Within/Earshot Jazz Fest 2019 is a wrap!

BIMA’s Within/Earshot Jazz Festival is over, but I’m still applauding. Bravo to the musicians, educators, filmmakers, organizers, sponsors, partners, artists, and jazz fans who filled the museum with excitement, buzz and some of the most mind-bending programming BIMA has seen all year long.

Here are a few highlights from Within/Earshot 2019:

Johnaye Kendrick launched us into Within/Earshot 2020 with her improvised jazz standards and ambitiously arranged original compositions. Her expressive vocals and broad range beautifully represent the true musicianship and technique of an artist who has dedicated decades to her craft.

Jim Cauter returned for his beloved series Jazz With Jim. Over the course of two evenings, Jim took the audience on a music history journey first exploring be-bop, hard-bop, cool jazz, and then down a winding path of fusion jazz exploring its many styles, influences, and key artists. Come back again next year, Jim—BIMA loves you!

In an effort to represent as much regional talent as possible during Within/Earshot, BIMA launched the Best of the West Sound Mini Jazz Festival this year, coinciding with the opening of BIMA’s Fall/Winter Exhibitions. This one-day festival featured three acts—The Cuban Heels, Sus 4 (aka Mission Drift), and the Chuck Easton/George Radebaugh Quartet—and had musicians representing every corner of the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas, from Port Townsend to Port Orchard and beyond.

Well-loved pianist, Bill Anschell, and his dynamic (and freakishly telepathic) bandmates and Seattle heavy-weights D’Vonne Lewis and Jeff Johnson, performed a celebration of what it means to “play” music. This trio truly enjoy playing together and it was fun to witness the joyous energy in their interactions (have any of you seen a more expressive drummer?).

What’s better than one Grace Love performance at BIMA? Two Grace Love performances at BIMA in the same year. Appearing mid-festival, soul singer Grace Love returned to BIMA and we are more in love than ever. Accompanied only by a guitar, the audience reveled in her powerful, unhurried and nuanced interpretations of jazz and pop standards. As far as I’m concerned, Grace can sing whatever she wants and it will knock our socks off.

When it comes to art, taking risks can really pay off, and if anybody is capable of truly taking that risk it is avant-garde power duo Bad Luck, whose Within/Earshot program was created specifically for BIMA and inspired true wonder and awe. Appearing in collaboration with stunning modern dancer, Lorraine Lau, Bad Luck brought sound, light, energy, emotion, and movement directly from their hearts to ours and it was unlike anything any of us have ever experienced. I’m sure I’m not the only one who was transported and transformed by this unforgettable performance – and still relishing in it.

Performing romantic and rhythmic songs in English, Spanish and Portuguese, Elspeth Savani and Savani Latin Jazz, turned many of us into chair-dancing fools. (Be honest, is anything more fun than pretending you know how to salsa dance? I didn’t think so.) There is something to be said for being a female bandleader who plays percussion, syncopates, and sings in three different languages. Brava, Elspeth!

It was extremely important to us to present documentaries Buena Vista Social Club and A Great Day in Harlem in a way that did justice to what each represented: capturing and preserving an important era in music. Korum and I researched, contemplated and wrote introductions to the films, but you, loyal cinephiles, brought the magic. After both screenings, I was surprised and impressed by audience members who shared anecdotes, observations and engaged in truly interesting conversation about the content. It is a delight to welcome such knowledgeable, passionate and curious film-goers week after week; not only is it a little intimidating, but it is extremely rewarding to engage in conversations with you, our audience. I just want to thank you for your anecdotes, observations, and for bringing so much to these post-film conversations. Take a bow!

Rounding out the festival was Jazz Combo III, a visual art exhibition featuring portraits of Seattle jazz greats by noted Northwest photojournalist Daniel Sheehan. Sheehan has been documenting clubs, venues, and musicians Seattle over many years and captured the scene in a way that few could, including the compelling faces of Clarence Acox, Scott Brown, Hadley Caliman, Floyd Standifer, Ruby Bishop, Overton Berry, D’Vonne Lewis, and many other local legends. Joining Sheehan’s photo survey was a selection of iconic illustrated jazz album covers curated by photographer Raymond Gendreau, owner of Backstreet Beat record store.

Wow! All that in only four weeks?!

Thanks again to Realogics/Sothebys, City of Bainbridge Island, Earshot Jazz, KNKX, Crosscut, and art supporter Steve Davis for cheering us on.

BIMA is humbled to be a part of the larger Earshot Jazz Festival and over-the-moon to share in the exploration of jazz music and history with you every year. See you in 2020!