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Skerik goes big, performing with his Huge Band XXXXL in Seattle

No room on stage for amateurs when Skerik leads his NUMBER-piece Huge Band XXXXL at Nectar Friday night.
Nectar Lounge
No room on stage for amateurs when Skerik leads his NUMBER-piece Huge Band XXXXL at Nectar Friday night.

Seattle jazz Hall of Famer Skerik leads his Huge Band XXXXL at Nectar Lounge Fridayat 8 p.m. The 15-member group will feature some of Seattle's finest improvisers, including singer Phinehas Nyango'ro.

Over more than thirty years, the list of bands led by or featuring Skerik has grown huge indeed. From a jazz and rock background in 1980s Seattle, Skerik's music often fuses modern rock, free improvisation, funk, soul and a wide spectrum of jazz from mainstream to avant-garde.

Currently he co-leads the trio Garage A Troiswith Charlie Hunter and Stanton Moore. Long running project Critters Buggin just released new music recently, and he's also an important member of the four-part horn section ofThe True Loves. Along with Bandalabra, Crack Sabbath, the Syncopated Taint Septet and many more groups of his own, Skerik has been an in-demand special guest for decades.

This week on The New Cool we'll share music from a variety of recordings from Seattle's master of saxophonics.

KNKX reached out to Skerik and asked for his thoughts on the bands and songs decorating our three-hour modern jazz journey Friday night. The brevity of his responses is dwarfed by their wit and charm. Here's what he said:

Garage A Trois "GAT Swamba"
Recorded in NOLA by Mike Napolitano, so the swamp vibes are strong mixing with Berkeley, Seattle and Texas. 

Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet "Don't Wanna"
Hans Teuber composition referencing his South Carolina roots! One of the greatest bands of all time, Syncopated Taint Septet could do no wrong. 

Abe Beeson
Saxophonist Skerik won't have as much elbow room on stage at Nectar Lounge where his 15-piece Huge Band XXXXL performs Friday night.

Skerik's Bandalabra "JENNACOSTA"
From the all-improvised record. This is a soul tune that came out of a bass solo, one of my favorite saxophone captures of all time. 

Omaha Diner "Single Ladies"
Amazing arrangement from slide trumpeter Steven Bernstein, combining Art Ensemble of Chicago with NYC. Love it. 

True Loves "Objects in Mirror"
Always poppin' True Loves, I’m very lucky they let me play baritone sax with them. I’ve learned a lot about the instrument by playing with The True Loves, they throw me a solo on this cut. 

Happy Orchestra "Reaganing"
Everyone should boycott this recording by any means necessary. (Skerik is teasing his friend Tarik Abouzied, who leads this band.)

Tuatara "Spider Pimp"
Barrett Martin has included me on many of his projects, always a blast. I arrange and perform horns on peoples records and it’s always more fun when they let me add different harmonies etc. 

Nels Cline Singers "Passed Down"
I was so excited to be asked to play on this record, an absolute highlight in my life. We were all together in the studio performing Nels’ compositions. There are also a couple group improvisations that are epic.

McTuff "Bad Coil"
This record was recorded when we were playing a lot, a great time for the band.

Friday night at Fremont's Nectar Lounge, Skerik's big tent expands to full capacity. Kate Olsen and Gordon Brown join Skerik on saxophones with Jason Cressey and Greg Kramer on trombones, Walter Cano, Bill Jones, Jun Iida and Brennan Carter on trumpets.

But wait, there's more! Guitarists R.L. Heyer and Andy Coe rub elbows with bassist Ian Sheridan, drummer D'Vonne Lewis and percussionist Ivan Galvez plus singer Nyango'ro for a thrilling night of progressive jazz at its most colossal.

Later this month, Skerik leads a quintet of longtime Seattle area collaborators at the Seattle Jazz Fellowship concert on Feb. 22 at Vermillion. He'll be joined by trumpeter Thomas Marriott with Tim Kennedy, Geoff Harper and D'Vonne Lewis at the keys, bass and drums. It's not a "huge" band but will certainly be another big night of great jazz in Seattle.

The New Cool airs Fridays at 9 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Washington. LISTEN ON DEMAND

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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.