Butch Morris conducting his Conduction® No. 189, S & P at PONCHO Hall Saturday night.

The New York-based composer, conductor, and cornetist Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris redefined the roles of composer, conductor, and performer with this concert which featured two separate 15-member ensembles. Below is Butch working with the Associate Artists Ensemble.

The Associate Artists Ensemble was: Darian Asplund, soprano sax; Jacob Brady, drums; Colin Field, cello; Jacob Herring, trombone; Jamie Maschler, accordion; Evan McPherson, guitar; Steven O’Brien, trumpet; James Pfeffer, percussion; Matthew Reed, clarinet; Dick Robinson, flute; Sydney Robinson, voice; Jacob Stickney, tenor sax; Martin Strand, bass; Brent Vaartstra, guitar; Colby White, alto sax

The second group was the Master Artists Ensemble of: Brianna Atwell, viola; Heather Bentley, violin; Samantha Boshnack, trumpet; Greg Cambell, percussion; Lesli Dalaba, trumpet; Beth Fleenor, clarinet; Craig Flory, woodwinds; Wayne Horvitz, electronics; Paris Hurley, violin; Paul Kukichu, percussion; Joanne de Mars, cello; Lisa Miller, piano; Steve Moore, keyboards; Katie Rife, vibes; Monica Schley, harp; Tom Varner, horn.

This was one of the most interesting performances I have seen in a log time. Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris is recognized internationally as a leading innovator in the confluence of jazz, new music, improvisation and contemporary classical music and the principal theorist and practitioner in the evolution of Conduction®. Since 1974, his career has been distinguished by unique and outstanding international contributions to film, theater, dance, television, radio, interdisciplinary collaborations, concerts and recordings. Employing more than 5,000 musicians in 23 countries and 63 cities, Morris has opened the door to a new understanding of musical language. Morris has acted as a resident conductor and lecturer at institutions such as Princeton University, California Institute of the Arts, Yale University, Wesleyan University, New York University, University of Westminster, London, Orchestra della Toscana, Florence, Mito Museum, Mito, Japan, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and many others.


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).

I have been wanting to add some more of the photos from Earshot Jazz Festival performance of the exciting Roosevelt High School Jazz Ensemble with the Matt Wilson Quartet since the night of the concert. Here are some more shots from Monday October 19th performance at the Triple Door.
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The award-winning Roosevelt High School Jazz Ensemble played Monday night at the Triple Door. After opening the show with some of their own material  they were joined onstage with  the Matt Wilson Quartet.

Under the 23-year leadership of Scott Brown, the big band remains one of the best of its kind in the country. In 2008, for the second year in a row and third time overall, the band won top honors at the Essentially Ellington competition. The Roosevelt High School Jazz Ensemble is directed by Scott Brown with the assistance of Stuart MacDonald.


Kirk Knuffke (trumpet), Jeff Lederer (alto sax), Chris Lightcap (bass), ands MAtt Wilson, (drums) join the Roosevelt High School Jazz Ensemble on stage at the Triple Door.
“This Matt Wilson Quartet is dedicated to bringing the music to the people. We perform music that is not afraid to challenge andentertain. We have fun and so will you!” Such is the guiding philosophy of percussionist Matt Wilson’s longstanding and widely celebrated quartet.

I will post a lot more photos over the next couple of days in a gallery when I can process them.


October 17th, 2009


Here are some more photos of the GARFIELD HIGH SCHOOL JAZZ BAND, under the direction of Clarence Acox, with MIGUEL ZENÓN playing at the Triple Door Friday night. If you missed Miguel Friday he is playing there again tonight. Here is the listing for tonight October 17.
The Triple Door, 7:30 $22 general, $11 youth
The Puerto Rican saxophonist, a brilliant star on the international jazz scene, and the newest faculty member at the New England Conservatory, brings his explosive new group to the main stage for Earshot’s opening weekend. Golden Ear Award winning drummer Byron Vannoy opens with his sterling Meridian quintet.


GARFIELD HIGH SCHOOL JAZZ BAND under the direction of Clarence Acox opened the 2009 Earshot Jazz Festival Friday night to a packed house at the Triple Door. What a great vibe to begin the festival. It is amazing to see some many talented young musicians coming up here in Seattle. What a fantastic show.

More photo coverage to come later.

Photo from the Earshot Jazz cover of August 2009 issue  featuring WACO. WACO is Al Keith, Mark Taylor, Stuart MacDonald, Thomas Marriott, Phil Sparks,Steve Treseler, Jim Dejoie Byron Vannoy, Greg Sinibaldi, Samantha Boshnack Chris Stover, Robin Holcomb, Tom Varner, Brad Allison, Eric Barber (and not present in photo Nelson Bell and Wayne Horvitz)
From the Earshot Jazz article by Peter Monaghan:
Fourteen or more jazz players at full throttle is an unmatched musical thrill, to be sure. And that’s not where the joy of big-bands ends. You may experience breathtaking precision and unison of a kind that the Basie band perfected, or the exquisite voicing of Ellington’s men. At the least, you’ll hear a lot happening, and cop an uncommon musical clout. It is our good fortune, as Seattleites, then, that our city offers as much in the way of big-band variety as any American city. A healthy jazz ecology, with several high schools turning out shoals of accomplished players, ensures that those large ensembles, in their considerable numbers, maintain an impressive level of musicianship. The region’s ace high-school bands play superbly in Basie and Ellington modes. Jay Thomas’s Friendly Fire sparks what its name implies. Jim Knapp’s big band takes on the compositional complexity of pieces such as its leader’s own. The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra can rightly boast of an all-star local lineup that performs, as its name suggests, the great music of the art form’s yesteryears. Several other spirited ensembles surely make this city ranks second to none in this powerful, driving form of jazz. But what the scene has missed is a large ensemble that plays a truly modern repertoire. Into this breach has stepped the Washington Composers Orchestra (WACO), which three top musicians with extensive New York experience formed last year. It was then that plans came to fruition between wife-and-husband team Robin Holcomb and Wayne Horvitz, who had been in Seattle for a decade, and French horn master Tom Varner, a much more recent arrival in the Northwest.
Go to Earshot Jazz publication to continue reading.

WACO in performance at TOST in Fremont on Sunday June 28th, 2009

Photos by Seattle Photographer Daniel Sheehan specializing in portraits and photojournalism for publications and corporations and a Seattle wedding photographer, shooting weddings with a photojournalistic style creating artistic documentary Seattle wedding photography.


Here is a color version of the photograph on the cover of this month’s Earshot Jazz, the magazine, honoring Seattle’s Garfield High School, under the direction of Clarence Acox, for taking top honors on Sunday, May 10th in New York at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 14th Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival. They were selected as the winner by a panel of judges composed of distinguished jazz musicians and historians — Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center Artistic Director; composer, conductor and Ellington authority David Berger; educator, clinician and pianist, Reginald Thomas; and legendary jazz trumpeter and composer/ arranger, Gerald Wilson— from among the 15 finalist bands from the U.S. and Canada that came to the Competition & Festival in New York City. At the awards ceremony, Wynton Marsalis presented prizes and cash. Acox accepted the 1st place trophy and an award of $5,000. Scott Brown, Director of the Roosevelt High School Jazz Band, accepted the 2nd place trophy and an award of $2,500. For complete list of winners, including top soloists and sections, visit www. earshot.org.

Story by Danielle Bias from Earshot Jazz, the magazine.


Phil Kelly has been working on a new CD project out at Bear Creek Studio in Woodinville recently. I got to make a panoramic photo of the whole band on a break out behind the studio. Phil is seated at right.

Jerry Dodgion Portrait

June 3rd, 2009


Jerry Dodgion was in town this weekend playing in a big band making a recording with Phil Kelly. He told me he needed a new portrait for publicity since he has some gigs coming up in the San Francisco Bay area. He grabbed his sax and we got together and made this portrait. Jerry is a jazz saxophonist and flautist.
Jerry Dodgion, alto saxophone, flute, arranger and composer, hails from Richmond, California on San Francisco Bay. He gained early experience in 1950s with bay area bands of Rudy Salvini, John Coppola/Chuck Travis and Gerald Wilson as well as brief appearances with the Vernon Alley quartet which included backing Billie Holiday in 1955.
Dodgion joined Benny Carter, on Gerald Wilson’s recommendation, for the opening of the “Moulin Rouge” in Las Vegas ‘55. Jerry joined the Red Norvo quintet [`58-’61] which included long stints in Las Vegas at the “Sands Hotel.” Many tours accompanying Frank Sinatra ‘59-’60 plus touring as part of the Benny Goodman groups of ‘59-’61 which incorporated the Red Norvo quintet into Goodman’s ten piece band (including Flip Phillips, Bill Harris and Jack Sheldon) and subsequent versions which included Zoot Sims, Carl Fontana and Charlie Shavers.

After a long career as a side man, Dodgion’s first release as a bandleader arrived in 2004 with his ensemble The Joy of Sax, featuring saxophonists Frank Wess, Brad Leali, Dan Block and Jay Brandford, pianist Mike LeDonne, bassist Dennis Irwin and percussionist Joe Farnsworth.