On the 7th anniversary of native carver John T Williams being killed by a Seattle police officer, the Steve Griggs Ensemble will premiere a 75-minute show honoring his life and passing. John’s brother Rick will be at the Memorial Totem Pole at the corner of 5th Avenue and Broad Street on the Southeast corner of Seattle Center. The program will begin there at 6pm and is open to the public. The program was commissioned through a CityArtist grant from the Office of Arts & Culture. The program will be filmed by the Seattle Channel.
The Steve Griggs Ensemble, a Seattle jazz quintet, will perform six free concerts at the amphitheater in Dr. Blanche Lavizzo Park (2100 S Jackson St, Seattle). The concerts will be on Saturdays from 1:00 to 2:30pm, rain or shine. The programs will consist of original stories and music inspired by local social justice history. The schedule of programs is:
- Aug 12 Panama Hotel Jazz (about Japanese American incarceration during WWII)
- Aug 19 Listen to Seattle (about Duwamish tribe and river with James Rasmussen)
- Aug 26 A Cup of Joe Brazil (about the Detroit saxophonist who taught jazz at UW)
- Sep 9 Blues for John T. Williams (about Seattle Police Department use of force)
- Sep 16 Sound in Stone (poetry by James Washington sung by Bernie Jacobs)
- Sep 23 Panama Hotel Jazz (about Japanese American incarceration during WWII)
The ensemble includes trumpeter Jay Thomas, saxophonist Griggs, vibraphonist Susan Pascal, guitarist Milo Petersen, and bassist Phil Sparks.
These performances are supported by a City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture Arts in the Parks Program. Two of programs were commissioned by the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture CityArtist Program and two others were commissioned by the 4Culture Historic Site Specific Program. One program was supported by the National Park Service Japanese Confinement Sites Program. Three programs were supported through the Jack Straw Foundation Artist Support Program. The programs have twice won the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Adventurous Program of Contemporary Music.
Chicago drummer Joel Spencer and pianist Joan Hickey join Seattle’s Jay Thomas, Steve Griggs, and Phil Sparks to re-interpret songs from the 1957 Blue Note record Blowing in from Chicago. In addition to songs by Clifford Jordan, Gigi Gryce, Horace Silver, and John Neely, the repertoire will include originals by Hickey and Griggs.
Spencer and Hickey have been a musical team for three decades. Spencer’s credits include stints with Earl “Fatha” Hines, Barney Kessel, Eddie Gomez, Red Rodney, Clark Terry, Chet Baker, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Stitt, Benny Golson, Joe Henderson, Eddie Harris, Wayne Shorter, David Liebman, Hank Jones, and Cedar Walton. Hickey has been teaching jazz piano at the University of Illinois for 22 years. The Chicago Sun Times described Hickey’s Between in the Lines on Origin as “a vibrant harmonic glow.”
The Seattle musicians have performed together for over two decades. These two seasoned teams join forces to rekindle the flame of hard bop from the 1950’s.
Honored to have the Panama Hotel Jazz Ensemble nominated for NW Acoustic Jazz Ensemble of the Year by Earshot Jazz. Cast your ballot at https://www.earshot.org/gea-2016-ballot/ by March 8.
Kamna Shastri wrote a review of Panama Hotel Jazz for the International Examiner. Read the article here .
Come on down to the Royal Room (5000 Rainier Ave S) 7:30 Monday, December 5 to pick up a copy of A Cup of Joe Brazil. The CD was produced through the Jack Straw Artist Support Program and was mastered by Rick Fisher. The CD includes a song by Joe Brazil! We will be performing the show live on stage. Get tickets here.
Almost all my shows are free to the public because of grant funding, but here’s your opportunity to show support for my work. I’ve started a Kickstarter campaign to pay artist fees for a performance and video recording of Listen to Seattle at Town Hall on Indigenous Peoples Day. Within the first week I’m already 12% of the way toward my goal. Contribute $10, $25, or $100 by October 8 and get your name printed in the program. Go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1606311190/free-performance-of-listen-to-seattle-at-town-hall.