Formerly an oddly timed supplement to the Earshot Jazz Festival's epic three weeks of concerts, the Ballard Jazz Festival has blossomed into a distinct, down-home event.
Earshot does what big festivals should do—it explores the outer margins of its stated purview—while the Ballard Jazz Festival stays closer to home, booking more local musicians for concerts and its jazz pub crawl, the Ballard Jazz Walk (Fri Nov 18, various venues, 8 pm–12:30 am).
This year, the Jazz Walk stuffs 12 groups into nine venues. Drummer and festival co-organizer Matt Jorgensen explains, "Instead of staying for a whole set you can wander in and out of a bunch of venues. You get a feel for who's doing what and maybe discover a group you haven't heard before." I'm looking forward to the remarkable chanteuse Kate Hammett-Vaughan, who treks down from Vancouver, BC, and many fine local acts, such as the Dawn Clement Trio, Matt Jorgensen +451, the Jovino Santos Neto Quarteto, and the Marc Seales Band.
Two concerts bracket the Jazz Walk. The Brotherhood of the Drum (Thurs Nov 17, Tractor Tavern, 8 pm) showcases bands led by drummers Matt Chamberlain, Kevin Sawka, John Bishop, and Matt Jorgensen. "We're both drummers," laughs Jorgensen, alluding to Bishop, his festival co-organizer, "so we're partial to drummer-led bands."
The festival concludes with a pair of concerts (Sat Nov 19, Mars Hill Church, 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm). The early show sports a passel of high school big bands, including the top-notch outfits from Garfield and Roosevelt. The final concert features the Joe Locke Quartet, the excellent tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, and a big-band homage to the toe-tapping music of Phil Kelly. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI
The Ballard Jazz Festival runs Thurs Nov 17 through Sat Nov 19 (Various venues, see www.ballardjazzfestival.com for venue information, 219-3649), $15/$20 or $25 for a full festival pass.