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Originally published Friday, January 4, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Jazz Etc.

"Pianorama": Nola inspired, but all Northwest

One of the liveliest, most-anticipated fringe benefits of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is "Piano Night," a midweek adjunct of the festival proper that showcases Crescent City ticklers.

Seattle Times jazz critic

One of the liveliest, most-anticipated fringe benefits of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is "Piano Night," a midweek adjunct of the festival proper that showcases Crescent City ticklers.

Taking their cue from New Orleans — and a serendipitous success last summer — three of the hottest Northwest blues and boogie-woogie pianists join forces next week for Seattle's first-ever "Pianorama." Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne, David Vest and D.K. Stewart perform solos, duos and trios backed by the crackerjack rhythm section of the Paul deLay Band. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Triple Door, 216 Union St., Seattle; $15-$20 (206-838-4333 or www.thetripledoor.net).

"It all started by accident at the Waterfront Blues Festival," explains Vest, the highly respected keyboard man with the deLay outfit, whose leader died last year. "I got double-booked. D.K. was going to play the next night so they said, 'Why not put them together?' The people went nuts."

Vest and Stewart recruited Wayne to make a threesome.

Each player brings a different spirit to the 88s. Vest, who lives on Vancouver Island and has a gospel roll to his style, grew up in Alabama "six blocks from Tuxedo Junction," the famous Birmingham jazz hub memorialized in the swing-era hit of the same name. Influenced by fellow 'Bamans Avery Parrish and boogie-woogie pioneer "Cow Cow" Davenport, Vest learned his craft in after-hours joints, then performed with Big Joe Turner, Floyd Dixon and Lavelle White.

Portlander Stewart recalls the New Orleans rumble of Professor Longhair and Fats Domino, and has worked with Robert Cray, Curtis Salgado and the Eugene Nighthawks — the band that inspired John Belushi's Blues Brothers.

Juno Award-winning Wayne, born in Spokane but now living in Vancouver, B.C., was once hailed by Living Blues magazine for "bringing the piano back to the front ranks of contemporary blues." Wayne has played with the great Jimmy Reed and Joe Louis Walker, and once backed up Charles Mingus.

With the deLay outfit chugging in the background — Peter Dammann (guitar), Dave Kahl (bass) and Jeff Minnick (drums) — this promises to be a rollicking night. Or, as the Prohibition-era ad for New Orleans pianist Jelly Roll Morton's 1920 Seattle performance said, "thousands of barrels of refreshing, exhilarating, intoxicating — music."

More jazz

Smartly swinging jazz vocalist Sara Gazarek, who came up at Seattle's Roosevelt High School and has two albums under her belt, returns next week with a new band featuring Zach Harmon (drums) and Sam Minaie (bass). Pianist/songwriter Josh Nelson is still with her.

Gazarek headlines at the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival in February and, while in Seattle, will coach the next generation of Roosevelt jazz vocal hopefuls for their performances at Hampton.

Gazarek mixes jazz standards with Nelson originals and well-chosen selections from the second Great American Songbook (Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, et. al.). She performs at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., Seattle; $21.50 (206-441-9729 or www.jazzalley.com).

And over at Tula's tonight, hard-working Seattle sax man Rich Cole celebrates the release of "Shade," his fine new disc on Origin (8:30 p.m. at Tula's, 2214 Second Ave., Seattle; $15; 206-443-4221 or www.tulas.com). Cole has a big, bluff tenor tone, commanding chops and an explosive energy that sometimes recalls Chris Potter. The band features "Shade" musicians Bill Anschell (piano), Chuck Deardorf (bass) and Gary Hobbs (bass), with "special guests" promised.

Paul de Barros: 206-464-3247 or pdebarros@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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