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The New Cool: Earshot Festival Preview (and ticket giveaway!)

Justin Steyer / KNKX
Andy Coe, Tarik Abouzied, Joe Doria - McTuff live in the KNKX studios.

The Earshot Jazz Festival returns this weekend, and the fine folks at Earshot continue their tradition of presenting world class live jazz that stretches the definition of this music to its limits. In other words, fans of The New Cool have plenty to be excited about. It's a different kind of jazz festival, one or two amazing shows nearly every night for more than a month - your only excuse for missing a show is because it's sold out. That will happen, soget your tickets now!

Some of the best musicians from all over the world and from our own backyard will be performing around the Seattle area from Sunday, October 8th to the final wrap up show on November 12th. I'll cover a bunch of the coolest modern jazz shows here and on the show this week, and you can get more info from Jim Wilke's Jazz Northwest show from last week here.

This is week #1 of The New Cool's Earshot Jazz Festival ticket giveaways, too! This week, enter to win a pair to see either Mark Guiliana's Quartet at the Triple Door October 12th, or the wild NY group Mostly Other People Do the Killing at Barboza on Seattle's Capitol Hill - enter here!

This year'sfestival kicks off at the KEXP "Gathering Space" at the Seattle Center with Seattle's popular modern jazz quartet Industrial Revelation and friends. Expect a party atmosphere with Seattle's iconic DJ Riz Rollins joins artist/singer Om Jahari and NW jazz all-stars through a set honoring Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway preceding IR's crowd-pleasing alterative-rock-jazz fusion. Don't be late!

The show of the festival may be October 12th, when drummer Mark Guiliana brings his quartet to the Triple Door. Known for the duo Mehliana with Brad Mehldau and with DonnyMcCaslin's group who backed David Bowie on the Blackstar album, Guiliana's band features Jason Rigby on sax. Expect plenty of volume from this hard rock-influenced acoustic quartet - the drummer's first band to leave out electronics, and check out their brand new album Jersey. I'll see you in the merch line at the Triple Door looking for the vinyl!

Opening the show is Seattle's #1 drummer (and 4th best bass player*) Tarik Abouzied and his Happy Orchestra. The long awaited debut album Baba is available now, and the group's live shows have earned them a reputation for unstoppable grooves with plenty of laughs. I'm thrilled to present the band, with Thomas Marriott and Tim Kennedy, live on 88.5 Tuesday at 12:15!

Pianist Jason Moran is playing a Thelonious Monk tribute concert in Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Center where he's the artistic director. Just a few days after Monk's centennial, Sunday the 15th, Jason will present a multi-media tribute at the Neptune Theatre. Video projections, samples of Monk rehearsals, and Moran's Bandwagon Trio adds three horns to examine the classic big band album Thelonious Monk At Town Hall.

Putting an extra "hump" or two in Humpday, Wednesday the 18th brings an opportunity to hear a special edition of the iconic Northwest organ trio McTuff. Master of the Hammond B3, Joe Doria matches wits with OG McTuff saxman Skerik and the amazing Brooklyn-based guitarist Will Bernard. I remember first hearing Will from an early trio album from drummer Stanton Moore, Skerik's band mate from Garage A Trois. This show at Nectar in Fremont is sure to be the grooviest mid-week party going.

The next weekend includes heavy hitters Hudson: guitarist John Scofield with John Medeski on keys, Ben Street at the bass and Jack DeJohnette drumming. They'll pack the Moore Theatre on the 19th.

I'm really excited to introduce young trumpeter Marquis Hill and his band the Blacktet to the Royal Room for two shows on Friday the 20th. His beautiful, ethereal tribute to his home town of Chicago, The Way We Play, is one of my favorite albums from last year. The music can be dark at times, but also full of hope and strength. His last trip to town was with bassist Marcus Miller's band, a cat who knows about trumpet players, and you may want to get tickets for both shows - if you can!

Look out for Seattle native Aaron Parks, the talented pianist is returning to town for agigwith drummer Kassa Overall at Poncho Concert Hall on the 21st. It's a reunion of UW grads featuring hometown stars Thomas Marriott and Evan Flory-Barnes on trumpet and bass.

Drummer Matt Wilson has become a favorite of Northwest jazz fans with several trips to town in recent years. This time through, we get two versions of his thoughtful and playful music. At theRoyal Room on the 28th of October, it's Matt Wilson's Big Happy Family & Friends show, with Seattle's Dawn Clement, this year's Earshot Jazz Festival Artist in Residence, featured on piano for a collection of original songs and clever covers of songs by Lionel Richie and the Carter Family.

Matt's new Honey & Salt project plays music from their new album inspired by and featuring the words of poet Carl Sandburg. The stage at the Seattle Art Museum will host this project that's been 15 years in the making, jazz of many atmospheres in a perfect match for Sandburg's complimentary poems of urban and rural life. This is sure to be a cinematic experience for the "big screen" of your imagination.

One of the final shows of this year's festival will probably be the most difficult ticket to get. The Bad Plus have created some of the most compelling modern jazz of the last two decades, a blend of classical and rock with the incredible improvisational skills of each player at their core. Pianist and co-founder Ethan Iverson will be leaving the band at the end of the year, Orrin Evans will join the group in the new year, so this November 7th concert at the Triple Door will likely be the last opportunity for Seattle audiences to see these three together. You can catch 'em live on 88.5 for their third KNKX studio session at 12:15 that day.

To close perhaps the longest New Cool web post yet, I must admit I'm barely scratching the surface of all the fantastic jazz performances the Earshot Jazz Festival will bring between October 8th and November 12th. (How about the two nights of music under the headline: Yeah, But Is It Jazz...?) You'll hear plenty of these amazing musicians on The New Cool this week, but the real treat is always in the live experience. Check the festival schedule, make your plans, get your tickets, and have a great time!

The New Cool airs Saturdays from 3 to 5 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.