Last night Earshot Jazz presented trumpeter Nate Wooley teamed up with free jazz percussionist Paul Lytton to form a textural, avant-garde duo. Wooley uses amplifying effects on his instrument, and impresses with virtuoso playing, using experimental registers and sentimental phrasing. Lytton creates lush, minimalistic sounds with electronics and obscure tones. The adventurous percussionist incorporates a clutter of objects like water, a flour sifter, and wooden blocks into his kit playing. While British Lytton and American Wooley have a 27-year age gap, the musicians have found a commonality in their improvising styles, making for a collaboration that organically avoids a repetition of ideas.

Lytton has worked extensively on the London free improvisation scene in the 1970s and was a founding member of the London Musicians Collective. The percussionist has appeared on over 40 recordings and worked with Roscoe Mitchell, Barry Guy, and the London Jazz Composers Orchestra.

Wooley has released multiple records under his own name since 2009 and has been gathering international acclaim for his playing for the last three years. The “iconoclastic trumpeter” (Time Out New York) has had his compositions featured in art festivals in New York, Copenhagen, and Poland. Wooley also acts as the curator of the Database of Recorded American Music.




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.




Battle Trance

December 30th, 2014


The 2014 Earshot Jazz Festival presented Battle Trance in concert on Nov 1. A  special sound I really liked.

What happens when you wake up one morning with the unshakable feeling that you need to start a tenor saxophone quartet with three people you barely know? If you’re Travis Laplante you don’t question the impulse, you just follow the muse. And follow it he did, as the ensemble, Battle Trance, was formed that very evening.

Described as music that not only transcends genres, but also time and space, the group’s 2014 debut recording, Palace of Wind (available on New Amsterdam Records), inhabits the cracks between contemporary classical music, avant-garde jazz, black metal, ambient, and world music. In terms of tradition, it draws on the whirling soundscapes of Evan Parker and is meant to dissolve the separation between listener and sound. Circular breathing, multiphonics, blisteringly fast lines, and unorthodox articulation meld to create hypnotic waves of sound that place the cerebral nature of composition and the visceral act of performance in a purely spiritual sonic space – one that has been described by The New York Times as “a floating tapestry of fascinating textures made up of tiny musical motifs…that throbs with tension between stillness and agitation, density and light.”

With comparisons to figures such as Anthony Braxton and Albert Ayler, Travis Laplante’s music aspires to the sublime and otherworldly. In addition to this newly created ensemble, he also plays in the trio Little Women with bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Ches Smith, and is highly regarded as an innovator on his instrument. He is joined in Battle Trance by three other leading tenor saxophonists: Matthew Nelson, Jeremy Viner, and Patrick Breiner.




So to catch up on my festival coverage,  last night’s show  was the wonderful Eric Vloeimans as Earshot Jazz Festival 2014 rolls on. Eric Vloeimans was as wonderful as ever playing with a new group and  a delightful set of music. Always a great dresser I was most impressed with his shoes last night.

“Jazz trio instruments that come to mind typically aren’t trumpet, accordion and cello. Nor was it necessarily so for Dutch trumpet sensation Eric Vloeimans (pronounced “Flooeymans”), who concocted the present ensemble by combining an instrument he loved (cello) with one he formerly hated (accordion) and added himself. The initial gig proved electrifying for audience and performers alike and, thus, Oliver’s Cinema (the name is an anagram of the trumpeter’s name) was born. Rounding out the trio are accordionist Tuur Florizoone from Belgium and cellist Jörg Brinkmann from Germany.

Regarded as one of Europe’s best performers, Vloeimans has been active in a wide variety of ensembles. He has toured the U.S. twice with his acoustic chamber jazz group, Fugimundi Trio, whose repertoire ranges from contemporary jazz, hymns, and world music to standards. He also leads Eric Vloeimans’ Gatecrash, which has earned a reputation as one of Europe’s top cross-over bands. Vloeimans has played with an array of international artists, among them Mercer Ellington, Peter Erskine, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Wayne Horvitz and Joey Baron.

Jörg Brinkmann studied at the college of Arnheim, Netherlands, and is renowned for his ability to play with jazz and pop bands. Tuur Florizoone is one of the most beloved musicians from Flanders, and has performed with a wide range of contemporary artists, including Carlos Nunez, Manu Chao, Zahava Seewald, and more.

The group’s 2013 CD takes the cinema theme seriously, and includes music written for film, including themes like Rosemary’s Baby and Cinema Paradiso, music with a cinematic quality, Ennio Morricone-like soundtracks and new, original and evocative compositions for imaginary films.”

Here is a link to the 2014 Earshot Jazz Festival Schedule






Jazz photos from 2014 Earshot Jazz festival
Last Saturday I had the joy to hear John Seman’s Lil Coop Quintet at the Chapel Performance Space as the 2014 Earshot Jazz Festival continues.
Bassist, composer, archivist and advocate for improvised music John Seman explores composition and free improvisation and musical past and future – in the moment – with his Lil Coop Quintet, featuring Stephen Fandrich on piano, Robbie Beasley on trumpet, Kate Olson on soprano sax and Tom Zgonc on drums.

A fixture on the Seattle music scene for more than a decade, Seman is co-founder (with Mark Ostroski) of nonprofit new music advocacy organization Monktail Creative Music Concern. Additionally, he holds a sound preservation and recording venture, RPM Preservation, and is a co-host of Floatation Device (91.3 KBCS), a program dedicated to highlighting improvised music from the Northwest and around the world.

Here is a link to the 2014 Earshot Jazz Festival Schedule

Jazz photos from 2014 Earshot Jazz festival

Jazz photos from 2014 Earshot Jazz festival

Jazz photos from 2014 Earshot Jazz festival


August 11th, 2014

Jazz photography of Trimtab, a Seattle Jazz Trio

(Jason Goessl, Brian Oppel, Phil Cali)

Earshot Jazz presented the last in the Jazz: The Second Century series last month ending the series with Trimtab. I really enjoyed listening to this group.

R. Buckminster Fuller, the great 20th century architect and theorist said, “We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.” The band Trimtab is the sonic answer to this call. Trimtab is the concept of guitarist Jason Goessl, who being heavily influenced by the ideas of Buckminster Fuller, saw an intrinsic link between architecture and musical form – a link he sought to express in sound. Initially formed in Minneapolis, Goessl moved west to Seattle and enlisted bassist Phil Cali and drummer Brian Oppel, to form the newest incarnation of Trimtab, and further realize his musical vision.

Sweeping dynamic changes, woven through hypnotic musical tensions, all set against persistent grooves, the music of Trimtab is a unique blend of the concrete and the sonic, the physical and the ephemeral. There is a unique gravitational pull in their music, much like the unseen forces that send skyscrapers into the heavens and lift bridges across impossible expanses. Trimtab, if they are the true architects of the future, call on the past and the future alike to forge a sound whose gravitational center is the inescapable present. If they are answering the call, hopefully someone is listening.
Jazz photography of Trimtab, a Seattle Jazz Trio Jazz photography of Trimtab, a Seattle Jazz Trio Jazz photography of Trimtab, a Seattle Jazz Trio

Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan photographs jazz group Syrinx Effect as part of the Earshot Jazz Series, Jazz: The Second Century
Naomi Siegel (trombone, pedals, field recordings) & Kate Olson (saxophone, effects)
Syrinx Effect an experimental platform for trombonist Naomi Siegel and saxophonist Kate Olson,  played contemporary, improvised music with electronics at the Chapel Performing Space in the opening performance of the Jazz The Second Century, the latest edition of Earshot’s juried series. It was a beautiful set of interesting music.  Olson mixed jazz licks and space on soprano sax above a layer of laptop effects, Buddha Machine loops, and snaps, pops and analog electronic sounds from a Cracklebox. Siegel explored the range and booms of trombone and lays down a background of looped brass thwarted by guitar pedals, plus field recordings from her travels.

The duo’s recent release Gnarly & Sweet shows their approach to improvised sonic journeys, tending to cinematic soundscapes set on droning rhythmic motifs. The two trade responsibilities in driving the shape and form of the pieces, each, at times, soloing minimally and sweetly or bombastically.

Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan photographs jazz group Syrinx Effect as part of the Earshot Jazz Series, Jazz: The Second Century

Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan photographs jazz group Syrinx Effect as part of the Earshot Jazz Series, Jazz: The Second Century

Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan photographs jazz group Syrinx Effect as part of the Earshot Jazz Series, Jazz: The Second Century


The Earshot Jazz 2013 Spring Series continues and last night presented the Refuge Trio. John Hollenbeck, above, played at the Chapel Performance Space  with Theo Bleckmann on voice and Gary Versace on piano & keyboard in an amazing performance of various originals and covers.

Refuge Trio takes its name from the Joni Mitchell song “Refuge of the Roads”. The collaborative trio was formed to play at the 2002 Wall-to-Wall Joni Mitchell Marathon Concert at Symphony Space in NYC. Since then, they have continued to explore delicate and playful music with mystery and exuberance. Their unique voices also play an essential role in the ensembles of Laurie Anderson, Meredith Monk, Bob Brookmeyer, John Scofield and Maria Schneider. As the Refuge trio, they fashion a transformative experience for the audience with their music and spirit.


refuge-hollenbeck-2 refuge-hollenbeck-3 refuge-hollenbeck-5 refuge-hollenbeck-6 refuge-hollenbeck-7

Phil Dadson Ensemble

October 19th, 2012

At the Chapel Performance Space on Friday night, Earshot Jazzz Festival presented the Phil Dadson Ensemble. New Zealand home-made-instrument innovator Phil Dadson, above right, performed with three Seattle soundscapers: Bill Horist, Paul Kikuchi and Steve Barsotti.

Click on the schedule here 2012 Earshot Jazz Festival  continues.

Dadson is a sound installation artist, solo performer, experimental instrument maker and composer. He is the founder of the sound-performance group From Scratch (1974-2002), which developed an international reputation for an innovative sound and performance style that included sculptural, ritual and theatrical elements with large, custom-built plastic instruments and industrial and natural materials used in a variety of non-electronic sounds and energetic rhythms.

Born in Napier, New Zealand, 1946, Dadson studied at Elam School of Fine Arts, where he later lectured in intermedia art from 1977-2001. He is co-author of the From Scratch Rhythm Workbook and Slap Tubes and Other Plosive Instruments, a DIY guide to building a variety of slap tube instruments.

Since 1990 he has received many major awards and commissions, including a Fulbright travel award to the U.S., and research, exhibition and performance grants to Canada, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Hungary, Austria, UK, India and Argentina. A New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate Award in 2001 led Dadson to further expand – in festival appearances, various new commissions; an Artist-to-Antarctica fellowship; and recently, a 2011 expedition of nine artists into the South Pacific, called the Kermadec Ocean Project, to produce works in support of a Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

Phil Dadson writes: In terms of pure sound, I am attracted to intricate texture; the microscopic, the unexpected, the naturally rhythmic and the adventurous; to sound atmospheres and layered perspectives, to sounds that conjure mood and imagination, that convey ideas and express the human heart and soul.

– SH

Earshot Jazz presented Trio Orangutan in the 2nd in the series, Jazz: The Second Century last night at the Chapel Performance space.Trio Orangutan is Kate Olson (soprano saxophone), Naomi Siegel (trombone) and Jason Levis (percussion).

They play composed pieces and improvise in search of the “timbral possibilities of trombone, soprano and percussion,” Olson writes. As the Syrinx Too, Olson and Siegel have worked on those possibilities at the Racer Sessions, Gallery 1412 and elsewhere.

Olson holds a master’s degree from the University of Michigan. She is an area educator and performs with the Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra and the Seattle Conduction Band. Naomi Siegel is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and is now an active performer and music educator in the Seattle area. She regularly performs with Thione Diop, Picoso and other Latin, world and experimental groups. Siegel teaches private trombone lessons and is a member of the Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra. Composer, drummer and UC Berkeley doctoral candidate Jason Levis, currently based in Berlin, makes it a trio.

Seattle musicians have new works in development all the time – at house concerts, at weekly jam sessions, in basement studios and at clubs and cafes around Seattle, including the Seamonster and the Royal Room. Jazz: The Second Century is Earshot Jazz’s open question to that artistic community: so, what’s happening now?

Submissions are considered by a peer-review panel made up of musicians, journalists, former Second Century performers and concert producers. Earshot Jazz thanks all the unique and enterprising creative musicians of this city that submitted their work for consideration. Out of all the materials – a range of home recordings, studio materials, live video clips, full bands, duos and more – this year’s schedule follows below with occasional statements submitted with the artist materials.