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Acoustic Jazztet keeps it cool on self-titled album

Trio celebrates gorgeous new release with a show at the FireHouse

The Acoustic Jazztet are performing songs from their recent release alongside Chris Symer and Jennifer Mellish on March 28 at the FireHouse Arts and Events Center. (Photo courtesy of Acoustic Jazztet)
By Jesse Stanton CDN Contributor

The Acoustic Jazztet features three of the top players in our local jazz scene: saxophonist Brett Jensen, guitarist Jamie Findlay and drummer Steve Tate.

After playing together for the last three years, they released their self-titled debut album for streaming last month and are celebrating with a show at the FireHouse Arts and Events Center on Thursday, March 28. If you enjoy classy, relaxed jazz with a gentle swing to it, this is a group you’ll to want to check out. 

The new album is a beautiful piece of work. The six songs are mostly jazz standards, except for Findlay’s composition “World Peace Blues,” and they sit firmly in the “cool jazz” tradition. Two of the tunes are by Antonio Carlos Jobim, so you get a nice touch of bossa nova in there too. The album was recorded by Mark Ashworth at his studio, and he’ll also be on hand at the concert to record everything in HD video. 

All three members are clearly virtuosos, but they never show off. Rather, they work together to create an atmosphere of quiet but intense melodic exploration. You could listen to it as background music — but it also rewards close attention. I especially enjoy how, in the absence of bass or piano, Jensen’s sax will act as an accompaniment sometimes when Findlay is taking a solo. 

All three members have had long and distinguished careers in the jazz scene. Findlay was based in Los Angeles for many years and put out several albums on the Naxos and Origin record labels. Jensen studied with Lee Konitz, and has had several successful recordings with nationwide distribution. We’re pretty lucky to have musicians of this caliber living around here. 

If all that wasn’t enough, the show at the FireHouse also features two special guests. Bassist Chris Symer and singer Jennifer Mellish have both collaborated with the members of the Jazztet in the past, and will be joining for several songs at the concert. The new album isn’t out on CD yet, but you could pick up a copy of Jensen and Findlay’s duo album “Blues In the Basement” if you want some physical media to take home. 

This group’s local shows are few and far between, so you have to take advantage of them when they happen. This show is a fantastic opportunity to hear some absolute masters of their craft in a beautiful sounding room. If you enjoy this style of jazz, don’t miss out!


Here’s an exciting bit of news: The downtown busking program will return this summer! Thanks to a grant from BECU, this program sponsors a diverse array of street performers on the first Friday of every month from May to October. Organizer Pace Rubadeau lines up a great assortment of musicians across all sorts of genres to liven up the corners of downtown. There are also so many venues these days that go out of their way to have performers on those nights, you really can have a Music Walk to go with your Art Walk. 

The Northwest Washington Fair is starting to announce its headliners. So far they’ve got country from Walker Hayes on Saturday, Aug. 10, banda with Banda Los Recoditos on Sunday, Aug. 11, and the most recent announcement, hip hop star and actor Ludacris on Aug. 17. Based on past lineups, I’d expect there’s some classic rock and some Christian rock or gospel still to come. 


Lindsay Lou
8 p.m., Wednesday, March 27, Wild Buffalo, 208 W. Holly St.

Lindsay Lou is a Nashville based singer-songwriter with a powerful voice and a distinctive take on her stew of Americana influences. The show also has a great opening act: San Juan Island’s Sway Wild are led by Mandy Fer and Dave McGraw. They also have a solid following in this area with their catchy indie-folk.   

Life in Vacuum
9 p.m. Thursday, March 28, The Shakedown, 1212 N. State St.

Toronto’s Life in Vacuum make melodic post-hardcore that ought to be a hit with fans of groups like McCluskey or These Arms Are Snakes, and they’re on a big North American tour. They can get angular and dissonant, but there are some good melodies in there too.

The Penny Stinkers
7 p.m. Friday, March 29, Amendment 21, 1224 Cornwall Ave.

The Penny Stinkers play so often that I don’t often have a chance to single out one of their shows. Recently they’ve been playing occasionally at Amendment 21 (the beautiful cocktail bar inside the Hotel Leo) and by all accounts it’s quite the party. They’re back there on March 29, so check that out if you’re looking for danceable classic hits.They’re also performing as an acoustic duo the next night at Skylark’s.


Friday, March 22

  • Aslan Depot: 7 p.m., Cardova
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • The Blue Room: 8 p.m., Sour Fuzz, Smooth Kiwi, Tim Mechling, Nurhachi (rock)
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m, Levi Ware, Joe Day
  • Corner Taphouse: 7 p.m., Song Wranglers
  • Eagle Haven: 7 p.m., CC Adams Band (blues)
  • El Capitan’s: 8 p.m., JP Falcon Grady 
  • Fireside: 7 p.m., Carr Parker
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Cabin Fever NW
  • Hotel Bellwether: 6 p.m., Marvin Johnson
  • Karate Church: 8 p.m., The Hobby, Dry Ice, Schmutz (rock)
  • Littlefield Celtic Center: 7 p.m., Imar (Celtic)
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Beautiful Freaks, Forever Chemicals, Fog Bodies  (rock)
  • Main Street Bar & Grill: 8 p.m., The Problem (jazz/pop)
  • Mount Baker Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Kim Richey
  • The Shakedown: 8:30 p.m., Tribute Night featuring tributes to Blondie, Green Day, and Paramore
  • Skagit Casino: 8 p.m., Sixtiesmania  (60s tribute)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Octavia McAloon
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Simon Llewelyn Evans (singer-songwriter)
  • Tokyo Monster: 5:30 p.m., Cheryl Hodge (jazz/blues)
  • The Vault: 7 p.m., Free Harmony
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Fleetmac Wood (electronic remixes of Fleetwood Mac)

Saturday, March 23

  • Birdsview Brewing: 6 p.m., Keith Howard
  • The Blue Room: 6 and 8:30 p.m., BJ Block Trio and rioT Trio present Between Two Worlds  (jazz/chamber music collaboration)
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Doug Lynn Band (blues)
  • FireHouse Arts and Events Center: 4 p.m., Reid Jameison and CVM
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Dream Goats, Spoon River(folk)
  • Hotel Bellwether: 6 p.m., David Feingold
  • Jansen Art Center: 7:30 p.m., Jason Stoll (classical piano)
  • Main Street Bar & Grill: 8 p.m., Shannanigans (classic rock)
  • Menace:  5 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Mount Baker Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Petty or Not
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., Spin Factory, Only Tree, Hooksie (indie rock/pop)
  • Ritual Records: 6 p.m., The Phone Books, Drayton (rock)
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., Joel Astley Band (blues)
  • The Shakedown: 9 p.m., Late Lunch, Bennycamps and the Bastards, Verboten (rock)
  • Skagit Casino: 8 p.m., Sixtiesmania
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Chuck and Carr
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Jeffrey Slough (acoustic covers)
  • Tokyo Monster: 5:30 p.m., Cheryl Hodge (jazz/blues) 
  • Underground: 8:30 p.m., Antishock, Dancifer
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Warp Detour (punk covers)

Sunday, March 24

  • The Admiralty Lounge: 8 p.m., The Moving Hats
  • The Blue Room: 8 p.m., Ann Annie, Kazmyn, Cumulus (sinnger-songwriters)
  • Kulshan: 5 p.m., Katie & Kevin (bluegrass/folk)
  • Littlefield Celtic Center: 3 p.m., Hanneke Cassel Band (traditional Scottish)
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., The Davanos
  • Ramble Tamble: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Tokyo Monster: 4 p.m., Singers’ Sunday
  • Wild Buffalo: 7 p.m., The Reverend Horton Heat (rockabilly)

Tuesday, March 26

  • Aslan Depot: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Beach Cat Brewing: 6 p.m., Michael Dayvid (acoustic covers)
  • Menace: 7 p.m.,  Invitational Blues Jam
  • Ono Kitchen: 7 p.m., Open Mic ft. Dandelion
  • Skagit River Brewery: 6 p.m., Lisa Temcov (classic country)
  • Tokyo Monster: 5:30 p.m., Marvin Johnson
  • Underground Coffehouse: 7 p.m., Open Mic

Wednesday, March 27

  • The Blue Room: 7 p.m., Message Received (jazz) 
  • FireHouse Arts and Events Center: 6:30 p.m., Thomas Marriott Quartet (jazz)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • New Prospect Theater: 5:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Fidalgo Swing
  • The Shakedown: 8 p.m., Schizophonics, guests (garage rock)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m. The Blokes Trio
  • Tokyo Monster: 5:30 p.m., Marvin Johnson
  • Wild Buffalo: 8 p.m., Lindsay Lou

Thursday, March 28

  • The Admiralty Lounge: 7 p.m., Sam Chue (singer-songwriter)
  • The Blue Room: 8 p.m., Sean Hall, Jacob Seyer (instrumental acoustic guitar wizardry)
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Farmstrong : 6 p.m., Tom Buenger
  • FireHouse Arts and Events Center: 6:30 p.m., Acoustic Jazztet and Friends (jazz)
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., The Problem (jazz)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Bluegrass Jam
  • The Shakedown: 9 p.m., Life In Vacuum, Deep Recess, guests
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • That’s What I Like: 6 p.m, JP Falcon and Friends (folk/rock)
  • Tokyo Monster: 5:30 p.m., Diane Leigh
  • Wild Buffalo: 7:30 p.m., Hot Damn Scandal, guests
  • Zeeks Pizza: 7 p.m., Fritz and the Freeloaders

Friday, March 29

  • Amendment 21: 7 p.m., The Penny Stinkers
  • Aslan Depot: 7 p.m., Tea Seas Trio
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • The Blue Room: 9 p.m., Repeating Gossip, Mad King, The Floral Shirts, Cowboy Guts, Malaise
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Russell Bartlett and Guests
  • Corner Taphouse: 7 p.m., Shady Groove
  • Fireside Martini and Wine Bar: 7 p.m., Anissa
  • Greene’s: 6 p.m., Delta Promenade (acoustic blues)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Cross Pollination ft. Pete Ruble and Ivan Sandomire
  • Hotel Bellwether: 6 p.m., Marvin Johnson
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Gallowmaker, Eves Black Heart, Ghostfetish, Pyrocene
  • Main Street Bar & Grill: 8 p.m., Only Tree, guests
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., Sun King, Greg Kramer (avant garde jazz jams)
  • The Shakedown: The High Seagrass, Never Come Down (bluegrass/Americana)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., The D’vas
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Charlie Partin
  • Tokyo Monster: 5:30 p.m., Cheryl Hodge (jazz/blues)
  • The Vault: 7 p.m., Song Wranglers

Saturday, March 30

  • The Blue Room: 7 p.m., Pacific Twang (country)
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Stacy Jones Band
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Pretty Little Feet
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Tarantula Hawk, Louis Ledford & Norah Mclaughlin, Sunny
  • Hotel Bellwether: 6 p.m., Adrian Clarke
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Slowfall, Discolored, Jennifer What. 
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., The Pits, Matney Cook, Taylor Merlina (folk/pop)
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., Ebb, Slack & Flood
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Two Penny
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Cardova
  • Tokyo Monster: 5:30 p.m., Cheryl Hodge (jazz/blues) 
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Nite Wave (covering Prince’s Purple Rain album in its entirety)

Sunday, March 31

  • FireHouse Arts and Events Center: 4 p.m., Brian Cunningham Trio (jazz)
  • Kulshan: 5 p.m. Cascade Cody (country/folk)
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., Ron Bailey & The Tangents
  • Ramble Tamble: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Tokyo Monster: 4 p.m., Singers’ Sunday

Jesse Stanton's music column, The Beat Goes On, and his compilation list of live music events in Whatcom County appear weekly. Reach him at; @JSBhamMusic. Check with individual venues to make sure events are still taking place as scheduled.

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