CLAUDIA ACUÑA QUINTET

November 5th, 2009

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Claudia Acuña’s at the Triple Door Wednesday night with NY pianist and longtime collaborator Jason Linder

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Chilean born Claudia Acuña knew early on that she was to be a singer, though she never could have imagined she would be performing jazz in the United States. Inspired largely by Frank Sinatra, Acuña sought out the only local jazz club and soon began making a name for herself sitting in with visiting stars such as Wynton Marsalis, Michel Petrucciani, and Joe Lovano. In her early 20s, Acuña moved to New York City, where she worked for several years as a coat check at the Blue Note. Learning English, working herself into the jazz community, and performing whenever possible, Acuña truly earned the culminating record deal with Verve Records, and she hasn’t looked back since. Her voice (“the voice of an angel,” as Newsday would tell you) is an instrument of wonder. The jazz community has quickly embraced the gifted singer, and Acuña’s pure, sonorous alto voice, Spanish vocals, and ability to reinvent jazz standards to suit her personal passions in life. Claudia Acuña’s band features NY pianist and longtime collaborator Jason Linder..

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Jovino Santos Neto at Tula’s performing in the Earshot Jazz Festival lineup on Monday night with his quintet. Lots of fun watching him play with Harvey Wainapel on saxophone and Chuck Deardorff on bass.

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The master pianist, flutist, composer, and arranger, beloved for his musical playfulness and stunning technique, is one of the top Brazilian musicians working today. Now based in Seattle, Jovino Santos Neto has throughout his career been closely affiliated with Brazilian master Hermeto Pascoal, working as an integral part of Pascoal’s group from 1977-1992. Santos Neto relocated to the United States in 1993 and studied conducting at the Cornish College of the Arts, where he continues to teach piano, composition, and jazz ensemble. He is a three-time Latin Grammy Award nominee, for Best Latin Jazz Album in 2004, 2006, and 2009. The Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto here features guest saxophonist Harvey Wainapel. Wainapel concentrates equally on soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones. His heavy involvement with the music of Brazil (for which he also plays clarinet) is reflected in his acclaimed releases as a leader.

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Brian Marsella (piano, keyboards, balafon), Shanir Blumenkranz (acoustic/electric bass, oud, gimbre), Tim Keiper (drums, percussion), and Cyro Baptista (percussion, vocals) performed Monday at the Triple door for the Earshot Jazz Festival audience.

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The iconoclastic Brazilian percussionist, and recent movie scene-stealer (Rachel Getting Married), stretched out in a perfect Day of the Dead celebration. His exuberant band mixes voices and instruments from a dizzying array of cultures, creating a thrilling spectacle for eye and ear. The “musical cannibals” of the ensemble put on an exuberant and engaging performance at one point getting the audience to participant along with the band.

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Cyro Baptista’s quartet embodies the philosophy of Anthropofagia, a Brazilian cultural movement from the 1920s. The band “is a musical manifestation of the process of eating, swallowing, and digesting all the tendencies that are part of the sonic landscape and our environment. The music is the product of all sounds that they have collectively consumed over the years; some of them they’ve digested and others they have rejected. After that, it has been difficult to identify what belongs to what country, culture, or religion.”

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November 2nd, 2009

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Achim Kaufmann (piano), Frank Gratkowski (alto saxophone & clarinets), and Wilbert de Joode (bass) incorporateed aspects of contemporary classical music, free improvisation, and the jazz tradition with enormous sympathy, dexterity, and power in their Earshot Jazz Festival appearance at the Chapel Performance Space Monday night.It was a really moving and beautiful musical experience listening to them perform tonight.

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“The trio utilizes its collective musical and personal history to construct a new and unrepeatable world with each performance. The ensemble can create sparse, tense music from the bristling details of quiet interaction, while later firing through heated group improvisations as fast as the ear can follow. The group sound of the trio, which has only strengthened in the last few years, is as bold and unique as any on the scene today. Gratkowski and Kaufmann in particular (the pair first met while studying at the Conservatory of Music in Cologne) perform on a supremely assured plane. The level of empathy between the two men is utterly remarkable. Hardly an experiment in sound collage, however, the music seamlessly moves from sumptuous piano sonorities, fire-breathing Dolphy-esque alto lines, to the most delicate unaccompanied bass performances, all with utter conviction. Sure to defy your expectations of European contemporary improvisation, the Kaufman/ Gratkowski/de Joode trio, as Downbeat’s Greg Buium noted, is “like nothing you’ve heard before.”

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Jay Thomas

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Earshot Jazz Festival continued with the Jay Thomas Double Trio consisting of Atsushi Ikeda (alto sax), Yasuhiro Kohama (tenor sax), Daisuke Kurata (drums), Jay Thomas (trumpet), John Hansen (piano), and Phil Sparks (bass). playing at Tula’s Sunday night.

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This scalding-hot jazz sextet, featuring players from Japan and Seattle, wowed audiences when it made its Seattle debut at City Hall three years ago. The East/West Double Trio is a group of musicians determined to create fresh new jazz for the 21st century and a revitalized cultural connection between Japan and the U.S.
The spirit of the ensemble, of bringing diverse peoples together to play music, is a natural fit with these gifted players. Taken together, the band is impassioned, hard-swinging, inspiring, and more often than not, on fire!
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Steve Lehman

November 2nd, 2009

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Composer and saxophonist Steve Lehman, Downbeat’s Rising Star on the alto saxophone from 2006-2009, opened the Earshot Jazz Festival performance of the JOHN HOLLENBECK CLAUDIA QUINTET at the Saettle Art Museum. Lehman works on the frontiers of contemporary music and has recently emerged as one of today’s truly original creative voices. Last night he worked  on a daring and expansive solo saxophone setting.

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John Hollenbeck’s genre-defying Claudia Quintet returned to Seattle with driving rhythms, beautiful and quirky melodies, and stunning virtuosity. Much of Claudia’s instantly recognizable sound must be traced to its members, bassist Drew Gress, saxophonist Chris Speed, vibraphonist Matt Moran, and accordianist/ keyboardist Ted Reichman. Sunday night they were joined by he versatile and brilliant pianist Gary Versace.

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From the groups inception, Hollenbeck knew the quintet was to be a true band, its sound determined as much by the players’ personalities as by the compositions and instrumentation.   The band has been hailed by diverse audiences from around the world, attesting to the fact that genre-defying music need not be inaccessible. The Claudia Quintet is an astonishing ensemble, certainly one of the most original and enjoyable small groups performing today.

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Will Goble is an in-demand bassist who boasts a full, dark sound, a strong desire to swing, and an unshakable commitment to support his fellow musicians in any ensemble. He has appeared as a sideman with Grammy award-winning pianist Marcus Roberts and with numerous other notable artists, including Vincent Gardner, Marcus Printup, and Jason Marsalis. He currently performs frequently with his own trio as well as the Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet.

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Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson
For last night’s special performance, he was joined by the accomplished saxophonist Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson, himself a seasoned member of the Wynton Marsalis Septet and former longtime member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. As his nickname suggests, Warmdaddy’s sax playing has a rich and welcoming tone. Anderson was coupled with the equally warm and swinging styles of the Will Goble Trio featuring Austin Johnson on piano and David Potter on drums.
Above photographs by Seattle photographer Michael Craft

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Will Goble

MARC CARY TRIO

November 1st, 2009

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Marc Cary’s Focus Trio – West Coasters David Ewell (bass) and Sameer Gupta (drums and tabla) – departs from Cary’s electronic and hip-hop vibes to work with an energetic acoustic palette. “Jazz is the rhythmic approach I’m coming from with Focus Trio,” Cary says.

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His Focus Trio revisits the acoustic jazz vocabulary with a mix of Cary’s roots in the classic jazz idiom and of the driving rhythms that recall Cary’s acoustic-electric hip-hop crossover Indigenous People group from 1999. The trio’s music might give way to up-tempo swings, to ambient explorations, or to a recording of Langston Hughes’ “Dream Deferred.” Continue reading Earshot Jazz Festival Guide.

Photographs by Seattle photographer Michael Craft

JIM KNAPP ORCHESTRA

November 1st, 2009

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Jim Knapp, one of the most respected composers and arrangers on the West Coast, has evolved his concept of ensemble music into a uniquely identifiable sound.  Jim lead his orchestra in a performance last night at Poncho Hall at Cornish as part of the Earshot Jazz Festival.

His 15-piece orchestra featured many of the finest jazz soloists in the Northwest, and has appeared in collaboration with Lee Konitz, Jay Clayton, Julian Priester, Jovino Santos Neto, Robin Holcomb, Kirk Nurock, Carla Bley, and Steve Swallow. Knapp has also served as director of The Composers and Improvisors Orchestra and has led various small jazz groups such as Ohio Howie and the Temple of Boom and the J-Word. Knapp founded and developed the jazz program at Cornish College of the Arts in the late 1970s, where he continues to teach and currently serves as a professor of music. In 2006, he was honored by Cornish College with a special “35 Years of Jazz” award in recognition of his many years of service to that institution.

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Photographs by Seattle photographer Michael Craft