I’m excited to be an artist in residence at the Seattle Public Library for Songs of Unsung Seattle. During this residency, the Steve Griggs Ensemble will present two programs over ten Sundays, performed at various branches. The first concert is 2 p.m. Sunday, August 3, at the Central Library. (Full schedule of free concerts here.)
As a Seattle artist, I want to hold a mirror up to our history, especially minority communities, to increase understanding and engagement within our city. Seattle is the 5th whitest city in America according to the 2010 census, so non-majority history tends to get hidden. The stories I select and share act as a springboard for musical composition and improvisation. I look forward to hearing more stories from audience members.
The theme for this residency is Songs of Unsung Seattle. I created one program under this theme called Panama Hotel Jazz that explores the Seattle Japanese American experience in WWII. I am astounded by the unjust imprisonment of American citizens in concentration camps. The program was funded by a 4Culture Historic Site Specific grant in 2013 and won an Adventurous Programming Award from Chamber Music America and the American Society of Composers, Arrangers, and Publishers.
The second program called Cup of Joe Brazil explores the jazz saxophonist’s work in the community and encounters with racism. Given Brazil’s generosity to Seattle music education and intimate relationship with modern jazz, I am curious why Brazil’s story is not widely known. The program will premier and evolve during the residency.
The music composed for these programs sprang from words and ideas related to the theme of the residency. Several books and recordings in the library’s collection served as foundations for inspiration. See lists for Seattle Picks: Panama Hotel Jazz and Seattle Picks: Cup of Joe Brazil.
I will perform on saxophone and I have assembled a group of outstanding Seattle musicians to interpret and improvise with me – trumpeter Jay Thomas, vibraphonist Susan Pascal, guitarist/drummer Milo Petersen, and bassist Phil Sparks.
The Residency by the Steve Griggs Ensemble organized in partnership with the Seattle Public Library has been made possible with support from Chamber Music American through its Residency Endowment Fund.
Come be part of the story!