinguished artists including Don Lanphere, Mimi Fox, Becca Duran, Susan Pascal, Nelda Swiggett, Greta Matassa, Gail Pettis, Kelley Johnson, Hazel Leach, Jill Townsend, Christine and Ingrid Jensen, Sherrie Maricle, and Grace Kelly.

In this festival performance, they welcome Pittsburgh-born, New York-based jazz guitarist and educator Sheryl Bailey. Bailey originally set out to become a rock guitarist, but switched to jazz after hearing Wes Montgomery on the radio. She studied at Berklee College of Music, where she now teaches. Just Jazz Guitar has ranked her “among the best bop guitar players with a fresh approach and something new,” while DownBeat has called her “one of the new greats of her chosen instrument.”

 

Jakob Bro Trio

Saturday, October 27, 8pm | Seattle Art Museum
$24 adults | $22 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military/veterans

The Jakob Bro Trio, based out of Copenhagen, brings its darkly intense yet texturally ethereal sound to Seattle.

The Danish guitarist, who apprenticed with Paul Motian and Tomasz Stanko, has found a home at the vaunted ECM label. His current project, the Jakob Bro Trio, features avant-garde jazz drummer Joey Baron (also known for his work with Bill Frisell and John Zorn) and bass phenom Thomas Morgan (who has performed with Bill Frisell and Paul Motian). The trio performs uplifting compositions that The Guardian described as both “highly melodic and unpredictably dramatic” and full of “laid-back character.”

Streams, their highly acclaimed debut album released in 2016, was lauded for its “spherical, beautiful and melancholic soundscapes” and its “fascinating and original lyricism.”

In addition to his work with the Jakob Bro Trio, Bro is actively working with Palle Mikkelborg and has another project called Bro/Knak, a collaboration with the Danish electronica producer Thomas Knak. Bro is a former member of Paul Motian & The Electric Bebop Band (Garden of Eden, ECM, 2006) and a current member of Tomasz Stanko’s Dark Eyes Quintet (Dark Eyes, ECM, 2009).

Bro’s list of works as a bandleader is expansive. He has released 13 records as a bandleader featuring musicians like Lee Konitz, Bill Frisell, Paul Motian, Kenny Wheeler, Paul Bley, Chris Cheek, Thomas Morgan, George Garzone, Craig Taborn, David Virelles, and many more.

He also boasts numerous awards since 2003, most recently The Carl Prize in 2016 for Jazz Composer of the Year and Danish Music Award for Danish Jazz Album of the Year in 2015 for the album Gefion. In June 2018, he was noted as Rising Star – Guitarist by the 66th Annual DownBeat International Critics Poll.

Bro’s style, marked by “an understated soulfulness” (JazzTimes), guarantees a transporting listening experience.

Madison McFerrin / SassyBlack

Saturday, October 27, 8pm |Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center
$20 adults | $18 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military/veterans

Co-presented with Langston.

Two arresting singer/songwriter/producers in daring solo performance: New Yorker Madison McFerrin deploys “wonderful vocal dexterity, deftly swerving from sharp, clearly enunciated staccato bursts to fluttery, free-form melismata” (New York Times), while Seattle’s SassyBlack (Catherine Harris-White) conjures up “electronic psychedelic soul” and “hologram funk” rooted in classical and jazz music.

Two years ago, New Yorker Madison McFerrin booked her first solo show. It is inherently an extreme idea: performing alone leaves you exposed; it demands a level of rigorous technique and showmanship possessed by very few. Of course, in that regard Madison McFerrin had an ideal role model: her father, Bobby McFerrin. But the younger McFerrin has been spared no challenge while carving out a path for herself distinct from those of the members of her family of celebrated musicians, including not only Bobby McFerrin but also 2017 Earshot Jazz Festival favorite Taylor McFerrin.

McFerrin debuted her vocally lush and layered EP Finding Foundations: Vol. I the same year as her inaugural show. A powerful sequel, Vol. II., was released this past February, and touch- es on themes of self-love and police brutality.

Olivia Horn wrote in Pitchfork: “What she does onstage is inherently risky—being a one-woman band requires a tricky combination of rigorous technique and showmanship. But she’s so eager to befriend her audience, to confide in them, that she willingly makes herself even more vulnerable.”

The wonder is how compellingly she does it.

Opening: One of Seattle’s most exploratory producers, Cat Harris-White, a.k.a. SassyBlack. Many first heard her as one-half of Afrofuturist duo THEESatisfaction or with Shabazz Palaces. Since going solo, SassyBlack’s collection of self-released EPs and LPs have spanned from the soulfully strange No Weak Dates (2016) to this summer’s Wakanda Funk Lounge, embodying Black’s self-coined term “hologram funk.”

Last June, the modern songstress nailed a promising niche with her ‘90s-inspired New Black Swing. Packed with spacious synth and R&B tones, SassyBlack’s signature melody remains front-and-center, falling somewhere between haunting alto harmony and rich silk. She has solidified her knack for tactful tongue-in-cheek lyricism and dishes up her own versions of “pop” love songs loosely woven around the topics of technology and diversifying gender roles.