The raspy scrape of a shoe from behind startles me. I'm not asleep—the pews are too stiff for napping—but the big stone box that is St. Mark's Cathedral has a faint background hum that fosters contemplation. I look around and watch people trickle in for the Compline service. Arriving early confirms what I've witnessed for years—contrary to the segregation by age, class, and chosen subculture I see at classical, jazz, and every other kind of concert, Compline has, as a pollster might say, a demographic unlike any other show I see in Seattle.
Young and old, shabby and chic settle into pews. Some lean against the wall. Hushed whispering and the blip of a silenced cell phone accompany the quiet welcomes from the volunteer greeters. On the altar, a brazen or dumbly indifferent trio of hipsters slouch into thronelike chairs usually reserved for officiating priests. A few, perhaps from the tent city camped in the cathedral's parking lot, carry backpacks and satchels. No one minds. Here, divine space belongs to everyone.
Clad in full ecclesiastical gowns, Peter Hallock and the singers file to the corner of the nave. A stirring recitation, "I believe..." prompts everyone to stand; I'm almost converted right there. Read and sung, the anthems and psalm settings have a comprehensible, unadorned beauty. Words ring out clearly and plainly.
Compline began over 50 years ago when Hallock and a clutch of students from the University of Washington began investigating plainchant, a slow, speechlike style of singing that has a single melodic line; harmony is implied and rises, cloudlike, from the words' held vowels and resulting resonance of the surrounding space.
For me, the religious experience of Compline rests not in the sacred text or a promise of salvation but in the holy act of listening itself.
Tune into Compline every Sun at 9:30 pm on KING 98.1 FM or attend at St. Mark's Cathedral, 216 Union St, 838-4333, 9:30 pm, free.
A former stalwart of the annual New Year's Eve gig at Jazz Alley, this stellar singer makes a rare summer appearance. Bedeviled by recent financial difficulties, Anderson will likely turn her recent distress into what she does best: burnish the blues with a technique honed with Lionel Hampton, Gigi Gryce, Ray Brown and other fellow jazz greats. Through Sun Aug 3 with weekend sets at 7:30 and 9:30 pm. Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729, 7:30 pm, $24.50.
The London-based Edwards, who with saxophonist Caroline Kraabel compose Shock Exchange, plays with uninhibited mastery. Watch Edwards slap, thrum, and writhe with his upright bass and you'll swear he's doing his damnedest to crawl inside the instrument. Here, the pair teams up with saxophonist/singer Amy Denio. Also, the Seattle-born Kraabel conducts a large improvising ensemble stocked with local players. Gallery 1412, 1412 18th Ave, 322-1533, 8 pm, free but donations accepted.
SCMS SUMMER FESTIVAL
The Summer Festival concludes with a suitably eclectic finale. The 7 pm recital contrasts two works for solo cello, Ernest Bloch's Suite No. 1 for Cello and the early Sonata for Cello by György Ligeti (1923–2006), who before becoming a master postmodernist, was deeply in thrall to Béla Bartók. The main concert includes the obligatory Schubert (the Trio for Strings in B-flat major, D. 581), an early Rachmaninoff string trio nicknamed the "Elégiaque," and some more Bartók, the wiry and harrowing Rhapsody No. 1 for violin and piano, Sz. 86. Unlike the festival's 8 pm concerts, the 7 pm recitals are not broadcast on KING 98.1 FM. Go there to get the music. The Summer Festival resumes next Wed in Redmond on Aug 6. Lakeside School, 14050 First Ave NE, 283-8808, 8 pm, $8-$38.
THOMAS MARRIOTT QUARTET
Having gigged with an impressive roster of jazz luminaries including trumpet god Maynard Ferguson, Rosemary Clooney, the Tito Puente Orchestra, and Chico O'Farrill, this rising trumpeter can switch from a slow, creamy tone to incisive passagework in a trice. Marriott's straight-ahead quartet plays classic bop tunes and forward-looking originals. Tula's, 2214 Second Ave, 443-4221, 8:30 pm, $15.
Perhaps the acme of grand opera, Verdi's masterpiece boasts an exotic locale (ancient Egypt), a weepy plot, unstintingly beautiful arias, and roof-rattling choral writing. Lisa Daltirus, who sang Aida for the Portland Opera earlier this year, and Ana Lucrecia García alternate in the title role while two Seattle Opera favorites, Stephanie Blythe and Margaret Jane Wray, trade off as Amneris, the King's daughter. Through Sat Aug 23; see www.seattleopera.org for details. Sung in Italian with supertitles in English. McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St, 389-7676, 7:30 pm, $25-$162.
SOUND FOR THE ORGANIZATION OF SOCIETY
Their potpourri song titles such as "Interval Mechanic," "For Octet," "Your Babbling Is Driving Me Crazy," and "Invisible Beats" tell it all. Too brainy to be described as fusion, this nonet borrows, thieves, and transmutes classic '70s fusion, funk, and 20th-century avant composition. Gallery 1412, 1412 18th Ave, 322-1533, 8 pm, free but donations accepted.
JIM KNAPP ORCHESTRA
Seattle Circle guitarist Andrew Boscardin teams up with Knapp's adventurous big band, which boasts a semirotating cast of excellent players, including hornman Jay Thomas, bassist Phil Sparks, and many others. Seattle Drum School, 12510 15th Ave NE, 364-8815, 8 pm, $5/$10.
Seattle's Dull Knife spearhead a quadruple bill of deep drones and heavy sound with Portland's Tecumseh and two acts trekking from afar, Pussygutt from Boise and the alluring Bay Area psychedelic trance-makers Barn Owl. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave N, 374-8400, 9:30 pm, $7.
Many jazz pianists possess superb technique, but Williams remains one of the few who can connect the constituent parts of keyboard virtuosity—a calibrated touch, blinding speed, prudent use of the sustain pedal, harmonic ingenuity, melodic invention, and a well-timed sense of simplicity—into a coherent solo performance. Triple Door, 216 Union St, 838-4333, 7:30 pm, $20 adv/$25 DOS.