Festival Previews, Week Four

Joel Ross

Joel M. Ross photo by Michelle Smith-Lewis

Joel M. Ross Quartet

Friday, October 30, 8pm | PONCHO Concert Hall, Cornish College of the Arts
Saturday, October 31, 7:30pm | Tula’s Restaurant & Jazz Club
$18 general | $16 members & seniors | $9 students & military

To recast expectations of jazz vibes is no mean feat, and to do it while still a teenager is truly remarkable. In the spirit of Thelonious Monk, Chicago newcomer Joel M. Ross, a stand-out at the last two years’ Seattle Jazz Experiences, plays with an edgy, surprising, hugely likable style. He appears with similarly highly anticipated pianist Jeremy Corren, as well as Jalon Archie (drums) and Ben Tiberio (bass).

With styles comparable to that of the great Lionel Hampton, up-and-coming vibraphonist Joel Ross has begun to take the jazz scene by storm. Playing off reinterpreted styles of classic jazz structures, Ross has provided listeners with insight into the face of jazz to come.

Born and raised in Chicago, Ross was highly involved within his high school music program, and received much notoriety for his playing ability at an early age. Some of his many accomplishments include: being named a national All Star of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in 2012 and 2013; becoming a jazz finalist in the 2013 Young Arts program; and performing with musicians such as Christian McBride and Herbie Hancock.

This talented young blood has no intention of holding back anytime soon, and continues to perform catchy arrangements that are easily applicable to any demographic. In the words of Ross, “I’m a young jazz lion, on the hunt.”

Jacob Zimmerman Sextet

Friday, October 30, 7:30pm | Tula’s Restaurant & Jazz Club
$18 general | $16 members & seniors | $9 students & military

Seattle-based composer and alto saxophonist Jacob Zimmerman, with roots at the greatly respected Garfield High School, attended the New England Conservatory of Music, in Boston, as well as Mills College, in Oakland, where he studied with Roscoe Mitchell. The promising young alto saxophonist holds a long-standing monthly gig – classic 40s and 50s bebop – at Egan’s Ballard Jam House and frequently plays traditional jazz for swing dances all over the world – recently South Korea, for example. Recognized as Earshot’s Emerging Artist of the Year in 2013, Zimmerman leads with a tasteful, versatile voice on saxophone and clarinet.

His sextet’s lineup includes the captivating drummer Evan Woodle, prolific trumpeter Ray Larsen, ferocious acoustic bassist Nate Parker, and crackerjack pianist Jake Svendsen. On top of this bombastic group of players, vocalist Katie Jacobson, winner of the Ella Fitzgerald Vocal award at the Essentially Ellington competition in New York and songwriter and leader for band Honey Noble, song-birds her way through various accompaniments.

Andy Clausen’s Shutter Project

Sunday, November 1, 8pm | Seattle Art Museum, Plestcheeff Auditorium
$20 general | $18 members & seniors | $11 students & military

A prodigiously talented trombonist, composer, and bandleader, Seattle native son (and Roosevelt High School graduate) Andy Clausen has been making quite a splash in recent years. A graduate of the prestigious jazz program at The Juilliard School in New York, the former recipient of Earshot Jazz’s Emerging Artist of the Year Award has kept busy performing with a broad range of jazz and adventurous rock and pop royalty, including Bill Frisell, Wynton Marsalis, Ron Carter, Kurt Elling, Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas, Feist, and My Brightest Diamond.

Composition is also a central element of Clausen’s activities, and as a founding member of the brass quartet The Westerlies (also in this year’s festival lineup), he has been exploring and defining a vibrant intersection of jazz and contemporary chamber music. Their 2014 debut Wish The Children Would Come on Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz was met with broad acclaim, being named NPR Jazz “Best Debut of 2014.”

Clausen’s latest unit is called Shutter Project, and the quintet will be performing new music from a forthcoming album. Along with Clausen, Shutter Project features The Westerlies’ trumpet ace Riley Mulherkar, the deep classical roots of cellist Mitch Lyon, and the eclectic, exploratory twin guitar tandem of Gregory Uhlmann and Seattle’s Gregg Belisle- Chi.

Shutter Project aims to present a new spin at outlining what defines a cutting-edge chamber music ensemble in 2015, exploring the notion of individual expression in a written structure. Strings and brass combine in collective compositional and improvisatory interplay, as hints of folk music blend with classical and indie rock into a cinematic Americana soundtrack, all without the conventional structure of linear solos. Check out Shutter Project live and hear what makes Andy Clausen an essential new voice in contemporary music.

Brad Linde’s straightHORN / Brockman & Halberstadt Duo: Strayhorn Favorites

Monday, November 2, 8pm | Chapel Performance Space
$14 general | $12 members & seniors | $7 students & military

Brad Linde’s straightHORN, a soprano-saxophone quartet, celebrates the centennial of Billy Strayhorn with new arrangements and free improvisations on compositions of Duke Ellington’s three-decade collaborator. The quartet is a trio – Kate Olson of Seattle’s Ask the Ages, and many other bands; Patrick Booth, a jazz-classical improviser based in Traverse City, Mich.; and Brad Linde, who in Washington, D.C. collaborated often with the great Freddie Redd – that imports a fourth, “stray” horn from each city it performs in. For its Earshot festival performance, the fourth horn is Jessica Lurie, who for many years was a fixture of Seattle’s progressive-jazz scene with the Tiptons and Living Daylights (see 10/25 Jessica Lurie Ensemble).

Starting the evening, two of Seattle’s leading jazzmen spirit up the mastery of Strayhorn in renditions of some of his best-loved compositions. UW professor and alto saxophonist Michael Brockman is the co-leader of the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, while Randy Halberstadt is one of the finest pianists the region has produced.

Garfield High School Jazz Band

Tuesday, November 3, 7:30pm | Triple Door
$16 general | $14 members & seniors | $8 students & military

Garfield High School’s jazz culture is so strong that it maintains multiple levels of jazz bands in its curriculum for over 75 students. Under the leadership of Clarence Acox, Garfield continues to bring to young people the jazz traditions of such big bands as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Woody Herman.

The program’s Jazz Ensemble I has won every major competition on the West Coast, including the Reno Jazz Festival, Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival (named Outstanding Festival Band six times), Clark College Jazz Festival (seven-time Sweepstakes Award winner) and Mt. Hood Jazz Festival. Jazz Ensembles II and III have also competed successfully in events around in the Northwest.

Garfield is a frequent participant in the Essentially Ellington National Jazz Band Competition and Festival at Lincoln Center in New York City, the most prestigious high school jazz competition in the United States. Since 1999, Garfield has been selected as one of the 15 Essentially Ellington finalists thirteen times, including an unprecedented four first-place trophies (in 2003, 2004, 2009 and 2010), as well as second place finishes in 2002 and 2008 and third place in 2006.

Graduates of the Garfield jazz program have gone on to study at leading music schools throughout the country, such as the Berklee College of Music, The Juilliard School, Eastman School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, The New England Conservatory of Music, USC Thornton School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and Cornish College of the Arts.

Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra w/ Mimi Fox

Wednesday, November 4, 8pm | Triple Door
$20 general | $18 members & seniors | $10 students & military
Presented by SWOJO

“Tremendous, powerful and inspiring!” says Gabriel Alegria, President of La Asociación International Jazz Perú, of the Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra. With its contingent of many of the finest female jazz artists in the Pacific Northwest, SWOJO is joined by world-renowned guitarist/recording artist/composer Mimi Fox in this festival appearance. The evening also features the world premiere of “Cat Dreams,” by Nelda Swiggett, winner of SWOJO’s third annual composition contest.

Performing since 2000, SWOJO is known for creating an “energy and environment” that is “magnetic…both musically and emotionally” (Dr. Michael Caldwell, Editor, International Trumpet Guild Journal).

Along with their own core of “burning, swingin’” (Alegria) arrangements of jazz, they are dedicated to performing original music with regional and international composers. This night with Fox will continue their vision of sharing the wealth of music created by women in a genre historically dominated by men.

Fox, herself a dominant force and leader in the guitar world, has recorded and played with many of the greats: fellow guitarists Charlie Byrd and Stanley Jordan, instrumentalists Branford Marsalis and David Sanchez, and vocalists Diana Krall and Janis Siegel.

SWOJO, united with Fox’s “firm control, clarity and concept” (AllAboutJazz.com), will provide an evening of rich texture, excitement – a musical joyride.

Paul Kikuchi: Songs of Nihonmachi

Thursday, November 5, 6pm | Panama Hotel
$10 general | $8 members & seniors | $5 students & military
Supported by funding from 4Culture

Paul Kikuchi, a percussionist, composer, and instrument deviser who was named 2010 Emerging Artist of the Year in Earshot’s Golden Ear Awards, premieres a new installation and performance piece, his reimagined versions of popular songs of Seattle’s vibrant Nihonmachi (pre-WW2) Japantown of the 1920s and 1930s. The performance takes place at the historic Panama Hotel, in Seattle’s International District, which was a center of the city’s thriving Japanese community life until the disruption of forced resettlement during World War II.

Kikuchi undertook Songs of Nihonmachi as a second installment of a project of exploring the historical traces of his grandfather, who came to the US from Japan in the early 20th century, laid track for the Northern Pacific Railroad, and then settled in the Yakima Valley of eastern Washington as an agricultural scientist. For his earlier Bat of No Bird Island, Paul Kikuchi took a small collection of recordings of Japanese popular music that his forebear had left, and reimagined them in settings for contemporary western instrumentation with traditional Japanese performance technique, with excerpts from the recordings. Now, Songs of Nihonmachi continues that work of reclamation. Kikuchi has sought out the most popular recorded songs in 1920s/1930s Japantown and presents them in jazz versions with two acclaimed accompanists, Ivan Arteaga on reeds and Jeff Johnson on double bass.

Blades/Ciotti/Coe w/ DJ Logic / Industrial Revelation

Thursday, November 5, 8pm | Nectar Lounge
$10 advance | $15 door
Presented by Nectar Lounge

Earshot’s first show of November at Nectar Lounge kicks off with Blades/Ciotti/Coe featuring DJ Logic, and Industrial Revelation. Wil Blades, a master of the Hammond B3 organ, returns to Seattle after a heavy touring schedule promoting his 2014 release, Field Notes. The San Francisco Bay Area musician has shared the stage with legends of funk and jazz including Karl Denson, Stanton Moore, and Billy Martin (Medeski, Martin & Wood). His collaboration with Martin in 2012 resulted in Shimmy, a soul-jazz journey showcasing Blades’ rich organ grooves mixed with funky clarinet soloing.

Although Blades does not have the same personnel behind Field Notes or Shimmy, his current lineup is set to bring some very welcome surprises. Guitarist Andy Coe, a frequent performer with Seattle’s McTuff, Skerik’s Bandalabra, and The Andy Coe Band, will return to Nectar Lounge after playing the venue at the 10th Annual Jerry Garcia Celebration in August.

You may recognize Pete Ciotti as the drummer for Humboldt County, CA, funk outfit, Motherlode. A talent of many musical genres, Ciotti will be sure to show his love for afrobeat and deep funk on the Nectar stage.
Last but certainly not least, Jason Kibler, perhaps better known as DJ Logic, brings some New York City poise on the turntables. We may live in a time of generic electronic dance music and button-pushing disc jockeys, but Kibler’s scratching takes us back to a classic era of funked-out soul, downtempo beats, and trip-hop.

Seattle jazz favorites Industrial Revelation will open the show. The local quartet has received several regional accolades including The Stranger Genius Award for Music, Seattle Weekly Best Jazz Group, and numerous Earshot Golden Ear Awards.

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey & Skerik

Thursday, November 5 & Friday, November 6, 8pm | The Royal Room
$18 general | $16 members & seniors | $9 students & military

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey (JFJO) is the acclaimed, road-sharpened trio of Brian Haas (piano/Fender Rhodes/bass Moog/synth), Chris Combs (electric guitar/lap steel guitar/synth), and Josh Raymer (drums). Beginning in 1994 as a funky octet, JFJO has performed in both large and small ensembles and journeyed through 16 members, 25 albums, and countless global tours.

In 2013, the band downsized to a trio setting to release the first of three albums on the revered Brooklyn record label Royal Potato Family. Last October, the JFJO trio dropped an electronic, expectation-defying album Worker. Now, the trio embarks on another tour to celebrate their album release The Battle for Earth – a psychedelic musical exploration paired with an original, sci-fi jazz epic comic book.

Joining JFJO is the genre-defying Seattle saxophonist Skerik. Performing on the tenor and baritone saxophone – often with electronics and looping – Skerik is a pioneer of a playing style dubbed “saxophonics.” The 2003 Earshot Jazz Northwest Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year was an original member of Les Claypool’s Fancy Band and Frog Brigade and founding member of ensembles including Critters Buggin, Garage a Trois, and current project Bandalabra with revered Seattle players Andy Coe, Evan Flory-Barnes and D’Vonne Lewis.


Posted on

September 28, 2015