Festival Previews, Week 5

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Ranky Tanky performs at the 2017 Earshot Jazz Festival

Ranky Tanky photo by Reese Moore

Anton Schwartz Quartet: Tribute to Stanley Turrentine

Sunday, November 5, 7:30pm | Columbia City Theater
$20 adults | $18 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military

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

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

Tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz has long been an admirer of both the soul jazz phenomenon, and of Turrentine himself, both as a composer and improviser. Schwartz utilized the more standard quintet format of piano, bass, drums, trumpet, and saxophone for his latest release, Flash Mob, a release that spent eight weeks in the jazz radio top 10. The quintet was named Northwest Acoustic Jazz Ensemble of the Year of 2016.

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

“Unlike the other saxophonists whom I listened to a lot early on, like John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Turrentine wasn’t considered essential listening,” says Schwartz. “But when I discovered him I was quickly and insufferably addicted. His ridiculously soulful phrasing, his sound that’s at once huge and perfectly detailed, his playing that is so powerful, honest and uplifting.”

Schwartz’ collaborators are a who’s who of the soul-jazz movements in Seattle and Portland. Organist Joe Doria has maintained a legendary residency at Seattle’s Seamonster Lounge with his band McTuff, a combo that features the stylings of soul-jazz organ giant, Jack McDuff. He is also the keyboardist for Michael Schrieve’s Spellbinder, and has performance and recording credits that include Carlos Santana, King Sunny Ade, and Jeff “Tain” Watts. Guitarist Dan Balmer returns to Seattle after being featured this past May at the Ballard Jazz Festival. In 2009 Dan became one of only five Oregonians to be honored with membership in both the Oregon Music Hall of Fame and the Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Fame. He was acclaimed by the Los Angeles Times as, “the model of what a contemporary guitarist should be.” His most recent CD, Thanksgiving (Alternative Jazz, 2006), features New York heavyweights Gary Versace and Matt Wilson in a free-spirited romp through several of Balmer’s compositions.

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

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

Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto: The Unknown

Monday, November 6, Paramount Theatre, 7pm

Presented by Seattle Theatre Group

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

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

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

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

The Bad Plus

Tuesday, November 7, 7pm & 9:30pm | Triple Door
$30 adult | $28 Earshot members & seniors | $15 students & military

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

The Bad Plus is renowned for their radical deconstructions of pop and rock staples such as Queen, Nirvana, and Tears for Fears, as well as more left-field fare like Aphex Twin and intriguing oddities like “(Theme from) Chariots of Fire.” However, the group’s more important contributions have arguably been the tremendous output of original music from all three members, and their telepathic and unique interplay on the bandstand. The trio’s improvisational sound was remarkable even in the beginning of their reign, but 17 years on, it is beyond the level of all but a very few of the finest performing units in jazz history. The Bad Plus explore unusual textures, juxtapositions, and transitions far removed from the typical jazz structure of head-solo-head, opting instead for a collective approach to improvisation around dynamics and structure. Their shows are fiery, with an unpredictable yet rigorously consistent energy.

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

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

Gato Libre

Wednesday, November 8, 7:30pm | Chapel Performance Space
$16 adults | $14 Earshot members & seniors | $8 students & military

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

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

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

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

Giulia Valle Trio

Wednesday, November 8, 8pm | PONCHO Concert Hall
$18 adults | $16 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military

Co-presented with Cornish Presents

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

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

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

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

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

Art of Jazz: Dawn Clement Group

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

Co-presented with Seattle Art Museum

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

Lori Goldston & Judith Hamann

Thursday, November 9, 7:30pm | Chapel Performance Space
$16 adults | $14 Earshot members & seniors | $8 students & military

In support of the Seattle Improvised Music Festival

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

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

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

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

Ranky Tanky

Friday, November 10, 7pm & 9:30pm | Triple Door
$28 adults | $26 Earshot members & seniors | $14 students & military

Join us at Island Soul Restaurant in Columbia City at 2:30 day of show for a “Celebration of Cultural Roots,’ which includes a short performance by Ranky Tanky, panel discussion, and artist meet and greet. Free and open to the public.

Support provided by Washington State Arts Commission; WESTAF, the Western States Arts Federation; and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucian Ban & Elevation: Songs From Afar / Angela Draghicescu

Friday, November 10, 7:30pm | Seattle Art Museum
$35 adults | $33 Earshot members & seniors | $17 students & military

Presented in partnership with The Romanian Cultural Institute in New York

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

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

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

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

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

Dawn Clement: LineUp! / Dawn Clement Duos

Saturday, November 11, 8pm | PONCHO Concert Hall
$18 adults | $16 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military

Co-presented with Cornish Presents

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

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

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

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

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

Taylor McFerrin / SassyBlack / Noel Brass Jr.

Saturday, November 11, 8:30pm | Nectar Lounge
21+ only
$20 adults | $18 Earshot members & seniors | $10 students & military

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

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

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


Posted on

September 30, 2017