Nick Morrison

Production Manager/ Jazz & Blues Host

Nick began working at KNKX as a program host in the late 1980’s and, with the exception of a relatively brief hiatus, has been with the station ever since. Along with his work as a Midday Jazz host, Nick worked for several years as KNKX’s Music Director. He is now the station’s Production Manager and also serves as a fill-in host on KNKX’s jazz and blues programs.

Among his many memorable KNKX moments, Nick vividly recalls his pleasure and amazement when jazz guitarist, Larry Coryell, visited the studios during his program and performed a solo, acoustic guitar version of George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody In Blue.’ It still stands as one of the most wonderful live music performances he’s ever seen.

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Michael Goude / Vibe Vision Seattle

New Orleans is so full of incredibly gifted drummers, bassists and pianists, it would probably be impossible to pick one three-piece rhythm section and call it ‘the best.’  But when you’re talking about drummer Stanton Moore, bassist James Singleton and pianist David Torkanowsky, you could make a pretty good case that these guys rule the roost in The City That Care Forgot.  However you’d rate ‘em, though, they sure are funky.

 The vocal trio Duchess came into being almost by accident.  A couple of years ago, New York-based singer Amy Cervini, decided to do something special for one of her regular gigs at New York’s 55 Bar.  She wanted to do one set of music as a tribute to the great vocal groups of the swing era, such as the Boswell Sisters and the Andrew Sisters.   Amy enlisted the aid of two other New York singers, Hilary Gardner (a one-time resident of Seattle) and Melissa Stylianou.  They learned one set’s worth of songs and performed them as planned at the 55 Bar.

Courtesy of Greta Matassa

Since she was 14, Seattle jazz singer Greta Matassa has been drawn to the music of Ella Fitzgerald. She considers Ella a major influence and uses her singing as a teaching tool for her voice students.

Tuesday is Ella's 100th birthday. To celebrate, Matassa sat down with KNKX to talk about her life with Ella.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

When The James Hunter 6 invaded the KNKX studios, we surrendered without a fight.  We surrendered to their high spirits, their musicianship and their great R&B grooves.

British singer/guitarist, James Hunter became known to American blues lovers in 2006 with his release, “People Gonna Talk.”  People certainly did talk and word quickly got around that James and his band were the real deal, playing wall-to-wall soul music and putting on great shows. 

“You gotta have a groove.”  That’s where everything starts with the music of saxophonist/vocalist Mindi Abair and her accomplices, the Boneshakers, led by guitarist/vocalist Randy Jacobs.  Give these players a good groove and they’re gone. 

And after all their years of performing, they know a good’un when they hear it.  The Boneshakers go all the way back to the 1980s when Jacobs and vocalist, Sweet Pea Atkinson formed the nucleus for the band, Was/Not Was. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Until very recently, Decatur High School in Federal Way didn’t have a jazz combo.  What they had was a full jazz big band.  When knkx put out the call to regional school jazz programs to send us demo tapes so we could select groups for live studio sessions, Decatur’s band director, Jeff Chang, recorded the big band and sent it in. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

For at least a decade, gypsy jazz group, Pearl Django, has performed at Seattle’s Jazz Alley on the first days (well — evenings) of the new year.  For the past few years, the groups’ guest has been Seattle vocalist, Gail Pettis. 

Also for the past few years, 88.5 has had these folks in for a ‘first of the new year’ live studio session.  Is this the beginning of knkx New Year's tradition?  We hope so. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Mercer Island High School has a remarkable jazz orchestra, so we were very much looking forward to this live distillation of that band—the Mercer Island Jazz Combo.  You’ll hear the students on saxophone, trombone, bass, drums and piano.  Their mentor, Thomas Marriott is the featured trumpet player.  This live KNKX Studio Session is hosted by our own Mary McCann. Hit ‘play.’

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

In welcoming Jake Shimabukuro to his second studio session here at 88.5, host Abe Beeson told listeners that he thinks of Jake as ‘the Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele.’  The comparison is apt in that both Jimi and Jake took their respective instruments to a new level. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Seattle drummer, D’Vonne Lewis is probably the most frequently heard musicians on the knkx Studio Sessions.  He’s involved in a number of groups and projects, but we were lucky enough to get his Limited Edition band in for a performance.  Along with D’Vonne, you’ll hear Eric Verlinde (piano), Andy Coe (guitar), Farko Dusomov (bass), Cliff Colon (sax), and Jacques Willis (vibes).

Courtesy Nick Morrison

KPLU's Nick Morrison has had many jobs, ranging from disc jockey to adult theater manager to music publication entrepreneur. So it might come as no surprise that he also worked in the family business.

Nick's father was in the potato business in Eastern Washington, and after some time in San Francisco, Nick returned home in need of some work.

He and his father had never really taken the time to get to know each other, and Nick, arriving back home with a pony tail and bell bottoms, was probably not going to improve things.

Gene Herrick / AP Photo

Since it’s Black History Month, we’re going to take a look at some of the music from the Civil Rights Movement from the mid-‘50s to the early 1970s.

Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson’s “We Shall Overcome” was the unofficial anthem of the Civil Rights Movement.

Charles Sykes / Invision/AP Photo

The Yardbirds released their first hit record, “For Your Love,” 50 years ago. It was 1965, the year British rock invaded American pop music culture. 

John Davisson / Invision/AP Photo

Here are our picks for the best blues albums of the year.

harmonytalk.com / Wikimedia Commons

Charley Patton’s music set the template for all the Delta blues players who would come after him. Take a listen to “High Water Everywhere,” which Patton recorded in 1929.

But Patton’s records weren’t made in the South; they were recorded in Grafton, Wisconsin by Paramount Records, a subsidiary of the Wisconsin Chair Company. Now it seems pretty unlikely, not to mention bizarre, that this seminal blues artist from Mississippi would be recorded in a freezing shack attached to a Wisconsin furniture company, but that’s what happened.

Owen Sweeney / Invision/AP Photo

Today we’re going to talk about a genre of blues that’s so rare it barely has a name. And if you look up that name in Wikipedia, nothing comes up. We’re talking about “trance blues.”

We define trance blues as blues that has a strong electronic component, like samples, loops and drum machines. And woven into that is some element of traditional blues.

AP Photo

For many of us, Jimmy Cliff’s 1973 song “The Harder They Come” was the first reggae piece we’d heard.

Allan Green / AP Photo

Take a listen to “Sex Machine” from 1970 by the architect of Funk, James Brown.

Brown is the focus of our discussion as we follow this music from its roots in R & B to full-blown, shake-your-booty Funk.

Rene Perez / AP Photo

You probably know “Birdland” by the group Weather Report well enough to sing along with the melody.

What you may not know is the melody is being played on an electric bass by Jaco Pastorius, the subject of today’s discussion.  

Bob Daugherty / AP Photo

Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker’s song “Ko-Ko” is perhaps one of the most important American recordings of all time. It’s widely considered to be the first be-bop song ever to be recorded. And even though it’s a 1945 recording, this is still the template for modern jazz.

AP Photo

When Jimi Hendrix released the song “Foxy Lady” as part of the “Are You Experienced” album in 1967, it was like this whole package of psychedelia had dropped from the sky.

Wikimedia Commons

The song “Juke” by Little Walter Jacobs might not sound revolutionary to modern ears, but when it first came out in 1951, nobody had ever had heard harmonica played like this — ever. It really has an aggressive, in-your-face sound.

Stevesworldofphotos / Flickr

What was the first recorded rock and roll song?

Before we can answer that question, we have to go back and figure out the ingredients of rock and roll. We can identify three most important ingredients: gospel, jump and blues. 

William Gottlieb / The Library of Congress

The advent of bebop added a fresh sound to American music. It also added new voices to some metropolitan radio stations: the late-night jazz DJs who specialized in presenting this new music to their fellow hipster nightflies. To recognize the work of the groundbreaking DJs who lent them critical exposure, jazz musicians of the period would occasionally write songs in their honor. Here are five of those songs.

Verve Records

Over the past few years, Take 5’s theme-based music lists have covered a wide variety of subjects. We’ve covered all the seasons of the year, all the holidays, different types of weather, the careers of jazz legends, the cutting-edge work of up-and-coming jazz artists and have gotten into the musical minutiae of things like flowers, birds, baseball, prohibition and civil rights.  And now it’s time for Take 5 to go meta and present a five-song list of songs about….LISTS.  It had to happen sooner or later.

In the Western Hemisphere, January is typically the coldest month of the year.  Most of us feel that if we can somehow drag ourselves through January, things will begin to turn around and we’ll be on the road to springtime. 

But January is also typically the month that feels as if it will never end.  So as we slog through the cold rain and snow, awaiting January’s demise, here are five winter blues songs to help get us through:

Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

Dick Hyman was born March 8, 1927, in New York City. Classically trained, Hyman was drawn to jazz at an early age. Today, he's a living, breathing, swinging encyclopedia of jazz piano history, from ragtime and stride to bebop and beyond.

To hear my conversation with KPLU's Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick, click on the listen button above.

Blues singer and harmonica player, Kim Wilson, thinks it’s very healthy for people to drop their emotional guard every now and then and let themselves get smacked around by a great blues performance. 

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