November 3rd, 2009

Edward Simon
(piano), Kenny Davis (bass), Don Byron and Billy Hart (drums) on stage at the Triple Door tonight as the Earshot Jazz Festival carries on in its last week.


For me, the Don Byron Quartet performance was one of the most enjoyable of the Festival so far. Maybe it was the way he sang a Hank Williams tune or how he referenced one of his compositions to the 1968 Olympics high jumper who first took the plunge backwards, but the performance felt very satisfying and complete. I like his eyeglasses too.


Conceived as a means of expressing gratitude to Lester Young, Don Byron’s 2004 release Ivey-Divey convened an all-star trio with Jason Moran and Jack DeJohnette to revisit and reinterpret some of Lester Young’s finest works. Taking its name, orchestration, and much of its repertoire from Young’s great 1940s trio with pianist Nat King Cole and drummer Buddy Rich, Ivey-Divey was immediately recognized as a masterwork. Reflecting Young’s gifts as a communicator, Byron’s ensemble combines the same unbridled joy and enthusiasm of Young’s classic lineup with the innovations and technical advances of the last half century. With Byron playing clarinet and tenor sax, this expanded version of the Ivey-Divey project features Edward Simon (piano), Kenny Davis (bass), and Billy Hart (drums). As with many of Byron’s diverse forays, the Ivey-Divey Quartet is a wholly compelling and at times unpredictable vehicle for Byron and his peers to let loose. From the Earshot Jazz Festival guide.


November 1st, 2009


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.


Photographs by Seattle photographer Michael Craft


October 30th, 2009


Tom Varner conducts his tentet through some of his compositions and seem to be transported to a far away place. His music is so sublime.

From Earshot Jazz Festival we continue to see and hear such wonderful groups and performances. Tom Varner presented his new tentet and new CD, Heaven and Hell.
“Varner calls the piece “my big meaty work for tentet,” something he’s incubated and worked on since September 11, 2001. He notes that the piece mixes “My … hell … being in New York City on 9/11,” with that most incongruous thing, a sort of heaven, as he and his wife adopted their son in Vietnam a short 8 days later. That contrasting mix of elements and imperatives is a Varner specialty, something he did with magnificent ease on The Window Up Above, a take on the American song-book, in 1998. The free-ranging French horn, hardly something one associates with George Jones, made fabulous, slippery improvisational material out of, well, George Jones and other American staples on Window. The point? Varner’s got no fear of steep material, of flowing free, of going “big and meaty.” Varner’s discography shows him using his horn as if it were always an improviser’s mainstay, something that shone as it seemed to smear across notes, slowed brilliantly even as it sped (it is a French horn, after all). His 2001 look at Don Cherry’s Second Communion is nothing short of a master-work, a tribute, of course, but also something that takes the trumpeter’s clipped execution and makes it pliable and all-encompassing. That’s what Heaven and Hell promises, the orchestration of Varner’s elastic harmonics, his use of the ensemble as an instrument, his Ellingtonian ability to animate against the instruments’ limitations.”
—Andrew Bartlett
from Earshot Jazz Festival Program

The Power of the Single Story

October 7th, 2009

I heard this story from the Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie on the danger of depending upon the single story and it hit a nerve. Listen to her on this video from TED.

Fred and Jenn

April 21st, 2009


Fred Gilbert and Jenn celebrated their wedding with a number of Earshot Jazz staff and fans at the Asian Art Museum in March. Here is a large group panoramic photo of everyone attending out on the steps in front of the museum.I really love those camels on both sides of the entrance.

Photo by Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan, a photojournalist specializing in photojournalism and portrait photography for publications and corporations and a Seattle wedding photographer with an unobtrusive, story-telling approach creating award winning Seattle wedding photography and wedding photojournalism.