KNKX jazz host Abe Beeson hosted a recorded studio session with three dynamic combos at Jazz Port Townsend 2018. The two trios and a quintet were there attending Centrum's 44th annual jazz workshop, experiencing a week filled with living and learning under the tutelage of some of the finest jazz musicians in the world. The workshop is open to all ages of participants.
The crew at Centrum was kind enough to let us behind the scenes to record this School of Jazz studio session in the Wheeler Theater at Fort Worden State Park on July 27. That evening, from the main stage inside McCurdy Pavilion, Jazz Port Townsend Artistic Director John Clayton greeted the audience with an enthusiastic "Hello, family!" It reminded us that this vibrant annual festival has been a key reason the Northwest jazz community is so closely connected.
First up, a quintet mentored by trumpeter Terell Stafford, celebrating the 80th anniversary of the birth of trumpet legend Lee Morgan. Stafford is the director of jazz studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, as well as a busy band leader who recently released his own tribute to Morgan, "Brotherlee Love."
Stafford's quintet was an example of the range of students at Jazz Port Townsend. Check out 15-year-old Hiiro Kanazawa on trumpet with a pair of talented 20-somethings: Toronto's David Hodgson on saxophone and Yuki Hirate from Nagoya, Japan, absolutely tearing up the piano. The rhythm section featured more seasoned gentlemen: Steve Benny and Peter Bruck on bass and drums. The music, per Stafford's trumpet celebration, was all Lee Morgan.
Songs from the quintet:
The next School of Jazz performers were split into a pair of piano trios mentored by drummer Jeff Hamilton, who's been an educator at Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend since the early days. Hamilton leads his own popular trio, co-leads the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with Jeff and John Clayton, and he's a first-call sideman at home in Los Angeles and around the world. The first trio includes pianist Mark Vayman, a student from Seattle's Jazz Night School; Marco Thompson from Garfield High School playing bass; and one of Hamilton's students from California, Ian Flores, behind the drum kit.
Songs from trio No. 1:
"Ham Hocks and Cabbage"
Our last performance, also under the mentorship of Hamilton, includes a young pianist who just recently led his own quintet live in the KNKX studios. Dylan Hayes is a talented pianist and composer, and for these two songs he's joined by Bellevue native Stanley Ruvinov on bass — who is currently studying at Michigan State University — and recent Bay Area high school graduate Gabe Carpenter at the drums. The song, "Sybille's Day" was written by Hamilton, who sat in the front row for this performance. When Abe Beeson asked the band which of them was brave enough to suggest playing a song written by their mentor, they all pointed to Hamilton. "I just wanted to hear someone play it right," he said.
Songs from trio No. 2:
"The Jitterbug Waltz"
*These three songs were featured in our special, year-end School of Jazz studio session that aired Dec. 3, 2018.
We had a wonderful time at Centrum's Jazz Point Townsend last summer. A big thanks to Jazz Program Manager Gregg Miller and Communications Manager Bonnie Obremski. Another thank you to the Jazz Port Townsend stage crew: Noah Phillips, Ashante Ashley and Cee Cee Neilson. Also thanks to mentors Terell Stafford and Jeff Hamilton, as well as the educators, students, their families and the fans. KNKX's John Kessler recorded these performances and Parker Miles Blohm videotaped.