Dr. James Gore photo by Daniel Sheehan
By Ian Gwin
The Puget Sound is privy to a host of unique concerts showcasing exceptional talent in memorable settings. Whether home concerts or collaborations between community businesses and city arts organizations, here are just a few upcoming concert series.
JazzLIVE at Marine View
Now in its ninth year running, Marine View Presbyterian Church’s JazzLIVE series continues to bring some of the Northwest’s swingin’est to Tacoma. Longtime church member and jazz enthusiast Jim Foster curates their free, all-ages concerts, which combine a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere with the work of an established Northwest artist every second Sunday monthly.
Renowned Seattle gypsy virtuosos Ranger & the Re-Arrangers kick off the 2018 series January 14 with their distinct mix of café elegance, caravan fervency, and Cascadian cool. February 11, San Diego-based guitarist and composer Peter Sprague showcases his trio, followed March 11 by prolific Seattle saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa, a veteran fusion player for The Rippingtons and current member of The Sax Pack. And on April 8, progressive steel drum leader Andy Narell introduces jazz to the “pan.” Visit marineviewpc.org for more information.
JazzVox Vocal Jazz House Concert Series
Ever dreamed of inviting some of the world’s most accomplished vocal jazz artists to your home for dinner, conversation, and an intimate one-on-one concert? With locations across the greater Seattle area from downtown to Bainbridge Island, JazzVox brings audiences to local homes for exceptional encounters with the art of vocal jazz.
For its 11th season, series creator Nich Anderson has programed a series featuring both up-and-coming and well-established voices alike, including American Idol star and collaborator with Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, Blake Lewis on January 27. February 9–11, The Manhattan Transfer’s Grammy Award-winning Cheryl Bentyne will cover hits and standards with Los Angeles vocalist and pianist John Proulx. The masterful Kenny Washington, Ravi Coltrane’s favorite male vocalist, plays March 23–25 along with renowned pianist Randy Porter.
May 18–20, Los Angeles-based Sara Gazarek returns to her hometown with vocalist, pianist, and professor at the Berklee College of Music, Peter Eldridge. November 16–18, another LA-based musician, pianist, arranger, and composer Josh Nelson, will pair his ambitious musical storytelling with vocalist Kathleen Grace, a collaborator on their acclaimed 2015 space-age concept album Exploring Mars. For a full list of artists and locations, visit jazzvox.com. Seating is limited, so make your reservations early.
Art of Jazz
On the second Thursday of every month, Earshot Jazz, in collaboration with the Seattle Art Museum, produces a concert highlighting the work of some of Seattle’s finest musicians. Listeners and art lovers can attend these after-work concerts, located in the spacious Brotman Forum, free with museum admission.
The Art of Jazz kicks off its 23rd year January 11 with the Gary Hammon Quintet, led by the local tenor colossus and featuring longtime collaborator trumpeter Erik Esvelt. A Garfield grad and former student at the New England Conservatory of Music, Hammon, who’s played with Ray Charles, Jaki Byard, and other legends, is the real deal. His deep, empathetic sound pairs the harmonic complexity of the post-bop era with the youthful inspiration of his many students throughout Seattle’s impressive high school jazz programs.
February 8, trumpeter Thomas Marriott, a catalyst in the Seattle scene and winner of multiple Golden Ear Awards, will take the stage with his band. Mainstay to the scene for over 25 years, saxophonist Hans Teuber will join another formidable Seattle veteran, bassist Jeff Johnson, May 10—a teaser for their upcoming duo recording on the Origin label. Audiences will make time for timelessness June 14, when a significant creative force in the vein of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, vocalist Mercedes Nicole, performs. Updated throughout the year, the schedule for Art of Jazz can be found on earshot.org.
First Sundays Concerts
Naturally beautiful Bainbridge Island is home to the Sunday Concert Series: eight concerts held throughout the year covering the world of jazz and classical in the Northwest. Organized by the Bainbridge Community Piano Association under musical director Darden Burns, these concerts take place in the intimate atmosphere of the Waterfront Park Community Center, promising listeners a “sanctuary” of sound.
The 2018 season begins January 7 with flutist Janet See, followed February 11 by versatile drummer Alan Jones, veteran of Kenny Wheeler and David Friesen’s groups, with his trio. Husband and wife string duo Stephen and Sue Jane Bryant plays March 4; Seattle-based string quartet Skyros performs April 8; Seattle jazz pianist Nelda Swiggett plays her own “Alaska Suite” May 6; stylistic chameleon and multi-instrumentalist Marina Albero plays September 9; the Volta Piano Trio plays classical October 7; and capping of the series November 4 is saxophonist Anton Schwartz and his quintet, winners of the 2016 Golden Ear Award for Acoustic Jazz Ensemble. For more information on ticketing and performance times, visit firstsundaysconcerts.org.
The Jazz Project
Bellingham’s Jazz Project returns this year with a series of concerts highlighting outstanding local talent. Founded in 1997 by drummer and community leader Jud Sherwood, the Jazz Project links local performers, educators, and students with opportunities to listen and play jazz, with the support of local businesses and the City of Bellingham.
For its 20th season, the Jazz Project is going all out with numerous special events and programs. They return the last Sunday of each month (January through May and September through November) with evening concerts, opening January 21 with the Paul Gabrielson Quartet at the BAAY Theater. February 25, Mark Lewis heads his quartet featuring pianist Bill Anschell; March 25, brass expert Dmitri Matheny and guitarist Ed Dunsavage lead their quartet; pianist and composer Wayne Horvitz presents his project “Sweeter than the Day” April 29; May 27 features a guitar summit with local axemen John Stowell, Christopher Woitach, and Tim Volpicella. Fall-time brings the Jud Sherwood Trio on September 30 and the Jennifer Scott Quartet October 28, wrapping up November 25 with vocalist Chava Mirel backed by modern fusion group Duende Libre. The series’ general admission is $16, but free with membership.
Aspiring musicians can attend the Jazz Project’s weekly jam session at Illuminati Brewing, Thursdays 5:30–8pm, January through August. September 8, the Jazz Project will return with the Bellhaven Jazz Festival, offering free concerts in the heart of Bellingham.
For more information about these and other projects, visit jazzproject.org.
Vashon Allied Arts Jazz Series
Puget Sound’s largest island south of Admiralty Inlet hosts a vibrant, if modest, arts community, thanks in part to Vashon Allied Arts, a community-based organization which for over 30 years has organized concerts, art exhibitions, lectures, dance programs, and more. Allied Arts’ yearlong jazz concert series gives the stage to national acts along with Northwest stars.
Mandolinist David Grisman and his quintet kick off the series, bringing their mix of bluegrass, jazz, and rock, to Katherine L. White Hall January 27. Grammy Award-winning songstress Paula Cole follows February 10 with her interpretations of classic ballads. For a full schedule and ticketing information, visit vashonalliedarts.org.
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. Effervescent South Sound vocalist LaVon Hardison opens the 2018 series, on January 20, with her quartet; featuring Eric Verlinde (piano), Dean Schmidt (bass), and Jeff “Bongo” Busch (drums and percussion).
Tickets are $15, and parking is free. For information on upcoming performances, visit their Facebook page.
Jazz in the City
Jazz in the City celebrates the vibrancy and longevity of jazz music in Seattle through yearly concert series emphasizing local artists. Sponsored by Ariel Media, a multimedia company servicing the 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.
Jazz in the City also co-presents concerts with the Triple Door. Caribbean piano virtuoso Monty Alexander heads the series January 9–10; March 6 and 7, Grammy Award-winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater performs; March 28–31, Herp Albert plays with Lani Hall; May 11–13 vocalist Kurt Elling takes the stage; and June 14–16 pianist Ramsey Lewis performs. For upcoming performances and ticketing, visit newurbanunlimited.com/jazz-in-the-city.html.
Seattle First Baptist Church lends the prime acoustics of its immense gothic sanctuary to local jazz musicians for its Jazz Vespers series, which runs October through June at 6pm on the first Sunday of each month. These donation-based performances take the form of an initial set, followed by a short non-sectarian inspirational message, and a second set, with light refreshments following.
On January 7, join the musical congregation for Mikel Rollins with Momentum Jazz Quartet as they kick off 2018. For more upcoming concerts in Jazz Vesper’s 16th season, visit seattlefirstbaptist.org.
Whatcom Jazz Music Arts Center
The Whatcom Jazz Music Arts Center (WJMAC) connects upcoming jazz musicians with regional and national professionals through mentoring, combo classes, and all-ages concerts of acclaimed artists. Founded in 2015 by drummer and educator Julian MacDonough, WJMAC also sustains jazz audiences with Wednesday evening concerts often featuring top Northwest musicians 7pm at the Unity Spiritual Center. Visit wjmac.org for more information and upcoming performances.