Summer officially arrives June 21st, and the busy concert season is kicking into high gear for fans of modern jazz in Seattle. Along with popular international jazz festivals in Victoria and Vancouver, BC beginning next weekend, there are some amazing modern jazz shows happening around the Emerald City in the next few days. Do your stretches, put your phone on mute, and try to catch 'em all!
Saturday night, June 16th brings an all-star collection of modern improvisors to the Royal Room in South Seattle. Two thirds of The Bad Plus, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King, will team up with Seattle-born/NY-based Chris Speed (tenor sax & clarinet) and Tim Berne (alto sax) in a new group called Broken Shadows, named for one of Ornette Coleman’s most evocative compositions. Their music honors and expands upon the timeless American avant garde jazz of Coleman, Julius Hemphill, Charlie Haden and Dewey Redman. Reservations highly recommended for what will surely be a packed house for their two shows in Columbia City.
On Sunday June 17, head back to the Royal Room for the album release party of the Seattle quartet Johnny and the Moles. Led by drummer and singer John Ewing, the band blends psychedelic blues-rock energy and organic New Orleans funk with tuba, guitar and keys, featuring former and current members of beloved local groups The Tiptons, 45th St Brass, the Reptet and Yogoman Burning Band. Great group, here's your chance to hear what they're all about and pick up the new album.
Tuesday June 19th is the night to catch one of the area's finest modern jazz quartets, Line Up! The award winning collaboration of pianist/singer Dawn Clement and saxophonist Mark Taylor plays their monthly show at Tula's with the dynamic rhythm section of bassist Michael Glynn and drummer D'Vonne Lewis (who's own band hits the stage at Tula's 6/22). You don't want to miss this one, as Clement has recently announced she's just accepted an offer to teach jazz at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. Dawn's family heads out this summer, so take every opportunity to can to catch her now, as future performances in our area will be rare treats.
Wednesday, June 20th is going to be a wild night, so get your plans together. I suggest starting at the Triple Door for the return of the EDM-influenced English piano trio GoGo Penguin. Their new Blue Note album A Humdrum Star will be featured on the show this week. I'm excited to be introducing the band in Victoria, B.C. for their festival show there Saturday night, but Wednesday night will find me just soaking up the pulsing tension of their electro-acoustic flow.
Next, let's hop across town to the Royal Room for a late show. Seattle-born pianist Aaron Parks is back with a new group called Little Big. This show will preview their upcoming album on the Ropeadope label, with more of Parks' cinematic compositions that push beyond jazz to electronica, R&B, indie pop, and even alt-country influences. After Aaron's recent trio and solo albums and several years working with Joshua Redman, Terence Blanchard and many others as a sideman, I'm expecting more of what I loved on his Invisible Cinema released a decade ago.
If I've had enough coffee early in the day, I'll end my Wednesday night in Wallingford at the Seamonster Lounge. The Unsinkable Heavies is a smaller, concentrated version of Seattle groove kings The Polyrhythmics, with a guitar-sax-bass-keys-drums setting that allows for more extended improvisational flights from this talented crew.
Nels Cline and Scott Amendola are Stretch Woven. That's the name of the new collaboration between these two masters of guitar and drums, who've been playing together on and off for nearly 25 years. You've seen them seperately with Wilco, Julian Lage, Charlie Hunter and Bill Frisell, and fans of their other projects will no doubt fill the Triple Door for their show Thursday, June 21st. The magic this night, though, is the product of years spent developing a common musical language. Even if you don't know either of these two modern greats, jazz fans of all stripes will find much to love with Stretch Woven.
Sleep in if you can Friday, it's road trip time. New Cool fans should head for the border for the big BC jazz festivals - over the next two weeks you'll find modern jazz varieties in Victoria and Vancouver from the likes of Ghost Note, Bonobo, Julian Lage, Red Baraat, the Jerry Douglas Band and of course GoGo Penguin. Don't forget to leave room for the poutine.
On the radio show this week, along with the new GGP album, you'll hear the latest from The Bad Plus, Hello Skinny, Tom Misch and saxophonist Dave McMurray's new tune "Music is Life (Live It)". Take that message as encouragement to catch some live jazz this week. I'm told time and again by musicians that they feel the energy of a good audience. They need you, so get out there and give it to 'em!
The New Cool airs Saturdays from 3 to 5pm, hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle.