Every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m., the jazzy sound of the Greg Schroeder Quartet can be heard in the intimate space of Lumette atop Queen Anne Hill. The group plays a variety of jazz standards, as well as some occasional funk and lesser-known tunes.
"You never know what's going to find its way into some of our arrangements," said Schroeder. "It's quite often that I'll get requests from the audience, and we try to meet those whenever we can."
At Lumette, which charges no cover, trombonist and vocalist Schroeder performs regularly with drummer Greg Williamson and bassist Chuck Kistler, as well as a special guest pianist - say, Eric Verlinde, Craig Hoyer, Dawn Clement, Bruce Laven, Murl Allen Sanders and David Joyner.
"I think [rotating pianists] adds a different flavor," said Schroeder, adding that other musicians and vocalists occasionally sit in.
Kistler, a Queen Anne resident, said, "It's great that it's right in my neighborhood and that there's people in my neighborhood that are interested in jazz." Kistler recently performed with Eartha Kitt for her Seattle engagement. He met Schroeder about five years ago performing in Jay Thomas's big band. Williamson, a former Queen Anne resident, is the founder of Pony Boy Records and the Sand Point Jazz Festival.
"These are the guys you're going to see on the main stages around town," said Schroeder, adding that the musicians in his quartet have performed at a host of other venues, including Jazz Alley and the Triple Door.
"[Schroeder] always uses good players, and that makes it fun for me," agreed guest pianist Bill Anschell. "He's a nice guy and a good player, and that's most important when walking into a gig."
Over the years, Schroeder has performed with the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra and Tuxedo Junction, in addition to appearances with such artists as vocalist Natalie Cole.
"[Lumette] is a place that we call home on Thursday nights," said Schroeder. "It's great to have a steady weekly gig where we can explore tunes and be creative and get to know the people who come in."
"It's a small and personable club," agreed Williamson.
The family-oriented, neighborhood restaurant provides a relaxed setting for patrons of all ages. "I do like to make everyone feel welcome in the place, and often I like to do a quick visit with the people who come in," said Schroeder. "I consider myself a host of the restaurant for the evening."
"He's very good at reaching an audience," said John Hansen, who has performed with the group as a guest pianist. "He has a good rapport with them."
"Greg, through his energies, has developed a bit of a family," agreed Randy Halberstadt, another guest pianist. "He sets a very relaxed tone."
The band makes a conscious effort to play at a comfortable sound level, so that restaurant-goers can still socialize while listening to the live music. "It's a comfortable place to come and get together with friends," said Schroeder, "with the enhancement of fun live music as your backdrop."
"It's a cool room," added Hansen. "They've got a really nice vibe - and really good food."