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.

Ways to Connect

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Tim Kennedy is one of the shining stars of the current Northwest jazz scene, and jazz is just the beginning. You’ll find him playing classic rock in the group Hot Rod, electric keys in the modern jazz trio Gravity, doing solo gigs as pianist, guitarist and/or singer, and often embracing electronic dance music as his alter ego Richie Aldente.

Singer Nancy Erickson recently received her masters in music education, but live in the knkx studios, she was anything but a reserved academic. She told us about singing in her early days, taking time off to raise a family, and a return to form inspired by audiences in a Woodinville club that led her back to a life in jazz. Thanks, Woodinville!

Starting her session with her own tune, "New Years Eve" - a song written for her parents' anniversary transformed into jazzy pop magic - then into Duke Ellington's beautiful and challenging "Prelude to a Kiss".

Parker Miles Blohm / knkx

The knkx studios got a Danish treat when we welcomed singer Sinne Eeg and her pianist friend Jacob Christoffersen. Traveling through the Seattle area for a third time for a series of intimate house concerts, Sinne told us she enjoys an intimate concert setting, and shared a funny story about primitive conditions at a remote Chinese jazz club she worked early in her career.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The Glacier Peak High School Jazz Band director Tad Morris has raised some talented musicians under his care, with a largely senior class combo well-equipped with skills and a deep understanding of the importance of jazz.

Asked what this music means to them, bassist Alex Sturlaugson talked about how jazz transcends race, religion and politics and connects us on a deep level. Then there was the music.

Michael Goude

No wonder they do a lot of wedding gigs - Sundae + Mr. Goessl (the stage act name for singer Kate Voss and her guitarist/songwriter husband Jason Goessl) have a natural romantic chemistry that comes through in the throw-back songs of a time long past. In fact, we learned in our interview that it was their considerable musical talent that first attracted them to each other.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

KNKX welcomed a second performance of the trio Tyrant Lizard, just as the band released their self-titled debut album, and the new release from the group's guitarist Gregg Belisle-Chi, "I Sang To You and the Moon."

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

One of the leading flugelhorn players in jazz dropped into the knkx studios to celebrate his recent album "Jazz Noir," and to play three cool tunes with his now-Northwest neighbors.

Tacoma's top jazz man, Kareem Kandi, returned to the knkx studios this fall armed with the enviable rhythm section of Delvon Lamarr on Hammond organ and D'Vonne Lewis and some new music from his new album, "Hourglass."

One of the busiest musicians in the area, Kareem talked about helping to organize the Tacoma Jazz Association, the inspiration he draws from the jazz community, and his newest role, as a father of a new baby.

They're not the first all-female jazz band to perform in the knkx studios, but after hearing the teens from Seattle JazzEd, it's about time it stops feeling like a special occasion.

Featuring their mentor Susan Pascal on vibes, the ladies thrilled our packed studio audience with jazz, soul, and a song by the modern jazz outfit Snarky Puppy, and made us forget about girls vs. boys.

Parker Miles Blohm / knkx

Blowing down from Minneapolis, The Bad Plus have been world-wide icons of modern jazz since the beginning of the century. A unique blend of Ethan Iverson's aggressive acoustic piano with classical echoes, Reid Anderson's rock solid yet fluid bass, and Dave King's play-every-inch-of-the-kit drumming, the trio has all the energy of a young rock band, but with the collaborative improvisation of a long-running jazz band.

The Grammy award he received for his “Black Radio” album in 2012 was in the Best R&B Album category, but there’s a lot of jazz improvisation happening in the music of Robert Glasper.

The fusion of rock ’n’ roll with jazz has existed since the birth of rock – I would even argue folks like Cab Calloway, Louis Prima, and especially Louis Jordan, helped invent it. As jazz moves through a new century, and early rock stars and fans move into their 70s, there’s still plenty of choice territory for the two styles to intertwine.

You've heard him live in the knkx studios with fellow Tacoman Kareem Kandi, and now he's in the spotlight - Hammond organ master Delvon Lamarr's debut with his organ trio, the DLO3, is out now, and it's just the thing to steam up a cold winter in the Northwest.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

More than a quarter century after they emerged from Eugene as a horn-powered, hard-rocking dance band, and over two decades since they ruled as kings of the swing revival with their smash hit "Zoot Suit Riot", the Cherry Poppin' Daddies continue to explore the possibilities of taking the roots of classic American swing and giving it a fresh energy.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Though she began her jazz career after her kids were grown, Denise Donatelli has quickly become a singing sensation. Now a four-time Grammy nominee, she's augmented her jazz with work in commercials and television in Los Angeles - even earning a starring vocal role on a parody of the James Bond theme from "You Only Live Twice" on "The Simpsons." Check out the hilarious episode "YOLO" to hear Denise's best Nancy Sinatra impression.

Michael Goude

Twin brothers Peter (tenor sax and clarinet) and Will (alto sax, clarinet and flute) Anderson brought their trio (with guitarist Alex Wintz) to the knkx studios for a thrilling afternoon of swinging standards. Though they compose their own music, the Andersons have a deep love of jazz standards, noting that "you can't write something good unless you've heard something good," but what our studio audience heard was better described as outstanding.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

San Diego-based pianist Danny Green says he's been an obsessive music fan, spending intense periods focusing on styles as diverse as Cuba's Buena Vista Social Club, his favorite Brazilian and classical composers, and a youth listening to Nirvana and playing in a ska band. It all comes together, however subtly, in every song he writes.

Joined in our studios by his long-running trio, Justin Grinnell on bass and Julien Cantelm drumming, plus saxophonist Anton Schwartz, Danny focused on songs from his often sunny-sounding new album, "Altered Narratives."

Parker Miles Blohm / knkx

Named for their practice room at Pacific Lutheran University, 322 brought 4 of their 5 band members to the knkx studios for an afternoon of cool tunes they wrote themselves. Drawing on their jazz education in standards to the wide variety of music available to college kids, the band clearly finds as much inspiration from modern rock 'n' soul as they do the Great American Songbook.

Michael Goude

A product of Mountlake Terrace High School and Central Washington University's strong jazz programs, Marina Christopher has developed into a multi-talentend, highly in-demand artist on the Seattle jazz scene.

She's worked with singers Eugenie Jones, Jacqueline Tabor and Billy Brandt. She leads a soul group called Marina and the Dreamboats. You'll find her playing bass and singing at Sea-Tac Airport now and again, and she brought in five terrific musicians with her to celebrate her latest album, "Must Love Cats."

Parker Miles Blohm / knkx

Mark O'Connor is a flexible master of the violin, or fiddle - depending on the music, earning awards playing classical, jazz, and bluegrass. It's this last style that dominates on his latest album, "Coming Home," which finds Mark joined by his musical family: wife Maggie on violin and vocals, son Forrest on mandolin and vocals, and Forrest's wife Kate Lee also playing violin and on vocals.

Parker Miles Blohm / knkx

The 56th Army Band's jazz group visited our studios for a second time, but with the constant turnover in the military, only bass player Sgt. Nicholas Cressotti remained from the first group. This 5 Man Trio, a name further noting their ever-shifting personnel, brought a fresh look and a fresh sound with them. They talked about the Army's recent emphasis on performance for their musicians, and with Spc. Jessica Hall's magnetic vocal presence pushed to the fore, the 5 Man Trio were here to entertain.

We popped up some popcorn for Tony Foster's Project Paradiso - the pianist's tribute to the film music of Ennio Morricone ("Once Upon a Time in America", "Cinema Paradiso" etc.) and Henry Mancini ("Pink Panther", "The Party", etc.). Along with three songs from the new release, we heard from Tony how film scores inspire him and provide rich territory for jazz improvisation.

When this Central Washington University combo made the trip from Ellensburg to the 88.5 F-M performance studio, it was a first.  For us, anyway.  The group is the first Eastern Washington jazz band we’ve hosted, and we hope it’s the first of many to come. 

Of course, it didn’t hurt their cause when they enlisted their mentor, trumpeter Thomas Marriott, to join the festivities.  Check it out—three delightful arrangements from a group of young musicians on their way up.

Parker Miles Blohm / KPLU

Guitarist Lee Ritenour has been playing with pianist Dave Grusin on and off since he was a teenager in the 70s, Dave plays on much of Lee’s new album A Twist Of Rit, but they haven’t played much in a duet setting.

Autumn De Wilde

KPLU Evening Jazz host Abe Beeson was honored to introduce the amazing "little orchestra" from Portland, OR, Pink Martini to a joyous crowd at the Orpheum Theatre for this year's TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival.

He learned to play sax alongside John Coltrane, worked with Dizzy Gillespie's band, grew up with talented brothers Percy (bass) and Albert (drums), he's written more than a hundred songs, and at 88 years old, can't wait to release his new album with singer Roberta Gambarini.

The legendary Jimmy Heath sat down to talk with me at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, and we started by talking about the musical house in which he was raised.

I don’t get up to Vancouver, B.C. nearly enough. It’s a massive, international city with gorgeous scenery and lots to do, and I even have friends there. So wouldn’t you know, it took a jazz festival to get me back across our northern border.

Alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson is an innovator.

He teamed up with trumpeter Clifford Brown and pianist Horace Silver to develop hard bop in the early '50s, featured brilliantly on drummer Art Blakey’s classic live album “A Night At Birdland.”

In the 6'0s, he helped create soul jazz with a number of hit records using a Hammond organ backing, including his biggest hit, “Alligator Boogaloo.”

Now at age 88, Donaldson brought the house down at this year’s Portland Jazz Festival, and took the time to talk with me about his long and successful career.

Michael Goude

KPLU rang in the new year of 2015 with a studio session featuring some old friends of the station who are also some of Seattle’s finest jazz musicians: Pearl Django and Gail Pettis.  

Pearl Django has long been regarded as one of America’s finest gypsy jazz bands. Gail is a two-time recipient of the Earshot Jazz ‘Jazz Vocalist Of The Year’ award.  

In this studio session hosted by Abe Beeson, they treated us to three great tunes and told us what 2015 has in store for them.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

It sure was hard to pick just five, but here are the best live KPLU studio sessions of the year. 

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