This year's Earshot Jazz Festival offers a generous cross section of music, from the straight ahead to the ear-blisteringly avant. Things kick off with a concert honoring the late Don Lanphere (Fri Oct 24, Recital Hall at Benaroya, 8 pm, $25). Lanphere, one of the few Northwest links to the legendary bebop scene in 1940s New York, taught a raft of local players the art and craft of jazz.

With so many acts, Earshot has spread the festival across several venues. Bassist Dave Holland, who, like his mentor Miles Davis, has an ear for picking incredible sidemen, holds forth at the Triple Door (Sat Oct 25, sets at 7:30 and 10 pm, $32). And though I'm an atheist by faith, I must mention gospel goddess Mavis Staples (Sun Oct 26, Town Hall, 8 pm, $18-$24), who performs a tribute to the immortal Mahalia Jackson.

Fans of the avant won't miss Japan's Otomo Yoshihide (Fri Oct 24, Polestar Music Gallery, 8 pm, $12), a master of turning vinyl pops and crackles into jarring sound sculptures. Last year, this turntablist filled Polestar to the brim, so arrive early. Two other essential shows are German saxophonist Frank Gratkowski (Sat Oct 25, Polestar Music Gallery, 8 pm, $12) and the Gerry Hemingway Four (Tues Oct 28, Rainier Valley Cultural Center, 8 pm, $12). I skipped Hemingway last time and my friends mocked me for missing a great gig. Sharing the bill is the Gust Burns/Adam Diller Duo; kudos to Earshot for exposing folks to a worthy local act. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI

The Earshot Jazz Festival runs from Fri Oct 24 to Sat Nov 15 (check for lineup and venue information, 547-9787), prices range from $12 up to $400 (for a full festival pass).