Matt Jorgensen/John Bishop – 2019 Seattle Jazz Heroes
Jazz Journalists Association
Drummer, educator, record label owner, graphic designer, publisher, and festival presenter John Bishop has been one of the primary voices in northwest jazz for over 35 years. Drummer and percussionist, bandleader and composer, concert tour director and road manager Matt Jorgensen is the epitome of a modern jazzman, with a keenly personal musical voice, plus the wherewithal to help the music reach its potential audience.
In 1997, Bishop started the jazz label Origin Records (named “Label of the Year” by Jazzweek in 2009) and OriginArts, a graphic design & CD production company, to help further the exposure of creative artists and their music. Jorgensen soon became his business partner. What Bishop told The Seattle Times back in 2002 still sums up their mission: “I’ve often thought that if somebody came to town and went out to hear music at one of the standard venues, what impression would they go away with? I know all these great players, but you never hear them doing their own music. Something has got to happen as far as getting the good music out there.”
Origin was that something, with companion labels OA2 and Origin Classical having to date released more than 600 CDs, including titles by Seattle stalwarts Jay Thomas, Dawn Clement, Chuck Deardorf, Marc Seales and Bill Anschell, as well as nationally-known figures based elsewhere. Handsomely-designed and professionally-promoted, Origin discs are a source of great pride for Seattle.
In 2003 Bishop and Jorgensen expanded operations to launch the annual four-day Ballard Jazz Festival, which highlights the thriving Seattle neighborhood of old town Ballard and features Seattle’s world-class players. Over 15 years the Ballard Jazz Festival has gained an enviable international reputation, recognized for featuring some 80 Pacific Northwest artists every year among top exciting, progressive headliners.
It’s not often that jazz musicians respected in their own rights as players also become accomplished presenters and producers, aiders and abettors of others, creating opportunities and nurturing the jazz community at large. It’s hard to imagine the Seattle jazz scene without the contributions made over the past three decades by Jazz Heroes John Bishop and Matt Jorgensen.