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On Northwest tour, trumpeter Charlie Porter offers audiences a jazz treasure hunt

Trumpeter Charlie Porter leads his quintet on a seven-night tour through the Northwest next week.
Courtesy of Charlie Porter
Charlie Porter Music
Trumpeter Charlie Porter leads his quintet on a seven-night tour through the Northwest next week.

Trumpeter Charlie Porter has a real sense of adventure. In fact, Porter's created an actual treasure hunt at the center of his upcoming album "Cipher."

"I've always been an Indiana Jones fan," Porter said. Inspiration also came from the true story of Forrest Fenn, whose memoir held nine clues to a fortune hidden in the Rocky Mountains. Porter thought: "How cool would it be to embed nine clues in nine pieces of music?"

Porter said that you "don't need to be a music scholar" to find the clues. The music is inspired by themes and folklore of Washington and Oregon. He previously lived in Portland and on Orcas Island before relocating to New York City a year ago.

"I love the Pacific Northwest," he said. "After living there for eight years it's definitely become a part of me."

The nine clues within "Cipher" direct listeners to the treasure, a $10,000 prize that will likely be split between the winner and a charity.

"It's not going to be easy," he warned. "You're going to have to work at it, but it won't be impossible either. You can also just listen to the music and appreciate that for what it is."

As for the album's release, Porter said they are "doing it backwards." The band will play ten shows on a twelve-day tour and then record the album. He hopes it will be available soon after recording.

For fans attending shows on the upcoming tour, Porter will make the sheet music where the clues are embedded available.

A Jazz Road grant is helping Porter bring his band to smaller venues northern Washington. Porter said his experience living on Orcas Island led him to include shows in Blaine, Eastsound and Lyndon, as well as Bellingham and Seattle.

Porter's visiting quintet includes saxophonist Nick Biello, pianist George Colligan, Garrett Baxter playing bass and Alan Jones drumming. The music ranges from Mingus-style swinging complexity to more angular Ornette Coleman-esque adventurism.

Porter said audiences can expect a few jazz standards as well. He hopes that "audiences will get warmed up to the idea of hearing something new. That's the beauty of hearing music live for the first time!"

The tour begins in Bellingham on June 22 at the Sylvia Center for the Arts. On June 23 the fun moves near the Canadian border for a free show at the Blaine Performing Arts Center.

The free events continue: June 24 at the Eastsound Village Green Park, then June 25 at the Jansen Art Center in Lyndon, and back to Blaine for a brunch show at Vault Wine Bar on June 26.

Porter returns to the Royal Room in Seattle on June 27. The Oregon leg of the tour begins June 28 at The 1905 in Portland, followed by shows in Lake Oswego, Salem, Bend and Eugene.

Porter said this tour is an example of his continued connections to the Pacific Northwest region and promised to return frequently. For the audiences Porter and his band will be entertaining with the music and clues of "Cipher," happy hunting!

Listen for a song from Porter's modern-edged recent release "Hindsight" on the New Cool this week, featuring Orrin Evans at the keys and former Seattleite Jimmie Herrod adding vocals.

"I was hearing his voice before I realized it was Jimmie that I was hearing," Porter said about the collaboration. "I love the sound of horns and voice!"

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.