For decades, Seattle-area student jazz bands have trekked 300 miles over the Cascades to Moscow, Idaho, to play at the February festival there, and some still do.
But this year, they can give the bus drivers a break.
Cornish College of the Arts has inaugurated the Seattle Jazz Experience, a two-day student jazz festival that includes workshops, performances by students and top-flight stars and all-ages jam sessions, right here in the Emerald City.
The action takes place Friday and Saturday, March 14-15, at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center and features concerts by Seattle-based trumpeter Cuong Vu Friday and drummer Matt Wilson (pictured) with his Arts & Crafts Quartet Saturday. The event also offers master classes (open to the public) with composer, arranger and National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Bill Holman, alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, pianist Ellen Rowe and others.
Sixteen college and high-school jazz bands from Texas, Oregon, California and Washington will perform, including Seattle’s famed Garfield High School Jazz Band and the wonderful Cornish big band. Three “best of festival” groups will be selected at the end.
All-ages jams take place at the Cornish Studio Theatre (adjacent to the Playhouse) and the Vera Project.
11 a.m.-midnight Friday, March 14, and 10 a.m.-midnight Saturday, March 15, at Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center and the Vera Project; $10-$25, or $45 for a festival pass (206-726-5133 or www.seattlejazzexperience.org).
Paul de Barros, Seattle Times jazz critic