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Seattle’s Earshot Jazz Festival at 25

Upholding a legacy of creative programming

The Bad Plus at the Triple Door in Seattle, October 2013. l. to r.: Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson and Dave King

Autumn comes hard in Seattle. Even if there are some dry days in late October, Seattle people know that summer’s over, and they know what’s coming: days on end when 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. are indistinguishable in their sodden, uniform grayness.

But for Seattle jazz fans, autumn has contained a major consolation over the last quarter-century. The Earshot Jazz Festival is not as famous as Monterey or Newport, but it has a strong alternative Northwest identity. The programming tilts left-of-center but is diverse. Earshot director John Gilbreath has an instinct for locating the leading edges of the ever-evolving jazz art form. He booked Tomasz Stanko, Vijay Iyer, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Jason Moran and Craig Taborn before it was fashionable. Every year at Earshot, artists debut new projects and form interesting new collaborations. Musicians come from the Pacific Northwest, but also from exotic places like Kiev, Havana, Bucharest and Brooklyn.

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