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Modern jazz concerts brighten the end of the year in Seattle

A man is shown playing the drums.
Drummer Stanton Moore teams with Garage A Trois cohorts guitarist Charlie Hunter and saxophonist Skerik for three nights at Nectar Lounge in Fremont next week.

The year has almost reached an end, and for fans of live modern jazz, there are plenty of options to celebrate around the Northwest. KNKX presents Garage A Trois at Nectar Lounge Thursday, Friday and Saturday to finally celebrate their new album, and the hits just keep coming through the rest of 2021.

The original founding trio members of Garage A Trois — Skerik, Charlie Hunter and Stanton Moore — settle in for three nights at Nectar Lounge this week. Their album Calm Down Cologne was released this spring; it was recorded at the time of Garage A Trois' last three-night stay at Nectar in 2019.

The three men held a virtual release party for Calm Down Cologne in April, with Hunter in North Carolina joining Skerik and Moore in New Orleans via the internet. As Skerik told me at the time, these three always make the most of their infrequent opportunities to get together in person, so these shows at Nectar Lounge are sure to be jumping.

Saxophonist BrandonLee Cierley returns to the area from his new home in Portland, playing at the Spanish Ballroom in Tacoma Wednesday night, and at the Royal Room in Seattle Saturday night. The young man our listeners first met with his college ensemble 322 has matured into one of Portland's top players, working in several collaborations as well as leading his own group in modern jazz settings, often fused with hip-hop sensibilities.

Album cover art provided courtesy of Garage A Trois
Nectar Lounge hosts the IN-PERSON release party for Garage A Trois' new album Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Elsewhere, pianist and composer Wayne Horvitz reunites Zony Mash for two nights at the Royal Room on Dec. 26 and 27. If you didn't get the gifts you wanted for Christmas, this group is sure to satisfy. Named for a song by the Meters, Zony Mash blends originals and covers, mixing jazz with rock, funk and more. The group features guitarist Timothy Young, bassist Keith Lowe and drummer Matt Cameron.

The reopening of the Seamonster Lounge, Seattle's jazz-funk clubhouse, feels like a gift to musicians and fans alike. Joe Doria's Tuesday night organ spotlight returns, and its New Year's Eve party will feature funk juggernaut Eldridge Gravy and the Court Supreme.

Also ending the year with funky grooves, the Seattle afro-beat jazz-funk ensemble Polyrhythmics are headlining the Neptune Theatre on Dec. 31. The band's recent Man from the Future album and subsequent Fondue Party EP are a year old now, so expect a few new tunes from the Polyrhythmics and maybe news about their next release.

Hopes are high for more live jazz performances in 2022 — and for some kind of end to the pandemic quarantines that so painfully impacted musicians over the past two years. Stay connected to The New Cool for news of upcoming concerts from the Robert Glasper Experiment, Nate Smith's Kinfolk featuring Marquis Hill, and Charlie Hunter's return in late January with singer Kurt Elling.

KNKX is working on a big development for The New Cool show in the new year as well, thanks to the support of listeners like you. Thanks, and happy new year!

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Abe grew up in Western Washington, a 3rd 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.