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.

Ways to Connect

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.

Dawn Clement, Jane Ira Bloom, Bobby Previte, Mark Helias.
Erika Kapin

Jazz Northwest  spotlights several new releases featuring northwest resident artists this week.  Seattle pianist Dawn Clement is a regular part of the New York-based quartet led by soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom whose new release features original music inspired by Emily Dickinson.  Also on this week's show are recent releases by Bren Plummer with John Hansen on piano, trumpeter Nathan Breedlove and trumpeter Jared Hall.

Next week, Sean Jones and Tia Fuller front a hard-bop quintet in a club gig recorded in July at The Old Whiskey Mill during Jazz Port Townsend.

Jim Levitt

Pianist Justin Kauflin made his Jazz Port Townsend debut at the 43rd annual festival the last week of July.  He performed in a trio concert with bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Kendrick Scott at McCurdy Pavilion at Fort Worden and also served on the faculty of the week-long jazz workshop before the weekend of public concerts. 

Jim Levitt

The renowned flutist Hubert Laws was featured in a special opening night concert at this year's Jazz Port Townsend Festival.  Designated a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, Hubert Laws' career spans six decades and dozens of albums.  He was joined on stage at McCurdy Pavilion at Fort Worden by an all-star trio including Bill Cunliffe on piano, John Clayton on bass and Matt Wilson on drums.

Jim Levitt

One of the popular features of the annual Ballard Jazz Festival is the Ballard Jazz Walk. This year, 90 musicians performed in various groups in ten venues during the Jazz Walk. We recorded for Jazz Northwest at The New York Fashion Academy on old Ballard Avenue in the heart of the Jazz Walk area.  On this show which airs July 30 at 2 PM Pacific on 88.5 KNKX, we'll hear highlights from the prolific composer-pianist George Colligan, who teaches at Portland State University.

Jim Levitt

This week, some performances not previously broadcast on Jazz Northwest.  First, a 1999 performance by the Jessica Williams trio at Jazz Port Townsend, followed by an unusual double bass duo with guest Christian McBride and Phil Sparks with  the rhythm section from the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra from a concert this past June.  

The balance of the program features Tia Fuller, Dee Daniels, Wycliffe Gordon, Matt Wilson and Hubert Laws. All will appear at  this year's 43rd annual Jazz Port Townsend, July 27-29.

Jim Levitt

Barçelona natives and Seattle residents since 2014, Marina Albero and Serena Dominguez were joined by Evan Flory-Barnes in a Ballard Jazz Walk concert during the 15th Annual Ballard Jazz Festival in May.  They performed and improvised on a variety of music including references to Spanish traditional and classical music as well as original music by all three performers in solo, duo and trio settings.  One highlight was "La Finestra," a song by Marina Albera's father and Serena Dominguez' grandfather, Mariano Albero. 

This week on Jazz Northwest we'll sample new releases by the ten-member Full Circle Jazz Ensemble, Jovino Santos Neto, Dan Dean and Jared Hall.   We'll also hear some interesting pairings of talents - Jay Thomas and Gary Smulyan, Ray Vega and Thomas Marriott and Wynton Kelly and Wes Montgomery (in Seattle in 1966!).  Best bets for live jazz in the coming week are also included on the program.  

Christian McBride and part of the SRJO sax section.
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

The Grammy-winning world-renown bassist Christian McBride was guest soloist with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra in the season finale in June.  The concert at Kirkland Performance Center was recorded for radio and highlights will air on Jazz Northwest on 88.5 KNKX on Sunday, July 2 at 2 p.m. Pacific, also streaming at knkx.org.  

Portland trumpet player and educator Thara Memory passed June 16 in Portland at the age of 68. The Florida-born musician was much loved and honored in his adopted city where he lived since the '80s, playing with the Mel Brown Quintet, leading his own groups and teaching generations of jazz musicians. He launched the jazz program at Portland State University and his American Music Program Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra  surprised everyone when they won the Essentially Ellington competition in New York City in 2015. 

Jim Wilke

June's Art of Jazz concert at the Seattle Art Museum featured The Sam Boshnack Quintet playing her original music. The concert was recorded for radio and highlights will air on Jazz Northwest on Sunday June 18 at 2 p.m. Pacific on 88.5 KNKX and knkx.org.  

R.Andrew Lepley

Jazz Northwest is our weekly survey of the regional jazz scene Sunday afternoons at 2.  We sample the rich variety of resident and visiting artists who will be performing in the near future and we visit local venues with live, on-location recordings.  

Jim Levitt

Three guitar led trios were featured at the Guitar Summit at the 15th Annual Ballard Jazz Festival. Cole Schuster, Brad Shepik and Dan Balmer each led a set including  their own original music as well as jazz standards.   Representing Seattle, New York and Portland respectively, the three guitarists led three different ensembles that represented their own unique approaches to the guitar trio. The evening was recorded for radio and highlights will air on Jazz Northwest  on 88.5 KNKX on Sunday, June 4 at 2 PM Pacific, also streaming at knkx.org

Sandrine Lee

The Bellevue Jazz and Blues Festival is next on the Summer festival season, running May 31-June 4. Music by two of the headliners, Catherine Russell and the Full Circle Jazz Ensemble is featured on Jazz Northwest on Sunday, May 28 at 2 p.m. Pacific on 88.5 KNKX.  The festival features ticketed theatre concerts as well as free performances in downtown Bellevue restaurants and bars.  

Also on this week's show are new releases by The Garfield Jazz Ensemble, Duende Libre and Sam Boshnack Quintet and others.  

Jim Wilke

Alex Dugdale's Fade Quartet was featured at this month's Art of Jazz concert at the Seattle Art Museum. The concert was recorded for Jazz Northwest on 88.5 KNKX and highlights from the concert will air Sunday May 21 at 2 p.m. Pacific.  The quartet includes Alex Dugdale on saxophones and clarinet and tap dancing on two tunes, Cole Schuster is on guitar, Greg Feingold, bass and Max Holmberg, drums.

Louis Gilbert

This coming week will be full of opportunities for hearing some great live jazz around Seattle.  Headlining that list is the Ballard Jazz Festival which runs Wednesday through Saturday, including Brotherhood of the Drum, the Guitar Summit, the Ballard Jazz Walk (with 10 venues!) and the mainstage concert featuring Chico Freeman on Saturday.  This week on Jazz Northwest, we are previewing some of the activities.

Jim Levitt

This week on Jazz Northwest, the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra plays the music of Louis Armstrong. This hour of excerpts from the concert includes music played by Louis Armstrong from the early years of jazz in the '20s through his spectacular popular success in the 1960s.  

Randy Cole

It wasn't planned that way, but there's a great concentration of female jazz musicians playing in Seattle area concerts and jazz clubs in the coming week.  

Jazz Northwest, a weekly survey of the regional jazz scene, features some of the visiting and resident artists including Christine Jensen, Roxy Coss, Kelley Johnson and Ann Reynolds.  There's also info on when and where they and many others are playing.  

Jim Wilke

Seattle Art Museum's monthly Art of Jazz series featured singer Jacqueline Tabor and her band at the April concert.  The concerts are presented at SAM by Earshot Jazz and most are recorded for later broadcast on 88.5 KNKX.

Jacqueline Tabor sang with the 200 Trio (Cole Schuster, guitar, Greg Feingold, bass and Max Holmberg, drums) and saxophonist Alexey Nikolaev. Included were many songs associated with jazz greats among Jacqueline Tabor's inspirations including Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Bessie Smith, Edmonia Jarrett and Ernestine Anderson.

Each week on Jazz Northwest, we highlight various aspects of the regional jazz scene, some recent releases, some noteworthy gigs, or a recent performance.  

This week, we'll feature the Keith Henson Octet, Alex Dugdale, McTuff, Susan Pascal, Mark Lewis, Kelley Johnson and Ben Roseth, plus a sample from a soon to be released album of the Wynton Kelly Trio playing at The Penthouse in Seattle in 1966. Kelly was noted for his work with Miles Davis, Wes Mongomery, Cannonball Adderley, Dizzy Gillespie and others. 

This week's show includes jazz groups you can hear around the area this week (e.g.Jazz Police, Adam Kessler, Jacqueline Tabor), and a preview of a soon to be released album of the Wynton Kelly Trio and guitarist Wes Montgomery playing at The Penthouse in Seattle in 1966.  

The album will be released on limited edition vinyl LP on Record Store Day, April 22, and it comes from tapes of live and direct broadcasts produced by Jim Wilke and never circulated since the live broadcasts. A deluxe CD version will follow in May.  

Jim Levitt

This week on Jazz Northwest, we're brining you excerpts from two concerts at Centrum’s Jazz Port Townsend 2016.  

These highlights come from concerts by the Jeff Hamilton Trio with Akiko Tsuruga and Graham Dechter, and the grand finale with an all-star septet including Terell Stafford, Sean Jones, Grace Kelly, Wycliffe Gordon, Taylor Eigsti, John Clayton and Matt Wilson, and represent the final offerings from last July's Jazz Port Townsend.  

Mandi McDougall

Jazz Northwest provides updates and keeps you in touch with the regional jazz scene.  This week's show includes samples of two recent Earshot Award winners, flugelhorn player Dmitri Matheny (Northwest Instrumentalist of the Year) and pianist Bill Anschell (2016 Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame).  Also this week, the Keith Henson Octet, Jay Thomas and the Cantaloupes, The Jessica Williams Trio and others, plus best bets for live jazz in the coming week.  

The cheerful sound of Cuban son music is featured in a concert performance on this week's Jazz Northwest. The concert was recorded earlier this month when the band played at The Seattle Art Museum as part of the Art of Jazz series presented by Earshot.  It's sunny music and a perfect antidote for a rainy Seattle day.

Kiki Valera is considered by many to be Cuba's finest cuatro player and after 25 years directing La Familia Valera Miranda in Santiago de Cuba, he is now living in Seattle and working with his new Seattle band, Cubaché.

Steve Korn

The annual Golden Ear Awards for outstanding achievement in Seattle jazz will be presented on March 13 at the Royal Room.  There are five nominees in each of eight categories for individual and groups, including the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame. This week on Jazz Northwest, we are previewing some of the nominees including Bill Anschell, the B'shnorkestra, the Westerlies, and Anton Schwartz. 

Jim Levitt

Ella Fitzgerald, aka "The First Lady of Song," was born April 25, 1917 and centennial celebrations are beginning to appear.  

For the third pair of concerts in its current series, The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra invited Carmen Bradford to sing some of the many songs popularized by Ella Fitzgerald.  The concert at Kirkland Performance Center was recorded for radio and is featured on this week's Jazz Northwest.

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