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The New Cool: Cool Earshot Festival Preview

Abe Beeson
Making a list, checking it twice.... (full festival schedule at news stands and now!)

Our friends at Earshot have another amazing jazz festival coming up October 7th and continuing through November 4th. I'm particularly excited about the shows featuring some of the coolest modern musicians in the world, and on this week's New Cool, I'll preview a half dozen of my most eagerly anticipated concerts.

Right off the bat, the festival presents a double bill of today's hottest young horn players. Sunday's "happy hour" taster show at KEXP's Seattle Center "Gathering Space" welcomes both trumpeter Marquis Hill and his Blacktet, and saxophonist Logan Richardson's blues PEOPLE band. For the full effect, catch Richardson that night at Lo-Fi Performance Gallery. The Blacktet returns to the Royal Room for a full set Monday night, October 8th.

Logan Richardson's new album blues PEOPLE finds inspiration in early jazz and blues, but heavy electric guitar puts much of the music firmly in rock territory. Fuzzy synthesizers, rock and hip hop production, western twang and indie pop all have their say, but Richardson's powerful voice on saxophone is the light that leads the way. You'll hear the grungy "Urban Life" on the New Cool this week, a catchy number that provides a nice summation of the rocking feel of the album. Don't miss Logan's concert at the Lo-Fi Performance Gallery just a few hours after the festival's opening on the 7th.

Marquis Hill has been entertaining New Cool fans since this Chicago-grown trumpeter's brilliant album The Way We Play came out in 2016. He's won the Monk Institute competition and works frequently with bassist Marcus Miller's band, but Hill is the star of the show for the Earshot Festival.

After the festival opening appetizer on the 7th, take in the full Marquis Hill experience at the Royal Room on the 8th with the wonderful Braxton Cook featured on saxophone. You'll hear moody, dark modern jazz with a vibes/bass/drums backing that sets a cool table for the talented trumpeter to weave his stories. Listen for my personal favorite "Moon Rays" on this week's show.

Pianist Tigran Hamasyan was introduced to me by School of Jazz guest DJs who told me the Armenian jazz star has plenty of fans in the world of progressive heavy metal. You're unlikely to notice the influence at Hamasyan's solo performance at the Seattle Art Museum on October 12th, instead you'll hear hints of the folk music of Tigran's homeland. Saturday on 88.5, check out his lovely, meditative tune "Rays of Light" from the new release For Gyumri, and get your tickets for this piano fan's dream show pronto!

I might have picked up trumpeter Keyon Harrold's new album The Mugician for the clever title alone, but I knew the music inside would be worth the investment. Like other talented modern jazz trumpeters Christian Scott and Ambrose Akinmusire, Harrold's inspiration comes from the hip hop and 21st Century soul he grew up with, filtered through a young life learning from the jazz tradition. His trumpet playing stood in for Miles Davis in the recent Don Cheadle film Miles Ahead. The album doesn't pull off any magic tricks you haven't heard before, but Earshot provides a great opportunity to hear one of the most dynamic musicians in jazz today at the Triple Door October 14th.

Fans of The Bad Plus know pianist Ethan Iverson's work, but since leaving that famous trio at the end of last year, he's had more time to devote to his own musical passions. Ethan and his old friend, the talented saxophonist Mark Turner, have just released a new album of brainy chamber jazz duets on the ECM label called Temporary Kings. These two have worked together on and off for nearly 30 years, so expect a fluent musical conversation between two players who can really get around on their instruments. Also, dig Ethan with The Bad Plus on this week's New Cool. Almost forgot - the exciting Seattle-based singer Johnaye Kendrick opens their show at the Triple Door on October 15th.

Kamasi Washington. 'Nuff said, right? The Showbox has already sold out this October 17th show starring one of the most popular artists in jazz today. The saxophonist's latest double album Heaven and Earth couldn't contain all of his artistry, so a bonus 40 minute EP called The Choice was released simultaneously. Accordingly, his 12-piece band comes to Seattle with plenty of material in the post-Coltrane "spiritual jazz" vein, adding in plenty of soul and a touch of hip hop's energy and flair. If you have a ticket, congratulations! If not, buy the records and tune in for "Connections" from this year's double-LP.

As always when it comes to the Earshot Festival, I'm only scratching the surface. World-class talents Regina Carter, Helen Sung, and David Sanborn are part of the festival line-up. Northwest players get their due as well, with shows featuring Wayne Horvitz, Marina Albero, Amy Denio, Jovino Santos Neto, Samantha Boshnack and Afrocop, all deserving of big crowds. Do your part, get out there and enjoy the Earshot Jazz Festival!

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