Seattle drummer Chris Icasiano gathers MCs, jazz musicians and others for ‘Jazz, Hip-Hop and the Avant-Garde’ at Lo-Fi Performance Gallery.

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A lot of jazz lovers cringe when they hear hip-hop, which is too bad, since the two genres share so much rhythmically and thematically. When it comes to sophisticated syncopation and surprise, the pop and crackle of a good MC is often right up there with Charlie Parker.

Perhaps the triumph of Kendrick Lamar’s brilliantly cinematic “To Pimp A Butterfly,” which draws deeply on jazz roots, will open some ears again in the ways Digable Planets did so long ago.

In the meantime, stellar Seattle drummer Chris Icasiano — associated with Seattle’s avant-garde label Table & Chairs — has programmed an eclectic night called Jazz, Hip-Hop and the Avant-Garde at Lo-Fi Performance Gallery Thursday (Feb. 25) that tries to illuminate the threads that tie these genres together.

Concert preview

Jazz, Hip-Hop and the Avant-Garde

9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, at Lo-Fi Performance Gallery, 429 Eastlake Ave. E., Seattle; $12-$15 (206-254-2824 or

“Why don’t ‘avant-garde’ and hip-hop artists play more shows together?” Icasiano asked. “We’re all rooted in the same traditions and we dig each others’ music.”


The concert features four groups, showcasing some of Seattle’s most creative young musicians.

Dex Amora, a 22-year-old MC originally from Minnesota, comes from an arts background. His father was a member of the RhymeSayers collective, his mother a spoken-word poet. Dex makes chill tracks under blankets of synth sound. A rising star, he has performed at Capitol Hill Block Party and Bumbershoot.

Bad Luck is Icasiano’s duo with hell-bent-for-leather saxophonist Neil Welch, who can sail to the stars with Albert Ayler-like abandon but also zero in on lyrical moments.

Bubbles & Bananas is a new collaboration between bassist Evan Flory-Barnes, of the popular indie-jazz group Industrial Revelation, and clarinetist Beth Fleenor, one of the most creative and technically brilliant improvisers in the Emerald City.

Finally, the show features JCB WST, a Seattle-born MC based in Los Angeles who recently signed to Public Enemy’s label Bring the Noise. (He also happens to be Icasiano’s cousin.) This will be JCB WST’s hometown debut.

With all the interconnections between these musicians, this should be a fun family affair.