Jazz Hands

Former Canlis Pianist Walt Wagner Announces Jazz Alley Shows

Two years after his retirement from the city’s poshest piano gig, Wagner brings his trio—including Heart drummer Ben Smith—to the downtown club for two nights.

By Stefan Milne July 31, 2018

Walt Wagner. 

When Walt Wagner—the live pianist who’d been a fixture in the Canlis dining room—retired in late 2016 after twenty years, he did so in grand style, with a live-streamed concert and a Sub Pop album. On Reworks Wagner carried off everything from a Fleet Foxes cover to a version of “Ever Fallen in Love” by the Buzzcocks in his refined style: one foot in jazz, another in classical technique. 

Wagner said, in his retirement from Canlis, that he wanted to create more original compositions. Now for his first shows in downtown Seattle, Wagner brings some of those compositions, along with others he wants to approach from a new angle, to Dimitiriou's Jazz Alley on October 16 and 17 (tickets are on sale now). He’ll be accompanied by Dan Dean, “a killer bassist,” and Ben Smith, the drummer from Heart—because, why the hell not? “He’s just amazing,” says Wagner. 

For those who haven’t seen Wagner perform as part of a trio—how he made his name before Canlis—he says to expect more dynamic version of what you heard in the restaurant. Sure, he was encouraged to be energetic at Canlis (say, doing a version of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise”) but at Jazz Alley “there won’t be the ambiance of a restaurant to consider.”

Walt Wagner Trio with Dan Dean and Ben Smith
Oct 16 & 17, Dimitiriou's Jazz Alley, $28

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