Earshot Jazz: World talents will share in festival’s anniversary

  • By Sharon Wootton Special to The Herald
  • Wednesday, October 15, 2008 1:21pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

The festival that Down Beat called “Seattle’s most important annual jazz event” celebrates its 20th anniversary Saturday through Nov. 9 with more than 50 concerts and events.

Earshot Jazz Festival has grown longer and broader with age, stretching the days in which people can listen to a range of jazz as well as adding venues beyond Seattle. And the festival is dedicated to offering tickets to youth at a much-reduced price.

Whether you’re a jazz junkie or mildly curious, the opportunity to stretch across the 21st-century definition of jazz shouldn’t be missed.

Earshot brings musicians from around the world, including Iraqi-American trumpeter Amir El Saffar, Kyrgyzstan postbop piano prodigy Eldar Djangirov, Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista and Malia native Toumani Diabate on the kora.

Top performers include the incomparable and charismatic vocalist Simone and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra with Carla Bley, which features arrangements and compositions of hers by bassist Haden and his big band of New York City all-stars.

Pianist and NEA Jazz Master Cecil Taylor brings his mastery in a solo performance and guitarist Jack Wilkins’ brings his signature harmonic approach. Seattle native Sara Gazarek, steeped in jazz tradition, is another top choice.

Here are some of the performers this week:

Roosevelt High School Jazz Band: The reigning champion of Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington competition opens the festival with expressive and gifted trumpeter Sean Jones. (7 p.m. Saturday, Triple Door, $22, $11 youth)

Jerry Gonzalez &Fort Apache Band: Downbeat calls the trumpeter-conguero’s dark and captivating outfit the “most influential modern Afro-Caribbean jazz group of the past 30 years.” (9:30 p.m. Saturday, Triple Door, $24)

Jerry Grabelli’s V16: Seattle-favorite drum legend Jerry Granelli presents his ambient-improv-free roots ‘n’ blues-chamber-jazz quartet that includes the drummer’s bassist son, J. Anthony Granelli. (8:30 p.m. Saturday, Tula’s Restaurant, $16)

Eric Vloeimans: Fugimundi: The Dutch trumpeter’s trio features cutting-edge jazz to hymns with virtuosity, warmth and wit. (8:30 p.m. Sunday, Tula’s Restaurant, $15)

Frøy Aagre Quartet: Norway’s much-praised saxwoman creates music of lyrical beauty and rhythmic surprise. (8:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Tula’s Restaurant, $15)

Johnny A: This is the can’t-miss show of the week, a thunderbolt blues guitarist, schooled in jazz-rock and down-country blues. (7 and 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Triple Door, $22, $25)

Marilyn Crispell, Paul Lytton &Nate Wooley: Crispell’s solo piano performances feature both lush melodicism and energetic eruptions. Opening, and later joining Crispell, is the duo of premier European percussionist Lytton and New York trumpeter Wooley. (7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Chapel Performance Space, $20)

Tom Varner: The critically acclaimed jazz French horn pioneer presents premiere works for his quintet. (Noon Thursday, Seattle City Hall, free)

Aaron Parks Trio: Seattle’s maturing prodigy returns from New York on the heels of his acclaimed Blue Note release, “Invisible Cinema.” (7 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Triple Door, $22)

Tickets for the festival are on sale through Earshot Jazz and at various Seattle jazz spots. Some venues take reservations, others are general admission. Tickets and other information are at www.earshot.org and 206-547-9787.

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