I get really annoyed with festivals that adopt all-encompassing names and then fail to cover their purported purview. By advertising itself as "The Seattle Arts Festival," Bumbershoot assumes a responsibility to present a cross-section of music, but instead has neglected classical music altogether, and, apart from the probing free jazz of the Tony Grasso Saxophone? Quartet! (Sun Sept 1, 2:30-3:45 pm, Northwest Court Stage), has played it safe by booking solidly mainstream jazz.

To be fair, Bumbershoot does offer a good opportunity to hear stalwarts like the Ramsey Lewis Trio (Sun Sept 1, 7:30-10 pm, Mercer Arts Arena) and Stanley Jordan (Sat Aug 31, 8-10 pm, Mercer Arts Arena). Lewis, who has dexterously drawn upon gospel, soul, R&B, and funk for almost four decades, presents the uplifting, good-time aspect of jazz. Stanley Jordan's eloquent guitar-tapping technique wowed 'em back in the '80s and is still a delight. Various local and lesser-known jazz groups, including the Clarence Acox Sextet (Sun Sept 1, 7:30-10 pm, Mercer Arts Arena) and Greg Williamson's Double Sax Quartet (Fri Aug 30, 4:30-5:45 pm, Northwest Court Stage), are sprinkled throughout the festival, but why couldn't Bumbershoot take a cue from Earshot Jazz and present more avant improvisers?

It is fruitless to rail against the absence of experimental music; without a persuasive on-staff advocate and an organization sympathetic to sound artists (God forbid someone mystify rather than please the crowd), you're better off hoping dance companies like BetterBiscuitDance, d9 Dance Collective, and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company have some adventurous sound art waiting in the wings. Classical music seems to have been evaporating from our culture for some time now, so its utter absence from Bumbershoot should be no surprise. Oh wait, there's always the Bumbershoot Open Mike.... CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI

Bumbershoot is held at the Seattle Center Fri-Mon Aug 30-Sept 2, $52-$20. To locate specific performer's day, time, and venue, visit www.bumbershoot.org or check out The Stranger's Bumbershoot Guide.

chris@delaurenti.net

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