Letter from the Director


Falling Up!

What an incredible festival!! The music has been so deep and rich, with each day offering a fresh experience, remarkably different than the night before. Thank you all—musicians, audiences, media, funders, educators, and YOU—for making this 30th anniversary Earshot Jazz Festival the best ever.

Duke Ellington once said, “Jazz is a good barometer of freedom. In its beginnings, the United States of America spawned certain ideals of freedom and independence through which, eventually, jazz was evolved, and the music is so free that many people say it is the only unhampered, unhindered expression of complete freedom yet produced in this country.” And though it may seem like the country is actually becoming more polarized and less focused on ideals of actual freedom, it’s clear that jazz is bringing the good news about a future that is full of potential for both individual expression and harmony.

About twelve days into this year’s festival, I had a clear dream image that all of the weight had come off of the word JAZZ. Pinned to the floor at first—by a society in apparent cultural decline, by stark economic realities, and even by the limits of expectations that its own history has projected onto its future—JAZZ suddenly took off, falling up into the sky and opening up wide over the gusts of ideas, expressions, permission, and potential that were flying up from every direction. (Okay, I get a little delirious after a couple of weeks and a couple of dozen concerts, but the image is still there for me, and I’m grateful for it.) This is a remarkably fertile time for jazz, and we’re happy to be able to share it with you here in Seattle.

Of course, in coming to our work every day we have to negotiate the intersection of Art and Commerce. Looking both ways before proceeding, it’s clear that Art Boulevard is wide and busy, constantly flowing, with no beginning or end in sight. Commerce Street, on the other hand, often only runs for a few blocks at a time, and is busy with detours, dead ends, pot holes, and barricades. A festival like ours, however rich artistically, typically offsets only 50% of its costs through ticket-sales income. And before artists are engaged and venues are secured, funding for each year has to be in place. We need your help.

If you’ve been moved by the music, or seen it hit home in your favorite student, please join us in this work. Become a member, drop us a suggestion, and join us in our upcoming annual campaign. Support what you love. Jazz already has a home in Seattle, but there are a lot of new citizens here. Let’s build continuous and positive additions on this jazz community, this cultural community, this civilization. Thank You!!

–John Gilbreath, Executive Director


Posted on

October 31, 2018