Seattle Office of Film + Music



The Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute (LHPAI) has announced the first Seattle’s Harlem Renaissance Award winner, Oscale Grace Holden (b. 1930), an international pianist and voice of jazz and African American music who was born and raised in central Seattle. The award will be presented at the LHPAI Gala Meet Me at the Savoy on Saturday, June 29 by Jacqueline D. Moscou, artistic director, LHPAI. Proceeds from the Gala will support the LHPAI Youth Performing Arts Academy and Summer Musical; tickets are available now at brownpapertickets.

“Ms Holden is a legend. She exemplifies the deep community and artistic roots that are at the heart of what we do,” said LHPAI executive director Royal Alley-Barnes. “We are so proud to count her in our community and pleased to be able to offer this recognition of her long contributions to the Seattle Diaspora community.”

Holden was born to Leala and Oscar Holden in 1930. Oscar Holden (1886-1969) was known as the patriarch of Seattle jazz, and the Holden children, Grace, and her brothers Oscar Jr., Dave, Ron, and Jimmy were all musicians who played in Seattle in the late 1940s and beyond. By 1930, when Grace was born, Oscar Holden was a seasoned, highly successful musician. Born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1886, Holden moved as far away from the South as possible, distancing himself from his past, and the prejudices he felt growing up there.

Grace was influenced by the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Lena Horne and Dinah Washington. She played jazz with young Quincy Jones in Charlie Taylor’s pioneering swing band in the 1940s with her brother Oscar Jr.  Performances at Jazz Alley, Club New Orleans, Root’s Picnic, Festival Sundiata, Experience Music Project and Admiral Congregational United Church of Christ have put Grace on the national and international Jazz map. Grace Holden still sings in her church’s gospel choir.

Grace Holden’s family maxim to “never stop learning and never stop trying to learn,” fits particularly well with the mission of  LHPAI and LHPAI’s youth and young adult performing artist programs.

The above account of Holden’s life is excerpted from; more on Grace Holden here.




Valley Vibes Jazz
Starting July 8, you can catch free jazz concerts at the Rainier Cultural Center as a part of the Valley Vibes Jazz Series taking place in Columbia City through November. After the performance, stick around for a post-concert reception and artist conversation that addresses topics like jazz and ethnicity, jazz and gender, jazz education, and the jazz tradition. The event is put on by SEEDArts, an organization that works to maintain the diversity of arts and cultural options in Columbia City. Wayne Horvitz’s Sweeter Than the Day gets things started next week, along with the Jazz Night School Ensemble. Valley Vibes is made possible in part by funding from Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods.

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Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra blog
Student participants in the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra (SRJO) Jazz Scholars Program will cap off a school year full of musical exploration with a joint performance featuring Denny International Middle School and Sealth High School students. The concert will take place Friday, May 27 at 7 PM in the auditorium at Sealth High School. The SRJO scholars (who come from a low-income background) were selected by Denny International Middle School band director Marcus Pimpleton to receive jazz technique and instrumental music lessons. Six professional music instructors, all of whom perform extensively in the Seattle area, work with the students individually and in groups to develop “best practices” for music training. TheSRJO Jazz Scholars Program is supported by grants from The Clowes Fund and the City of Seattle Office of Cultural Affairs Youth Arts Program. Click the link above for more information about SRJO and the Jazz Scholars Program.

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April 19, 2011, 3:03 pm
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Gail Pettis Jazz for Japan Concert
Since the advent of the tragedy, Seattle musicians have rallied to aid those affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Local efforts to alleviate the suffering in Japan persist with Seattle-based jazz vocalist Gail Pettis, who will be playing at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley for two “Jazz for Japan” shows, April 19-20, 7:30 p.m. All donated covers collected will go to the Japanese Red Cross Society. Pettis has previous musical ties to Japan. In 2006 she performed as a guest artist in Kobe, a Seattle sister city, as part of a tour for an artist-in-residence program at the Amersfoort Jazz Festival in the Netherlands. Seattle jazz fans awarded Pettis last year with the Earshot Jazz Golden Ear Award for Northwest Vocalist of the Year.

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February 7, 2011, 1:04 pm
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NPR Music
For three weeks in January, local radio station KPLU, its all-jazz webstreaming site and NPR Music asked listeners for help in developing a list of the 100 quintessential jazz songs of all time–and today, this “Jazz 100” will be revealed. Starting February 7, listeners will be able to view the list in its entirety and can even stream the whole jazzy repertoire at KPLU, Jazz24 and NPR’s web portals. Over 2,800 people submitted song titles for consideration in “The Jazz 100,” yielding 1,500 unique tunes that the KPLU/Jazz24 staff painstakingly narrowed down to create a public voting ballot. After more than 11,000 cast their votes, the final list was decided. “This is the biggest online response we’ve ever seen from listeners and visitors,” says Joey Cohn, KPLU Director of Content. “This really struck a chord (no pun intended) with people [and] I think what we now have is the most definitive list of the greatest jazz songs of all-time.” For more information, follow the above link and be sure to check out “The Jazz 100” when it goes live today!

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November 22, 2010, 1:38 pm
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Everyone knows that Roosevelt and Garfield High Schools have some of the best high school jazz bands in the country. But what about the young Seattle musicians who don’t live in those neighborhoods? Enter the newly established Seattle Jazz Ed, under the direction of Clarence Acox, Laurie de Koch and Robert Knatt. The group, which meets once a week at Cornish College, pulls children from all over the city to form three jazz bands: beginning, intermediate and advanced. Though tuition is $750, scholarships are available for families in need. You can catch the Seattle Jazz Ed bands performing on December 9 at the Northwest African American Museum. For more information about the group, click the link above.

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July 16, 2010, 11:41 am
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Seattle Times
What’s a better way to enjoy a nice afternoon at the park? A little free jazz is the perfect touch to a warm summer evening. Monktail Creative Concern presents Sounds Outside, a free festival of modern jazz in Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill. The bills typically focus on the more adventurous, less traditional end of the jazz spectrum — playful, experimental, more appropriate for noisy rock clubs than formal jazz venues. Sounds Outside is happening twice this summer. This Saturday, July 17, the festival will feature such predominantly local acts as Non Grata, Seattle Jazz Composer’s Ensemble, Zubatto Syndicate, Wayne Horvitz/Sonny Clark Memorial Sextet and Father Figures. Check back again on August 14 for a whole new line-up of jazz sounds and styles. For more information about the event, click the link.

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It’s well known news in Seattle that both Garfield and Roosevelt have incredibly talented jazz bands and directors. Both bands have won the Essentially Ellington High school Jazz Band Competition four times, a tie for most wins in the competition’s 15 year history. The competition is the most illustrious and high profile high school jazz band competition in the country, with 15 bands from around the nation descending on New York City to play the music of Duke Ellington for a panel of judges. There is naturally a friendly rivalry between the two schools, who often toggle back and forth between holding first place. Roosevelt director Scott Brown says: “People back in New York and people around d the country are always asking, ‘What’s in the water out in Seattle?’” He laughs. “It’s not really in the water. We think it’s the coffee.” This article profile both of the school’s programs and directors and discusses their preparation for this year’s competition. To read the full article, follow the link.

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March 1, 2010, 2:41 pm
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The Seattle Times
In a narrow passage between a decorated brick wall and the stage at the New Orleans restaurant in Pioneer Square, is where the early education of trumpeter Thomas Marriott took place 20 years ago. In 2004, Marriott decided to leave New York move back home despite the danger that he might “mold in obscurity.” “I had kind of reached a plateau in terms of the calls I was getting,” he said, “and I didn’t think it was going to drastically change anytime soon.” More than five years later, Marriott earns a living doing nothing but playing the trumpet, something he could not claim when he was in New York. And starting the first Friday in March, Marriott’s career will come full circle as he begins weekly performances the New Orleans. To read the full article, follow the above link.

January 21, 2010, 3:40 pm
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Is That Jazz?
The Seattle Composers’ Salon will kick off the second annual Is That Jazz?, Seattle’s avant-jazz music festival, this weekend. The festival runs January 22-23 and 29-30 with all events at Chapel Performance Space. The festival is dedicated to daring and exploratory artists who are redrawing the boundaries of jazz and infusing the genre with new forms, new sounds, and a renewed sense of immediacy. Seattle trumpeter and bandleader Cuong Vu will headline the festival. Other performers include Sunship, Sun Ra Tribute Band, Bill Smith Trio, Evan Flory-Barnes’ Threat of Beauty, Bad Luck, Jesse Canterbury’s Vertigo and Tom Baker Quartet. Click the above link for more information on the festival.