Cuong Vu’s Triggerfish

October 18th, 2012

Last night at ILLSLEY BALL NORDSTROM RECITAL HALL AT BENAROYA HALL was a special treat. Comfortable seats, a great view and a wonderful sound of two great trios starting with Cuong Vu’s Triggerfish. The 2012 Earshot Jazz Festival continues and tonight completes the first week. It goes on until Nov 4th.
Cuong Vu is a leader of a generation of innovative musicians. As a youngster himself, Vu’s intense dedication and love for music led him to a full scholarship at the New England Conservatory of Music, then to New York in 1994 to begin an early career alongside other West Coast transplants Chris Speed, Jim Black, Andrew D’Angelo. Vu led various groups while touring extensively and performing with Pat Metheny, Myra Melford, Laurie Anderson, David Bowie.

2012 Earshot Jazz Festival  continues. Click on the schedule.

As a leader, Vu has carved out a distinct sonic territory on the trumpet, blurring stylistic borders while developing his own compositional aesthetic. Now an assistant professor in jazz studies at the University of Washington, he was recently awarded the UW’s prestigious Distinguished Teacher Award and is a Donald E. Petersen Endowed Fellow. For this performance, he is joined by Ted Poor on drums and Eric Revis on bass.

– DB

2012 Earshot Jazz Festival  continues. Click on the schedule.

Grace Kelly Quintet

November 13th, 2011

Grace Kelly Quintet at Tula’s in the last week of the Earshot Jazz Festival.

Earshot Jazz Festival 2011 presented the 19-year-old jazz wonder, saxophonist/vocalist Grace Kelly  who “plays with intelligence, wit, and feeling,” says one of her many fans, Wynton Marsalis.

Just five years ago at the age of 14, Grace Kelly garnered the first of her ASCAP Foundation awards and landed an invitation to perform with the Boston Pops. Kelly met this challenge by writing her first full orchestral arrangement and performing it in Boston’s iconic Symphony Hall. Since then, she has garnered accolades for many of the artists she has grown up revering. She has already performed and recorded with the likes of Dave Brubeck, Phil Woods, Harry Connick Jr., Jamie Cullum, Frank Morgan, Esperanza Spalding, Chris Potter, Cedar Walton, James Cotton and Terri Lynn Carrington, among many others. Perhaps her most intensive connection has been with Lee Konitz, whom Kelly has studied with since age 13.

Lately acclaimed for her recordings of “gospel jazz,” she was joined by Jason Palmer (trumpet), Doug Johnson (piano), Evan Gregor (bass), and Jordan Perlson (drums).

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Saxophonist Chris Potter with his group  Chris Potter’s Underground at the 2011 Bellevue Jazz Festival at the Theatre at Meydenbauer Cente last Thursday.
Playing with Chris were Fima Ephron, Bass, Nate Smith, drums, Adam Rogers, guitar.

A world-class soloist, accomplished composer and formidable bandleader, saxophonist Chris Potter has emerged as a leading light of his generation. Since bursting onto the New York scene in 1989 as an 18-year-old prodigy with bebop icon Red Rodney, Potter has steered a steady course of growth as an instrumentalist and composer-arranger.

Down Beat called him “One of the most studied (and copied) saxophonists on the planet” while Jazz Times identified him as “a figure of international renown.”
Potter’s impressive discography includes 15 albums as a leader and sideman appearances on over 100 albums. He was nominated for a GRAMMY® Award for his solo work on “In Vogue”, a track from Joanne Brackeen’s 1999 album Pink Elephant Magic, and was prominently featured on Steely Dan’s GRAMMY® winning album from 2000, Two Against Nature. He has performed or recorded with many of the leading names in jazz, such as Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, John Scofield, the Mingus Big Band, Jim Hall, Paul Motian, Dave Douglas, Ray Brown and many others.
Potter’s most recent recording, Ultrahang, is the culmination of five years’ work with his Underground quartet. Recorded in the studio in 2009 after extensive touring, it showcases the band at its freewheeling yet cohesive best.

Here are some pictures from their performance.

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Nels Cline Singers – Nels Cline on guitar, right with bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Scott Amendola, performing at the Chapel Performance Space on Saturday Jan 29th at the 2011 Is That Jazz?, Seattle’s avant-jazz music festival. Don’t let the name fool you. There is no singing with this band.  “Instead, Cline creates spacious and highly textured, simultaneously beautiful and discordant instrumentals. They’re also wholly original. To an untrained ear, these jazz-inflected songs could sound like formless improvisations and bursts of noise. But amidst the sharp single-note runs and occasional feedback, there’s a lot of complexity and structure to these dynamic compositions.

Yet it’s Cline’s nimble guitar work on his Fender Jazzmaster that commands the most attention. It’s hard not to get transfixed in his spidery fingerings, or to try to parse his melodic phrasing. Joined here on keys by multi-instrumentalist (and Cibo Matto co-founder and his new bride) Yuka Honda, Cline and company performed original pieces, including a couple from their superb new double-album Initiate.” Continue reading and see clip on NPR

2011 Is That Jazz? is one of the most consistently quirky and interesting festivals around.

Thanks to  Seattle photographer Michael Craft for providing coverage of the Nels Cline Singers and the second week of the 2011 Is That Jazz? festival.

Here is another overdue photograph from the Earshot Jazz Festival. The Teaching performed at the Triple Door on October 27th. Featuring keyboardist Josh Rawlings, bassist Evan Flory-Barnes, and and percussionist Jeremy Jones, The Teaching creates immersive and infectious improvised music as no one else in Seattle is making it. The trio formed in 2006, growing exclusively from the chemistry the band discovered on stage. The band’s philosophical trajectory was more clearly defined, as the trio shared the rather grand interest in sharing the teachings of mankind, while also fostering a musical environment of “devotion, surrender, sensitivity, enthusiasm, and joy to direct the flow of the music.”
Musically, The Teaching revels in spontaneity, jumping off in any number of directions (hip-hop, jazz, R&B, soul, Afro-Cuban, drum n’ bass) on a whim, while controlling momentum and pacing with great precision. Josh Rawlings’ sparkling, luscious chords (affectionately dubbed “kraws” by those in the community familiar with the man), Flory-Barnes’ explosive swing and inventive technique, and Jones’ ferocious drumming are the trademark sounds of the band. More recently, spontaneous vocals and devotional chanting have added greater depth to the trio’s sound. It is quite magical when it all comes together, and here the band does indeed create “music that has no limits,” as Rawlings told Earshot Jazz in an interview during the summer of 2009.
Having now released their self-titled debut studio album and a live DVD, and having won the Golden Ear for 2009 NW Acoustic Jazz Group of the Year, The Teaching is poised to reach a larger audience than ever with their celebratory music and their message of community. Effortlessly enjoyable, but not wanting for intelligence.

Photography by Seattle photographer Michael Craft.

With these pictures of Gretchen Parlato I am trying catch up with photos from the now completed Earshot Jazz Festival which ended a week ago. I was quite busy shooting during the festival and still have some pictures that I never had time to upload. They will be all get posted here shortly.

Young vocalist Gretchen Parlato is widely respected and loved by her peers – other musicians – and has received rave reviews for her distinctively original recordings. According to Billboard Magazine: “Parlato’s time has arrived…the most alluring jazz vocal album of 2009.” Her CD In A Dream also “belongs in the 4-5 Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album,” said critic Don Heckman. It was chosen #1 Best Vocal Jazz Album of the Year by the Village Voice. Fans, fellow musicians, and the press all seem to be on the same page when it comes to Ms. Parlato’s burgeoning career, poised on the brink of super-stardom as some have stated.
Few improvising singers have her combination of a lovely natural voice, wide range, willingness to take chances, seemingly unlimited imagination in her original songs, wise choice of music written by others, and innate soulfulness less any artifice or posturing.
These numerous talents are evident on her first self-titled CD, the stunning recordings with Lionel Loueke (Virgin Forest from 2007 in particular), collaborations with Helen Sung and Ambrose Akinmusire, and the 2006 performance of “Journey” with Kendrick Scott Oracle from The Source. Parlato has quickly amassed an impressive discography.

Photography by Seattle photographer Michael Craft.

Michael Blake in an Earshot Jazz Festival performance at Cornish Poncho Concert Hall Thursday night with Soren Kjaergaard keyboards. and Godske Lindenov on bass and Ben Perowsky, drums.

Michael Blake’s Nordic ensemble, Blake Tartare, and their tribute to Lucky Thompson, the peripatetic tenor and soprano genius who went from the bands of Don Redman, Billy Eckstine, and Count Basie, to a world without improvising, without playing publicly, after he abandoned playing in the 1970s. It’s a fitting locale for Blake’s tribute, given Thompson’s final days here in Seattle and his death in 2005 after a bout with Alzheimer’s.

Blake Tartare will certainly indulge Thompson’s lyrical side, but they’ve also got a broader view of the tradition, one where the avant-garde and tradition aren’t separate kingdoms; it’s instructive in this light to herald Thompson’s soprano playing, which was more Steve Lacy and John Coltrane, not completely avant but certainly tinged with plenty of post-bop thought patterns even when the horn was barely being dusted off. Blake has a similar ear, a likeminded sense of the tradition, and when it came time to record Thompson’s tunes, Blake added cello and bass clarinet and more, scaling some Thompsonian bop staircases and adding color and depth along the way. Paired with Horvitz as a double-bill, Blake’s Thomson reveries touched that classic nerve center in the annals of experiencing improvisation: mutual discovery simultaneously with the audience.

Click here for the complete schedule for the rest of the upcoming shows at the 2010 Earshot Jazz Festival

At Tula’s on Thursday, Earshot Jazz Festival presented the long-time top-draw keyboardist, accordionist, and educator Murl Allen Sanders a master of many forms of music, including jazz. He made his debut performance as a bandleader at Tula’s with the saxophonist Warren Rand.
anders the accordionist is likely better known to fans than Sanders the keyboardist. No doubt his style on accordion is unique and readily indentifiable, fusing together pop, zydeco, rock, country and blues influences. However, Sanders is quick to point out that as a both a keyboardist and accordionist, he has been greatly impacted by jazz music, and that is the aspect of his diverse repertoire that will be on display tonight.

Over the years, he has studied the performances jazz accordionists Art Van Damme, Leon Sash and Tommy Gumina. However, he cites pianists Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson as well as organists Billy Preston, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy Mcgriff, Richard “Groove” Holmes and Jack McDuff as having left an indelible mark on how he approaches music. Sanders has collaborated with such diverse artists as Chuck Berry, Etta James, Merrilee Rush, Theodore Bikel, Peter Duchin and David Matthews.

Continue reading at: EarshotJazz Festival

Click here for the complete schedule for the rest of the upcoming shows at the 2010 Earshot Jazz Festival

Jazz Photography by Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan creating portraits for publications and a Seattle Wedding Photographer with a photojournalist style.

In another Earshot jazz Festival presentation, the superb quartet of Idaho saxophonist Brent Jensen and Seattle-based all-stars pianist Bill Anschell, bassist Jeff Johnson, and drummer John Bishop celebrated their latest Origin Records release, Motives on Saturday night at Tula’s. It was a superb performance all around of some wonderful music.

Already garnering stellar reviews, the disc is proof of “how many great jazz musicians there are throughout the United States,” according to Jazz Review. Jazz Chicago calls it a “true gem of a recording. This album entrances immediately from the start—beginning with Jensen’s tribute to free jazz pioneer and Ornette Coleman drummer Ed Blackwell…”

While the musicians are well-known to many in the Pacific Northwest and beyond, it is worth mentioning some of their credentials. Jensen currently serves Director of Jazz Studies at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls and has performed with a variety of jazz artists, including Gene Harris, Bill Watrous, Lew Soloff, John Stowell, the Manhattan Transfer and the Lionel Hampton Big Band. Pianist Anschell performs regularly with many of Seattle’s finest musicians and has also worked with Nnenna Freelon, Ron Carter, Benny Golson and Russell Malone.

Continue reading at: EarshotJazz Festival

The Kora Band at Tula’s

September 11th, 2010

The Kora Band in performance Thursday Sept 9th. They are pianist Andrew Oliver, Brady Millard-Kish, bass, Kane Mathis, kora and guitar, Chad McCullough, trumpet and Mark DiFlorio, drums and percussion.

On Thursday Sept 9th. The Kora Band celebrated the release of their newest album “Cascades” which covers a variety of West African pieces, modern repertoire from Congo and Cameroon, as well as originals by Mathis and Oliver with some subtle influences of jazz. Tula’s was crowded for the  first two sets and the music was a delightful mixture of African and Jazz sounds and rhythms. I look forward to hearing them again back at Tula’s as they play on the opening day of the Earshot Jazz Festival.

To learn more about the band go to the websites of the band:The Kora Band –

and each of the musicians:

Chad McCullough –
Andrew Oliver –
Kane Mathis –
Mark Diflorio –
Brady Millard-Kish –