Abe Beeson | KNKX

Abe Beeson

Evening Jazz Host

Abe grew up in Western Washington, a 3rd generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and he's been hosting Evening Jazz since 1998.

His most memorable KNKX radio moments include introducing Dave Brubeck, Ray Charles, Oscar Peterson and other greats; attending the San Sebastian Jazz Festival in Spain with a group of KNKX jazz fans; and locking himself out of the station on a particularly cold winter night.

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It could be her charming, drawling vocals or the contagious smile on Marina Christopher's face that instantly wins over fans. Just as likely, she'll draw you in with the music she makes with her Dreamboats band - an addictive blend of jazz, soul and classic pop.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Considering the mix of the nine (or ten) members of Seattle's future funk fusion group High Pulp, it has to be fusion. Their new album Bad Juice is out this week and they're celebrating live at Nectar with Industrial Revelation Saturday night. We got a powerful preview live in the KNKX studios that you've gotta hear.

Dee Dee Bridgewater at the Victoria International JazzFest
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Memphis-born singer Dee Dee Bridgewater broke into jazz with the great Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, and she's collaborated with Ray Charles and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1975 she won a Tony Award for her role as Glenda the Good Witch in The Wiz, and also won accolades for her tributes to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Horace Silver. Three times a Grammy winner, Bridgewater is renowned for her live performances, including her recent album and tour honoring the soul music she grew up with, Memphis... Yes, I'm Ready.

Ghost-Note is co-led by Snarky Puppy rhythm section mates Robert Searight (drum kit) and Nate Werth (percussion). Originating as a percussion duo, they've built a band with a "rotating cast of serious cats" including former Prince bass player MonoNeon on their new album Swagism. Funky grooves with more than a touch of psychedelic improvisation is their trademark, with rhythm in the spotlight.

Kenny Washington in the KNKX Public Radio Studios
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It's not a well-kept secret, at least in the Bay Area where he's been called the "Superman" of their jazz scene, but Kenny Washington's incredible vocal talents are just starting to get noticed. When he performed live in our studios, it was easy to see he's more comfortable as Clark Kent than the Man of Steel.

Kenny Washington was raised in America's jazz and party capital of New Orleans, but his father kept him away from the wild atmosphere of the French Quarter. His early musical training was in the gospel church, and he only picked up on jazz in his late teens.

Jacqueline Tabor in the KNKX Studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

As a sharp-witted friend noted recently, singer Jacqueline Tabor is " ruining the dour jazz musician stereotype!" The KNKX studio session audience was certainly drawn into the fun when Jacqueline celebrated her new album with The 200 Trio live on KNKX.

The Lady in the Gown, title inspired by our own Nick Morrison's thoughts on Tabor's previous studio session here, features mostly classic jazz standards. There's a reason these songs are still performed, they're both perfectly constructed and open to personal interpretation.

Frank Vitolo of Bad News Botanists live at KNKX Public Radio.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Enjoying a year that has brought his band a lot of positive attention, saxophonist Frank Vitolo brought his Bad News Botanists to our studios for a fun session of original funky jazz. It was a preview of their performance on The New Cool stage at the Northwest Folklife Festival, and more proof that this band is making its mark.

Jacob Szekely in the KNKX Studios
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

He's not just a terrific player and songwriter, cellist Jacob Szekely is blazing a path for future jazz cellists to follow. With his trio live in our studios, it's clear that his instrument is ready for the jazz spotlight.

Szekely told us that the traditional way of learning cello makes it nearly impossible to translate those skills to improvisation, so he retrained himself to play in a new way. He's also co-founded the String Project of Los Angeles to give other cellists a fresh direction in their musical expression.

Abe Beeson / KNKX

I'm just back from a fantastic trip to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. There are far too many moments from the festival grounds to mention here, but on Sunday night I found an allstar group of New Cool favorites on the edge of the French Quarter.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Before his performance in our studios, pianist Danny Green told me he hadn't played many solo shows. In fact, his new album One Day It Will adds a string quartet to his long-running trio. After three dazzling songs, however, it was clear Green has plenty to say on his own.

Courtesy of Tom Collins

 

The KNKX School of Jazz hit the road for a performance at Seattle Pacific University's beautiful Nickerson Studios and we were knocked out by the talented sextet that makes up the S.P.U. Jazz Ensemble.

Guitarist Chase Rabideau told us that S.P.U. is one of the few places you can earn a degree in his chosen field, Music Therapy, right after showing off his beautiful acoustic guitar technique on the Antonio Carlos Jobim song "Look to the Sky."

Spike Wilner in the KNKX Studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

On his path to musical self-discovery, pianist Spike Wilner set out to make himself a part of his New York City community. He'd buy old pianos and give them to bars for free, in exchange for a regular night for Spike to play there. We were happy to provide a freshly tuned piano to Spike when he brought his New York friends with him for a spirited Studio Session.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

We've grown accustomed to his face, sax player Steve Treseler had performed in the KNKX studios as a sideman and as a mentor to School of Jazz combos, and his own dynamic "In Motion" quartet was a highly anticipated session for us all.

Treseler talked about his early mentors, including sax great Jerry Bergonzi, who taught his young student to love practicing as a way to celebrate a love for your instrument and the intimate act of playing what you feel.

Cole Schuster of 200 Trio
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Just a couple years after bringing guitarist Cole Schuster and bassist Greg Feingold from the Berklee College of Music to Seattle, drummer Max Holmberg and the 200 Trio have certainly endeared themselves to their new hometown.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Picking up his first saxophone in 5th grade, Stuart MacDonald made the most of the Seattle school system's jazz educators. Today, working on his Masters in jazz studies at the University of Washington, his education continues even as he teaches younger players a thing or two on the bandstand.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Violin player, composer and bandleader Ranger Sciacca is a massive fan of gypsy jazz guitar legend Django Reinhardt, and his partner, violinist Stephane Grappelli. That said, Ranger's band isn't like most groups who play in this swinging style.

The swing is still the motor that makes this band move, but the Re-Arrangers are breaking some of the unspoken rules of gypsy jazz bands. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Sharing a guitarist and a studio session performance, Birch Pereira & The Gin Joints split time with the duo Sundae + Mr. Goessl in the KNKX studios, both excited to share new music from upcoming albums. Jason Goessl plays guitar in both bands, and it felt like hanging out in the living room with your most musically talented friends.

The new Gin Joints album is called Western Soul and transports the listener back in time to when jazz, country music and even early rock n roll were powered by an engine of sweet swing.

School Of Jazz
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

They planned it out and executed flawlessly. The teens of drummer Elijah Baradi's Quintet were well prepared for their KNKX School of Jazz studio session. Unlike most groups of a high school age, this talented group from Interlake High in Bellevue played live on 88.5 without an adult mentor. They didn't need one.

Drumming since age 6, Baradi drives a strong rhythm section. The sophomore teams with seniors Mert Selcuk on piano and Kai Wagner at the upright bass, an instrument this electric bass player only recently picked up.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Bassist and composer Bren Plummer has put together a tasty band of Northwest allstars for his latest album, Moldy Figs. From Jay Thomas (trumpet) to Stuart MacDonald (sax), D'Vonne Lewis (drums) and Susan Pascal (vibraphone) as well as guitarist Frank Seeburger, it's a group of talented players and bandleaders themselves.

Pascal may have put it best when she explained that she finds Plummer's music fresh and challenging, just what a good jazz musician wants to play.

Cliff Colon of Contraband
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Following by ten years his original Contraband project, tenor sax player Cliff Colon has reformed the group to create more compelling modern jazz drawn from the melodies of late 80s video games. Whatever that looks like on paper to you, in practice Contraband Reloaded sounds like a genius.

Brent Jensen in the KNKX Studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Alto and soprano sax player Brent Jensen says no matter which horn he plays, people often tell him he sounds like Paul Desmond. That's a high compliment indeed, but live in the KNKX studios Jensen showed he's no imitator.

You've probably heard Brent Jensen playing around the Northwest, or from his hit debut album on Seattle's Origin Records, The Sound of a Dry Martini: Remembering Paul Desmond from 2002. But he's only just recently moved to the Puget Sound region about a year ago and says he loves having access to so many amazing jazz musicians with whom he can share a stage.

Vicente Hansen performs in the KNKX studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Based in New York City and featuring two graduates of Seattle's legendary Roosevelt High School jazz program, the trio Mughal Muesli returned to the West Coast for a tour supporting their debut album Imperial Cereal. We're tracking down carpenters now because they nearly blew the roof off the place.

Live in our studios, Mughal Muesli performed three new compositions that ebbed and flowed with intense grooves, aggressive and muscular sax and bass, and exotic melodies that reflected their musical passions.

Camilo Estrada of The New Triumph
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

"It's not loud, it's more... dynamic" percussionist Ricardo Guity told our studio audience as The New Triumph prepared to launch into their soulful, rhythm-heavy live session. It wasn't loud, but it was passionate and dynamic.

Jim Sisko performs with students from Bothell High School.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

From their perch in the suburbs, just northeast of Seattle, the jazz program at Bothell High School is producing some powerhouse musicians. This all-star ensemble’s performance with mentor Jim Sisko was a bold statement that these teens can keep up with anybody.

The front line horns of Richard Connelley's trombone and Preston Lee's sax have earned valuable experience working with Sisko's big band, and they showed it. Both took daring solos and pushed each song with their enthusiasm.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

A Seattle native who's been soaking in the energy of New York City for the past half dozen years, Jessica Lurie has released the first new album from her ensemble in nearly as long ago as her relocation. It was worth the wait.

Long Haul is a diverse collection of all the style that Lurie has shown since her youthful days in legendary Seattle groups The Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet and The Living Daylights. At times playful, frantic, mesmerizing, funky, mysterious and downright beautiful, Jessica Lurie is playing and composing as well as she ever has.

Ryan Leppich in the KNKX Studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Now in his second year at the University of Northern Colorado's highly regarded jazz program, drummer Ryan Leppich returned home to Puget Sound with a pair of college friends to play a few shows around town. We were lucky enough to host them for an energetic set of clever original songs live in the KNKX studios.

Recent graduate Tom Amend showed off his well-honed piano chops alongside talented bass player Seth Lewis, and they both seemed right at home in the pocket of rhythm provided by Leppich.

Roy Hargrove practicing ‘The Seattle Vibe’ before the start of his live performance in the KNKX studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

He's known as one of the top trumpet players in jazz for the past quarter century, and returned to the KNKX studios with a fantastic new song for the city Roy says has always inspired him.

"The Seattle Vibe" was so new, his quintet hadn't heard it until they arrived in town for their stay at Jazz Alley. There wasn't much time to chat with the band before our live broadcast, Roy was guiding them through the soulful changes and groovy tempo of his latest song.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Entering our studios to meet the early-arriving all-star jazz combo from Lake Stevens High School, our sessions engineer John Kessler tells me, "This might be the best School of Jazz band yet!" Well, all right!

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Seattle's 45th St Brass find plenty of funky fun in the tradition of New Orleans brass bands, but they also take the opportunity to stretch the possibilities of this classic lineup of horns and drums.

Led by the baritone sax of Peter Daniel, forming a tight rhythm section with Nelson Bell on tuba and D'Vonne Lewis (playing on half of the new album) drumming for this performance.

The trombones of Jason Cressey and David Marriott play with and against each other, and trumpeter Shawn Mickelson added a bright sharpness to their sound. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

On the first snowy day in the Puget Sound region, a group formed in sunny California warmed up our airwaves with a studio session filled with joy and beauty.

The New West Guitar Group formed about ten years ago by students at the USC jazz program. With Will Brahm joining founding members John Storie and Perry Smith on guitars, they added their college friend, singer Sara Gazarek for their concert at the Kirkland Performance Center.  

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