Redwood Jazz Alliance

2017-18 Season

Our twelfth year features a mix of old and new: new faces, new faces with familiar sidemen, familiar faces with new sidemen (and new projects), old friends in new get the idea. As always, this season's lineup includes a mix of Critics' Poll winners, Guggenheim fellows, Grammy nominees, and NPR featured artists—and, it goes without saying, some of our era's most brilliant players and composers. Oh: and our very first string quartet.

Ticket prices have held steady since our first concert back in 'ought-six: $15 General Admission and $10 Student/Senior. Advance tickets for most shows will be available at Wildberries Marketplace, Wildwood Music, People's Records, and The Works—and (along with discounted season tickets) here at our website. All of this season's guests will present a workshop or clinic, free and open to the public, usually but not always the morning after the concert. As the season unfolds, click on each artist's name below to see a web page devoted to him/her/them. And feel free to contact us at with questions, comments, and donations!

Jump to: Next Show (Ryan Keberle & Catharsis)
(Or visit the separate Catharsis event page)

Listen to the 2017-18 Season Mixtape on Soundcloud
Watch the 2017-18 Season Playlist on YouTube
Dates and details subject to change

Honey and SaltPhoto: John Abbott


Matt Wilson's Honey and Salt
Tuesday, September 12, 2017 (8 pm) | Kate Buchanan Room, HSU
Matt Wilson, drums; Ron Miles, cornet; Jeff Lederer, reeds; Dawn Clement, piano & vocal; Martin Wind, acoustic bass guitar

Drummer/composer/jazz superhero Matt Wilson grew up in Knoxville, Illinois, just down the road apiece from Carl Sandburg’s hometown of Galesburg. Matt has been finding occasional inspiration in the iconic poet’s words since his debut album twenty years ago, and his latest project (which garnered a rare 5-star review in DownBeat) is devoted completely to the works of the prairie bard. Sandburg’s poetry was rooted in the American experience, and Wilson’s writing for this project is rooted there, too, as blues, country, gospel, marching band, and New Orleans funk elements weave in and out of the music. With local luminaries reading the poems, an ace crew of improvisers wailing away, and Matt’s effervescent drumming and personality tying it all together, this will be an unforgettable evening of words and music.

“Stunning, melodically enriched, jazz-inflected avant-country.”
—John Murph, DownBeat
buy tickets to honey & salt

Dayna Stephens

Dayna Stephens Quartet featuring Billy Childs
Sunday, October 8, 2017 (8 pm) | Morris Graves Museum of Art, Eureka
Dayna Stephens, saxophones & EWI; Billy Childs, piano; Dave Robaire, bass; Christian Euman, drums

We’re grateful for Dayna Stephens’ return, not only because he’s a busy sideman, but because only a couple years ago it would have been nearly impossible. And that’s the theme of Stephens’ eclectic new album, Gratitude, an exultant and humble tribute to the interconnectedness of life, conceived and recorded in the wake of a life-threatening kidney disease. Joining the saxophonist is a cohesive band of equally impressive parts, including the prestigious composer/pianist Billy Childs in his all-too-rare role as an inventive accompanist. Consider it a coming together to be thankful for.

“Elemental. His big, warm lines are full of notes and intent but also gusts of wind, bodies of water.”
—Brad Farberman, Jazz Times
buy tickets to dayna stephens

Helen Sung

Photo: Scott Myers

John Ellis & Double-Wide
Friday, November 10, 2017 (8 pm) | Arcata Playhouse
John Ellis, tenor sax; Brian Coogan, keyboards; Alan Ferber, trombone; Matt Perrine, sousaphone; Jason Marsalis, drums

The second consecutive-year returnee of the season: after tenor man John Ellis wowed us last November as part of the Helen Sung Quartet, we asked him to come back with his own band, the New Orleans/New York City potpourri he calls Double Wide.  A while back, Ellis resided in the Crescent City, and Double Wide evokes the atmosphere of that storied ville. Perrine's tuba and Marsalis's drums provide the NOLA base; Versace's keys, Ferber's trombone, and Ellis's horn add the NYC seasoning. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

“Clever tunes, finely crafted counterpoint, and whopping dollops of humor.”
—New Orleans pianist/bandleader Tom McDermott
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Ben Allison & Think Free

Ben Allison & Think Free
Monday, February 19, 2018 (8 pm) | The Sanctuary, Arcata
Ben Allison, bass; Kirk Knuffke, cornet; Steve Cardenas, guitar; Allan Mednard, drums

Okay, let’s start with some unabashed gushing: we love Ben Allison. His tuneful, big-eared, forward-thinking compositions lured a couple of us back into jazz in the 90s, after we’d shamefully drifted away. We’ve been avidly listening to his records (13 as a leader, 3 more as one of the driving forces of the Herbie Nichols Project) for over twenty years now, and there’s not a weak one in the bunch. Action-Refraction was justly named one of the Best Albums of 2011 (of any genre) by NPR; his latest, Layers of the City, brings an edgy maturity—and Jeremy Pelt's slinky trumpet—to Allison's cinematic sound. (Rising-star cornetist Kirk Knuffke ably fills in for Pelt on this tour.)

"Allison is leading a movement to create generationally relevant jazz."
—Dan Oullette, DownBeat
ben allison on youtube
buy tickets to ben allison

Endangered Blood

Fabian Almazan and Rhizome
Tuesday, March 6, 2018 (8 pm) | Fulkerson Recital Hall, HSU
Fabian Almazan, piano; Camila Meza, guitar and voice; Linda May Han Oh, bass; Henry Cole, drums; with the Arcata Bay String Quartet: Cindy Moyer and Karen Davy, violins; Sherry Hansen, viola; Garrick Woods, cello

Like roots seeking water, the music of Fabian Almazan ventures away from the jazz club and into the streets, forests, and intertwining subterranean worlds. The Cuban-born composer’s daredevil pianism has supported the likes of Terrence Blanchard and Paquito D’Rivera. In the company of his unique chamber ensemble Rhizome, Almazan’s sensibilities take flight, soaring through exuberant peaks and valleys as complex sublime as the underground networks that inspire him. All this is evidenced in his latest nine-movement suite Alcanza, which one could call "breathtaking," though Almazan might prefer "conspiratorial" for its Latin roots: "breathing together."

"Very pretty and wildly ambitious." 
—Ben Ratliff, New York Times
rhizome at bandcamp
buy tickets to fabian almazan


Ryan Keberle & Catharsis
Monday, April 16, 2018 (8 pm) | Arcata Playhouse
Ryan Keberle, trombone & keyboards; Scott Robinson, saxophone & trumpet; Sarah Elizabeth Charles, voice; Jorge Roeder, electric & acoustic bass, Eric Doob, drums

Since Ryan Keberle and Catharsis were last here three years ago, the sound and the substance of their music has broadened and deepened. Camila Meza’s vocals, once mostly wordless, now increasingly incorporate lyrics in both English and Spanish, and she’s also playing guitar (at which she is equally adept). Ryan now includes keyboards in his instrumental arsenal, and the addition of multi-instrumentalist Scott Robinson to the band adds saxophone to the mix. The band has released two albums since their last appearance: 2016’s Azul Infinito, inspired by various styles of South American music, and their most recent, the post-election protest album Find The Common, Shine A Light.

“Suite-like in its scope and unity of purpose...a mix of barbed yet beauteous originals and covers of enduring protest songs.”
—Andrew Zimmerman, DownBeat
catharsis at bandcamp

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