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2008 Earshot Jazz Festival takes off for its 20th year
2008 Earshot Jazz Festival takes off for its 20th year
by E. Joyce Glasgow - SGN A&E Writer

Earshot Jazz Festival
Various Venues in Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue and Bothell
Through November 9


The 20th annual Earshot Jazz Festival kicked off its first week on Saturday, October 18, with performances at the Triple Door by the Roosevelt High School Band with guest trumpeter Sean Jones and Jerry Gonzalez & the Fort Apache Band.

I heard Gonzalez's band, which plays some of the best Afro-Cuban jazz around. Gonzalez, a trumpeter and conguero, combines strong, complex, interlocking Latin polyrhythms with a powerful straight-ahead and improvisational jazz approach to produce distinctive and infectious music, which at times is hot, driving and percussive, but, during a ballad, for example, becomes sensually caressed by the honeyed flugelhorn, trumpet or saxophone. The Fort Apache band's music includes originals and standards and shows the influences of maestros Mongo Santamaria and Tito Puente and at other times by Thelonius Monk, Sonny Rollins and Dizzy Gillespie. Each of the musicians contributes richly and beautifully to the whole with fabulous playing. Joining Gonzalez on Saturday were Larry Willis, piano, Steve Berrios, drums and percussion, Joe Ford, saxophone and Andy Gonzalez, bass.

On Sunday, October 19, a charming trio from The Netherlands, "Fugimundi," performed at Tula's. Led by trumpeter Eric Vloeimans, this group was enjoying their first tour of the United States. Their original music was warm, sometimes playful, and thoughtful, with stimulating improvisations that could go in a number of surprising directions. Pianist Harmen Fraanje played lush, fearless, classically influenced improvisations, and guitarist Anton Goudsmit used his guitar at times atmospherically, creating unusual, otherworldly sounds in support of a trumpet solo, for example. Goudsmit moved through different styles, incorporating rock motifs in his jazz playing. Vloeimans' trumpet tone is smooth and rich and he is a fine improviser. Their mutual sense of humor, ease of working together and their openness to the audience, made them an especially winning combo.

On Monday, October 20, at Tula's, I heard Norwegian saxophonist, Froy (pronounced "Frey") Aagre and her quartet including piano, bass and drums, performing original material. The pieces they played were moody and dreamlike with interesting rhythmical juxtapositions. Sometimes, though, the drums were overly loud and overbearing and seemed to be dominating the scene. I found Aagre likeable and her group all quite capable musicians. The music was a little cool and distant, however, and I found it keeping me a bit removed from becoming completely engaged in it on an emotional level.

Some of the highlights of the Earshot Jazz Festival coming up in the next two weeks include: Iraqi-American trumpeter, vocalist and hammered dulcimer player Amir ElSaffar and his Two Rivers Ensemble, October 25 at the Triple Door; iconic pianist Cecil Taylor in a solo concert, October 26, at Town Hall; Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra featuring Carla Bley, October 31, at Town Hall; Space in the Heart: A Jazz Opera, by famed Seattle clarinetist Bill Smith, November 7 and 8, at Cornish College, and many more exciting concerts. Keep your eyes on the SGN next week for my continuing report on the Earshot Jazz Festival.

Visit www.earshot.org for a complete and updated list of all festival performers, dates and venues.

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