Very Short Version
Mark Lewis is a Seattle area native and well-traveled jazz saxophonist / flutist who has created a large body of music, including over 1,700 compositions. He’s been a part of music scenes from Seattle and San Francisco to Rotterdam and Paris. Mark recently won #2 for alto sax and #3 for flute for his album The New York Session in the 39th Annual Jazz Station Awards out of Los Angeles. The album was recorded in NYC with veteran players George Cables, Victor Lewis and Essiet Essiet.
“Mark’s sound is the truth” – Bobby Watson, jazz saxophonist
“A Northwest treasure” – Jim Wilke, Jazz Northwest on KNKX, Seattle
Mark Lewis is master of the alto sax, baritone sax, flute and piano; author of approximately 1,700 compositions; and has recorded and produced more than thirty albums on various labels. His latest album, The New York Session, features piano legend George Cables, veteran bassist Essiet Essiet and drummer Victor Lewis. Mark was recently rated number two for alto saxophone (after Richie Cole) and number three for flute (after Charles Lloyd and Hubert Laws) in the 39th Annual Jazz Station Awards out of Los Angeles for his work on this album.
A well-traveled saxophonist and flutist, he’s been a part of jazz scenes from Seattle and San Francisco to Rotterdam and Paris. Rotterdam, the Netherlands was Mark's home base for many years. He toured and played in the better clubs throughout Europe, and taught jazz theory and improvised music classes in several music conservatories. Mark lived and performed for several years in San Francisco and Victoria, BC as well.
Jazz musicians Mark has performed and recorded with include pianists George Cables, Willem Kühne, Mark Levine, Overton Berry and Ted Gioia; drummers Victor Lewis, Candy Finch, Frans van Grinsven and Eddie Moore; bassists James Long, Hein van de Geyn, David Friesen, Larry Grenadier and Chuck Metcalf; saxophonists Noah Howard and Art Foxall; trumpet player Randy Brecker; and vibraphonists Bobby Hutcherson and Lodewijk Bouwens. Mark often subbed for Stan Getz and John Handy during his time in San Francisco.
Seattle area native Mark Lewis is a well-traveled saxophonist and flutist who has created a large body of jazz music over the past four decades. He’s been a part of jazz scenes from Seattle and San Francisco to Rotterdam and Paris. His new album, The New York Session, features piano legend George Cables, veteran bassist Essiet Essiet and drummer Victor Lewis.
Born in Tacoma and raised on a farm outside of nearby Gig Harbor, Mark Lewis absorbed music from both sides of his family. His paternal grandmother was a concert pianist, and his maternal grandfather played saxophone (a C melody horn that Lewis started playing at age nine). Despite profound visual impairment, he had free run of the family hi-fi system and soaked up Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Art Tatum while investigating his parents’ record collection.
Lewis’s waking hours were filled with music through his school years, and he went on to study composition, flute, electronic music, and piano at Western Washington University and the Cornish Institute of Allied Arts.
Settling in Seattle, Lewis started performing regularly at Norm Bobrow’s Jazz at the Cirque showcase, and quickly found invaluable colleagues and mentors amongst resident masters like Art Foxall, Bea Smith, Dee Daniels, and Buddy Catlett. Drum master Otis “Candy” Finch, who moved to Seattle after a sterling New York career recording with heavyweights like Stanley Turrentine, Herbie Hancock and Dizzy Gillespie, recognized Lewis’s budding talent and took him under his wing. He also encouraged him to get out of town, and in 1978 the 20-year-old saxophonist flew to Europe with a one-way ticket and his alto sax, $500 in his pocket, and virtually no contacts.
He ended up making Rotterdam his homebase for the next 14 years, and established himself as a vital force on the international jazz scene as a player, label owner, and producer. Building an extensive network of musical peers amongst Dutch players and American ex-pats (“Johnny Griffin got me my first gig in Europe,” Lewis recalls), he maintained three working Dutch groups, including an organ trio with Carlo de Wijs; an experimental-minded quartet with Willem Kühne, James Long, and Frans van Grinsve; and a world-jazz quintet featuring musicians from India, Holland, West Africa, and South America.
“I only played original music, and I thought it was a good idea to play everywhere,” Lewis says. “Gigs helped promote the sales of albums. No one wanted to play in Sweden in the winter, the off season. I didn’t mind. I’d play anywhere.”
His record company Audio Daddio became one of the era’s essential outlets, releasing recordings by Art Foxall, Vonne Griffin, Al Hood, Art Lande, and David Friesen. One of the label’s European recordings The Rotterdam Session features tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan and legendary jazz drummer Philly Joe Jones, in one of his last recordings. Lewis also maintained a strong presence back in the States, spending several long stints in the Bay Area in the 1980s. He gained a considerable following with a quartet featuring drum maestro Eddie Moore, pianist Mark Levine, and bassist Larry Grenadier (the group featured on most of his critically hailed Quartet Records album In the Spirit).
Championed by pianist and jazz scholar Ted Gioia, who produced In the Spirit and wrote the liner notes for The New York Session, Lewis became a vital part of the Bay Area scene, subbing for sax stars Stan Getz and John Handy, and working with heavyweights like Bobby Hutcherson and Randy Brecker.
Now based in Bremerton, a small city west of Seattle on the Puget Sound where he returned to be close to his family, Lewis maintains a busy schedule that includes touring, teaching private students and college clinics. He continues to expand his daunting book of compositions, which number over 1,700. Though he’s recorded more than 30 albums, only a fraction of his compositions have been documented on record, another reason why The New York Session is a particularly important release. The discovery of a master improviser is always thrilling, but finding a player/composer at the peak of his powers is a rare occurrence indeed. Though fully aware of his accomplishments, Lewis sees himself as part of a modern jazz continuum. “I try to approach each composition, each performance, with knowledge and technique from studying the masters who came before and also the innocence of a child,” he says. “I hope it keeps the music authentic and genuine.”
Music is a way of life for Mark Lewis. As an instrumentalist, composer, producer, engineer, and teacher, he has earned the reputation of being a dynamic and innovative force in music today.
Mark was exposed to music at an early age. On one side, his grandmother, Elaine Lewis, was a concert pianist while on the other, his grandfather, Ray Street, played saxophone. Mark was influenced by his parents' extensive record collection, which included artists like Count Basie, Lester Young, Art Tatum, and Duke Ellington. His mother recalls that from a very young age, Mark had little interest in games and activities that attract most children, preferring to listen to records over any other activity. Though he had serious visual impairment, he was very careful with the record albums and was allowed to play and change albums himself.
At age nine Mark began to play on his grandfather's C melody sax. Mark spent summers on Vashon Island with his grandfather because he had allergies to scotch broom and other plants that grew in abundance on the family farm on the Key Peninsula in Washington State. At the age of ten he was given his uncle's old alto to begin his formal musical education. Mark's playing was soon highly regarded in the school jazz and concert ensembles. His first group was formed at age 14 to play at dances and local sporting events. At South Kitsap High School, Mark played lead alto in the stage band, sang in concert and jazz choirs, played alto clarinet in the concert band, and performed music in school plays.
Mark’s father, Hugh Lewis, was a maintenance supervisor at a foundry in Seattle. He told Mark at a young age that Mark would need to earn a scholarship if he wanted to go to college. Mark followed his Dad’s advice, and attended college on a scholarship for his academic achievements. At first Mark carried a double major in music and physics, two of his greatest interests. His visual impairment made it impossible for him to keep up with the assigned reading material and also sleep. He eventually accepted that he would have to choose one major. He called his mother, Marilyn Lewis, to ask what she thought he should do. Mark’s Mom asked, “Can you leave your saxophone in the closet? That’s what your grandfather did when he took a different career path.” Mark decided that he couldn’t leave his saxophone in the closet and dropped the physics major.
He worked with his own groups professionally while attending Western Washington University and The Cornish Institute of Allied Arts in Seattle. Some of his most noted instructors included Dr. Edwin La Bounty (composition), Gary Peacock (advanced music theory), and Americole Biasini (concert band and electronic music). He took private lessons on classical flute with Mark Sanders, who played with the Seattle Symphony. He studied classical piano with Corey Celli, who found large print piano scores so that Mark could see the music.
Upon moving to Seattle, not far from his birthplace of Tacoma, Mark hooked up with great players like Candy Finch, Art Foxall, Bea Smith, Dee Daniels, and Buddy Catlett to become a regular feature in Norm Bobrow's "Jazz at the Cirque." But even though he was becoming successful in the Seattle area, Mark felt the need to broaden his horizons. Following the advice of Dizzy Gillespie's veteran drummer, Finch, he left Seattle in 1978 with a one-way ticket to Amsterdam, an alto saxophone, and 500 dollars in his pocket.
Rotterdam became Mark's home base for many years, though he frequently traveled back and forth to Seattle.
“As I was trying to find my way in a new country, a jazz lover on the street saw my horn case and sent me to meet Christine, the girlfriend of Noah Howard. Noah took me on tour with him to Paris and Rome and we played free jazz, which was great because I had been listening to Coltrane just before I left Seattle. Rotterdam became my home for fourteen years. I feel like I’m from that city, because it has so much heart. It’s such a great city.
“Soon after, I met Irene. I thought of her as a grande dame of jazz. She was good friends with Max Roach, Sarah Vaughan and many other American musicians who came to Europe. Irene helped me get established and taught me how to fit in. She hired me for two nights a week in her club and I played with Archie Shepp and Frank Foster there. I met a lot of famous musicians through Irene. I met Billy Higgins and Johnny Griffin, who got me my first gig in Holland under my own name at the B-14 in Rotterdam. I also met Rob van der Feyst through Irene. He was an impresario for well-known musicians including Charles Mingus, Dexter Gordon, Archie Shepp, Beaver Harris, Philly Joe Jones and Clifford Jordan.
“I had three different groups in Holland: The Mark Lewis Quartet with Willem Kühne, James Long, and Frans van Grinsven, which played only my original music; The Mark Lewis Trio featuring Carlo de Wijs (an organ trio); and The Mark Lewis International Quintet, which played my music written in African rhythms. It included musicians from India, Holland, Africa, and South America. Asad Oberio played the djembe, and that’s where I developed my deep love and respect for that instrument.
“My record company, Audio Daddio, recorded several albums in Rotterdam and Seattle. Hein Van De Geijn, Lodewijk Bouwens, Henk Arts, Ton Verbeek, Steve Clover, Art Foxall, Vonne Griffin, Al Hood, Art Lande and David Friesen all recorded on the Audio Daddio label. I traveled back and forth between Europe and the US, recording and promoting Audio Daddio albums, and performing along the way. In Holland, I recorded albums in Rene von Broekhoven’s RBS studio and Ron Konings’s studio. I was putting together my own half-track studio in Rotterdam when I learned that Philly Joe Jones wanted to record with Clifford Jordan and my bass player, James Long. We recorded the album in my studio. Philly Joe died not long after that, and we put the album out as "The Rotterdam Session," to give respect to the city I loved.
“I received the opportunity in 1985 to record an album for Holland’s foremost audiophile company, Audio Gallery. They had previously used Audio Daddio albums as demo LPs to show off their fine equipment. They wanted me to represent Rotterdam’s musicians by recording one song by each band I thought fit for this endeavor. The musicians included Marcel Reys, Jaap Schoneveld, Bernard Joosten and my international quartet.
“I arranged European tours for American musicians Art Foxall, Dee Daniels, Al Hood and Steve Clover and brought Dutch bassist Hein Van De Geijn on tour in America. I recorded the album “Spheres” (Hein Van De Geijn, Al Hood, Steve Clover), which became their landmark LP. I worked as a studio musician for several studios in the area. I produced an annual Audio Daddio New Music Festival in Rotterdam, which featured about 75 musicians over three days each year. I also taught improvised music and jazz theory classes at music conservatories, schools and jazz foundations throughout Holland. The national jazz foundation (S.W.I.N.G.) chose me to lead the best students of the Netherlands in a week long teaching and performing seminar in Amsterdam, which was a great honor.
“I enjoyed performing at jazz festivals throughout Europe, including the Amsterdam, Delftse, Haarlem, Heineken, Hilversum and Utrechtse festivals in Holland, and at jazz venues including The Bimhuis in Amsterdam and The Dizzy in Rotterdam.
“I grew up in Holland and the Dutch taught me my musical and artistic sensibilities. They also taught me a way of life that I find very humane and developed. I owe a lot to the people of Holland for taking the time for my musical development and artistic direction. My values as an adult were heavily influenced by Dutch society. It has made me the musician I am today.
Mark returned to North America and played up and down the West Coast for a year until he was "discovered" by musician/author Ted Gioia. Mark was asked to audition for a record deal in the San Francisco area. At the end of the audition he found out that he was playing for the great tenor saxophone master Stan Getz, who loved his playing. His first album with this record label, "In The Spirit," reached into the top 40 on the jazz charts and sold over 900,000 copies.
During his time in the Bay Area, Mark recorded and/or performed with many top jazz musicians such as pianists Mark Levine and Ted Gioia, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, trumpet player Randy Brecker, and drummer Eddie Moore. He frequently subbed for saxophonists Stan Getz and John Handy. He performed at jazz festivals and opened for Carmen McRae at the Palo Alto Jazz Festival. He was called back to Seattle to perform at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley.
Mark also lived for a year and a half in Victoria, British Columbia. His music was very well received throughout British Columbia. He was a fixture at Hermann's Jazz Club in Victoria, and he played for the inauguration of Michael Harcourt, former Premier of British Columbia.
Mark returned to a home base in the Puget Sound area to be near family. He continues to compose, record, perform, tour, teach and live and breathe music. Time after time, students, listeners and professional musicians call Mark an inspiration. He is known for his creativity, his technical ability, and the pure joy of music he brings to the stage.
As a musician and composer, Mark's music is filled with sensitivity and change. The musicians involved with his work understand that the music he shares with them represents his life. This can be felt in the way the members of the groups interact to perform concerts that are both intelligent and exciting. Musical technique moves from simplicity to complexity and back again creating textures influenced by bop, blues, classical, and ethnic music. It is music of the moment.
Although Mark performs predominantly original music in concerts, he is also master of a vast repertoire of jazz standards.
As a teacher, Mark Lewis has helped many people discover their musical potential. He began giving improvised music workshops in 1981 when his bass player, Hein van de Geijn, recommended him to an organization in Nijmegen. Mark now teaches privately in Bremerton, WA and at college clinics. Mark's teaching begins with the physical properties of sound and the ways in which music has developed from them. It is based on understanding and unifying melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic concepts in order to realize music's intention. He shows that through being sensitive to these concepts and developing the needed technique, one's essence can pass through music more easily. He places much emphasis on listening, being aware of the moment, and of course, practicing.
Mark has to his credit more than thirty album productions, over 1,700 compositions, and his own record company and studio. His latest album, "The New York Session," was recorded in Brooklyn with top NYC players George Cables, Victor Lewis and Essiet Essiet (Mark first met Essiet when they both lived in the Netherlands) and has been very well received by the jazz community. Mark was recently rated number two for alto saxophone (after Richie Cole) and number three for flute (after Charles Lloyd and Hubert Laws) in the 39th Annual Jazz Station Awards out of Los Angeles for his work on this album.
Mark Lewis is dedicated to creating positive human interaction through the music he composes, performs, and records. His standards are high and he is considered by many to be one of improvised music's most important artists.
Mark was born completely blind due to congenital cataracts. He had surgeries until the age of two to allow light into his eyes, then had to learn to “see” because his brain didn’t develop the ability to process visual information at the normal time. One eye sees very little because his surgeries as an infant were staggered from one eye to the other, and one eye became dominant in the process. He has also experienced retinal detachments in both eyes. He is legally blind, which limits his options for reading music on stage, but he is partially sighted and makes the most of what he has. He doesn’t see everything at once when he walks into a room the way most people do, but he does hear and process everything at once, a skill that helps him interact with music at a very advanced level.
Living a life devoted to music first and allowing the music to lead him, and living with a visual disability, has provided Mark with some extremely interesting life stories.
Here is one story we found on Facebook:
Playing for Phil Woods
“Phil has given me much inspiration and when I played for him in Munich, encouragement to keep on my path. I was walking with sax in hand after playing a small club in Munich, Germany. Well, who should be walking the other way, but Phil Woods. I do not see well and almost ran right into him while passing. He looked at me then looked down at my case and asked, "Alto?" I said, "Why yes it is!" I asked if he would like to see it and he said that he would so I showed him my new silver Selmer. I had bought it directly from the factory in Paris some weeks earlier. We were sax talking and one thing led to another and so I broke it out. As I started playing, the police came. They told me to put it away. Well, we talked sax talk until they left and then, of course, took it out again, after all, it was Phil Woods! I played for him for a while and he gave me great encouragement.
“After he left, a person passing by asked me to play some more. No sooner had I started, the same policeman came back. He said that he thought he had told me to put it away. I told him that he had but that "That was Phil Woods!" He didn't know who Phil Woods was. He then confiscated my brand new Selmer and my passport. He went to the telephone and made a call and while talking, waved my passport as he spoke to someone on the other end. Just then, I saw the stranger who had asked me to play in the first place grab my horn and passport in one fell swoop.
“He ran down the U-baan (subway) with me hot on his heels. I didn't look to see what had happened to the cop, the new guy had my sax AND my passport. The train was just pulling out and he said to follow him and we made the train. His name was Erich and he told me that the cop was finding out how much my horn was worth and then was going to deport me to New York. Erich had heard the entire conversation. We arrived at a little town that boasted just one little bench and he said we should sit there for a while until things cooled down.
“There were no people around so he welcomed me to play there if I wanted. I didn't see any reason not to, so I played for him. I played for about fifteen minutes. There was no one to be afraid of disturbing but then I noticed that on the other side of Erich, on the bench, was a man, about thirty years of age, sobbing. I stopped and asked him if he was alright. He said that he was feeling much better. He explained that he was on his way to kill himself but after listening realized what a fool he would have been to throw his life away that held things of such beauty as the music I was playing! Music works in mysterious ways. Thank you Phil!”
Check the schedule page to see who's playing this week. Regulars and special guests:
Mark Lewis, a native of Kitsap County in Washington State, USA, is one of the most lyrical saxophonists of his generation. Mark lived for years in the Netherlands, where he gained renown as one of Europe's leading instrumentalists. Mark lived and performed for several years in San Francisco and Victoria, BC as well. Mark has recorded or produced over 20 albums on various labels and composed over 1,700 songs. Mark's latest album, "The New York Session" was recorded in Systems Two Recording Studio in Brooklyn with some of NYC's greatest players. His CD "In The Spirit," recorded at Music Annex in Menlo Park, CA, made the Top 40 on the Jazz Albums chart. Jazz musicians Mark has performed and recorded with include pianists George Cables, Mark Levine, Overton Berry, and Ted Gioia; drummers Victor Lewis, Candy Finch and Eddie Moore; bassists David Friesen and Chuck Metcalf; saxophonists Noah Howard and Art Foxall; trumpet player Randy Brecker; and vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. Mark often subbed for Stan Getz and John Handy during his time in San Francisco.
Allen Alto graduated from Central Kitsap High School with many awards for his musical abilities. He was invited to attend Central Washington University where he studied music and played in the prestigious Jazz Ensembles there. He has done extensive road and studio work with many well-known artists, such as John Sebastian and Jerry Jeff Walker, in almost every style of music. This shows in his playing as he blends all those influences into a truly unique style of guitar virtuosity.
Clipper Anderson, bassist, has enjoyed a distinguished career as a composer, studio musician, performer, vocalist and educator. He plays at jazz festivals throughout the Unites States and Canada and has appeared on numerous recordings. Clipper has had the pleasure of working with some of the biggest names in contemporary jazz including Michael Brecker, Arturo Sandoval, Tamir Hendleman and Buddy De Franco. Clipper is an annual guest artist at the Buddy DeFranco/University of Montana Jazz Festival and the Blaine Jazz Festival. He is currently on the jazz faculty at Pacific Lutheran University.
Bill Anschell, a Seattle native, returned to the Emerald City in 2002 after spending 25 years studying, composing, and performing across the country and around the world. Anschell has played and/or recorded with a host of jazz greats including Richard Davis, Ron Carter, Benny Golsen and Russell Malone. In 2005, 2010 and 2011 Bill received Earshot Jazz Golden Ear Awards as the "Northwest Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year," and his solo piano CD "Figments" was named 2011's "Northwest Jazz Recording of the Year." Since 2003, Anschell's original compositions have received widespread cable and network exposure, appearing on programs including NBC's "The West Wing" and HBO's acclaimed series "The Wire."
Norm Bellas holds a Master of Music degree in composition. He won the Washington State Blues Society "BB" for Best Keyboard and was nominated for best songwriter. Norm's eclectic style is a synthesis of jazz and blues with bursts of funk, R&B, Latin and country. He might be said to play bluesy jazz or jazzy blues. Norm's CD of original jazz compositions "Out of the Norm" was played on heavy rotation for six months on the Seattle jazz station, KPLU. Norm has played with jazz artists such as Tutti Heath, Don Lanphere, Jessica Williams, Frank Wess, and Art Lande, and has played and/or recorded with many blues and R&B legends including Big Momma Thorton, Buddy Miles, Carlos Santana, and the Temptations.
Overton Berry, a Northwest jazz legend and recent inductee into the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame, has played piano extensively in venues around the world including Japan, China, Viet Nam, Thailand and Egypt. Overton is a voting member for the Grammy's, music director for the TOBE School of Music, and regular performer at major Northwest jazz festivals. Overton has worked with such jazz greats as Carmen McRae, Joe Pass, Dave Brubeck, Vonne Griffin and Peggy Lee.
Brad Boal studied percussion at the University of North Texas and privately with numerous master drummers including Jeff Hamilton and Mark Ivester. Brad has performed, recorded or toured with: The Count Basie Big Band, Benny Green, Sam Rivers, and many others. He has worked on staff or as a clinician at several music workshops and colleges throughout the country, including Jamey Aebersold's Summer Jazz Workshops, Day Jams Rock Music Camps and Cornish College of the Arts.
Butch Boles began playing guitar professionally when he joined the U.S. Air Force band in 1980. In his professional career he has played guitar in more than 22 countries on four continents, radio and television, and performed for heads of state and dignitaries from several countries. He has played guitar with musicians such as John Stowell, Tony Rizzi, Tom Kubis, Carl Verheyen and Wilford Brimley.
John Butler is a Fulbright Scholar in music with extensive experience performing and teaching guitar nationally and internationally. He has lived and worked as a professional musician in New York, Holland and Peru, and now is based out of Portland, Oregon. John has recorded albums of original jazz compositions, and was the guitarist on the 1987 Audio Daddio album featuring Art Foxall, "Art's Back in Town," recorded in Holland. John has performed with Jack McDuff, Jim Pepper, Wilbur Little, David Friesen, Essiet Essiet, and others.
Frank Clayton studied music at the Berklee College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. He studied Bass with Dave Holland and Cecil McBee, and percussion with Alan Dawson and Morris Goldenberg. Frank has performed nationally and internationally with some of the top names in jazz, including Jaki Byard, Herb Ellis, Lee Konitz, Charles Mingus, Sam Rivers and Albert Ayler.
Jim Day plays fingerstyle on an acoustic jazz guitar with a bit of amplification. Jim has played with many jazz legends, including Miles Davis, Freddy Hubbard, Stan Kenton, Della Reece and Henry Mancini. In his early rock and roll days he played with Jerry Lee Lewis, Chubby Checker, Connie Stevens, and Brenda Lee. Jim has three CDs of his own and has been on numerous recording sessions with national and regional recording artists.
Ted Enderle was originally from Philadelphia where he studied double bass with noted jazz bassist Al Stauffer and with Roger Scott, principal bassist with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Ted is one of the Olympic Peninsula's busiest jazz bassists, and has performed on both coasts of the US with musicians that include Larry McKenna, Chuck Anderson, Darryl Brown, Hadley Caliman, Art Foxall and Paul Moen.
Chuck Easton, is a multi-instrumentalist who graduated from Boston's Berklee College of Music and plays bass in the Pt. Townsend Orchestra and other groups. Chuck teaches guitar, flute, trombone, saxophone, bass, piano, and clarinet. For many years he has been on faculty for Centrum's Jazz Pt. Townsend and the Elderhostel NW Big Band. He often joins local groups, playing a variety of instruments. Chuck is also a composer, and was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant for jazz composition.
David Friesen has recorded over 65 CD's as a leader/ co-leader and appeared as a sideman or featured artist on more than 100 recordings. Born in Tacoma, David now lives in Portland, Oregon where he performs, teaches and records. He regularly tours in the US and Europe where he performs as a solo artist (one of two or three bassists in the world that is able to play a solo concert and keep an audience riveted) and with his own groups. "Once in a great while, a musician emerges with such authority and such seemingly effortless originality that his place in the front ranks of his instrument is unquestioned. So it is with David Friesen." - Nat Hentoff
Charles Gaines is known for bringing influences to his work as a percussionist from all musical styles. Drawing from his experience in blues, pop, R&B and jazz, Charles displays an eclectic mix of rhythms and colors with each performance. Recently, he has devoted more than 1000 hours within a one year period to develop his Master Drumworks Approach to Drumming.
Randy Halberstadt has been a major figure on the Pacific Northwest jazz scene for many years. A multi-dimensional pianist, he has performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival, at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and with the Seattle Symphony. He’s the pianist for the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra and first-call accompanist for jazz vocalists. He has performed with Herb Ellis, Terry Gibbs, Buddy de Franco, Bobby Shew, Mel Brown, Jay Clayton, Ernestine Anderson and many others. Randy is a full professor at the prestigious Cornish College of the Arts and teaches annually at the Blaine Jazz Festival and at Jazz Port Townsend.
John Hansen is one of the most in-demand jazz pianists in the Northwest. His performance history includes such venues as Birdland, Jazz Standard, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Kennedy Center, Jazz Alley, and international festivals and tours in France, Japan, Korea, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Russia and Central America. John has performed and recorded with many of the Northwest's premiere, award-winning bands, The Seattle Symphony, and high profile jazz artists including Randy Brecker, Ingrid Jensen, Ernestine Anderson, David 'Fathead' Newman. "Highly talented, unassuming, and offering his best effort in every musical situation" - Jim Wilke, Jazz Northwest, KNKX
Mark Ivester is a versatile drummer and percussionist who is currently on the faculty at Pacific Lutheran University. Mark has performed with numerous jazz artists of international stature including Larry Coryell, Freddie Hubbard, Diane Schuur, Mose Allison, Charlie Byrd and Eartha Kitt. He has also performed with the Honolulu, Spokane and Walla Walla symphony orchestras. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Eastern Washington University and did undergraduate and graduate work in ethnomusicology at the University of Hawaii that included field study in gamelan music on the island of Java.
Matt Jenkins is a highly respected entertainer known for his exceptional vocal and keyboard interpretations of popular music and standards. During the winter, Matt is house entertainer at major resorts in the Palm Springs area, and he often spends summers in the Northwest. Matt has played at Melvyn’s, the famous Palm Springs resort to the stars, opened for Frankie Avalon and worked with country music icons Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
Karin Kajita has degrees in music, piano performance and music education from the University of Washington. She went on to pursue a career in jazz, traveling to contracts in Japan, Denver, Canada, New York, Kansas and Utah. She has played at all the major hotels in Seattle, including the Westin, Hilton, Warwick, Sheraton, Alexis and Sorrento, and frequently performs as leader of her own quintet.
Brian Kirk is the Professor of Jazz, Percussion, and Music Theory at Seattle Central Community College. He received a Master of Arts Jazz/Contemporary Music Studies from New York University and also studied at Indiana University. Brian Kirk spent ten years in New York City performing Jazz drums locally and on several European tours with Lou Donaldson, Jack McDuff, and Little Jimmy Scott, in addition to accompanying Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby Hutcherson, The Lionel Hampton Orchestra, and The Count Basie Orchestra (under the direction of Grover Mitchell). He was also first call on New York's Broadway show scene performing in Ain't Misbehavin' (featuring The Pointer Sisters), Five Guys Named Moe, Fiddler on the Roof, Les Miserables, and other shows. He has made numerous recordings including the soundtracks from "Philadelphia" starring Tom Hanks, "The Money Train" "A Rage in Harlem" starring Forrest Whitaker, and the original soundtracks of David Lynch's' "Twin Peaks - Fire Walk with Me", "Five Guys Named Moe" and The Pointer Sisters "Ain't Misbehavin" on Sony Records.
Chuck Kistler is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music where he studied with Garrison Fewell, Donny Nolan, Mitch Haupers & Phil Wilson. He's played bass professionally in the Northwest since the late 90's and has been described as a first call instrumentalist by the Seattle Times (January 4th, 2013). Chuck has worked with many notable musicians including Hadley Caliman, Ernie Watts, Ernestine Anderson, Eartha Kitt, Kevin Mahogany, Petula Clark and Diane Schuur, among others. In Seattle he works regularly with most of the stars of the local scene. Chuck has given clinics at high schools and colleges throughout the Northwest.
Trent Leurquin studied music at Olympic College and music performance at Western Washington University. He is an accomplished composer and bassist, and has performed with several different groups including Jazz Junkies and Chain Reaction. Trent performs most frequently in jazz, fusion and R&B styles.
Steve Luceno is a highly respected Northwest acoustic bassist for a number of regional artists, and has produced CDs of his own original jazz compositions. Steve's playing experience includes many trips to Mexico with the Jerry Michelsen Trio and working with a variety of artists in the Northwest, including Obrador, Bert Wilson, Jack Perciful, John Stowell, Slim Galliard, Sonny Simmons, Mose Allison, Ocho Pies and Hadley Calliman.
Josh Mason has been performing as a jazz pianist in the Pacific Northwest for the past 20 years. During that time he has opened or performed with the Yellow Jackets, Diana Krall, Diane Shuur, Joe Williams w/Louie Belson, and many well-known Seattleites such as Greta Matassa, Hadley Caliman and Jay Thomas. You can hear a mixture of influences in his sound from greats such as Gene Harris, McCoy Tyner, Michael Brecker, Keith Jarrett, and the master of simplicity and space, Count Basie.
Robert Matthews has performed nationally and internationally with some of the top names in jazz. He was the original bass player with Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66, and in the Willie Bobo Band, the Woody Herman Band, and the Tex Beneke-Glen Miller Band, to name a few. Robert has performed in numerous major jazz festivals, and in venues such as Caesar's and Harrah's in Tahoe, Harrah's in Reno, and the Playboy Clubs in Chicago and Los Angeles. Robert has performed with a long list of famous musicians, including Duke Ellington, Errol Garner, Roger Kellaway, Shelly Manne, Lenny Breau, and Antonio Carlos Jobim, and singers Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett, Al Jarreau, and Lou Rawls.
Barney McClure is one of the most respected jazz pianists in the Northwest. He has performed and/or recorded with too many jazz legends to mention, including Zoot Sims, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Joe Pass, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel, Larry Coryell, Milt Jackson and Gary Peacock, and backed such notables as Bob Hope, Bob Newhart and Steve Allen. He spends many hours a day in his studio composing original music from Reggae to jazz to classical to... He has written a popular book on jazz improvisation and is involved in managing a number of music festivals. You can also hear Barney in the movies "Officer and a Gentleman," and the soundtrack of "Mr. Holland's Opus."
Bob Merrihew is one of the Northwest's most tasteful and sensitive drummers. Bob and Mark started working together over 30 years ago, and their long association is obvious when you hear them perform together in a quartet.
Steve Nowak has been a well-respected guitarist in the Pacific Northwest for many years. After touring nationally in the 1970's and '80's, Steve has spent the past two decades in Seattle, honing his formidable jazz and rhythm and blues skills. Steve has played and recording with talented performers such as Lonnie Williams, Jay Thomas, Norm Bellas, Seattle Women in Rhythm & Blues, Jay Roberts, the Drifters and numerous others.
Ray Ohls is originally from Detroit and landed in the Northwest when he retired from the US Navy Band where he was Chief Protocol Piano Player for Navy Band Washington DC and first call pianist for the vice-president under two administrations. Jazz artists Ray has performed with include Marcus Belgrave, Wendell Harrison, Bobby Shew, and Andy Martin.
Richard Person picked up his dad's trumpet at age five and was fronting dance bands by age thirteen. In his high school years he also studied saxophone and piano, and worked in bands playing all styles. Drafted after three years of college, he played in the army concert band and big band performing swing and jazz. After his time in the military he went on the road with several different types of groups, and played almost all fifty states. Finally landing in southern California, Richard hooked up with several influential players while fine-tuning his musical style. There he worked in the recording industry and in clubs. His credits include Hollywood studio stints with Billy May, Les Baxter and the Della Reese Big Band.
Milo Petersen was recently honored by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. In 1993 he was awarded a composition grant by the Seattle Art's Commission. Milo Petersen and the Jazz Disciples were featured in the Encyclopedia Of Northwest Music by James Bush. Milo has performed with a wide array of artists including Eartha Kitt, Ernestine Anderson, Julian Priester, Cedar Walton and Mose Allison. He has also played for a variety of shows including The Fifth Dimension, The Bob Hope Show, The Coasters and The Drifters.
Derick Polk is a Bassist and retired Navy Musician. While in the Navy, Derick performed all over the world including high profile events for World Leaders. Derick has also performed with artists including Ernestine Anderson, Rosemary Clooney, Lou Donaldson, Eddie Harris, Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson and Clark Terry. Derick has performed in the national tour of Ain't Misbehavin and in productions of Anything Goes, Chorus Line, Godspell, The King and I, My Fair Lady and Oklahoma. He has also performed with the Bremerton Symphony, Ravenswood Community Orchestra and Lake Shore Symphony Orchestra.
Michael Powers graduated Magna Cum Laude from Seattle's prestigious Cornish College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Composition and Performance. One of the Northwest's most popular guitarists, Michael has performed with, recorded with or shared billings with Herbie Hancock, Eddie "Clean Head" Vinson, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Ray Charles, Diane Schuur, and R&B greats Gladys Knight and the Pips and Atlantic Starr, among others.
George Radebaugh holds a bachelor's degree in music composition from the University of California, Santa Barbara, but is currently most interested in the spontaneity of jazz improvisation. Originally from the East Coast, he now resides in Port Townsend and can be heard throughout the Northwest playing jazz, funk and other styles. He has worked with Chuck Easton, Pete Toyne, Rickey Kelly, Phil Sparks, Bud Shank, and many other Northwest jazz greats. George frequently plays solo piano and is a preferred accompanist for jazz singers.
Mikel Rollins, a multi-instrumentalist, will perform with Mark on bass - and maybe guitar, and maybe even some sax … Mikel has performed throughout the Western U.S. and Japan, and has shared his broad musical knowledge with children by teaching instrumental music classes at Seattle's Cooper Elementary and Stevens Elementary schools. Mikel currently leads his own Momentum Jazz Quartet, and has performed with a number of well-known Northwest jazz groups, including the Lonnie Williams Group, Clarence Acox Group and Hadley Caliman Ensemble.
Jovino Santos Neto is a three-time Latin Grammy nominee, a master pianist, composer and arranger, and is among the top Brazilian musicians working today. Currently based in Seattle, he has throughout his career been closely affiliated with the Brazilian master Hermeto Pascoal. Currently, Jovino leads his Seattle-based Quinteto and teaches piano and composition at Cornish College of the Arts. He can also be heard around the world as a piano soloist, working with symphony orchestras, jazz big bands, chamber music groups, and in collaboration with other musicians.
Paul Sawyer, a Seattle guitarist, has played professionally for over 20 years and is on the adjunct music faculty at North Seattle Community College. He studied at the Berklee College Of Music in Boston and privately with master bassist Gary Peacock. His credits include performances with Petula Clark, Lonnie Williams, Sam Andrew (of Big Brother/Janis Joplin) and Steve Smith (Drummer for Journey and Vital Information).
Phil Sparks is among the leading bassists in Seattle, having performed with nearly every top jazz group in the city. He records extensively with many of the Northwest's top names, and received a special mention as a star of the Seattle scene in Down Beat magazine. Phil has worked with some of the top names in jazz including Gene Harris, James Moody, Bobby Shew, Mose Allison and Art Lande.
Bud Schultz holds a Bachelor of Music degree from University of Puget Sound. Bud has played and recorded with such greats as Milt Hinton, Larry Bunker, and Martin Denny. He is the accompanist for Makini Magee, the former accompanist for Patti Suzuki, and has accompanied such jazz notables as Mel Torme, Johnny Desmond, Dorothy Dandridge, and Helen O'Connell.
Michael Stoican is an Emmy award-winning composer and performer. He studied music with jazz/fusion virtuoso Don Mock and legendary jazz guitarist Howard Roberts, and has been a guitar and electric bass instructor at Olympic College for more than 20 years. Michael has composed and recorded for numerous televised programs, many of which have won Emmy or International Telly awards for their musical scores. He can be heard on PBS productions such as "Over America," "America's Historic Trails with Tom Bodett," and Rick Steves' "Travels in Europe."
John Stowell is a highly acclaimed Portland-based jazz guitarist who tours, records and teaches internationally. He has been Artist-In-Residence at schools in Germany, Indonesia, Argentina, and in the United States and Canada. He served as assistant director and performer in Oregon Public Broadcasting's PDX Jazz Summit in 1991, and since 1995 has been a contributing columnist for a number of magazines, including "Downbeat," "Guitar Player" and Canadian Musician." His album, "Through the Listening Glass" with David Friesen, was chosen one of the "Ten Best Jazz Albums of the Decade" by the Los Angeles Examiner. John has performed or recorded with a number of famous jazz musicians, including Milt Jackson, Lionel Hampton, Art Farmer, Herb Ellis and George Cables. "In the age of mediocrity and clones, John Stowell's uniqueness and originality are a breath of fresh air." - Paul Horn
Nelda Swiggett, pianist, is an active performer and composer on the Seattle music scene. She formed her first band in 1990, and has since performed at many of Seattle's leading clubs, concerts and festivals, including the Earshot Jazz Festival, Bumbershoot, and a KPLU-FM Summer Jazz Cruise. Her CD of original compositions, No Time for Daydreams, received extensive airplay on Seattle's jazz stations as well as national and international airplay. In 1998, her talent for composition was recognized by an Artist Trust Fellowship from the Washington State Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition to performing and composing, Nelda keeps a busy schedule teaching jazz and classical piano.
Cassio Vianna is the Director of Jazz Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at Pacific Lutheran University where he is responsible for the University Jazz Ensemble and jazz music courses. Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Dr. Vianna is a composer, pianist, arranger, and educator whose work reflects a broad range of musical and cultural influences. He has been featured as a performer and/or clinician at festivals and conferences in Brazil, Paraguay, China, and in the U.S. His award-winning compositions have been performed by a diverse array of international musicians.
Rick White is a classically trained composer and jazz bassist, which combine to make both his compositions and his playing truly unique. His first experiences as a bassist were in R&B bands playing clubs all over the Western U.S. giving him strong roots in groove oriented music. After this he chose to pursue a more formal music education and received a masters degree in Music Composition from Northern Illinois University, where his compositions received top awards each year he attended. While in school Rick maintained a busy schedule as a sideman as well as back up to many guest artists such as Tito Puente, Clark Terry, Mark Murphy, and Bob Mintzer to name a few. Currently, Rick is the Director of Instrumental Music at Olympic College where he teaches music theory, jazz theory, bass lessons, and conducts both the Jazz and Wind ensembles.
Lonnie Williams is known in the Seattle music community as one of the leading tenor and alto saxophone players in the Northwest. Originally from Texas, Lonnie has performed with many blues legends including Charlie Musselwhite, Otis Rush and Robert Cray. Lonnie is the great saxophone player for whom Mark Lewis wrote the popular song "Lonnie Knows."
Ray Wood has played the guitar professionally for over half a century and has performed around the world. He plays everything from bebop to doo-wop and has toured with acts such as The Coasters, and the Louvin Brothers. As one of the most revered guitarists in the Northwest, Ray is a regular instructor at the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop and the Wintergrass Academy.