I will never forget my first telephone conversation with Art Bloom, clarinetist, conductor, music engraver, arts honcho, and the wisest musical mind I have ever met. After several hours on the phone discussing notation, electronic music ("do you know Animus III by Jacob Druckman? I was the clarinet player"), jazz, John Cage, and many other topics, he invited me to dinner. I was honored and terrified.
I had already heard rumors about Bloom from several Seattle musicians; some mentioned his miraculous system of teaching ear training while others marveled at Bloom's work engraving complex scores by composers such as Elliott Carter and John Corigliano. As a conductor, he premiered Joseph Wheeler's completed version of Mahler's Symphony No. 10 in 1965.
I began visiting Bloom regularly at his Greenwood apartment in 1999. We pored over scores, debated aspects of the avant (including "our friend Mr. Cage"), drank wine, and above all, listened to music.
During the fall of 2000, he penned an article about music notation for the now-defunct Tentacle magazine. Bloom's definition cannot be bettered: "Music notation is the craft of writing graphically to describe the movement of sounds in time."
Art Bloom was a university unto himself. His lessons in solfeggio, conducting, and notation improved my musicianship exponentially. Yet Bloom's inquisitive spirit and instructive, illuminating tales mean more to me. He often spoke of the composers he knew, an uncountable roster that ranged from Aaron Copland to Ornette Coleman to Morton Feldman. Bloom recalled recording a Feldman piece that leaves the actual notes to the performer's discretion: "I asked Morty, since we're picking the notes—shouldn't the musicians get a cut of the royalties? Morty laughed and told us to get back to work. Composers get things done."
Art died on Thursday, December 6, 2007.
The concert version of this beloved musical pays tribute to Fats Waller, one of the 20th century's oft-overlooked jazz pianists and songwriters. With Vivian Jett, a veteran of the initial Broadway run. Through Sun Dec 23. Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729, 7:30 pm, $26.50/$28.50.
GREG WILLIAMSON QUARTET
As part of Pony Boy Records' "Jazz & Sushi" series, drummer Greg Williamson helms a quartet that features saxophonist Alexey Nikolaev and one of our burg's best jazz singers, Greta Matassa. Hiroshi's Restaurant, 2501 Eastlake Plaza, 726-4966, 7:30—10 pm, free.
Violinist Courtney Kuroda, soprano Karen Elizabeth Urlie, and Annalisa Pappano on lirone augment the Baroque NW band for a mixed program of Christmas music from Germany and Italian secular music. On the docket: Monteverdi, Schütz, Gabrieli, and others. I'm eager to see a lirone—which in photos looks like a fattened cello with a dozen or so strings—up close. Preconcert talk at 7:15 pm. Fourth-floor Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 368-0735, 8 pm, $10—$25.
Pick your own Messiah: This very fine choir teams up with Seattle Baroque for two versions of Handel's masterpiece. Catch the abbreviated one-hour version at noon (free for kids, $5 for you) or immerse yourself in the complete three-hour version later in the evening. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave, 800-838-3006, 7 pm, $20 adv/$23 DOS.
Working with subdued electronics and field recordings, Jhababa fashions bewitching electro-acoustic songs, miniatures, and silent interludes. Fourth-floor Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 8 pm, $5—$15 sliding-scale donation.
MT. NON-FICTION SESSIONS
I'm still sussing out this weekly jam session where jazz and avant musicians convene. So far I like what I hear: harried out-jazz skronk melts on a moment's notice into funky, polyrhythmic vamps reminiscent of Big Fun—era Miles Davis. Emperor Norton's Cabal take the stage for the first hour, then it's a mix and match jam until 11 pm or so. Blue Moon Tavern, 712 NE 45th St, 675-9116, 8 pm, free.
Despite my faith-based atheism, I have nothing but contempt for "Christmas Christians," those lukewarm believers who show up to soak in a religious spectacle, as if worship services were another holiday special for live TV. Nonetheless, Compline, the last holy office of the day, embodies a loneliness before the divine, so go and be alone with your deity. The cathedral is chilly this time of year, so dress warmly. St Mark's Cathedral, 1245 10th Ave E, 323-0300, 9:30 pm, free.
THE HERE AND NOW QUINTET
Stellar products of Garfield High School's jazz program, saxophonist Ben Roseth and trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt continue the straight-ahead hard bop tradition. Roseth has a hearty Coltrane-ish sound while Greenblatt, at the ripe old age of 23, has already gigged with Joe Lovano, the Mingus Big Band, Christian McBride, and Reggie Workman. The Triple Door, 216 Union St, 838-4333, 7:30 pm, $15.