3 Reasons to Check Out the Recently Launched Seattle Label Table & Chairs

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Daniel Sheehan
Don't let the stiff formal portrait fool you--these are some craaaazy-ass kids.
With all the music this city has to offer, a large

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3 Reasons to Check Out the Recently Launched Seattle Label Table & Chairs

  • 3 Reasons to Check Out the Recently Launched Seattle Label Table & Chairs

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    Daniel Sheehan
    Don't let the stiff formal portrait fool you--these are some craaaazy-ass kids.
    With all the music this city has to offer, a large percentage of it gets lost in the shuffle before it ever goes public. Whether it's creative conflicts or a lack of focus, so many bands are over before they even get started. But a new breed of young jazz pioneers are looking to make modern jazz a more palatable, sustainable experience with Table & Chairs, a musician-founded label formed out of a tight collective of University of Washington music students. The group has a good handful of bands inked already--every genre from nu-jazz to schizo-pop--and they officially launched the label this past weekend. Here are three good reasons why you should check out the roster.

    1. The folks behind Table & Chairs are the same hosts of the popular Racer Sessions, a weekly improvisational concert series that runs every Sunday at Cafe Racer in the University District. The series is curated by a rotating list of Table & Chairs mainstays, including trumpeter, UW professor, and acting guru to the group, Cuong Vu (who's played with everyone from David Bowie and Cibo Matto to Pat Metheny, and currently sits on the Board of Directors at Earshot Jazz), and Kristian Garrard and Luke Bergman (of hush-pop group Thousands). The sessions have been so successful and well-promoted the New York Times piped in about the scene last year.

    2. With bands like free-jazz duo Bad Luck and "dance prog" group Operation ID, Table & Chairs is providing a real alternative to the two dominant genres of modern music in Seattle right now--our love-it-or-hate-on-it hip-hop scene and the thriving indie-folk revival. These multidisciplinary young artists are jump-starting a music culture that has more to do with John Coltrane and Seattle's jazz legacy than our grunge-rock heritage. They're playing venues big and small, from the Healthy Times Fun Club to the Tractor, and doing their damnedest to inject what the label calls "the bleeding edges of avant-garde and experimental improvisation" into Seattle's daily live music experience.

    3. So many of us are weary--for good reason--of "experimental" music labels, but our reluctance to step into such unfamiliar territory doesn't make these groups any less deserving, talented, or downright interesting. Case in point: Heatwarmer. They're like the gateway drug to the label. Their experimental-pop sensibilities balance out the bizarre with good old-fashioned hooks--as multilayered and fanciful as they are. It's like Sufjan Stevens rendezvousing with Bela Fleck in some psychedelic, nu-jazz airspace.

    (For more on Tables & Chairs, check out this month's copy of "Earshot Jazz" (Warning: PDF), featuring the cover photo that photographer Daniel Sheehan was kind enough to let us borrow.)

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