What do the proper nouns “Floating,” “Trampin’” “Here” and “Flirtibird” have in common?
If you are a Seattle jazz lover, you may have already guessed. They are song titles slated for Seattle stages this week.
“Floating” is the title of an exquisite new album by pianist Fred Hersch, who plays Jazz Alley Tuesday and Wednesday, April 29-30. Hersch, who came up in the late ‘70s as a sideman with Art Farmer, among others, has made a name for himself as a daring, lushly lyrical, Bill Evans-influenced trio player with a gorgeous classical touch and a knack for narrative.
A six-time Grammy nominee, Hersch is a sensitive interpreter of the Great American Songbook as well as an intriguing composer and arranger. He opens the new album with a version of “You and the Night and the Music” with a Latin touch — in 7/4 time. The light-stepping “Arcata” and lilting “Autumn Haze” showcase his firmly interactive approach to his trio, which features bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson.
Already at the Alley this week, playing there through Sunday, is violinist Regina Carter, whose jubilant new project, “Southern Comfort,” features songs steeped in Southern spice, such as the Gram Parsons classic, “Hickory Wind,” Hank Williams’ “Honky Tonkin’” and the above mentioned “Trampin’,” a traditional song tricked out as hip-hop.
Hersch and Carter are visiting, but two other jazz events this week are homegrown. Vocalist Johnaye Kendrick, who teaches at Cornish College, celebrates the release of her debut album, “Here,” Friday at the Royal Room.
A native of San Diego, Kendrick, 31, did undergraduate work at Western Michigan University, during which time she shared the stage with Hersch for her honors recital. After graduate work at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and Loyola University, she went on the road with the great New Orleans trumpeter Nicholas Payton.
Kendrick mixes jazz and classical music and sings in a rich, expressive alto with unfaltering pitch and a subtle sense of swing. “Here” features original love songs, including the haunting title track, on which she sings and plays harmonium.
Her quartet includes the brilliant pianist and Cornish colleague Dawn Clement, bassist Chris Symer and, alternately, drummer Byron Vannoy.
Kendrick, who won a Down Beat (magazine) award as student, now works in a city where student-jazz awards seem to come down like hail in a proverbial Robert Johnson blues. Five award-winning high-school jazz bands — from Ballard, Bothell, Garfield, Mountlake Terrace and Roosevelt — perform Friday on the Hot Java Cool Jazz concert at the Paramount Theatre.
The reason you might hear Duke Ellington’s “Flirtibird” on the program is that two of these bands — from Garfield and Roosevelt — are headed for the prestigious Essentially Ellington competition in New York on May 8. (More coverage ahead in The Seattle Times.)
Hot Java Cool Jazz is sponsored by Starbucks, which last year raised more than $54,000 from this concert, which goes to support local jazz programs.
7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday, April 29-30, at Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., Seattle; $24.50 (206-441-9729 or jazzalley.com).
7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, April 25-26, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 27, at Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., Seattle; $24.50 (206-441-9729 or jazzalley.com).
8:30 p.m. Friday, April 25 at the Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle; donation requested (206-906-9920 or theroyalroomseattle.com)
Hot Jazz Cool Jazz
7 p.m. Friday, April 25, at the Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle; $20 (877-784-4849 or stgpresents.org).
Paul de Barros (206-464-3247 or firstname.lastname@example.org) covers music at blogs.seattletimes.com/soundposts/ or follow him on Twitter @pdebarros