“It surprises me every other block in Seattle doesn’t have a jazz club, with all the talent here,” says David Louis-Pierre, organizer of the first annual Seattle Inside Out Jazz Awards Show on Monday at Benaroya Hall. The awards, featuring everyone from Clarence Acox—artistic director of the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, acclaimed drummer, and conductor of the renowned Garfield High School Jazz Ensemble—to rising acts like The Teaching and vocalist Greta Matassa, will be the culmination of Pierre-Louis’ dream to present Seattle’s burgeoning and eclectic jazz talent to the widest possible audience.
When Pierre-Louis moved here from Florida in 2004, he knew little of the music that is now his milieu. “But I used to go listen to jazz each Sunday night at the Faire Gallery on Capitol Hill,” he says, “and I was floored by what’s going on in our own backyard.”
The depth of his appreciation prompted him to open his own jazz club, Lucid Lounge, on University Avenue a year and a half ago.
To rectify what Pierre-Louis sees as a dearth of attention paid to Seattle jazz musicians, he and select partners concocted the idea for the Inside Out Jazz Awards Show, to be bestowed by the community’s fans. In less than two weeks, they had established online categories, nominations, and voting procedures at lucidseattle.com, and had booked Benaroya Hall for the event. Then the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti struck. Pierre-Louis’ mother lives in a particularly devastated region, so 100 percent of the show’s proceeds will go to the nonprofit he has established, Strength Through Unity, which will partner with other agencies to bring clean water and safe structures to those on his mother’s block.
Acox, for one, is delighted to share the stage with acts such as pianist/composer Randy Halberstadt and singer/songwriter Katrina Kope. “I’m from New Orleans, the first jazz center of the world,” he says. “Inside Out are young people who are starting from the ground up and doing it right.”
As Inside Out co-producer Farah Ebrahim exclaims, “All sorts of hybrids could result! It’s going to empower younger musicians to think, ‘Wow! I could be on that stage with someone like Clarence Acox!'”