SmackTalk photo by Austin Fields.
From the hidden nooks and intimate house concerts to the larger collaborative efforts between community businesses and city arts organizations, jazz is found in abundance all over the Puget Sound. Here is a glimpse into the broad diversity of concert series available in the region, many of them free of charge. Did we miss your favorite series? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
JazzLIVE at Marine View
Second Sundays 5–7pm 8469 East Side Drive NE, Tacoma
Showcasing some of the PNW’s most notable jazz musicians in Northeast Tacoma, Marine View Presbyterian Church’s JazzLIVE series enters its eleventh year under the stewardship of longtime church member and founder of the series, Jim Foster. For over a decade on every second Sunday of the month from 5–7pm, JazzLIVE has continued to be a free, all-ages and family friendly concert series that has established itself as a staple experience of the jazz scene in the Seattle-Tacoma area. Coming up on January 12, widely celebrated trumpeter and seven-time Earshot Golden Ear Award recipient, Thomas Marriott and quartet kick off the 2020 series. On February 9, electric violinist, the Geoffrey Castle Band will blow your pew away. On March 8, jazz vocalist and one of the most remarkable artists on the scene, the Greta Matassa Quintet (Darin Clendenin, piano; bassist Clipper Anderson; Mark Ivester, drums; Alexey Nikolaev, tenor sax) will trill and croon for the eager Marine View audience. With such a rich line up on the way, and more to be announced soon, be sure to stay up to date at marineviewpc.org for more information!
JazzVox House Concert Series
Various Dates Various Locations
Is there a better way to enjoy music than in a cozy home setting with an intimate audience, delicious food, and perhaps a glass of wine? JazzVox is the brainchild of enthusiast, Nich Anderson, on a mission to bring audiences and artists to homes across greater Seattle, Camano Island and Bainbridge. JazzVox creates unparalleled, personal experiences by bringing jazz vocalists from around the world to the Pacific Northwest. Now in its 13th season, this year’s JazzVox series will feature performances from David Ryan Harris January 10–12 (sold out!), the Darmon Meader Trio January 25–26, Jesse Ruben on February 9, John Proulx & Champian Fulton February 21–23, Gabe Dixon March 7–8, and Emily Scott Robinson on March 29. This wildly popular program has limited seating, so do reserve tickets in advance to guarantee a spot! For a complete list of artists and locations, visit jazzvox.com.
Art of Jazz
Second Thursdays 5:30–7:30pm 1300 First Ave, Seattle
Bringing the worlds of jazz enthusiasts and museum-goers into one room for a special evening, Art of Jazz has presented a dynamic and versatile line-up for 25 years. Sponsored by KNKX and in partnership with Seattle Art Museum, Earshot Jazz proudly presents a jazz series every second Thursday of the month at 5:30pm that is free and open to the public. In the heart of downtown Seattle, guests gather underneath artist John Grade’s gargantuan sculpture, Middle Fork, to bask in the illustrious sounds that waft melodiously from the Brotman Forum to the galleries above.
Come downtown after work for the first show of the New Year on January 9 with some of the freshest talent on the rise, DX-Tet, a collaborative project of pianist and composer, Dylan Hayes and drummer, Xavier Lecouturier. Saxophonist Alex Dugdale performs on February 13. Singer, songwriter, and siren Johnaye Kendrick performs on March 12. And on April 9, the supergroup MMJB, composed of Rick Mandyck (saxophone), Thomas Marriott (trumpet), Jeff Johnson (bass), and John Bishop (drums) April 9. Stay up-to-date on upcoming performances at earshot.org.
First Sundays Concerts
First Sundays 4pm
370 Brien Dr SE, Bainbridge Island
Held at Bainbridge Island’s Waterfront Park Community Center, eight professional concerts of jazz and classical music are presented year-round in partnership with the Bainbridge Community Piano Association. Despite the First Sundays Concerts losing its fearless founder, Darden Burns, this last summer, the series continues into its 15th year and celebrates the passion and commitment Burns poured into the series. Jazz pianist Bill Anschell takes the New Year by storm with his celebrated Standards Trio on January 5. Harpsichordist and organist, Henry Lebedinksy and his Baroque Trio play for the island on February 9. The Greta Matassa Quintet rocks the boat on March 1. Taking a break from Ohio to come back home for a First Sunday show is classical pianist, Frank Huang on April 5. The Mark Lewis Quartet alongside, Bill Anschell on piano takes the stage on May 3, then with Kokopelli picking up from a summer break on September 6. On October 4, Seattle Symphony Musicians bring the works of Brahms & Debussy to the homes and hearts of audiences at the penultimate show of the season. Closing out the season on November 8 is Flamenco duo, Eric and Encarnación. For more information on ticketing, prices, and performance times, visit firstsundaysconcerts.org.
Vashon Allied Arts Jazz Series Various Dates
19600 Vashon Hwy SW, Vashon
2020 events have not yet been announced. Check vashoncenterforthearts.org for details.
The Jazz Project
Various Dates,Various Locations, Bellingham
Bellingham’s Jazz Project was conceived in 1997 by drummer and community leader, Jud Sherwood, who founded The Jazz Project with the goal to promote jazz from a player’s perspective, linking local performers, educators, and students with opportunities to listen and play jazz, with the support of local businesses and the City of Bellingham. On January 8, Blues Union plays a free show at the Rockfish Anacortes with bandleader, keyboardist, and vocalist John Carswell, Josh Cook (tenor saxophone), Brian Cunningham (guitar), and Sherwood (drums). Carswell who has shared the stage with the royalty of R&B and blues, including Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Tower of Power, and Ray Charles. The Bellingham Youth Jazz Band has 1–2 shows scheduled every month between January and June.
Aspiring musicians can attend the Jazz Project’s weekly jam session at Illuminati Brewing, Thursdays 5:30–8pm, January through August.
The Jazz Project’s Art of Jazz series runs the last Sunday of each month (January–May and September–November) with evening concerts, while their Summer Jazz series runs on the second Sundays of June, July, and August at the Samson Estate Winery.
Their annual Bellhaven Jazz Festival takes place in September. While many of the events are free (and many are so with membership), $10 donations are suggested at each show to continue to support the artists, educational opportunities, and local businesses that help forge what the Jazz Project stands for and embodies. For more information about how you can support and learn more about other projects visit, jazzproject.org.
Jazz in the City
Various Dates Various Locations
Jazz in the City celebrates the vibrancy and longevity of jazz music in Seattle through an annual concert series emphasizing local artists. Sponsored by Ariel Media, a multimedia company servicing Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett, founded by Dr. James Gore (creator of the Jackson Street Music Program); Jazz in the City partners with the Frye Art Museum to present free, bi-monthly concerts. The Songstress of the Sound, Eugenie Jones performs on February 16. Saxophonist, Kareem Kandi, captures the sounds of jazz on April 19. The summer welcomes soulful baritone vocalist, Reggie Goings on June 21 and Brazilian master pianist, Jovino Santos Neto on August 16. Greta Matassa concludes the 2020 season on October 18.
Jazz in the City also co-presents concerts with the Triple Door, and the upcoming show on February 12 with The Folks Project featuring D’Vonne Lewis, Darrius Willrich, and Evan Flory-Barnes is not one to miss! For more information on upcoming Jazz in the City events, tickets, and performance times stay up to date on arielmedia.com.
12037 124th Ave NE, Kirkland
Though there are only 88 keys on a piano, the musical possibilities are unlimited; Jazz Unlimited and Stage 7 Pianos present monthly gigs to confirm that belief. With the Steinway D concert grand always on the recital stage, local artists find the infinite musical possibilities of their instruments as they connect with their audiences in an intimate listening room. Kicking off the 2020 series on January 18 with her sultry sounds is Greta Matassa at the Stage 7 Piano’s venue in Kirkland. $15 cash cover with free parking. For information on upcoming performances, visit stage7pianos.com.
Seattle Jazz Vespers
First Sundays 6–8pm
1111 Harvard Ave, Seattle
The Seattle Jazz Vespers—now in its 18th season at the Seattle First Baptist Church—is a secular concert series for those who love jazz with an inspirational message. The concerts occur on the first Sunday of the month during October–June from 6–8pm and are open to the public. These donation-based performances take the form of an initial set, followed by a short nonsectarian inspirational message, and a second set, with light refreshments following. Enveloped in the acoustics of this historic sanctuary, fans of all ages can enjoy an evening of devotion to jazz and the community it inspires. Multi-instrumentalist, Jay Thomas and his Organic Quartet (Scott Lytle, organ; Steve Griggs, saxophone; Milo Petersen, drums) take the stage on January 5. On February 9, the Clave Gringa Quartet perform with Ann Reynolds, piano and vocals; Daniel Barry, trumpet; Dean Schmidt, bass; Steve Smith, congas; Ricardo Guity, drums and vocals. Trombonist Randy Oxford leads the Randy Oxford Band on March 1. Then the young and talented SmackTalk take the reins for a rock-jazz infused performance on April 5. The family led, gypsy jazz band Ranger and the “Re-Arrangers” will surely captivate audiences on May 3. And finally, multi-genre fusionist, Rob Hart Trio (Hart, drums; Greg Sankovitch, piano; Doug Pohorski, bass) perform on June 7. For information on additional concerts in the coming months, visit seattlefirstbaptist.org.
Whatcom Jazz Music Arts Center
205 Prospect St, Bellingham
Connecting rising and established jazz musicians across the nation, Whatcom Jazz Music Arts Center (WJMAC) has created an environment where mentorship, community, and creativity flourish harmoniously all year long. Founded in 2015 by drummer and educator Julian MacDonough, WJMAC hosts jazz events highlighting top Northwest musicians Wednesday evenings at 7pm at the Sylvia Center for the Arts in Bellingham.
Launching the 2020 series is jazz pianist, Bill Anschell and trio (Jeff Johnson, bass; D’Vonne Lewis, drums) hit on January 8. Visit wjmac.org for more information on tickets and upcoming performances, including saxophonist Kate Olson’s Ensemble on January 15, the Matt Jorgensen Quintet on January 29, and the young, drummer exploding on the scene: Xavier Lecouturier Quartet on February 19. For more information visit wjmac.org. –Rayna Mathis