As usual, the annual Earshot Jazz Festival (through Sun Nov 8, various venues, see www.earshot.org for details) boasts too many temptations for even the most succumbing fan to cover. Fans of the avant must not miss a double bill of two duos, Matthew Shipp/Joe Morris and Peggy Lee/Saadet Türköz (Thurs Oct 22, Seattle Asian Art Museum, 8 pm, $16). By turns poetic, harsh, knotty, lyrical, and abstruse, Shipp continues the legacy of Cecil Taylor by fragmenting the various styles of jazz into a kaleidoscopic, sometimes breathtaking unity. Guitarist/bassist Morris not only boosts Shipp's flights into the sonic stratosphere but helps the pianist stay aloft in an irregular, interesting orbit with explosive modulations, silence, and unexpected riffs.
Like Morris, Vancouver, BC–based cellist Lee can pivot from accompanist to soloist in a trice. With Wayne Horvitz's Gravitas Quartet, she plays poetic lead lines as well as shadows her bandmates with wry asides. Here, she teams up with Türköz; the remarkable Turkish singer couples a mastery of melismatic improvisation with a trumpetlike twist in her voice, as if Miles Davis occasionally reincarnates as your local muezzin, summoning you to prayer with a chanting, eerily hieratic half-language.
The following night, pianist Myra Melford helms her group Be Bread (Fri Oct 23, Seattle Art Museum, 8 pm, $18). Lately, I've been captivated by her dual piano disc with Satoko Fujii, Under the Water (Libra), which showcases the pair's mutual sensitivity to delicate textures. Melford and her bandmates, including trumpeter Cuong Vu and Fujii's bassist Stomu Takeishi, delve into the interstices of sound on a grander scale; with electronic processing and modified instruments, a stray breath, scrape, or a rattling piano note can open up new routes for improvisation.
On Saturday, Lee and Türköz reprise their collaboration (Sat Oct 24, Chapel Performance Space, 8 pm, $20), sharing the evening with Phantom Orchard, the duo of Ikue Mori and Zeena Parkins. Originally a drummer in the NYC No Wave scene, Mori subsequently transformed the drum machine into a synthesizer, imparting orchestral blizzards of cicada chirps, spazzed-out rhythms, and delicate electronics in groups and recording projects led by John Zorn, Butch Morris, and Björk. With Parkins on electric harp, Mori deploys her laptop to generate and process sound and video.
With an aptly named "Jazz Legends" concert, Earshot honors Seattle saxophonist Hadley Caliman (Wed Oct 28, Seattle Art Museum, 7:30 pm, $10/$18). A friend and protégé of one of the great saxophonists of the 20th century, Dexter Gordon, Caliman unfurls sinewy bop lines with a dash of funk. Legendary trombonist Curtis Fuller—you've heard him on John Coltrane's classic album Blue Train—joins longtime Caliman compadres Larry Vukovich (piano), Jeff Chambers (bass), and Eddie Marshall (drums).