Earshot Jazz presented Bill Horist in the 2nd in the series, Jazz: The Second Century last night at the Chapel Performance space.

Internationally prolific in the alternative and underground and in rock, jazz, avant-garde and folk music, Seattle guitarist Bill Horist has appeared on 70 recordings and has performed well over 1,000 concerts throughout North America, Mexico, Europe and Japan. He’s worked with John Zorn, Wayne Horvitz, Stuart Dempster, Trey Gunn, Secret Chiefs 3, Shazaad Ismaily, Saadet Turkoz, Jack Wright, Amy Denio, Eyvind Kang, Paul Hoskin, Wally Shoup, Paul Kikuchi, Jessica Lurie, Tucker Martine and Master Musicians of Bukkake, Axolotl and the Paul Rucker Ensemble in addition to extensive solo activity. Horist is an Artist Trust grant and fellowship recipient (2006, 2005). From Horist’s Second Century submission: I view jazz as an aspiration more than a genre. … For those that see jazz as a genre, it might be difficult to consider that what I do is related somehow. … I suppose it becomes difficult for a forward-thinking idea to countenance the gravity of its own growing history, but if there’s any place where the duality can exist, it’s here, in this music.

Bill Horist opened up the evening and was followed by Trio Orangutan.

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.

– Schraepfer Harvey

Malcolm Goldstein

November 13th, 2011

Earshot Jazz Festival 2011 presented Malcolm Goldstein at CHAPEL PERFORMANCE SPACE last Saturday night. Composer and violinist Malcolm Goldstein has been active in the presentation of new music and dance in New York since the early 1960s, as co-founder of the Tone Roads Ensemble and as participant in the Judson Dance Theater, the New York Festival of the Avant Garde and the Experimental Intermedia Foundation. For nearly five decades, he has toured extensively throughout North America and Europe, presenting solo violin concerts and appearing as soloist with new music and dance ensembles. His “soundings” improvisations have received international acclaim for “reinventing violin playing,” extending the range of tonal and sound-texture possibilities of the instrument and revealing new dimensions of expressivity. Goldstein played solo and with a Seattle ensemble.


Nelda Swiggett at The Chapel Performance Space

Earshot Jazz Festival 2011 presented Seattle gem, pianist Nelda Swiggett, who creates what All About Jazz called “refined and confident, open and inviting” music with “a bright palette, a sinewy execution, and a powerful, assertive command” with Chris Symer (bass), Byron Vannoy (drums), Rachel Swerdlow (viola), and Walter Gray (cello).

Check out the Earshot Jazz Festival Schedule to see what’s next in the 2011 Festival lineup.

Clumps of notes. That’s how pianist Nelda Swiggett describes musical shapes that are the basis of her compositions. But don’t be misled by the word clump. The notes are not dissonant, grating or random. Her music is precise without being dry, clean without being dull, and light without being fluff. The sound is as clear, direct and crisp as the gaze of her piercing blue eyes. And behind those eyes teems a sharp mind that leaves plenty of air within and around those clumps

Swiggett finds material for composition by improvising at the piano. Her hands strike the keys, she finds pleasing sounds, and figures out harmony and time signature later. But the improvisations do not grow from the blues like much of jazz. Her roots penetrate classical music. “I was a serious classical pianist growing up, and now have my own piano students playing Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, etc. I’m rediscovering all that great music as well. It’s all fodder for the imagination. But everything goes through the jazz filter.”

For this performance, Swiggett chose to add viola and cello. “I’ve been fantasizing about writing for strings for some time. Once I imagined strings, that was it. I was sure what I wanted to do. “My son Dylan became good friends with [Seattle Symphony violist] Rachel Swerdlow’s triplet boys in the Washington Middle School concert band years ago. When I set my sights on adding strings, I realized I had wonderful players right in front of my nose.” Swerdlow and Seattle Symphony cellist Walter Gray were enthusiastic about the project. “We’ve been having a great time sharing our different areas of musical expertise. Rachel is nervous but excited to be playing jazz for the first time. They’re showing me what incredible sounds and textures can be pulled out of the cello and viola.”

The rhythm section is anchored by Chris Symer on bass and Byron Vannoy on drums. “Chris and Byron have performed my music with me for several years now. They’re both incredibly musical. Have huge ears. They go wherever I go. Can swing hard, but drop to a whisper. That’s why I play with them.” – Steve Griggs from the Earshot Jazz Festival Schedule.

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Earshot Jazz Festival 2011 moves on through the first week. Tonight I was blown away at the level and quality of the sound of the Avram Fefer Trio. Wow. Having seen him in Seattle over the past decade or so, I know Michael Bisio plays with a level of intensity but I was not familiar with  Avram Fefer and his trio including Chad Taylor & Michael Bisio. These formidable New Yorkers output raw power. Praised by All About Jazz for his “undeniably spiritual feel for the music,” Avram Fefer took the stage with a formidable trio, featuring drummer Chad Taylor (known for his work with the Chicago Underground) and former Seattle bassist Michael Bisio (of the Matthew Shipp Trio). Fefer has led or co-led bands through ten highly regarded albums. With a distinctive voice on alto, tenor and soprano saxophones, as well as bass clarinet, he brings depth, intelligence and soulfulness to every situation he’s in. Tonight’s concert featured many selections from his latest release, Eliyahu (NotTwo Records, 2011), a fine collection of memorable and infectious compositions, brimming with improvisation and soulful grooves. (See who will be playing next in upcoming concerts in the Earshot Jazz Festival Schedule)

Fefer was born near San Francisco, but his family eventually settled in the Seattle area. After several years in the hands of inspirational high school jazz band director Leo Dodd, Fefer went on to receive a liberal arts degree at Harvard University and studied music at Berklee College and the New England Conservatory. He then moved to Paris, France (1990-95), where he began his career as a saxophonist, composer, bandleader and teacher. In Paris, he found many new sources of inspiration and growth, including a vibrant African and Arabic music scene and a wealth of American expatriate musicians.

His own bands were featured regularly in many of Paris’ top jazz clubs, and he performed with fellow ex-pats Jack Gregg, Bobby Few, Graham Haynes, Archie Shepp, Kirk Lightsey, Oliver Johnson, John Betsch, Sunny Murray and Rasul Siddik, among others. He is featured on diverse recordings, including by rap originators the Last Poets (Scatterap/Home), and with jazz legend Archie Shepp on drummer Steve McCraven’s Song of the Forest Boogeraboo.

Since moving to New York, Fefer has continued to indulge his passion for a wide variety of music but has particular success with the sax-bass-drum trio format and continues to use this as one of his primary musical vehicles. As a section player and soloist, Fefer has been featured in a number of large ensembles, including Adam Rudolph’s Organic Orchestra, the David Murray Big Band, Butch Morris Orchestra, Joseph Bowie Big Band, Mingus Big Band, Frank Lacy’s Vibe Tribe, and the Rob Reddy Octet. Fefer also has a thriving private teaching practice in downtown Manhattan. – Danielle Bias from Earshot Jazz Program in the Earshot Jazz Festival Schedule

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Earshot Jazz Festival presented two groups tonight. At the Chapel Perfoming Space was the Rich Halley Trio + 1 putting out some beautiful and satisfying music. See the rest of the Earshot Jazz Festival Schedule

“The Portland saxophonist and composer returns with his Tap Rack Bang Trio, featuring four veterans of progressive jazz: Vancouver bass stalwart Clyde Reed, and Oregon drummer Carson Halley, plus acclaimed trombonist Michael Vlatkovich. Described as both “freewheeling and satisfying” by DownBeat magazine, Halley has released more than a dozen critically acclaimed recordings and performs in settings that range from solo improvisations to large group explorations.

Signal to Noise points out that “Halley has a knack for writing open melodic themes full of aggressive swing that provide effective structures for freewheeling exploration. [Drummer Dave] Storrs and Reed are masters at propelling the pieces along with an elastic sense of time, moving back and forth from pulsin
g groove to open freedom with relaxed authority.”

For over two decades, Halley was the leader of the Lizard Brothers sextet; he has also led the Multnomah Rhythm Ensemble, a group that combined new jazz with multi-media. The founder of Oregon’s Creative Music Guild, Halley also appears with the Outside Music Ensemble, a four-horn, two-percussionist group that performs acoustically in outdoor settings. He has performed with Andrew Hill, Bobby Bradford, Vinny Golia, Tony Malaby, Julius Hemphill, Michael Bisio, Oliver Lake, Obo Addy, Rob Blakeslee and Bert Wilson.

Bassist Reed is one of the founders of the NOW Orchestra and has performed with Bradford, Golia, Wadada Leo Smith, George Lewis, Barry Guy, Marilyn Crispell, Peter Brotzmann and many leading Canadian musicians. Drummer Halley studied with Bradford at Pomona College and later began playing with his father. He brings contemporary musical sensibilities to the group and has performed with a variety of musicians in jazz and rock groups, including Golia, Shakespeak, The Wayward Trio and Ruby Starfruit.” – Danielle Bias from Earshot Jazz Program. See the rest of the Earshot Jazz Festival Schedule

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Trio Commando DEBUT

October 1st, 2011

Trio Commando made their public debut last noght at the chapel Performance Space opening up for Eric Barber, performing improvisations, excavations and conversations through a high powered trio configuration featuring Wayne Horvitz (piano), Samantha Boshnack(trumpets), and Beth Fleenor (clarinets/voice). Unexpected and brilliant set of music with exciting electronic and vocal intermixing.

Since arriving in Seattle in 1998, clarinetist/vocal percussionist/ composer Beth Fleenor has carved a place for herself as an energetic multi-instrumentalist and dynamic generative artist. Her robust sound, organic approach, and openness to experimentation in all forms, actively fuels a long and varied list of collaborations. Ranging from shows in nightclubs, festivals, schools and galleries, to prisons, parties and concert halls, Fleenor’s work has been featured in live music, theater, performance art, recordings, modern dance, film, sound art and art installations.

Samantha Boshnack has composed and performed with a plethora of Seattle-based musicians and groups since arriving from New York in 2003. The Bard College graduate uses a broad palette in her compositions, including jazz, rock, hip-hop, Balkan, and contemporary classical music influences. Her work has received acclaim from music critics around the world, and has received support from 4Culture, Jack Straw Productions, ASCAPlus, and the Seattle Mayor’s Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs.

Wayne Horvitz is a composer, pianist, electronic musician, and producer. He has toured widely, and has collaborated with musicians such as Bill Frisell, Butch Morris, John Zorn, Robin Holcomb, Fred Frith, Julian Priester, Michael Shrieve, Bobby Previte, Marty Ehrlich, William Parker, Ron Miles, Sara Schoenbeck, Peggy Lee, Briggan Krauss, and many others. A recipient of numerous commissions and awards, his various ensembles include The President, Pigpen, Zony Mash, The HMP Trio, The New York Composers Orchestra, The 4 Plus 1 Ensemble, Sweeter Than the Day and The Gravitas Quartet.

Presented by NONSEQUITUR, which supports a wide range of adventurous music and sound art through recordings, performances, and exhibitions since 1989. They currently sponsor the Wayward Music Series in the Chapel Performance Space at the historic Good Shepherd Center in the Wallingford neighborhood.

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Eric Barber SOLO

October 1st, 2011

Saxophonist Eric Barber, an innovative saxophonist and composer in the world of jazz, world, and improvised music gave a solo performance last night at the Chapel Performance Space. I was entranced by the sounds he blew and recorded in his black box and then played on top of again and again and twice he played pieces with recorded human voices including his young daughter’s. Beautiful.

Presented by NONSEQUITUR, which supports a wide range of adventurous music and sound art through recordings, performances, and exhibitions since 1989. They currently sponsor the Wayward Music Series in the Chapel Performance Space at the historic Good Shepherd Center in the Wallingford neighborhood.

Complex, emotional, and spontaneous, Eric Barber’s boundless musical energy and creativity have made him a favorite collaborator with master musicians from the United States, India, Iran, and the Balkans. Exploring the full sonic capabilities of his instruments, Barber fuses complex rhythmic structures and multiphonics with a keen ear and compositional sensibility. For this concert Eric will perform acoustic solo saxophone compositions and improvisations, as well as works with electronics. Sonic, metric, rhythmic, and melodic concepts are unified into cohesive pieces that have compositional structure yet allow for deep improvisatory exploration from performance to performance.

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Last night Operation ID closed out Jazz: The Second Century, the July Series of concerts put on Earshot Jazz by at the Chapel Performance Space on Thursday nights. It ended with a buzz haircut of Ivan Arteaga as he continued to perform. See bottom pictures.

Operation ID consists of Jared Borkowski on guitar, David Balatero on bass, Rob Hanlon on keyboards, Ivan Arteaga on reeds, and Evan Woodle on drums.

Operation ID : Originally interested in the spontaneity of free-jazz, Operation ID’s open mindedness has guided them to embrace a position of willingness when experimenting with new sounds and musical approaches. They have grown from being exclusively instrumental to frequently incorporating group vocals. Some well-known influences include Steve Reich, Talk Talk, Hella, Prince, XTC, Richie Hawtin, and Deerhoof.

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Saturday Night, Earshot Jazz presented Kris Davis, Tyshawn Sorey, Ingrid Laubrock Trio at the Chapel Performance Space. Their creative collaboration in the unique venue was an wonderful event to witness.

“The trio is a truly collective effort. How and where it came about is a perfect reflection of the real world of working jazz musicians.

About two and a half years ago, shortly after Laubrock moved to New York, all three musicians got together for a session. Davis and Sorey had met earlier, playing together in another group. They were exploring a different context of collaboration, and Davis invited Laubrock to join them.

“It was an informal session,” Davis says in recent interview, “the kind of thing musicians do in New York possibly a couple of times a week as a way to meet people, have new music read, etc.” After improvising for almost two hours, it was clear the trio was something special and the music had to be explored further. Kris says there was “that instant connection and understanding, and we were excited to see where it could go.”

The trio met a few more times and began working with new music, each musician bringing original compositions. The music was written earlier for different groups, but the trio found new ways to make it their own. They soon began regular performances, interpreting the written material afresh each time.

In Davis’s words: “The way we play together … it feels like you can do no wrong – whether you are improvising or playing written music – it is wonderful.”

Continue reading story by Greg Pincuson on Earshot Jazz‘s website

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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.