The great saxophonist Branford Marsalis will come to Seattle with his quartet in February. Ryan Anderson

Find a complete list of jazz concerts in Seattle this winter on our Things To Do calendar, or check out our other picks for the best things to do in Seattle this winter from Seattle Art and Performance.

Get all this and more on the free Stranger Things To Do mobile app—available now on the App Store and Google Play.


Dec 9

D'Vonne Lewis and Limited Edition
For me, the pianist is the color of a world, and the drummer is the maker of the world. The drummer provides the ground, the pianist the flowers. It is said that 100 million years or so ago, there was a color revolution on Earth. Flowers came alive at this time. Before them, the world was basically monochromatic; after them, the world was polychromatic. But the Earth (which is roughly 4 billion years old) is much older than flowers in much the same way that the drum is much older than the piano. I thought about all of this one Sunday evening in the middle of August while watching my favorite drummer in Seattle, D'Vonne Lewis, play with the pianist Ron Weinstein at Vito's Restaurant and Lounge. D'Vonne Lewis, who received his initial formal training at Roosevelt High School's prestigious jazz program and is the drummer for Industrial Revelation (a group nominated for a Stranger Genius Award in music in 2014), always makes you aware of the ground (or grund) beneath the beat. But he is not simple, raw, or purely emotional. There is a richness in this drumming. Flowers only grow in fertile soil. CM
Tula's



Dec 14

Robert Glasper Experiment
In our day and age, you cannot be a great jazz pianist without putting your name, your style, your intellectual brilliance on a common pop tune. For the wizard Brad Mehldau, it is Radiohead's "Exit Music (for a film)." For the innovator Vijay Iyer, it is Michael Jackson's "Human Nature." For the genius Robert Glasper, it is none other than Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Glasper, who was born in Houston and is based in New York, is a pianist whose art is somewhere between peak Herbie Hancock (1960s to early 1970s) and the last important hiphop producer, J Dilla (he died in 2006). With Glasper, hiphop and classical jazz fuse into something that sounds unforced and feels natural. That is not an easy thing to do. CM
Neptune Theatre



Dec 19

The Music of 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'
Because the Royal Room does the music of Charlie Brown every year, I every year have to write this love poem to the core tune, "Christmastime Is Here (Instrumental)," of this masterpiece of American culture. It is, I think, one of the most beautiful pieces of jazz ever composed. Listening to it is like watching falling snow through a window. The room is warm, something is roasting in the oven, and outside, the flakes are falling faintly through the universe and upon the trees, the hedges, the water gutters, the telephone poles, and the rooftops of a thousand apartment buildings. This is where you want to be forever. This is Vince Guaraldi's "Christmastime Is Here (Instrumental)." It opens with a trembling bass, like someone coming out of the cold, stamping their feet, brushing the snow off their shoulders, hanging their winter coat, rubbing and blowing on numb fingers, and entering the living room where there is a window, watching the flakes falling faintly upon all the buildings and the living. CM
The Royal Room



Dec 20-21

Sara Gazarek: Home for the Holidays
Sara Gazarek's a Seattle native. She graduated from Roosevelt High School and its sophisticated jazz programs. She lives in LA but comes up here not quite enough. She's one of the most interesting jazz singers working; the only aggravating thing is that she may never become a superstar. She doesn't force anything and she doesn't grandstand. What she does comes off subtle, and you have to lean your ears in carefully to get to the bottom of it. The new album Dream in the Blue finds her as half of a duo, with pianist Josh Nelson. Listen to it several times after you buy it at the show. Come to think of it, buy her other records on top of that. ANDREW HAMLIN
Jazz Alley



Jan 17

The Bad Plus
The one thing I can say about the Bad Plus, a technically sophisticated but open-minded jazz trio (piano, bass, drums) from Minneapolis, is that their rendition of Tears for Fears' new-wave classic "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" proves that great musicians are defined not so much by their ability to play difficult music in a canon but to raise simple music—pop tunes—to the level of a high and difficult art. CM
Neptune Theatre



Jan 20-21

Concrete — Lines — Fluid — Curves
Spotlighting five new compositions for chamber jazz ensemble, this performance, curated and composed by Chris Stover, incorporates spoken word, found sounds, and dance in a spread inspired by the Brazilian poets Ana Cristina Cesar, Angélica Freitas, and Augusta de Campos.
Resonance at SOMA Towers (Jan 20); Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center (Jan 21)



Jan 31- Feb 1

Jimmy Webb
Jimmy Webb weaves miracles of emotion out of melodies. It's doubtful any American pop composer's inspired more throat lumps per song than the author of "Wichita Lineman" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," perhaps his greatest compositions. During his '60s and '70s prime, Webb had his songs covered by legions of legends and stars, including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Isaac Hayes, Glen Campbell, Dennis Brown, and Nick Cave. Despite the ubiquity of these hits, they endure in the memory without annoyance. All that being said, this masterly melody maker is not usually the best person to execute his creations, as his voice lacks the range and soul power to convey their widescreen magnificence. Still, Webb can play a mean piano, and those indelible, heart-shattering ballads should be experienced in the flesh at least once in a lifetime. DAVE SEGAL
Jazz Alley



Jan 31

Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Best known for their contributions to Paul Simon's 1986 album Graceland, the South African a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo already had a long career by then, having been founded in the early '60s by a man named Joseph Shabalala. His all-male choir—which has featured many of his relatives over the years and is now led by one of his sons—popularized a Zulu vocal style called isicathamiya, whose call-and-response and richly textured vocal harmonies induce whole body vibrations. Their performances are engaging, too—with elements of storytelling, synchronized dance (reminiscent of stepping), audience participation, and hambone—and a reminder of what a powerful instrument the human body really is. KATHLEEN RICHARDS
Neptune Theatre



Feb 16

Jazz Innovations, Part II
Tonight features work by UW's jazz department. There is the trumpeter Cuong Vu, who is an associate professor; the pianist Mark Seales, who is a professor in jazz piano; the saxophonist/composer Greg Sinibaldi, who is a resident artist; and the drummer Ted Poor, who is also a resident artist. So, should we expect a night of academic, trad, classic jazz? Jazz that sticks to the modern period (between 1955 and 1968), the moment jazz left the commercial crassness of the big band and before it entered the electrified pop of fusion? Judging by the musicians who inspired the leader of tonight's set, Vu (he digs Beethoven, Radiohead, Abba, Billy Joel, Bach, David Bowie, Deerhoof, Sly Stone, Mozart, Clifford Brown, Public Enemy, Lester Young), it seems highly unlikely that this musical performance will be stuffy and stubborn. CM
Brechemin Auditorium



Feb 17-19

Branford Marsalis Quartet with Kurt Elling
The great saxophonist Branford Marsalis, who is a member of jazz's royal family (the Marsalises—Ellis, Wynton, Delfeayo), is famous for participating in Sting's only decent solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, leading the band on Jay Leno's show in the mid-'90s, and working with DJ Premier on jazz/hiphop collaboration Buckshot LeFonque. He is less well known for the ribbons upon ribbons of beauty extracted from Igor Stravinsky's "Pastorale"—a piece on the album Romance for Saxophone. Branford Marsalis is also known for upsetting his more famous brother Wynton. Branford loves popular culture; Wynton hates it. CM
Triple Door



Every Sunday

The Ron Weinstein Trio
When Weinstein plays, he really goes for the soul, goes to the bottom of things, but not in a rootsy or earthy way. This is music for the type of souls who are sad when walking down a busy city street but soon bored when hiking in the woods. CM
Vito's Restaurant & Lounge



Every Second Wednesday

Tables & Chairs Presents
The jazz label Tables & Chairs, which curates every second Wednesday, is based in Seattle, and was established by "musicians for musicians." It's about the production of jazz that cannot be easily commodified or described. This is not to say it is noisy or hard on the ears; it's just that the music on this label is indifferent to the market. Even when the musicians play pop beats, it is done with interest in the music, not in the market value of the music. CM
Vermillion


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