The 24th edition of the Earshot Jazz Festival, running Oct. 12-Nov. 4 in more than a dozen Seattle area venues, features a generous sampling of boldface names and progressive locals, including Danilo Perez, Luciana Souza, Elina Duni, Mundell Lowe, Vijay Iyer, Lionel Loueke, Matthew Shipp, Dave Peck, Wayne Horvitz, Cuong Vu, Andy Clausen, Evan Flory-Barnes...
Most major American jazz presenters outside New York City fill their festivals with out-of-town talent, leaving local players to grumble over crumbs. By contrast, the Earshot Jazz Festival’s animating principle can be summed up as: Think global and book local.
Running Oct. 12-Nov. 4, Earshot’s 24th edition features 52 concerts at more than a dozen Seattle area venues. More often than not, boldface jazz names and international talent share a double bill with progressive Seattle artists.
This strategy results in fascinating juxtapositions, such as the long-running trio of Panamanian-born pianist Danilo Perez paired with the intricate chamber jazz of rising trombonist/composer Andy Clausen’s Wishbone, an accordion-driven quintet featuring the same cast as his recent Table & Chairs album “Wishbone Suite.”
The luminous Los Angeles-based Brazilian jazz vocalist Luciana Souza’s trio finds a lyrical match in pianist Dave Peck’s trio and pianist Vijay Iyer’s rhythmically turbocharged New York trio shares the stage with Seattle trumpeter Cuong Vu’s spacious band Triggerfish.
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Fittingly, the festival opens with Garfield High School’s tribute to beloved educator and drummer Clarence Acox, celebrating his 35-year tenure as director of the school’s acclaimed jazz program.
As Earshot’s featured artist, bassist Evan Flory-Barnes plays in a series of disparate settings, starting with intimate duo encounters with bassist Jeff Johnson and pianist Dawn Clement at the Chapel Performance Space.
Revisiting one of last year’s signature performances, the all-star quintet Human Spirit reunites trumpeter Thomas Marriott, alto saxophonist Mark Taylor and drummer Matt Jorgensen, all busy bandleaders responsible for essential Seattle ensembles, with the East Coast rhythm section of pianist Orrin Evans and bassist Essiet Essiet. The concert celebrates the release of the eponymous Origin Records CD documenting 2011’s searing Earshot show.
Conducted by Joshua Kohl of Degenerate Art Ensemble notoriety, Seattle trumpeter Samantha Boshnack’s sonically expansive B’shnorkestra brings together a volatile 14-piece ensemble of horns, drums and capaciously creative strings.
Earshot continues its deep ties to the antic Dutch jazz scene with appearances by the duo of saxophonist Ab Baars and viola player and composer Ig Henneman and vocal improviser Jaap Blonk, a solo performer who makes precise use of samples and processed sound.
The German label ECM is also well represented. Albanian vocalist Elina Duni makes her Seattle debut accompanied by labelmate Colin Vallon on piano, bassist Patrice Moret and drummer Norbert Pfammatter. Her recent release “Matanë Malit” (Beyond the Mountain) is a ravishing collection of Balkan folk themes transformed via a probing jazz sensibility. And Swiss pianist Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin, well represented by several incantatory ECM albums, delivers dark and rumbling cadences that key on the bass and contrabass clarinet.
Amid many other enticing offerings, five other concerts stand out as essential. Pianist Matt Shipp’s volcanic trio shares an outward-bound double bill with wind master Joe McPhee’s Trio X. Benin-
ese guitarist Lionel Loueke’s extraordinary band with bassist Massimo Biolcati and drummer Ferenc Nemeth teams up with Dos y Mas, the revelatory Cuban duo of pianist Elio Villafranca and percussionist Arturo Stable.
Seattle pianist Wayne Horvitz directs an illustrious cast of improvisers in a spontaneous “conduction,” in which players, without written music, respond to the movements of the conductor. Many of these same players will stay on stage for drummer Bobby Previte’s roiling electric Miles project Voodoo Orchestra West. And supremely lyrical 90-year-old San Diego-based guitar master Mundell Lowe, whose credits include sessions with Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Benny Carter, coleads a quartet with guitarist Mike Magnelli.
Andrew Gilbert: email@example.com