Scrape is a 16-piece orchestra (strings with a harp) that's led by Heather Bentley and dedicated to the original works of two local composers, Jim Knapp and Eyvind Kang. Knapp has released several CDs, the most recent of which, Secular Breathing, draws inspiration from Coltrane (particularly the Africa/Brass Sessions) when it is bold and Charles Mingus when it is mellow. All of the album's compositions are solid, and the musicians flawless. Kang, a violinist and composer, is far more experimental than Knapp, who is anchored in the rich and inexhaustible jazz tradition. Kang's music, which is often ethereal, drifts from one genre (folk, Arabic, jazz) to another (classical, Indian, cinema) like some erotic mist. So this is the score tonight at the Royal Room: pieces by talented composers, the big sound of an orchestra, and the enchantments of a harp.
The Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Ave S, 906-9920, theroyalroomseattle.com, 7:30 pm
Bill Anschell, a Seattle native, was educated at Oberlin College and other institutions around the country. This city has been his home since 2002. He regularly performs at Tula's and has released numerous albums. He is a local institution. Anschell's instrument is, of course, the piano—my favorite of all jazz instruments. This is how his playing sounds to my ears: The precision with which Anschell strikes the keys produces a sound that's clean but not soulless. Often such precision would come at the cost of something very important (the swing, the magic, the poetry), but not with Anschell. He is exact but not brainy or robotic. He always hits the warmest parts of the human heart.
Tula's, 2214 Second Ave, 443-4221, tulas.com, $15, 7:30 pm
Seattle Jazz Vespers
Seattle Jazz Vespers is church for those who believe in God, who have doubts about God's existence, or who, like me, do not believe in God and never will (the universe is just the universe, life is just life, death is just death). In short, SJV is a service for art made by and for the human animal. During this event, two things meet and play: the greatness of America's classical music (for the ears) and the Gothic architecture of the church (for the eyes). The group playing this Sunday (SJV happens every first Sunday night of each month from October to June) is Cocoa Martini, which features the vocalists Kimberly Reason, Kay Bailey, and Nadine Shanti, with bassist Chuck Kistler and drummer Brian Kirk. If you are going to believe in anything, believe in art—an ape did not make the universe (of this you can be sure), but apes certainly make jazz and architecture.
Seattle First Baptist Church, 1111 Harvard Ave, 325-6051, seattlefirstbaptist.org, 6 pm, donation
Juan de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars
Four words: Buena Vista Social Club. This is all you need to know about this show. Juan de Marcos (a composer and bandleader), along with Ry Cooder and other musicians, reintroduced the erotic beauty of classical Cuban jazz to the United States and Europe with the album Buena Vista Social Club, which was released in 1997. In the summer of 1999, the year Wim Wenders's documentary of the same name entered the theaters, I found myself looking for a party in Linz, Austria, at around 4 a.m. I finally found that party after 5 a.m. It was in a loft on the second floor of a building in the west part of the small city. The sun was brightening the sky as I walked up the stairs and entered the loft. People, however, were no longer partying but sleeping, snoring, and dreaming on couches and the floor. But the bar was still open—one man was serving and another one drinking. The stereo behind the bar happened to be playing the first tune on Buena Vista Social Club, "Chan Chan." I sat at the bar, ordered a glass of wine, and, while drinking, listened to the sex, sorrow, and sun that slowly flowed out of the speaker. Cubans know how to love; Cubans know how to make music.
Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729, jazzalley.com, $35
DIMITRIOU'S JAZZ ALLEY
I simply love the fact that you enter this fancy club through a dingy alley. It keeps the "street" in jazz.
2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729, jazzalley.com
I love the windows in Tula's. They look out onto a busy street. You feel like you are in a big city—and, in fact, you are. Seattle has more than 600,000 souls.
2214 Second Ave, 443-4221, tulas.com
EGAN'S BALLARD JAM HOUSE
I neither love nor hate this establishment, which has a good reputation. Much (indeed, if not all) of the talent coming out of the jazz department at Cornish eventually performs here. Sadly, the calendar on Egan's website has no information about the coming winter months.
1707 NW Market St, 789-1621, ballardjamhouse.com
THE TRIPLE DOOR
I deeply love the huge cave that contains the main stage, and the stars that appear behind the main stage. I also love the huge fish tank in the bar.
216 Union St, 838-4333, thetripledoor.com
THE ROYAL ROOM
I love watching Wayne Horvitz, one of the owners of this Columbia City jazz club and a famous pianist, walk up and down this joint. He is in his element.
5000 Rainier Ave S, 906-9920, theroyalroomseattle.com
I love the food and elegant atmosphere of this Eastlake restaurant, which not only has live jazz (trios and duos) on the weekends but also DJs spinning jazz records during the week.
2043 Eastlake Ave E, 323-0807, serafinaseattle.com
I love the bartenders at this joint, which often features performances by one of my favorite local pianists, Darrius Willrich. Also, Vito's happy hour is worth talking about.
927 Ninth Ave, 397-4053, vitosseattle.com
I can express neither love nor hate for this establishment because I have never eaten or listened to jazz there. But I do love the idea of sushi and jazz.
2501 Eastlake Ave E, 726-4966, hiroshis.com
LUCID JAZZ LOUNGE
I love it that the University District has a jazz club. Jazz is good music for young and impressionable people.
5241 University Way NE, 402-3042, lucidseattle.com
I have many lovely memories of this establishment and the street it's on. Let's go back in time: jazz, wine, sidewalk, trees, breeze, clouds, moon, stars, and a lady's lips.
6421 Latona Ave NE, 526-1188, monasseattle.com
I love this place. I will always love this place. When I die, I hope to go to a place just like it. (Jazz happens here every Thursday.)
1510 11th Ave, 325-8263, barcaseattle.com