Jim Wilke | KNKX

Jim Wilke

Jazz Northwest Host

Jim has been a fixture on Seattle radio since 1961. He was the host of Jazz After Hours on Public Radio International from 1984-2014.  Currently Jim has been producing Jazz Northwest for KNKX since 1988.  This weekly program focuses on the regional jazz scene and frequently includes performances Jim records on location for Jazz Northwest.  

His most memorable KNKX  moment was hosting the 20th Anniversary Live at Jazz Alley show, two hours of live music. He is also a recording engineer and writer. Jim has been named one of the top jazz radio producers nationally by JazzTimes and the Jazz Journalists Association. He is in the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame and several musicians have composed songs in his honor.

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Dawn Clement at Seattle Art Museum
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Arts and crafts have a long tradition of masters guiding and encouraging students, and the Art of Jazz is no different.  This concert at The Seattle Art Museum illustrates the interplay between established artists like saxophonist Stuart MacDonald and pianist and singer Dawn Clement and talented students from Garfield High School, Cornish College and the University of Washington.  Two groups were formed and rehearsed, a trio led by Dawn Clement and a quartet led by Stuart MacDonald, and each group played a set at this month's Art of Jazz concert at SAM.

Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra in concert at Kirkland Performance Center
Jim Levitt

Highlights from Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra concerts featuring music of Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond are featured this week on Jazz Northwest. The concert includes some of the most renowned compositions of Brubeck and Desmond including Wendy, In Your Own Sweet Way, Take Five and The Duke.  The original recordings by the Dave Brubeck Quartet are among the best selling jazz records of all time, but in this concert various arrangers for 17-piece big band expand the scores.

Courtesy of the artist

Quite possibly one of the most unusual and inventive duos you'll hear anywhere, Syrinx Effect (Kate Olson, soprano sax and Naomi Siegel, trombone) came to our attention when they played an Earshot Festival concert full of surprises last Fall at the Columbia City Theatre. The duo, occasionally expanded to trio with percussionist and recording engineer Eric Eagle, uses loops, pedals, and other electronic augmentation to build up layers of sound via a plethora of styles ranging over the history of jazz and other music.

Susan Pascal
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Vibist Susan Pascal invited saxophonist Pete Christlieb to join her group at Tula's in a celebration of Stan Getz and some of his collaborations with vibists.  The music played at Tula's one night earlier this month recalled tenor saxophonist Stan Getz with vibists Cal Tjader and Gary Burton as well as with pianists Oscar Peterson and Chick Corea.   The sold-out house responded with enthusiasm for the flowing lyricism of such songs as 'O Grande Amor,' 'Ginza Samba' and 'Sweet Rain.' 

Art of Jazz at Seattle Art Museum
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Thomas Marriott's new working band played the February concert in the Art Of Jazz series presented by Earshot Jazz at The Seattle Art Museum.  Playing for a standing room only audience, the quintet played compositions by members of the group including Marriott, saxophonist Rick Mandyck and pianist Tim Kennedy.  Geoff Harper completes the group on bass and Xavier LeCouturier on drums. 

Overton Berry on the piano at Tula's jazz club.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Pianist Overton Berry has been a fixture on the Northwest jazz scene since the 60s, playing in coffee houses, jazz clubs and concert halls as well as touring abroad, particularly the Far East.  A member of the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame, he is a much-loved presence on the regional jazz scene with a wide range of musical experience.  When he recently teamed with long-time duo partner Bruce Phares on bass for an evening at Tula's in Seattle, it was a perfect conjunction of the duo, the club, the piano and a full house of adoring fans... and we recorded that evening for Jazz Northwest.

Next week we will feature music from the new Thomas Marriott Quintet from an Art of Jazz series concert at The Seattle Art Museum.

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More info:  Overton Berry Duo

Jim Wilke / KNKX

A pair of quintet performances recorded last Summer and not previously broadcast are the focus on this week's show.  The first set is with an all-star quintet assembled for a concert in conjunction with the Seattle Public Library's Rhythm in Colors celebration of Seattle Jazz exhibition last Summer.  Johnaye Kendrick, Julian Priester, Dawn Clement, Phil Sparks and D'vonne Lewis perform a set of jazz classics and standards.  

'Day 31: Violin F-Holes' by Ajay Suresh via Creative Commons 2.0

A pair of new releases combining jazz groups and classical string quartets inspired this week's show. Vancouver guitarist and composer Bill Coon has composed and arranged for combined jazz quartet and string quartet in his new CD, Departure by the BC Double Quartet, and bassist and composer Rufus Reid fronts his jazz trio with the Sirius Quartet in a new vinyl album, Terrestrial Dance.  This show opens with the Kronos Quartet playing music by Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk. The Kronos Quartet was founded in Seattle in the early 70s.  

Gary Hammon and Eric Esvelt in concert at SAM on January 11, 2018.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Saxophonist Gary Hammon brought his quintet to the Seattle Art Museum's Art of Jazz concert in January. The program includes original music by Hammon and trumpeter Erik Esvelt and two jazz standards.  Others in the group include Mike Eskenazy, guitar, Todd Gowers on bass and Mike Eppert at the drums.

Nancy Erickson at North City Bistro
Jim Wilke / KNKX

This week on Jazz Northwest, we'll sample two new releases with former Seattle musicians now active in New York City, pianist Carmen Staaf and trumpeter Riley Mulherkar.  We will also hear songs from Nancy Erickson and the 200 Trio from recent recording sessions in small, intimate clubs in Shoreline and Ballard, and share some of our best bets for live jazz in the coming week. 

Courtesy of Takao Fujiyoka

With our first show of the new year, we're sharing some of our favorite albums from 2017 and debuting some new releases.  The new album by Canadian saxophonist, PJ Perry who's been active in Vancouver, Toronto, New York and since 1975, he's called Edmonton, Alberta home.  His latest release, recorded live at the Yardbird Suite in Edmonton, features great sound and fleet mastery.  Also new is Cory Weeds & Jeff Hamilton Trio's release Dreamsville. Finally, we will listen to Seattle drummer Phil Pariot's latest release Creekside.   

Alex Chadsey in the KNKX Studios performing with duendo libre.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Seattle's world music trio dunde libre played the December Art of Jazz concert at The Seattle Art Museum and was recorded for this weeks program. The trio plays original music inspired by the musical cultures of Spain, Brazil, Cuba and the Caribbean.  

Jim Wilke / KNKX

Time once again to turn on the Christmas lights, put a Santa cap on the microphone and settle in for a seasonal sampler of musicians from Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.  With the beginning of winter, the shortest days of the year and multiple holiday traditions and celebrations, this is our celebration with a sampling of resident musicians in the Pacific Northwest.

Nancy King in studio
Courtesy of Randy Wu

Portland's outstanding jazz singer Nancy King has been nominated in the jazz vocal category of the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.  An underground favorite for decades, Nancy King has played international festivals and small jazz clubs, with orchestras and in duos in every type of venue imaginable.  A skilled improvising jazz vocalist who can be favorably compared to Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Carter and Sheila Jordan, she's always gone her own way with her extraordinary ability to bridge the vocal/instrumental gap.

Dee Daniels at Jazz Port Townsend 2017
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

Three great singers with roots in black church music were featured in concert singly and together at Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend last July.  "Raising Voices" featured Dee Daniels, Cedric Dent and Niki Haris each singing a pair of songs and joining for the finale in the concert which brings together spirituals, blues and jazz and demonstrates their common heritage. Accompanying the singers were Sullivan Fortner, piano, Jon Hamar, bass and Joe LaBarbera.

This week's show samples upcoming performances by the Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra, Duende Libre, Kareem Kandi, Greta Matassa and others, plus a new Christmas album with Eugene, Oregon trumpet and flugelhorn player Tony Glausi. Also this week, The Garfield Jazz Ensemble in part of their 2017 Essentially Ellington performance in NYC, and The Three Sounds at The Penthouse in Seattle in the Sixties.  

Among the many holiday musical traditions is The Roosevelt Jazz Band's "Jazz Nutcracker" which has been presented annually in Seattle since 2000. 

Jim Wilke / KNKX

Resident Artist for the 2017 Earshot Jazz Festival, Dawn Clement performed at the November "Art of Jazz" concert at the Seattle Art Museum. Joining Dawn in this trio concert were Chris Symer, bass and D'Vonne Lewis, drums. This concert was one of several featuring Dawn Clement in a variety of settings including solo, duos, trio and quartet. The music on this program includes pieces by Julian Priester, Dawn Clement, Jane Ira Bloom, Thelonious Monk and several standards. 

More info: 


Courtesy of Jim Levitt

Hear highlights from a concert by The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra with special guest Wycliffe Gordon recorded last weekend at The Kirkland Performance center. Wycliffe Gordon is a multi award and poll-winning trombonist, in addition to playing the trumpet and singing, he also conducted SRJO. Wycliffe Gordon also composed most of the music in this hour of highlights.

Sean Jones, Terell Stafford, trumpets;  Dan Marcus, Wycliffe Gordon, trombones (front)
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

With an outstanding jazz faculty assembled for its annual Jazz Workshop, Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend has a ready all-star big band to play the festival on the last weekend of July each year.  With soloists in every chair, this becomes one of the best bands on the planet for one weekend.  This year was no exception.

Jazz Northwest  marks the Buddy Rich and Dizzy Gillespie centennials in 2017 with radio aircheck recordings produced in the 60s by host Jim Wilke.  The Buddy Rich Big Band played a live broadcast from D.J.'s on Fourth Avenue in 1968, The Dizzy Gillespie Quintet played a live broadcast from The Penthouse in 1966.   

Also included on this program are samples of some upcoming Earshot Jazz Festival performers - Edward Simon, Gregory Porter, and Amina Figarova. 

Jim Wilke / KNKX

South Sound resident LaVon Hardison brought her quartet to the Art of Jazz concert for October at The Seattle Art Museum.  Her quartet includes Eric Verlinde, piano, Osama Afifi, bass and Jeff "Bongo" Busch, drums and percussion.

John Abbott

John Gilbreath, Executive Director of Earshot Jazz will talk about some of the international artists including Afro-Cuban pianist and band leader Omar Sosa (October 15), and Azerbaijan-born pianist and composer Amina Figarova (November 4) who studied in the Netherlands and now lives in New York .  

Drummer Matt Wilson will celebrate poet Carl Sandburg who was born in Illinois near where Matt Wilson was born. Matt Wilson will make 3 appearances with three different ensembles including the Roosevelt High School Jazz Band on October 26, and his own groups on October 27 & 28.  

Sullivan Fortner, Doug Weiss, Kendrick Scott, Tia Fuller at Jazz Port Townsend 2017
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

New faces and fresh talent at Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend in 2017 included alto saxophonist Tia Fuller and pianist Sullivan Fortner who fronted a quartet with bassist Doug Weis and drummer Kendrick Scott.  The performance in McCurdy Pavilion at Fort Worden was recorded for radio and will air on Jazz Northwest on Sunday, October 8 at 2 PM Pacific on 88.5 KNKX.  All four musicians also served on the faculty of the Jazz Workshop during the week before the festival.  

The 29th annual Earshot Jazz Festival (October 8-November 12) will be sampled and previewed this week on Jazz Northwest.  Earshot Jazz Executive Director John Gilbreath joins us to sample and discuss some of the more than 50 events during the five-week festival.  Included will be several events in a centennial salute to pianist-composer Thelonious Monk.  Seattle pianists Overton Berry and Dawn Clement will be featured along with many international and regional artists and rising stars.

Learn more about the festival now at Earshot Jazz Festival.

Brian Nova at the Seattle Art Museum.
Courtesy of Michael Burkhalter

Guitarist and singer Brian Nova is a well-known figure on the jazz scene, particularly on the West Coast.  He's led long-running weekly jam sessions and recorded 7 CDs.   In addition to being a leader Brian is a valued sideman who's played alongside many jazz greats including his mentors, Herb Ellis and Joe Pass.  The present group appears Sunday evenings at The Musicquarium lounge at The Triple Door in Seattle. 

Joining Brian Nova are saxophonist Jon Goforth, bassist Dan O'Brien and drummer Brian Kirk. The music is mostly standards as arranged by Brian Nova.

This week we'll check out some recent releases by Vancouver tenor saxophonist Cory Weeds, and a vocal album by bassist Dan Dean.  French horn player Tom Varner celebrated a landmark birthday earlier this year, but marks it this week with his Nonet and a new quartet playing his original music Monday night at The Royal Room.  Also coming up next weekend is the Burien Jazz Walk with 21 bands on five stages on Saturday, September 23rd.  We'll hear 3 of them on this show as well as news of other highlights for the coming week.

Wycliffe Gordon at Jazz Port Townsend
Jim Levitt

Trombonist and trumpet player Wycliffe Gordon celebrated the music and soul of jazz great Louis Armstrong in concert at Jazz Port Townsend last July. Wycliffe Gordon is well known as a trombonist, but is also adept with trumpet and vocals in this concert including music Louis Armstrong made famous with his recordings and performances all over the world. Joining Wycliffe Gordon in this concert are the versatile swing clarinetist and saxophonist Adrian Cunningham, Bill Cunliffe on piano, Martin Wind on bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums. 

Bassist and composer Bren Plummer's new release Moldy Figs and recent releases by Bill Anschell and the Full Circle Jazz Ensemble will be featured this week on Jazz Northwest.  Also spotlighted this week is Dmitri Matheny who returns to Tula's in Seattle this week.  Matheny will be featuring movie themes from his Jazz Noir CD, played by a quintet including Jay Thomas on tenor sax.  The week ahead in live jazz is also highlighted.

Tia Fuller, Sean Jones, Jon Hamar, Matt Wilson at The Old Whiskey Mill, Port Townsend
Jim Wilke / KNKX

This week on Jazz Northwest, an all-star jazz group playing an informal but high-energy gig in Port Townsend. Trumpeter Sean Jones and alto saxophonist Tia Fuller front the group which also includes John Hansen on piano, Jon Hamar on bass and Matt Wilson on drums, recorded live at The Old Whiskey Mill on Water Street.