Festival Previews, Week 4

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Festival Previews, Week 4

Conference Call’s Michael Jefry Stevens, Joe Fonda, Gebhard Ullmann photo by Scott Friedlander

Conference Call / Bad Luck

Sunday, October 23, 8pm | Seattle Art Museum (Plestcheeff Auditorium)
Conference Call is supported by the Berlin Senate Cultural Affairs Department
$18 general | $16 members & seniors | $10 students & military

For 17 years, German woodwind virtuoso Gebhard Ullmann (bass clarinet, bass flute, saxes), pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, bassist Joe Fonda, and, now, drummer Dieter Ulrich have been among the finest improvising units around, interpreting original compositions with startling flair and drive.

Ullmann studied medicine and music in Hamburg and moved to Berlin in 1983, where he became a leading force in the musicians’ organization JazzFront Berlin and later held a teaching assignment for saxophone and ensemble at the University of Music Hanns Eisler for about a decade. Since 2014, he is the head of the German Jazz Musicians’ Union. In 2015, Ullmann was listed in the DownBeat Critics Poll in three categories. Considered one of the leading personalities in both the Berlin and international music scenes, Ullman and has received several awards for his work, including the Julius Hemphill Composition Award (1999), and has recorded more than 50 CDs as a leader or co-leader for prestigious labels throughout the US and Europe.

Pianist/composer Michael Jefry Stevens performs extensively in Europe and North America. He has released over 80 CDs featuring his original music. He’s performed or recorded with Dave Douglas, Dave Liebman, Han Bennink, Charles Moffett, Gerry Hemingway, Matt Wilson, Leo Smith, Cecil Bridgewater, Herb Robertson, Mark Feldman, and Dominic Duval.

Bassist/composer Joe Fonda has developed an extensive international reputation over the last several years with the world-renowned Anthony Braxton. He is a co-founder of the erstwhile FAB Trio, featuring Barry Altschul and Billy Bang.

Percussionist/composer Ulrich joined the quartet in 2015. He’s a Swiss jazz and improvisation musician and art historian, Zurich born and raised. Trained on piano and self-taught on drums since 1972, Ulrich is one of the most sought after Swiss improvising musicians and composers.

The ever-evolving, road-ready Seattle sax/electronics and drum duo of Neil Welch and Chris Icasiano opens. Now a 10-year collaboration, with four albums under their belt, duo Bad Luck has created an incredibly diverse array of music. Their melodies, improvisations and compositions are constructed from the ground up, including electronic loops, creating a band sound much larger than the sum of its parts. Welch and Icasiano are founding members of the famed Racer Sessions weekly performance series. They are also founding members of the arts organization Table & Chairs, which produces music events and educational programs.

Marina Albero Quartet

Monday, October 24, 8pm
Seattle Art Museum (Plestcheeff Auditorium)
Welcomed by 88.5 KNKX
$20 general | $18 members & seniors | $10 students & military

Born into the family band Grallers de Banyoles-Estampida Medieval, Marina Albero has been steeped in the sounds of Barcelona since childhood. As a young girl, extensive training in percussion and piano in both Spain and Cuba sent her on the road to early achievement and success. As a youth, Albero played European festivals and was awarded the annual prize for talented youth in Brussels.

Festival travels led to recording projects with players like Silvio Rodríguez and further tours in Catalonia, Spain, and Portugal with the band Barnhabana, conducted by Grammy winner Barbarito Torres.

Accomplished on not only the piano, but the vibes and hammered dulcimer as well, this versatile musician delved into the flamenco art form.

After participating in several flamenco shows and performing with many renowned flamenco dancers and companies, including the Ballet Nacional De España, Albero moved to Seattle. Once here, she quickly found a warm welcome among Seattle players and immediately formed a brand new band.

Top Northwest bassist Evan Flory-Barnes, drummer D’Vonne Lewis, and saxophonist Hans Teuber join her for a blending of sounds from her native land with jazz, flamenco, tumbao, and even some Middle Eastern influences. This mélange creates an evening of innovative surprise and beauty.

B’shnorkestra: Global Concertos

Monday, October 24, 8pm | PONCHO Concert Hall
Co-presented with Cornish Presents
$18 general | $16 members & seniors | $10 students & military

This evening, trumpeter and composer Samantha Boshnack’s 14-person ensemble B’shnorkestra (conducted by Degenerate Art Ensemble’s Joshua Kohl) embarks on a journey across five continents. Global Concertos, which premiered last May, is an evening of music featuring an international tour de force of soloists accompanied by her beloved alternative chamber orchestra, each showcasing an instrument and tradition: Thione Diop, West African talking drum; Christos Govetas, Greek clarinet; Srivani Jade, North Indian vocals; Julio Jauregui, Latin American piano; and Thomas Marriott, American jazz trumpet. In Global Concertos, each artist brings their individual voice to the B’shnorkestra to create a new “all world” sound.

B’shnorkestra premiered in 2011 with support from 4Culture, Meet the Composer, and the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs. Bold and undulating, there is a majestic grandness to Boshnack’s compositions. In the B’shnorkestra, strings and percussion orchestrate the soaring melodic and tightly punctuated horn lines she’s celebrated for, taking this new work to a cinematically inspired place.

Boshnack, who originates from New York and has called Seattle her homebase for over a decade, is a stalwart and steady hand in the regional music community. She can often be heard as a composer or performer contributing to such projects as the Washington Composers Orchestra, the Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble, or her other groups, Reptet and the Samantha Boshnack Quintet.

Tonight’s performance also features: Chris Credit and Kevin Nortness, woodwinds; Alex Guy and Alina To, violins; Brianna Atwell, viola; Maria Scherer Wilson and Daniel Mullikin, cellos; Tim Carey and Scott Teske, upright bass; Adam Kozie and Greg Campbell, drums/percussion; and Lalo Bello, congas.

Michael Bisio & Kirk Knuffke Duo / Paul Rucker & Hans Teuber

Tuesday, October 25, 8pm | Seattle Art Museum (Plestcheeff Auditorium)
$18 general | $16 members & seniors | $10 students & military

Two sublimely telepathic improvising units will grace the stage at Seattle Art Museum, exploring the complexities and possibilities inherent in the duo format. Both groups share a common sense of free-form flexibility when navigating structure, balanced with an intuitive sense of formal construction when improvising.

Michael Bisio, with 85 recordings in his discography, is a former Seattle stalwart who currently spends most of his time in New York, where he works frequently in duo with the iconic pianist Matthew Shipp. His partner for this show is the stunning cornetist Kirk Knuffke, whose own credits include 15 recordings as a leader or co-leader and collaborations with Roswell Rudd, William Parker, Myra Melford, Tootie Heath, Mary Halvorson, and many others. Bisio’s bass playing is intensely physical, with a thick, rubbery tone, and he pulls an absurdly large set of sounds out of the instrument. Knuffke is a master-in-the-making, as comfortable with the outer reaches of the avant-garde as he is with swinging, in-the-pocket tradition.

The reunion of Paul Rucker on cello and Hans Teuber on saxophone is highly anticipated, and no doubt an event worth waiting for (their superb album Oil was released in 2003). Theirs is a world of introspective improvisation, exploring small gestures, quiet timbres and the full range of possibilities in their instruments, yet without the avoidance of form and repetition that defines some improvised music. Rucker says, “We actually will embrace melody, we’ll embrace the groove. There are a lot of possibilities when you don’t limit yourself to a certain type of ‘free improv.’”

Derek Gripper

Wednesday, October 26, 8pm | PONCHO Concert Hall
Welcomed by 91.3 KBCS
Co-presented with Cornish Presents
$16 general | $14 members & seniors | $8 students & military

Derek Gripper is a prolific composer and arranger for solo acoustic guitar, with almost a dozen albums to his credit. Although he’s studied all genres of classical guitar, he is becoming best known as a translator of the centuries-old music of the griots, West African storyteller/poet musicians. In particular, he has focused on the work of the undisputed master of the Kora, Toumani Diabaté, who dazzled and charmed Earshot festival audiences in an unforgettable concert in 2008. Diabate, in the top echelon of Mali’s fertile musical heritage, revolutionized Kora music at the age of 21 by creating and recording music for the 21-string “hunter’s harp,” with all three musical lines played together with just four fingers on one instrument.

Gripper, a white South African guitarist, has painstakingly transcribed and published Diabaté’s intricate music, sharing it with a worldwide audience, and calling Diabaté the “Segovia of Malian stringed instruments.” Gripper released his ninth album collecting that music, One Night on Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali, late in 2012.

Says Banning Eyre of Afropop Worldwide, the online encyclopedic source of Afropop music, “The result is astounding, not just for its technical brilliance, but its musicality. Gripper executes these pieces with the precision and attention to detail one might expect from a great classical musician…It’s hard to imagine a more impressive and passionate rendering of Malian music on classical guitar.”

SOUL SPACE: Tiffany Gouché / Maiah Manser / SassyBlack / DJ Riz

Thursday, October 27, 8pm | V2
Welcomed by KEXP
Co-produced with Space.Theory
$18 general | $16 members & seniors | $10 students & military

Three of the most distinctive emerging vocalists in jazz-soul/pop comprise this groove-driven, female-powered lineup: L.A. artist Tiffany Gouché performs sinewy, rich extensions of the art form, and cites D’Angelo and R. Kelly as influences; “noir pop” artist Maiah Manser strives to fuse the digital and the organic in every aspect of her music; and Seattle’s creative force SassyBlack (Catherine Harris-White) spreads positive vibrations worldwide through her own “electronic psychedelic soul.”

On her way to reigning over West Coast R&B, Tiffany Gouché exudes a commanding sensuality through her powerhouse, rich alto vocals. Gouché complements her own stunning performances with piano and production talents to match. The soulful force has collaborated with fellow southern Californian upstart Iman Omari, and she has shared the stage with free-spirited genre-benders Willow Smith, KING, and Jesse Boykins III. The beat-making songstress is eagerly welcomed back to Seattle after making her debut in this city this past July.

Singer/songwriter/instrumentalist Maiah Manser, who celebrates her upcoming Second Skin EP, has earned a name for herself both as a solo artist and collaborator, having worked with Mary Lambert, The Esoterics, and Pollens. “Manser layers her smoky, seductive voice with electronic noises, strings, and piano, sounding at once like something coming out of a Victrola and the speakers at a Belltown nightclub” (The Stranger).

SassyBlack self-describes her sound as hologram funk. The new spacey soul album of Catherine Harris-White, titled No More Weak Dates, resembles R&B fused with obscure psych-mood jams. She releases her first solo project after emerging on the scene as one-half of queer AfroFuturist hip-hop dream duo THEESatisfaction. The singer’s influences stem from her diverse passions, which include activism against institutional racism, science fiction, spirituality and Michael Jackson.

Opening the night is DJ Riz, music scholar and veteran on-air KEXP presence.

Rez Abbasi Quartet

Thursday, October 27, 8pm | The Royal Room
Welcomed by 91.3 KBCS
$18 general | $16 members & seniors | $10 students & military

Born in Pakistan, Rez Abbasi grew up in Los Angeles and soaked up the music of Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, Pat Metheny, and Bill Frisell. Now a fixture in best-jazz-guitarist polls, Abbasi “sounds like no one who has gone before him,” as he performs with “sheer genius,” his music “so vivid…that it can almost be tasted” (All About Jazz).

With 12 albums of mostly original compositions under his belt, Abbasi continues to find new groups of musicians to help his musical vision come to life. In 2009 he recorded Things to Come (Sunnyside) with his “Invocation” ensemble, a star-studded group of Vijay Iyer, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Kiran Ahluwalia, Johannes Weidenmueller, and Dan Weiss, which was chosen by DownBeat magazine as one of the best albums of the decade. Their second album, Suno Suno (2012), is a work of spiritual music from Pakistan, on the Enja label. He also just released an electrifying new album Behind the Vibration, with his “Junction” ensemble, this spring.

Abbasi was twice awarded the Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Grant for his compositional work. Voted #1 Rising Star Guitarist in the 2013 DownBeat Critics Poll and placed in the Top 10 Guitarists in 2015’s poll, Rez Abbasi continues to push boundaries.

Tonight he performs with his riveting “Junction” ensemble, which includes Mark Shim (tenor saxophone), Marko Črnčec (keyboardist), and Kenny Grohowski (drums).

Birch Pereira & The Gin Joints

Friday, October 28, 7:30pm | Tula’s Restaurant & Jazz Club
Welcomed by 88.5 KNKX
$20 general | $18 members & seniors | $10 students & military

Born out of a love of the early years of swing, country, and rock ‘n’ roll, Birch Pereira & the Gin Joints is a band whose sound transports you to the time of speakeasies, honky-tonks, and rock ‘n’ roll joints. With upright bassist and vocalist Birch Pereira at its center, the band features many of Seattle’s most skilled and versatile musicians who share a desire to offer a fresh angle on the previous generation’s music. Tonight’s performance features drummer Adrian Van Batenburg, clarinetist Jacob Zimmerman, and guitarist Daniel Rainard.

After premiering an album entitled Dream Man earlier this year, The Gin Joints have and continue to play shows up and down both coasts. The music is a collection of more traditional and stripped-down arrangements in a period where many artists are taking similar steps to wax nostalgic and revive more vintage, soulful sounds. However, what makes this music stand out is not just the arranging or the skill of those playing, but the recognizable passion that each contributing player has for the eras that this music thrived in prime. Techniques and tones utilized by the ensemble prove an obvious effort to emulate and pay respects to those that came before them, resulting in performances that act like aural time traveling experiences.

SOUL SPACE: Jaimeo Brown Transcendence / Paul Rucker: Stories From the Trees

Friday, October 28, 8pm | V2
Welcomed by KEXP
Stories From the Trees presented with support from MAP Fund
$20 general | $18 members & seniors | $10 students & military

It is difficult to imagine a more finely tuned double bill than the combination of Jaimeo Brown Transcendence and Paul Rucker. Both artists share a committed allegiance to a fertile convergence of collaboration, education, political activism, and nuanced aesthetic expression, making this a can’t-miss event.

A nimble and versatile drummer and conceptualist, Brown has collaborated with artists as varied as Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, Q-Tip, and Pharoah Sanders. Aided by partner Chris Sholar’s malleable guitar work and Jaleel Shaw’s blazing saxophone, Brown has collected raves from across the globe for his latest album, the bracingly original Work Songs. The music juxtaposes field recordings and influences ranging from J Dilla to Bernard Purdie to John Coltrane, which Brown deploys to advance his own fresh take on jazz, Afrofuturism, and the global village, in an effort to “use history, art and technology to inspire and advance culture.”

Sharing the bill is a Seattle treasure: composer, cellist, and visual artist Paul Rucker. Recipient of numerous awards and commissions, Rucker will be presenting an element from his recent triumphant REWIND exhibition, an interactive performance installation called Stories From the Trees. Using animation, new compositions, and live performance, the piece will re-imagine horrifying vintage postcards of lynchings, an experience that is likely to be poignant, riveting, and utterly wrenching.

Renèe Baker

Friday, October 28, 8pm | Chapel Performance Space
Presented by Nonsequitur
$5-15

Violist, composer, and conductor Renèe Baker is constantly pushing musical boundaries, and tonight she inspires an ensemble of 10 top-flight Seattle improvisers. Baker is the founding Musical Director for the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project and a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. As a composer, she has written for solo instruments, ballet, opera, and large ensembles. She has also composed works with visual scores, creating a conducting style that she calls Cipher Conduit Linguistics (CCL/FLOW). Her innovative compositional and conducting perspectives have allowed her to work with many innovative ensembles all over the world.

As a violist, Baker has gained acclaim as a founding member and principal violist of Chicago Sinfonietta, where she played for 26 years. She is renowned for her “plethora of string techniques, from ghostly glissandos and crystallizing harmonics to sinewy double stops and pneumatic pizzicato” (All About Jazz). Throughout much of her work, one principle returns over and over again: a style she refers to as “comprovisation.” It is in this style that she blends classical and jazz influences – composed and improvised elements come together, an idea around which The Chicago Modern Orchestra Project was created. Baker describes them as a “polystylistic orchestral organization that grew from the plums of classical music as well as jazz.” This show, which caps a residency of collaborations with an ensemble of Seattle musicians, promises to be an engaging experience for all.

STG Presents Maceo Parker / The Jones Family Singers

Saturday, October 29, 8pm | The Moore Theatre
Presented by Seattle Theatre Group
$41-52

Best known for his work with James Brown throughout the 1960s, and with Parliament-Funkadelic in the 1970s, alto saxophonist Maceo Parker is one of those singular figures who have developed to virtually define an entire genre. Tonight the funky mentor brings his new band and legendary talent to The Moore Theatre, with an opening performance by The Jones Family Singers.

Born to a musical family in North Carolina, Parker and his brother joined James Brown’s band in 1964, with which he played on and off through 1975 when he joined George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic. Parker rejoined James Brown in the mid-1980s before embarking on a solo career in the 1990s.

A member of the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame since 2011, he has also performed with De La Soul, Prince, Dave Matthews Band, and more. In 2012, Parker received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Victoires Du Jazz in Paris, and earlier this year he was honored with The North Carolina Heritage Award.

The Jones Family Singers, subjects of the feature documentary The Jones Family Will Make A Way, consists of five sisters, two brothers, and their father. The group has been impressing at churches and festivals for over 20 years. In 2014, Rolling Stone named them one of SXSW’s 25 must-see acts. That same year, they released The Spirit Speaks, which was recorded at Jim Eno’s Public Hi-Fi studio in Austin, TX, to analog tape.

Dave Douglas Meets The Westerlies with Anwar Marshall

Saturday, October 29, 8pm | Seattle Art Museum (Plestcheeff Auditorium)
Welcomed by 88.5 KNKX
$24 general | $22 members & seniors | $10 students & military

Brass fans – this is for you! Come join the party with trumpeter Dave Douglas, brass quartet The Westerlies, and Philadelphia drummer extraordinaire Anwar Marshall. After debuting in March in New York, this fresh collaboration embarks on a West Coast tour this fall, performing new music, composed by Douglas for The Westerlies, that explores great American themes in a rich panoply of warm brass sounds.

Douglas, centered in New York City, is an impressive musician in several disciplines. He has worked as a trumpeter, composer, educator, and entrepreneur. As a trumpeter and composer, he has been the bandleader on more than 40 recordings, and has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Aaron Copland award, and two Grammy nominations. He has been a Jazz Artist in Residence at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and is currently the Artistic Director of the 2016 Bergamo Jazz Festival. Frank Alkyer of DownBeat describes Douglas as “the unassuming king of independent jazz, a model of do-it-yourself moxie, initiative, and artistic freedom.”

Originally all from Seattle, the members of brass quartet The Westerlies are now based in New York City. Made up of two trumpet players (Riley Mulherkar and Zubin Hensler) and two trombone players (Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch), they combine improvisation and compositional elements to push the boundaries of traditional jazz and create a fresh, modern sound. NPR Music describes their style as “folk-like and composerly, lovely and intellectually rigorous.” They just released their self-titled second album.

SOUL SPACE: Industrial Revelation / D’Vonne Lewis Triplifried / DJ Riz

Saturday, October 29, 8pm | V2
Welcomed by KEXP
$18 general | $16 members & seniors | $10 students & military

Seattle’s ever-evolving master drummer D’Vonne Lewis is this year’s Earshot Jazz Festival Resident Artist, and his artistry will be featured in at least five ensembles over three different nights of music. Tonight’s show kicks off with Triplifried, a band he started “to acknowledge the strong, southern roots I and the rest of the band have.” With support from Jacques Willis on vibraphone and Evan Flory-Barnes on bass, Lewis aims to explore vibes and grooves from Louisiana all the way to D.C., “a Seattle sushi roll batter-dipped in cornmeal!”

Next up is the beloved Industrial Revelation, who recently hit their 10-year anniversary as a band. Along with Lewis and Flory-Barnes, IR also features Ahamefule J. Oluo on trumpet and Josh Rawlings manning the keys. The riveting ensemble’s music spans genres and eras: anthemic and psychedelic rock flavors, soundtrack vibes and electronic textures, vintage soul and fusion, and heartfelt melodies leavened with the timeless spirit of New Orleans.

Closing out the evening will be DJ Riz. Riz Rollins is not only a masterful DJ, Seattle treasure and living legend, he’s also a writer, facilitator and sonic sage. It’s an understatement to call him a musical encyclopedia – he’s a sound archeologist and a groove ethnographer, revealing synergies and linkages that resonate deeply with listeners and music fans of all stripes.