Seattle has one of the best jazz scenes in the country. From tiny hole-in-the wall clubs all the way up to large theaters, jazz is well appreciated and enjoyed across the city. This type of easy access to a normally obscure type of music rubs off, particularly on the local musicians, and as a result you see jazz pushing its way into some of the more mainstream genres, like funk, rock, soul, and electronic music. Sometimes the jazz influence is very small, such as the use of extended harmonies within a chord, or a small improvised section within a song. Other times, you will see full-on jazz groups that are integrating these more mainstream influences into their music. These groups are referred to as contemporary jazz acts, and they strike a great balance in their appeal to both the uninitiated and the dedicated jazz fan.
If you like contemporary jazz, or are interested in learning more about it, then you will want to ensure that you are at the Nectar Lounge on the evening of Wednesday, November 25, 2015. Two of Seattle’s finest local contemporary jazz acts will be performing, helping you to start your Thanksgiving off right. The opening band is called the Living Daylights, and they have been performing in Seattle (and worldwide) since 1995. This power trio is composed of saxophonist/flautist Jessica Lurie, fretless electric bassist Arne Livingston, and drummer Dale Fanning.
The Living Daylights are best described as an avant-garde jamband. The musicians are classically trained and harbor a deep love for boundary-pushing, experimental jazz music, but they also enjoy groove-based improvisational funk and rock. The combination of these influences is both dynamic and explosive. Jamband fans will surely enjoy their unique brand of exploratory, spacey improvisation. In fact, Phish themselves even invited the Living Daylights to play on the side stage at their 1999 festival, Camp Oswego. They are also regulars at the west coast’s premier jam festival, High Sierra, in Quincy, CA.
This sensational improvising trio’s jazz skill really helps them to push the weird into the weirder, but they do an outstanding job of retaining enough funk and groove to keep people dancing. Livingston and Fanning were formerly the rhythm section for Seattle jamband Tough Mama (the Northwest’s answer to Phish and Widespread Panic in the late 80s and early 90s). These two originally met and bonded over a love of African and Cuban music. They really enjoy playing in odd meters and often very aggressively, which sets the stage for Lurie to showcase the full extent of her talent on both wind instruments. She is an expert in long-form jazz improvisation, with a soulful edge to her playing. Even as all of this is going on, the band always manages to keep grooving and engaging the crowd in multiple ways at once.
The headliner for this genre-bending evening will be Tuatara. Their name comes from a spiky, endangered lizard species that is endemic to New Zealand. I believe that name is meant to let you know just how bizarre the music will be. Tuatara is the brainchild of Seattle drummer Barrett Martin, and features an ever-changing cast of other musicians. For this performance, they will have saxophonics master Skerik on tenor saxophone, the unstoppable Evan Flory-Barnes on upright bass, Andy “Smooth” Coe on electric guitar, Dave Carter on trumpet, and Thione Diop on African drums and percussion. Their music is written collaboratively between the current group members, and can be described as world music played by a group of consummate jazz professionals.
Martin has spent time as a Los Angeles based session musician, playing with such names as R.E.M., Queens of the Stone Age, and Stone Temple Pilots. He is an expert in the field of ethnomusicology and has done extensive writing on the varying role of music in different cultures around the world. He and Carter have previously worked together in their Americana project, Walking Papers. Skerik, Coe, and Flory-Barnes are all Seattle locals and they play together in Skerik’s Bandalabra Band (rhythmic, classically inspired jazz/rock fusion), while Carter plays with Skerik in his jazz-punk outfit, Skerik’s Syncopated Taint Septet. Coe is a man of many hats around Seattle, also playing with the Andy Coe Band (Grateful Dead-inspired psychedelic rock) and McTuff (jazz/funk organ trio) in each band’s weekly residency. Flory-Barnes plays with Industrial Revelation (groove-oriented, contemporary jazz), in addition to his work as a composer. He takes great pride in using music to unite seemingly different groups of people, and this project is a perfect means to that end. Diop also resides in Seattle, though he hails from Senegal, West Africa. He is descended from a line of ancestral drummers, something that has helped him to become a master of the djembe, sabar, tama and djun djun.
Every member of this revolving-door style project currently has significant experience studying music internationally, with a particular emphasis on African music and percussion among this group. While the foundation of their music rests firmly in American jazz, you can expect to hear a smorgasbord of other influences from around the globe (with a particular emphasis on African rhythms and percussion). This is some of Seattle’s most accomplished jazz musicians on their respective instruments, playing in a group that is geared towards melding styles and exploring new sonic territory. Also, the very nature of this project means that this particular lineup may very well be a one-time occurrence.
Previous Tuatara shows at Nectar Lounge have sold out, so you should get your ticket in advance to ensure that you don’t miss out! This show will be a high energy, intimate thriller! Tickets are only $10 in advance, and $15 at the door. Doors will open at 8 pm, with music starting around 9 pm.