Earshot Jazz Festival Kicks Off Tonight

It’s a month of big names, local stars, and improv music.

By Adriana Grant October 14, 2011

A few of the faces at the fest, courtesy of earshot.org.

Now in its 23rd year, the Earshot Jazz Festival features recognizable names and lesser knows, with both out-of-town players and local musicians on stage over the next month. Performances run the gamut from straight-up jazz to wide-ranging musical interpretations of the already loose genre.

Our prize-winning high school bands are consistent crowd pleasers: Roosevelt and Mountlake Terrace open the festival on October 14 with the Count Basie tunes that earned them second and third place (respectively) this year at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s annual Essentially Ellington contest. Last year’s first-place Garfield High School Jazz Band is joined here by a Wynton Marsalis veteran, alto saxophonist Wessell Anderson (Oct 25).

Jay Clayton is a powerfully soulful jazz vocalist (Oct 29) backed by the veteran improv drummer Jerry Granelli and swinging bop pianist Dawn Clement. For open-minded traditionalists, We Four pays homage to Coltrane and Mingus (Oct 22).

For jazz fiends, the biggest names on the bill might be Keith Jarrett (piano), Gary Peacock (bass), and Jack DeJohnette (drums). The trio, which has put out 20 records since 1977, will likely perform both jazz standards and original songs (Nov 1).

Local favorite Robin Holcomb (singer/composer/pianist) appears on the bill for two nights, first in a performance of her own moody, cross-genre music (Nov 4) with the band Talking Pictures, and then when the Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra (SWOJO) gives a concert of Holcomb’s jazz tunes (Nov 2).

For those interested in more unexpected sounds, consider Craig Taborn and Gust Burns’ modernist two-piano concert (Oct 15). The Bad Plus with Das Kapital also promises more unconventional jazz, as well as a new take on labor tunes (Oct 29).

For a full schedule of events, with venues all over town, visit earshot.org. The Earshot Jazz Festival runs Oct 14–Nov 6.

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