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Topic: Jazz Port Townsend

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July 28, 2013 at 5:24 PM

Jazz Port Townsend’s sweet Saturday afternoon

Sachal Vasandani and Rene Marie sing at Jazz Port Townsend Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Mark Mitchel Osborne)

Sachal Vasandani and René Marie sing at Jazz Port Townsend Saturday afternoon. (© Mitchel Osborne)

The Saturday afternoon triple bill at Jazz Port Townsend’s McCurdy Pavilion fired on all cylinders, unusual for a three-and-a-half hour show featuring three distinctly different acts.

Up first was the Clayton Brothers band — more accurately the Clayton family band, since it featured not only festival artistic director and bassist John Clayton and his brother, alto saxophonist Jeff, but John’s fiery, dredlock-bedecked son, Gerald, who plays piano. This was essentially the same sextet that tore up the Public House in Port Townsend Friday, with the difference that John Clayton replaced Joe Sanders and that the group played a prepared set, including a world premiere.

With Terrell Stafford on trumpet, Stefon Harris on vibes and Obed Calvaire on drums, the band had firepower to spare, and they took no prisoners in a set characterized by thick textures, high pressure, sizzling cross-rhythms, soulful swing and a refreshing variety of tempos, instrumentation and solo order. On the opening tune, a rhythmically tricky original by Jeff Clayton titled “Cha Cha Charleston,” Stafford let fly a bravura circus of high notes and muscular, percussive phrases, then continued to outdo himself all afternoon. Jeff, whose girth and mustache recall Fats Waller, mugged with minty surprise at Stafford’s virtuosity, one arm akimbo, as if to say, “Get a load of that!”


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July 27, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Cool first night at Jazz Port Townsend

     The Anat Cohen Quartet (Jim Levitt)

The Anat Cohen Quartet (Jim Levitt)

A wind was blowing up on the parade ground at Fort Worden when I started toward McCurdy Pavilion Friday night but it wasn’t strong enough to blot out the sound of a very strong trumpet player on the other side of the trees I was headed for. Who could that be? A power player like that, blowing through bop changes like they were nursery rhymes? Gotta be either Jay Thomas or Thomas Marriott.

But no, when I got there I discovered it was Max Boiko, an 18-year-old kid from Florida who was part of baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan’s combo at the workshop that had been going all week. Boiko just graduated from Dillard High School, in Ft. Lauderdale. Yes, that Dillard, the one that beat out our Seattle bands at Essentially Ellington. Whew! This boy can blow! He’s going to the Brubeck Institute next year, down in California. I’m sure they’ll be delighted to have him.

That’s the way it always is at this festival, where a week-long workshop with the best jazz kids in the country study with masters like drummer Jeff Hamilton and festival artistic director John Clayton. Seeing the mix in the audience of older jazz fans and the kids, checking each other out, giving each other encouragement, is always a refreshing part of the atmosphere here.


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July 18, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Music of Quincy Jones at Jazz Port Townsend

Quincy Jones at Garfield High School (Ellen M. Banner)

Quincy Jones at Garfield High School (Ellen M. Banner)

Back in February, when Garfield High School Jazz Band director Clarence Acox was at the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival, bassist and festival director John Clayton casually mentioned to Acox as he was walking off the bandstand that he wanted Acox to do “some kind of Quincy thing at Port Townsend.”

“I didn’t hear from him for several months,” says Acox.”Then I heard I was leading the band.”


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