Branford Marsalis and Kurt Elling, John Scofield, Ralph Towner, Aaron Parks and Dave Peck Trio all play in Seattle in February.
Portland’s PDX Jazz Festival kicked off Thursday (Feb. 16), but Seattle fans can take in many of its attractions right here at home.
One to note in bold is the simpatico collaboration between saxophonist Branford Marsalis and vocalist Kurt Elling at the Triple Door, Friday through Sunday. Marsalis and Elling found fertile ground last year on their uplifting yet autumnal, Grammy-nominated album “Upward Spiral” (Marsalis Music).
Chicago shouter Elling soars with exuberance on Gershwin’s “There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon For New York” and Marsalis blends so seamlessly with the singer on the longing strains of “Blue Gardenia” that they sound like two harmonizing vocalists. But the set list’s highlight is Sting’s modest marriage proposal, “Practical Arrangement” (from the rock star’s ill-fated musical, “The Last Ship”) which includes the hilariously self-effacing line, “How bad could it be/ to be my wife?” Two giants at the top of their game, Elling and Marsalis are not to be missed.
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 17-18, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19, at the Triple Door, 216 Union St., Seattle; $75-$90 (206-838-4333 or thetripledoor.net).
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Also journeying up I-5 is John Scofield, the blues-drenched guitarist whose latest album, “Country For Old Men” (Impulse), does for country twang what his “Uberjam” did for funky grooves: cuts straight to its melting heart. The Grammy-winning (he won two more on Feb. 19) ex-Miles Davis sideman’s unearthing of Johnny and the Hurricanes’ “Red River Rock” is brilliant — and fun.
7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 21-22, at Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., Seattle; $33.50 (206-441-9729 or jazzalley.com).
Ralph Towner/Aaron Parks
Seattle’s Earshot Jazz shares two PDX artists who have deep Seattle connections — guitarist/pianist/composer Ralph Towner and pianist Aaron Parks — with Towner appearing Tuesday at the Seattle Art Museum and Parks on Wednesday at Cornish College of the Arts. Towner, who co-founded the legendary jazz/world-fusion group Oregon and formerly lived in Seattle, will perform material from his gorgeous new solo guitar album, “My Foolish Heart” (ECM). Towner’s gift for melodic invention and his pristine, classical technique imbue the album with swelling grace and romance on the title track (with a nod to Bill Evans) as well as a brace of originals, including the gamboling “Dolimiti Dance,” the pinging “Clarion Call” (on 12-string guitar) and playfully dissonant “Blue As In Bley.”
Thirty-three-year-old Aaron Parks, whose genius was evident in Seattle when he was only 15, has gone on to record for Blue Note and ECM and now has a rhythmically charged new trio with bassist Ben Street and veteran drummer Billy Hart. A review in England of the trio drew comparisons to Evans, noting a subtle rhythmic interest percolating beneath Parks’ hypnotic lyricism.
Ralph Towner, 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave.; $10-$25 (206-547-6763 or earshot.org), Aaron Parks, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, at Poncho Concert Hall, Cornish College of the Arts, 710 E. Roy St., Seattle; $10-$18 (206-547-6763 or earshot.org).
And speaking of Evans and lyricism, another great Seattle jazz pianist, Dave Peck, who still lives here, plays a two-night stand with John Bishop (drums) and Jeff Johnson (bass) at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Feb. 17-18) at Tula’s, 2214 Second Ave., Seattle; $20 (206-443-4221 or tulas.com).
Have fun out there!