It's the best jazz bargain in Seattle: The Ballard Jazz Walk concentrates venerable masters, stalwart locals, cult favorites, and musicians on the rise all within a six-block radius.
The lineup boasts a slew of Seattle favorites, including the phenomenal singer Greta Matassa, the buoyant Latin jazz of Soñando, and Hadley Caliman, a disciple and friend of the legendary Dexter Gordon. Make sure to check out the impressive Chicago guitarist John McLean and the Upper Left Trio, who rock out amid dizzying chord changes.
You won't hear every group, but serendipitous discovery is part of the event. When I chatted with drummer and co-organizer Matt Jorgensen a couple years ago, he summarized it perfectly: "Instead of staying for a whole set, you can wander in and out of a bunch of venues. You get a feel for who's doing what and maybe discover a group you haven't heard before."
The Jazz Walk also commemorates the 10th anniversary of Origin Records. Founded by drummer John Bishop, Origin is not only Seattle's premier jazz label, it has attracted a national following due to an insistence on quality. Origin releases almost always avoid slick production and stick with natural, live sound. The label has cultivated a distinct look with smart typography and sly, aloof photos reminiscent of classic jazz LPs.
Recently, I asked Jorgensen whether CDs remain relevant in an age of MP3 downloads. He explained, "We're going back to the 1800s model of commerce, selling CDs directly on the road and off the website. It's similar to a wagon rolling through an old Western town selling jams and jellies. People come hear the music and make that one-on-one connection with us."
Catch the Ballard Jazz Walk on Fri Nov 30 (Various venues, for details see www.ballardjazzfestival.com), 8:30 pm–1 am, $15 adv/$20 DOS.
UW student composers showcase their works. On the docket: Wyatt Fletcher's "Meminisse exquis" for cello and live electronics, Brandon Pettit's Audiostereogram 2, "Little Hill Song," which composer Doug Niemela describes as "Bluegrass fiddle meets crafty FM synthesis," and more. As a bonus, the fourthpiece of Tod Dockstader's Eight Electronic Pieces from 1960 concludes the evening. Brechemin Auditorium in the Music Building, UW campus, 685-8384, 7:30 pm, $5.
SEATTLE COMPOSERS' SALON
A monthly, informal presentation of new music by Seattle composers, the salon features finished works, previews, and works-in-progress. MC Tom Baker has corralled fellow composers Brad Anderson, Robert Blatt, Jay Hamilton, and John Teskse along with the Wally Shoup Trio. Fourth floor Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 8 pm, $5—$15 sliding scale donation.
Vocally, these three Norwegian sopranos share a clean, almost vibrato-free blend, the sonic equivalent to gazing into a plate of flawless, bone-white porcelain. Here, they sing a cappella medieval carols from France and England and also a contemporary piece or two. I'm hoping for Gavin Bryars's beautiful "Venite a laudare" from the trio's 2004 disc Soir, dit-elle (ECM). Percussionist Birger Mistereggen joins the trio for a set of Norwegian folk songs. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave, 325-7066, 8 pm, $25—$40.
If you want to hear Handel's Messiah, you can't go wrong with conductor George Shangrow and the band. Blessed with an ear for picking fine soloists, Shangrow has a sure, unfussy sense of the Baroque idiom. First Free Methodist Church, 3200 Third Ave W, 800-838-3006, 3 pm, $10—$20.
In my youth, you could affix the word "laser" to the heaviest rock icon (as in "Laser Hendrix," "Laser Floyd," or "Laser Zeppelin") and your fellow stoners knew what was in store: an evening of smuggled booze and ample, though miraculously discreet, clouds of weed. Abetted in darkness by loud music and a rainbow of ricocheting lasers, the lucky ones might get a hickey or three. Decades later, amid the selfsame darkness, loud music, and lasers, Seattle Opera's Bravo club unleashes "a special program of dramatic and lyrical opera arias designed to blow your mind!" RSVP by phone before Mon Dec 3. Pacific Science Center Laser Dome, 200 Second Ave N, 676-5547, 7 pm, $5.
THE AMBER TONE
Fronted by saxophonists Clark Gibson and Brian Bermudez, this straight-ahead quintet's easygoing tunes and the presence of the wondrous pianist Dawn Clement make this a group to watch. Gallery 1412, 1412 18th Ave, 322-1533, 8 pm, free, but donations accepted.
The poet, sound artist, and key member of the Fluxus movement makes her first Seattle appearance. Knowles collaborates with her daughter Jessica Higgins and Joshua Selman on North Water Song, a 75th birthday tribute to her friend John Cage (1912—1992). Fourth floor Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 8 pm, $5—$15 sliding scale donation.