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At Tula’s last night and again tonight is Frank Catalano, back by popular demand, the multi-genre, repeat Grammy Award-winning saxophonist excels whether accompanying the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Destiny’s Child, or in straight ahead jazz settings such as his riveting quartet. Frank Catalano Quartet members are: John Roothaan, piano Oliver Horton, bass and Mike Jeffers, drums

Frank Catalano’s new Ropeadope Recording, God’s Gonna Cut You Down, debuted at #2 on the iTunes Jazz sales chart and was the #1 charting Instrumental album upon its release in April 2015. Love Supreme Collectivedebuted at #1 on the iTunes Jazz Charts in July 2014 and is an homage to John Coltrane featuring Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing Pumpkins), Percy Jones (Brand X), Chris Poland (Megadeath), and Adam Benjamin (Kneebody).

Now 37 years old, Catalano is the only known saxman to have performed with Miles Davis, Randy Brecker, Charles Earland, Elvin Jones, Stan Getz, Betty Carter, Von Freeman, Tito Puente, Tony Bennett, Les Claypool, and Louis Bellson, while still in high school. This led to his signing to Delmark Records at age 18 and a string of critically acclaimed recordings. Catalano has been heard by millions of people all over the world thanks in part to three Grammy-winning and 11 Grammy-nominated recordings with artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Destiny’s Child, and John Legend. He has also performed live on the Oprah Winfrey TV show with singer/composer Seal.

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Last night at the Chapel Performance Space 2015 Earshot Jazz presented the trio of Tomeka Reid, Nicole Mitchell, & Mike Reed

From Chicago come three key figures of the new generation of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians collective: versatile cello experimenter Tomeka Reid, renowned for her playing in many genres; frequent DownBeat poll winner Nicole Mitchell, whose explorations have taken her to a professorship at the UC Davis Integrated Composition Improvisation and Technology program; and drummer Mike Reed, “a center of gravity for music in Chicago (and beyond),” Chicago Tribune’s Howard Reich says.

Creative flutist, composer, bandleader, and educator Nicole Mitchell is the founder of Black Earth Ensemble, Black Earth Strings, Ice Crystal, and Sonic Projections. With her contemporary ensembles, from duet to orchestra, Mitchell’s music celebrates African American culture and integrates new ideas with the legacy of jazz, R&B, blues and African percussion. A member of the AACM since 1995, she served as the first woman president of the organization. In recognition of her impact within the Chicago music and arts education communities, she was named “Chicagoan of the Year” in 2006 by the Chicago Tribune. She’s the recipient of the prestigious Alpert Award in the Arts (2011) and among the first recipients of the Doris Duke Performing Artists Award (2012). She has been commissioned by Chicago Sinfonietta, International Contemporary Ensemble, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the Chicago Jazz Festival, and Maggio Florentino Chamber Orchestra.
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It’s generally a reliable sign that something exceptional is going on when the practitioner of a somewhat non-mainstream style of music (singing in Spanish to boot) begins to attract international attention with a weekly gig at a modest-sized New York City restaurant.

Such is the case with the extraordinary Pedrito Martinez Group, whose legendary residency at Manhattan’s Guantanamera Restaurant has earned the group and its leader wide-eyed praise from titans of rock, jazz, and Latin music alike. Martinez can count among his fans Eric Clapton, Derek Trucks, Rubén Blades, Steve Winwood, Taj Mahal, John Scofield, Steve Gadd, Paquito D’Rivera, and Joe Lovano, to name but a few. Wynton Marsalis himself puts it simply: “Pedrito is a genius.”

Since relocating to New York in 2000, the Cuban-born Martinez has extended and refined his consummate mastery of a wide variety of popular Latin music forms anchored with a deep mastery of Afro-Cuban folkloric rhythms. His exceptionally strong tenor voice and dizzying skills on the congas are stretched by an infectious energy and unmistakable joy in the making of music, and he has found the perfect vehicle for his talents with his amazing quartet, which includes Álvaro Benavides providing elastic counterpoint and locked-in groove on electric bass, Jhair Sala (who has played with Martinez since the age of 10) on vocals and percussion, and the band’s newest member, the exceptional pianist Edgar Pantoja-Aleman. The band creates a very big sound, able to seemingly ratchet up to the intensity and drive of a full salsa orchestra, and yet still turn on a dime with the improvisatory flexibility of a small jazz group.

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Seattle’s own Latin music heroes Picoso opened the show last night at Nectar. 2015 had an evening of Latin music opening withPicoso, an ensemble with one foot in the Son Montuno of Eastern Cuba, and one in Seattle’s fertile jazz-groove scene. The group, who recently released their long-awaited Mi Paraiso, Picoso’s third full-length album which demonstrates their maturation as a band and their unique brand of Latin music, at once grown in the Pacific Northwest and rooted in tradition.

 

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Last night a Cornish College, Earshot Jazz presented Kris Davis and her trio. The Vancouver-raised pianist, who has just won a prestigious Doris Duke Impact Award, appeared with drummer Tom Rainey and bassist John Hébert, and performied her darkly energetic, nuanced compositions which were mesmerizing.
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Pianist and composer Kris Davis has developed a reputation as one of the most buzzed-about jazz artists in recent years, noted for her hard-to-pin-down stylistic profile, which encompasses jazz standards, rock rhythms, Cecil Taylor-esque free explorations, contemporary avant-chamber music, and bracing minimalism. Davis has built up a sizable coterie of fans and boosters among the public and peers alike, including piano maverick Jason Moran, who called her “a freethinking, gifted pianist on the scene.” With her depth of skill and considerable experience in multiple musical worlds, Davis has been in high demand, and has performed with a “who’s who” of multiple creative music circles, including Paul Motian, Andrew Cyrille, Tim Berne, Bill Frisell, John Hollenbeck, Michael Formanek, Ralph Alessi, and Mary Halvorson.

Other collaborations notwithstanding, Davis is particularly impressive when fronting the nimble and long-standing trio she will bring to the Earshot Jazz Festival. Featuring bassist John Hébert and the endlessly inventive drummer Tom Rainey, the band’s patient, probing, and thoughtfully deliberate yet free approach to trio improvisation is a wonder to hear. The trio shines on their 2014 album, Waiting for You to Grow, and their interplay and connection has only deepened since the recording. This is a vital and necessary show for all fans of the ever-expanding world of adventurous piano trios

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Last night at the Seattle Art Museum Myra Melford played a wonderful set of her hard to describe compositions.

The singular pianist formed this group in 2012 to perform pieces she wrote for its towering talents: Ron Miles (trumpet), Liberty Ellman (guitar), Stomu Takeishi (bass), and Tyshawn Sorey (drums).

The term “restless” is used with some frequency to describe modern creative musicians with varied sets of proclivities, collaborators, and outlets, and that description may be an apt one for the iconoclastic pianist and composer Myra Melford. But what’s impressive about Melford is how centered and at home she sounds in all of the myriad projects she has been involved with since her emergence in the early ‘90s.
Shaped and emboldened by formative periods of study with Don Pullen and Henry Threadgill, Melford is a composer and musician of seamless range and variety. There is a spiritual tinge and particular geographic orientation to much of her music – experiences such as a trip to India on a Fulbright scholarship and an immersion in the writings of Sufi mystic poet Rumi have had a tangible effect on her aesthetic. From solo piano music to large-scale ensemble creations, her wide-ranging output has brought her into collaboration with a staggering array of the most creative musicians of recent times, including Cuong Vu, Dave Douglas, Han Bennink, and Leroy Jenkins.
Snowy Egret is Melford’s latest group, and one of her finest to date. Featuring Ron Miles on cornet, Liberty Ellman on guitar, Stomu Takeishi on electric bass, and Tyshawn Sorey on drums, Snowy Egret is a band full of imposing improvisers, capable of exacting focus but with a flexible, elastic sense of rhythm and interplay.

Inspired by the writings of Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano, the band’s recent self-titled album is a feat of balance and nuance. There is a notable Latin American influence in some of the writing, but the music is of its own world, simultaneously earthy and cerebral. Henry Threadgill remains one of Melford’s key mentors, and his influence is present both musically and in shared personnel (Ellman and Takeishi are both long-time members of Threadgill ensembles), but the vision is uniquely Melford’s own. Gospel grooves, pointillistic free passages, and knotty ensemble writing all share space, and blend into a dreamy whole, both familiar and comfortable yet bracingly new.

 

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Charles Lloyd, the multi-horn mystic returned to Seattle last night, with another another riveting séance. His newest quartet called on brilliant contemporaries Gerald Clayton (piano) and Kendrick Scott (drums) along with veteran bassist Reuben Rogers.

After nearly five decades of utterly uncompromising music-making, saxophonist Charles Lloyd has achieved the status of a living legend. A singular musician who has no stake in nor need for the genre divisions that frequently occupy so much energy in the jazz world, Lloyd is one of the original cross-pollinators, whose explorations are rooted and steeped in the rich jazz and blues scenes of his native Memphis, Tennessee, but whose musical interests have taken him around the world, literally and figuratively.

Born in 1938, Lloyd picked up the sax at age nine, and by the mid-‘60s, had developed into not only a masterful improviser but also a superb composer and arranger. After a stint with Cannonball Adderly’s band, Lloyd formed the first of his many great quartets, with future Miles Davis alums pianist Keith Jarrett and drummer Jack DeJohnette, along with bassist Cecil McBee. Lloyd’s Quartet appeared at the 1966 Monterey Pop Festival, in a legendary performance that resulted in the album Forest Flower, one of the first jazz albums to sell over a million copies. Lloyd’s expansive modal grooves and avant-garde sounds became an integral part of the quickly evolving stylistic integrations of jazz with rock, psychedelic, and non-Western music. Notably, Lloyd did it with an acoustic quartet – he didn’t have to plug in to cross over.

Since 1989 Lloyd has recorded regularly for ECM, which has released an impressive string of superb albums from the busy master. In April, Lloyd returned to Blue Note Records after nearly 30 years for an outstanding live album entitled Wild Man Dance, which also features the pianist in Lloyd’s current Quartet, Gerald Clayton.

Many of Lloyd’s recent albums and finest live work have been with the same piano/bass/drums quartet format that originally brought him global fame, and his Earshot performance will include, along with Clayton, longtime associate Reuben Rogers on bass and the superb Kendrick Scott on drums.

Lloyd has always shown a fearless embrace of the unknown, and he manages to be simultaneously challenging yet warmly communicative and welcoming, deploying a sagely un-ironic affinity for great songs and melodies from any style of music.

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Last night at Tula’s, the 2015 Earshot Jazz Festival presented Saxophonist Mark Taylor who launched a new ensemble with the ebullient pianist and Cornish alumna and adjunct instructor Dawn Clement. The two award-winning Pacific Northwest artists brought listeners a lineup of new work they are composing together. Pieces from previous albums (Taylor’s Spectre and Clement’s Tempest/Cobalt) were also reworked including noted NYC trumpeter Russ Johnson and top-shelf Seattleites Phil Sparks (bass) and Byron Vannoy (drums).

Clement began playing piano when she was ten years old, with early lessons with ragtime pianist and church organist Keith Taylor. Eventually settling in Vancouver, Wash., Clement joined the high school jazz band and started sitting in at Portland-area jam sessions. Her career today includes playing at the Mary Lou Williams Piano Competition at Washington DC’s Kennedy Center and Paris’ International Martial Solal Jazz Piano Competition, teaching at Cornish and at Port Townsend’s Centrum Jazz Workshop, and releasing five CDs. Clement is currently working on her Masters of Composition at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Seattleite Mark Taylor is a creative improviser and impeccable ensemble player. He performs and records extensively with Matt Jorgensen +451, Jim Knapp Orchestra, Tom Varner, Thomas Marriott, Wayne Horvitz, Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, and the Randy Halberstadt Quintet. Taylor has two acclaimed Origin Records releases: After Hours (2002) and Spectre (2009). He teaches privately and holds a BM from the University of Washington (1994), and MM from the Manhattan School of Music (2000).

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2015 Earshot Jazz Festival presented at Cornish College, in a rare solo performance, the “hippest harpist” (Wall Street Journal), from Colombia, demonstrates the virtuosic command that explains his growing acclaim. He produces symphonic, rapid-fire, melodic Latin American rhythms. Opening, also in distilled solo performance, is Seattle’s brilliant Brazilian pianist Jovino Santos Neto. After his set Castañeda was joined on stage by Jovino Santos Neto for a duet that was great.

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An astounding instrumentalist with a unique approach to South American composition, Edmar Castañeda is gaining respect and acclaim in the international jazz community. Born in Bogota, Columbia, Castañeda followed his father’s pursuit of mastery on entrancing South American harp. Though Castañeda tours frequently with his trio, and as a member of the Andrea Tierra Quartet, we are fortunate tonight to enjoy the full force of his animated and captivating solo performance.

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The Brazilian transplant and resident genius, Jovino Santos Neto, opens the evening with a rare solo piano (and melodica) performance. A native of Rio de Janeiro, Santos Neto moved to Seattle, and a fruitful association with Cornish College of the Arts, after a performance stop here with his musical mentor, the great Hermeto Pascal. Santos Neto’s mastery of many subgenres of South American music, his gifts as an educator, and his palpable joy in performance have made him a valuable part of Seattle’s music scene. This will be a night of compelling performance, incredible virtuosity, and absolute fun!

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Kareem Kandi, the Tacoma-based saxophonist’s funk- and blues-drenched style was showcased to fine effect in this trio with organist favorite Delvon Lamarr and drummer Adam Kessler last night at Tula’s, as the 2015 Earshot Jazz festival goes on.

Tenor saxophonist Kareem Kandi teaches 35-40 private lessons per week and gigs three to five nights a week, from Bellingham to Olympia and beyond. He’s in his 14th year as artist-in-residence at the Tacoma School of the Arts and his ninth at Pierce College, where he teaches saxophone and, until this year, directed its big band ensemble. He also plays and tours with the folk super-group The Paperboys, from Vancouver, BC. In recent months, Kandi has expanded his bandstand leadership and teaching into a south Sound venture with Boxley’s proprietor Danny Kolke. Together, the two have launched the non-profit Tacoma Jazz Association. Kandi is a class act and a great, gigging bandleader who charms on the microphone and astounds audiences with long, muscly tenor runs, riffs, and hits: an excellent trio instrumentalist.

Organist Lamarr learned the instrument by watching bandleader Joe Doria, while subbing as a drummer on the gig. Today, the fluidity of his feet on the foot pedals, his left hand handling the walking bass lines, and his right hand oscillating between comping and soloing – he’s like a well-rehearsed chamber ensemble unto himself. Lamarr was born in 1978 and grew up in a house where his mother listened to gospel and blues while he and his older brother spun hip-hop and Van Halen records. Today, he works in his own funky groove trio, Rippin Chicken, and works regularly with saxophonist Kandi.

Drummer Kessler is a leader in his own right, from the drum throne at club Barca’s weekly Thursday jazz hang. Tight, clean chops and a mastery of the grammar of the jazz trio allow Kessler to sit deep in the pocket. The percussionist and educator was born in Seattle, 1982, and learned about swing in the Roosevelt High School Jazz Band. He received a BA in Music from Cornish College of the Arts, where he studied jazz, Brazilian, electronic, Middle Eastern, and gamelan music, as well as musicianship and composition training with multi-instrumentalist Denney Goodhew.

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