Seattle Times: Clarence Acox, a giant of Northwest jazz, leaves a lasting legacy at Garfield High School as he retires

August 2, 2019

Clarence Acox, the 71-year-old nationally acclaimed jazz band director, led Garfield High School's jazz bands to the pinnacle of high school jazz competitions and played a huge role in putting Seattle jazz education on the map.

Seattle Times: Ignacio Berroa, formerly Dizzy Gillespie’s go-to drummer, swings into Seattle

April 11, 2019

The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra (SRJO) plays three concerts this weekend with the incomparable Cuban drummer Ignacio Berroa, part of a banner season that has included a Golden Ear Award from the local organization Earshot Jazz and a gala that raised a record $90,000.

Seattle Times review: Anat Cohen brings reed genius to Seattle big band

February 23, 2015

"The Israeli clarinetist/saxophonist nailed one solo after another in a highlight-packed Sunday show in Kirkland." By Paul de Barros 

Seattle Times: Anat Cohen, Pharaoh Sanders, Christian McBride: a jazz convergence

February 19, 2015

"Three exceptionally strong jazz acts hit Seattle this week — clarinetist/saxophonist Anat Cohen, performing with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra (SRJO); veteran saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders, with an all-star band that includes drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, guitarist Stanley Jordan and bassist Charnett Moffett; and bassist Christian McBride’s trio.


Cohen, who hails originally from Israel, has in the last few years become, hands down, the ascendant clarinetist in jazz.


Not just her beautiful, soulful sound but her architectural sense of a solo and exuberant sense of rhythm make her one of the most absorbing players — on any instrument — in the music today.


“She’s just at the top of the heap these days,” agrees SRJO co-director Michael Brockman. “She’s such a fiery, spirited player. She’s clearly a composer on the clarinet.”

Artfully Edmonds review: Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra lights up ECA — will they be back?

January 24, 2015

At ECA last night the renowned orchestra had a shot at capturing the hearts of Edmonds jazz lovers with its performance of “Quincy Jones and Ray Charles on Jackson Street.”

Seattle Times, Misha Berson

October 31, 2013

Seattle Shakespeare Company’s new production of “Much Ado About Nothing” ... tang[s] it up with comic antics and original cocktail jazz excellently supplied by the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra (SRJO)....the cool sounds supplied by composer Michael Brockman and the SRJO happily kick off a continuing collaboration with Seattle Shakes. The deliriously joyful music and dance number at the end of this production leave you wanting more where that came from. 

Seattle Times, Paul DeBarros, August 31, 2012

"This ebullient all-star big band covers the jazz waterfront, from Jelly Roll Morton to Thelonious Monk."

The Stranger, August 29, 2012

"I can honestly say that I would think less of Seattle if it did not have a real-deal jazz orchestra. Any old city can have a symphony or opera. What's more impressive, and what you can't argue with, is a city that has the resources to support a company that performs jazz with a big and classical sound. The tradition consolidated by the great American Duke Ellington is preserved by the institution called Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra." 

Seattle Weekly, August 29, 2012

"Some of the best music ever made...The jazz of the 1930s and '40s was perhaps the finest American musical accomplishment, and might actually be the highest form of ensemble music in human history. Big band music cannot be properly experienced on record." 

Trumpeter cooly carries Miles reprisal, Seattle Times, March 20, 2000

by Paul de Barros, Seattle Times Jazz Critic

Is there any value to reprising great works of the jazz repertory, when recordings by the masters are so easily available?


It's a nagging question that won't go away. But Saturday night at Benaroya Hall, in a triumphant rendering of the music of Miles Davis' "Birth of the Cool" period, the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra answered it with a resounding - but, of course, cool - "yes."


The 5-year-old ensemble also suggested, through its strengths and weaknesses, some factors that contribute to repertory success.

Putting aside for a moment all issues of blend, attack, feeling or tempos, this night, quite simply, belonged to trumpeter Jay Thomas. From his opening solo on Gerry Mulligan's "Rocker," on which he gave the last chorus just the right ride, to his smooth, golden-toned, Miles-quoting solo on Dave Brubeck's "The Duke," Thomas played with a breathtaking combination of lightness and logic, restraint and momentum that virtually defined "cool jazz."

Baritone saxophonist Bill Ramsay and tenor saxophonist Dan Greenblatt helped bring home the point that invigorating, original soloists - and not slavishly imitative ones - are what make jazz repertory worth the effort.


That said, the ensemble as a whole was immaculately prepared. Miles' "cool" music, arranged in collaboration with the great Gil Evans for nine-piece chamber group, requires great delicacy and precision, without which it sounds incomplete, or downright peculiar.


On "Rocker," "Jeru," and "Venus de Milo" the orchestra captured this balance in spades, playing with an elan that made the music its own, and not a wooden recital.


"Moon Dreams," Evans' lush tone poem (and blueprint for the muted-brass, film-music style of Henry Mancini and Quincy Jones), was particularly impressive.


Ramsay and tuba player Dan Marcus rendered the unusual baritone sax and tuba lead on "Godchild" with aplomb, though the ensemble balance was a trifle rugged. Ditto for "Boplicity," where the tempo dragged, and some stiffness crept in.


Seattle's jazz granddaddy, trumpeter Floyd Standifer, who came up in the cool/hard bop era, didn't have a great night, though his chuffing tone and sweet turns of phrase on the beautiful "My Ship" were effective.

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