With a Colombian harpist, an Israeli clarinetist and the local premiere of Wayne Horvitz’s septet for poet Richard Hugo, there’s plenty of opportunity to find new sounds at the Earshot Jazz Festival.

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The Earshot Jazz Festival — which, at five and a half weeks (Oct. 9-Nov. 18), is not so much a festival as an exciting jumble of concerts and club dates — can be a challenge for the uninitiated. Few of the names on its roster are familiar to the average person or even, in some cases, to casual fans.

“We’d like to encourage people to take a chance on things with which they may not be familiar,” says festival director John Gilbreath.

That should be easy. And given the festival’s overall high quality and moderate prices, it’s not an altogether unreasonable invitation. Here’s a little background on some highlights — in chronological order — to help you make your decisions.

Wayne Horvitz

The restless Seattle pianist offers the local premiere of an exquisite new chamber jazz work for septet, “Some Days Are Forever Afternoon: 11 Places For Richard Hugo.” 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, Poncho Concert Hall, Cornish College of the Arts, 710 E. Roy St., Seattle, $14-$28; 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11, White Center Fieldhouse, 1321 S.W. 102nd St., Seattle, free. Horvitz also plays with three different groups on a program titled “Wayne Horvitz at 60.” 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, at the Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle; $9-$18.

Wayne Shorter

Tenor and soprano saxophonist Shorter was part of the classic Miles Davis Quintet of the 1960s and composed some of that band’s most memorable material (including “Footprints” and “Nefertiti”). His longtime group with Danilo Pérez (piano), John Patitucci (bass) and Brian Blade (drums) made one of the best albums of 2013, “Without A Net,” an oblique, high-wire stream-of-consciousness affair. 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11, Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; $25-$65.

Edmar Castañeda

Colombian harpist Castañeda is an original who applies dazzling technique to an innovative mix of twinkling folk melodies and swinging jazz. 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, Poncho Concert Hall, Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle; $9-$18.

 

Charles Lloyd

See interview.

Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret

Pianist Melford, who lived in Seattle for a while, is one of the most creative voices in jazz. Snowy Egret plays innovative, melodically approachable music featuring the buttery trumpet of Ron Miles and alert drumming of Tyshawn Sorey. 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, at Plestcheeff Auditorium, Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., Seattle; $11-$22.

The Westerlies

This enchanting, mellifluous folk-jazz brass band is composed entirely of young Seattle musicians who now live in New York: Riley Mulherkar, Zubin Hensler, Willem de Koch and Andy Clausen. 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25, Plestcheeff Auditorium, Seattle Art Museum; $11-$22.

Chano Dominguez

Many musicians have tried to fuse flamenco and jazz, but rhythmic roadblocks often defeat them. Not so for Dominguez, who swings percussively through the realm of duende. Dominguez recently moved to Seattle, though he has kept a low profile so far. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28, Teatro ZinZanni, 222 Mercer St., Seattle; $11-$27.

Sonic Evolution: Seattle Symphony Orchestra with Bill Frisell, Shaprece, Derek Bermel and the Roosevelt High School Jazz Band

This SSO show features another new work by Wayne Horvitz, “Those Who Remain,” featuring world-renowned Seattle guitarist Frisell. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, at Benaroya Hall; $25-$45.

Joel M. Ross Quartet

Young Chicago vibes player Ross blew everyone away at the Seattle Jazz Experience student festival for two years running. He combines percussive, Thelonious Monk-ish quirkiness with an on-the-one, hip-hop feel. 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30, Poncho Concert Hall, Cornish College of the Arts, $9-$18; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, Tula’s, 2214 Second Ave., Seattle; $9-$18.

Anat Cohen

Easily the best clarinetist in jazz today, Cohen also plays a mean tenor saxophone. The Israeli modernist combines Brazilian, Middle Eastern and blues-based forms for a soulful mix all her own. 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, Poncho Concert Hall, Cornish College of the Arts; $15-$30.

Brad Mehldau

Harmonically brilliant, technically fleet and able to toss off long phrases with perfect narrative sense, Mehldau is one of the top players in jazz today. 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13, Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., Seattle; $13-$36.

Chris Potter Trio

Saxophonist Potter made his name with bassist Dave Holland, but he has been recording since he was a teen prodigy. A sharp-edged player with locomotive energy, Potter always comes loaded for bear. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15, Triple Door, 216 Union St., Seattle; $13-$26.