Redwood Jazz Alliance

2012-13 Season

Lucky Seven! We keep bringing the musicians (Critics' Poll winners, Guggenheim fellows, MacArthur "geniuses," NPR featured artists--not to mention rising stars, unsung heroes, and just plain all-around great players), and you keep coming to hear them (7000 pairs of ears and counting, over six seasons). Let's do it again.

Last we checked, there was still a depression on. So our prices haven't budged: $15 General Admission and $10 for students & seniors. Advance tickets for each show will be available at Wildberries Marketplace, Wildwood Music, People's Records, and the Works—and (along with discounted season tickets) here at our website. Most of this season's guests will also present a workshop or clinic, free and open to the public, usually the morning after the scheduled concert. As the season unfolds, click on each artist's name below to see a web page devoted to him or her. And feel free to contact us at with questions, comments--and donations!

John Abercrombie

Photo: Guy Fonck | All About Jazz


John Abercrombie Organ Trio
Thursday, September 20, 2012 (8 pm) | Kate Buchanan Room, HSU
John Abercrombie, guitars; Gary Versace, organ; Adam Nussbaum, drums

Sometimes the clichéd shoe fits: John Abercrombie is truly one of the legends of jazz guitar. He’s recorded more than 20 albums as a leader for the venerable ECM label and has worked as a sideman with a Who’s Who of jazz over the past 40 years. His Organ Trio, stopping in Arcata on its way to the Monterey Jazz Festival, is by turns deeply introspective and seriously funky.

“With its dark, mystical edges, organic forms, flights of expressive soloing and cathartic climaxes, Abercrombie’s music really is a more sophisticated and nuanced extension of the heady fusion era when albums were intended to take the listener on an inner journey.”
—David French, Jazz Times
john abercrombie on wbgo's the checkout

Chris Lightcap
Photo: John Whiting | bebopified

Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 (8 pm) | Fulkerson Recital Hall, HSU
Chris Lightcap, bass; Andrew Bishop and Tony Malaby, saxophones; Matt Mitchell, keyboards; Ches Smith, drums

We might not agree with the Wall Street Journal about much else, but when they put Chris Lightcap among "the next wave of greats," we were right there with them: his latest CD was our clear pick for 2010 album of the year. With a brawny frontline and a killer rhythm section, Lightcap's band Bigmouth makes rippling, surging, ebullient music that borrows smartly from pop, indie, Latin, funk, gospel and African music--and sounds like none of them. It just sounds fantastic.

"With Deluxe, one of the year's most satisfying jazz releases...Lightcap delivered a righteous dispatch from the New York jazz grid, full of streamlined rhythm and stark, suggestive harmony."
—Nate Chinen, New York TImes
bigmouth live at red hook jazz festival 2010

Us Five

Joe Lovano Us Five
Sunday, January 27, 2013 (8 pm) | Van Duzer Theater, HSU
A co-presentation with Center Arts
Joe Lovano, tenor saxophone; James Weidman, piano; Esperanza Spalding, bass; Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela, drums

We’re pleased to be partnering with Center Arts to present Us Five, the incendiary band that teams the veteran top-drawer saxophonist with some of the most exciting young talents in the jazz world, including the bassist Esperanza Spalding, the pianist James Weidman, and the drumming duo of Francisco Mela and Otis Brown III. It's no wonder the DownBeat Critics Poll named this power-packed band 2011's "Jazz Group of the Year."

"While it might seem surprising that audiences had to wait until his 22nd album for a tribute to Charlie Parker, Bird Songs demonstrates, once again, that Lovano does things his own way, and that great things are worth waiting for."
—Andrew Sammut, All About Jazz
us five live at newport 2009

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts
Friday, February 22, 2013 (8 pm) | Fulkerson Recital Hall, HSU
Matt Wilson, drums; Terell Stafford, trumpet & flugelhorn; Gary Versace, keyboards; Martin Wind, bass

Wilson, a welcome repeat visitor to the RJA (he's a member of Trio M and Be Bread), has a reputation as the class clown of contemporary jazz. What that really means is that nobody has more fun playing than he, and nobody is more fun to listen to (and watch.) Don’t let his sense of humor fool you, though; Matt is one of the most versatile and respected drummers on the scene, and his band Arts & Crafts is one of the tightest working bands in jazz. Their latest CD, An Attitude for Gratitude, was our top pick for 2012 album of the year.

"Totally relaxed and in the pocket...explod[ing] with joie de vivre...delightfully unpretentious."
—Michael Jackson, DownBeat
matt wilson on npr's all things considered

Joel Harrison

Joel Harrison and Spirit House
Thursday, April 4, 2013 (8 pm) | Arcata Playhouse
Joel Harrison, guitars; Paul Hanson, bassoon; Cuong Vu, trumpet; Kermit Driscoll, bass; Brian Blade, drums

Harrison is one of our unsung (okay, undersung) heroes.  Guitarist, composer, arranger, vocalist, songwriter, bandleader, recipient of numerous grants and commissions—Harrison fronts an astonishing variety of large and small groups, taking inspiration from an idiosyncratic array of sonic inventors that stretches from the open-eared expansiveness of Miles Davis and Charles Ives to the American rhapsodies of Walt Whitman and Hank Williams. Harrison’s sound fits equally well in jazz clubs and concert halls—and the occasional dive bar across town.

"Joel Harrison has stretched the boundaries of form and freedom for over fifteen years, but [his recent discs] have represented significant evolutionary leaps…pushing the limits of cross-pollination by eliminating all preconceived stylistic delineators." 
—John Kelman, All About Jazz
joel harrison on the jazz session

Rene Marie

René Marie's "Experiment in Truth" Quartet
Thursday, April 25, 2013 (8 pm) | Morris Graves Museum of Art
Rene Marie, vocals, with Kevin Bales, piano; Elias Bailey, bass; Quentin Baxter, drums

One of the jazz world’s best-kept secrets (and last year's DownBeat Critics Poll "Rising Star Female Vocalist"), Rene Marie brought out not one but two terrific discs in 2011, either of which could have landed in our Top Ten.  (In the end, we gave the nod to her second entry, the winkingly titled Black Lace Freudian Slip.)  A smart, fearless singer who found brief fame for a dust-up over her habit of putting the words of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (the unofficial Black National Anthem) to the tune of “The Star Bangled Banner,” Marie's style is sly and shimmering, tough and tender, with plenty of space for improvising from her excellent trio.

“One of the most arresting and complex vocal personalities performing today.”
—Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz
rene marie on youtube

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