Jazz—in many forms and many voices, around the world, from Seattle to Seattle!
The Earshot Jazz Festival 2017 is still in progress as this issue goes to press, and it’s clear that jazz is…more vibrant, cherished, diverse, innovative, respectful, irreverent, connected, singular, spiritual, global, collaborative, studied, radical, refined, serious, joyful, soulful, hard swinging, and Seattle(!) than ever before! The music, the artists, and the audiences have been engaged and engaging on a whole new level through this year’s festival, and it’s clear we’ll come away with a refreshed and enriched definition of what jazz is, inside each of us.
This festival feels different from the inside out. “The living spirit of jazz,” which Langston Hughes once spoke of, is strong this year. The individual soul that each artist brings to the stage seems to be somehow more present, maybe burning brighter, but expressing the self of each musician like strands of DNA wrapped around the notes. Clearly there’s also a lot intellect, skill, and risk involved in what we’re hearing, but the “head and the heart” are in a particularly sweet harmony this year.
This run really felt like a jazz festival. It’s been fantastic to have so much music from Dawn Clement, this year’s featured Seattle artist. She is a jazz festival all her own. And, even though the form of some jazz traditions has shifted slightly—like reefer suddenly manifesting as gummy bears—the tradition of visiting jazz artists showing up on our local scene has been nice. It’s been cool to have artists like Matt Wilson, Joe McPhee, Roxy Coss, Naomi Moon Siegel, and Greg Tate and the Burnt Sugar Arkestra in town for a few days each. We appreciate the enhanced connections that happen when a visiting artist is able to run some workshops, give a talk, show up at jam sessions, and get better acquainted. We look forward to more of that in years to come.
We are so grateful to all of the people and partners who make this festival possible. We’d certainly like to thank all of the artists, audiences, and entities who make this festival such a valued part of Seattle’s cultural calendar. We appreciate our regular volunteers and audience members enormously, and we’re delighted to see many new faces in the crowd. Whether you’re among the (tens of) thousands of new Seattle residents, or are just now acting on your latent jazz impulses, we’re glad you’re here. Don’t be bashful in either case. Keep in touch and get involved!
–John Gilbreath, Executive Director