The New Cool: Ballard Jazz Festival Preview

May 12, 2017

Now in their 15th year, the folks at the Ballard Jazz Festival have put together quite a collection of talent for this year, including many of our favorite artists on The New Cool. On this week’s show, you’ll get a heaping helping of this festival’s coolest, and no lutefisk jokes.

Running May 17-20, the festival begins Wednesday night with the percussion focused Brotherhood of the Drum at Conor Byrne Pub, following Thursday night with the Guitar Summit. Up and down the lineup, there’s not a group that won’t impress the stodgiest jazz fan, but modern sounds of jazz are our focus here.

Our New Cool show will focus on the big Friday night Jazz Walk, 23 groups in 10 venues for one cover. KNKX host Abe Beeson will be wandering Ballard Ave that night to emcee a few shows and check out his coolest picks of the night.

KNKX will present a festival preview Studio Session Friday at 12:15 with Brad Shepik (guitar), Phil Sparks (bass) and Matt Jorgensen (drums) that's sure to be a cooker.

The Pono Ranch will be your go-to venue, with drummer Tarik Abouzied’s Happy Orchestra at 7 p.m. with the rocking soulful horn-powered grooves featured on their debut album set for a summer release (as heard on The New Cool!). Our friend Delvon Lamarr of the DLO3 will follow at 10 p.m. (looks like the DLO3, but on your schedule as a Hammond B3 Soul Review, whatever – I’m in!).

Egan’s Ballard Jam House will feature a 7 p.m. set from Earshot Hall of Fame pianist Bill Anschell and the quartet featured on his new release "Rumbler," a more rock-pop flavored sound than the trio he led in the KNKX studios a couple years ago.

From Portland, drummer Todd Bishop’s group with sax great Richard Cole follow at Egan’s at 10 p.m.; you’ll hear their ethereal cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s “Intoxicated Man" on The New Cool this week.

Also up from Portland, guitar icon Dan Balmer will be groovin’ it up with a quartet led by pianist Clay Giberson of the adventurous Upper Left Trio (think a more soulful Bad Plus) at Peddler Brewing at 7 p.m. Balmer’s own trio (same band, minus Giberson) at 8:30.

Finally, you’ll hear trumpeter Ray Larson’s band Chemical Clock on the New Cool this week, playing their complex “post-everything avant fusion”. The band’s label, Table & Chairs, is presenting a thrilling night of cutting edge improvisation upstairs at the Salmon Bay Eagles building from 8 p.m. until late. The crowd here will be decidedly younger than the usual Eagles gang, stop by and hear these kids improvising without a net.

Bring your walking shoes and cross your fingers for dry weather, you’ll be wanting to explore all of the amazing jazz spread across Ballard that night.

Beyond the local stars, Saturday’s festival mainstage shows will have saxman Rick Mandyck back with the Scenes quartet opening for world-class tenor sax man Chico Freeman (check out this KNKX session he played last year with his Plus+tet). Packed into such a small window of time, this concentration of jazz talent is always one of the musical highlights of the year. Get yourself to Ballard: ya sure, ya betcha!

The New Cool airs Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. The program is hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.