Artfully Edmonds review: Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra lights up ECA — will they be back?

Seattle Jazz Repertory Orchestra, courtesy of the group's Facebook page.
Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, courtesy of the group’s Facebook page.

The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra (SRJO), which has established concert-season schedules at both Seattle’s Benaroya Hall and the Kirkland Performance Hall, has recently been eyeing Edmonds Center for the Arts (ECA) as a possible venue for expanding its audience base.

At ECA last night the renowned orchestra had a shot at capturing the hearts of Edmonds jazz lovers with its performance of “Quincy Jones and Ray Charles on Jackson Street”. Thanks to some quick stepping Artfully Edmonds was able to enjoy a sweeping view of the activity from Row N stage left.

The auditorium was already bursting at the seams as audience members continued to stream in just fifteen short minutes short of the downbeat. Artfully Edmonds counted, maybe, 23 empty seats in the 700-capacity space.

The staging set the mood with five black-and-white SRJO insignia music stands stretched diagonally across a stage which was bathed in moody indigo blue, with a fuchsia/blue Pollock-influenced back scrim. A nightclub atmosphere had been created, albeit a very large night club! The nattily tuxedoed musicians swaying to the notes as gleaming brass instruments caught the stage lights was a sight to behold.

The cacophony caused by neighbors and jazz enthusiasts calling back and forth to each other shifted and heightened as Michael Brockman took the stage and the orchestra members filed in to take their places. The crowd cheered and pointed out “their” celebrity-jazz favorites: Dan Marcus. Bill Ramsay. Travis Ranney. Phil Sparks. And so it went – until finally Clarence Acox took his spot behind the drum set and the crowd literally went wild.

With the evening’s 17-member band in place, Brockman began the set by counting off for Benny Carter’s “Vine Street Rumble” and the place was jiving! A little remix of the printed program brought “Stockholm Sweetnin’” by Quincy Jones up next and the number of musicians being featured for solos increased exponentially. The alumni of SRJO include such greats Travis Ranney (tenor sax) who was featured in “Happy Faces” (Sonny Stitt/ arr. Quincy Jones).

Up until that point the Hammond B-3 organ had sat idle, leaving the ivory tickling to Randy Halberstadt. That all changed when Delvon Lamarr strolled onto stage and the two musicians acknowledged each other to appreciative applause.

For tenor saxophonist and former Meadowdale High School student Steve Treseler, last night’s performance was a homecoming. His first solo was an attention-getting series of sustained trills and mellow long tones.

Thomas Marriott, on trumpet, performed “The Midnight Sun Never Sets” and nostalgia set in as the audience was reminded that Quincy Jones’ completed the arrangement during his residency in Sweden. Marriott’s notes were as crystal clear as bright sun shining through an icicle.

Clarence Acox, drummer, co-artistic director of SRJO and director of Garfield High School’s award-winning jazz ensemble, kept the orchestra tight, on tempo and in the groove. Truly, to watch the man is mesmerizing!

Vocalist Reggie Goings, a former Shoreline Community College School music student, strutted onto stage in his pork pie hat five tunes into the second part of the program. An earlier call-to-perform had gone awry (much to the good-natured bemusement of the audience and band members). Goings wowed everyone with his impeccably authentic rendition of “Them That Got”, arranged by Bob Hammer.

After Goings had warmed his pipes, Jay Thomas joined in on trumpet. Like many of the SRJO orchestra members Thomas mentors and teaches aspiring jazz students and is an assistant in the Garfield High School jazz program.

Many music students were in the audience following the SRJO clinic for high school students earlier in the day.

The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra “almost” closed with “Nasty Magnus” arranged by Quincy. Artfully Edmonds says “almost” because – after a prolonged standing ovation – Brockman made the proclamation, “You people in Edmonds are psychos! Okay, we’ll stay for one more!”

Okay, we’re psychos; but we dutifully took our seats for an encore as the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra instrumentally crooned, “I Can’t Stop Loving You”.

And SRJO, Edmonds can’t stop loving YOU. Come back in May! As you promised.

— By Emily Hill

One Reply to “Artfully Edmonds review: Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra lights up ECA — will they be back?”

  1. We are so fortunate to have a venue like our own ECA that will welcome SRJO in Edmonds as part of their jazz concert series. We look forward to next year. Thank you for an evening of great music at its
    best. Glen & Diane Rice


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