Jazz Solo Transcriptions

Originally published in Earshot Jazz August 1997

One of the ways I have learned to hear, play, write, and love jazz is through transcription. A teacher gave me an assignment to write down a solo from a record and share it with an improvisation class. I figured the blues was a good starting place so I picked Lou Donaldson playing "Wee Dot" with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. The hours of repeated listening, scribbling notation - a bar or some-times a note at a time - was a humbling "private lesson" with Lou's tone, melodic creativity, swing, and expressive energy. The more I worked on the solo, the more fun I had.

Eric Verlinde: Honoring Music's Core Values

Originally published in Earshot Jazz June 2013

At 10:00pm, the Tuesday night jam session at the Owl and Thistle launches into “Solar.” Eric Verlinde sits Buddha-like on stage behind a battered electric piano tagged with the letters “des,” all that remains of the Fender Rhodes logo. His mouth hangs open and he nods along with the brisk tempo. Under the dim stained glass ceiling lights, a small audience listens intently. Several have instrument cases next to their chairs, awaiting an invitation. Across the room at the bar, conversations are buried by the saxophone solo bouncing off the brick walls.

Verlinde’s piano solos explore melodic and rhythmic motives through repetition and variation. His playing doesn’t dazzle with technical fireworks, instead it smolders with joyful energy and balanced clarity. “I don’t always have preconceptions when sitting down to play,” Verlinde says. “But something always happens.”

Hot Java Cool Jazz

Originally published in Earshot Jazz March 2013

Popular and strong are two words that describe both Seattle’s hometown coffee and public school jazz programs. Starbucks continues to support Seattle music education through Hot Java Cool Jazz, an annual fundraising concert now in its 18th year. Five Seattle area public high school jazz bands will perform at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, March 22.

Victor Noriega & Gust Burns – 2 Trios Project

Originally published in Earshot Jazz March 2013

Pianists Victor Noriega and Gust Burns first crossed paths at the Port Townsend Jazz Camp in 1996 when they were both 17 years old. Now, 17 years later, they will celebrate the release of their joint recording Two Trios at the Cellar in Vancouver, BC on Sunday, March 3 and the Chapel Performance Space in Seattle on Tuesday, March 6.

The idea behind Two Trios comes from the interplay between two different piano trios with the same bassist and percussionist. In 2010, Noriega and Burns selected bassist Jeff Johnson and percussionist Greg Campbell to join them in back-to-back sets at Gallery 1412 (formerly Polestar). After two successful shows at Gallery 1412, Noriega submitted a recording to the 2011 Jack Straw Artist Support Program. The award was used to create this recording.

Luke Bergman: Making Music Tangible

Originally published in Earshot Jazz April 2013

Sunday night at Café Racer. Rows of empty chairs line the room. CDs cover a table. Regulars perch at the bar. A crowd appears at the stroke of 8:00 and chairs fill with listeners. The announcer introduces musicians and guidelines for the jam session to follow. Bathed in green light, performers channel melodies and rhythms that swirl like the ceiling fan above the stage.

In the front row of the audience sits Luke Bergman, eyes closed, nodding with the musical energy, twisting his short beard between thumb and index finger. He is one of ten organizers behind the weekly Racer Sessions that grew out of Cuong Vu’s free improvisation ensembles at the University of Washington. Bergman calls the Racer Sessions “a platform for any possibility.”

2013 DeMiero Jazz Festival with Artistic Director Dee Daniels

Originally published in Earshot Jazz February 2013

Thirty-seven years ago, Frank DeMiero originated a non-competitive vocal jazz festival with one goal – to give every participant an opportunity to be inspired, learn and take home helpful advice to advance their artistry. He wanted to provide that opportunity after attending some educational festivals centered on competition, and judging a few, alongside notable guest teachers and artists. “A lot of people didn’t get to take home a trophy,” he says. “What [all learners] need at those impressionable years is exemplary opportunities.”

“Every year we do more,” DeMiero says. To make sure no one will be turned away, the festival added two more facilities this year and expanded workshops for instrumentalists and directors who work with vocalists. During the day, ensembles perform and clinicians provide immediate feedback. Participants then attend clinics to hone their skills.

Grant Seeking Tips for Seattle Jazz Artists

Originally published in Earshot Jazz January 2013

Happy New Year jazz artists! What will you create in 2013? How will you build on your passions, experiments, and expressions? Where will the money come from to fund your projects and pay your collaborators? Seeking grants is itself an art.

Determined to improve my success finding grants, I researched books and websites, cobbled together an approach to work for individual jazz artists, used it to apply for a 4Culture Heritage Site Specific grant and was awarded $15,000 to develop a performance piece inspired by Jamie Ford’s novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

This article shares my process then suggests tips for successful grant seeking from Miguel Guillen, Program Manager at Artist Trust.