In the summer of 1958, Art Kane photographed many of the 20th century's greatest musicians standing together in front of a Harlem brownstone. Often referred to as "A Great Day in Harlem," the resulting photograph, Harlem 1958, portrays dozens of jazz luminaries, some of them still revered today by a single name: Basie, Dizzy, Monk, and Mingus.
Kane didn't just capture the famous, but documented a significant segment of a community; many lesser-known musicians also appear, such as Osie Johnson (who drummed for Mose Allison in the 1960s) and cult favorites including composer/pianist Mary Lou Williams, Red Allen, and violinist Stuff Smith.
The brainchild of Seattle trumpeter Thomas Marriott, A Great Day in Seattle aims to preserve a slice of the local scene in 2007. "The Seattle jazz community is big and broad," states Marriott. "We're multigenerational, multiethnic, and here in full force."
Marriott hopes to corral jazz musicians of all stripes, who will gather Sunday, May 6, in front of Seattle's City Hall. "We're trying to get the word out," he tells me. "Although there will be always be a raging debate about what is jazz, we're not distinguishing between smooth jazz, free improvisers, and other styles of jazz." The photo will be taken by Daniel Sheehan, whose imaginative, well-timed shots of live performances often grace Earshot Jazz magazine. Sales of the resulting prints and posters benefit the MusiCares Foundation, which offers assistance to musicians in dire financial straits.
Why is it left to musicians to devise such ambitious documentation? Projects such as A Great Day in Seattle should inspire a localinstitution—a visionary university, museum, or foundation—to take an aggressive, ongoing role in chronicling the music made right here at home.
THURSDAY MAY 3
JIM KNAPP ORCHESTRA
Bandleader Knapp has corralled a fine group of players (Jay Thomas, Tom Varner on French horn, Phil Sparks, and others) to traverse his smartly constructed and swinging compositions. Also Mon May 7 at the Seattle Drum School at 8 pm. Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Ave, 684-7171, noon—1 pm, free.
WALLACE RONEY SEXTET (Postponed)
How can a trumpeter step out of the long shadow of Miles Davis? One path is to follow perhaps the greatest post-Miles horn man, Bill Dixon, who delves inside the instrument, embracing its inherent dissonant tones, buzzes, and clicks. Roney, a disciple and protégé of Miles, opts for another path, making the master's explorations—from the chattering rhythmic energy of Filles de Kilimanjaro to the sophisticated, slickly anthemic R&B of the 1980s—his own. NOTE: The Wallace Roney Sextet show has been postponed; Thomas Marriott Quartet featuring Rick Mandyck, Jeff Johnson, and John Bishop plays instead. Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729, 7:30 pm, $18.50.
SATURDAY MAY 5
I haven't seen such a brave and varied program of choral music by Northwest composers in years. This resplendent vocal ensemble premieres pieces by David Asplin, the ubiquitous Bern Herbolsheimer, and Donald Skirvin. Local choral conductors (who else knows the guts of choral composing?) Eric Banks of the Esoterics and Seattle Pro Musica's Karen Thomas are on the docket along with Stephen Cavit, Lorri Kristin Froggét, and others. I'm eager to hear "Worn Faces" by local boy done good William Bolcolm. St. Mark's Cathedral, 1245 10th Ave E, 782-2899, 8 pm, $10—$20.
Death Posture's Vanessa Skantze spearheads a feverishly intense evening of serpentine Butoh, incantatory chant, and improvised electronic music inspired by Milton's Paradise Lost. Fourth floor Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 8:30 pm, $5—$15 sliding scale donation.
SUNDAY MAY 6
SEATTLE PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
Conductor Adam Stern and company devote an entire concert to the musical shenanigans of P.D.Q. Bach, whose tombstone reputedly reads "1807—1742." The black sheep of the Bach clan, P.D.Q. is actually the invention of composer Peter Schickele (1935— ), whose astute craft and sense of history makes P.D.Q.'s obnoxious musical quotes, groan-inducing titles, and genre-hopping musical goulash quite funny. On the program: the Schleptet in E-flat Major, "Quodlibet," the Royal Firewater Musik, and Iphigenia in Brooklyn. Town Hall Seattle, 1119 Eighth Ave, 525-0443, 2 pm, $30.
Cofounder of Hesperion XXI, Savall is one of the few true superstars of the "Early Music" (i.e., pre-Baroque) movement. This virtuoso viola da gambist appears here in a trio with Xavier Dias (theorbo and guitar) and Pierre Hantai (harpsichord) who perform music by Sainte-Colombe, Marais (bits from the ever-popular film Tous les Matins du Monde), and Forqueray. Town Hall Seattle, 1119 Eighth Ave, 325-7066, 8 pm, $15—$34.
MONDAY MAY 7
MUSIC OF REMEMBRANCE
MoR not only preserves music by Holocaust victims and survivors but also commissions contemporary composers. This time, the ensemble premieres For a Look or a Touch, a song cycle by Jake Heggie, composer of the operas Dead Man Walking and The End of the Affair. Recital Hall at Benaroya, 200 University St, 365-7770, 7:30 pm, $25.