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The New Cool: The Tiptons spice up the Earshot Jazz festival

The Tiptons saxophone quaret: (l-r: Jessica Lurie, Amy Denio, Sue Orfield, Tina Richerson)
Melanie Gribinski
The Tiptons saxophone quartet's Amy Denio, Sue Orfield and Tina Richerson. Jessica Lurie is not pictured.

When Duke Ellington dismissed genres with his famous quote, "There are only two kinds of music: the good kind and the other kind," he could have been talking about the Tiptons. The one-of-a-kind saxophone quartet simply play music — amazing music, influenced by folk music from around the world. The Tiptons return to Seattle for the Earshot Jazz Festival, performing at The Chapel Performance Space Friday and Saturday.

At the beginning of 2020, just weeks before the pandemic brought live concerts to a temporary end, the Tiptons celebrated their new album "Wabi Sabi" with a session in the KNKX studios. You'll hear highlights from that performance and interview on the KNKX Studio Session Spotlight Friday night at 8.

Saxophonists, composers, vocalists Jessica Lurie, Amy Denio, Sue Orfield and Tina Richerson spoke with me about their swing band origins, their global search for inspiration, and love of rhythm. Drummer Robert Kainar joined the band for their lively studio session and their new album.

The Tiptons are back in Seattle for their first live performances since that trip for a pair of concerts for this year's Earshot Jazz Festival. This special occasion debuts Mujer o Bruja?, a new multimedia collaboration with award-winning Latin American music duo Correo Aereo — Abel Rocha and Madeleine Sosin, who directs — and creative technologist Jude Dai.

Rich sonic and visual worlds examine the history of feminine cosmology as connected with nature and the web of life. A surreal cabaret, the Mexico-U.S. border, a Mayan heroine and her bees all take shape in the project. It's a natural fit for the Tiptons.

Earshot's festival continues through Nov. 7. Modern acoustic jazz can also be found at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute Friday night with saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins and his quartet. The popular young sideman just released his debut album, Omega.

In a similar mode, emerging trumpeter Giveton Gelin leads a quintet at Langston Hughes P.A.I. Saturday night. His debut, True Design, shows a Roy Hargrove influence and an angular post-fusion energy.

Best known for his years playing piano with Cassandra Wilson, Don Byron, John Scofield and others, George Colligan plays drums with his new project, Theoretical Planets. In the design of Ornette Coleman's piano-less quartets, the group includes Nicole McCabe on alto sax, Joe Manis on tenor sax and Garrett Baxter on bass. Colligan's quartet plays Nov. 3 at Town Hall Forum and in a non-festival show at Boxley's in North Bend Friday night.

Finally, Friday night's other non-festival shows include Ahamefule J. Oluo's all-star group The Shrine at Lo-Fi. Skerik will be there on sax, with Oluo's former Industrial Revelation bandmates Josh Rawlings and D'Vonne Lewis at the keys and drums. Jerome Smith is featured on brass with bassist Marina Christopher and vocalist Talaya. It's the first of a monthly live music series at Lo-Fi that will move to the new Crocodile event space when construction is finished.

In White Center, the Jason Cressey-Peter Daniel-led FUTURENOT returns to live action to celebrate new music previewed here earlier this year. Their cinematic jazz-informed funky pop music skews toward a hip-hop vibe, and if that's as confusing as it reads, just know it will be a great time.

The nights are getting busier; take your opportunities to support live music as soon as you can, and stay connected to The New Cool.

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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Abe grew up in Western Washington, a third generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.