Seattle’s thriving and dynamic jazz scene, galvanized by award-winning high school jazz ensembles and increasingly developing its own signature sound, caught the attention of the New York Times yesterday.
On the front page of Sunday’s “Arts and Leisure” section, Nate Chinen writes:
“Seattle, a city synonymous with alternative rock, has long sustained a provincial jazz culture, without much fuss or a signature sound […] To outside jazz partisans the city is known as an incubator for high school talent that usually flies the coop, heading East for conservatory training and professional careers. But the landscape has been shifting…a growing number of young musicians have been focused on building an autonomous scene, something distinctive and homegrown.”
Many of the artists and performers mentioned in Chinen’s article have been supported and/or honored by the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs. Clarence Acox, longtime director of jazz bands at Garfield High School, was a Mayor’s Arts Award recipient in 2007. Jazz pianist Deems Tsutakawa was honored with a Mayor’s Arts Award in 2005. And this Friday, Cornish College of the Arts President Sergei Tschernisch will also be honored with a 2010 Mayor’s Arts Award.
What’s the secret behind all of this talent and activity? Equitable, accessible arts education that treats music as a true academic discipline. A dynamic and robust culture of music. And, finally, an investment in the arts and cultural sector that recognizes its role in supporting Seattle’s economic vitality as well as its quality of life.
Add it all up, and what do you get? In the words of John Gilbreath, executive director of annual Seattle jazz festival Earshot Jazz: an “independent-jazz ecology [where] all the factions are in harmony.”