OK, so it’s raining. Again. But have you noticed there’s been a typhoon of good jazz this winter, too?
Jazz Alley rarely books musicians who live and work here, so it’s a rare honor for tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz to play there Tuesday and Wednesday, March 11-12. But Schwartz, who moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to the Emerald City three years ago, has carefully avoided the dreaded “local musician” label and is importing a terrific band.
The soulful and precise, beefy-toned sax man’s group features pianist Eric Reed, who has garnered a strong reputation with his steel-edged, gospel-tinged albums as a leader, as well as side work with the likes of Wynton Marsalis. The group is fleshed out by hip young trumpeter Dominick Farinacci, bassist John Shifflett and drummer Lorca Hart.
With the exception of Reed, this is the band that plays on Schwartz’s crisp new album of ’70s-style, straight-ahead originals, “Flash Mob,” which features front and back photos of Schwartz in Pioneer Square.
Schwartz did not initially plan to play jazz for a living. But while studying in the ’90s for a doctorate in computer science at Stanford University (after playing with Josh Redman in the jazz band at Harvard), Schwartz came down with chronic fatigue syndrome. While practicing his horn in recovery, he suddenly realized he was much happier analyzing the C sharps in John Coltrane than C# computer code. He’s been on the road ever since. Check him out.
Also at the Alley next week, Thursday through Sunday, March 13-16, is trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, the great Cuban disciple of Dizzy Gillespie. Though Sandoval takes Dizzy’s showbiz antics over the top, he is a stunning virtuoso who has recently added tango to his sizzling Afro-Cuban and jazz repertoire.
There was a time when Washington State hosted half a dozen Dixieland jazz festivals, but, alas, the fan base for that lively music has mostly passed on. What a pleasant surprise six years ago, then, when the Highline Classic Jazz Festival popped up on the calendar.
Unlike the old Dixie fests, Highline, which takes place Saturday, March 8, embraces not only New Orleans and Chicago styles, but Gypsy jazz, ragtime, jump blues, big band swing — basically anything that predates 1940s bebop.
Performers include, among others, Gypsy jazzers Pearl Django; vibraphonist Susan Pascal; trad jazz stalwarts the Uptown Lowdown Jazz Band; ukelele-strumming leader Casey MacGill and his orchestra; “Double Bill,” with pianist Bill Anschell and sax man Bill Ramsay; and cornetist Dave Holo’s Holotradband. Swing dance lessons will be offered by Walter Dill and his daughter Celina.
This is the last year the Highline festival will be held at the imposing, grand hotel-style 1926 Landmark on the Sound Event Center, in Des Moines, another good reason to go.
Finally, Seattle nonprofit Earshot Jazz hands out the Golden Ear Awards for achievement on the local scene Monday, March 10, at the Royal Room.
Anton Schwartz: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday, March 11-12 at Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., Seattle; $22.50 (206-441-9729 or www.jazzalley.com).
Arturo Sandoval: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, March 13-16, 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 14-15, at Jazz Alley; $28.50.
Highline Classic Jazz Festival: 2:30-10 p.m. Saturday, March 8, at Landmark on the Sound Event Center, 23660 Marine View Drive S., Des Moines; free-$40 (206-244-7808 or www.brownpapertickets.com).
Golden Ear Awards: 7 p.m. Monday, March 10, at the Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle; $10 (206-906-9920 or www.theroyalroomseattle.com).