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.”