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The New Cool: Seattle's modern jazz stars are back on stage

Photo by Abe Beeson
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The Unsinkable Heavies drew a crowd at Drunky's Two Shoe BBQ, and more Seattle modern jazz shows are lining up quickly.

Concert calendars are starting to fill up again – and not just for streaming events. New Cool host Abe Beeson helps you dig into the smorgasbord of live modern jazz in Seattle over the next couple weeks and beyond.

Your first trip to see live jazz with a maskless audience can be a jarring experience. It's a necessary one, though, as vaccinated fans are ready for live music, and the stages around Puget Sound are filling up once again. Health restrictions vary across multiple venues, so bring a mask just in case.

Thursday at the Spanish Ballroom in Tacoma, saxophonist BrandonLee Cierley celebrates his new album. The former leader of the band 322 has relocated to Portland, and this return home celebrates his brand new single "Baachan."

Friday finds trumpeter (and multi-talented artist) Ahamefule J. Oluo teaming with a drummer in a new project called Insect Revenge at Retail Therapy on Seattle's Capitol Hill.

Joe Doria's McTuff plays Drunky's Two Shoe BBQ in White Center later Friday night (Nick Drummond Band opens), and they're in Lake City at Growler Guys Wednesday, Aug. 4. Don't miss the organ trio's triumphant return to the stage at Nectar Lounge in Fremont coming up Aug. 25.

The Jazz Lizards precede the Owl N Thistle's Tuesday night jam session on Aug. 2, finally celebrating the release of their quarantine-era album Metamorphosis. Drummer Jeremy Shanok's ensemble is expected to include Eric Verlinde on keys, saxophonist Darian Asplund, and Jacques Willis on vibes.

True Loves trombonist and producer Greg Kramer just announced an intimate backyard performance for the @Adobe Summer Series in Lynnwood on Aug. 3. Known for layering trombones on his recent EP Tell Me, the sound should be impressive from whatever lineup Kramer assembles.

Next Friday, Aug. 6, marks the return from New York of saxophonist Frank Vitolo. He's reuniting the Bad News Botanists for a lunchtime show in Seattle's Occidental Park and giving the band's fans hope for more music in the future.

The New Triumph has added SmackTalk saxophonist Sidney Hauser recently, and they'll be performing at Reuben's Brews' ninth anniversary party in Ballard on Aug. 7. Music hits around 2:30 p.m., so don't be late.

Are you ready to return to Seattle's premier jazz club? Jazz Alley has discounted tickets available for shows Aug. 10 and 11 with Seattle guitarist Ari Joshua's new quartet, featuring organist Delvon Lamarr. The new single, "Say Whatcha Wanna Say," is one of several new projects Joshua has released from his vault recently. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hfw6PChVrY

Lamarr's former bandmates from The True Loves will co-headline a Zoo Tunes concert with Smokey Brights on Aug. 11. They're celebrating their terrific new new album Saturday Afternoon, reviewed here in a previous post.

Saxophonist Skerik will play with the True Loves at Woodland Park that night, and his own Skerik Band will hit Portland's Jack London Review the following night. Look for Skerik to return home from touring for Seattle shows in September with Crack Sabbath and OG McTuff.

Seattle's 45th St Brass will be featured in an opening spot for funky local groovers Eldridge Gravy & the Court Supreme at Nectar Lounge Aug. 13. They've released a new "digital 45" for the Code Red label; it features singer Annie Jantzer.

The Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio get busy around their birthplace this summer, spreading the grooves over two outdoor afternoon sets at the Edmonds Center for the Arts Aug. 14. The DLO3 headlines two nights at Jazz Alley Aug. 24 and 25, as they continue to support their new hit record, I Told You So.

The Polyrhythmics rhythm section, Unsinkable Heavies, recently sold out Drunky's in White Center, and the full ensemble's long-delayed tour brings them home to Seattle's Woodland Park for a Zoo Tunes concert Aug. 25. Then they return to life on the road, finally performing music from their Man from the Future album, which was released just after the pandemic began last spring.

The jam sessions around town are underway at the Owl N' Thistle downtown Seattle, and Max Holmberg's Sunday night Beaver Sessions at the Angry Beaver Pub in Greenwood. Expect the return of the Racer Sessions jams at the new Capitol Hill location of Cafe Racer opening Sept. 11, and start planning concert trips to Columbia City as the Royal Room reopens its remodeled space Sept. 15.

Fans of the West Seattle Soul sessions at the now-closed Parliament Tavern should check out Battlestar Kalakala at Skylark under the "broken bridge" on Delridge on Aug. 5. The first Thursday shows from the re-born Admiral Disctrict afro-beat big band will feature Kate Olson, Danny Godinez, Maurice Caldwell and many more.

Stay connected for news from the Seattle Jazz Fellowship; the Thomas Marriott-helmed nonprofit should be announcing live concerts soon as well. I've also heard from Ian Hughes about impending new music from his band Freudian Slurp, so live gigs from his quintet are also highly anticipated.

The action is hot and just beginning, with national and international touring acts soon to be arriving in the Northwest. Stay connected for all the details, and make your own return to live concerts this summer!

The New Cool airs Fridays at 9 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.

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