School Of Jazz Studio Performance

The Northwest jazz scene is enhanced by some of the finest high school bands in the country, including Garfield and Roosevelt who are perennial finalists in the national Essentially Ellington Competition. Jazz has a tradition of teaching, learning and sharing and for KNKX, jazz education and performance is vital to the music’s future.

School Of Jazz sponsors include, Integrative Family LawBECUBeacon Plumbing and Half Price Books

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Entering our studios to meet the early-arriving all-star jazz combo from Lake Stevens High School, our sessions engineer John Kessler tells me, "This might be the best School of Jazz band yet!" Well, all right!

Tito Rios Viche in the KNKX studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

A confident septet of teenagers from the jazz band at the Seattle Academy of Arts & Sciences took over the KNKX studios with their mentor, Steve Treseler featured on sax.

Treseler has a new tribute to trumpeter Kenny Wheeler ready for release in the New Year, but he had to keep his wits about him with this group.

Seattle JazzEd
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Twenty-eight teenagers filled several rooms at KNKX's Seattle studios to perform in 4 groups as a sort of graduation from the Seattle JazzED Summer Advanced Institute. On paper, it looked like disaster... but the kids made it work.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The energy in the KNKX studios was evident just days from graduation for three of the Shorecrest High School Jazz Band's Allstar quintet. With their mentor, saxophonist Mark Taylor's guidance, the fellows found the groove and wouldn't let go.

Based in Centralia, flugelhorn player and band leader Dmitri Matheny teamed up as a mentor with the Kelso High School all-star jazz combo in the KNKX studios and told us that smaller towns can provide great opportunities for musicians willing to look for them. These teens from the south end of the state made the most of their opportunity to play live on KNKX.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

When the teenage all-stars of Five Feet Up came to play live on 88.5 recently, we were excited to see three old/young friends: Bell Thompson and Margaux Bouchegnies on trumpet and bass had performed in our studios as half of the 10 O'Clock Quartet. Guitarist Julia Tanner had played live on 88.5 with her bandmates from the Melba Liston All-Star Combo.

Parker Miles Blohm

In his fourth visit to the KNKX Studio Sessions, we finally put saxman Anton Schwartz together with one of our School of Jazz all-star combos.

Lynnwood High School was the beneficiary of Anton's mentoring, and his advice to the teenage musicians sounded just as applicable to life: "You gotta be where you are, not where you want to be. By perfecting where you are, you'll get to where you want to go."

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The all-star combo from Juanita High School's jazz band made their studio session on 88.5 with young trumpeter and educator Jared Hall featured on trumpet, and proved they're ready to take their place among the promising teen jazz ensembles around the Northwest.

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

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.

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

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

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.

Puget Sound Community School is a private school with just 53 students.  So the school’s excellent jazz studies program only has a few participants.  So few, in fact, that the instructors often have to serve as performers, just to round things out. 

The all-stars from the Mountlake Terrace High School jazz band were well-prepared for their live session in the KPLU studios, so well prepared, in fact, that their mentor, Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra saxophonist Travis Ranney, said all he had to do was show up.

Swinging through a pair of standards, the septet of kids also brought an arrangement of the very cool modern jazz tune, “Tall & Lanky” by Jeff Coffin to show off their own two-sax and a trombone front line.

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 / KNKX

Tenor saxophonist Walter Blanding has been a member of the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra (directed by Wynton Marsalis) since 1998.  One of the things that got him there was a great jazz education.  Walter attended LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and the Performing Arts, followed by more study at the New School of Social Research. 

Parker Miles Blohm

 

KNKX "School of Jazz" hit the road for our second studio session featuring a regional high school jazz band program (our first being the Point Grey Secondary School studio session in June at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival).