Kurt Elling in performance at the  Bellevue  Jazz Festival last spring.

“Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman,” by Kurt Elling won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album tonight at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  He is always wonderful to see live and this album is a fine example of his music.

Jazz Photography by Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan covers jazz performances, and creates portrait photography for publications and corporations and is a Seattle Wedding Photographer at A Beautiful Day Photography.

The Sun Ra Tribute Band on stage at the Chapel Performance Space last Friday night.

This all-star dectet reunited and paid tribute to the inspirational iconoclast Sun Ra by playing many of his compositions from the late 1950s and early 1960s. There were sparkly robes, processions, group vocals, flying objects and planetary alignment. The cast of characters included Stuart Dempster: trombone, Bill Smith: clarinet, Tom Baker: guitar, Greg Sinibaldi: saxophone, Michael Monhart: saxophone, Jim Knodle: trumpet, Lynette Westendorf: piano, Greg Campbell: percussion, horn, Dan O’Brien: bass, Bill Moyer: percussion.

Michael Monhart: saxophone, Bill Smith: clarinet, Greg Sinibaldi: saxophone,

Jim Knodle on trumpet

Brian Heaney, out in front of Sunship, last Friday night.

Sunship reunited Brian Heaney, one of Seattle’s most creative guitarists, with the amazing New York saxophonist Michael Monhart, both formerly of the band Stinkhorn. Along with a fantastic rhythm section – David Revelli on drums and Andrew Luthringer on bass – and top it all off with the inimitable Stuart Dempster (trombone, didjeridu, conch, etc.) this swinging “intergalectric” ensemble lifted-off for a tour of the galaxy and it was a lot of fun. The packed house loved it too judging from the great reception they got.

Brian Heaney, guitar, saxophonist Michael Monhart, and Stuart Dempster on trombone.

Maybe I will see you there this weekend. The line up looks great here is the schedule for the rest of the festival:

The second weekend of: Is That Jazz?

Friday, January 29
Seattle clarinetist Jesse Canterbury leads an all-acoustic ensemble in a strikingly original mix of chamber music, improvisation, and tune-oriented melodic material informed and inspired by the music of clarinetists Louis Sclavis and Michael Moore. The group includes guitarist Tom Baker, cellist Joanne DeMars, and trombonist Chris Stover.

Co-led by drummer Chris Icasiano and saxophonist Neil Welch, Bad Luck is about sound art, slowly developed loops and pedals used to propel the music into new aural fields. Tight-knit original compositions meet sonic mosaics in a musical relationship cultivated by years on the bandstand.

Saturday January 30
The brilliantly creative Cuong Vu brings his trio mates (Stomu Takeishi and Ted Poor) from New York to headline and close out the 2010 Is That Jazz? Festival. If you haven’t heard this scorching ensemble, do not miss this opportunity. In the words of one critic: “It’s pure art. There’s dark-darkenss, joyful lament… and everything about anguish and despair in flat, naked beauty… it will shake you.”

Led by Seattle guitarist and composer Tom Baker, this quartet (with clarinetist Jesse Canterbury, bassist Brian Cobb, and drummer Greg Campbell) weaves modern avant-jazz tunes with beautiful and haunting improvisations. Their music blurs the boundaries between notated music and free improvisation; the unique soundscapes that result are grounded in history, while pushing at the boundaries of jazz.

Festival Website for further information:


All performances at: The Chapel Performance Space
(4639 Sunnyside Avenue North, Seattle – SW corner of 50th and Sunnyside in Wallingford).

Bill Frisell

January 24th, 2010

Bill Frisell playing with Tony Scherr on bazz and and Kenny Wollesen on drums, at the Triple Door.

Bill was in great form Sunday night playing with his Trio of Tony and Kenny. They looked like they were having a lot of fun playing a variety of tunes ending the set with the Lucinda Williams song “Ventura” whose beautiful chorus is:
“I wanna watch the ocean bend,
The edges of the sun,then
I wanna get swallowed up
In an ocean of love.”

I love watching Bill retune his Fender Telecaster as he plays mid-song below.

is that jazz? 2010 – Sunship

January 24th, 2010

Sunship, Brian Heaney- guitar, Michael Monhart- saxophone, David Revelli- drums, Andrew luthringer- bass, Stuart Dempster- trombone, performing Friday Jan 22.

I made it over to the Chapel Performance Space on Friday to catch some of the is that jazz? festival. It was really great music. The place was packed and both groups Sunship and the Sun Ra Tribute Band were palying some fine music. I will post more photos in the coming week.

Sunship reunites Brian Heaney, one of Seattle’s most creative guitarists, with the amazing New York saxophonist Michael Monhart, both formerly of the band Stinkhorn. Add in a fantastic rhythm section – David Revelli on drums and Andrew Luthringer on bass – and top it all off with the inimitable Stuart Dempster (trombone, didjeridu, conch, etc.) and this swinging “intergalectric” ensemble is ready for lift-off.” 

Tom Varner – Heaven And Hell

January 22nd, 2010

Tom Varner  playing and conducting at the Earshot Jazz Festival 2009

Downbeat Magazine just reviewed Tom Varner’s new CD on Omnitone, “Heaven and Hell” Here is an excerpt.

from the February 2010 issue of Downbeat Magazine

It’s usually a good idea to avoid programmatic interpretations of music. The ear of the beholder can be made of tin in detecting intended mean ings, assuming there are any. But when a work is as powerfully rooted in a cultural and political moment as Heaven And Hell, French hornist Tom Varner’s extended piece for tentet, it’s difficult not to assume the images you see in your mind’s eye and the emotions you feel are ones the artist is seeing and feeling as well.

Heaven And Hell was largely inspired by 9/11. Varner witnessed the attacks and their aftermath as a New Yorker. Now based in Seattle, where he and a predominately local cast recorded the album (his first in eight years), he is still coming to terms with the tragedy. A mournful uncertainty defines the opening “Overview,” with its constrained melody and irregular ensemble patterns. As the music builds to the operatic, Greek chorus-like effects and eerie descending tones of “Structure Down,” it draws hope from happier events in Varner’s life, notably the adoption of his Vietnamese son and starting a new life in Seattle. But making stirring use of grouped and clustered horns and sparing use of drums, Varner is nagged by unre solved questions.

For all its darkness, Heaven And Hell unfolds with the easygoing, open clarity that is a hallmark of his music, striking a reward ing balance between bold modern jazz harmonies and austere modern classical voicings. Connected by brief pensive interludes, the longer individual composi tions unfold deliberately. But there’s no lack of peak moments, as witness the lively solos over Phil Sparks’ limber walking bass on “Queen Tai” by the brilliant East Coast trumpeter Russ Johnson, the Konitzian altoist Mark Taylor and the virtuosic Varner.

More than ever, Varner’s warmly expansive but tough-edged playing rescues the French horn from the “miscellaneous” instrument cate gory. The voice of conscience on Heaven And Hell, he also bestows its greatest pleasures.
—Lloyd Sachs