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 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.
Tula's, 2214 Second Ave, 443-4221, tulas.com, 7:30 pm, $7
Earshot Jazz Festival
The biggest jazz festival in Seattle, Earshot Jazz Festival, opens today with a tribute to the genius of Thelonious Monk. If you do not know who this Monk is, then I recommend you watch the 1988 documentary Straight, No Chaser, which was produced by the old man who talked to a chair at the last GOP convention—yes, him, Clint "Make My Day" Eastwood. Monk, in my opinion, was not a great pianist, but he certainly was one of the greatest composers not just of jazz but of 20th-century music. His compositions have their visual equivalent in the mobile sculptures of Alexander Calder. Monk's "Well, You Needn't," for example, is at once elegant, minimal, and enigmatic. Earshot celebrates this giant of jazz with "Monk, 10/10," a program that includes "10 of Seattle's top jazz pianists performing one solo Monk piece each [and] a 10-piece ensemble, conducted by Wayne Horvitz." There is no better way to start this monthlong festival.
Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave, 652-4255, earshot.org, 8 pm
Wally Shoup Quartet
Wally Shoup is a local saxophonist whose main thing is free jazz. I will not hide the fact that my interest in this particular branch of jazz, which began in the late '50s (listen to Charles Mingus's "Pithecanthropus Erectus"), has been weak. The music is often too hard on the ears and loses contact with the very body of music—the dance. Nevertheless, Shoup is an expert and highly regarded saxophonist, and though we can expect some edge in his performance tonight, which explores the shadowy moods of film-noir soundtracks, it will never collapse into the ear-hard abyss of jazz noise. Shoup will play with bassist John Seman and drummer Mark Ostrowski.
Vito's Restaurant and Bar, 927 Ninth Ave, 397-4053, vitosseattle.com, 9 pm
Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet
The drummer and vibraphonist Jason Marsalis is the youngest prince of jazz's royal family, the Marsalises. His father, the king, is Ellis Louis Marsalis Jr., and his most famous brothers are Branford Marsalis and Wynton Marsalis. Like the other princes in this family, Jason is a technically brilliant musician. Some vibraphonists are all about transforming a club into the planet of Venus (hazy, beautiful, voluptuous vibes). This is not Jason. He instead strikes the bars of his instrument in much the same way John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet struck the keys of a piano—with great accuracy. This is not about mists but precision. Jason is a serious man indeed.
Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729, jazzalley.com, 7:30 pm, $24.50, all ages.
SHUGA JAZZ BISTRO
This new jazz joint has booked my favorite local jazz pianist, Darrius Willrich, for two nights in September (19 and 20). He also performed here in August. It seems he might become the house musician. This is all very good news, as it shows that Shuga's booker or owner knows what he/she is doing. Willrich is the real deal. He is the kind of player who makes you stop thinking of other things (I must remember to pay that bill in the morning; she no longer loves me) and focus on the music, which is rich, elegant, but never delicate.
317 Main Ave S, Renton, 425-274-3074, shugajazzbistro.com
If you want to see and hear a jazz giant of our day, do not miss the saxophonist Joshua Redman, who plays here from October 9 to 12.
2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729, jazzalley.com
The Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra, which formed in 2004, meets on Sundays at Tula's and mostly performs compositions by locally known and unknown musicians.
2214 Second Ave, 443-4221, tulas.com
THE TRIPLE DOOR
There are two important high-school jazz programs in this city. One is at Roosevelt High School and the other at Garfield High School. On October 20, players from the latter perform on the main stage.
216 Union St, 838-4333, thetripledoor.com
SEATTLE ART MUSEUM
On September 11, Janis Mann, an LA-based jazz singer, will make her contribution to SAM's impressive Art of Jazz series.
1300 First Ave, 547-6763, earshot.org
Serafina claims that it is the only restaurant in Seattle—a city of nearly 650,000 people—that offers Sunday brunch with live jazz. Most likely this claim is true.
2043 Eastlake Ave E, 323-0807, serafinaseattle.com
Great happy hour, excellent noir-ish atmosphere, and lots of first-rate jazz by musicians like the bassist Lamar Lofton, who performs here on September 24.
927 Ninth Ave, 397-4053, vitosseattle.com
One of the many shows to check out at this Columbia City jazz club is the Ivan Peña Quintet. Peña is a guitarist who teaches at the University of Oklahoma, and he is a member of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and Oklahoma City Jazz Orchestra. This man is not fucking around. He plays gypsy jazz the night of Wednesday, September 17.
5000 Rainier Ave S, 906-9920, theroyalroomseattle.com
Before the storm of the weekend drunks, there is always the peace of jazz on Thursday nights.
1510 11th Ave, 325-8263, barcaseattle.com
The bar, OutWest Bar, is in West Seattle. And every Tuesday, it hosts a jazz quartet that has the very interesting name Tutu.
5401 California Ave SW, outwestbar.com
EGAN'S BALLARD JAM HOUSE
This place is in Ballard. Check out their website to see if someone is playing jazz there.
1702 NW Market St, 789-1621, ballardjamhouse.com