Greg Williamson Quartet

The Greg Williamson Quartet (sax, drums, piano, bass), who are headlining the Pony Boy Records Jazz Picnic, make jazz inspired by the modern moment of the tradition. As my readers by now know, never get me started on the greatest jazz between 1949 and 1968. Never do that. True, this quartet's music offers few or no surprises, but surprises can be overrated and one should never surprise people for the sake of surprising people. What you get with GWQ is solid, expert, and beautifully effortless jazz.

• Magnuson Park Garden Amphitheater,, noon–5 pm, free


Seattle Conduction Band

Seattle Conduction Band is led by Wayne Horvitz (Seattle's jazz celebrity and part owner of the Royal Room) and composed of local kickass musicians (Beth Fleenor, Samantha Boshnack, Steve Moore, Geoff Harper, Craig Flory, Naomi Seigel, Kate Olson). The music the band makes is large, heady, brassy, experimental, and dense, but it's often lyrical and seems to float from note to note, like a saturated cloud. You will not be disappointed by this show.

• The Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Ave S, 906-9920,

OCT 23–24

Bill Charlap Trio

Here are the three classes of jazz pianist that dominate my imagination. There are the impressionists (Bill Evans, Erroll Garner, early Herbie Hancock), the geniuses (Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Benny Green), and the perfectionists (Hank Jones, John Lewis, Bill Charlap). Let's take a quick look at Bill Charlap. He was born in New York City in 1966, studied classical music, and is currently one of the most refined players of jazz piano. What do I mean by refined? I can only put it this way (a way, furthermore, that Hank Jones would appreciate): Refinement is a state of mastery achieved by a profound sense of one's civilization—its traditions, its schools, its achievements. A great album to enter Charlap's growing body of work is Live at the Village Vanguard (2007, Blue Note).

• Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729,

OCT 25–28

Eliane Elias

Eliane Elias is a pianist, singer, and composer. She was born in São Paulo, has released numerous albums, and has collaborated with several jazz giants, such as Herbie Hancock. I love her voice (it's heartbreakingly sexy), but her real contribution to the tradition of jazz is as a pianist. She plays not in an orderly or clean way, but nor is it messy or raw. Hers is a sound that's rich and fecund like some dense forest whose leaves are flickering in the sun and flower petals are drifting through the shade and patches of light. Her solos capture, hold, and reward your attention. Brazil forever.

• Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729,


Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra with Branford Marsalis

Tonight, the oldest son of jazz's royal family, the Marsalises, will perform with SRJO the music of New Orleans' early brass bands. Expect the ghosts of Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, and King Oliver to be present at this important event.

• Benaroya Nordstrom Recital Hall, 200 University St, 523-6159,