North City Jazz Walk

Originally published in Earshot Jazz August 2012

Hips will waggle and bodies will spin under the stars to the salsa of Carlos Cascante, Thomas Marriott, and the Latin jazz ensemble Tumbao on Tuesday, August 14 at the North City Jazz Walk. From 7 to 10 in the evening, Tumbao joins 9 other musical groups performing in venues along 15th Avenue NE in Shoreline, just north of Northeast 175th Street.

Other featured artists this year are singers Greta Matassa, Stephanie Porter, and Casey McGill, keyboardists Jimmy Holden and Bill Anschell, saxophonist Doug Reid, vibraphonist Jacques Willis, trumpeter Tracey Hooker, and the students of the 2012 Shoreline Jazz Camp led by Jim Sisko. The program includes a variety of improvised American music – big band, rhythm and blues, swing, and contemporary jazz.

This year marks the sixth North City Jazz Walk. The first was spawned when North City Bistro and Wine Shop owners Pat Lewis and Larry Schoonmaker connected with pianist Keith McClelland. The Wine Shop had been hosting intimate live music and McClelland thought the setting was great for jazz. McClelland, a Shoreline resident, business owner, and community activist, envisioned a summer neighborhood event like Port Townsend’s Jazz in the Clubs. The City of Shoreline had recently spent 6.5 million dollars to improve the North City Business District for traffic and pedestrians. Why not close off the street for an evening, get several businesses to host live music, and enjoy walking from stage to stage listening to local artists perform?

Last year’s event brought about 1,100 people to the three block stretch of venues. At least that many are expected this year. Local food vendors will offer food under a tent in the street. In the past, participating neighborhood businesses noticed a bump in traffic for weeks following the Jazz Walk.

To facilitate crowds, some stages will be outside. The outdoor venues with Tumbao and ensembles from the Jazz Camp will be free of charge. All indoor venues are accessible through purchasing a single wrist band.

Stephanie Porter says, “I enjoy being apart of such a diverse group of musicians, and the way the organizers picked the eclectic venues, makes it a very cool scene. The spaces have their own character.” All venues are steps apart and each offers a unique setting – church, theater, Eagles club, coffee roaster, café, wine store, lounge, lumber yard, parking lot, and mobile stage.

This year McClelland will return to the Laughing Ladies Café to perform the music of George Shearing which was a big hit at the first Jazz Walk. Meanwhile, Greta Matassa will perform at St. Mark Catholic Church, the northern most venue, backed by McClelland’s Critical Mass big band.

At the southern end of the Jazz Walk, Stephanie Porter leads a quintet at the North City Theatre. Porter is joined by Mike West on saxophone, Ed Weber on piano, Dan O’Brien on bass, and Steve Yusen on drums.

Across the street at Frank’s Lumber Delivery Store, Tracey Hooker’s band Hook Me Up includes keyboardist James Cochrane, bassist Osama Afifi, and drummer Aaron Hennings.

Right in the middle of things, Bill Anschell brings his piano trio with Chris Symer on bass and Jose Martinez on drums to the North City Wine Shop. They will perform a “mix of originals, derangements of standards, and a couple of Peruvian tunes.” Anschell likes the local aspect. “As someone who's lived in Shoreline for the last ten years, it's nice for me to get to perform here, where some of my friends and neighbors – who might not be big jazz fans – can hear me for the first time.”

Casey McGill’s set at Brown’s Coffee will include “a mix of well-known and obscure tunes from the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s, some pre and post World War II blues, an occasional 1950’s or 60’s rock and roll number, and some originals.”

Jimmy Holden, son of the historic Seattle jazz pianist Oscar Holden, will lay down funky blues at the North Seattle Eagles. Holden’s band includes saxophonist Jon Goforth, guitarist Danny Hoefer, and drummer/vocalist Tim Haines.

Doug Reid will be joined by organist Andy Roben at the historic North City Lounge. A neighborhood fixture since 1955, the building originally opened in 1928 as a grocery and gas station.

“Shoreline is a great community and supports live music,” Porter says, “especially jazz.” Unfortunately, times are tough for businesses along the Jazz Walk. Brown’s Coffee recently shut its doors but will reopen for the event. Laughing Ladies Café will close after the evening performance. The North City Jazz Walk is an opportunity to show your vital support for local businesses and artists and have a terrific evening at the same time.

Advance tickets ($12), directions, and event information are available at the event website: Tickets at the event are $15.

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