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PDX Jazz brings top modern jazz musicians to Seattle area this month

The Portland Jazz Festival begins Friday and will bring a few modern jazz stars for Seattle concerts as well
PDX Jazz
The Portland Jazz Festival begins Friday and will bring a few modern jazz stars for Seattle concerts as well

The annual Portland Jazz Festival returns Friday running through March 2, brightening dark winter days with the living force of live performance. Artists playing festival concerts in Portland often find time for a show in the Seattle area and the New Cool has the scoop.

Jazz-pop crossover star Jon Batiste earned four Grammy nominations for his 2023 album World Music Radio and is one of the most recognizable names and faces with connections to the world of improvisation today. He’s already sold out his shows at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall February 16 and at Seattle’s Paramount Theater February 17.

Known for his blasting saxophone skills with bands like Sons of Kemet and The Comet Is Coming, Shabaka Hutchings announced last year he would take a hiatus from the rigors of that instrument and his new focus on the flute.

As a musical bonus, it was just announced that Grammy-winning Portland native esperanza spalding will be a guest bassist in Shabaka’s band for shows February 22 at Town Hall in Seattle and at the Newmark Theater in Portland February 23.

A drummer sits at the drums inside a studio lit with color.
Parker Miles Blohm
Kassa Overall will join Theo Croker Seattle's Nectar Lounge 2/28 and the Portland Jazz Festival 2/29.

Seattle-based drummer and producer Kassa Overall will be co-leading a band with frequent musical partner, trumpeter Theo Croker at the end of the month.

Overall led his own band in the KNKX studios last year in celebration of his latest release Animals. A year ago, Croker released his By the Way EP featuring vocalist Ego Ella May, which perhaps hints at a full-length recording from the trumpeter in 2024.

Croker and Overall bring their hip-hop/electronica-bending jazz to Seattle’s Nectar Lounge February 28, they’ll be at The Get Down in Portland February 29.

Guitarist Julian Lage has developed a unique sound, blending the wide-open feeling of Americana twang with striking improvisational skill. Lage brings a great trio to the Northwest with longtime bandmate Jorge Roeder on bass and Joey Baron drumming.

They’ll add Portlander Dan Balmer on second guitar for the February 28 show at Portland’s Revolution Hall. Lage’s trio will journey to Seattle for a concert at Town Hall the following night.

Multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Louis Cole brings his classical training to a modern blend of funk, electronica, pop and jazz. He’s been a key member of the Los Angeles avant-pop scene to re-think modern music with friends Thundercat, Flying Lotus and Ariel Pink.

Cole’s band playing Portland's Roseland Theater March 2 includes vocalist Genevieve Artadi, his bandmate in the group KNOWER, and frequent collaborators Chris Fishman (keyboards) and Nate Wood (drums). In Seattle, March 1, the Neptune Theater audience will be entertained by Cole’s trio.

A man plays a guitar solo in a red room.
Parker Miles Blohm
Julian Lage playing solo in the KNKX Studios. He leads a trio at Seattle's Town Hall 2/29.

Several terrific modern jazz musicians will not get to the Puget Sound area this time, so make your plans to visit the Rose City to catch these great acts and many more at the 2024 Portland Jazz Festival:

  • Braxton Cook (2 sets) at Jack London Review February 17
  • Marco Benevento at The Get Down February 18
  • Keyon Harrold at The Get Down February 25
  • Melanie Charles with Sudan Archives at Portland Art Museum March 1
  • Melanie Charles (solo) at Jack London Review March 1

Beyond the festival, the Portland-Seattle connection continues to pay off when PDX Jazz presents Laurie Anderson with trumpeter Steven Bernstein's SexMob at Benaroya Hall on March 30. Their “X = X” show hits the stage at Portland’s Keller Auditorium the previous night.

Big thanks to PDX Jazz for putting together another great festival and for helping bring so many great modern jazz acts to Seattle audiences as well. Listen for these groups on KNKX’s New Cool Friday night, and if you can, catch them live in concert!

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

Updated: February 16, 2024 at 10:47 AM PST
Headline changed to reflect PDX Jazz is presenting the Seattle shows. PDX Jazz also presents the Portland Jazz Festival but the Seattle shows are not affiliated with the festival.
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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.