For more than three decades, Seattle nonprofit Earshot Jazz has been a pillar of the local jazz community, promoting shows from national headliners and homegrown talents, and hosting educational events. This year, its crown jewel, Earshot Jazz Festival, celebrates its 30th year, packing in more than 60 concerts and events around the Seattle metro area between Oct. 7 and Nov. 4.
The roughly monthlong fest elevates local luminaries like this year’s artist-in-residence Jovino Santos Neto, alongside venerated players including Pat Metheny and under-sung innovators like Marquis Hill and Logan Richardson, who kick things off Sunday with a free show at KEXP’s Gathering Space. Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or a jazz-curious neophyte, there’s a lot of music to parse through in this year’s lineup. Here are 10 standout shows that should be on your radar.
Whether paying homage to Ella Fitzgerald or digging into traditional Southern or African music, few pack as much soul into every note as this versatile violinist. The veteran heavy hitter with an exploratory streak is credited with expanding the possibilities of the jazz violin — a pioneering bent that jibes with Earshot’s forward-thinking spirit.
6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7; Triple Door, 216 Union St., Seattle; $23-$35; 206-838-4333, thetripledoor.net
When the legendary Wynton Marsalis calls you the “future of the trumpet,” you’re probably onto something. Getting tapped to handle the trumpet parts in Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic ain’t a bad omen either. The Ferguson-reared brass man — whose Miles-meets-Dilla swagger has led to collabs with everyone from David Sanborn (Oct. 17, Triple Door) to Jay-Z — pays homage to Michael Brown in “MB Lament,” a mournful cry for justice channeling his hometown’s strife on last year’s “The Mugician.”
6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14; Triple Door, 216 Union St., Seattle; $20-$22 ($10 student/military); 206-838-4333, thetripledoor.net
Caroline Davis Quartet
Tipped as a rising star in DownBeat’s annual critics’ poll, the Singapore-reared, NYC-based alto saxophonist brings her fluttering compositions from her new concept album, “Heart Tonic,” to the Royal Room, backed by local accompanists Evan Flory Barnes (bass) and Tim Kennedy (keys). While writing the lovely nine-song set, Davis — who has a Ph.D. in music cognition — found inspiration studying normal and abnormal heart beats after her father was diagnosed with a heart condition.
7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15; Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle; $16-$18 ($10 student/military); 206-906-9920, theroyalroomseattle.com
Ethan Iverson and Mark Turner
Acclaimed pianist Ethan Iverson turned heads last year, announcing his departure from revered ultraprogressive trio the Bad Plus in hopes of digging deeper into jazz’s past and modern classical music with his solo work. For his first post-split release, “Temporary Kings,” Iverson teamed with sax ace Mark Turner on a more reserved and spacious set more likely to appease jazz purists than the crossover fans the indie-rock-influenced Bad Plus courted. Seattle’s own Johnaye Kendrick also performs.
7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15; Triple Door, 216 Union St., Seattle; $24-$26 ($10 student/military); 206-838-4333, thetripledoor.net
Ryan Gosling did not “save” jazz and neither is Kamasi Washington. But the cinematic saxophonist/composer is bringing the genre to a wider audience, connecting with fans more accustomed to sticky-floored rock clubs (like the Showbox) than tableclothed jazz clubs. The L.A. virtuoso burst onto the scene in 2015 with his contributions to Kendrick Lamar’s celebrated “To Pimp a Butterfly” and his own ambitious triple LP “The Epic” serving as an entry point for potential future jazz heads. Arguably the most highly anticipated show of the fest.
7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17; Showbox, 1426 First Ave., Seattle; sold out, showboxpresents.com
Widely hailed as a rising star among the jazzerati, the Dallas-born singer who grew up in the church choir has earned comparisons to Erykah Badu, Nina Simone and scat queen Betty Carter, offering a fresh take on standards and spirituals on her socially conscious debut album, “A Social Call,” which opens with a Carter tune. Classic sensibilities meet generation #woke when this precocious 27-year-old, who reportedly made a splash at this summer’s Jazz Port Townsend, steps to the mic.
8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23; Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, 104 17th Ave. S., Seattle; $20-$22 ($10 student/military); 206-684-4758, earshot.org
It’s tempting to brand any 20-something singing a cappella in 2018 an old soul. But this Brooklyn-based songwriter offers a decidedly modern spin on an art form that more readily conjures images of old-timey white guys with funny hats. The daughter of renowned vocalist Bobby McFerrin brings her contemporary soul stylings and looping live show to Earshot as one of the fest’s most intriguing singers not named Fay Victor (Oct. 18, PONCHO Concert Hall). Local electro-soul maven SassyBlack opens.
8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27; Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, 104 17th Ave. S., Seattle; $18-$20 ($10 student/military); 206-684-4758, earshot.org
It’s a bold statement borrowing your band name from a renowned abolitionist, and the veterans of New York’s avant-garde scene, whose moniker serves as a metaphor for unshackling musical chains, back it up with sonically liberated and socially conscious compositions defying genre and even time and place. With last year’s “Araminta,” the follow-up to 2011’s more hip-hop-flavored “Ascension,” the dirgey power trio sounds like Black Sabbath gone jazz, with Hendrix’s ghost sitting in on a few sessions.
8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1; Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, 104 17th Ave. S., Seattle; $20-$22 ($10 student/military); 206-684-4758, earshot.org
Tia Fuller Quartet
This powerhouse saxophonist boasts the academic cred of holding a faculty position at Berklee College of Music and the mainstream cool factor of having served as a soloist in Beyoncé’s band for years. Fuller, fresh off an artist-in-residence stint during last month’s Monterey Jazz Festival, is riding a wave of favorable reviews for her poignant new “Diamond Cut” LP, peppering straight-ahead jazz with hints of R&B, bebop and Latin rhythms.
8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3; Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., Seattle; $24-$26 ($10 student/military); 206-654-3100, earshot.org
Jay Clayton and Dawn Clement with Julian Priester
A cadre of Seattle-linked talents assembles at the Columbia City hangout Royal Room for a joint birthday bash for vocalist Jay Clayton and pianist/singer Dawn Clement, both former Cornish instructors. Earlier this year, Clement, who recently uprooted to Denver, dropped a collection of duets with some of her closest friends/collaborators including revered trombonist Julian Priester, who takes the stage as the night’s special guest.
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3; Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle; $18-$20 ($10 student/military); 206-906-9920, theroyalroomseattle.com
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