Originally published at Earshot Jazz, May 2018, by Peter Monaghan
In the days when Eastside high schools dominated the Seattle youth-jazz scene, Cuong Vu was a rising trumpet player at Bellevue High, and Holly Palmer was a star vocalist at Lake Washington High.
At many high-school jazz competitions, “I and my bandmates went to see their band play, especially Holly — she was phenomenal,” says Vu.
This month at Tula’s, they mark a long musical friendship with an evening of songs from After Hours, a Great American Songbook album that they are shopping to record labels. With them, in a top-flight lineup, will be pianist Larry Goldings, drummer Jay Bellerose, and bassist David Piltch.
Back at high school, Vu and Palmer got to know each other in all-city and all-state jazz combos. Then, after Vu went off to New England Conservatory of Music on a scholarship, he recalls, “I’d come back here and say to Holly, ‘You gotta come to Boston,’” where he was gigging with fellow Seattle transplants. “So she came and visited us and found her way to Berklee College of Music with a really good scholarship.”