The third week of the Earshot Jazz Festival begins with a celebration of Seattle trombonist, composer, and improviser Stuart Dempster's 70th birthday.
"Dempster Diving" is actually Dempster's third 70th birthday concert; the first concert in April focused on trombone compositions he made famous in the 1960s, particularly Berio's Sequenza V and Robert Erickson's General Speech. Dempster's second concert in late September commemorated his special connection with another remarkable composer/improviser, Bill Smith.
For this tribute, luminaries from Seattle's avant scene honor one of the first musicians in the 20th century to move fluidly among composed musics (from the sparsely sketched melodic cells of In C to fearsomely complex avant-garde notation), improvisation, and other unclassifiable explorations, such as the Sound Massage Parlors and SWAMI—State of Washington as a Musical Instrument. The all-star lineup features Pauline Oliveros, Trimpin, David Mahler, the Degenerate Art Ensemble, and many more. Don't miss what is sure to be a sonic circus (Sun Oct 29, Town Hall, 2 pm, $10—$12).
My other Earshot must-see picks include two legends from the golden age of Blue Note Records: master vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson (Sat Oct 28, Triple Door, 7 and 10 pm, $22/$24) and the great composer and pianist Andrew Hill (Mon Oct 30, Triple Door, 7 and 10 pm, $18/$20).
I also recommend the double bill of John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet and the Monktail Creative Music Concern's Raymond Scott Project (Sat Oct 28, On the Boards, 8 pm, $16/$18). With the blessing of the Scott estate, the Monktailers honor the main source of all that great Warner Brothers cartoon music (just picture Wile E. Coyote frozen in midair just before he plummets into a canyon) with their own squonking, manically stampeding frontline of horns and saxes.