Karin Kajita, piano; Tony Grasso, trumpet; Brian Kent, tenor sax; Clipper Anderson, bass; Ray Davis, drums
Karin Kajita formed her quintet in 2000. She had been transcribing and/or arranging her favorite hard bop tunes for years, as well as writing her own tunes. Her idea was to have a quintet in the style of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, with a two horn front line. Karin picked her players from Seattle's jazz elite, and wound up with a band that could play anything she put in front of them and that played with fire and passion for the music. These players are with Karin to this day, with the exception of tenor sax player Brian, who stepped in when Sue Orfield moved out of state.
Karin's vision has been gradually expanding. The hard bop tunes are still integral to the band's repertoire, but Karin has a lively curiosity about ethnic music, and has arranged works by such diverse modern composers as Wayne Shorter and John Lennon, and has continued her composing with these influences. Also, Karin in her other capacity as classical pianist comes into contact with many through-composed pieces that intrigue her with their possibilities. Karin believes the only label that applies to jazz is "improvised music". This leaves the field wide open! The band now plays her jazz arrangements of tunes from J.S. Bach through French Impressionism, show tunes and Brazilian choro, to transcriptions of tunes by Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson and Tom Harrell.
The quintet has played at many summer festivals in the Seattle area, including Bumbershoot, the Evergreen State Fair, the Shoreline Arts Festival, the West Seattle Street Fair, the Anacortes Arts Festival, the Interbay Golf Course "Barbecue Jazz" concert series, the Mercer Island Summer Celebration, Sounds on the Sound on Pier 57, Out to Lunch, First Night in Tacoma on New Year's Eve, First Sundays at the Bainbridge Commons, the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island, the Blaine Jazz Festival and many others.