A Sense of Jazz Community in Ballard, WA
Perhaps the most memorable expression of community spirit occurred as Brian Blade was wrapping-up the question-and-answer portion of his afternoon drum clinic for the benefit of few hundred curious onlookers. On the subject of influential drummers, Blade declared his admiration for Elvin Jones’s elliptical, shifting-circle, forward-moving time-feel. On tuning, he likes his drums tuned low and undampened, so that they ring. On composition, instead of focusing on theory, he tries to let the music tell a story. New Orleans music he described as “subterranean,” explaining: “There’s so much weight in the groups.”
Moments later, acknowledging Blade’s request, Seattle-resident and internationally-known guitar guru Bill Frisell joined his friend on stage for an impromptu rendition of “All Blues.” The resulting feast for the ears featured two of the most admired jazz musicians on the planet. Yet, since Brian was our teacher, and Bill a student like the rest of us that afternoon, the mood of the audience and these two great musicians was low-key and neighborly, rather than star-struck. A friendly little jam session was all.
Visit the Ballard Jazz Festival on the web at www.ballardjazzfestival.com .