On Friday, February 26, at the Seattle Art Museum, Earshot jazz presented Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band.
Seventeen years into its existence, drummer Brian Blade’s Fellowship Band possesses full assurance as it explores a quietly edgy style of jazz.
Tuneful, stylish, and imaginative, the unit takes its lead from one of the most solid percussionists in the business, and one who is keenly attentive both to what his bandmates are doing, and to what his compositions call for.
A spirit of collective undertaking establishes the “fellowship” of the band’s name. Pianist Jon Cowherd, Myron Walden on alto saxophone and bass clarinet, Melvin Butler on soprano and tenor saxophones, and Chris Thomas, on bass, all respond in kind, and the result is a stylistic cohesion that makes for riveting listening.
That quality was evident on the band’s 2014, Grammy-nominated release, Landmarks, which was its fourth, and a return to the Blue Note label which had issued the Fellowship Band’s self-titled 1998 debut as well as Perceptual, in 2000.
In a review of Landmarks in JazzTimes, Geoffrey Himes suggested that Blade’s evident humility – “you don’t even hear his drums until more than two minutes into the second track, and they don’t take the foreground until the beginning of the sixth track” – is in keeping with his long tenure in the band of a similarly self-effacing leader, Wayne Shorter.
It was, Heim wrote, “a testament to Blade’s leadership that his fellow musicians rein in their considerable technical facility” to boost the emotional depth of the band’s pieces. “This is not,” Heim wrote, “an album of young musicians trying to prove how many notes and changes they can play within eight bars; this is a session devoted to milking all the emotion lurking in the hymn-like melodies and wistful tempos.”
The music of Landmarks was a special instance of the harmony of the Fellowship Band’s repertoire: as the album’s name suggested, the project took inspiration from a sense of place, Shreveport, Louisiana, where Blade grew up, and the album was recorded. Blade told DownBeat that he deployed a mix of through-composition, poetic short pieces, and long “landscapes” to create a sense of travel about a location. “I like the journey aspect of Landmarks” – the “trip” that the tunes created.
He also emphasized his pleasure in taking that trip with such able bandmates: “I try to write what I have discovered and realized with as much clarity as possible, while thinking of the band. When they play it, all this rhythm, melody, and harmony becomes alive, and other ideas reveal themselves.”
On Landmarks, the sojourning was marked by the forms of music that have resonated during the history of the region around Shreveport, where the drummer was born, in 1970 – rich vernaculars of jazz, gospel, blues, and rhythm-and-blues that have generated rich, fresh vernaculars distinctive to the region.








Sunday night Earshot Jazz presented Bill Frisell in his second appearance at this year’s Festival at  Jones Playhouse Theater UW. This time he played with  in-demand young bassist Luke Bergman and New York/Seattle drummer, Ted Poor, both of whom range from the most subtle to the thunderous. All three now on the UW jazz faculty.

Here is a link to the Earshot Jazz Festival website  schedule for the rest of the Festival.













 On Thursday at Poncho Concert Hall at Cornish College, Dafnis Prieto Si o Si was presented as the Eashot Jazz Festival continues.  The Cuban percussion titan has raised the bar for jazz drumming with his breathtaking skill, precision and imagination, earning him a 2011 MacArthur Foundation “genius” award. A two-time Grammy nominee, Prieto articulates his vision as a bandleader, drummer and composer with his Si o Si Quartet, including Peter Apfelbaum (saxophone/melodica/caxixi), Robert Rodriguez (piano) and Johannes Weidenmueller (bass).

Since arriving to New York in 1999, Prieto has worked in bands led by Henry Threadgill, Steve Coleman, Eddie Palmieri, Chico and Arturo O’Farrill, Claudia Acuña, and Andrew Hill. Prieto is the founder of the independent record company Dafnison Music. As a composer, he has created music for dance, film, chamber ensembles, and, most notably, for his own bands, ranging from duets to his groups featured in his five acclaimed recordings as a leader.


Here is a link to the Earshot Jazz Festival website  schedule for the rest of the Festival.






Here is a link to the Earshot Jazz Festival website  schedule for the rest of the Festival.

JAzz photography at Earshot Jazz Festival performance of Mehliana: Brad Mehldau  & Mark Guiliana
The Earshot Jazz Festival continued on Weds night at the Triple Door.  Brad Mehldau, one of the greatest of modern jazz pianists, debuted a piano-less duo, extending his range to Fender Rhodes and a battery of synthesizers, with Mark Guiliana, one of the most exciting young drummers on the scene. The result was a trance-laden, free and majestic live performance in which Mehldau displayed a pension for calmly improvising in a way no other modern pianist can. Guiliana’s jungle-beat precision and unbreakable groove touched upon modern drum ‘n’ bass, nodding back to the unbound dance-funk spirit of the early 70s. A completely free-form performance with no set compositions, the sound was two of the world’s most refreshing instrumentalists deftly humanizing live, improvised electronic dance music.
Here is a link to the Earshot Jazz Festival website  schedule for the rest of the Festival.

JAzz photography at Earshot Jazz Festival performance of Mehliana: Brad Mehldau  & Mark Guiliana

JAzz photography at Earshot Jazz Festival performance of Mehliana: Brad Mehldau  & Mark Guiliana

JAzz photography at Earshot Jazz Festival performance of Mehliana: Brad Mehldau  & Mark Guiliana



Here is a link to the Earshot Jazz Festival website  schedule for the rest of the Festival.

Chris-Icasiano-Neil-Welch- 1

Sunday night at Cornish,  Earshot Jazz Festival presented  The “hard-edged and audacious” (NY Jazz Record) duo of drummer Chris Icasiano and saxophonist Neil Welch opened, performing all original compositions, with live loops and pedals, opening for Chris Speed, Dave King & Chris Tordini Trio / Bad Luck.

Here is a link to the Earshot Jazz Festival website  schedule for the rest of the Festival.

Chris-Icasiano-Neil-Welch- 2

John Hollenbeck Cludia Quintet plays at the 2013 Earshot Jazz Festival

Drummer John Hollenbeck’s genre-defying quintet – bassist Drew Gress, saxophonist Chris Speed, vibraphonist Matt Moran and accordionist Red Wierenga – returned to Seattle Sunday night and played with with driving rhythms, quirky melodies and stunning virtuosity as the 2013 Earshot Jazz Festival ended its first weekend.

Composer and leader Hollenbeck launched Claudia as a band in the late 90s, with a sound determined by the compositions, instrumentation and these performers, whose exceptional artistry and character is revealed in Hollenbeck’s original compositions. In the course of the hundreds of concerts and thousands of miles this New York City ensemble has traveled together, the Claudia Quintet has developed a dynamic live sound based on trust and spontaneity.

Here is a link to the Earshot Jazz Festival website  schedule for the rest of the Festival.

John Hollenbeck Cludia Quintet plays at the 2013 Earshot Jazz Festival

John Hollenbeck Cludia Quintet plays at the 2013 Earshot Jazz Festival


Here is a link to the Earshot Jazz Festival website  schedule for the rest of the Festival.


 Kendrick Scott Oracle at the 2013 Bellevue Jazz Festival

The Bellevue Jazz Festival presented a special treat Friday night with the  Kendrick Scott Oracle, featuring Seattle’s Aaron Parks on keyboards. An interesting, complex and very moving performance. They are Kendrick Scott on Drums, Joe Sanders on Bass, Aaron Parks on Piano, Matt Stevens on Guitar, and John Ellis on Sax.

 Kendrick Scott Oracle at the 2013 Bellevue Jazz Festival


Kendrick Scott is highly regarded as one of the premier drummers of his generation as shown by the New York Times naming him one of “Five Drummers Whose Time Is Now.” His band,  Kendick Scott’s Oracle (KSO) released its second recording,  Conviction on Concord Records in January 2013. Conviction showcases Scott’s incredible subtlety and intensity and highlights his strengths as a drummer,  composer and a leader. This personal narrative album is a snapshot of the band in its full emotive,  unique and magnetic sound. The work focuses on what it takes to live,  act and love with Conviction. Scott penned half of the album and the other compositions are by Herbie Hancock,  Broadcast,  Sufjan Stevens and more., Scott is a longtime member of the Terence Blanchard Band and is a rising star in his generation alongside Robert Glasper,  Gretchen Parlato and Lionel Loueke. Sought after my may,  Kendrick has shared the stage with a diverse and amazing list of artists including Herbie Hancock,  Dianne Reeves,  and currently backs fellow Concord Artist,  Kurt Elling.

 Kendrick Scott Oracle at the 2013 Bellevue Jazz Festival

 Kendrick Scott Oracle at the 2013 Bellevue Jazz Festival

 Kendrick Scott Oracle at the 2013 Bellevue Jazz Festival

 Kendrick Scott Oracle at the 2013 Bellevue Jazz Festival

Trio X

October 15th, 2012

Also at the Seattle Art Museum after Mathew Shipp was Trio X,  Joe McPhee on brass and reeds, Dominic Duval on bass and Jay Rosen on drums

Here is the  2012 Earshot Jazz Festival schedule

Throughout his career, McPhee has forged unlikely but rewarding partnerships around the globe, working with everyone from composer Pauline Oliveros to saxophonist Evan Parker and bassist William Parker. In the 90s, McPhee discovered two like-minded improvisers in Duval and Rosen.

Duval has been the bassist of choice for pianist Cecil Taylor for much of the last decade, while frequent cohort Rosen has stoked the fires of veterans such as Sonny Simmons and Charles Gayle.

The trio last night went with title Trio X after they premiered at New York’s Vision Festival in 1998 unnoticed by the press. The Vision Festival debut notwithstanding, the band now receives favorable notice for their recordings on the CIMP and Cadence Jazz labels, and especially for their live appearances, informed by a kind of tao of the avant-garde.

Trio X’s newest CD First Date (CjR, 2012), a recording of that 1998 Vision Festival performance, will be released at tonight’s performance.

– DB

Here is the  2012 Earshot Jazz Festival schedule

Jerry Granelli Trio

November 2nd, 2011

Jerry Granelli Trio at Tula’s

Earshot Jazz Festival 2011 presented the Jerry Granelli Trio at Tula’s last Sunday night. Drummer Jerry Granelli, whom Jazz Times called “one of those uncategorizable veteran percussionists who’s done it all,” appeared with his longtime trio of Danny Oore (sax) and Simon Fisk (bass/cello). Partway through the second set, Jerry invited  vocalist Jay Clayton up to join them. Check out the Earshot Jazz Festival Schedule to see what’s coming up next in this last week of the 2011 Festival lineup.

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In Jerry Granelli’s expansive 45-year-career, he’s been at peak commercial success with Mose Allison and Vince Guaraldi – the pianist behind the classic Peanuts music – and deep in the world of improvisation and musical exploration. JazzTimes calls Granelli “one of those uncategorizable veteran percussionists who’s done it all.”

Born in 1940 San Francisco, Granelli recognized his passion in 1948 when he spent a day with Gene Krupa. Hanging out during the 50s in San Francisco nightclubs, like the Blackhawk, The Jazz Workshop and Jimbo’s Bop City, connected him to the hard bop sounds of Miles, Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones, Elvin Jones and Monk. After two years as a pupil of Joe Morello’s, Granelli became a highly sought-after session player, eventually matching up with the Vince Guaraldi Band. From the mid 70s through the 90s, Granelli focused on teaching, bringing his insider knowledge to hundreds of students at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, then the Cornish College of the Arts, the Conservatory in Halifax, and the Hochschule der Kunst in Berlin.

A Canadian citizen since 1999, Granelli spent years in Halifax as a keystone in the jazz community there. Along with Halifax’s Jazz East organization, he founded the Creative Music Workshop, a two-week intensive music program that takes place every summer in conjunction with the Atlantic Jazz Festival.

Internationally acclaimed vocalist, composer and educator Jay Clayton creates work boldly spanning the terrain between jazz and new music. In 1963, she began her career performing standards in New York. Since then, she has performed and recorded throughout the United States, Canada and Europe with leading jazz and new music artists, including Steve Reich, Muhal Richard Abrams, John Cage, Julian Priester, Jane Ira Bloom, Nana Vasconcelos, Stanley Cowell and Bobby McFerrin. She has appeared at major U.S. venues, including Lincoln Center, The Kitchen, Sweet Basil and Jazz Alley, and at European festivals, including North Sea and Montmartre. Her work in the realms of standard and free music led to her development of a highly personal, wordless vocabulary, often enhanced now by her use of electronics.

Clayton has gained worldwide attention not only as a performer but also as a teacher. Her educational book, Sing Your Story: A Practical Guide for Learning and Teaching the Art of Jazz Singing, was published by Advance Music in 2001. She has taught vocal jazz at New York City College, the Banff Center in Canada, the Bud Shank Workshop in Port Townsend, the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and in music schools in Cologne, Berlin and Munich, Germany. She was on the jazz faculty at Cornish College of the Arts for twenty years, through 2001.

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Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom at Cornish College with Myra Melford, piano, Jenny Scheinman, violin and Todd Sickafoose, bass

A wonderful surprise at the fantastic, energetic drummer Allison Miller and her group  Boom Tic Boom which Earshot Jazz Festival 2011 presented at Cornish last Thurday. Right after the first piece, she introduced Bill Frisell, who came out and performed with the group.  What an unexpected treat. Allison Miller is a stellar jazz drummer. Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom performances, said the LA Times, are “as unpredictable as they are approachable. When not with mainstream artists Natalie Merchant, Ani DiFranco, and most recently, singer Brandi Carlile, fresh and energetic NYC-based drummer Allison Miller sits among a coterie of artists excelling in the NYC downtown and beyond – Steven Bernstein, Ben Allison, Kenny Barron, Erik Friedlander, Mark Helias, Ellery Eskelin, Peter Bernstein, Sheila Jordan, George Garzone, Mike Stern, Rachel Z, Kevin Mahogany, Bruce Barth, Mark Soskin and Harvie S.

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

A co-leader in several bands, including Honey Ear Trio (Steampunk Serenade, Foxhaven Records, 2011) and Eskelin/Deutsch/Miller, featuring Ellery Eskelin on tenor and Erik Deutsch on organ, Miller is fierce at the helm of her own quartet, Boom Tic Boom. The quartet features pianist Myra Melford, violinist Jenny Scheinman and bassist Todd Sickafoose on compositions primarily by Miller and Melford.

Miller’s second album released as a leader, BOOM TIC BOOM (Foxhaven Records, 2010) was named one of the Top 10 Jazz Albums of 2010 by the Los Angeles Times. It pays homage to and is inspired by all of the important women in Miller’s life. “Some of my closest friends are extremely smart and powerful women,” Miller says. “I can’t stress enough the importance of this community. There’ve been several women who’ve really helped me out in my career. I hope that I do the same for other women in the musical community.”

Raised in the Washington DC area, Miller began playing the drums at the age of ten, studying with Walter Salb, and was soon featured in DownBeat magazine’s “Up and Coming” section in 1991. Five years later, she moved to New York City to study with Michael Carvin and Lenny White and to pursue a career as a freelance drummer, composer, producer and teacher. Miller seeks to pass on the tradition of jazz drumming, even with branches into the realms of pop. In 2008, she founded the Walter Salb Memorial Musical Scholarship Foundation in honor of her late teacher and mentor. The foundation awards a promising young musician funds directed toward furthering music studies. Miller is currently on Modern Drummer’s 2011 Pro-panel and holds an adjunct teaching position at Kutztown University. She gives lessons and master classes throughout the United States………Continue reading in the Earshot Jazz Festival Schedule

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