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).

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