Bad Lucks Chris Icasiano (left), striving to explode our understanding of jazz.
Bad Luck's Chris Icasiano (left), striving to explode our understanding of jazz. Jake Knapp

Earshot Jazz Festival covers much ground annually, and this year it's giving Bad Luck drummer Chris Icasiano curatorial agency to book a two-night series at Columbia City Theater called "But Is It Jazz?" Happening October 30-31, the shows feature Porter Ray, Bad Luck, and the Sky Is a Suitcase on the first night and King Tears Bat Trip, DoNormaal, and Absolutely Free on the second night. Earshot director John Gilbreath approached Icasiano to try to come up with a "compelling" lineup that could draw on those difficult Monday and Tuesday nights. Icasiano says "But Is It Jazz?" is "intended to tantalize, provoke, and explode our understanding of the genre. These Seattle-based artists range from modern avant-garde improvisation to contemporary hiphop to '60s prog, but can all draw a direct line back to the Black American Music called Jazz."

More info about the artists after the jump.

Monday, October 30

Porter Ray - You should already know who Porter Ray is (but you probably don’t.) The machines that seek to control your perception don’t want you to. He is too much of an anomaly. Porter skews the modern experiment that is contemporary rap music wildly. He is in a word: Authentic. Porter Ray is a natural… he sounds like East Seattle feels.

Bad Luck - For over a decade the Seattle based duo Bad Luck (Neil Welch, saxophone/electronics and Chris Icasiano, drums) have pushed the boundaries of what it means to perform, create and move forward in the genre of modern jazz. With four albums under their belt, Bad Luck has created an incredibly diverse array of music — no small feat in the heavily trodden world of drum/saxophone duos. They have developed a unique performative language together, sculpting compositions that use complex mnemonic techniques, and create "fearless, raw improvisations" (Seattle Times).

The Sky Is a Suitcase - Self-described as “A melodic Free Jazz band made up of kind, weirdoes from Seattle, WA.” The quartet, consisting of Carmen Rothwell (bass), Levi Gillis (saxophone), Ray Larsen (trumpet) and Mike Gebhart (drums) plays "sandbox music." Much like playing in a sandbox, all forms of cooperation and destruction are explored.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

King Tears Bat Trip - Having cut their teeth for many years deep in the caverns of Seattle DIY, King Tears Bat Trip’s rare, mind-expanding performances have become the stuff of legends. Influenced by the avant-garde jazz of Albert Ayler, KTBT’s four drum sets combined with electrified saxophone and a ghostly wailing guitar build walls of sound that force you into a trance of inescapable rhythm.

DoNormaal - “The first thing you notice when you listen to DoNormaal, real name Christianne Karefa-Johnson, is the uniqueness of her voice: it slurs, falls, and bubbles out of her mouth like a water fountain. It's simultaneously creepy and vulnerable, intimate and jarring, and her sing-songy hooks owe as much to Three 6 Mafia as they do to Nirvana.” (Jackson Howard, Vice)

Absolutely Free - Seattle guitarist/composer and avant-garde mainstay Simon Henneman leads this ensemble performing music from the monumental Mothers of Invention album of the same name. The group made their debut at the 2nd annual Royal Room Psychedelic Festival to widespread acclaim.