Saturday, November 10, 2018

Ear Shot Jazz Festival 2018

Earshot Jazz Festival 2018

This is our 4th year to volunteer for the Seattle Earshot Jazz Festival. The Festival is a full month+ of of local,  U.S. and international Jazz talent. My fantasy is to buy all festival pass and go all 34 nights to see as much of the festival as possible. There are over 60 concerts and other events so its impossible to see it all. Our calendar is already full of  family, sailing and other stuff so we just find the nights we are free during the month and volunteer those nights. So we just see whoever happens to be scheduled on those dates. In most cases we have never heard of the artist that we are volunteering our time for. Our duties included scanning tickets at the door, or selling artist merchandise, CD's, T-shirts or will call, or just greeting people and showing them which way to go. After everyone is seated then volunteers have seats reserved to go in and enjoy the music. Each year has been more fantastic than the last and this year was definitely the best yet. I was speaking to the Director of the non-profit, Earshot Jazz, John Gilbreath, and he said" This years festival was 3 X better than the festivals of the past" Like all non-profits of this type the Paid staff is small and they depend on a large bank of volunteers. the staff is not only managing over 60 events but they are also scheduling all the artist making sure they have hotel accommodations, rides to and from airports and the many other myriad of things that can go either right or wrong on a daily basis so that means really long hours for the weeks leading up to and during the festival. The ticket prices are very resonable and are usually under $25 with discounts for students and seniors. These events are usually over by 9:30-10 pm but there is closing up stuff to do at each venue, which are many, spread all across Seattle. I'm sure they are lucky to be home by midnight and then get up the next day to repeat. I asked Tara one of the new members of the staff what her favorite events were, and she just looked at me sort of bleary eyed and said she was not sure, it just sort of all merged into one and she could not remember anything! But she had a smile on her face and she was always pleasant and helpful to us Earshot Jazz is not just a festival , they promote and host events year round creating one of the Jazziest Cities in the US. I wish they had a Earshot in Austin!
We had six nights available so we emailed the date to Karen Caropepe, the Managing Director. She put us down for all six nights and then at the end of course is the volunteers appreciation party at the last concert so we made 7 events and everyone of them were memorable and some once in a lifetime moments for us. 

This is the Executive Director John Gilbreath
I told him that if I had won the $1.5 Billion lottery that I was going to finance the Austin, TX chapter of the Earshot Jazz non-profit and Festival. This man and his crew has created an incredible jazz scene for all the people in the Pacific
Jazzmeia Horn is the Featured artist of the Festival.

Our Events:

1. Wayne Horvitz Trio at the Chapel Space see: This was our first night, these guys were great and it just never stopped getting better.

Wayne Horvitz, with long time collaborators Eric Eagle (drums) and Geoff Harper (bass), spent a week in residence at Snowghost Studios in Whitefish, Montana.

2. Travis Laplante & Gerald Cleaver

Percussionist Gerald Cleaver and Saxophonist Travis Laplante combine to  extend the brains of the listeners to new undiscovered realms.
"The jaw-dropping saxophone and drum performances by these leading new-generation artists embrace all musical styles, from the profane to the sacred; raw, demanding, intimate, emotional"

Travis Laplante played a nonstop 45 minute piece accompanied by an incredible creative percussionist that would have anyone's mind delving into unexplored spaces. The amazing technique, that we later learned is called "circular breathing", allows Laplante to have a continuous uninterrupted sound from his instrument. You never saw him pause for even an instant to take a breath.Jazz, especially the creative Free Jazz musicians reflect the extremes and dilemmas of current cultural issues. What a listener takes away from an experience like this is completely individual and will always leave more questions than answers. The creativity must be celebrated as they ultimately make a statement that up to moment, had not impacted the listener with such definition. This was the most impactful performance we participated in at this years Earshot, there was nothing graceful about it. Pick your cause of the year 2018 and find yourself in the no so pleasant depths of those who are struggling the most. See the youtube video at :

3. D'vonne Lewis and Friends

D'Vonne Lewis and friends come together to play a performance celebrating the life of his Father Dave Lewis (1954-1998), a long time staple of Seattle Jazz. Dave was born in Waxahachie TX loved the scene in Seattle so much he moved here. He was very involved in the Seattle music scene as a performer, writer, leader, and teacher. One thing of note was he gave private lesson to young Jimi Hendrix among many others who lived to make their mark on the various music scenes across the U.S. and internationally. .

A new performance space for the Earshot.
Built in 1915, the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute is an historic landmark in the historic Central Area of Seattle. Designed by B. Marcus Priteca, and formerly the Jewish Synagogue of Chevra Biku Cholim, the building became a community center and part of the City of Seattle's facilities in 1972. It underwent extensive renovations in 2011 to preserve its architectural character and update the facilities."

The Langston Hughs Theatre came to the rescue when Town Hall closed for Seismic remodeling.

Dave Lewis's son D'Vonne Lewis on Drums and other family and friends perform a very fun celebration. Music from the 60's to 2018. D'Vonne is a well respected percussionist in Seattle Jazz circles and beyond. I often hear him on the local NPR station discussing Jazz happenings. The two guitarist on the right were amazingly good especially the second from the right. 

4, Jazzmeia Horn

"The superb vocalist’s electrifying stage presence has won her the Thelonious Monk Vocal Jazz prize and the hearts of every audience she’s regaled. Reared in Dallas churches and steeped in the spirit of Betty Carter, “every word, gesture, and ornament becomes an expression of her total conviction” (London Jazz News). Not to be missed! With Victor Gold (piano), Barry Stephenson (bass), Henry Conerway III (drums)."

It is a rare opportunity to hear a Jazz singer like this and her the piano, bass and drums were incredible compliments to her voice and music. Ms. Horn was one of US, her presence was of total acceptance and everyone in the audience left feeling like her best friend. It was 2018 Peace and Love!

5. Jacob Bro Trio

"Playing ethereal, intense guitar, the Dane apprenticed with Paul Motian and Tomasz Stanko and has found a home at the vaunted ECM label. Uplifting compositions with acclaimed drummer Joey Baron and bass phenom Thomas Morgan." The only musician I can relate to these guys is Ralph Towner. I bought all of his albums back in the day, these guys are Ralph Towner 2018 but just not Ralph Towner, They have their own space. All three instruments were equally contributing all the way through every piece, it was never loud and close your eyes and let the music take you right into their space. If I had to vote for the best thing we saw during the festival, which you cant really compare, It would be these guys. 

Three strange ducks totally submerged into creative Jazz
If they are anywhere near you, Go see them!

6. Tia Fuller Quartet
Tia played her latest album Diamond Cut She says we are all Diamond Cut but it takes a lifetime of experiences to expose the diamond. She was very uplifting and spiritual, her pianist was insane!

"Saxophonist Tia Fuller has a sound direct and intelligent, but articulate in its passion, a “versatile, creative voice on alto saxophone, soprano, and flute,” according to trumpeter Jon Faddis. Having just released her fifth album as a leader, Diamond Cut, featuring Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland, Fuller comes to the Earshot Festival with her quartet. Fuller’s band includes guitarist Andrew Renfroe, bassist Chris Smith, and drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr. A graduate of Juilliard and the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, Renfroe has played in groups led by Nat Reeves, Steve Davis, and Terrace Martin, and played in working groups with Braxton Cook, Jonathan Barber, and others."

7. Clave Gringa

"From charming cha-cha-cha to intricate AfroCuban rhythms, Clave Gringa performs originals by pianist Ann Reynolds as well as Cuban classics. Packed with musicians from the island or well-versed in its styles. Ann Reynolds – piano and vocal Kelsey Mines – bass"  For this event Ann had six Cuban women, three percussionist, vocalist, and piano., A perfect feel good concert for the Volunteer Appreciation Party

Earshot knows how to treat their volunteers, Great Cuban Jazz, food and drink to celebrate and close out the 2018 festival
Clave Gringa was the perfect all female group to finish a festival that celebrates female musicians. You notice from above the female musicians we were able to enjoy. No other Earshot Festival we have been to had anywhere near this many females...It's about time!

One of the best things about the volunteer work we have done since being in Seattle is making new friends. This is JOJO. She is a 26 year old intern from  Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia the capital city.Mongolia is sandwiched between Russia and China and is a very mountainous region. The capital city is the largest and has  about 45% of the country's population. Nomadic tribes inhabit the mountainous areas  JoJo is a Jazz vocalist and manages a night club in her home town. An art foundation paid for her to travel to Seattle for the internship so that she could bring home as much as possible on the leading edge of Jazz. The Jazz community is very small but growing in Mongolia. The first Jazz album/CD to be produced there is ENJI Mongolia Song. One of the most interesting friends we have met in Seattle

Ready for Earshot 2019

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