4Culture invites the Northwest community to enjoy its raw talent

Written by: Emma Sergeant
Music, no charge, the most delicious offer in the world, especially when you are a financially struggling student working more than 40 hours a week and you want to attain some dignity or air of sophistication. Cal Anderson surprised many on a sunny evening last week with a free summer concert in the park. Early evening, crowds accumulated with picnics, paper-bagged beverages, summer dresses and straw hats to enjoy artists from the Northwest, supported by the Monktail Creative Music Concern, a celebration of music and community outside. The Blue Cranes from Portland stole the awes from a gob smacked audience, playing the best eclectic jazz Seattle’s heard since Benny Carter at Jazz Alley in Seattle. Although Seattle shines above most states for its strong sense of Jazz culture, the scene is wearing a little thin with bands playing limited repertoires of over-practiced Duke Ellington and Coltrane. The Blue Cranes were something different. Something extraordinary. Presented on a mounted stage at Cal Anderson Park, next to the baseball field on Capitol Hill. In an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelliger, an alto saxophonist, Alto Wally Shoup explained his thoughts that “people go out to hear jazz to participate in a bygone era, one where elegance and cool were expressions of freedom.” He goes on to hope that people will “go out to hear every form of music calling itself jazz. In doing so, they will remember what freedom still sounds like.” The Blue Cranes were a modern break of conformity, performing an emotive attack of music and passion, grasping the freedom of exiting a mind of negative thoughts and distractions, to enter a mind set of musical nirvana. The quintet composed of two saxophonists, a keyboardist, a bassist and a drummer were originally high school friends who reconnected and gathered more instrumentalists to collaborate on a jazz/rock project. The music of the Blue Cranes inevitably centers around the powerful alto saxophonist Reed Wallsmith. He grabs the listener instantly, through the immense size of his sound. His tone is big, expressive, and unique with his skilled use of vibrato. He takes risks as he performs, using a variety of tones and vocalized effects. Wallsmith, bassist Keith Brush, and drummer Ji Tanzer anticipate each other’s next move with well thought empathy as Brush and Tanzer articulate Wallsmith’s notes. Blue Cranes play original material, with some divine melodies and a variety of rhythmic approaches. Since forming in 2004, Blue Cranes have successfully built a diverse audience of people who are not normally drawn to jazz. For this performance on Capitol Hill, the group engaged the audience with a contemporary piece, a Sufjan Steven’s cover of “Seven Swans”, which was breathtaking in its execution. Starting with an opening upbeat walking tempo rhythm that became a moving wave of splashing sound, beating each sound to form another and building more power. The event was sponsored by 4Culture, which is King County’s cultural services agency, which was established in 2003. 4Culture originally started a Preservation Program to promote the value of historic resources in building a unique sense of place in the Pacific Northwest. The organization combines the resources of the public sector with the flexibility of a non-profit group. Through the collaboration of four program areas, 4Culture encourages cultural activity and enhances the assets that distinguish Northwest communities as “vibrant, unique, and authentic.” The Northwest is a blossoming community with a heart in the arts. With companies sponsoring events to support developing artists, inviting the community to watch their growth, Seattle is really the place to take advantage of letting go and expressing yourself with your talent. The next outdoor concert at Cal Anderson on Capitol Hill will be on August 23, starting at 1pm. Guests will include: Floss, Reptet, Ahamefule J. Oluo and the New Seattle Brass Ensemble featuring Okanomod