The 17th Annual Ballard Jazz Festival


Lage Lund photo courtesy of the artist.

May 29–June 1
Various Venues, Ballard

The annual Ballard Jazz Festival returns May 29–June 1 to historic downtown Ballard where it will be met once again by adoring fans, new faces, probably some rain, and of course, all of the jazz to fill your cup. Though the festival is coming a little later in the year than festivals past, the anticipation of an incredible lineup will taste that much sweeter.

Now in its 17th year, the Ballard Jazz Festival was conceived by drummers John Bishop and Matt Jorgensen. The two were recently named 2019 Jazz Heroes by the Jazz Journalists Association for enriching the Seattle jazz scene through their annual festival and record label, Origin Records.

The 2019 Festival kicks off with the Celebration of the Drum Wednesday night at Conor Byrne Pub, where four drummer-led ensembles perform. Leaders include D’Vonne Lewis, Steve Korn, Jeff Busch, and the fourth to be announced. The following night, the Guitar Summit convenes to showcase the finest six-string talent from the Northwest and beyond, including Seattleites Kathy Moore and John Stowell.

The Ballard Jazz Festival prides itself on showcasing local talent along with international artists during the Mainstage Concert. The Friday night event opens with American legendary saxophonist, Ernie Watts, who will command the stage alongside old friends, New Stories, a local trio featuring Marc Seales (piano), Doug Miller (bass), and John Bishop (drums). The headliner— renowned Norwegian-born, NYC based guitarist Lage Lund—presents a trio with Seattle’s own Michael Glynn on bass and Matt Jorgensen on drums. Between performances, Bishop and Jorgensen will be presented with their Jazz Heroes Awards at 8:30pm on the mainstage.

A fan favorite of the festival, the Jazz Walk returns on Saturday to round out the festival. While Seattle loves its hills, the Jazz Walk is easy on the hips, extending on mostly-flat terrain to over 10 venues presenting 23 groups over the course of the evening. Artists include Dawn Clement—Seattle’s most beloved pianist—returning from her new home in the mountains of Colorado to share space with us for one spectacular evening; Johnaye Kendrick, singing siren of the Pacific Northwest; the youngest drummer on the bill, Xavier Lecouturier; and The nu Trio’s cosmic storyteller and trumpeter, Nathan Breedlove; and many more artists.

If you’ve grown up in Seattle—or been here a while—you know there’s a sense of pride for the supportive, innovative, and charismatic music scene that has thrived despite overwhelming gentrification. The jazz scene, especially, has fought the odds for decades, defiantly rooting itself firmly into the city. If you’re new around these parts, you’ve probably heard that Seattle is in more than one way, a cold place.The Ballard Jazz Festival offers an opportunity for warmth, for connection, and community building. A place to meet over the melodies hanging in the air.

–Rayna Mathis

Ticket options include an all-inclusive festival pass (advanced $110/general $120), or individual tickets to separate events (starting at $13). Please note that some venues are 21+. For the full schedule, to purchase tickets, or to learn more about volunteering visit ballardjazzfestival.com.


Posted on

April 29, 2019