The 20th-anniversary festival honoring the UW's Jazz Studies program reminds me how jazz continues to parallel the institutionalization of classical music. Aside from the unquestioned place of jazz in college music programs, multiple styles and eras remain vital—and to some ears ossified—by young idolaters as well as by "ghost bands" whose leaders survive only on CDs and iconic photographs. Yet I'm not worried. Rebels lurk everywhere and always find a new path; several jazz gigs happening just this week reveal vibrancy and risk.
The UW festival (April 12–19, see www .music.washington.edu/jazz20 for details) starts with the duo of percussionist Tom Collier and longtime compadre bassist Dan Dean (Mon April 12, Brechemin Auditorium, UW Campus, 7:30 pm, $10). I like Collier's new disc, Mallet Fantastique (Origin), a collection of pieces that mingles just about every jazz era with a wry, arch elegance. The festival continues with concerts by pianist Marc Seales (Tues April 13, Meany Theater, UW Campus, 7:30 pm, $10/$15) and a three-night stand by trumpeter Cuong Vu (Wed–Fri April 14–16, Chapel Performance Space, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 7:30 pm, $5/$15), who dapples his trumpet with fizzing digital delays and poignantly smeared tones. Bassist (and recent Jazz Studies grad) Luke Bergman joins Vu's regular collaborators Stomu Takeishi on bass and drummer Ted Poor to record a live CD of standards, pop songs, and original compositions.
Melding Ukrainian folk music, jazz, and a whit or two of punk stridency, the Owcharuk 5 celebrate Kobzar (Thurs April 8, Tula's, 2214 Second Ave, 7:30 pm, $5), a CD that pianist and accordionist Michael Owcharuk funded by micropatronage: Small and not-so-small contributions supplant the traditional record-label-pays-for-everything (while hoarding all rights and profits) model.
Fans of the avant must not miss Gebhard Ullmann's Clarinet Trio (Fri April 9, Chapel Performance Space, 8 pm, $5–$15 sliding scale donation). A portable jungle of sound, Ullmann and his collaborators Jürgen Kupke and Michael Thieke invent an enigmatic, sometimes funny insect language you have never heard before. The next night, percussionist Jeffrey Allport (one of the new generation of drummers who transform the drum kit into a synthesizer of abstract, almost electronic tones) and Toronto-based autoharpist Chandan Narayan team up with Gust Burns, Mara Sedlins, and other local improvisers who stand athwart the border between sound and silence (Sat April 10, Collins Pub, 526 Second Ave, 8 pm, donation requested).
Jazz ghosts still skim the earth, too: Though Glenn Miller mysteriously vanished while flying over the English Channel in 1944, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, sanctioned by Miller's estate, soldiers on (Thurs–Sun April 8–11), Benaroya Hall, various times, $17–$92), gliding through hits like "In the Mood" and "Chattanooga Choo Choo" into eternity.