Seattle is not a jazz town. Hell, Seattle isn’t really even a music town.
Well, wrong. It is. You just need to know where to look. Or listen.
Were you expecting the old days of The Crocodile Cafe with a little known band like Nirvana or Screaming Trees for $4? Okay, grunge partner, those days are gone.
But there is great music to be had. Take for example every /other/ Saturday at Serafina restaurant on East Lake Union.
Now’s the time where I have to make a disclaimer: Leo is one of my best friends. But, dammit…his music is pretty damn good. Every other Saturday they do this thing with some of Seattle’s best jazz musicians. Cost? $0. I mean, you might want to buy a drink or two at the bar, at least. Serafina, for what it’s worth, is a pretty good restaurant if you want to get some Italian food to eat. But, the live music thing makes it a full evening if you let it be.
But, I digress. Back to the music. Several years ago when I went and heard this fabulous trio + singer, it was all about jazz. And, for the most part, it still is. But, now they’ve got some very tasty and classy pop stuff thrown in. This last Saturday I heard some Roberta Flack in the playlist, and indeed, I even “Felt Like Making Love” after a listen.
Who doesn’t like a standard like “Pennies From Heaven?” This trio makes even the obvious not obvious, and fun, and a downright good time on a quiet Saturday in Em City.
And the musicians: Good Lord. Besides “Legendary Leo” on bass the group features Ed Weber on piano, who is obsessive and possibly compulsive about being a GREAT pianist. He’s one of the best in the city: no lie. He fronts another Steely Dan cover band called “Nearly Dan,” which is ALSO worth checking out. I have often quipped I’d rather hear “Nearly Dan” than “Steely Dan.” They are that good, and Don Fagen, bless his great musical and compositional abilities was never that great of a singer.
On drums is Artie Huycke, who plays in a style I love for restaurant trio work: just a snare and a ride cymbal. But, with a guy like Artie he keeps the time very well, and fills the space with some creative stick and brush work. He played with his hands on a few tunes. His hands. I kid you not. Sounded great.
Singer Sue Nixon is about as versatile as you can find in a singer. Her jazz chops are just as good as her pop chops, and she’s delightful in range and in style.
There are two things I particularly enjoy in Leo’s playing: his uncanny knowledge of knowing every change to every tune ever composed, and his clockwork time-keeping. He’s the nicest guy I know, but a tyrant about good jazz, and good art. My kind of guy.
When I played the restaurant circuit in San Francisco, it was difficult to convince management or the owner to get any crazier than “Take The A-Train.” Leo’s group expands this borders and breaks the mold of the tired old “Jazz band in a restaurant thing.”
So–no music in Seattle. Yeah, okay, if you really mean /Bellevue/. But, I better not hear any of that whining when great music exists for very little investment right in the heart of this utopian city.