Kind of Blue

“I’m trying to live up to Duke Ellington’s command, and that is to be the best musician that you can be and defy the categories,” says jazz pianist Tammy L. Hall.

Even before she relocated to Seaside from San Francisco in 2021, jazz pianist Tammy L. Hall was no stranger to the Monterey Bay area. By her count, Hall has played the famed Monterey Jazz Festival “at least nine, 10 times” – most recently at last year’s festival in September, when Hall performed a Sunday Morning Gospel ensemble set that filled the outdoor Garden Stage to capacity. “That was a glorious time,” Hall recalls fondly. “We had church that morning.”

Having already played local venues like Deja Blue in Seaside and SandBox in Sand City, Hall will soon add Seaside’s Palenke Arts to that list when her eponymous Tammy Hall Trio – rounded out by bassist Ruth Davies and drummer Sylvia Cuenca – perform at the nonprofit arts organization on Saturday, Jan. 14.

It will be the latest stop in a long, varied career that has seen Hall release two albums under her own name – 2006’s Blue Divine and 2012’s Blue Soul – and collaborate with artists as diverse as legendary saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman, renowned avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson and the singer Falu. For her work on Falu’s 2021 album A Colorful World, Hall can now call herself a Grammy Award winner – the project won Best Children’s Album at last year’s ceremony.

Hall’s music has taken her all around the world from her humble origins in Dallas, Texas, where she was raised by a musical family. Her mother, who was training to be a concert pianist, died of leukemia when Hall was only 1 year old. “I didn’t know her, but she gave me a beautiful gift,” Hall says. Her grandparents nurtured that gift, encouraging a musical education that began in the church and eventually led to a scholarship to Mills College in Oakland. These days Hall lives in Seaside with her partner and frequent musical collaborator, the soprano singer (and Monterey County nativeLeberta Lorál.

“Collaboration is everything [in jazz],” Hall notes. “Some people say jazz is the real democracy because everyone gets a voice; you start off together, and when it’s time to solo or improvise, everyone gets to speak their individual voice, and then you end together. It’s really about empathy, checking your ego at the door and being a good listener.”

TAMMY HALL TRIO 7:30pm Saturday, Jan. 14. Palenke Arts, 1713 Broadway Ave., Seaside. $25. 333-6612,

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