by Kathya Alexander
Ernestine Anderson was just 16 years old when she announced to her parents that she was going to leave Seattle and go on the road to sing with a big band. She’d only recently moved to the city from Texas and was attending Garfield High School. Two years later, when the Johnny Otis band came to town, she made good on her promise, leaving Seattle in 1946 to eventually live in New York, Switzerland, and other cities throughout Europe during an illustrious six-decade career, during which she recorded more than 30 albums. But, no matter where she lived, her heart always pulled her back to her family and the city she loved.
Seattle’s Central District in the 1940s and ’50s was a jazz mecca. Fellow Garfield High School alum, Quincy Jones, described it as “screaming around the clock.” Both Anderson and Jones performed with Garfield’s jazz band and in various clubs on Seattle’s Jackson Street. Music journalist Paul De Barros’ book, Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle, has become the standard historical text on the Central District of Seattle and the jazz scene that was going on during the 1940s through the early ’60s. But Anderson felt she needed to make it elsewhere before she would be recognized professionally at home.
“There were a lot of clubs in the Central area of Seattle: The Black and Tan, The Rocking Chair, and a whole bunch of other[s],” said Eugenie Jones, jazz singer and coproducer of “Celebrating Ernestine Anderson,” a series of community events being held this month to honor the life and legacy of this incredible Seattle icon, who died in 2016.
Continue reading All That Jazz: The Life and Legacy of Ernestine Anderson
by Ben Adlin
One of the region’s premier music education nonprofits is now enrolling young people in jazz lessons for the school year, continuing its mission of teaching jazz as “a quintessential Black American art form” and expanding its focus on equitable access and instruction. Tuition is pay-what-you-can, with no questions asked.
Seattle JazzED is signing up students in grades 4 through 12 for classes that run quarterly from mid-October through June. Students of all skill levels are welcome, and instruments are available to borrow free of charge. A blended in-person and virtual program will allow younger, unvaccinated learners to participate from home.
Registration is open online at the organization’s website. Instruments include flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar, bass, and drums, as well as two new options this year: violin and cello.
Continue reading Seattle JazzED Opens Registration for Free and Reduced-Cost Music Lessons
by Chamidae Ford
This Wednesday, Aug. 11, the Rainier Arts Center will be hosting its second installation of the August Porch Festival. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. you can find local BIPOC artists taking the stage to perform music for their community. Each week offers a wide range of styles and genres of music and performances.
The Center was opened in 1997 and has served as a gathering space to support the arts for the Rainier community since. Throughout the summer, the Center hosts a wide array of events and activities located in Columbia Park. As a part of that, the Porch Festival aims to provide local artists the space to demonstrate their talents while keeping everyone safe and socially distanced.
“We primarily wanted to showcase South End artists that were BIPOC,” said Ben Leiataua, manager of the Rainier Arts Center.
Continue reading Rainier Arts Center Hosts Weekly Porch Festival Showcasing BIPOC Artists
Story and photos by Glenn Nelson
If drummer D’Vonne Lewis isn’t the hardest working musician on the Seattle jazz scene, he is, by all accounts, in the top 1%. Typically, he played two to three gigs per day, every day of the week. Lewis was so busy he even stopped practicing because, spending all his time playing live music, he, his ear, and his body already knew the drill.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic and performances started cancelling.
“Oh man, this is getting ugly,” Lewis remembers thinking.
Continue reading OPINION: Why Local Jazz Must Survive
by Gus Marshall
On a cold still night in Columbia City, two of Seattle’s premier jazz combos displayed their grasp of contemporary elegance to a fortunate group of perceptive spectators.
Soprano sax sensation Kate Olson and her K.O. Ensemble assumed the bandstand of The Royal Room first. They began to engage the audience immediately with Olson’s light and coherent original compositions “Pear Shaped” and “To The Left.” Olson’s straightforward swinging arrangements provided a solid platform for her clear and articulate delivery.
Continue reading Kate Olson on Seattle’s Jazz Scene
by Gus Marshall
Local treasure Johnaye Kendrick is a sensational jazz singer as well as esteemed professor at Cornish College of the Arts. Her self-produced sophomore album Flying (Johnygirl Records) has solidified Kendrick as one of the current names to know on the national jazz scene.
Continue reading Jazz Singer Johnaye Kendrick Discusses Her New Album, Inspirations and Her Role as an Educator
by Gus Marshall
The Royal Room dinner crowd eagerly awaited the evening’s performance. A couple minutes past the seven-thirty start time, a tall man with glasses took the stage and grabbed hold of a microphone. He introduced himself as Alex Guilbert, the organizer and producer of Piano Starts Here, a bimonthly piano-focused performance featuring the eclectic works of influential pianists over the past century.
Continue reading Classic Jazz Fills the Halls of the Royal Room