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The New Cool: Saturday night's all right for jazz

Trumpeter Samantha Boshnack is one of many Seattle musicians playing on a busy festival weekend.

KNKX listeners know that Saturday night belongs to All Blues on 88.5 FM, but the modern jazz lineup around town this Saturday is creating difficult choices for New Cool fans. You'll hear from The Bad Plus, Barrett Martin Group and Samantha Boshnack's Seismic Belt on the show in the afternoon, with all three bands performing later that night.

At The Royal Room in South Seattle, The New Cool presents the Barrett Martin Group's release party for his new book "The Way of the Zen Cowboy" and the band's new double album Songs of the Firebird. After a reading from the book, Martin leads his great band through two sets of rhythm-driven modern jazz. Thione Diop and Lisette Garcia blend African and Latin percussion blending many styles from the worldwide drumming community.

I've been struck with the quality of songs on this new album, each with rock 'n' roll running times around four minutes. At times, as with guest guitarist Kim Thayil of Soundgarden, the music fits a modern jazz-rock vibe. Mostly, though, it's one man's rhythmic interpretation of music's global reach. See you at The Royal Room on Saturday... or will I?

The Ballard Jazz Festival already has begun, with headliners hitting the mainstage at The Nordic Museum on Friday night. Sax legend Ernie Watts performs with Seattle's long-running New Stories Trio featuring pianist Marc Seales, with talented young Norweigian guitarist Lage Lund opening.

Lund will appear at Conor Byrne for the Ballard Jazz Walk on Saturday night, with a massive lineup of some of the Seattle-area's finest in jazz. Pay one cover to visit nine venues around Ballard Avenue, and try to catch Dawn Clement, Johnaye Kendrick, Thomas Marriott, Jay Thomas, Gail Pettis and many more.

Seattle's DX-Tet performed as the rain fell on the New Cool stage at Northwest Folklife last weekend. You can see the Dylan Hayes-Xavier Lecouturier-led band inside the cozy confines of Conor Byrne after the Lage Lund trio.

Also of interest to New Cool listeners is the forward-thinking showcase for the arts organization Table & Chairs. Headlining the show is the wonderful trumpeter Samantha Boshnack. She'll be performing music from a new album with her Seismic Belt band, Live from Santa Monica. Inspired by the volcanic Ring of Fire, the music is dramatic, cinematic, emotional and compositionally intriguing. Most of all, Boshnack's impressive trumpet work is something to be seen and heard live.

Ballard can seem a world away, so if you're on the Eastside you can revel in the fun closer to home at the Bellevue Jazz & Blues Festival this weekend. Many more jazz stars of the Northwest are on the schedule here, including Eugenie Jones, Deems Tsutakawa, Kiki Valera and plenty of middle and high school bands.

Headlining the festival in Bellevue on Friday night at the Meydenbauer Center is the blues-adjacent outfit Davina and the Vagabonds. Drawing inspiration from Fats Domino to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Aretha Franklin and Tom Waits. I'll be there to introduce this genre-busting show, and I hope to see you in the audience.

Saturday night in Bellevue, also at the Meydenbauer Center, The Bad Plus returns to the Northwest. I wonder if their pianist Orrin Evans has an apartment here. He played with Thomas Marriott's birthday shows for Miles Davis at Tula's just last weekend. With Marriott, his Captain Black Big Band, or The Bad Plus, it's always great to hear Evans play.

Now 18 months past their first album together, Never Stop II, you could be hearing music planned for the next Bad Plus album at this show. Check the festival to see if there are still tickets available.

It's not an easy choice, but you really can't go wrong. I'll play songs from the Barrett Martin Group, Samantha Boshnack's Seismic Belt and The Bad Plus on KNKX Saturday afternoon to help you decide. Now go get some live action!

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