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Madeline Eastman at the Earshot Jazz Festival

Madeline Eastman

Madeline Eastman is not usually an afternoon experience. She is every inch a jazz singer, so therefore everything about her is designed for night: her one-on-one relationship to the listener, her moment-to-moment existential aesthetic, her reflective approach to awareness and her relative concept of time. But at the 20th Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle, Eastman was scheduled for an afternoon concert at the Bellevue Arts Museum. It was a brilliant sunny Sunday (rare and precious in Seattle, especially in October) and yet the crowd spilled over the museum’s performance space. Eastman gave everyone who chose her over the weather an early jolt of afternoon energy stronger than a double shot of Seattle espresso.

She has been based in San Francisco for her entire career, which may explain why, even though she is one of the most technically accomplished and soulful vocalists in jazz, she has never broken through into national recognition. Other singers know about Eastman, and come to study with her at places like Stanford University’s Jazz Workshop and Jazzcamp West and Monterey Jazz Festival clinics. But teaching is a sideline for her. She plays clubs in the Bay Area like Yoshi’s, gets around the West to guest with organizations like the Reno Jazz Orchestra, and plays in Europe more often than Chicago or New York. She will tour Scotland in February. She recently played (and recorded) with Kenny Barron and the 50-piece Metropole Orchestra in Amsterdam. The result will be released next year on her own label, Mad-Kat (a joint venture with another San Francisco singer, Kitty Margolis). Her current Mad-Kat discography includes six titles, from Point of Departure in 1990 to the brand new Can You Hear Me Now?

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