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.

Ways to Connect

William Gottlieb / Library of Congress via Flickr

KPLU's Nick Morrison is glad the word "robust" is coming back into common parlance. He says that's the perfect word to describe the Texas Tenor saxophone sound. He's compiled a list of five titans of Texas Tenor.

William Gottlieb/Library of Congress via Flickr

When jazz fans talk about the Texas Tenor saxophone sound, they're talking about a sound which is very robust, sometimes raw, and which mixes the musical vocabularies of swing, bebop, blues and R&B

It's that honking, bar-walking saxophone sound that used to blast from jukeboxes coast-to-coast. Here are five examples of that sound from saxophonists who hail (and wail) from Texas.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

In this studio session, we welcomed Donald Harrison (alto saxophone, congas) and Glen David Andrews (trombone), both of whom were born in New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood, cut their musical teeth on the music of Treme, and can be seen in the HBO television series, Treme

Currently they’re also part of an ever-changing line-up of New Orleans musicians touring with a show called A Night In Treme which is bringing the music of Treme’s Congo Square to cities all over America - including Seattle's Jazz Alley through Sunday night.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Relive last week’s studio session with vocalist/pianist, Karrin Allyson, who was joined by guitarist Rod Fleeman.

Associated Press

When blues guitarist and vocalist Stevie Ray Vaughan released Texas Flood in 1983, he introduced Texas blues to a much broader audience than it had previously known. His impact was great enough that even today, 21 years after his death, if you ask a music lover to name a Texas blues guitarist, he or she will probably reply, "Stevie Ray Vaughan."

But, like many great musicians, Vaughan was not sui generis. He synthesized his unique style by combining a huge number of influences from Albert King and Johnny "Guitar" Watson to Lonnie Mack and Kenny Burrell. That being the case, here's a list of five Texas bluesmen (out of many) who, in addition to creating their own great legacies, paved the way for Vaughan to create a great legacy of his own.

Katie Weilbacher / Flickr

With the non-summer we've been having and the fact that a lot of people can't afford to get away, allow us to give you a vacation for your mind.

Think beaches. Sunshine. Frozen drinks. Your soundtrack? Five great musicians who hail from the Caribbean.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

I’ve known Jazz Alley manager, Rob Perry, for almost 30 years.  At the end of July, Rob will retire from that job and I will join the many, many Jazz Alley habitués who will miss him.  In fact, though I sort of envy Rob for getting to retire while he’s still good-lookin’, we’re all gonna miss his presence at the club a lot.

Bo Nash / Flickr

Memphis, Tenn., is known as the birthplace of rock 'n roll. But KPLU's Nick Morrison says it should also be known for the blues.

Nick gives five examples of how Memphis and its neighbor, West Memphis, Ark., rank right up there with the Mississippi Delta and Chicago when it comes to launching the careers of influential blues artists.

When Julian Lage was 8 years old, his skill as a guitarist was the subject of a documentary film, Jules at Eight. Before he entered his teens, he had already performed with Carlos Santana and jazz vibraphonist, Gary Burton.

He made his first jazz recording with Burton at age 15, and at age 22 he released his first CD as a band leader. Now, at the ripe old age of 24, he's just released his second CD, called Gladwell.

To celebrate and promote the new recording, Julian is traveling the country with his quintet, and stopped by the KPLU studios last week to treat us to three delightful pieces of music.

Pianist, vocalist, producer and songwriting legend (and Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame inductee), Allen Toussaint stopped by the KPLU studios on June 1 and took us on a sweet and uplifting trip to New Orleans with his music.

Mr. Toussaint has crossed many paths in his illustrious career in music. He has produced, written for, and performed with music giants such as Dr. John, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Boz Scaggs and Irma Thomas to name a few.

We were pleased to welcome jazz violin virtuoso, Regina Carter to the KPLU studios on June 1 for a unique performance and interview with Evening Jazz host, Abe Beeson.

Accompanying Carter were Will Holshouser on accordion, and Yacouba Sissoko on the kora, a beautiful and unique African harp. The trio performed two selections from Carter’s latest CD, Reverse Thread: Kanou and N’teri (video below) which explore African music in very fresh, surprising and delightful ways.

Pianist, Taylor Eigsti and vocalist/guitarist, Becca Stevens, stopped by the KPLU Seattle studios on May 16th to brighten an otherwise rainy Monday afternoon in the Pacific Northwest with an performance and interview, hosted by Evening Jazz host Abe Beeson.

Some jazz singers excel at singing standards. Others excel at scat-singing or vocalese (writing lyrics for instrumental improvisations and singing them). However, Grammy award-winning vocalist Kurt Elling can do it all.

He easily proved it in front of a small studio audience of Leadership Circle members on April 15th with along with two long-time musical colleagues; pianist, Laurence Hobgood, and guitarist, John McLean.

AP

April is National Humor Month. So, Nick and I thought we'd explore the funny side of jazz.Here are  five jazz artists known for their wit as well as their jazz chops. 

KPLU was pleased to welcome ukulele virtuoso, Jake Shimabukuro, into our studios on March 29, 2011. Jake played before not only a record number of KPLU Leadership Circle members, but four young ukulele players from Foster High School we recently featured in an installment of Artscape, which explored the rising popularity of the ukulele in local schools.

We've said it before and we'll say it again: Having guitarist/vocalist/storyteller, John Pizzarelli, as a guest in the KPLU studios is always great fun. He loves making music, he loves telling stories and he loves entertaining his fans.

When he visited us recently for this performance/interview with Abe Beeson, several members of the KPLU Leadership Circle attended the event, and John Pizzarelli played to this small group the same way he'd play to a full house at Lincoln Center.

When pianist Benny Green agreed to come to KPLU’s Seattle studios for a solo piano performance he was on tour with his band doing a tribute to the music of Thelonious Monk so it seemed logical to have his studio session consist of Monk compositions. 

That was the plan, anyway ...

The Vijay Iyer Trio’s latest release, Historicity, won a number of "Album Of The Year" awards in 2010 and has been nominated for a 2011 Grammy as "Best Jazz Instrumental Album."

Pianist, Vijay Iyer, seems pleased by this recognition but not really fazed by it. In fact, during his trio’s visit to the KPLU performance studios on February 8, they only played one piece of music from Historicity—"Smoke Stack" by one of Iyer’s mentors, Andrew Hill.

This studio session marks the first visit from pianist, Jacky Terrasson, to the KPLU/Jazz24 studios.  We hope it’s the first of many.

In a stunning three-song set, Jacky left no doubt that his group is one of the most exciting piano trios in jazz today.

Vocalist, Bethany Yarrow, and cellist, Rufus Cappadocia make an incredible amount of music for just two people. Bethany, daughter of Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul & Mary), first met Rufus at The Knitting Factory in Manhattan. They're reinventing traditional music and transforming it into something that defies genre classification.

Grammy Award-winning "Soul Queen of New Orleans," Irma Thomas brought her rythym section to the performance studio on October 29, 2010 to perform live on KPLU's Blue Plate Special hosted by Nick Morrison.

When The Manhattan Transfer (Tim Hauser, Cheryl Bentyne, Alan Paul, Janis Siegal) came into the KPLU/Jazz24 performance studio, they had literally just gotten off an airplane. A little jet-lagged but ready to sing, they kicked of the session with their version of Moten Swing.

Jazz and pop singer, Nikki Yanofsky, is a very cheerful 16 year-old. And why not? As you will hear in this interview with KPLU/Jazz 24 host, Kevin Kniestedt, she says that as soon as she learned to talk, she began to say she wanted to be a singer. It was something she began to pursue right away.

As the son of actor/director/jazz fan, Clint Eastwood, Kyle Eastwood grew up listening to jazz. In this performance-interview hosted by Abe Beeson, Kyle talks about a childhood trip to The Monterey Jazz Festival and how hearing the Count Basie Big Band that day inspired him to become a bass player.

AP Photo

Jazz saxophone legend Sonny Rollins celebrated his 80th birthday on September 7th. KPLU's Kirsten Kendrick and Nick Morrison used the opportunity to talk about Rollins' life and play some of his great music. As part of a monthly contribution to NPR's music Web site, Nick compiled a list of five Sonny Rollins' songs that span his extensive career. And Nick talked with Kirsten about some of his selections.

Kirsten: Nick, when did Sonny Rollins first start coming into focus for jazz fans?

When Lee came into the KPLU/Jazz24 studios on an unseasonably cool August afternoon, he arrived with a rhythm section hot enough to raise Seattle’s temperature a few degrees: drummer, Will Kennedy and bassist, Melvin Davis. Together, they laid down three delightful tracks; Water’s Edge, L.P.—For Les Paul, and Freddie Hubbard’s composition, Povo (watch the video below).

When blues singer, Shemekia Copeland performs live, it's almost guaranteed to be an electrifying experience. In this session, recorded in KPLU's Seattle studios, we get a rare opportunity to hear Shemekia's voice in an intimate performance context. Instead of bringing her whole band, Shemekia arrived with just her guitar player, Arthur Neilson.

AP

If you love jazz, then you know it's often a family affair. Here's one example: the Heath Brothers Quartet performed this weekend at Jazz Port Townsend, with Jimmy Heath on tenor saxophone and Tootie Heath on drums. Along with their late brother Percy, the Heaths are just one of the great sibling stories in jazz. In this week's installment of our Artscape series, KPLU's Kirsten Kendrick and Nick Morrison discuss more musical families as part of a list that Nick prepared for NPR.

Here’s a rare treat; a solo performance from 6-time Grammy Award-winning vibraphonist, Gary Burton. In his 50-year (and counting) recording career, Burton has recorded with many different group configurations and has done a number of duo recordings with artists including bassist, Steve Swallow, guitarist, Ralph Towner and most famously, pianist, Chick Corea, but we rarely get to hear him all by himself.

Pages