Now in Stores

Here is a look at five jazz releases that recently hit the shelves and are worth giving a listen to. Enjoy!

1. harryEvery Man Should Know by Harry Connick Jr. (Columbia – June 11, 2013) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Harry Connick, Jr. has built a reputation for musical and emotional honesty. Never one to rest on his ever-growing list of laurels, Connick exposes his feelings as never before on Every Man Should Know. The new CD contains twelve original songs for which Connick wrote music, lyrics and arrangements.

“No rules, no limits,” is how the multi-talented artist describes the songs in his liner notes for the new collection. “I don t recall ever reaching quite as deeply or confidently into my inhibition pool.”

2. jarrettSomewhere by Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, and Gary Peacock (ECM Records – May 28, 2013) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Now in its 30th year, the Keith Jarrett Trio is widely considered, as the NY Times recently remarked, to have set the gold standard for jazz groups, and this sparkling concert recording from 2009 is issued to mark a milestone anniversary.

The Somewhere in which the Standards trio find themselves is Lucerne, Switzerland with a performance both exploratory and in-the-tradition. The Neue Zurcher Zeitung headlined its review of the show Kontrollierte Ekstase controlled ecstasy an apt metaphor for a set that begins in improvisational Deep Space modulates into Miles Davis Solar, soars through the standards Stars Fell On Alabama and Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea and climaxes with an extended romp through West Side Story, as Bernsteins Somewhere and Tonight are bridged by the freely associative Jarrett original Everywhere.

3. terenceMagnetic by Terence Blanchard (Blue Note Records – May 28, 2013) CLICK HERE TO BUY

“I’ve always believed that in life, what you keep in your mind is what you draw to yourself.” That’s how trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard explains the title of his 20th album, Magnetic, which finds a stunning variety of sounds and styles pulled together by the irresistible force of Blanchard’s vision.

4. peacockAzure by Gary Peacock and Marilyn Crispell (ECM Records – June 11, 2013) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Gary Peacock and Marilyn Crispell made outstanding music together in her trio with the late Paul Motian, the three kindred spirits recording the ECM albums Nothing ever was, anyway (1997) and Amaryllis (2001) each a modern classic. The New York Times called the pair two of the most beautiful piano-trio records in recent memory. The Peacock-Crispell duo project also has a history, albeit one undocumented on disc until now, with Azure. This extraordinary new album proves that these two musicians shared sense of lyricism, their distinctive compositional styles and their profound backgrounds in free improvisation make them exceptional musical partners in the most intimate of settings.

5. walterGet Thy Bearings by Robert Walter’s 20th Congress (The Royal Potato Family – June 25th, 2013) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Robert Walter performs all his own stunts. For 20 years, the San Diego native has been pulling drawbars and pushing the limits of the Hammond B3 organ. As a founding member of the Greyboy Allstars, he helped usher in the funk-jazz renaissance of the early ’90s and has continued to keep one hand comping chords in the instrument’s funky past, while the other explores ever-new melodic terrain. On June 25, his long-standing project, Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, returns with, Get Thy Bearings, via The Royal Potato Family. It was a recent move from New Orleans to Los Angeles that jump-started the 20th Congress who hadn’t recorded a studio album in ten years. The nine-track effort presents Walter’s organ, piano, Rhodes and synthesizer driving an all-star line-up rounded out by guitarist/bassist Elgin Park, drummer Aaron Redfield, sax players Karl Denson and Cochemea Gastelum, and percussionist Chuck Prada.

Earshot Jazz Festival reaches its peak with Keith Jarrett

“Everyone thinks that I am serious all the time. Do you know anyone who is serious ALL the time? If you do, that person should be in a straight jacket.” – Keith Jarrett during his performance at Benaroya Hall November 1st.

photo by Rose Anne Colavito

I had never seen Keith Jarrett perform live before. I had only heard his wonderful recordings and heard some interesting stories about the demands he has on his audience.

The trio, made up of Keith Jarrett on piano, Gary Peacock on bass and NEA Jazz Master Jack DeJohnette on drums, is considered by many to be the premier jazz trio on the planet, and was the headlining performance at this years Earshot Jazz Festival.

Prior to the show Tuesday at Benaroya Hall, we received our warnings as audience members. No audio recording. No video recording. Turn your cell phones completely off. No pictures of any kind, at all, including while the group is taking a bow (we received these instructions again after intermission).

Even if you haven’t heard the rumors of Jarrett stopping in the middle of a song because someone coughed, it was quite clear now: stay quiet.

A dozen notes into the first song, a baby started to cry. Jarrett stops, and starts over.

A cell phone rang out loud right behind me in the middle of song number four. The owner of the phone seemed far less terrified of the consequences than I did, as he pulled out his phone and asked “Now who could that be?”

“Some people ask me why I don’t bring my cell phone up on stage with me. It’s because I don’t want to interrupt you.” – Keith Jarrett addressing the crowd after intermission.

All of the speed bumps aside, the concert was excellent, and appreciated greatly by the sold out crowd. The trio has performed together for a long time, and one thing that stood out to me was the complete understanding they seemed to have of each other on stage. No eye contact, no gestures. Just their ears and ability to anticipate one another founded on a long standing work relationship and virtuosic talents.

The trio covered the spectrum of standards, highlighted with beautiful ballads like I’ve Got a Crush on You and  Body and Soul. They showed off an ability to get a bit funky with their version of Fever, and swung hard on Clifford Brown’s Joy Spring.

The highlight for me was their version of The Meaning of the Blues, which really allowed each individual on stage to shine, not necessarily with solos, but almost as a demonstration of each performers individual talents fused together to make a seamless trio.

The group treated the crowd to multiple encore performances, including a beautiful version of When I Fall in Love.

While certainly interesting, the concert was no doubt a treat and an rare opportunity for those who had a chance to see it.

Groove Notes begins Earshot Jazz Festival coverage with an interview with John Gilbreath

The Earshot Jazz Festival kicks off this Friday, Oct. 14, and runs through Nov. 6, and through the duration of the festival Groove Notes will be delivering in-depth ongoing coverage throughout.

Leading up to opening night, we will be posting posts and questions as part of a preview to the festival, and during the festival we will be bringing you reviews, updates, and most importantly, your feedback.

Heading to a show? Did you see an amazing performance, or have a chance to chat with one of the musicians from the festival? Be sure to share your thoughts with us, and use the hashtag #earshot when you do.

We start our preview of the Earshot Jazz Festival today with an interview with the executive director of Earshot, John Gilbreath. John gives us an overview of the festival, talks about local artists on the schedule and how some of them will be collaborating with national recording artists. He also shares with us information about some of the films being screened, some sub-thematic things scheduled to happen, the headliners and a few surprises.

Festival Overview

listen to audio

The festival will feature 60-plus concerts at 15 venues over the course of 24 days this year. Shows range from large concert halls to small clubs to community centers. There are some educational programs and a film series. There will also be a healthy emphasis on local artists, some who are currently local, some who have left town and returned for the festival, and some who will be teaming up with national and international recording artists.

“There is so much that wants to be done and needs to be done and should be done, and this is our attempt to do as much of it as we can.” – John Gilbreath

Local artists return

listen to audio

The festival begins with a celebration, featuring both the Roosevelt and Mountlake Terrace high school jazz bands that placed this year at the Essentially Ellington festival in New York. Immediately following that show, musicians Chris Speed and Jim Black return for a performance after originally meeting in Seattle high school bands in the 80’s.

Local musicians collaborate with national recording artists

listen to audio

Jay Clayton, Jerry Granelli, and Travis Shook are just a few musicians who have made a name on the national scene that will be working with local musicians such as Matt Jorgensen.



Jazz in film

listen to audio

Four films will be screened at the festival this year: And I Ride, And I Ride, A freewheeling improvisation on virtuoso guitarist Rodolphe Burger; Ne Change Rien, a Seattle premiere of a meditation on entrancing French chanteuse Jeanne Balibar; In My Mind, Seattle premiere of a portrait of Jason Moranʼs 2009 tribute to Thelonious Monk, with Eugene Smith’s just-unearthed photographs and recordings of Monk rehearsals; and Black February, Seattle premiere, with director in attendance, about legendary avant-gardist Butch Morrisʼs 2005 series celebrating 20 years of his revolutionary “conductions.”

Sub-thematic elements

listen to audio

A couple of shows will highlight the music of Robin Holcomb, who moved to the area from the East Village with husband Wayne Horvitz. Nov. 2 will feature the Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra performing her music, as well as a small group featuring Robin and her music. Longtime collaborators Thomas Marriott (trumpet), Mark Taylor (sax), and Matt Jorgensen (drums) will be doing a live recording at Tula’s for an upcoming release on Origin records.

Festival headliners

listen to audio

Pianist Keith Jarrett returns with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette and is certain to be at the top of the heap for the festival this year. Also, pianist Brad Mehldau will be doing a solo concert at the Nordstrom Recital Hall, and The Bad Plus will be in concert at Town Hall.

“At the top of the mountain, the pinnacle, the peak, the Mt. Everest of any jazz festival has got to be Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, and in my mind judging by any set of criteria is the finest ensemble and made of the finest individuals in that kind of setting that is working in jazz today.” – John Gilbreath

Building a “Trendy” Dream Big Band Part 2 of 2

Following up on the previous post, here is the rest of the band that I’ve created filled with who I believe are the “trend setters” in jazz today. Again, just my own personal thoughts, on some people I feel are hip, cool, and making it happen. Enjoy the trombones, rhythm section, and singers!

The Trombones:

Lead Trombone: Steve Turre

The long, black pointy beard and the jet black hair has been hard to miss when watching the house band of NBC’s Saturday Night Live play. That is not to take away from the fact that he is an amazing trombone player, and has put out some fantastic releases over the last ten years.

Watch Steve Turre play the shells:

Second Trombone: Conrad Herwig

Conrad may be one of the most natural big band guys in this completely fictional and unrealistic big band. Seven albums as a leader and a University of North Texas grad, he’s been recruited for big bands led by Clark Terry and Buddy Rich, just to name a few.

Conrad Herwig plays below:

Third Trombone: Delfeayo Marsalis

It pays to be a Marsalis. But just having the name didn’t make him an excellent trombone player and producer. Chalk that up to studying both at Berklee an touring with Ray Charles and Art Blakey.

Delfeayo Marsalis plays with his father Ellis in this video:

Fourth Trombone: Wycliffe Gordon

“Pine Cone” holds a special place in the hearts of NPR listeners (even if they don’t know it). His composition of the NPR theme song  is just one of many compositions, most of them fantastic.  He can more or less play anything, and is one guy who can make the sounds of the 30’s sound modern and trendy.

Wycliffe Gordon solos with three other trombone greats:

The Rhythm Section:

Piano: Herbie Hancock

Herbie’s last two albums have featured him alongside the most popular names in music from a variety of genres. And for the first time in 37 years, a jazz album, his jazz album, beat out rock stars, rappers, and country singers to win the Grammy for Best Album of the Year. I’d say he is keeping with the trend.

A look into Herbie’s Grammy winning album River: The Joni Letters:

Bass: Christian McBride

Christian is likely the most sought after bassist by big name jazz musicians today. Alot of bassist can play technically perfect, but McBride gives everything he touches a enjoyable personality.

Christian plays with Herbie and Jack DeJohnette:

Drums: Jack DeJohnette

DeJohnette is similar to Christian McBride where he can play anything with anybody, and make it sound wonderful and effortless.

Watch Jack solo:

Guitar: John Scofield

Maybe the biggest guitarist in jazz (aside from Pat Metheny), it is Scofield’s rock influence that sets him apart for me. He adds a hip edge to whatever he is playing.

Scofield with Jon Mayer on the Tonight Show:

The Singers:

Male Vocalist: Jamie Cullum

Can anyone today really be called a “bad boy” of jazz? No one will call this young British vocalist a traditional jazz singer, but that is what I like about him. He’s doing his own thing by recreating songs with his own style. He will never sound like Frank Sinatra, but I don’t believe he really wants to.

Jamie Cullum’s version of Wind Cries Mary:

Female Vocalist: Diana Krall

Krall is the most popular jazz singer today, and she deserves that title. She has her own romantic, sensual style, warranting large crowds and tons of fans. Her biggest fan might be her husband, Elvis Costello, which definitely earns her major cool points.

Diana Krall’s Look of Love video:

Building a Dream Big Band Part IV: The Rhythm Section

Well if you’ve read the previous “Building a Dream Big Band” posts, you’ve noticed that all of the horns are in place. I’m pretty proud of my band so far, although I did catch some flack via email and Facebook for placing Michael Brecker in the “1” chair above John Coltrane in the sax section. The good news is that I completely encourage your feedback to my dream big band. No doubt everyone will fill their sections based on their own tastes, and that is what I am simply doing with mine. I encourage you to post your feedback on the blog, so that others can see and share their opinion not only on what I think, but to what you think as well. There are no wrong answers. We all enjoy different musicians for different reasons, and remember, this is not a “best of” or “top 10” list. It is simply based off what musicians I would dream to see together.

When finished, the band will be 21 pieces, with 5 trumpets, 4 trombones, 5 saxes, guitar, bass, drums, piano, a male and female singer, and a bandleader (by the way, if Michael Brecker as first tenor was a shocker, wait until you see who I picked to be the bandleader). Here is how the band looks so far:


Lead: Arturo Sandoval

2nd Chair: Wynton Marsalis

Third Chair: Freddie Hubbard

Fourth Chair: Miles Davis

Fifth Chair: Thad Jones

Trombones (selected by former KPLU host Troy Oppie):

Lead: Bob Burgess

Second Chair: Frank Rosilino

Third Chair: Al Grey

Bass Trombone: Bill Hughes


First Alto: Charlie Parker

Second Alto: Cannonball Adderley

First Tenor: Michael Brecker

Second Tenor: John Coltrane

Baritone Saxophone: Cecil Payne

And now, its time to introduce you to my rhythm section.

The Rhythm Section:

Guitar: Charlie Christian

How does someone have a career that lasted, at best, five years, manage to leave such a permanent mark on jazz guitarists? Simple – your name is Charlie Christian. Sadly, Christian died at the age of 25 from tuberculosis, but still remains the fundamental influence on all jazz guitarists. Christian spend time with Benny Goodman, followed by a run at the cradle of bebop, Minton’s Playhouse, where he would perform with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk. Christian is rarely any lower that number three on anyones “top guitarist” list.

I struggled to find video of Charlie Christian, but you can see a slide show and hear him play Swing to Bop below:

Piano: Herbie Hancock

There were about 10 million pianists to choose from, but I just had to choose Herbie. He has done virtually everything, and continues to become more popular. While there are dozens of pianists who have spent way more time in big bands, I find Herbie more diverse, and blessed with the ability to entertain crowds of all varieties. over through four decades.

Watch Herbie Hancock play his classic Cantaloupe Island:

Bass: Jaco Pastorius

So what if my dream big band features an electric bass player? There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially when he happens to be the best electric bass player ever. Emotionally Jaco was his own worst enemy, but again, this band just simply cannot be without his bass.

Watch Jaco Pastorius play The Chicken:

Drums: Jack DeJohnette

Like other musicians in this band, I chose DeJohnette because of his ability to excel at playing all forms of music, not just one style. He plays with such fluidity and adds so much to the sound of a group that it would be insulting to suggest that Jack is just there to “keep time”. Again, the jazz purists make come after me for not putting a more “famous” drummer like Blakey or Roach or Buddy Rich in this spot, but Jack’s versatility was the deciding factor for me.

Watch JackDeJohnette play Thieves in the Temple with Herbie Hancock:

So with 18 instrumental members of the band in, next time I select a male a female vocalist to be featured. Expect a couple of surprises. And, as always, I encourage your thoughts!